Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I advise everyone to check out this website:
The kids in the picture above are twin brothers. The normal looking one is deaf.
The other has hydrocephalus. This is just one example of the thousands who
have defects or cancer as a result of the distaster.
From this research, I was alarmed at the number of people who developed health
problems with their thyroids. Genetic mutations seem to be common in areas that
were contaminated. What's worse is that people did not know at first what areas, such as rivers, they should not use. I have developed a better understanding as to why this is
considered the world's worst nuclear disaster ever. I really do hope that more can be done to help these types of people and that no further damage comes from this tragedy.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Sadly I missed the field trip and like all of you have been caught up in all the finals, and just found time to do an extra post. But, seeing as how many posts have "beat me to it" on this topic and are similar to one another, I think I'll try to tinker around with something no one has covered yet.
For the vast majority of Ukrainian history, its people – the Slavs – have been pagan (worshiping a multitude of divine beings). Over the long period of time prior to Christianity’s adoption, the Rus’ (former name for Ukraine) had developed a strong culture, tied into their religious beliefs. In 988 C.E., when Prince Vladimir of Kiev baptized the Rus’, thereby denouncing paganism and officially adopting Christianity. However, he was only able to weaken polytheism’s grip on the Ukraine. The remnants of it still persist to the present day.
There are numerous examples of paganism’s presence in today’s Ukraine. Many such examples are the multitude of traditions practiced in conjunction with various Christian holidays. One such holiday is Ivana Kupala, which is supposed to be a celebration of John the Baptist. However many Ukrainians celebrating this holiday practice pagan pleasures such as jumping over a burning fire with a partner to purge the soul. These practices are part of its past. This tradition shows an attempt of an early way of Ukrainians to retain their rich and ancient religious culture.
One other such famous “textbook example” is the ancient ritual of pysanka or what is presently known as Easter egg decoration. As before, the sun, along with other major parts of nature, was given extreme respect. Eggs were painted with symbolic plants, animals and other living and non-living beings and were used in sun worship celebrations and later kept as juju’s. However, just as in Ivana Kupala, pysanky and its many symbols were blended with the Christian holiday Easter.
Growing up in Cleveland, I have often heard the saying that it is a “Melting Pot.” This brought me to wonder if any Ukrainians were involved in creating this melting pot, and I was very excited when I found out that they were.
Cleveland’s Polish immigrants began their immigration in the mid-19th century. They settled with the Czechs in what we now call Newburgh Heights and Slavic Village, in the area that was surrounding the Cuyahoga Valley. The St. Stanislaus Church was founded in 1888, and was a great influence on the community. Polish is still the language spoken in Slavic Village, as the people who live there celebrate their heritage each May Day and have a Harvest Festival in August.
The first Ukrainian immigrants to arrive in Cleveland arrived in the mid-1870s. The majority settled in the Tremont neighborhood. More recent immigrants have created a Ukrainian commune in Parma, which is to the south of Cleveland. This community has Ukrainian newspapers, radio programs, and a museum: The Ukrainian Museum on Kenilworth in Tremont. Since I missed the field trip, I think visiting this museum in the heart of a Ukrainian area would be a great opportunity. Churches in the area, such as Sts. Peter and Paul in Tremont as well as St. Josaphat in Parma hold services in Ukrainian.
Upon their arrival, the Ukrainian community life in Cleveland revolved solely around the church and fraternal unions. The largest of these organizations is the Ukrainian National Association, which began in 1902. They held their 100th convention in Cleveland, and presently have 14 branches. The community is clearly developing over time.
I found it thrilling that after learning so much about Ukraine this semester, I was fortunate enough to learn that Ukrainian-Americans first settled in the city that I grew up in the 1880s.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
According the United States census of 1990, there were 750,000 individuals of Ukrainian descent living in America, but many people believe that the number today is closer to one, or even two million. Originally, the Ukrainian population was largely centered around major industrial cities, but today they are spread out all over the country. One of the largest single concentrations of Ukrainians living in the United States is now in the Chicago Metropolitan area, with close to 50,000 residents consider themselves to be of Ukrainian descent.
