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Perm Wooden Sculpture
November 30, 2010 08:13


Cult wooden sculpture is a vivid phenomenon in Russian art. On a par with icons and works of decorative and applied arts it was part of artistic ensembles of ancient churches and chapels. The earliest monuments that have come down to us are dated to the 14th-15th centuries. The heyday of Old Russian wooden sculpture fell on the 16th-17th centuries. In the 18th century, together with other kinds of cult art, the sculpture acquired new features and peculiarities.

The Perm wooden sculpture, in that sense that is known today, was not started from scratch. In the Urals they have long known the so-called Perm animal style used in manufacture of bronze and copper plates with cut out figures of sacred animals, mythical creatures and the man. It is hard to say now if their major function was aesthetic or sacral.

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Besides, it was a custom among the local people, with their belief in spirits and a developed pantheon of local pagan gods, to represent deities and spirits in the form of wooden idols. One can now only guess about the detailed elaboration and the mastery of depicting of those wooden idols, but one can surmise that the artistic level was rather high. Subsequently it naturally found its reflection in the Perm wooden sculpture of the Christian type.

One fact about wooden sculptures of Christ seems extremely interesting. The point is that canonically the church strictly forbade three-dimensional images of Jesus Christ. In 1722 and 1767 the Holy Governing Synod for some reason strictly forbade volume images of Jesus— only the iconic “flat” pictures were allowed. The history of Russia knows only two facts of the 3D image of the figure and face of Jesus Christ. It means there were only two exceptions: the first one — on the sarcophagus with sacred hallows in Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra (Monastery of Kievan Caves), and the second one … in the Northern Urals!

It should be noted that churchmen allowed cutting out of wood not Jesus Christ himself, but only the saints, however, Christ's sculptures have also remained till date.

Everything is unique about these figures: the technique, the poses, the plots, and, especially, the Christ’s face. The matter is that indigenous population of the Northern Urals were komi-permyaki and hanty-mansi (voguls) tribes, which are of the Asian type with characteristic Asian features.

It is evident that the sculptors were themselves representatives of the local population, since Jesus’ features are obviously Asian. One can still see Christ with strongly marked Asian cheekbones and eyes exhibited in the Religion and Belief Museum in Cherdyn town of the Perm Territory!

Very few examples of cult wooden sculpture have remained in their original places today: in Cherdyn, Solikamsk (in Voskresensky Church and Svyatotroitsky Monastery), Pokcha or other villages and settlements. Most of the sculptures have been transferred to the central museums and galleries of Russia.

The unique collection of the Perm State Art Gallery in the city of Perm reflects the evolution of Russian sculpture. It is one of the most famous museum collections of Russia that developed in the 1920s-40s thanks to expeditions in the north of the Perm Territory. The work was initiated by A.K.Syropyatov, who soon left for Moscow, and continued and developed by N.N.Serebrennikov. Today the Gallery keeps almost 400 unique sculptures.

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Sources:
northural.ru
permonline.ru


V.Ivanova


Tags: Russian Arts and Crafts Russian Sculpture Wooden Sculptures Perm Perm Territory 

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