This week, an in-depth interview with the curator of SCYTHIANS, a show of Russian artifacts never before seen outside of Russia and never placed together, marking 100 years since the Russian Revolution. The exhibition, organised with the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia is open to visit until 14the January 2018, the exhibition looks at the hunting, decorative and funerary objects that tell a story of a people of which no written words exist. (Broadcast times and days below.)
A nomadic, fierce horse-riding people, the Persian-speaking Scythians lived in the green belt that led from Ukraine, the Black Sea to Mongolia. These finds from Russia are of a people who enjoyed smoked hemp seed (!), amazing headdresses and sequin garments. It is believed by some that the Scythians worshipped a female goddess, and indeed there is a copy of a large felt backdrop used in one of their communal tents, of a female on a throne, holding a tree branch, but the BM focuses instead on the burial and golden items and the innovations in arrows building and style that put the Scythians ahead of their neighbours for about 900 years. One of the most interesting things about them, is how much they depicted nature at the moment of a battle to the death, so animal devours animal, man is devoured by or vanquishes beast and so on. The felt pieces look incredibly modern. We can only guess what kind of people they were as they were strictly oral in their tradition. the curator says in this interview there were no musical instruments on show, but we did find one and take a photo, even though it was not permitted! (NB – no flash used). We owe all of this to the ice in Russia that preserved the pieces -and bodies on display! – so well:
“2,500 years ago groups of formidable warriors roamed the vast open plains of Siberia. Feared, loathed, admired – but over time forgotten… Until now
This major exhibition explores the story of the Scythians – nomadic tribes and masters of mounted warfare, who flourished between 900 and 200 BC. Their encounters with the Greeks, Assyrians and Persians were written into history but for centuries all trace of their culture was lost – buried beneath the ice.
Our exhibition is a tribute to Russian discoveries and research that began in the reign of Peter the Great and Russia’s first museum, the Kunstkamera, and has continued with archaeological discoveries and new research up to today. It is the culmination of the museum’s 2017 celebration of Russian art and culture in the UK.”
Six Pillars broadcasts on air on 104.4FM, on digital radio signal and online Wednesdays 9-9.30pm UK time. [Repeats the following Fridays 11-11.30am].
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