Collection on culture of the peoples of Caucasus and Crimea

 The museum is rightfully proud of its outstanding collections of artifacts of traditional culture of the peoples of Caucasus, one of the most ethnographically fascinating regions of Europe. They already started to enter in the first years of museum work, the first collection dates to 1903. The collection of Crimean ethnography items which came to museum from materials of the All-Russia Craft and Industry Exhibition of 1902 is no less interesting. The museum collection on the peoples of Caucasus surpasses 25 000 objects.

General view on collection

Gathering of Caucasian artifacts corresponded to all of tasks which were given to museums in late XIX — early XX cc. including Alexander III Russian Museum which part was the Ethnographic Department. In opinion of scholars who were at the origin of the museums of national type the museum containing ethnographic objects should fulfill several tasks. Such museum is powerful mean of achieving national self-conscience representing Russia in its ethnographic specifics through national and state ideas. The study of non-Slavic peoples should serve for comparative research in ethnography of Russia and for demonstration of the sphere of Russian cultural-political influence in the East.

However, throughout its history gathering of Caucasian collections at the Russian Museum of Ethnography corresponded to the part of Russian National idea which put the presentation of real ethnic situation in regions of Russia higher than demonstration of cultural-political influence of center.

In who one can state that the specifics of traditional culture of the most of Caucasian peoples and partly of the peoples of Western Asia and the Black Sea Littoral Zone is reflected in the collection of the Russian Museum of Ethnography. The museum collections are the most valuable source for study of traditions and modern state of Caucasus and Crimea as specific territories with particular historical and national flavor.

K.A. Inostrantzev and Caucasian studies in museum

One of the first collectors was K. A. Inostrantzev, the specialist in the Muslim East and Sassanid Iran, researcher of Arabian and Persian manuscripts. From the first days of his work in museum he must transform himself from the desk scientist to field working ethnographer predominantly operating in Caucasus. The first trip of scholar to region was made in 1902 with purpose of forming groups of museum correspondents at place. K.A. Inostrantzev agreed with some members of local administration, of whom the maximal contribution was made by an officer of the Ministry of Agriculture A.S. Piralov who prepared collections on various peoples of South Caucasus and Dagestan.  However, very soon the necessity of personal collection gathering work by the museum staff became evident. In 1903-1904 K.A. Inostrantzev made trips to Caucasus where he gathered collection on the Terek Cossaks, the Nogais, the Chechens, The Avars, the Andis, the Dargins, the Laks and the Azerbaijani.

Although all of the replenishments have great value one should particularly note the Nogai collection which included so unique objects as the Nogai cart and other attributes of the Nogai nobility’s wedding ritual. In 1906 the work place of scholar became Bolshya Kabarda and Karachai.  Among the objects purchased there the costume of woman of the Karachai princely lineage is the most interesting. In next year 1907 K.A.Inostrantzev gathered collection in Lankaran, where he received the gifts of the Mir-Achmad Talysh-Khan (details of palace decoration). Unfortunately they were destroyed in the years of the Leningrad blockade. These replenishments confirm the skill of K.A.Inostrantzev to conduct work among representatives of local elite. In total he gathered 31 collections of artifacts, which materials were supplemented by photographic collection. However, by the end of 1908 the scholar resigned and his request was satisfied.

Contribution of local intelligentsia

In the years of work of K.A. Inostrantzev in the museum the method of preparation of collectors from local youth studying in capitals proved to be perfectly effective. Especially noticeable are the names of students Z.P. Valaev who gathered collections on the Ossetian and Balkar cultures and S. A. Gatuev, the gatherer of the Chechen collection.

Among the representative of local intelligentsia in these years one can name the collectors of Armenian and Azerbaijani artifacts   the Archideacon of the Armenian Apostolic Church S.V. Ter-Avetisyan, the Orthodox priest from Svanetia I.F.Nizheradze, the physician M.O.Zandukeli and the student F.T.Sakhokia who gathered collections on the ethnography of Georgians. In 1903 the first collection of rich Tiflis merchant and collector M. M .Charukhchev entered the museum. In spite of difference in worldview and education all these people were well aware of necessity to represent the Caucasian artifact in museum of distant northern capital.  

Similar role in collection activities played the members of Russian officials who found themselves in the forefront of contact between Russia and the East; for instance to them belonged the agent of the Russian Accounting-Credit bank in Urmia (Iran) A. N. Petrov.

