Introduction: On the History of Oriental Studies (by Natalia Sychova)
The Museum of Oriental Art founded in Moscow in October 1918 by decree of the Soviet government is the only museum in the Soviet Union wholly devoted to Eastern art. It is one of the largest centres in which artistic monuments of Asiatic and African peoples are accumulated, preserved, studied and popularized.
The creation of such a museum in Russia was rendered possible by the October Revolution of 1917, which gave real freedom and equality to all nations and ethnic groups of the former Russian Empire. The foundation of the Museum specially devoted to Oriental art was a manifestation of the national policy of the young Soviet state- the policy which was based upon Lenin's principles of acknowledging the right of every nation to self-determination. It was also a manifestation of a deep respect for the peoples of the East, who had made their invaluable contribution to the history of civilization.
The Museum has played an important role in the studies of the art and culture of the East, particularly in the solution of the so-called "West versus East" problem posed by European science.
The notions of East and West had existed in the time of the Phoenicians and ancient Greeks, but for centuries afterwards, from the historical and cultural points of view, the Old World was not divided into East and West. The destinies of the peoples of the West and of the East were interlinked since ancient times and merged into one complex whole.
The history of ancient Greece, where the notion of the Oriental world covered both the lands east of the Aegean Sea and Greek colonies in Asia Minor, encompasses the history of both Europe and Asia. It is common knowledge that ancient East played an important role in the formation of the Antique culture.
The Hellenistic world which established itself as a result of Alexander the Great's conquests embraced Greece in Europe, Egypt in Africa and vast areas of the Middle East and Central Asia. The formation of "the kingdom of the Greeks in the heart of Asia", i.e. the Greek Empire which extended as far as Bactria and which possessed a unique culture amalgamating Greek and Bactrian traditions, is a vivid example illustrating the historical fusion of the ancient West and East.
During the Roman period the "Quartet of the Ancient Empires"-Rome, the Parthian, Han and Kushan kingdoms-spread their influence over the entire Old World. They were connected by the first transcontinental trade route in the history of civilization-the Great Silk Route- and maintained extensive commercial and diplomatic contacts with the countries of the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Central Asia, Hindustan and the Far East. That was the era of "tight cultural links and mutual enrichment, of mutual attraction of nations and cultures, of peaceful development and progress" (Á. Ã. Ãàôóðîâ, Êóøàíñêàÿ ýïîõà è ìèðîâàÿ öèâèëèçàöèÿ, Ì., 1968, ñ. 20 [Â. Gafurov, The Kushan Epoch and World Civilization, Moscow, 1968, p. 20].). This, however, did not prevent the Romans from having a view of the East as of a peculiar world, a world of coarseness and ignorance compared with the Roman and Greek worlds and Europe as a whole. Thus, Strabo in his geographical writings referred to Europe as a unique part of the world superior to all other parts. The Roman claim of superiority-military, political and cultural-over the nations of the East gave new meaning to the notions of "East" and "West", although the Roman Empire itself was far from being an exclusively European state, either in terms of geography or culture.
During the Middle Ages the historically conditioned affinity of the West and the East persisted as before. Characteristically, it was the East that after the fall of Rome took the lead in artistic development-hence the flourishing of Byzantine art which, according to E. Redin, a well-known Byzantologist, was "a revival of Classical Greek art on new fertile soil and under new favourable conditions" (Èñòîðèÿ åâðîïåéñêîãî èñêóññòâîçíàíèÿ. Âòîðàÿ ïîëîâèíà XIX âåêà- íà÷àëî XXâåêà, ò. 2, Ì., 1969, ñ. 12 [History of European Art Studies. The Second Half of the 19th and Early 20th Centuries, vol.2, Moscow, 1969, p. 12].).
Both the West and the East were affected in the Middle Ages by the Huns, Turks, Arabs and Mongols whose activity extended from Eastern Asia to Central and even Western Europe.
Despite the fact that at the time of the Crusades Western Europe adopted the Roman concept of the West's superiority over the East, the latter was ahead of the former in terms of the progress of civilization at its medieval stage. The achievements of Indian, Chinese, Arab, Iranian and Mid-Asiatic cultures of that time are indisputable. Not only in art and literature, but also in other branches of knowledge and in the sphere of material culture the countries of the East definitely surpassed the West.
It was only at the time of major social and economic changes which occurred in European countries between the 14th and 18th centuries, at the time when capitalism was superseding feudalism, at the time of discoveries and cultural progress, that the East began gradually falling behind Europe-first economically, then politically and culturally. Colonial expansion by European countries was on the one hand accelerating the decline of feudalism and the growth of capitalism, and on the other hampering the development of Oriental countries. Therefore, the West with its Renaissance and later with its modern culture was opposed by the East with its old feudal one. As a result the East was treated by the Europeans as an utterly different and alien world. This view became one of the reasons why the modern humanities which had originated in Europe were for a long time concerned mainly with the history and culture of the West, while those of the East were the subjects of a separate branch of knowledge-Oriental studies.
The appearance of that discipline in Europe was preceded by a practical, first-hand acquaintance with the countries of the East, by the accumulation of data and facts connected with the great age of discoveries and colonial expansion.
Numerous diplomats, merchants, missionaries and travellers in the 15th and 16th centuries recorded their impressions of various Asiatic countries. As a result, a considerable amount of material on the geography and languages of the East was eventually collected. In the 16th century in Paris and in the 17th century in Oxford Oriental languages were introduced into the curricula of universities, for practical rather than purely scholarly reasons. At the same time the first dictionaries of Arabic and Persian were published in Europe.
The interest of the Europeans in Eastern culture was at that time largely superficial and did not go far beyond mere curiosity. Some Europeans, however, were even then ready to admit that there was a lot to be learnt from the East. Thus, they were convinced of the superiority of Eastern medicine and mathematics. Handicraft articles from the East, for example carpets and rugs, were greatly valued in Europe. It was not by accident therefore that Oriental rugs found their way into the paintings of some Italian Renaissance artists, among them a Madonna by Lippo Memmi (1350), The Betrothal of Mary by Niccolo Buonaccorso (1380), Family Group by Lorenzo Lotto (1523-25) and the murals of the Pistoia cathedral executed by Lorenzo di Credi (1475). Eastern carpets also figure in pictures by 15th- to 17th-century Dutch and German artists and by 16th- and 17th-century English artists. Indian textiles were likewise in great demand in 16th-century Western Europe.
The interest and the thirst for knowledge in the spheres of art and culture were reciprocal. We know that in the early 14th century the Chinese had produced their first copies of Western European paintings, and three hundred years later the missionary Matteo Ricci supervised the production of an enlarged copy of a European print for Emperor Wang-Li. In the middle of the 16th century, European paintings first appeared in Japan. In 1565 the missionary Luis Froes commissioned Japanese jewellers to execute part of the altar for the chapel at Sakai near Osaka, and in 1585 Giovanni Nicolao founded St. Luke's Academy in Nagasaki, where he taught the Japanese the techniques of oil- and fresco-painting and print-making.
In the 17th and early 18th centuries the scope of knowledge about the East was growing particularly fast. It was the time when Oriental studies lost their practical implications and acquired a scholarly character. The literature on the subject was becoming more extensive, the written sources more numerous; some universities acquired large collections of Oriental manuscripts; old and contemporary Oriental texts began to be published in Europe both in the original and in translation; the range of Eastern languages taught and studied in Europe grew considerably, and comprehensive dictionaries of those languages were published along with detailed descriptions of Oriental countries containing information on their geography, history and culture. Moreover, the artistic legacy of the East was becoming an object of imitation.
Carpaccio and Rembrandt were fascinated by the beauty of Oriental miniatures to the point of copying them. Wat-teau, who was familiar with Chinese painting, believed himself to be working in the Chinese manner, although he had never studied it especially and was playing with Chinese motifs rather than anything else. Porcelain articles exported from China were highly valued in Europe and, having become a model for imitation, eventually stimulated the appearance of 17th-century Delft faience. In the 18th century, Oriental motifs become fashionable in interior decoration, exert a powerful influence upon the minor arts and, changed beyond recognition, finally become an integral part of Rococo.
Furthermore, the East is known to have influenced the writers and philosophers of the Enlightenment.
The second half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th marked a new stage in the evolution of the relationship between the West and the East. It was characterized by a further expansion of European colonial empires, by Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, by the establishment of British rule in India, by a flow of English and American missionaries into China and, finally, by a closer and less superficial acquaintance of the Europeans with the East. Upon this acquaintance the Europeans were stunned by the ancient civilizations revealed to them. European scholars succeeded in deciphering the hieroglyphic writing system of Egypt and also Old Persian, Assyrian and Babylonian cuneiform script. A translation of Avesta appeared; Sanscrit and Chinese took their place in university curricula. Special institutions for teaching Oriental languages were opened in Vienna and Paris. Comparative studies of Sanscrit and European languages gave birth to a new discipline-comparative linguistics. Fundamental works on the history and culture of the ancient and medieval East started appearing in Europe. In some countries special Asiatic societies were established-The Bengal Asiatic Society in Calcutta, The Royal Asiatic Society in London, The Asiatic Society in Paris, The German Society for Oriental Studies in Leipzig, etc.
