четверг, 20 мая 2010 г.

The Amber Room

The Amber Room was one of the most magnificent and mysterious masterpieces in Russia. It was lost during the Second World War and searches were held on the ground, underground and even underwater. In 2003 it was recreated and unveiled in St. Petersburg. But the story doesn’t end here. Find out more about the Amber Room in our XL Report.




среда, 19 мая 2010 г.

MOSCOW BECOMES THE CENTER OF FEUDAL RUSSIA


IOANN III’S REIGN


By the end of the 15th century, Moscow had turned from the capital of the Muscovite principality to the capital of all the Russian land. Those were the times of the Grand Prince Ioann Vasilyevich. His byname was Ioann the Great. He was the first of Russian grand princes to be called "tsar" (or monarch), Ioann III.

Ioann Vasilyevich was born on January 22, 1440, in Moscow, at the height of the civil war that raged between supporters of his father, Grand Prince Vasily II of Grand Prince Ioann VasilyevichMoscow, and those of his rebellious uncles. His early life was dramatic and tumultuous.

His father was arrested and blinded by his cousin in 1446. And little Ioann was first hidden in a monastery and then smuggled to safety, only to be treacherously handed over to his father's captors later in the year. Shortly after his father's release in the same year Ioann was solemnly affianced – for purely political reasons – to the daughter of the Grand Prince of the Tver principality, whom he married in 1452. During the last years of his father's reign, he gained experience in the arts of war and government. At the age of 12 he was placed nominally in command of a military expedition, dispatched to deal with the remnants of his father's internal enemies in the far north. And at 18 he led a successful campaign against the Tartars, in the South.

Vasily II died on March 27, 1462, and was succeeded by Ioann as Grand Prince of Moscow.

Little is known of Ioann's activities during the early part of his reign. Apart from a series of sporadic and largely successful campaigns against the eastern neighbors, the Tartars of Kazan, there was evidently not much beyond the routine business of ruling to occupy him. But his private life soon changed radically. In 1467 his childhood bride died (or perhaps was poisoned), leaving him with only one son. The state of medicine in Moscow of those times was primitive. And Ioann's brothers showed demonstrable reluctance to see the royal line continued longer than was necessary. So, the likelihood of the son predeceasing his father and thus robbing him of an heir appeared only too real, and another Vasily Vasnetsov. The Moscow Kremlin in Ioann III's timewife had to be sought.



Curiously, the initiative seems to have come from outside. In 1469 Cardinal Bessarion wrote from Rome offering Ioann the hand of his ward and pupil, Zoe Palaeologus, niece of the last emperor of Byzantium. It took three years before the plump and unattractive Zoe was married to Ioann in the Kremlin. She changed her faith to Orthodoxy and her name to Sofia.

At Ioann’s accession many Great Russian lands were not yet under Muscovite control. The entire Ukraine and the upper Oka districts were part of the Polish-Lithuanian union and Ioann himself, in name at least, was a tributary of the Khan of the Golden Horde. He set himself the task of re-conquering from Poland-Lithuania the Ukrainian possessions of his forefathers. But first the independent Great Russian lands had to be annexed or subdued and subservience to the Tartars had to be repudiated.

After rendering the Kazan Horde on his eastern flank temporarily impotent by a series of campaigns, Ioann attempted to subdue Novgorod and its huge northern empire. He repeatedly invaded Novgorod, formally forced it to accept his sovereignty, stripped it of the last vestiges of political freedom. He also secularized large tracts of its church lands, annexed its colonies, and replaced many of its citizens with reliable elements from his own domains. By 1489 Novgorod could offer no more resistance to Ioann .

Of the remaining Russian lands still technically independent in 1462, Yaroslavl and Rostov were annexed by treaty. Tver offered little resistance and meekly yielded to Moscow in 1485. Ryazan and Pskov alone retained their independence at the cost of abject subservience to their virtual suzerain.

Freedom from subjection to Khan Ahmed of the Golden Horde came in 1480. To counterbalance Ahmed's friendship with Poland-Lithuania, Ioann concluded an invaluable Alliance with Khan Mengli-Girei of Crimea. After a victorious campaign by Ioann in 1480, Ahmed withdrew his forces from Ioann 's dominions, and although Ahmed's son continued to worry Moscow and Crimea until the final defeat in 1502, Ioann from 1480 no longer considered himself a vassal of the Khan and entered the field of European diplomacy as an independent sovereign.

Metropolitan Philipp is blessing Sofia PalaeologusBy tact and diplomacy he managed to maintain his friendship with Mengli Girei and to avoid serious trouble in Kazan for the rest of his reign.

In 1480 Ioann III also had to cope with the danger of rebellion by his two brothers Andrei and Boris, who had been incensed by his high-handed appropriation of their deceased elder brother's estates. They defected with their armies to western frontiers but eventually returned and acknowledged Ioann's territorial acquisitions and primacy.

In 1490, Ioann's eldest son by his first wife died of gout. He had been ineptly treated by a Jewish doctor who had been brought to Russia by Sofia's brother, and Ioann suspected foul play. He now had to solve the problem of who was to be his heir — his deceased son's son Dmitry or his eldest son by Sofia, Vasily. For seven years he vacillated. Then, in 1497, he nominated Dmitry as heir. Sofia, anxious to see her son assured on the throne, planned rebellion against her husband, but the plot was uncovered. Ioann disgraced Sofia and Vasily and had Dmitry crowned Grand Prince in 1498.

However, in 1500 Vasily rebelled again and defected to the Lithuanians. Ioann was forced to compromise. At that stage of his war with Lithuania he could not risk the total alienation of his son and wife and so, in 1502, he gave the title to Vasily and imprisoned Dmitry and his mother Yelena.

At home Ioann's policy was to centralize the administration by stripping the appanage princes of land and authority. As for the boyars, they were stripped of much of their authority and swiftly executed or imprisoned if suspected of treason. Ioann's reign saw the beginning of the ‘pomestic’ system, whereby the servants of the grand prince were granted estates on a basis of life tenure and on condition of loyal service.

Ioann's last years were the years of disappointment. The war against Lithuania had not ended as conclusively and satisfactorily as he expected — much of the Ukraine was still in the hands of a strangely buoyant enemy; his ecclesiastical plans for secularizing church lands had been thwarted at the Council of 1503, and the Khanate of Kazan, which had been so carefully neutralized during Ioann's reign, was beginning to rid itself of Moscow tutelage.