Originally the Ukrainian population in the Chicago Metropolitan area was mainly limited to West Town. Now there are significant concentrations in Cook, DuPage, and Lake Counties. In the Chicago area there is the Ukrainian National Museum as well as the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art. Chicago is often the site of many visits from touring groups from Ukraine, and new immigrants are making their homes their every day.
To learn more follow these links:
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
So do any of you know where the Christmas song "Carol of the Bells" came from?
While searching for a special Ukrainian immigrant culture in the United States, I have found that The “Carol of the Bells,” a classic American Christmas song, was first introduced to American audiences by a Ukrainian choir on Oct. 5, 1921 at Carnegie Hall, NY. The original song was written by Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych as a New Year's Chant and was called Shchedryk (comes from the word, bountiful, in Ukrainian). The original Ukrainian text is based on the tale of a swallow flying into a household to proclaim the plentiful and bountiful year that the family will have. It was later adapted in English by Peter Wilhousky.
Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych was a famous Ukrainian composer, choral director and a world-renowned teacher. After the Ukraine's Independence in 1918, he taught at the Kiev Conservatory and Mykola Lysenko Institute of Music and Drama. However, he was tragically murdered by a Soviet State Security agent during the night of Jan. 21-22, 1921.
Here is a clip of an original song in Ukraine (found in Youtube):
And here is the English version (also from Youtube):
The Ukrainian Americans have had great impact on professional sports in the US. Many have excelled in hockey, football, baseball, and soccer. Three Ukrainians have been inducted into the NFL's Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. These three athletes are Bronko Nagurski, Church Bednarik, and Mike Ditka. Bill Mosienko of the Chicago Blackhawks holds the NHL record for the fastest "hat trick" scoring all three goals with in 21 seconds.
Wayne Gretzky, holder of many NHL records and currently #1 on the list of top 50 hockey players of all time, is also of Ukrainian decent. His Grandmother was born in Pidhaitse Ukraine, and his Grandfater is from Belarus. Wayne's father spoke Ukrainian as his first language. Two Ukrainians still playing in the NHL are Nikolai Zherdev of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Alexei Zhitnik of the New York Islanders. Another famous Ukrainian is the host of Jeopardy, Alex Trebek. Alex Trebek, who woulda thought? Its exciting to learn about famous Americans of Ukrainian decent and specifically, their involvement in professional athletics!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
According to the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, it emerged during the Cossak period. Certain features are unique to baroque style. The terms Ukraine baroque or Cossak baroque are the given names because of these features. Specifically, Ukraine baroque is a moderate, simple style in comparison to the tradional style Western Europe which is more decorative.
I've posted an example of the baroque style. It is the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv.
I think Ukraine baroque is a beautiful art form. This is not an architecture that I am used to seeing on buildings here in the United States. These buildings are great for photography and seem as if they exist a world away.
Another amazing point I'd like to discuss is the longevity of these structures. This art form came about in the 17th and 18th century. The St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery was built in the middle ages, but parts of it was reconstructed in the 18th century to accomodate baroque style.
It would be interesting to see baroque structures in the United States.
Monday, April 14, 2008
The museum has many exhibits, and I will discuss the three most recent. The first one was just completed on April 6. It was called Ukrainian Museum at 30- Paintings and Sculptures. The aim of this exhibit was to highlight the museum’s collections that have been displayed over the past 30 years. Many of the artists whose work was shown in this display loved and worked in the Diaspora in various parts of the world for the majority of their adult lives, after being forced to leave Ukraine. Their work is very interesting as their work’s roots are clearly a reflection of their Ukrainian heritage.