It was not only scholars whose interest in the East was stimulated by Oriental literature. Victor Hugo wrote in the Preface to Les Orientales: "At the time of Louis XIV there appeared the Hellenists. Nowadays one has to be an Orientalist. . . Shall we not see farther and deeper if we study antiquity in the ancient East?" The idea of a cultural synthesis of the West and the East was at that time also contemplated by Johann Wolfgang Goethe in his book of poems, West-Ostlicher Divan.
While the scholars and writers of the time already treated the East as an object for serious study, the artists, especially the Romanticists of the early 19th century, regarded it primarily as an exotic land. This and the newly awakened interest in the freedom-loving Eastern peoples brought some Romanticist poets and artists (among them Lord Byron and Eugene Delacroix) to the East, where they found new sources of inspiration, new motifs and images, and new heroic ideals to be opposed to the mediocrity and pessimism of the bourgeois world.
The influence of the East upon the Western minor arts was at that time growing stronger. Chinese lacquers, porcelain ware, embroidered articles and textiles which charmed the Europeans with their striking decorative-ness, their exquisite finish, their delicate colours and ornamentation were coming into vogue in the West.
At the same time first steps were being made in the field of Oriental art studies. On the whole, this area of knowledge was far less developed than other aspects of Orientalistics, for "by the end of the 18th century the history of art as a discipline did not yet reach beyond isolated observations, brilliant but accidental conjectures and abstract theorizing divorced from the knowledge of real facts" (Èñòîðèÿ åâðîïåéñêîãî èñêóññòâîçíàíèÿ. Ïåðâàÿ ïîëîâèíà XIXâåêà, Ì., 1965, ñ. 7 [History of European Art Studies. The First Half of the 19th Century, Moscow, 1965, p. 7].). However, towards the close of the 18th and in the first half of the 19th century the foundations which ensured the future development of Oriental art history were laid. Of primary importance was the growth of museum activity. Although the idea of opening public art museums had been first expressed by the Encyclopaedists, little had been done until after the French Revolution, when in 1792 by decree of the Convention the Louvre was declared a public museum in which nationalized royal and private collections were to be displayed. After Napoleon's Egyptian campaign in which a group of French scholars had taken part with the aim of studying, sketching and measuring ancient Egyptian monuments, the Egyptian Institute was founded in Paris. It housed a large collection of Oriental art. The early 19th century saw the opening of many of the largest European art galleries and museums.
In the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th the East was drawn even more closely to Europe. It was a result of numerous researches carried out by the scholars of that time, and also of the work of artists which introduced the Western world to Oriental art. Meanwhile, further accumulation and systematization of data concerning the ancient and medieval history of the Eastern countries were going on, series of Oriental texts were published and dictionaries of Oriental languages compiled. The largest European collections of Oriental manuscripts and books were being catalogued and the catalogues published. Archaeological research was carried out on a large scale in India, Afghanistan and Asia Minor. The ruins of Petra, Samarra and ancient Phoenician towns were among the sites which attracted archaeologists of that time. Congresses of Orientalists became fairly regular. In short, the need for a transition "from generalizations to specialization and a thorough study of the history of particular countries, peoples and periods on the basis of authentic records" (. Áàðòîëüä, Èñòîðèÿ èçó÷åíèÿ Âîñòîêà â Åâðîïå è Ðîññèè, Ë., 1925, ñ. 161 [V. Bartold, History of Oriental Studies in Europe and Russia, Leningrad, 1925, p.161].) was becoming increasingly urgent.
The achievements of Oriental studies, exploration of new countries, discovery of previously unknown relics of the past, as well as the transformation of art history into a full-fledged university discipline, resulted in a considerably broadened scope of knowledge. The first publications on Eastern art were followed by fundamental works on the history of European, Asiatic and African art. Thus, for example, the eight-volume Geschichte der bildenden Kunste (1843-79) by the German scholar K.Schnaase included sections on the Ancient East, China, India and the Arab countries.
Among the issues with which European art historians were concerned at that time was the relationship between Oriental and Western art, particularly the role of Eastern art in the development of art in Europe. An eminent representative of the Austrian school, A. Riegl, in his book Stilfragen. Grundlegungen zu einer Geschichte der Ornamentik, traced the influence of the Egyptian and Western Asiatic traditions on Hellenistic ornaments. Another Austrian art historian, J.Strzygowski, and his followers looked for the sources of European art in Asia Minor, Syria and further to the East-in fact, as far as the Altai. G. Millet was concerned with the interaction of Eastern and Western traditions in Byzantine art.
The artistic activity of the time made a considerable contribution to the popularization, understanding and revaluation of Oriental art. Thus, in the middle of the 19th century the English Pre-Raphaelites revealed to the Western world the beauty of the Oriental miniature and of Iranian art, in the 1880s French artists introduced Western Europe to Japanese prints-the art admired by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir and others. After the exhibition of Japanese art which was held in Paris in 1883, and several others that followed, many Western European painters introduced certain principles of Oriental art into their own idiom. The pictorial method of these painters was to a great extent determined by the laws of Eastern art and was characterized by certain principles of spatial treatment, composition, perspective and decorativeness, previously unknown in European painting. It was a step forward. What the Impressionists borrowed from Oriental art was not its exotic and highly ornamental character, but a number of pictorial devices which, combined with traditional European ones, resulted in a totally distinct manner. The discovery of Japanese art therefore had a tremendous effect upon the evolution of Western European painting.
In the face of the conflict which existed in the capitalist world between the technical progress and humanistic ideals, at a time when the isolation and detachment of individuals were growing into a problem, some European artists were again attracted by the East with its age-long traditions and ancient culture. They saw in the East the quest for harmony and the pursuit of stability and integrity.
Both the Post-Impressionists and the Fauvists were, directly or indirectly, influenced by Eastern art. Among the artists whose creative work was affected by Oriental artistic traditions were Pablo Picasso, Andre Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani and Auguste Rodin. Many European writers of that time were equally under the spell of the East-among them Guy de Maupassant, Charles Dickens and Gustave Flaubert. Besides being an object of research for scholars and a source of inspiration for writers, artists and composers, the East became also a fashion to which the public at large was eager to respond in their own way.
The acquaintance with and the study of the artistic and material culture of the East eventually generated an interest for its ethical and religious teachings. The ideology of Buddhism (first in its Chinese variety) penetrated into Europe and, among others, interested such eminent figures of the early 20th-century culture as Remain Rolland, Anatole France, Henri Matisse and Georg Mahler.
At the same time, even though the leading representatives of European culture and thought paid tribute to the East for its great contribution to the history of civilization, the prejudice against Oriental nations and the superior attitude to them, inherited from the first colonial expansion, still persisted. Up to this day some Western scholars, to say nothing of ideologists and politicians, tend to treat the East and the West as two essentially different "branches of mankind". Moreover, the system of social and cultural relations which established itself in Western Europe in the course of modern history is regarded by them as something intrinsically and exclusively Western in kind, while feudal features are viewed as Oriental by origin on the grounds that they still survive in some Asiatic countries. Such an historically ill-grounded approach to the problem of the West-East relationship distinguishes two opposite ideological trends-the "Eurocentric" and the "Orientocentric" ones.
These two trends attracted art historians as well, including some specialists on Oriental art. Thus, A. Riegl, for example, insisted that the peoples of the East-in contrast to the Indo-Europeans who had played an active part in history-were conservative by definition, and, accordingly, their influence upon world culture was a negative, rather than a positive, factor. J. Strzygowski, on the contrary, tried to prove the dependence of Western art upon the art of the East. These claims of superiority of either the West or the East, supported by Western or, alternatively, by Eastern reactionary circles, nowadays can be seen to contradict both the real course of events and the contemporary stage of Oriental studies.
The October Revolution of 1917 in Russia gave freedom to a number of nations of the East which, even without going through the capitalist stage, took the route of Socialism, thus overtaking some of the so-called "progressive" countries of the West. The peoples of the Soviet East nowadays form an integral part of the Soviet Union, and although they have preserved their national identity and their national culture, they are in many respects- politically, economically and culturally-closer to the European peoples of the Soviet Union than to the peoples of the non-socialist East. In other words, "socialism has marked the beginning of the era of national liberation" (Ïðîãðàììà ÊÏÑÑ, Ì., 1972, ñ. 44 [The Programme of the CPSU, Moscow, 1972, p.44].), which, especially if a non-capitalist type of social and economic relationship is chosen, guarantees to the newly liberated peoples the most favourable conditions for economical, political and cultural progress.
Archaeological discoveries have been a powerful factor in the appreciation of Oriental culture in the Western world. Many archaeologists continued the work of their predecessors in several countries of the East. One of the greatest achievements was the discovery of one of the oldest civilizations of the world-the Harappa culture. A great contribution to our knowledge of ancient and medieval history was made by A. Foucher's and R. Ghirshman's work in Afghanistan, by D. Schlumberger's excavations in Iran, etc. The research carried out by E. Herzfeld, Ch. L. Woolley and A. Stein elucidated certain points connected with the study of the Primitive Age and of the earliest agricultural civilizations in the Middle East.
Much has also been done by Western experts on the East along the lines of producing fundamental works on the history of Oriental culture, literature, religious thinking and philosophy. The number of Oriental studies centres has increased considerably, as well as the number and scope of publications on the East.
Oriental art history has received the status of an independent discipline. Enormous material on the art history of different nations and cultural regions of the East has been collected by such eminent specialists in the field as B. Grey, A. Pope, O. Siren and others.