Ioann died in the autumn of 1505. Looking back at his reign, we can say that his reign was full of great achievements. He subdued most of the Great Russian lands by conquest or by the voluntary allegiance of princes. He re-won parts of the Ukraine from Poland-Lithuania and repudiated the old subservience to the Mongol-derived Tartars. He also laid the administrative foundations of a centralized Russian state. But in spite of his great achievements, he died unmourned and seemingly unloved. Singularly little is known about him as a man. He was tall and thin and had a slight stoop. It is said that women fainted in his presence, so frightened were they by his awesome gaze. His only known pleasures were those of bed and table. His contemporaries are silent about his virtues. Yet, few scholars have underestimated the role of Ioann III in the creation of the Russian state, and none dispute the significance of his diplomatic and military successes. It may be that the excessive cautiousness of his character, the lack of élan and glamour, and the very dullness of the man have prevented historians from universally recognizing the appellation of "the Great", first attributed to him by the Austrian ambassador of his son's court.

Source:The Voice of Russia

понедельник, 17 мая 2010 г.

THE SUKHAREV TOWER


Savrasov sukharev tower,


Our story today is about the Sukharev Tower, a historic, cultural and architectural landmark which unfortunately has not survived the Bolshevik-led reconstruction of the Russian capital.

After climbing the 83-metre high Bell Tower of Ivan the Great, the early 19th-century Russian author Mikhail Lermontov committed his impressions to paper, in an essay entitled "A Panoramic View of Moscow". And in it, we find a description of what could be seen to the north of Moscow's citadel Kremlin:

"To the north, nearer to the horizon, you can observe the dark silhouette of a fantastic rectangular structure, the Sukharev Tower. With its moss-covered facade, it reigns supreme over the surroundings as if trying to assert the will of its creator, Emperor Peter the Great. The gloomy look, the size and the graphic outline recall the age when nothing could have crossed the tyrannical power of that man."

The building itself and its name dated back to the earlier years of Peter's reign.

In August 1689 the young Tsar's power-thirsty elder sister Sophia attempted a murderous coup. Warned in the dead of night by a palace guard, Peter half-naked galloped on horseback to the nearest grove. Once clothed by devoted servants who caught up with him, he fled on to the safety of the Monastery of Holy Trinity, a brick-walled fortress northeast of Moscow. The two foot guard regiments promptly followed Peter, but in the rest of the regular army there was hesitation for some time. The first unit to take Peter's side was the foot regiment under Colonel Lavrenti Sukharev. His men’s hasty redeployment close to the Monastery where the Tsar had taken refuge decided the stand¬off in Peter's favor. Sophia's supporters were sent to the gallows, and the poor Princess herself took monastic vows, and spent the rest of her life in the Novodevichy Convent.

Peter's return and subsequent accession to the throne signaled the dawn of a new era for Russia. To commemorate the triumph and the loyalty of the regiment whose decisive action resolved the power crisis, the Tsar ordered to be erected near its barracks a ceremonial gate which later took the shape of a broad-based stone tower with guardrooms on the ground floor, and a circling gallery in the upper part. At the turn of the century, a third storey was added, and above it there rose a steeple carrying a broad-faced clock and a double-headed brass eagle on top. To spice up the somewhat dreary look of the red-brick walls, there appeared rich decorations of carved limestone. The edifice was 41 meters long, 25 meters wide, and most notably, 64 meters high. The people of Moscow appreciated the unusual height by dubbing the structure "the sister of Ivan the Great", a reference to the Kremlin Ivan the Great Bell Tower which was just 19 meters higher.

Tsar Peter himself wanted the tower to resemble a ship, with the eastern side representing the bow, the western side — the stern, the gallery — the deck, and the steeple — the mast.

Tsar Peter the GreatOn the southern side of the gate, there were memorial plaques with dedications to Colonel Lavrenti Sukharev.



The Sukharev Tower has not survived to this day, but the name of the brave officer who squelched the anti-Tsarist coup of 1689 persists in the names of the surrounding square and an underground railway station nearby.

The building, in fact, served Tsar Peter's designs to upgrade the ration's industry and build a modern-age navy. It housed Moscow's first secular school, a college to train navigators, shipbuilders, topographers, teachers, construction engineers and metallurgists. The students were teenagers from all social backgrounds, about 200 of them at any given time. In the 15 years of the college's existence, between 1701 and 1716, a total of over 1200 young men graduated from it.

To stimulate learning, Tsar Peter allocated sums to pay handsome scholarships linked to academic performance. The facilities and equipment could hardly have been better. A workshop on the ground floor manufactured precision instruments and research gauges. One expert taught there was Andrei Nartov, a famous mechanic who later worked for the Tsar's workshops and invented a cutting-edge lathe.

On the third floor, there were spacious classrooms and a fencing-hall, and on the top, an observatory equipped with powerful telescopes.


Teaching was organized by a close associate of Peter the Great Jacob Bruce, a man of Scottish descent. And the most prominent Russian teacher was Leonty Magnitsky, a graduate of the Slav-Greek-Latin Academy in Moscow. Magnitsky knew many foreign languages, read works by foreign scientists in the original and had acquired especially vast knowledge in mathematics. He also compiled a textbook containing all the knowledge that sea-farers would need, relating to arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, mathematical geography, geodesy and meteorology. The textbook, published in 1703, was beautifully illustrated. The frontispiece depicted Pythagoras and Archimedes and an engraving on the first page symbolized Arithmetic with a key to the temple of ¬knowledge in its hand. The 662 page textbook abounded in illustrations and contained various meteorological charts. The author wrote with pride, that in that textbook he had put together all his knowledge for the sake of teaching inquisitive people of all ages and walks of life. The textbook was an indispensable teaching manual for half a century.

Peter the Great held Leonty Magnitsky in high esteem not only for his profound knowledge but also for his fine moral qualities which attracted him like a magnet. Hence, the tsar ordered him to be called Magnitsky.

Among teachers of the Navigation School were also people of British extraction — mathematician Andrew Fartharson, teacher of the navigation science Steven Count Jacob BruceGwin and teacher of geodesy Richard Grace. The teachers also carried out scientific research work. On instruction from Peter the Great, Magnitsky and Fartharson calculated future solar and lunar eclipses. And the cartographers drew first navigation charts laying the foundation stone of Russian cartography.

