From March 17 to May 10, 2022, the State Museum of Oriental Art will host the exhibition “Animals and Fantastic Creatures in the Ancient Civilization of Eurasia”.
The exhibition will feature exhibits from the collections of the Department of Material History, Culture and Ancient Art of the Museum of Oriental Art. The department was organized on the initiative of the famous archaeologist, historian and outstanding organizer Alexander Mikhailovich Leskov in 1981 and celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2021.
Most of the exhibits were obtained during excavations carried out by archeological missions of the State Museum of Oriental Art in the Northwest Caucasus (Republic of Adygea and Krasnodar Territory), Chukotka and Central Asia (Republic of Uzbekistan).
Some of the objects exhibited in the exhibition were transferred to the Museum of the East for permanent storage by the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and by the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In total, more than 200 museum objects will be exhibited.
All the peoples of the Earth have beliefs about animals. Unusual and mysterious properties were attributed to several true mammals, birds and amphibians. Among them are people endowed with supernatural qualities.
Based on these ideas, a religious system, totemism, developed in primitive society. This is an idea of a supernatural connection, kinship of a breed or race of people with a particular species of animal. The totem is an animal that was considered the ancestor of the breed, its ancestor.
Images of animals, which are certainly identified with divine characters living, according to cosmological tradition, at the lower, middle and upper levels of the universe, are present in almost all graphic images of the World Tree, both of which have reached us and are known from ethnographic sources.
An objective and very vivid reflection of all these ideas are works of artistic culture and objects of decorative and applied art, found as a result of archaeological excavations in the territory of Eurasia.
First of all, these are the objects of the “Animal Style”, which in 2-3 thirds of the 1st millennium BC. μι. was widespread in a vast territory from the Dnieper to the Sayan and was a kind of “lingua franca” of the Eurasian steppes.
One of the areas where these objects were widespread is the North Caucasus, where the “Animal Style” is represented by products of the Meo-Scythian animal art. The images of animals and imaginary creatures in the territory of Eurasia are known not only in the form of “Animal Style” objects.
In Chukotka, in the strange culture of the Arctic Ocean, arctic animals and birds, the heroes of myths and fairy tales that have survived to the present day, were the main characters in the art of their ancestors – the ancient Eskimos of Chukotka , who lived in the 1st millennium AD. μι.
In the territory of Central Asia and the whole of the Middle East, the representations of the Gods in the form of animals and imaginary creatures are expressed not only in objects of “Animal Style”, which are known in the materials of cattle. Images of animals and multifaceted characters exist both in household vases and in monumental murals and sculptures.
You can find out more on the organizers website: https://orientmuseum.ru/events/2022/vistavka_bestiariy/index.php
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