After gaining their national independence, many former colonies in the East began training their own specialists on the history and culture of their peoples. These specialists are now carrying out an extensive research programme aimed at collecting, studying and publishing materials constituting the national cultural legacy. Many of these scholars have been recognized by their European colleagues as the leading authorities in the field.
The materialistic approach to history nowadays attracts an ever-increasing number of supporters among art historians and Orientalists outside the Socialist world. The dialectical materialism which lies at the base of the Marxist method and the internationalist approach have always been the principal tenets of Soviet art history and art criticism. They have ensured a deep understanding and appreciation of the traditions of Russian Oriental studies, as well as the continuity and successful development of these traditions.
Russian Oriental studies as a discipline was always characterized by an almost total lack of national or racial prejudice. Instead, it was traditionally marked by a great respect for the long history and rich culture of Eastern peoples. It was only natural, for the history of some of them had always been closely linked with the history of Russia itself.
The East European Plain, upon which the Old Russian state was formed, due to its geographical position was a link between the West and the East. It was through this plain that- even before the Russian state appeared-the historically recorded "road from the Varangians to the Greeks" had led. The rivers of the plain connected the Baltic and the Caspian Seas, thus providing the waterways between Europe and Asia. This determined the unique character of Old Russian art, which at its earliest stage was already absorbing certain traits of Classical Antiquity on the one hand and Oriental art on the other. The neighbourhood of nomadic tribes, close contacts with Byzantium and, after its conquest by the Crusaders, with the countries of the Middle East, constant ties with the Christian East, the Mongol invasion, the extension of the Russian supremacy beyond the Urals, to the Caucasus, Central Asia and to the Pacific coast-these factors testified to Russia's connection with the East and determined the fascination Russian people have always had for the latter.
The earliest travels of the Russians to the East, according to the surviving records, date back to the period between the 12th and the 15th centuries. They were undertaken by pilgrims to "the Holy Land", i.e.Palestine: the chronicles refer to Father Superior Daniel (12th century), Metropolitan Pimen and Deacon Ignatius (14th century). In the 14th century Russian merchants visited the main city of Kwarasm-Gurgandge, and in the 15th century, when Russia found itself on the principal route connecting Western Europe and Iran, Russian merchants joined foreign legations and trade missions on their way eastwards beyond Kwarasm. One such merchant was Afanasy Nikitin of Tver, the first Russian to visit India. His travel notes describing India-a country "three seas away", as well as the account of travels in China undertook by I. Petlin in the early 17th century and by F. Baikov and N. Spafaria in the second half of the same century, are the earliest written records dealing with the East in Russian literature.
In the 17th and 18th centuries the amount of geographical information pertaining to the East was considerably increased. The notion of Central Asia and Siberia gradually lost its vagueness, and due to the activity of Russian explorers, travellers and scientists, new lands- of whose existence neither ancient nor medieval scholars had been aware-were discovered.
This was the time when the foundations of Russian Oriental studies were laid. In the reign of Peter the Great, who not only "cut a window into Europe", but showed a great interest in the East as well, the practical learning of Oriental languages began in Russia. A Russian religious mission was established in Peking; the activity of the mission paved the way for the beginnings and development of Russian Sinology. In the middle of the 18th century the recognized leader of contemporary Russian science, Mikhail Lomonosov, promoted contacts between Russia and peoples of the East, and was responsible for the opening of an "Oriental academy" and a department of Oriental languages at the University of St. Petersburg. His views were later supported by progressive Russian writers-Nikolai Novikov, Nikolai Karamzin and Alexander Radishchev.
By the early 19th century numerous translations of important works on the geography, history, ethnography and philology of Mongolia, Manchuria, China, Japan and other countries of the East had been published by Russian scholars.
Interest in the Oriental cultural legacy was growing. Peter the Great himself, having visited the ruins of the Volga Bulgars' settlements, gave orders for their preservation. He also commissioned the copying and translation of Tartar and Armenian inscriptions which amounted to an impressive collection of volumes. The so-called Siberian collection of Peter the Great, which included Turkish, Iranian, Indian and Indonesian weapons presented to him by various foreign visitors, Oriental coins and other objets d'art from the East, formed the bulk of the exhibits displayed in the Kunstkammer-the first Russian museum founded by Peter the Great. The expansion of trade with the East resulted in an inflow of Oriental artistic objects, particularly china, which decorated the palaces of the St. Petersburg and Moscow noblemen. It was at these palaces that first private collections of Oriental art were assembled. Precious gifts from the rulers of the East to Russian emperors-objects of the decorative arts from Iran, India, Turkey, etc.-became part of the Kremlin Armoury collection in Moscow. The monasteries and cathedrals possessed fine arrays of Oriental velvets and brocades which were used for the making of vestments. But all these articles were at that time still treated as luxuries rather than objets d'art representing Oriental culture. The urge for studying and systematizing them had not yet been felt, even though they had formed the basis of collections which were built up later.
At the beginning of the 19th century the teaching of Oriental languages was included into university curricula. The first university to take it up was the University of Kazan; the St. Petersburg University followed suit. Oriental studies were recognized by the Imperial Academy as a scholarly discipline in its own right, and a special institution for its promotion-the Asiatic Museum-was opened.
The conditions under which the new discipline developed were far from favourable-it was the time of political reaction and oppression, and the tsarist regime was on its guard against every manifestation of free and progressive thinking. But despite all the difficulties, owing to the remarkable enthusiasm, hard work and talent of the best Russian scholars who devoted themselves to the promotion and development of Oriental studies, the results achieved even at the very first stages were extremely impressive. Thus, as early as the beginning of the 19th century, Gerasim Lebedev had compiled one of the first Sanscrit grammar-books in Europe; this was followed by the complete and concise dictionaries of Sanscrit. The activity of Nikita Bichurin, founder of Russian Sinology, received recognition in Europe. Incidentally, Russian Sinology, although younger than its European counterpart, was at that time more advanced in certain aspects. The credit for establishing such branches as Turkology, Caucasology and some others belongs to Russian Oriental scholars. It was not without reason therefore that the writer Alexander Radishchev referred to the University of Kazan as the centre of Oriental studies in Russia, and one which was "holding a position of honour among similar institutions and Asiatic societies all over Europe" (H. Ôåäîðåíêî, "Èñòîðèÿ îäíîé æèçíè", - â êí.: Â. Êðèâöîâ, Ïóòü ê Âåëèêîé ñòåíå, Ë., 1972, ñ.283 [N.Fedorenko, "History of One Life", in: V. Krivtsov, The Way to the Great Wall, Leningrad, 1972, p. 283].).
The art and culture of the East at that time attracted not only Russian scholars, but also artists and writers. The Caucasus and the Near East played an important part in the lives and creative work of Alexander Griboyedov, Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov.
It is known that Pushkin was also interested in the Far East and was familiar with Nikita Bichurin's publications, which he used while working on the history of Pugachov's revolt.
The interest of the Russian public in the East was rapidly growing in the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1840s-1860s, when the system of serfdom was going through its final crisis and the country was facing the necessity to choose a route for its future development, the democratically oriented Russian intelligentsia turned to the East. While recognizing the important role of the West in the development of world civilization, they regarded the East as the cradle of culture, and believed that in future the peoples of the East would throw off the Western yoke and acquire independence. Prominent among them were the writers and literary critics-Alexander Herzen, Vissarion Be-linsky, Nikolai Chernyshevsky and Nikolai Dobroliubov. Later, the best representatives of Russian culture- Nikolai Nekrasov, Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, Vladimir Korolenko, Anton Chekhov and Maxim Gorky-voiced their resentment over Western colonial rule. The tsarist regime, on the other hand, regarded the East as a suitable field for its expansion and treated its peoples as backward and inferior-and therefore totally dependent on the guidance of the "civilized West".
The Oriental scholars who shared the imperial colonialistic views were among the members of the Society of Oriental Studies. However, both in number and in terms of their scholarly contribution they were outweighed by the democratically minded ones. It was on the latter that the success of Russian Orientalistics depended. Their activity was connected with several societies founded in the middle of the 19th century: the Russian Geographic Society, the Imperial Society of Naturalists, Anthropologists and Ethnographers, the Moscow Archaeological Society, and the Archaeological Commission. Some of these had branches in the Russian Empire's Asiatic colonies, and thus encouraged the activity of local scholars and helped to organize museums and libraries. In 1877, a museum was opened in Minusinsk in Siberia; later, museums of local lore were set up in Tashkent, Samarkand and Tiflis.
An important contribution to the study of the East was made by the Russian Geographic Society, whose members organized expeditions to North Tibet, China, Mongolia and East Turkestan. Among the names which became part of the history of Russian science are those of Grigory Potanin, Grigory and Vladimir Grum-Grzymajlo, Nikolai Przewalski, and Piotr Kozlov. Their numerous expeditions resulted in the discovery of important Chinese, Tibetan and Tangut texts at Khara-Khoto, in the accumulation of unique material on the archaeology and ethnography of East Turkestan, and, finally, in the discovery of old Turkish texts in Mongolia, on the Orkhon river, which furnished a significant source of knowledge about the ancient nomad states. The pride and glory of Russian Sinology at this time were the historians Vasily Vasilyev, Piotr Kafarov and Ivan Zakharov.