The Scotsman Jacob Bruce was a rather mysterious and even legendary person. He descended from an aristocratic Scottish family which had left Scotland at the times of Oliver Cromwell and settled down in Muscovy. Bruce began his career as a boy soldier in Peter's military games and ended as Field-Marshal. He distinguished himself in Russia's wars with Turkey and Sweden, accompanied Peter the Great during his great diplomatic mission to Western Europe, and on orders from the Tsar spent a year in Britain studying mathematics and astronomy.

With his encyclopedic knowledge Jacob Bruce stood out among the other associates of Peter the Great. The Great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin described him as a Russian Faustus and for people in the streets of Moscow he was the magician from the Sukharev tower. Jacob Bruce did a lot in the areas of science and enlightenment. He took part in setting up a printing-house in Moscow and was at the head of book-printing all over Russia. He issued the famous astrological calendar known as Bruce's Calendar that was in daily use by Russian farmers for two centuries. He translated books on astronomy, mathematics, fortification, ballistics and navigation from English, German, French, Dutch and Latin into Russian. He was the first to acquaint Russia with Copernicus's views. He spent nights at the Sukharev tower looking through the telescope. There were rumors that he had got in contact with an evil force and obtained from it the gift of prophecy and the secret of water of life. These and other legends gave grounds for Pushkin to compare Bruce with Faustus.

In 1715 the Navigation school with its 305 students was moved to St. Petersburg where a Marine academy was created. The Moscow Mathematical School functioned till 1752.

Another fact from the history of the Sukharev tower is connected with the mysterious Neptune society which gathered there. At those meetings Peter the Great suggested they all talk about the sea and ships. It was at those meetings that the supporter of Peter's reforms Stefan Prokopovich explained in a poetic form that a great power should have a strong navy. There were many legends about the Neptune society, an organization that brought together many prominent personalities. The society's symbol — a fancy boat with brass canons and mica flashlights — was taken to the streets during holidays. When Moscow celebrated peace with Sweden the boat was paraded along the streets with all sails set and lights lit. It was burnt down during the Napoleon invasion of Russian in 1812.

The Sukharev Tower was also famous for various entertainments given by foreign comedians.

In the first half of last century a cast-iron reservoir for Moscow's water supply system was placed on the second story of the Sukharev tower where the Neptune society used to gather. In the middle of the century when additional reservoirs were built and the tower's reservoir was no longer needed, the Sukharev tower was reconstructed and turned into a museum. A striking clock with music was placed on the top.

For more than a century there was a Sunday fair around the Sukharev tower. Residents of Moscow and the countryside and visitors from other regions of Russia saw it as good place to come on Sundays. The fair occupied five thousand square meters. It was surrounded by inns, pubs and shops. But what attracted the visitors most was cheap rummage sale. It was possible to buy almost everything there: torn shoes, scrap iron, food, clothes, furniture, handicraft articles, paintings and sculptures. Even attic junk was offered: broken copper door-handles, bits of candlesticks, separate pieces of tableware and sheathes.

The Sukharev fair was famous for its trade in second-hand books. In the early 20th century it had about 30 second-hand book shops. The prominent Russian journalist and writer Vladimir Guilyarovsky said:

"It was possible to buy anything you wanted there. If you could not find a volume of somebody’s collected works, you just said you needed it and it would be brought to you by next Sunday. Only there could you buy rare books. Bibliophiles were there every Sunday. This was a real book exchange where every regular buyer knew every book-seller and vice versa.

The book-sellers liked to do favors to poor students. When a group of students came, say five people, they pooled their money, bought one book very cheaply and the book was shared by them. Or they could take the book for a certain period of time and paid a small amount of money daily. The book-sellers never asked students to leave something as a deposit and they always got their books back.

Traders in books and antiques formed the aristocratic section of the Sukharev fair. There was no such crowd there as at a second-hand market. Those who came there were collectors of books belonging, mainly, to the merchant class".

During decades of Bolshevik neglect for the cultural monuments many of them were demolished like the Chudov monastery in the Kremlin, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Kazan Cathedral. The same happened to the Sukharev tower. In 1934 it was pulled down under the unconvincing pretext that it was an obstacle to the movement of traffic. But the dilapidated buildings nearby have been preserved.

Possibly, the time will come when the Sukharev tower will be rebuilt like the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. What we can do is to hope for the best.

Source:The Voice of Russia

пятница, 14 мая 2010 г.

Walled-in icons discovered on the Kremlin towers


Moscow, May 12, Interfax - Ancient icons were discovered on the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers of the Kremlin. They were walled in during Soviet times and have been deemed lost for a long time now.

"The fact is that the icons were discovered at least on two towers (of the Kremlin - IF). This is an epoch-making event as far as cultural discoveries are concerned," head of the Council of Trustees of the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation Vladimir Yakunin said at a press conference held by Interfax.

He stated that the Foundation had initiated the reinstallation of icons over the gates of the Moscow Kremlin towers as far back as in 2007. The project received the government support and the blessing of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. In April 2010, experts of the Interregional Scientific and Restoration Office made probes of the icon-cases of the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers. The research has confirmed the hypothesis that the icons were preserved under the layer of plaster.

According to him, the Fund's project "is not limited to these two towers only; the thing is that historians had more reasons to suggest that the icons of the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya Towers were preserved."

Head of the Kremlin supervisory service, deputy director of the Federal Guard Service Sergey Khlebnikov believes that the discovery of the icons on the Kremlin towers is "the event of overwhelming ethical impact."

According to him, the Kremlin commandant's office has received many proposals to restore the icons over the gates, but the Foundation's initiative "had a clear distinction of being specific."

According to the existing historical materials, the Spasskaya Tower houses the icon of the Savior depicted with St. Sergius and St. Varlaam falling down at His feet. The icon was painted to commemorate the rescue from the siege of Moscow by the army of Magmet Girey in 1521. The mural on the Nikolskaya Tower dates back to the late 15th - early 16th centuries. During the civil fights in October 1917, the icon of St. Nikolas of Mozhaysk was riddled with shots, but his face escaped unharmed which the Moscow believers considered a miracle.

Dymkovo Toys


Colourful Dymkovo figurines, whistles among them, represent the most famous and one of the oldest clay handicrafts of Russia.

The brand name of these peculiar toys comes from the Dymkovo Settlement, today a district of the city of Vyatka (Kirov). It appeared out of love for the pottering tradition in Vyatka lands in antiquity. According to many researchers, the development of the Dymkovo clay toy was related to the ritual spring holiday of Svistoplyaska (i.e. whistle-dance) celebrating the Sun. To take part in the festivity, one needed a clay whistle to make sounds with and a painted clay ball to throw to each other.