Another recent exhibit is called Thread to the Past: Ukrainian Folk Art from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Apparently, a collection of folk art objects, including the ones in the picture I attached, were bought for display at the Chicago World’s Fair by the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America. These items are now on display at the Museum in New York. I was surprised to learn that more than 100 of the 600 items that were purchased by the UNWLA for display in Chicago and these were viewed by almost 2 million visitors to the Ukrainian pavilion.
The last recent display is called The Pysanka and the Rushnyk: Guardians of Life. I was so excited to see the word “Pysanka” as I was already familiar with this term from Steve Taylor’s post! The exhibit presents over 200 of the unique eggs along with a selection of ritual cloths, created by noted Ukrainian artists.
Many Ukrainian artists, such as Alexander Archipenko, Vasyl Hryhorovych Krychevsky, and Oleksa Hryshchenko, contributed to the museum’s incredible displays. The museum offers education programs, such as guided tours, workshops, family programs, and school programs. They also offer classes in embroidery, bead stringing, Ukrainian Christmas traditions, pysanky workshops, and more. I was also excited to learn that they offer a baking traditional wedding breads workshop, as I was inclined to learn more about this topic because of Deborah’s post on the korovai.
The museum sports a news link, where you can learn what’s going on at the museum if you’re interested in visiting. The link is http://www.ny.com/cgibin/frame.cgi?url=http://www.ukrainianmuseum.org/&frame=/frame/museums.html. The website that I gained my information on this topic and the following picture is from ukrainianmuseum.net. If you have any questions or will be in New York this summer and wish to come visit the museum, let me know! Also, there is a gift shop on the website where you can purchase Ukrainian media, gifts, jewelry, pysanky, and plenty more. Enjoy!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I re-attached the comments other students made on it as well. Thanks!
Because Ukraine was a soviet republic, obviously it was under jurisdiction of the Stalin-led government and policies of the time. In the late 20’s, a soviet-wide agricultural policy, originally voluntary, known as ‘collectivization’ was implemented.
As a pre-cursor, farming in Ukraine (over 50% of the Soviet Union was fed on the enormous output of grains, fruits, and vegetables from Ukrainian lands) was faced with various droughts, seed shortages, and tilling problems beginning in 1927. Because of this, and a poor soviet food supply/delivery system, urban areas began to see food shortages. This led to a soviet food rationing program, intensively focused in Ukraine, and later in the rest of the USSR.
Collectivization was poorly implemented, and thus less than 6% of Ukrainian farms had taken part by 1930. After this, Stalin pressed for further progress, and eventually many Ukrainian livestock farms began taking part, slaughtering livestock at higher rates to meet government demand. Eventually, on January 5, 1930, Stalin set the deadline for the entire collectivization of the Ukrainian SSR by the spring of 1932. Through heavy local authoritative pressure, more than 70% of the Ukrainian population was quickly and forcibly made to join the collective and turn over all agricultural products. Many who could not meet initial quotas were striped of all property, lands, and houses. These peasant farmers were usually deported to other parts of the USSR.
Faced by heavy resistance from the general population, some pressure of the plan was alleviated for a short time. However, the government forced a switch of the Ukrainian region from primarily grain-producing to that of a diverse, multi-crop system. Through drought, a dilapidated supply chain, poor soviet managing and plan implementation, the produced crops could not be obtained or delivered. Much of it sat to rot, remained unharvested, or was uncollected. Only 79% of the total was reached. During this process, many peasants starved to death and suffered from malnutrition. In the ensuing aftermath, high government expectations, while continually decreased, still grew in disparity with actual agricultural production. By 1932, many oblasts of Ukraine were reporting record-low grain production and widespread death from famine.
Because of the overbearing, enforcing, and strong nature of the Soviet regime, extensive measures were undertaken to protect ‘government property’. Officials were given orders to prosecute anyone withholding or bargaining grain. This was done by state agents who actually raided farms to collect grain; Food was taken regardless of whether the peasants had enough grain to feed themselves, or whether they had enough seed left to plant the next harvest. One of the policy leaders, was noted as saying “Repression must be taken to the limit, so that they will not mock us for our impotence.” The attitude clearly became that of punishment rather than help or production.