Russian scholars laid the foundations of the systematic study of the Pamir area languages and greatly contributed to the study of Iranian languages and dialects.
The exploration of Siberia and Central Asia was also going on. Much was done in the study of Central Asia by the Turkestan Circle of Amateur Archaeologists (1895-1917), whose members were concerned with the archaeology and history of the material culture of this region. They began the archaeological research of Central Asiatic towns: among the sites explored by them were the ruins of Paikend, Termez, Otrar, Shakhristan, and the sites on the rivers Sokh, Talas and Syr-Darya. The members of the Circle also investigated and copied cave-drawings in East Kazakhstan and in the Seven Rivers area (South-East Kazakhstan), and they discovered and analysed numerous samples of Central Asiatic epigraphies. The cave-drawings at Saimaly-Tash, the "scripts", the Orkhon inscriptions, the Biya-Naiman ossuaries and the ruins of Ulugbek's observatory-such were the famed finds of the Turkestan Circle.
Among the most noteworthy achievements of Russian scholars was the exploration of Tien Shan. The North Caucasus was another area where extensive and fruitful research was carried out at that time. Among the most remarkable discoveries made there were the vestiges of the Koban culture.
The Russian Oriental scholars who worked at the turn of the century were as a rule people of broad interests, of deep insight and remarkable linguistic gifts. Many of them had begun their career as philologists specializing in Oriental texts and then, according to the subject matter of the sources under investigation, they concentrated their efforts on the study of historical, literary, geographical or other related problems. Much of what was done by them has retained its value to this day. Thus, for example, the classification of Oriental coins by Christian Fren is still used by specialists all over the world. The same applies to the translations of, and the commentaries on, some Chinese, Manchurian and Mongolian sources made by Nikita Bichurin, Vasily Vasilyev, Ivan Zakharov and Alexei Pozdneyev. The fundamental works in the field of Turkish history, literature and linguistics by Vasily Radlov, llya Berezin and P. Melioransky are still recognized as such. The Russian school of Ancient Oriental history goes back to the works of Boris Turayev. It was important that many Russian Orientalists, for example, Ignaty Krachkovsky and Vasily Alexeyev, did not confine themselves to purely "academic" pursuits. Krachkovsky believed that the study of Arabic literature should not be limited by its classical period and stressed the necessity of studying contemporary literary sources, while the Sinologist Alexeyev was among the first specialists who extended his studies from Chinese classical art to the popular art of China. This interest in contemporary Oriental culture and popular art was among the features of Russian Orientalistics which distinguished it from its Western counterpart.
Oriental art history as a discipline was established in the 19th century.Since most of the Orientalists had a philological background, they rarely turned to the problems of art. That was why the first steps in the study of Eastern art were made within the framework of general art history when-between 1840 and 1843-the periodical Pamiatnik Iskusstv began to publish materials on the art of India, China and the Arabic East. The art historians Nikodim Kondakov, E. Redin and Dmitry Ainalov regarded Byzantine art as a meeting-point of Western and Eastern traditions. The eminent Russian art historians and critics Fiodor Buslayev and Vladimir Stasov took part in a heated discussion concerning the roles of the West and the East in the formation of Russian art. Eventually the first specialists on Oriental art proper appeared. Among them were Yakov Smirnov, an expert on Sassanian,
Byzantine and medieval Oriental art, and Ernst Querfeld-a connoisseur, among other things, of popular handicrafts in the Far East. Their activity was connected with the growth of the Oriental collections in the Academy of Sciences and in various museums, and also of the privately owned collections of Eastern objets d'art.
The progress of Russian Orientalistics brought about a better understanding of the East and thus made it even more appealing to the Russian artistic intelligentsia.
Oriental motifs are apparent in the poems by Ivan Bunin, Alexander Blok, Sergei Yesenin and Valery Briusov. Leo Tolstoy's interest in Eastern philosophy is well known. The painter Vasily Vereshchagin turned to the East as the principal source of subjects for his pictures. Some artists-among them Mikhail Vrubel, Nikolai Roerich, Pavel Kuznetsov, Martiros Saryan, Georgy Yakulov and Alexander Volkov-linked their entire creative career with the East; this helped them in the development of their own pictorial language.
In other words, the progressive part of the Russian artistic and academic circles traditionally regarded the East with admiration and respect. This tradition was continued by Soviet Orientalists after the October Revolution of 1917.
The new stage of Orientalistics was determined by many factors which appeared on the political and cultural scene of the country after October 1917. Among them was the national policy of the Soviet government that ensured cultural, social and economical revival of the backward Eastern nations, former colonies of the Russian Empire, the reorganization of the newly established Soviet republics along socialist lines and many others. Besides these internal factors, there were also some external ones-such as the successful progress of national liberation movements in many Asiatic and African countries and the ensuing contact between the Soviet Union and the peoples of these countries. Soviet Orientalistics, in contrast to the old Russian and contemporary Western Oriental studies, tackled many currently important tasks. The Soviet government, attached great importance to Oriental studies and gave it every necessary support.
The modern history and contemporary culture of the Soviet and foreign East became the concern of the Ail-Russian Association for Oriental studies, organized in 1922 upon Lenin's recommendation. Another institution dealing with Orientalistics and established at the same time was the Russian Academy of the History of Material Culture (later the State Academy of the History of Material Culture). The Government's concern for the improvement of the formal structure of various branches within the complex framework of Oriental studies eventually resulted in establishing a broad system of academic institutions in which different aspects of Orientalistics were studied. The most representative among them are the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies (founded in 1930) with its Leningrad branch, the Institute of Africa and the Institute of the Far East. Among their other functions, they coordinate the research work of similar institutions all over the country. A great contribution to investigation in this field is made by research centres attached to the Academies of Sciences of the Soviet republics and to the Siberian and Far Eastern branches of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Other contributors are the institutes of archaeology, ethnography, history and world literature and corresponding departments of various universities.
During the Soviet period great attention was given to the reorganization of the system of professional training. Much was done along these lines by the Leningrad Institute of Living Oriental Languages and by the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies. Later this work was undertaken also by the faculties of Oriental studies opened in many universities throughout the country.
The Government also rendered help in so far as the publication of articles, monographs, etc. was concerned: this aspect of work was and is handled by a specially organized editorial department within the Nauka Publishers. Besides, publications on Orientalistics regularly appear in the numerous Papers, Proceedings, Reports, etc. issued by various research centres and universities. As a consequence, every serious work in the field is guaranteed the attention of specialists and of the reading public in general. This applies not only to current research, but also to major works by pre-revolutionary scholars which had either not been published at their own time or had become bibliographic rarities. A telling example is the publication in 1963-73 of the many-volume treatise by an outstanding specialist on the medieval East, Vasily Bartold (over 6,000 pages), of the six-volume collection of works by the eminent Arabic scholar Ignaty Krachkovsky in 1955-60 and of Nikita Bichurin's works.
Many celebrated representatives of the Russian pre-revolutionary Orientalistics, e.g. Sergei Oldenburg, Fiodor Shcherbatskoy, Vasily Alexeyev, Vasily Bartold, Ignaty Krachkovsky, Vladimir Gordlevsky, Agafangel Krymsky and others, continued their fruitful work in the field of Oriental studies after the Revolution. They accepted the Revolution and side by side with their pupils- young Soviet Orientalists, specialists from the republics of the Soviet East among them-contributed to the solution of the new tasks which Soviet Oriental studies faced under the changed historical conditions.
While the pre-revolutionary Orientologists had been mainly concerned with the sources and facts of the remote past and had neglected the social and economic problems of the contemporary East, Soviet Orientalistics from the very outset included current issues within the scope of its interests. These issues comprised the tasks of building new life in the young Soviet Eastern republics, the study of the history and contemporary forms of class struggle, national liberation and working people's movements in the countries of the foreign East, the study of economics, politics and of the written and artistic culture of the modern East. All these were the key interests of Soviet Orientologists and the distinctive features of new Orientalistics. The researches of Anatoly Miller on Turkey, of Roman Akhramovich on Afghanistan, of Evgeny Zhukov, Geronty Yefimov and Sergei Tikhvinsky on the Far East (and many other works dealing with the problems of imperialist policy in the East and the struggle of Oriental peoples for independence, with the history, current economics and international relations) resulted in the appearance of such fundamental Soviet publications as The Modem History of India, The Modem History of the Arab Countries, The Modern History of Turkey, The Modern History of China, etc.
Soviet Orientalistics pays great attention to the past of the Eastern peoples as well, since a knowledge of history is indispensable for the understanding of current problems. The main task here as seen by Soviet scholars is to study the history of the East (which is still far less known than Western history) so as "to contribute to the elaboration of a general a theory embracing all sides of the history and culture of mankind-a theory based on the history of all nations, without their divisions into Western and Eastern" (Í.È.Êîíðàä, Çàïàä è Âîñòîê, Ì., 1972, ñ. 28 [N.Konrad, The West and the East, Moscow, 1972, p. 28].).
Working with this aim in view, Soviet Orientalists have succeeded in arriving at a comprehensive and true picture of Oriental history in which all historical events are viewed through the prism of the theory of social and economic structures. Among the major tasks faced by modern Oriental studies were those of determining the character of Eastern society and establishing a well-grounded division of Oriental history into periods.