The third of Caucasian collection A.A.Miller

In 1908 A. A.Miller replaced K. A. Inostrantzev as the head of Oriental studies. The entire scholar career of A.A. Miller is marked by unity of two professions –ethnologist-museologist and archeologist. The collections of artifacts on Caucasian ethnography gathered by him include 1 076 keeping items that comprise almost one third of the entire Caucasian collection.  Three stages are marked in scholar activity of A.A. Miller: formation of museum collection of the Pre-Revolutionary period, the work on gathering diverse historical material in rear of the Caucasian Army in 1919, archeological-ethnographical study of the North Caucasus as the head of the North-Caucasian Expedition of the State Academy of History of Material Culture in    1923—1933. 

In 1907 A. A. Miller made his first trip to Abkhazia. His Abkhazian collection comprising two thirds of the museum collection on culture of this people had no analogues even in the Abkhazian Museum of Sukhumi until loss of its collection in course of Georgian-Abkhazian conflict of 1990s. It’s enough to mention the unique set of items associated with the cult of smithy. 

In 1907—1909 A.A. Miller worked in the Eastern Caucasus establishing the bases of studies in Azerbaijani culture at the Russian Museum of Ethnography. He gathered unique collection on culture of the Mountains Jews from Kub; brought many Georgian and Armenian collections from Tiflis. The scholar discovered many carpet-making centers in Azerbaijani including among the Tats and Lezgins.  

The researcher worked in the North-Western Causcasus among Adygs of Kuban, Bzhedukhs, Shapsugs, Besleneevtsi. In ten years some of objects gathered by him: items of clothes, details of dwelling, arms couldn’t be either purchased or see in daily life.   

Collections of A.K. Serjputovski

Other museum fellows and representatives of Russian intelligentsia also worked on A. A. Miller programme. Significant contribution to creation of the museum Caucasian collection made A.K. Serzhputovsky being specialist in ethnography of Byelorussians. In  1910—1911 he purchased for museum vast collection in the difficult to access areas of Western Dagestan among the peoples of the Avar language group.  He was one to whom the world is indebted for documental confirmation of existence of unique small-numbered ethnic groups like Bezhtintsi, Ginukhtsi, Botlikhtsi, Bagulals, Karatintsi and Avar and Andi collections. In 1910s A.K. Serzhputovsky worked on the Caucasian Black Sea coast from where he brought so unique objects of the Black Sea Shapsug’s culture and exclusive set of Abkazian and Georgrian-Megrelian daily life culture. 

And again about of collectors of Petersburgian and local intelligentsia  

Great importance for reflection in the museum of material culture of Dagestan peoples had collections of the woman-artist A.L.Mlokosevich who predominantly worked in Avar villages and tragically perished during expedition.  The culture of different peoples of Dagestan also has been reflected in storages of the Russian Museum of Ethnography thanks to local resident, the Kubachi collector Mahomed-Oglu Said.

The professor of the Imperial Academy of Arts A.P.Eisner, A.A. Florensky and A. B. Loris-Kalantar actively worked among Armenians and Kurds. In Geogria in the end of the last decade of XX century local physician M.O.Zandukeli, privat-docent of the Saint Petersburg University N.S.Derzhavin, artists A.L.Mlokosevich and L.V.Dmitriev-Kavkazsky.  Large Khevsurian collections acquired the future museum fellow and in that time student G.A.Bonch-Osmolovsky.

Gathering of ethnographic materials in Crimea

The collections of Crimean rarities are no less interesting, first of them came to museum from the materials of All-Russia Craft-Industrial Exhibition of 1902. In 1905 K.A.Inostrantsev brought excellent collections of clothes and embroideries from the villages of southern coast of Crimea. In 1913 A. A. Miller made a trip in the sea area. During several years his respondents handed to museum the cultural artifacts of Crimean peoples. The collections of P. N. Beketova and famous scholar specialist in Turkic studies A.N. Samoilovich, and collection gathered by influential Criomean intelligentsia.