The whistles were made in shape of various totem animals, such as the bear, the goat, the sheep, the deer, but as a matter of fact were quite simple, their function being magic rather than decorative. In spite of the ritual meaning of the clay whistles, one can notice certain irony, with which masters designed them. Thus, a whistle bear could be playing some music instrument, and a goat could be wearing funny trousers. Such clay whistles were made exclusively by women and girls preparing for the holiday in advance.

In the 19th century the holiday turned into a boisterous fair, necessarily with whistling. The magic meaning of the festivity was lost. The whistles remained and acquired more fanciful decorative features. Whereas formerly animals had been the main subject, the 19th century saw the appearance of toys that depicted dressed-up women holding babies, or baskets with pies, or bucket yokes, sitting on benches or in boats. Later Dymkovo toy masters turned to town plots, with stylish ladies, townsfolk, officers, tradeswomen and skomorokhi (wandering minstrel-cum-clowns).



Whatever a Dymkovo toy depicts, it is always distinctive due to its unparallel ornate colouring. The dark and light blue, green, yellow, orange and raspberry colours look very cheerful on the white background. There might be up to ten colours together. The ornament is always rather simple, with checks, stripes, circles, dots, diamonds, and zigzags in various combinations. These simple geometrical patterns, however, bear certain information. Thus, for instance, a wavy blue line stands for water, crossed stripes denote a curb, and a circle with a star in the middle symbolizes the Sun or other celestial bodies.

The method of producing the Dymkovo toys seems also quite simple: a toy is hand molded of the local red clay mixed with river sand. The whistles are pierced with a special stick. The figurine is made by parts. Separate parts are fastened together with liquid clay, the joints smoothed away with a wet cloth. The toy is dried and baked, and then whitewashed with chalk diluted in milk. Afterwards it is painted.

Every Dymkovo toy is handmade and unique, existing as the only copy. Every master brings in her own manner and colouring. The Dymkovo toy handicraft still has no serial production, which makes it different from other folk arts and crafts.



Presently Russian culture experiences tendencies similar to those in the West, with ethnic motifs becoming an integral part of creativity among sculptors, artists, designers and fashion-designers. There is a hope that the Dymkovo toy will not be forgotten, but, on the contrary, will be developed, reconsidered and interpreted on a new level. Rooted in ancient pagan outlook, it can serve as an inexhaustible source of inspiration for a creative person.

Today anyone, a kid or a grown-up, can try and make a Dymkovo toy. The main things you need are clay and fancy. Otherwise, a bright whistle brought from Russia might become a stunning souvenir and present.

Source:www.russia-ic.com

четверг, 13 мая 2010 г.

Fist Fights: Old Russian Tradition of Martial Arts


The tradition of fist fighting existed in Russia from times immemorial till the early 20th century. Apart from being a sort of sportive folk entertainment it was a peculiar fighting school that developed skills necessary for defense of the native land.

History

Russia had its own martial arts traditions. The Slavs were known all over Europe as valiant warriors. Since wars were not infrequent in Russia every man had to possess fighting skills. Starting from early age children learnt through various games, wrestling and throwing how to stand up for oneself and one’s family and defend the motherland. When kids grew up games turned into real combats known as fist fights.

The first records of such fights were made by Nestor the chronicler in 1048. Fist fights were often held on the Veliki (i.e. ‘great’) Bridge in Novgorod.

Rules and Types of Fist Fighting



Fist fights were usually held on holidays, with the raging of combats starting during Maslenitsa (Pancake Week). In summer the fights took place in squares and in winter on ice-covered rivers and lakes. Both common folks and traders took part in the fights. Depending on the number of fighters they were of different types, such as single combats, or group line combats: “street vs street”, “village vs village”, or “suburb vs suburb”.

The oldest type of combats was the Russian version of Greek Pankration, mix-fight without rules. It was called something roughly translated as “grappling fight” and “helter-skelter scuffle”. It was the kind tussle when every wrestler fought for oneself and against everybody, without any formation or order. “One had to have not only dexterity and strong blow, but also outstanding composure”, N. Razin pointed out.

The most widespread type of fist fighting was “line to line” battle. The battle fell into three parts: first boys would fight, then unmarried youths and later only mature men. It was not allowed to beat a fighter in a lying, crouching or squatting position and clutch at the clothes. The task of each side was to make the opponent flee or retreat at least. The side that lost “the field” (the area of fighting) was considered defeated. Each of the sides had its leader, who determined the fighting tactics and encouraged his comrades. Each of the teams also had “fighters of hope” meant to break the line of the “enemy” by tearing off several combatants at once. Special technique was applied against such “fighters of hope”: the line parted letting the “hope” inside, where special fighters expected them, and closed up at once, without allowing the enemies line in. the fighters that faced the “hope” were experienced masters of one-to-one combats.

One-to-one combats were the most appreciated kind of fighting. It was similar to the old hand boxing in England. The Russian fighting was, however, milder because there was a rule prohibiting to beat a recumbent opponent (Never hit a man when he is down!), whereas in England this rule was introduced not before 1743. One-to-one combats could be organized by a special person or happened spontaneously. In the former case a fight was appointed on certain time and place, and in the latter case it could burst out in any gathering place, such as fairs and festivities.




If necessary, one-to-one fist fights even served to confirm a defendant’s rightness in a legal case. That way to prove one’s case was called ‘the field’ and existed till the death of Ivan the Terrible. Russian fist fighters used only fist blows and no armament of course. They used three striking surfaces, which corresponded to the three striking surfaces of weapons: capitulars of basidigital bones (like pricking with a weapon), base of the fist on the little finger side (like chopping with a weapon) and capitulars of proximal phalanxes (like hitting with the butt of a weapon). It was permitted to beat any part of the body above the waist, but usually they tried to hit into the head, the solar plexus and under the ribs. Continuation of the fight on the ground was never allowed. There were certain rules that prohibited beating a person that was recumbent or bleeding. Violation of these rules was severely punished. In spite of those strict rules combats sometimes had deplorable results: fighters could get permanent injuries or even die.

Struggling Against Fist Fights

The Slavs venerated Peroun as the patron of martial arts. After Christening of Russia authorities initiated struggle with pagan rites, which included also fighting competitions in honour of Peroun.