Under the influence of Eurocentric ideas, certain Western historiographers were developing a theory according to which Eastern societies had always differed from Western ones in their social and political stagnation, due to which feudalism had been and continued to be the only social structure ever known in the East. Soviet Orientologists, proceeding from the materialistic understanding of history and relying upon a thorough analysis of historical facts and documents, have conclusively shown that the first form of class division in the East, just as in the West, was the division into slaves and slave-owners. Thus, on the basis of a detailed study of the relevant written sources Vasily Struve determined that the ancient Sumerian civilization had a slave-owning system. Another scholar, Yury Perepelkin, defined and analysed the social structure of ancient Egypt. In other words, it was shown that despite all the differences between the East and the West they had gone through a progression of the same social and economic structures.
Having proved the existence of the slave-owning stage in the development of Eastern civilizations, Soviet scholars concerned themselves with the task of tracing the process of the decline of the slave-owning system and its replacement by the feudal forms of exploitation. An important considerable contribution here were the works of Nina Pigulevskaya on the histories of Iran and Iraq and of Sergei Tolstov on Central Asia.
Stating the global unity of the world historical process as a whole, and its dependence upon the same general laws, Soviet historians by no means neglected the specific character of the manifestations of this process in the history of different nations. Thus, it should be put down to their credit that they have brought to light the unique historical role of the nomadic peoples of the East. Fundamental works in this field belong to Alexei Okladnikov, Leonid Potapov, Alexander Bernstam and Lev Gumilev.
The various forms and specific manifestations of class structures in different Eastern countries were the subject of numerous major works on the history of these countries. Among their authors were such eminent specialists on medieval Oriental history as Vasily Bartold, Alexander Yakubovsky (the feudal period in the history of Iran and Iraq), Bobojan Gafurov (monographs and articles on Tajikistan), Vadim Masson (studies in Afghan history), Dmitry Olderogge (Africa) and Alexander Guber (South-East Asia).
Soviet Oriental historiography was given a powerful stimulus by extensive archaeological research in the Eastern regions of the Soviet Union, and by numerous expeditions of ethnographers and art historians. The excavations carried out for several years under the supervision of Mikhail Masson in South Turkmenia, particularly at the site of Nisa, one of the capitals of Parthia, yielded rich materials on the history and culture of the earliest class societies in Central Asia. Another example is Sergei Tolstov's excavations in Kwarasm: his finds bore evidence to the existence of a slave-owning system in ancient Central Asia. Boris Piotrovsky's expeditions to Transcaucasia resulted in valuable finds casting light on Urartian history. The discoveries made by Soviet archaeologists in Siberia and the Far East contributed to the appearance of comprehensive works on the history of these regions, above all by Sergei Kiselev and Alexei Okladnikov.
The achievements of Soviet Orientalists considerably broadened the scope of Oriental philology. It seems difficult to find a branch of Oriental linguistics to which Soviet linguists have not made their contribution. The success of their research paved the way for the really impressive activity of the translators of Oriental texts. This activity has given Soviet people access to the treasury of Oriental literature. Among the translations published during the Soviet period are Arabian Nights, poems by the great poets of the East-Omar Khayyam, Firdausi, Nizami, Rudaki, Alisher Navoi, the medieval Chinese romances (The Three Kingdoms, River Creeks, Dreaming in a Red Palace), the Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, collections of Japanese poetry and a host of others. Modern Oriental literature did not suffer from neglect either: works by such writers and poets as Rabindranath Tagore, Nazym Khikmet, Lu Hsun, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, etc. are well known to Soviet readers in translation.
At the same time Soviet Orientologists concerned themselves with the study of the creative work of different poets, writers and playwrights of the East, and with the history of various national literatures. Here again, the results of individual research helped to form a unified picture of world literature. A prominent position in Oriental literary studies belongs to the works on Persian and Tajik literature by Evgeny Bertels, on Arab literature by Ignaty Krachkovsky and on Japanese literature by Nikolai Konrad.
Considerable influence upon Soviet Oriental philology was exerted by Liubov Pozdneyeva's thesis of the "oratory period" in the history of old Oriental literature, Nikolai Konrad's idea of the typological resemblance between certain features of Oriental and Renaissance literature and the division of Oriental literature into periods suggested by losif Braginsky.
During the Soviet period Oriental ethnography, art history and certain other branches of Orientalistics experienced major changes. While retaining their original connection with Oriental studies proper, they were at the same time being drawn into the scope of, respectively, general ethnography, general art history, etc. The positive character of this tendency is demonstrated by the appearance of such comprehensive publications as General History of Art and the nineteen-volume edition of The Peoples of the World, based on the best achievements of Soviet ethnography and made possible by numerous minor researches, including Oriental ethnographic studies.
The achievements of Soviet Orientalistics in historical and philological studies, and the success of Soviet art historiography, supported and stimulated by the growing interest of Soviet people in the culture and art of the East, ensured rapid progress of Oriental art historiography which had been practically non-existent as a discipline before the Revolution.
Soviet art historians traditionally regard artistic phenomena not in isolation but against a broad historical and social background, taking into consideration the results obtained by Marxist historical studies. The ideological basis of Soviet humanities determines the scope of Oriental art history, which includes such aspects as the contemporary artistic development of the peoples of the Soviet and foreign East, the relationship between traditions and novel tendencies in Oriental art, the connection between the character of national art and the level of social and economic development of the nation in question, the role of various factors in the shaping of national art and in its contribution to world culture, the significance of folk art, etc.
In spite of the fact that Oriental art history is a relatively young branch of Soviet Oriental studies, Soviet art experts succeeded in solving a number of complex and important issues. Thus, losif Orbeli, for example, was the first to pose such problems as the role of different races in the forming of Sassanian art and the distinction between the path of artistic development in feudal castles and towns. Sergei Oldenburg devoted himself to the study of the impact of the northern Buddhism on the artistic traditions of Central Asia and, accordingly, to the analysis of mutual artistic influences between India, China and Central Asia during the pre-Mongol period. Militsa Matthieu published a series of comprehensive works on the evolution of Egyptian art and its relationship with the history of Egypt. Kamilla Trever was the first to give special attention to the peculiar character of Graeco-Bactrian art. Lazar Rempel concerned himself with the evolution and structural principles of Central Asiatic architectural ornament. A great deal was achieved in the fields of Caucasian and Transcaucasian art studies by Academician Nikolai Marr, by Mikhail Useinov and Shalva Amiranashvili.
Prominent among Soviet art historians are Boris Veimarn and Galina Pugachenkova. The former is renowned for his research of medieval Islamic art and art of the young African and Asiatic states. Galina Pugachenkova is well known as the head of the archaeological expeditions which have discovered unique works of ancient Central Asiatic art, and also as the author of fundamental works on the art history of Uzbekistan and Turkmenia. Equally important are her works on the interrelation between antique and local traditions within the Central Asiatic art of the pre-Kushan period, and her contribution to the discussion concerning the independent value and significance of medieval Central Asiatic art. This issue was first brought to the scholar's attention in the 1930s by Boris Denike, a well-known specialist on the art and culture of the East and one-time Director of the Museum of Oriental Art.
Having proceeded from the first random publications of various texts or Oriental art collections, through the period between 1930 and 1960 when specific inquiries into various isolated problems and surveys of art history of particular nations were the order of the day, Soviet Oriental art history at its present stage is concerned with producing fundamental works of a monographic and generalizing nature.
Nowadays Oriental art is being studied at the All-Union Art Research Institute of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR, at the Soviet Academy of Arts, at Oriental studies research centres attached to the Academy of Sciences and at local research centres in the Eastern republics of the Soviet Union. The Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow ranks high among these institutions. The record of its activity reflects each specific trend in the development of Soviet Oriental art studies.
Before the Revolution of 1917 none of the 150 museums of Russia could boast a representative collection of Oriental art. The only partial exceptions were the oldest museums in the country-the Kunstkammer (founded in 1719) and the Kremlin Armoury (opened as a museum in 1806)-which displayed isolated collections of Oriental coins, samples of Turkish, Iranian, Indian and Indonesian weaponry, Turkish and Iranian velvets and brocades. The majority of art collections in Russia were privately owned and not easily accessible even to experts. Immediately after the Revolution, by a special decree of the Soviet government the largest museums and private collections were nationalized, the export of works of art was forbidden and a modern system of the cataloguing and preservation of stocks was evolved. The museum work was supervised by the specially created All-Russia Board of Museum Activity and of the Preservation of Monuments. The issues concerning museum activity were on the agenda of the 3rd Congress of Soviets in 1918 and of the 8th Party Congress of 1919. All these measures were called for by the necessity of preserving the cultural legacy and by the task of making it accessible to the public.
This vast and many-sided activity resulted in the opening, between 1918 and 1923, of 250 different museums forming a network which embraced the whole country, from its major cities to its remote areas, including the former Eastern provinces of the Russian Empire, where before the Revolution museums had been few and far between. Thus, there used to be only three museums in Georgia, one in Armenia, three in Uzbekistan and none at all in Azerbaijan. During the same years the first public museum of Oriental art-the Museum of Asiatic Art-was opened in Moscow, and a department of Oriental art was established in one of the world's largest museums, the Leningrad Hermitage. From the very outset the Museum of Asiatic Art became a research centre for the study of the art and culture of the East.