From private collections

The characteristics of museum collection work on the peoples of Caucasus and Crimea in the period between the first Russian revolution and the First World War would be incomplete without information of replenishments from private collection, For example, many objects of different ethnic origin came from the famous Pskov collector of antiquities F.M.Plushkin. The administrator of the Russian Museum the Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich handed to museum a collection of specific ceramic vessels from the Kharagouli village and Persian, Turkish, and Crimean objects

Last collections under guidance of A.A. Miller

In 1915-1916 museum after a certain pause again started active collection work.  The disciple of A. A. Miller K.Z. Kavtaradze went to the Eastern Caucasus. There he purchased Azerbaijani, Armenian and Georgian collection as well as the Jewish ones from Derbent.  A. A. Miller personally followed the Russian army advancing in the Caucasus to the Turkish Armenia where he bought almost the entire set of everyday objects reflecting realities of Western Armenia.  The 1920s are characterized by active expedition work of A.A. Miller in the Northern Caucasus and replenishment with exhibits from palace collections.   The leadership of A. A. Miller taken over the North Caucasian Expedition of the State Academy of History of Material Culture was productive and resulted in significant replenishment of Adyg and Ossetian materials. One should especially note the funeral inventory from the ground tombs of the North Ossetia which kept the artifacts of the late Middle Age and exceptionally complete set of objects linked with highlanders’ agriculture (instruments for working the soil and harvest, attributes of agrarian feasts.

The last trips for gathering objects conceived under the guidance of A. A. Miller were the expeditions of L. V. Kostikov and K. G. Danilina to Kumyks and F. A. FIelstrup to Rutuls and Tsakhurs of 1929-1933.

Replenishments from the imperial palaces

In the first decades of the Soviet government main principles of museum collection work didn’t change, but the museum itself was transformed into institution open for the public.  The objects from collections of palaces and private mansions started to enter the museum storages.   The gifts of Oriental sovereigns to Russian emperors and the objects of ethnic antique were handed from the Palace of Arts (this was the name of the  Winter Palace in the first years of the Soviet government), the Anichkov Palace, the Gatchina Palace and other palaces. Among them one should note the items made in Dagestan, Kabarda, Ossetia, Georgia, gala clothes and arms belonged to the Emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II and other members of the Royal Family.  Thus, the most representative objects of traditional material ethnic culture of the middle class and the elite of Caucasus population were gathered together.

Collection work in Crimea in 1920s

In 1920s the museum collection was significantly enriched by the objects of culture of the peoples of Crimea. The main collectors there were the well-known specialists in Oriental studies G. A. Bonch-Osmolovsky and F. A. Fielstrup. Young ethnographers S. A. Trusova and L. V. Makarova worked together with them.

Contribution of E. H. Studenetskaya to the museum Caucasus

The establishment of the State Museum of Ethnography on the base of the Ethnographic Department was accompanied by almost complete change of its staff: in this aspect the museum’s history was part of history of entire country. 

Fortunately for the Caucasus studies the leading figure of the next period of its history became E.N. Studenetskya, professional ethnographer, educated in traditions of humanities in the early XX century. Evgenia Nikolaevna gathered 56 collections consisting of 1 200 exhibits, took more than 2 000 pictures.

The first expedition of E.N. Studenetskya was carried out in the mountain Svaneti, she formulate the task of truthful reflection of situation in national culture and search in ethnographer’s fieldwork progressive elements of daily life and culture which corresponded to the essence of the Soviet epoch.  A certain contribution to the epoch was gathering of objects belonged to the poorest strata of population. 

The sphere of main interests of E. N. Studenetskya was studies in ethnography of the peoples of North Caucasus and in the sphere of museum collections- research on national costume. Her most interesting acquisitions for museum storages in the early 1930s are dealt with these lines of investigation.

By the late 1930s two branches of field studies emerged in the museum Caucasus studies: North Caucasian and Southern Caucasian ones. In the pre-war years V.P. Muratkhan started in Georgia who gathered many collections on almost all the ethnographic groups of Georgians.  

The Great Patriotic War and gatherers of after-war years

The smooth running of expeditions to Caucasus implying its multifaceted research was interrupted by the Great Patriotic War, evacuation of a part of museum, subsequent restoration of building and permanent exhibitions.  In 1946 expeditions restarted in conditions of war consequences and deportation of several Caucasus peoples and ethnic groups. In 1940-1960 E. N. Studenetskaya acted as a gatherer of Georgian and Kabardian collections. In the middle 1950s the work in Dagestan renewed; it was carried out by the museum fellows L. F. Vinogradova, N. P. Soboleva, E. G. Torchinskaya, A. L. Natanson, however, the leading role in these studies belonged to L.F. Vinogradova.