In 1274 Metropolitan Kirill with a council in Vladimir decreed among other laws “to unchurch those participating in fist fights and stake fights and not perform funeral services over those killed in such fights”. The clergy considered fist fighting to be a sacriligious deed and thus punished the participants according to church laws. This censure lead to the fact that during the reign of Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich (1584 - 1598) not a single fist fight was recorded. The government usually did not approve fist fights, but also did not prosecute them.


Vasnetsov-Fist fight


Real limitation of fist combats started in the 17th century. In 1641 Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich decreed: “those people who start a fight in the centre of Moscow should be seized and punished”. In 1686 fist fights were prohibited and punishments were set for their participants: “for the first record to beat them with rods and charge a file, for the second record beat them with whips and charge a file twice as much, and for the third record beat with a whip and exile to remote places for life”.

Nevertheless, in spite of all the decrees, fist fights went on existing, and the participants now started to elect a referee who watched over the observance of all the rules of fight.

It is known that Peter the First liked to arrange fist fights “in order to demonstrate daring courage of the Russian people”.

In 1751 severe fights raged in Millionnaya Street in the centre of Saint Petersburg. After learning about them the Empress Yelizaveta Petrovna tried to cut down the number of dangerous combats and passed a decree prohibiting them in Saint Petersburg and Moscow.

Under Catherine the Second, however, fist fights were very popular. Count Grigory Orlov was a skilled fighter and often invited famous fist fighter to try strength against him.

Nicholas the First totally prohibited fist fights “as detrimental pastime” in 1832.

After the October Revolution of 1917 fist fighting was ascribed to vestiges of the tsarist regime and, since it did not turn into an official sport, gradually ceased to be.

The 1990s saw the first attempts to revive schools and styles of old Slavic martial arts, including Russian fist fighting.

Sources:www.russia-ic.com,www.pravda-tv.ru,center-me.org

Saint Nicholas Manifests on Shed Door


Holy face of Saint Nicholas has manifested itself in a shed door in Petrovsky District of Tambov city.

Pensioner Raisa Shibina has brought the door with the sacred image from her village to Shehman Settlement for all to see it. The icon has been delivered to a church. Already now pilgrims not only from Tambov, but from neighbouring regions as well come there to see the holy face.

The icon of the late 19th century had been hidden under a paint coat. The artist-restorer Vera Tikhomirova assumes that that the icon belonged to Moscow or Michurinsk icon-painting school.

Local residents say that every day the image is getting brighter and brighter. At the left the second silhouette starts to be looking through. The face is not visible yet, but, according to experts, it is already clear that it is some saint in the rank of a metropolitan.

Source:www.russia-ic.com

Cossacks of the Napoleonic Wars

Strength, organization and
deployment of the Cossacks
.



Cossack regiment had a simple organization. It had colonel, called polkovnik (probably from Polish pulkovnik), small staff, and 5 squadrons or troops called sotnia. On paper the strength of single regiment was more than 500 men. In the field hovewer there were only 300-450 men in the ranks.

The most numerous, the regiments of Don Cossacks, were named after their commanders. The Ukrainian and other Cossacks were numbered and named according to their nationality or district.

Since 1799 the ranks for cossack officers had been regulated.

The Don Cossack regiment numbered 591 men: 18 officers, 10 uriadnik (NCOs) but in April 1812 increased to 22, 50 diesiatnik and 500 privates. There was only 1 non-combatant, the putzer (colonel's servant). Only the colonel had the right to bring a private wagon. For this reason each Cossack could have a second horse as a pack animal.

The NCO was the real soul of Cossack regiment. He owed his position from his service and his fame. If he became commander of a detachment then he sometimes changed in a tyrant for his subordinates; and he used his position to accumulate trophies and loot.

Each regiment of Don and Bug Cossacks carried 5 flags in various colors painted with religious pictures or martial emblems. Sisoiev-III's Regiment carried in addition a St.George flag. If a regiment returned to its homelands without its colour, it was dishonoured. The flags for the regiments of the Ural Cossacks were not recorded.

Each sotnia had muskets for 11 Cossacks trained as marksmen.

In 1802 in the Black Sea area were formed 10 regiments (and 10 foot cossack regiments).
Each regiment consisted of 5 sotnias.

Kalmuk In 1811 from the Kalmucks living in Astrakhan, Saratov, and Caucasus provinces and in the Don area were formed: 1st and 2nd Kalmuck Regiment, 1st and 2nd Stavropol Kalmuck Regiment, and 1st and 2nd Bashkir Regiment. Each regiment had 5 sotnias. The Kalmucks and Tartars were also accepted into the regiments of the Don Cossacks. In their ranks served approx. 8% Kalmucks and 1 % Tatars. According to Richard Riehn, in 1812 there were:
- 4 Tatar regiments
- 2 Kalmuk regiments
- 1 Chechen regiment
- 2 Bashkir regiments
Later were formed 2 Kalmuk and 18 Bashkir regiments.

In 1811 there were 2 Cossack horse batteries.
In 1812 a half-battery was formed (captured Turkish cannon barrels were used).

In summer 1812 from natives of two provinces, Kiev and Kamieniec Podolski, were formed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Ukrainian Cossack Regiments. Each regiment had 8 squadrons (troops).

.
Kalmuk


COSSACK REGIMENT

1 polkovnik (colonel)
1 podpolkovnik (colonel-lieutenant)
- his was present in less than half of all Don regiments
1 voiskovoi starshina
1 quartermaster - in the rank of sotnik (lieutenant)
1 polkovyi pisar also called kaznachei (regimental clerk, cashier)
2 pisar (clerks in the rank of NCO)
1 judge
1 putzer (colonel's servant, non-combatant)

I Sotnia (Troop)
called Right Flank Sotnia - or - Colonel's Sotnia
1 yesaul (captain), 1 sotnik (lieutenant) and 1 horunzhii (ensign)
4 uriadnik (NCOs), 10 diesiatnik, 100 privates
::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: :::::

II Sotnia (Troop)
1 yesaul (captain), 1 sotnik (lieutenant) and 1 horunzhii (ensign)
4 uriadnik (NCOs), 10 diesiatnik, 100 privates
::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: :::::

III Sotnia (Troop)
1 yesaul (captain), 1 sotnik (lieutenant) and 1 horunzhii (ensign)
4 uriadnik (NCOs), 10 diesiatnik, 100 privates
::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: :::::

IV Sotnia (Troop)
1 yesaul (captain), 1 sotnik (lieutenant) and 1 horunzhii (ensign)
4 uriadnik (NCOs), 10 diesiatnik, 100 privates
::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: :::::

V Sotnia (Troop)
called Left Flank Sotnia - or - Lieutenant-Colonel's Sotnia
1 yesaul (captain), 1 sotnik (lieutenant) and 1 horunzhii (ensign)
4 uriadnik (NCOs), 10 diesiatnik, 100 privates
::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: ::::: :::::

.