The interest of Soviet people in all that was associated with the East (particularly in the Soviet East revived by the 1917 October Revolution) was enormous, and the new museum was expected to satisfy this interest. It was to show that the nations of the East, like those in the West, possessed their own culture, and that the objets d'art from the East were not merely exotic rarities but genuine artistic treasures. Therefore, the aims of the Museum were not confined to collecting, preserving and studying samples of Oriental art and material culture; its most important mission was to present a panorama of Oriental art to the broad public.
The original core of the collection was mainly formed from nationalized private collections and contributions from governmental funds. Within the first few years of the Museum's existence its stocks received a significant addition in the shape of the collections of the well-known Russian connoisseurs of art-Piotr Shchukin, Konstantin Nekrasov and L. Faberge. As a result, the Museum came to possess a first-class collection of Persian and Indian manuscripts and miniatures of the 15th and 16th centuries, medieval Iranian faiences and tiles (12th to 14th century), Oriental carpets, rugs and textiles, and bronze and jade articles, porcelain and ceramics from the Far East. Sizable contributions were made by the former Stroganov Art School, and by the State Museum Reserve (carpets from Central Asia and the Caucasus).
The first stage of building up the Museum's collection was crowned by an exhibition opened on September 22, 1919 in the rooms of the History Museum in Moscow. The exhibition gave a fairly comprehensive picture of Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Iranian art. That was the first public display of the art of the foreign East in this country.
Since the primary task of Soviet Orientalists at that time was the study of the history and culture of the Soviet East, the research work of the Museum followed in the same direction. As the section of the Museum representing the art of the Soviet East was very small and the collection somewhat haphazard, expeditions which were to enlarge the stock became necessary.
The first expedition took place in 1924, when the Committee for Museums and the Preservation of Monuments of History, Art and Nature of Turkestan sent a group of scholars to the site of Uzghen in Central Asia. Their task was to examine the famous Uzghen mausoleums of the 11 th and 12th centuries.
In 1925, several expeditions were at work in the Seven Rivers area in Central Asia and near the town of Turkestan in Kazakhstan, for the purposes of cataloguing, restoring and preserving Moslem monuments. In 1927 research along the same lines was continued by expeditions to Shakhrisiabz (70 km from Samarkand) and Merv (Turkmenia). The work of these expeditions proved to be a valuable contribution to the study of the history of Moslem architecture and architectural decor in Central Asia. Its results were published in the first general work on the art of Central Asia prepared by Boris Deriike in 1927.
Between 1926 and 1928 the Museum, assisted by the Central Asiatic Committee for Museums and the Preservation of Monuments of History and Art, organized a large expedition which began an extensive archaeological research of Central Asia. The work of the expedition was supervised by Professor Boris Denike. Among the chief objectives was the examination of the site of Old Termez (South Uzbekistan). The archaeologists listed, measured and put on the map the ancient ruins of Termez; they sketched, photographed and catalogued them, identified several buildings in terms of their character and function, and took measurements of the major architectural monuments of Termez. While examining the ruins they discovered the remains of the royal palace of the 11th-12th centuries, with its unique stucco decor, and also several vestiges of Buddhist culture.
Apart from the excavations at Termez, research was carried out at Margilan (in the south-east of the Fergana valley), Ura-Tube (73 km from Leninabad) and at the sites of Nisa and Anau (in the vicinity of Ashkhabad). As a result, the Museum acquired a sizable addition to its collection of ancient and medieval Central Asiatic art (including samples of carved stucco, architectural details, fragments of sculpture and pottery), and Buddhist art. The discoveries made at Old Termez and their subsequent publication in Culture of the East (a collection of articles issued by the Museum), as well as in other Soviet and foreign periodicals, became a valuable contribution to the studies of Central Asiatic art.
At the same time the Museum was concerned with the study of the material culture of the Crimea and the Caucasus. In 1924-26 Professor llya Borozdin headed an expedition which was to study the Tartar culture in the Crimea, particularly on the site of Solkhat-a large trading and cultural centre of the 13th and 14th centuries. Another site investigated by llya Borozdin's party was Otuzy, situated near Solkhat (25 km west of Theodosia). The members of the expedition drew up an overall plan of the old city, which specified all the discovered monuments. They examined, measured and sketched the most significant of them, photographed the site and took imprints of reliefs. As a result, the Museum received valuable materials on the history of the Golden Horde culture in the Crimea.
The third site which attracted the archaeologists was Kubachi, a village (aul) in Daghestan. Professor Alexei Bashkirov of the Museum staff took an active part in the research there.
The materials obtained by all the expeditions in which the Museum staff participated were presented at the 1926 exhibition of archaeological finds and research works. The exhibition demonstrated unprecedented achievements of Soviet scholars in their study of the cultures of Central Asia, the Crimea and the Caucasus and, in particular, the contribution made by the staff of the Museum of Asiatic Art.
During the 1920s the leading museums of the Soviet Union were assessing their goals and laying down the directions for their future research. Since by that time the Museum of Asiatic Art had already developed a tradition for the complex study of Eastern culture (in terms of various artifacts, art, crafts, material vestiges of history and popular movements, etc.), in 1925 by the decision of the Government it was renamed the State Museum of Oriental Cultures. In 1927 it was allocated a larger building, and on February 27 of the same year the official opening of the Museum took place.
During the opening ceremony the official speakers emphasized the special attitude of the USSR to the East and its culture, the role of the Museum in its study, the political significance of the opening of the Museum and the important role of the ÀÍ-Union Association for Oriental Studies.
After its reorganization the Museum of Oriental Cultures first comprised four departments devoted to the Far East, Near East, Middle East and Soviet East respectively. In addition to these, the Museum had a special section for the study of the history of the revolutionary and liberation movements in the East, established under the auspices of the Association for Oriental Studies. This section was created for the purpose of familiarizing the general public with the history of revolutionary movements in the East and of providing materials for scholars professionally concerned with this subject. On the occasion of the Museum's opening the section staged two exhibitions devoted to the history of contemporary revolutionary movements in China and Turkey. The department of the Soviet East, for its part, also organized two exhibitions: "The Tartar Culture in the Crimea" and "Turkmen Carpets". Other expositions timed for the inauguration represents the culture of China, Japan, Turkey and Iran. A special display based on the collection of Alexei Pozdneyev, a well-known specialist in Mongolian studies, dealt with Lamaism.
The Museum's stocks were growing rapidly. Apart from the Pozdneyev collection, it received a fine array of Iranian pottery of the 13th and 14th centuries from Vladimir Tardov, the former Soviet Consul-General in Isfahan. The Japanese section was considerably enlarged by a collection of netsuke from the Leningrad branch of the State Museum Reserve, by paintings and bronzes from its Moscow branch and from the Museum of Fine Arts.
Many recognized scholars contributed to the research carried out by the Museum at that time-Boris Denike, Fiodor Gogel, llya Borozdin, Vladimir Gurko-Kriazhin, Alexei Bashkirov, Mikhail Popov and others.
In the 1930s the Museum began to study the problem of the artistic evolution of the peoples of the Soviet East. Numerous expeditions were sent to the Soviet republics of Central Asia and to the Caucasus. Their task was the study, and acquisition for the Museum's collection, of works of fine and minor arts. Thus, in 1931 a number of paintings were bought for the Museum in Azerbaijan; later, a rich collection of ancient and medieval Central Asiatic pottery was acquired from Boris Kastalsky, engineer and art collector.
At the same time the Museum was establishing contacts with the Artists' Unions of Eastern Soviet Republics and participating in the organization of a number of exhibitions of contemporary art in these republics. These exhibitions demonstrated the first achievements of the new artistic cultures of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Buryatia, Karakalpakia and the Crimea and, in a way, affected further development of new Soviet art as a whole.
The accumulation and analysis of new material and the exhibitions which grew out of this eventually resulted in the first major works on the art of the Soviet East-The Art of Soviet Uzbekistan by V. Chepelev (1935) and The Art of Central Asia by Boris Veimarn (1940).
At that time the Museum did not yet possess sufficient material for publishing comprehensive works on the foreign East. However, during that period there appeared a number of publications on the architecture of the foreign East: Chinese Architecture and Japanese Architecture by Boris Denike and Indian Architecture by Semion Tiuliayev. The transitional stage linking the two major periods in the history of architecture, and a discussion of the objectives and innovations in contemporary architecture stimulated a great interest in Oriental architecture, still little known at that time. The works by Denike and Tiuliayev offered a broad survey of the evolution of Chinese, Japanese and Indian architecture. The authors paid particular attention to Moslem architecture. The analysis of the Moslem architectural monuments of the Soviet Central Asiatic republics became the main subject of another work by Boris Denike, Architectural Ornament in Central Asia (1939).
In spite of the inevitable gaps, several of the Museum's collections were at that time well enough stocked to be exhibited abroad. Thus, the collection of Iranian art was displayed at the exhibitions of the 2nd International Congress on Iranian Art in London (1931) and of the 3rd International Congress on Iranian Art and Archaeology in Leningrad (1935). As a result of some newly made attributions and the reports at the two congresses, in 1938 Boris Denike published his Iranian Painting-the first complete historical survey of Iranian painting in the USSR.
The careful study of artistic monuments resulted in a series of numerous publications on the art of China, India and Iran.
