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The Art of Wood-carving in Old Russia

Wood carving was one of the most popular crafts in medieval Novgorod. Wooden objects used daily by medieval Novgorod citizens were both functional and pretty.

Wood played a particular role in the creation of sacred objects. This material was compared with the Old Testament "tree of life," planted by God in the center of Eden and incarnated in the New Testament in the form of the "tree of the cross" - an instrument of atonement, the symbol of victory over death. The exposition displays objects which served as attributes of Christian rituals and were part of church decorations. They contain monumental crosses, icons and sculptural images of saints, tsar's gates and details of icon-stands.

How difficult it is to choose among the works displayed at the exposition! Most of them are worth mentioning: an eight-point cross with the image of the crucifix (14th century) with palm branches and sprouts growing from its foundation symbolizing "the sign of victory"; gigantic grave crosses with the most impressive one being the three-meter high cross of Savva Vyshersky.

The history of the Russian Church was always known both for the fight against idolatry, or remnants of paganism, and the Catholic influence. Therefore the round sculptural image of Varlaam of Khutyn is a great rarity.


Permanent exhibition "Old Russian Examples of Wood-Carving"


Stephan Romanovich. Fragment of a cross. 1532. From the church of the Transfiguration of Our Savior on Ilyina street

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