Two or three regiments (sometimes more) formed Cossack brigade. Cossack regiments and brigades were attached to the regular troops. They made life easier for the uhlans and hussars, as they did the scouting and patroling. There were also two or three Cossack corps composed of several brigades. (The Cossacks were rarely formed in divisions.) There were also several individual regiments assigned as escort to army headquarters.

more here.

среда, 12 мая 2010 г.

Russian gold coins

Russian gold coins reflect the grandiosity of the old empires in Russia. Every coronation of a new tsar also signals a new coinage.

The Russian government has a record of the total number of gold coins it has produced from the 10th to 18th century. However, no one really knows for sure how many of the Russian gold coins have survived today.Before 1745, gold coins from Russia were made in other countries until gold reserves were discovered in the Ural Mountains.

It was not until the recent times that many Russians became interested in numismatics. Post-war Russia was more concerned in reconstructing its economic stability. The extravagant hobby of coin collecting did not appeal to many Russians. During the trying times, many Russian gold coins were melted for their gold melt value.

Brief history of the Russian gold coinage

In numismatic history, Russia was the last country to stop using the medieval method of hammering coins. However, Russia was also the first country to adopt the modern decimal-based coinage.

The ancient Russian gold were minted and imported from the neighboring European countries. These gold coins were crudely minted from the 10th to 18th century. Before 1745, Russia did not know its vast gold reserves until it was discovered in the Ural Mountains. Since then, there was a steady production of Russian gold coins in the succeeding years.

The Imperial Russian gold coins were mostly produced by the aristocrats from the 18th century to 1917. The Russian soviet was in power from 1917 to1992 and it was minting a few gold coins for their currency. After the communist state, the new Russian republic began minting gold bullion coins.


Ancient Russian gold coin - The zlatniki was struck for Prince Vladimir I after the year 988. It weighed about 4 grams.

The first Russian gold coins


Russian gold coins


The first Russian coin was called the zlatniki which means "a piece of gold" in Russian. It was struck for Vladimir, the Grand Duke of Kiev.

Other early Russian gold coins were the kopeks, poltinas, ugorski and novodels. However, most of the first Russian gold coins did not have a legal tender. They were mainly for awards during the hunting season and as trade coins.

In 1612, the gold ducats were circulated in Russia and also in Holland and Sweden. The ducats were gold coins were made in Austria and were exported to other nations.


The Chevronets

In 1701, the first Russian chevronets or ugorski were minted. The chervonet was the collective name for various foreign gold coins circulated in Russia before the reign of Peter I. The chevronets were also called tchervonets, chevervontsy, and czerwony.

The gold chervontsy were mostly composed of Dutch ducats and sequins. They were minted until 1757 until they were displaced by the gold rubles.

The gold Roubles


Russian Roubles - The obverse of the 1897 Roubles features the effigy of Tsar Nicholas II.


Russia changed coinage in 1704 to give way to the Roubles or rubles. The first circulated Russian gold coins were produced during the regime of Peter I, the Great.

When the St. Petersburg Mint was established in 1724, Peter, the Great made a nominal decree to mint gold coins. The striking discovery of the Russian gold reserves in the Ural Mountains also paved the way to the production of more gold roubles.

The first 10 Rouble gold coin was introduced by Tsarina Elizabeth Petrowna. By 1755 The 20 Rouble coin was in the mainstream circulation among the important European coins from France, England, and Netherlands. The gold 5 Rouble and 10 Rouble coins were also circulated.

The popular Russian imperial coins are the following:

Alexander III - Gold 10 Markkaa 1882
Nicholas II - Gold 20 Markkaa 1912
Nicholas II - five rubles 1897
Nicolas II - five rubles 1898
Nicolas II - five rubles, 1900


The soviet chervonets


The communist state of Russia was minting gold chervontsy in the years 1923 and 1925.

The revival of the Chervontsy

When Russia became a communist state in 1922, the new currency was renamed chervonets. The Soviet Russian currency was backed by the gold standard.

Gold chervonets that were equivalent to 10 Roubles were minted in 1923 (under the RSFSR) and 1925 (under the USSR). Today, only five chervontsy pieces dated 1925 have survived. These chervonets are displayed in Russian museums that house the famous coin collections.

In 1980, thousands of 1920 chervontsy restrikes, with a face value of 100 Roubles, were made as commemorative coins for the Moscow Summer Olympics. The new chervonets became a big hit among gold coin investors.


Russian Ballet gold coin

This gold bullion coin is the one of the modern precious metal coins from the Russian Federation.

The modern Russian gold bullion coins

The present Russian Federation has a notable series of three gold bullion coins. These Russian gold coins feature the Russian ballet, the Russian wildlife, and the zodiac signs.

The word gold coin bullion market has a strong demand for Russian gold bullion coins. However, just like the Russian numismatic gold coins, they have a low supply.

Source:www.2-cliks-coins.com

пятница, 7 мая 2010 г.

Surviving the siege

When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Adolf Hitler ordered his troops to capture the country’s European territories by November. Leningrad, the second biggest Soviet city after Moscow, was a top priority in that plan. During a siege that lasted for 900 days, the city lost more than 700,000 people. Meet the amazing men and women who survived the blockade in a new XL report on RT.





THE LENINGRAD SYMPHONY


Braving the terrible odds of the Nazi siege, Leningrad was holding its own and stubbornly refused to surrender. Marshal Georgy Zhukov later wrote in his memoirs that “war history had never before seen such battlefield valiance and home front heroism, as was displayed by the unbending defenders of Leningrad.”

Besides their daily toil of defending the city, keeping its plants and factories rolling and tending to the wounded, the Leningraders were also writing poems and music. It was then and there that the renowned Russian composer Dmitry Shostakovich wrote his famous Seventh Symphony that immediately became a stirring anthem to the unvanquished city on the Neva.