The research staff of the Museum was particularly successful in their study of Chinese art. In 1940 the Museum organized a large exhibition based on its considerably expanded collections and on items specially sent over from China. To make the display as comprehensive and consistent as possible, the Museum borrowed a number of exhibits from the Hermitage, the History Museum, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Ceramics in Kuskovo, as well as from the art and history museums of Krasnodar, Irkutsk, Suzdal and Vladimir. The exhibition became an important new step in the development of Soviet Oriental art studies. The exhibition was followed in June 1940 by a conference organized by the Museum. Among its participants were specialists from the Hermitage research centre, from the Institute of Oriental Studies and from Moscow University. They exchanged information on their research in what was then a relatively new field in Soviet Orientalistics. The conference clearly demonstrated the deep and genuine interest of Soviet scholars in the culture, art and history of the Chinese people and made a considerable contribution to the study of Chinese art.
During the War of 1941 -45 the exposition of the Museum was closed and the exhibits evacuated. But in 1944 the rooms of the Museum reopened to receive a large exhibition of works by artists from the various republics and regions of the Soviet Union. The exhibition displayed the art of the Soviet Eastern republics during the preceding ten or twelve years and also that of Byelorussia, the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It was a major event, for since "The Art of the Soviet Union" exhibition of 1927 there had been no comprehensive display showing works by artists from all parts of the country.
During the early post-war years the principal task of the Museum was to set up a new permanent exposition and to provide for its constant enrichment. The permanent exposition was opened in 1945. In comparison with the pre-war display, it afforded a better and fuller picture of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Iranian and Turkish art, the Moorish art of Spain and the ancient and contemporary art of the nations of the Soviet East. For the first time in the history of the Museum it exhibited works of Tibetan art. Among the publications by members of the Museum staff which appeared at that time were The Concise History of Chinese Art by Olga Glukharevaand Boris Denike and The Treatise on Calligraphers and Artists by Qazi Ahmad, translated and commented by Boris Zakhoder. Both books had been prepared for publication shortly before the war broke out.
The main efforts in the research work during the 1940s and 1950s were concentrated on the art of China and India. The research was supplemented by a series of relevant exhibitions. Among them were the exhibition of Indian fine arts (1953); of Indian arts and culture (1955)- this was arranged in cooperation with the Soviet Institute of Oriental Studies for the occasion of Jawaharlal Nehru's visit to the USSR; the exhibition of Indian handicrafts (1955-56), based on the collection sent from India on the initiative of Nehru; and several expositions of Chinese art. It was during that period that several leading Soviet experts on Indian and Chinese art were working on the staff of the Museum-among them Olga Glukhareva, Semion Tiuliayev, Sergei Sokolov, Inna Murian and Nina Nikolayeva. Their works laid the foundations of Chinese and Indian art studies in the USSR.
The success of the research work carried out at the Museum was largely accounted for by the constant influx of new acquisitions: in 1950 the Museum received a collection of the contemporary minor arts as a gift from the government of the People's Republic of China; in 1956 a collection of Korean art was presented by the Embassy of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
This gift, as well as the exhibitions of ancient and contemporary Korean art (1952 and 1959 respectively), stimulated the initiation of a systematic study of Korean art.
The art and culture of the Soviet East still figure prominently in the research work of the Museum. Expeditions to the Eastern Soviet republics continue on a regular basis, and the stocks of the corresponding sections of the Museum are constantly growing.
The activity of the Museum was always mainly directed towards the study of Eastern art. It was gradually assuming the position of a centre of Oriental art studies and, as a natural consequence, in 1962 it received a new name-the State Museum of Oriental Art-a name which provided a more accurate description of the actual character of the Museum's collections and research. The range of subjects investigated at the research centre of the Museum is determined by the general direction of Soviet Orientalistics and art studies.
Prominent among the issues studied by the staff of the Museum was the formation and development of Soviet art in the republics of Central Asia, the Caucasus, Transcaucasia and in Kazakhstan. A series of exhibitions organized by the Museum included the one-man shows of the Uzbek artist Alexander Volkov (1967) and the Georgian painter Niko Pirosmanashvili (1968), better known as Pirosmani, as well as a number of one-man exhibitions of many other artists of Central Asia and Transcaucasia belonging to different generations.
One type of art, which is of particular interest to the Museum, is folk art. Here, too, the permanent exposition is regularly supplemented by temporary displays.of materials borrowed from the largest museums and research centres of Moscow, Leningrad and other cities. Examples of such exhibitions are "Decorative Art of Daghestan" (1969), "Turkmen Folk Art" (1971), "Folk Art of Kazakhstan" (1973) and "Folk Art of Kirghizia" (1975).
Among the excellent collections of decorative arts accumulated by the Museum we must mention jewellery of the 18th-early 20th centuries from Daghestan and Turkmenia; embroidery from Turkmenia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kirghizia; Kirghiz minor arts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijani carpets; traditional costumes from Central Asia, Kazakhstan, the Caucasus and Transcaucasia.
At the same time, due to expanding archaeological research, the Museum was constantly enlarging its collections of ancient and medieval art.
From 1962 the archaeologists of the Museum's research centre were engaged in the excavations of Karatepe-a Buddhist place of worship at Old Termez, now proved to have been one of the earliest vestiges of Buddhism in Central Asia and East Turkestan, dating back to the period between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD, i.e. to the time of the Kushan dynasty. The finds at Karatepe are of great importance for the study of a wide range of various problems-for example, the art and culture of Bactria-Tokharistan under the Kushan dynasty, the dates, conditions and method of the penetration of Buddhism into Central Asia and the Far East, the impact of Buddhism upon Central Asiatic culture, etc.
Excavations at Karatepe never fail to attract the attention of both Soviet and foreign scholars. Among the latter are Professor Janos Harmatta of Budapest University and Professor Helmut Humbat from West Germany. The results of these excavations evoked great interest during the International Conference on the history, archaeology and culture of Central Asia in the Kushan period, held in Dushanbe in 1968 under the auspices of UNESCO.
While dealing with various problems in the field of ancient and medieval art history in Central Asia and the Caucasus, members of the Museum staff took part in the excavations at Verkhny Zeravshan where some burial-sites of the Kushan period were unearthed. They also resumed excavations in Tajikistan. At the same time work was going on at the site of the 7th- or 8th-century fortress in the village of Kum and at the site of the mountain residence of a Sogdian ruler of the same period near the village of Madm. The staff of the Museum has always worked in close cooperation with the leading research centres of the country. For many years now archaeologists from the Museum have been taking part in the excavations of the Golden Horde settlements on the Akhtuba. Some of the most valuable finds obtained there were presented to the Museum by the head of the expedition, Professor Fiodorov-Davydov of Moscow University. The Museum has also participated in a number of expeditions working in the North Caucasus, Siberia, Georgia,
Armenia, Tajikistan and Karakalpakia. Some of the finds of these expeditions have also entered the collections of the Museum, resulting in a considerable enlargement of the sections of ancient and medieval art of the Caucasus, Trancaucasia, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, the Volga basin and Siberia. In 1971-72 the Institute of Archaeology of the USSR Academy of Sciences handed over to the Museum a unique collection of stone and alabaster idols excavated at the settlement of Kairagach (c. 500 BC). In 1964 the Museum received a collection of ceramic vessels from the settlement Chong-depe in the Kara-Kum desert (4th and 3rd millennia BC), and in 1972, a collection of pottery from ancient Kwarasm (early 5th century BC).
A valuable addition to the ceramic section of the Museum was made by Alexei Smirnov's collection of old Central Asiatic pottery.
The Museum regularly organizes conferences with the participation of the leading specialists from Moscow, Leningrad, the Central Asiatic republics, Kazakhstan, the Caucasus and Transcaucasia. The discoveries and finds reported at such conferences contribute to a more comprehensive picture of the art history of the East and enable the experts to determine the general direction of the artistic development of Oriental nations from antiquity to the present day. They also help to view the contemporary Oriental art in a new light-i.e. as a natural consequence of the entire evolution of artistic culture. Among the issues discussed at the conferences are also the national traditions in contemporary art, particularly in handicrafts and architecture.
At one of these conferences special attention was given to the subject of the antiquity and antique traditions in the art and culture of the peoples of the Soviet East. The discussion of the subject involved all genres of art- architecture, sculpture, book illumination, decorative plastic arts, mural paintings, etc. Among the issues discussed was the historical significance of the relationship between the world of antiquity with the East in general and with the Scythian and Caucasian cultural regions in particular. Attention was also given in this connection to the role of Hellenistic traditions in Central Asiatic culture and their interaction with the local features. Hellenism was also discussed at the International Conference on the Kushan culture (Dushanbe, 1968) and at the conference "Interaction of Artistic Cultures of the West and the East in Terms of Modern and Latest History" (Moscow, 1973). The conference on antiquity organized by the Museum contributed to a better and fuller understanding of the Greek and Roman world as a well-defined historical and cultural phenomenon and provided a clearer and more comprehensive picture of its role in the art history of the Caucasus, Central Asia and the area of the Northern Black Sea Coast. The discussion also helped to clarify certain geographical, chronological and cultural aspects of the phenomenon in question.
