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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Fragments of the past

The Crimean Tatar Art Museum in Simferopol hosts an exhibition of folk household goods and ethnic rarities
12 August, 2013 - 17:52
WATER CONTAINERS ARE COMMONEST EXHIBITS, NUMBERING A FEW DOZEN AND INCLUDING COPPER, ZINC-COATED, AND FORGED IRON ITEMS. ETHNICITY OF THEIR MAKERS IS OBVIOUS ON LOOKING AT THEIR CHARACTERISTICALLY CRIMEAN TATAR BODY SHAPES, FIGURE COVERS, AND FINELY MADE HANDLES...

The exhibition displays priceless examples of material culture, those preserved by the Crimean Tatars over a long captivity in deportation as well as ones that had survived in the Crimea to be recovered after the folk returned. Folk household goods collectors have been motivated by a desire to preserve historical evidence of the old Crimea. The Crimean Tatars have a lot of such enthusiasts who have created dozens of collections, kept in museums as well as in numerous private residences.

It seems that patriotic Crimean Tatars feel it is time to gather stones, both literally and figuratively. We have seen, in museums and courtyards of rebuilt Crimean Tatar farms alike, interesting collections of tomb stones from destroyed Tatar cemeteries, stone tops of the wells, millstones, carved stone details of now-ruined buildings and so on. People collect rarities with great love, because these are fragments of their past, real evidence of their former peaceful life, their culture, way of life, and everyday reality in homeland...

THIS INTERESTING CURIOSITY WAS PROBABLY HISTORIANS’ FAVORITE. INITIALLY BELIEVED TO BE A WATER FLASK, IN-DEEP RESEARCH HAS SHOWN IT TO BE, MOST LIKELY, A POWDER CONTAINER, USED TO LOAD MUSKETS OR SIMILAR FIREARMS

The exhibition, which its organizers named “In the Guardians’ Hands,” presents what five collectors have gathered – Simferopol-based Osman Ismailov, Aider Khalilov, and Mamutov pair, Reza and Gulnar, as well as Ilver Ametov of Sudak and Ibrahim Ibrahimov from Bakhchysarai.

The exhibits include copper utensils, trays, pots, flasks, antique teapots, samovars, coffee grinders, sugar bowls, cauldrons, distaffs, scales, shoes, coins, rugs covered with ancient folk ornaments. Every object testifies to the existence of ancient, but now half-forgotten traditions of working leather and copper, making pottery, smithing, weaving and many other arts and crafts, once widespread among the Crimean Tatars.

By Mykola SEMENA, The Day, Simferopol. Photos by the author
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