The Museum of Ethnology

In 1948 the museum Caucasian collection received valuable replenishment from the Moscow State Museum of the Peoples of the USSR. In total the Moscow objects comprised 3 865 items. The pre-revolutionary ones were gathered by outstanding Russian scholars M.M. Kovalevsky, G. I. Radde, N.N.Kharuzin. The second part of the Moscow collection was formed in the Soviet years. Its base was established by the All Soviet exhibitions of 1920s. Later the collection of Moscow museum was forming by gatherings during expeditions. The participants of expeditions were leading scholars− experts in Caucasus studies E. M. Shillling, N. F. Yakovlev, V. K. Gardanov, L. A. Dobruskin, B.A. Kuftin and others. The most valuable replenishments were Georgian, Kubachi and Adyg. Also valuable was the RME replenishing on the cultures of Abkhazes, Armenians, Azerbaijani, Talyshes and the peoples of Crimea.  

Replenishments of 1960-1980s

In 1960-1980s the work on gathering ethnographic material in Georgia (E.N.Studenetskaya, N.P.Soboleva), Armenia (A.L.Natanson), and Azerbajan (E.G.Torchinskya) continued. Large collection on ethnography of Azerbaijani was formed and collections on culture of Udins, Tats, Talyshes, Assyrians and Kurds were replenished by efforts of E.G. Torchinskya. 

In the postwar time collection of exhibits on the peoples of Crimea was very limited but it’s impossible not to mention about activity of social worker and collector of exhibits on ethnography of Krymchaks E. I. Peisakh. It is he to whom the museum is obliged by presence of collections on ethnography of this small-numbered Crimean people.  

From 1960s preparation of permanent exhibitions of museum on modernity started to influence gathering of exhibits, however, experience of museum ethnographers allowed to select  without error the objects remained in the frames of tradition.  

In 1970-1980s expeditions of V.A. Dmitriev to Chechenia, Ossetia, Kabardia and Adyg areas, E.Ya. Selinenkova in Georgia, A. M. Bianki in Armenia and E.B.Kochetova to Dagestan were realized to replenish material collection. Simultaneously the volume of replenishments from organizations related with folk crafts was growing.  One should especially mention a series of collection received by the Russian Museum of Ethnography from the Society of Safeguarding of Monuments of Georgia” and the society “Arsi” closely collaborated with the museum.

The 1980s were the period of active replenishing of the works of art like copper utensils, carpets, carpet-like products and jewelry including adornments and arms from private persons.

The volume of Caucasian collection

In result of one hundred years of collectors’ activity the Caucasian collection of artifacts of the Russian Museum of Ethnography surpassed 25 000 items. It allows to judge about various aspects of life of specific ethnocultural zone with multinational population.

The peoples of North Caucasus in the museum collection

The museum collection includes materials related to the united culture of Western Circassians as well as the culture of their separate ethnographic groups. The culture of Circassian ethnic groups can be studied through collections of Circassian and Cabardian objects; there is also small collection of objects of Abazin culture.

The multinational Dagestan

The culture of multinational Dagestan is reflected quite completely. The museum has collections on culture of Nogais (the group of Kara-Nogais), Kumyks, Avars and such peoples of Avar group like Andi, Bezhtintsi (Kapuchintsi), Bogulaltsi, Botlkhtsi, Godoberintsi, Ginukhtsi, Gunzebtsi, Tsez, Karatins, Tindals and also collections on culture of Dargins and related to them Kaitagtsi, Kubachi, Laks, Lezgins, Tabasarans, Rutuls, Tsahurs, Aguls.  Some collections also present the Mountain Jews living in Dagestan and Azerbaijan.   

Diverse collection on Karachaevtsi and Balkartsi

The Ossetian traditional culture is presented by objects gathered among two groups of this people: Irons and Digors. There is small Ingush collection entered in 1908; Chechens are represented larger, one can judge about their culture by utensils, clothes and patterned felts; there is also ancient women’s headdresses provoking great interest of scholars.

Collections on Southern Caucasus Peoples

Different territorial groups of Azerbaijani are well represented in the museum. There are several collections on Moslems Tats and Talyshes. Several objects belong to the culture of one of mysterious Caucasian peoples — the Udis. 
The Armenian collection is the source on two main ethnographic regions— Eastern and Western ones and several local groups.  Apart of Armenian culture artifacts the museum has items from the regions of North Caucasus, the Black Sea Hemshins and the Turkish Armenia. 

The Georgian ethnography is abundantly represented by traditional and modern objects. There are exhibits reflecting the specifics of entire ethnos and ethnographic groups of Georgian peoples. The Western Caucasus is also represented by collection of objects on the Abkhazian ethnography. 

The Russian Museum of Ethnography has objects on culture of the peoples living in neighboring with Caucasus region countries. The collections on ethnography of Assyrians, Kurds, Iranians, Turks and the Black Sea Greeks could be assigned to this category. There also small number of Indian, Abyssinian and Romani objects.

