Monday, July 14, 2014

Open Gates To Russia - 1920

Here's the bit about us:

"Passing down the river ... the traveler comes to Kazan, the city which was formerly the outlying stronghold of the Tatar power in Russia and which Czar Ivan the Terrible captured from its Tatar defenders in the middle of the sixteenth century.   There is still a large Tatar community in Kazan, occupying a portion of the city by itself and having its own Tatar shops and Mohammedan mosques.  The persistence of the strong old Tatar spirit was evidenced in the course of the revolution, when the Tatars protested against keeping the Russian imperial double-eagles at the top of the prominent red-brick tower with the citadel, from which the Tatar Princess Suumbeka leaped to her death at the fall of the city to the attacking Russian troops. After the abdication of Czar Nikolai II, the Tatars contended, it was no longer fitting that this symbol of imperial conquest should remain at the top of the Tatar tower, and no Russian symbol could replace it so well as could the Mohammedan crescent which had originally adorned it.  Their influence in the affairs of the city was sufficiently strong to carry their point.  The double-eagles were taken down, and in their place was put once more the half-moon, after a lapse of nearly three centuries.
      Kazan is typical of many of the Volga cities.  On landing from the boat there is a drive of several versts over a road across the fields to the city itself, in the course of which the walled kreml, or citadel, stands out above the roofs of the houses, dominating the heights in the center of the town.  This sort of fortification, with its white walls broken by round turrets, is common to many of the older cities, dating from the time when the populations had to have some place of refuge from attack by the wild Mongolian hordes which occasionally made invasions into the land and which once, under Jenghiz Khan, so thoroughly terrified Russia and much of Europe...
      Kazan contains one of the large and important universities of Russia, which would command the interest of any traveler interested in education.  The kreml, with the vermillion Spasskaya Church at the gate contrasting with the white citadel walls and with the silver domes and lofty bell-towers of the old churches within, is one of the most picturesque in Russia.  The crowded bazaar, back of the main street, has many interesting booths where peasant work or icons or old samovars can be found; and the Tatar quarter is worth a visit for its leather works in which are made the Tatar slippers and boots and pillow covers of the variegated leather and its stores with Tatar jewelry and head-dresses and shawls.  Kazan has also an excellent Kustarni Sklad, or store for peasant work, where examples of the people's wood-carving and lace- and laquer-work and jewelry can be seen.  Several villages in which such things are produced, and where the processes can be observed at first hand, are fairly easily reached from Kazan.
       Aside from the obvious differences in physical construction and convenience already discussed earlier, the life of the people in such a small city in Russia is chiefly distinguished from that of a small city in America by the markedly greater interest in music, in the more serious productions of the theater, and in fine literature.  Kazan, for instance, has a population estimated at something between one hundred and fifty thousand and two hundred thousand.  In this city there was a fairly large opera-house, as there is in nearly every Russian city of similar size.  The opera-house in Kazan had an auditorium of generous dimensions with four tiers of galleries.  In this hall, during the winter season, only operas were produced, nearly all by Russian composers upon Russian historical themes, and all, without exception, classical in character.  Even good operettas were not produced in this house. There was another theater in the city for operetta when people wished to hear it.  Performances were given in the opera-house every night, and occasionally there were matinees.  The staging was artistic in conception and excellent in execution...and the quality of the singing and acting of the company was remarkably good.  Taken as a whole, the productions were such that they could be heard with enjoyment by any lover of good opera.  Even in the winter of 1918-19 this opera-house was always well filled with enthusiastic and appreciative audiences brought together by their love of good music.  It is safe to venture that there is not a single city of two hundred thousand inhabitants in America where such an enterprise could be supported by public attendance, or where the music would be understood by general audiences even if the operas were produced by subscription. "

Thursday, July 3, 2014

древный болгар - ancient bolgar - DVD

This is a short film, about half an hour.  It concerns the formation and history of the Bolgar empire.  In Russian, dubbed into Tatar and English.  We purchased this on E-Bay from seller Idelion.  We mentioned them a few posts ago.  Their shop is here.  They are our new favorite E-Bay merchant and they threw in a Salavat CD in along with our order.  Thanks!

Kirgiz from National Geographic Travel