Refusing to leave the city with the rest of the Philharmonic Society early in the war, Shostakovich was bombarding the local recruitment centers with demands to send him out to the frontlines. All his pleas turned down, he then joined his friends digging trenches outside the city. After his attempt to join the militia also fell flat, Shostakovich signed with the local firefighters squad and, during his duty hours on the Conservatory roof, was putting out incendiary bombs the Nazis dropped on the city. It was during those trying days that he actually decided to write his larger-than-life Seventh Symphony…

In a radio message broadcast on September 20, 1941 Dmitry Shostakovich said: “An hour ago I finished writing the second part of my big new symphony… Why am I telling you this? Because I want all the Leningraders who are listening to me to know that life goes on and we are all doing our duty…”

The Leningrad radio orchestra was now too small to play the Seventh Symphony though. The score called for 80 musicians and there was only a handful of them spared by famine and the enemy bullets at the frontlines… Then they made a radio announcement inviting the musicians who were still alive to join in. Unit commanders were instructed to dispatch their musicians with special passes, which said that they had been relieved from combat duty to perform the Seventh Symphony by Dmitry Shostakovich.

Finally, they all got together for the first rehearsal, their hands roughened from combat duty, trembling from malnutrition but everybody still Dmitry Shostakovich as a firefighterclinging to their instruments as if for their own life… That was the shortest rehearsal ever, lasting for just 15 minutes because that was all the emaciated players could afford… And play they did and conductor Karl Eliasberg who was trying his best not to go down himself now knew that the orchestra would play the symphony…

August 9, 1942 was just another day in the Nazi-besieged city. But not for the musicians, though, who, visibly uplifted, were busily preparing for the first ever public performance of the Seventh Symphony. Karl Eliasberg later wrote recalling that memorable day: “The chandeliers were all aglow in the Philharmonic Hall jam packed by writers, artists and academics. Military men were also very much in presence, most of them right from the battlefront…”

The conductor, his tuxedo dangling freely from his emaciated body, stepped to the pulpit, his baton trembling in his hand. The next moment it went up and the hall filled with the stirringly beautiful chords of one of the best music Shostakovich had ever written in his whole life…

When the last cord trailed off there was a momentary silence. Then the whole place literally exploded with thunderous applause. People went up to their feet all, tears rolling down their faces, tears of joy and pride…

Buoyed by the deafening success of their performance and visibly proud of themselves, the musicians were happily hugging each other like soldiers do winning a major battle…

A German soldier who picked up the radio broadcast of that memorable concert was stunned by what he heard: “When I heard Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony being broadcast from the famine-stricken Leningrad I realized that we would never be able to take it. Realizing that, I surrendered…”

The Germans never managed to capture the city. In January 1944 the Red Army counterattacked ending the deadly siege of Leningrad which lasted for 900 days and nights and made Russia’s northern capital an enduring symbol of Soviet courage and invincibility…

Source:The Voice of Russia

BARNAUL

By Lyubov Tsarevskaya


Посмотреть на Яндекс.Фотках

Barnaul, an administrative center of the Altai Region, is one of the oldest cities in Western Siberia. It lies on the Ob River and is located in the very heart of Eurasia, a sort of crossroads through which pass the shortest land routes from Europe into Asia.

Barnaul grew into a city due to rich copper deposits discovered at the foothills of Altai. In 1727 an enterprising manufacturer, Akinfii Demidov built the first in Siberia copper smelting works in the estuary of the Barnaulka River, an Ob tributary. The facility was named Kolyvan-Voskresensk after the nearby Lake Kolyvan and Voskresensk mine.

The numerous silver decorations found in the ancient Chinese burial mounds suggested to Demidov’s ore miners that there was silver in the Altai Ridge. And indeed, soon afterwards silver ore was discovered near Snake’s Mount and a silver ore smelting facility was built next to the copper works. As the treasury needed silver, the Demidov silver mines along with the vast expanses of territory in Western Siberia were made royal property by Empress Elizabeth’s decree. In the 18th and the first half of the 19th century Altai smelted 90 % of Russian silver and the Barnaul silver smelting plant was the biggest in the region. It is no wonder then that over a short period of time the small village of Barnaul grew into one of the biggest cities in Siberia. The city’s coat of arms depicted a galloping horse and a silver smelting furnace. The furnace symbolized silver mining as the city’s major asset and the horse was on the emblem of the Tomsk Province, to which Barnaul belonged. In Russian history there are only two mining cities – Yekaterinburg and Barnaul.

Highly qualified mining engineers in Barnaul built houses of which the writer Ivan Kushchevsky wrote that many of the richest structures in Barnaul were painted black and designed in the style of English cottage, where the upper and lower floors make up one whole with the sauna, billiard room and the library. The dwellings seemed genuinely luxurious and comfortable and the big clean windows gazed with warmth against the black background. Never have I seen a comfy little town like that, the writer said, no old wooden structures were anywhere in sight and every house looked as good as new. Shining window glass, shining copper on window frames and door handles gave the streets a festive look.

A community of highly educated mining engineers and office workers, cultural establishments, an amateur theatre, a museum and the libraries flatteringly distinguished Barnaul from other Siberian cities. The city was known as the Siberian Eldorado, the Small Corner of Petersburg, the Siberian Athens.

In the second half of the 19th – early 20th century, after a decline in natural resources and of the mining industry, Barnaul abandoned the unhurried pace of an aristocrat for the lively vigour of a business person. Altai grew excellent wheat and Barnaul concentrated all bread business in its hands. Thirteen piers stretched along the Ob with ships and barges taking on bread to deliver it to areas across Siberia, to the Urals and further to the European part of Russia.

Along with bread Barnaul traded in butter, which was a popular brand far beyond the bounds of the Russian Empire for the smaller percentage of water and salt in it. There were times when transport failed to handle the haulage of such vast quantities of butter causing an overproduction crisis, so butter prices dropped so low that it was used as lubricant for wheel.

Trade enriched the city attracting substantial capitals. Barnaul was rapidly changing face and the streets flowered with luxury mansions and shops. There were plans to develop new territories and turn industrial Barnaul into a “garden city”.

On May 2nd 1917 the city lost a total of 60 residential areas as a result of a fire and more than 15 thousand people were left homeless. The fire marked a symbolic turning point in Barnaul’s history. Soviets came to Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution that same year and Barnaul faced a new chapter in its history.

From 1917 to 1920 Barnaul was the scene of a fratricidal Civil war that finished off its economy, already damaged by the fire. In the 1930s, after the commissioning of Turksib, a railway connecting Central Asia with Western Siberia, and the construction of the first in Siberia textile mill reprocessing cotton from Central Asia, Barnaul’s economy began to return back to life.

Now an administrative center of the Altai Region, rich in natural resources, agricultural lands with a powerful production potential, Barnaul has excellent prospects for further development.