Much has been achieved by the Museum in the field of the art history of the African peoples and the Asiatic nations outside the Soviet Union. The liberation of these peoples and their struggle for independence were among the factors which served to increase the interest of Soviet people in their art and culture. As a consequence, the Museum faced the task not only of presenting the art of these nations to the public, but also of studying its specific traits, its developmental trends and the prospects for its evolution in the future. To fulfil this task, numerous exhibitions from the Museum's own stocks were organized, and important loan exhibitions were sent over from abroad (Nepal, Dahomey, Nigeria, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Iran, Morocco, Yemen, Burma, etc.).
Particular attention is given by the Museum to the contemporary art of the Socialist countries of the East- the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia, etc. A number of temporary shows were staged to acquaint the public with the culture of these countries: "Vietnamese Lacquers" (1966), "Fine Arts of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" (1972), "Contemporary Fine Arts of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam" (1973), "The Art of the Mongolian People's Republic" (1968) and others.
By way of enlarging the scope of its research work and exhibition activity the Museum turned to the art of the Latin American countries and organized shows of painting from Chile (1966), of the works by folk artists from Brazil (1966), of Cuban graphic art (1975), and Mexican watercolours (1976).
As a tribute to the art and culture of Iran came the exhibition of Iranian painting, followed by a conference devoted to Iranian art and organized by the Museum within the programme of celebrations marking the 2500th anniversary of Iran held in 1973 under the auspices of UNESCO.
The advance of Burmese art studies-a comparatively young discipline at the Museum-was stimulated by an exhibition of Burmese art and a conference on the subject, arranged by the Museum in 1970. Among the participants of the discussions were specialists on Burma from the authoritative research centres of Moscow, and the issues discussed included the economical and political aspects of life in contemporary Burma, the ideological basis of ancient, medieval and contemporary Burmese art, and the origins and history of Burmese theatre. The conference demonstrated the success of Soviet scholars in the fields of Burmese historiography and art studies.
At the same time the Museum staff studied the problems of symbolism in Oriental art. The attention of the public was drawn to these problems by the exhibition "Minor Arts of Medieval China" (1974), while the specialists were able to discuss them at the conference "Symbolism and Pictorial Motifs in Chinese Decorative Art". This conference was devoted to the origins and the evolution of symbolism during antiquity and the Middle Ages, its connection with the cosmogony of ancient China, and also to the problem of medieval traditions in the contemporary minor arts of China. Other subjects under discussion included the complex meaning of Chinese decor, its composition and imagery.
Another concern of the research staff of the Museum was the problem of interaction between the cultures of Russia and of the East. The first exposition devoted to this subject was entitled "Soviet Painters on Central Asia and the Caucasus" (1970-71). The exhibition included about 200 works by Soviet artists of the older generation, whose creative career began at the end of the 19th century. Among them were Lev Bruni, Alexander Volkov, Alexander Drevin, Konstantin Istomin, Piotr Konchalovsky, Pavel Kuznetsov, Evgeny Lanceray, Ruvim Mazel, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Martiros Saryan, Vladimir Favorsky, Robert Falk and many other painters, in whose art the East had an important place and whose creative work to a certain extent affected the development of fine arts in the Eastern republics of the Soviet Union.
The subject was taken up again in 1977 when the Museum arranged a second exhibition, "The East and Russian Art in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries". Devoted both to fine and minor arts, the exhibition treated the issue of Oriental influence on Russian art from a broader perspective. The exhibits representing the two cultures were deliberately juxtaposed in such a way that all the varied and multiform items on display-paintings, graphic works, sculptures, fabrics, carpets, glass, pottery, faience, toys, shawls, lacquers, stage designs, posters, theatre and dance programmes, labels and signboards- fitted naturally into the colourful picture of the show. Among the over 500 exhibits there were canvases by Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Pavel Filonov, Martiros Saryan, Pavel Kuznetsov, Niko Pirosmanashvili, Valentin Serov, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Vasily Vere-shchagin and Mikhail Vrubel. The exhibition was a great success both with the general public and with specialists on art and revealed new facets of the relationship between Russian and Oriental culture.
The achievements of the Museum in the field of art and art history studies by the end of the 1970s were so remarkable that by a special decision of the State Committee for Science and Technology it received the official status of a research centre. This new status called for a reorganization of the already existing research departments and the addition of several new ones.
At present the Museum comprises twelve research departments, the largest being the departments of the Soviet East, of East and Central Asia, South Asia, South-East Asia, Near and Middle East and Africa, and the department of material culture and ancient art.
The addition of new departments resulted in the extension of exhibition activity and research proper. The exhibitions arranged in the 1970s and 1980s acquainted the public with the art of Iran (1978), Vietnam (1979), Arabs of Palestine (1979), paintings from Ghana (1978), antiquities from Yemen (1979), the art of Cameroun (1980), Mozambique (1981), Afghanistan (1982) and, finally, with Algerian miniatures (1982).
Archaeologists on the staff of the Museum, with the assistance of the leading archaeological research centres of the country, organized several exhibitions which summed up many years of expedition activity. The exhibitions displayed the finds of the Kwarasm expedition headed by Sergei Tolstov, of the Karatepe expedition headed by Boris Stavisky and of the South Tajikistan expedition under Boris Litvinsky.
The rapid growth of the Museum's collections during recent years accounted for several new expositions in the Museum itself, as well as for a number of loan exhibitions abroad. Among the latter were "Central Asiatic and Caucasian Jewellery of the 19th and 20th Centuries" (Czechoslovakia, 1981), "Folk Decorative and Minor Arts of Central Asia and Kazakhstan in the 19th and 20th Centuries" (Poland and Vietnam, 1981), "Turkmen Carpets" (GDR, 1981) and others.
Since 1981 the Museum has been carrying out systematic study of the art of the ancient Caucasus. The Caucasian expedition organized by the Museum was headed by A. Leskov.
Among the finds of the expedition are some unique vestiges of material culture from the 6th-4th centuries BC. Thus, of great interest is a large collection of imported Oriental antiquities, which includes a silver Iranian cup of the 4th century BC, a gold rhyton (horn-shaped drinking-vessei) of the 5th century BC from Asia Minor, beads from Carthage and Egyptian figurines of deities. Apart from imported articles the expedition also unearthed some splendid artistic objects of local origin-e.g. a silver boar inlaid with gold and a gold stag with silver antlers.
The results of the expedition and research activity of the Museum are publicized through exhibitions and also in monographs, articles and catalogues on the art of the Soviet and foreign East.
Since 1969 the Museum has been regularly publishing its Reports, which include articles, catalogues of collections and exhibitions, and materials arising from conferences arranged by the Museum.
The ever-growing stocks of the Museum at present number over 35,000 items. The principal source of additions to the collections of the art of the Soviet Eastern republics nowadays comes from expeditions-both archaeological and those aimed at purchasing works of art from the population of Siberia, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, the Caucasus and Transcaucasia.
The collection of paintings from the Soviet East grows mainly due to the purchases made by the Ministry of Culture of the USSR at exhibitions of contemporary art.
The collections of foreign Oriental art are likewise growing steadily; here the main source of new items are purchases from art collectors and loan exhibitions from abroad. Thus, valuable acquisitions have been made by the Museum at the exhibitions of works by the Japanese artists Tadisighe Ono, Kakuo Sinkaia, Iri and Toshiko Maruki, at the exhibitions of contemporary Japanese decorative and applied arts, of Indian handicrafts, of the contemporary art of Afghanistan, of fine arts and handicrafts of Nigeria, Morocco, Guinea and the Congo.
Numerous exhibits entered the Museum's collections as gifts. Thus, in 1971 the Mongolian government presented to the Soviet Union a collection of contemporary national art including some 35 paintings, graphic works and sculptures. In 1973 the government of Burma made a gift of about 600 examples of modern Burmese handicrafts.
Private collections frequently provide a source for new items. In 1975, for example, the Museum received a fine collection of Far Eastern bronzes, china, jade articles and paintings bequeathed by the well-known Moscow collector Vladimir Kalabushkin.
Due to the steady increase of its stocks and the growth of its prestige in the field of research, the Museum is becoming a major centre of Oriental art studies in the country. Scholars, postgraduates and students from all over the Soviet Union come to the Museum of Oriental Art for their probation period, work at its library, and study its collections. The Museum works in close cooperation with other research centres-the Institute of Oriental Studies, the Institute of Archaeology, the Institute of Ethnography, the Institute of Art Studies and many others.
On the basis of this cooperation the Museum is constantly broadening the scope of its research in the fields of Oriental art history and contemporary Oriental art studies. Having gone through the stages of publishing materials on individual artistic monuments, surveys of art history of various nations and regions and the systematic analysis of relevant facts, the Museum passed on to producing comprehensive monographs of a general nature. The major concerns here are the genesis and history of Oriental artistic cultures, the systematic study of the cultural and artistic legacy of Eastern nations and, finally, the origins, evolution and prospects of Soviet art in Transcaucasia, Central Asia and Kazakhstan, as well as in contemporary art of the foreign East.
The research staff of the Museum also deal with the issues pertaining the preservation, restoration and classification of the exhibits, as well as the principles of exhibiting and popularizing Oriental art.
The ultimate aim of the Museum of Oriental Art's total activity is to present a panorama of the classical artistic legacy of the East, the contemporary art of the Soviet Eastern nations and the modern art of the foreign East to the public at large and thus, in the long run, to contribute to the understanding and mutual trust between different nations.
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