The culture of the Crimea peoples

The museum gathered comprehensive collection on the peoples of Crimea: Crimea Tatars, Karaims, Karaites, Krymchaks and small but valuable collection on Crimean Greeks. The Crimean Tatar culture is reflected quite completely in the spheres of agriculture and vine cultivation, city crafts, there is collection of clothes; the examples of embroidery and patterned weaving are especially well represented.

The costume of Caucasian peoples in museum collection

Folk clothing and its accessories are one of the most representative categories of cultural artifacts. The national costume of the peoples of North Caucasus is represented by various clothes sets from hunting clothing to festive attire. Among them one should note the set of shepherd clothes of Karachays and Balkars and several woman costume of Circassian type from the present to the Empress Maria Feodorovna. Two corsets of Circassian girls and collection of girls’ high caps decorated with braid and gold embroidery are undoubtfully unique.

The details of clothing from the medieval tombs of Ossetia and Ingushetia have special value as a historical source.

The clothes of the Dagestan peoples are well represented in the museum.  There are complete woman costume of the southern Avars with headdress, costumes of Avar boy and shepherd, man and woman clothes of Tsez and Karata, woman clothes of Botlikh and Bogulal peoples. The clothes of the Dargin peoples is less comprehensively represented, however, there are complete Kaitag woman costume, Kubachi women clothes, man and women fur coats; one of the last acquisition was child caftan with numerous adornments-amulets.  The museum also keeps the clothes of the peoples of southern Dagestan including the Mountain Jews. One should especially mention Nogai man and woman clothes.  The collection of clothes of the peoples of Dagestan also includes several types of headdresses and large number of footwear.

The Azerbaijani collections contain four sets of man clothes with diverse variants of man headdress.  The costume and clothing details of Dagestan Azerbaijani women are also presented here.  Large collection of woman kerchiefs, examples of footwear and knitted socks is particularly interesting. Collection of Armenian clothes allows to show some local variants of costume.  There are woman costume sets from Akhaltsikhe, from the Districts of Artivn and Ardagan of the Batumi Oblast’, from Shusha and Tbilisi.  In 1919 A.A. Miller brought from the outskirts of the City of Van five complete sets of clothes.  In 1958 valuable acquisition was the only remaining traditional Armenian costume from the region of Gori.

In collection of Georgian clothing there are costumes of common national type and ones of different ethnographic and social groups (merchants, street sellers, craftsmen).  There are several complete costumes of Khevsurian highlanders supplemented with arms as tradition required. The clothes of Kartli, Pshavi,  Tushetians, Svans, Kaketians are represented quite comprehensively, there is also Imeritian man costume.  The Western Georgia is the best represented by the clothes of Adjarians and Las, the costume of Gurian nobleman is of interest for researchers. Clothes are well represented in collection on Assyrian and Kurd culture.

Jewelry and arms

Constant interest in study of clothes was also stimulus for collection jewelry and arms, because these objects were treated as a part of traditional costume. Especially many adornments came from Dagestan villages and various regions of the Southern Caucasus. Apart of silver jewelry the most typical for all Caucasus was a series of gold objects with enamel reflecting the specifics of jewelry art in South-Eastern Caucasus and influence of neighboring Iran.  Production of both jewelry and utensils applying precious metals   was typical for Dagestan and Southern Caucasus. Relatively large and diverse collection of man and woman belts was gathered of jewelry.  The objects of jewelry art allow to speak about national preferences in ornament and technique, about production centers: Adyghe, Vladkavkaz, Lak, Kubachi, Zakatali, Baku, Tbilisi, Akhaltsikhe and some others. 

Museum possesses comprehensive collection of arms, which allow to elucidate clearly main characteristics of Caucasian arms.  Armenian dagger dated by 1827, sabers and broadswords from mountain regions of Georgia, collection of the best examples of Caucasian sabers and daggers from the gifts to the Royal Family members, old Adyghe arms deserve special mention. The museum has remarkable collection of chain armors and helmets of Iranian production, Iran and Kurd blade and pole weapons.  The swords with curved blades skillfully decorated with images of mythological subjects are particularly interesting.  

In the museum collection arms predominantly reflect the elite culture of Caucasian peoples.