Посмотреть на Яндекс.Фотках

Source:The Voice of Russia

четверг, 6 мая 2010 г.

Koshchey the Deathless


Ivan Bilibin


Koshchey the Deathless gallops naked through the wild Caucus mountains with his long spindly legs trailing in the dust.

In this picture by Ivan Bilibin, he is seen brandishing his sabre, shrieking blood-curdling threats and urging the spirits of the steppes to come to his aid.

I like the cloud formations . . .

Koshchey the Deathless also known as Koshchey the Immortal

In Russian Koshchey is known as "Koshchey Bessmertny" which means deathless or immortal (thanks to Mike Harris in Moscow for this information).

Variant spellings of his name are: Koschey, Katschei/Koshchey/Kashey

In Russian folklore Koshchey is an evil sorcerer of terrifying appearance who gallops naked around the wild Caucus mountain range on his magic steed.

He is also a shape-shifter, who takes the form of a whirlwind or a storm wind. He is a nature spirit representing the destructive powers of nature.

He is fond of stealing beautiful women, often the bride of the hero.

Like his female counterpart Baba Yaga, he also has powers over the elements. Dark clouds suddenly appear amidst thunder and lightning when he comes on the scene.

As a shape-changer, Kotschey usually takes the form of a whirlwind and makes off with his victims in this form. He may also come under cover of a mist or fog and can fly through the air.

Koschey is called the deathless, or immortal because his soul/spirit/life force or his "death" as he calls it, is hidden in a remote, inaccessible place, separate from his body.

Koshchey's soul/spirit/ is often hidden in a duck's egg, inside a hare, which in turn is inside a chest buried under the roots of a mighty oak tree, on an island in the middle of the ocean.

Sometimes his "death" may be hidden in the point of a needle inside the duck's egg. Although called deathless or immortal, Kotschey may die if the hero finds out where the egg that contains his life force or, as he calls it, his "death", is hidden.

If the egg is broken, it's goodnight for Kotschey too. Anyone possessing this egg has Koshchey in their power. He begins to weaken, becomes sick and immediately loses all his magic powers.


Viktor Vasnetsov
Kashchei the Immortal


In one story the egg is thrown at his forehead and he drops down dead.

Imprisoned in the palace of the warrior princess Maria Morevna for ten years, Koshchey is freed by the unwitting hero.

In this story the egg with his soul/spirit/death in it is not mentioned at all. Instead, he receives a kick in the head from one of Baba Yaga's magical steeds. After the horse kills him, the hero Ivan cuts Koshchey's head off, burns it and scatters the ashes to the four winds, presumably just to be on the safe side.

Koshchey's appearance:

Tall, boney, fearful to look upon. As Baba Yaga says:

' Medusa's got nothing on you, Kotschey dear .'

Maria Morewnas description of him:

He sports a wild mane of tangled seaweed-like hair which stands up all around a lean and bony face. From beneath those craggy brows peer hooded, unblinking reptilian eyes. A raven's beak of a nose juts out over a cavernous mouth from which now and then one may catch a glimpse of several large crooked teeth. Mouth may change shape according to mood.

His beard: Mottled-grey and scraggly, unsightly after meals.

Skin: Scaly, rough, forever shedding, more snake-like than human.

Method of fighting: Wraps or coils himself around his foes. Finger nails and toe nails long and claw-like (he never cuts his hair, finger or toe nails - to preserve his 'life-force' as he calls it/his lack of clothing may also be attributed to these peculiar 'life-force preservation' reasons).

On the inside of Koshchey's scrawny long ape-like arms are venom glands. (His blames Maria Morewna for his arms being so long - he complained once that hanging out in her dungeon for 10 years didn't do his posture any good).

During battle he has been known to lick these venomous parts and then bite his adversary thus causing intense pain and immobility.

Can change his voice at will. Terrifies his opponents with blood-curdling cries. Has also been known to use his voice to charm and induce sleep when necessary.

When astride his magical steed, Kotschey likes to throw off his flamboyant fish-skin clothes and it is said that he thus takes on the magical powers of his mount.

His fish-skin clothes, which he scatters behind him, are blown away and scattered by the four winds. Flocks of ravens gather behind him to fight over and devour these shreds. Shreds of his clothing may be sometimes seen flapping in the tree tops throughout the steppes.

Thus freed from all worldly constraints he gallops naked through the wild Caucus mountains with his long spindly legs trailing in the dust. In the picture by Ivan Bilibin, he is seen brandishing his sabre, shrieking blood-curdling threats and urging the spirits of the steppes to come to his aid.

Quite an emotional character, it is said that he will weep with rage for hours afterwards when outwitted by his quarry and his sobbing and wailing often echoes throughout the Caucuses, terrifying both man and beast alike.

During times of stress he may change himself into a storm or a whirlwind. In his spare time he seems to be off hunting quite a lot, although it is not specified what it is that he is hunting.

Although cunning, one of his weaknesses is that he is extremely vain and therefore may be outwitted by a woman pretending to find him irresistible.

He has twelve sisters (also shape-shifters) who come to avenge his death and who seem to be almost as charming as Koshchey himself.

Although Koshchey is a powerful sorcerer, he seems to be down the hierarchical ladder a rung or two to Baba Yaga. In one story he works as a herdsman for her in order to earn one of her magical steeds. This horse has the power of speech and gives Koshchey invaluable advice.

His favourite drink: A fermented drink make of green tea, sour goat's milk and salt.

He craves female company, and although he can turn on a charming voice at will, Kotschey is anything but a smooth talker.

When Maria Morewna is trying to pump him for information and plays up to him, he once again fails to realize that one of his oft-repeated remarks: "Foolish woman, long of hair: short of wit", does not do anything to improve his chances with her.

Beating about the bush is one of Koshchey's rules of thumb: for Koshchey to speak directly is to lose his power or 'life force'.

When she asks him about the time he spent at Baba Yaga's hut and where he got his horse he replies: "Three days there and I learned as much as in three years."

Koshchey is able to "far see" - he has the ability to see with his eyes closed.

A song he is fond of singing when he has drunk enough Kwas: (Some say he penned it himself while he was hanging out in Maria Morewna's dungeon)

Amidst great Rocks

Koschey the Deathless leaping,

Onward rides,

Wild and fierce

And free again from chains.



Like the storm he howls and weeping,

Sprays the steppes

With burning tears of rage.

Source:www.oldrussia.net