Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Russian Tale

Russian Lacquer Art by Palekh miniaturist Dmitry Bonokin depicting the tale of Dobryniya Nikitich (Russian Bogatyr)

Добры́ня Ники́тич

Dobrynya Nikitich,

Medieval Russian Knight
and Dragonslayer

The theme that Palekh artist Dmitry Bonokin has chosen for this miniature painting is the ancient Russian bylina (Russian oral tradition, folk legend) "Dobrynya and The Dragon". This bylina tells how the mighty bogatyr (Russian knight) Dobrynya Nikitich killed the evil Dragon for devastating Russian land and for kidnapping the niece of Prince Vladimir.

In the middle of the composition is the heroic figure of Dobrynya, of the noble warrior class, sitting on his faithful steed and trumpeting his horn to announce his victory. Just under Dobrynya's figure, the artist depicts the body of the dead Dragon.
To the right we see Prince Vladimir and different citizens of Kiev triumphing and saluting their hero, while on the left girls are laundering clothes in the Puchai River (according to ancient legend, the citizens of Kiev were baptized in the waters of this river).

In the upper left corner of the composition the artist writes in gold paint this excerpt from the folk tale:

"Wherever you were brought from, each of you go in your own direction, and the Dragon will not touch you, the evil Dragon has been killed!"
In the upper right corner of the composition there is another quote in gold letters from this bylina:
"The blood of the Dragon flew from the east down to the west, never more will the Russian and Christian people be imprisoned, for the Dragon was killed!"

Historians believe that the personage made imortal by this tale evolved from the real Slavic warlord Dobrynya, who led the armies of Svyatoslav the Great and tutored his son Vladimir the Fair Sun.

CROSS CULTURAL OUTLINE presents: An as yet little known art form
Dmitry Bonokin is a young artist and graduate of the Palekh Art School of Miniature Painting. This particular piece is Bonokin's diploma work, signed, titled and dated 2002, and was shown in the Moscow exhibition "Origin and Contemporaneity" in 2003. It is pictured in the exhibition catalogue. The painting now resides in the Ana Elsner Collection, U.S.A.

[More about The Legend of Dobrynya Nikitich as portrayed in Russian Miniature Art]

[Read the entire story on Wikipedia]

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