Caucasian carpets, felts and mats

Another category of elite objects are Caucasian carpets and carpet-like products from Azerbaijan and Armenia including the Krabakh center of carpet making.  Among them are the objects from the middle XIX century to last years. The carpet collection of Southern Dagestan is less representative. In initial period of museum existence an interesting collection of Tat carpets was gathered. Several examples reflect traditions of carpet making in Northern Dagestan. The best of the Georgian carpet making are the flat carpets from the mountain regions of Eastern Georgia. Patterned felts and mats made in different techniques are also kept in museum. Mats come from the Adyghe regions of North Caucasus, Dagestan and Kurdistan, felts were made in North Caucasus, Dagestan, Mountain Georgia and Armenia.

Reflection of economy and trades

The Museum’s collection permeates to reflect comprehensively all the variants of economical-cultural types of mountain and plain agriculture. Collections have various instruments for such occupations as grain farming, vine cultivation; the set of instruments related to different stages of bread making is featured. Material on livestock husbandry in mountain areas, wool treating and dairy production, and shepherd daily life is rather numerous. The most completely represented crafts are the Kubachi jewelry making, blacksmithing, masonry, silk-weaving, and jewelry making in Azerbaijan, coppersmithing in Armenia.   The museum keeps collection of print desks; most of them are Armenian exhibits. It’s impossible to miss instruments for leather embossing from North Caucasus, dagger making in Dagestan, wool treatment among all the peoples of North Caucasus.  One could make idea about measures and weights of North Caucasus and Dagestan, instruments for measurements and weighing from Southern Caucasus. 

Significant part of products is etalons of folk art. They testify high level of development of technology of manual and artisanal industries, resistance of ancient design traditions and its symbolic content.   

Metal products

The museum has examples of hammered iron lamps, objects for furnishing oven, and utensils for cooking meat.  The iron figurative objects are predominantly related to blacksmith industry of various areas of the Greater Caucasus.

Iron figurative objects predominantly belong to blacksmithery of various regions of the Greater Caucasus, Armenia and Georgia. Copper utensils are represented by diverse kinds of tableware, large flat trays and vessels for water. The ornament of jar is filled with symbolic of water streams and drops. The life of Muslim household would have been impossible without jars for ablution. The large center of coppery− the village of Lagich in the Eastern Caucasus present the brightest  outstanding group of copper works.

Carpentry objects

The collection of carved wood objects is numerous; these are Dagestan “horned” salt cellars, spoon stands with decoration imitating details of highlander’s stone house; North Caucasian big cups for beer, Khevsurian caskets for instruments of woman needlework; carved window frames from Azerbaijan. One should note collection of unique wood objects with metal incision from the Dagestan (Avar) village Untsukul.

Earthenware

Ceramic objects from the Museum Caucasian collection show different technique of pottery: Armenian women handmade ceramics and women earthenware from the village Balkhar. Kymuk, Lezgin, Azerbaijani, Armenian Talysh and especially Georgian ceramics are presented. The museum has collection of unique ceramic dishes conventionally named ispikskie.

Textile objects

Among the production of women handicrafts and needlework it’s impossible to miss lace, braiding and embroidery.  The embroideries made with gold thread in various areas of Caucasus and the so-called Kaitag embroideries in which technique a kind of specific picture were made are particularly interesting.  Collection of Kaitag embroideries is considered to be the object of pride for every museum.

Attributes of feasts, rites and religious cult 

The museum collection contains some objects related to traditional festivals of the peoples of Caucasus. These are items from the Ossetian burial vaults, the Abkhazian smithy, the  shrines of Mountain Georgia;  objects used in rites of the “ploughmen’s return feast” among the Circassian peoples, in actions of “the bachelors union” among Kubachintsi, in performances of Armenian shadow theater and family rituals.  The museum has large number of various amulets and objects of religious cult.

Rarities

In general, the museum collection on the peoples of Caucasus shows national flavour. Among the objects with vividly expressed ethnic specific one can note the Adyg cup for honorable guests, on which surface everybody carved his lineage sign; fan with two-headed human figure purchased from Circassian sorceress;  felt masks of the peoples of North Caucasus and Dagestan; a bull skull with metal pendants between its horns from the Abkhazian shrine. The armchair of Ossetian elder, the banner of Didoi troop, the Kubachi bronze cauldrons, the Armenian embroidery with image of labyrinth,  the clay salt cellar in shape of pregnant woman figure, the  sacred cup from Khevsurian shrine belong to the same category. The Kurd multi-bladed dagger, the carpet with image of caravan served as an attribute of the Kurd princess’s wedding ceremony, Iran staffs with Zoroastrian symbolics and the staff of dervish made of the nose of the sawfish. Today the Caucasian collection of the Russian Museum of Ethnography continues to be replenished.

 

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