From 1932 to 1933, authorities established barricades along the border of the USSR to prevent any peasants from leaving all hunger-stricken regions; As a result, all travel from Ukraine was prohibited. In a single month in 1933, over a quarter million people were captured attempting to flee the region, and escorted back or arrested and sentenced. The Holodomor was virtually unknown outside of the country and around the world because of the intense secrecy and cover-up of the soviet regime; Few journalists ever witnessed the famine as external observers during this period.
Soviet authorities rarely relented to the people’s pleas for help, only granting aid to those who were recovering and not suffering from starvation- in order for them to return to the fields as soon as possible. The famine arrived at a time when the Soviet Union was single-handedly and systematically destroying Ukrainian culture. Beginning in 1928 and ensuing for a decade, a major portion of the Ukrainian peasantry was exterminated, in addition to the closing of thousands of Ukrainian churches, schools, museums and made so that they never existed. Ukrainian music, writing, and art was completely censored, and religious organizations were shut down. Also, almost all influential Ukrainian scientists, politicians, cultural leaders, and blind-storytelling ‘Kobzars’ were called to a special conference and either killed or deported to camps in Siberia.
There have been countless estimates, given by a variety of sources over time to the number of deaths caused by Holodomor. Most commonly, between 4.5 and 5 million people in Ukraine were have believed to have died in ways relating to starvation and famine, although some claims are as high as 10, and even 20 million.
Similar to certain laws of the same type in Germany surrounding the Holocaust, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko recently stated his attempt to create a law criminalizing the denial of Holodomor. Although debate continues on what caused the Holodomor (natural events, bad policy, poor infrastructure, or intent neglect), scholars and politicians continue to attempt to define the Holodomor as a type of Genocide, in order to give the ‘engineered famine’ the world recognition and acknowledgement it deserves.
Because I was raised in a home heavily influenced by Ukrainian culture- by a large Ukrainian family- It is hard to write a history of the Holodomor in an unbiased way. I have read many books and heard countless stories on Holodomor, some passed from generation to generation, and some from those who have directly survived the early 30’s in Ukraine. However, the main theme throughout each one is a hatred the of Stalin and the soviet regime. The anger and incredible pain is quite simply, unforgettable when a survivor shares his or her stories. Many times, the famine made the people of Ukraine turn on themselves in a frightening fight for survival. As a student, it is important to objectively look at the facts of the events, but I cannot help but feel outrage by the relative neglect this event has seen in the history of eastern Europe. The conditions are set-up to label the Holodomor as an obvious genocide; however, the legacy of denial by Russia and Soviet supporters carries so much weight and power that it continues to hold the Ukrainian people down, 70 years after the blow was dealt.
I just read this and I have to say that the newspaper clipping you found with pictures taken during the Holodomor really affected me. I can definitely see how it would be difficult to NOT have a bias concerning the issue, as you pointed out. What really baffled me about the situation is that there were collectivized crops sitting out to rot due to inefficiencies in planning while people and their animals starved. This reminded me of some of the situation I studied in a class dealing with Imperialism and Colonialization, where people in India and Africa suffered crippling poverty or terrible starvation while their own resources (the same ones that could have helped cure these problems!) were shipped off to Europe. It made me wonder if Stalin's treatment of Ukrainian peasants during this period can be fairly compared to the Imperialists' treatment of peasants in the undeveloped nations they conquered....
Nice. I can see where people would tend to call this a genocide, especially with examples like "from 1932 to 1933, authorities established barricades along the border of the USSR to prevent any peasants from leaving all hunger-stricken regions." That seems pretty intentional to me.__The entire situation strikes me as a microcosm of how poorly executed and inhumane the Soviet system was. I will never be able to understand how a country with so little regard for human life and freedom and entrepreneurship managed to remain one of two world superpowers for nearly 50 years.
Rok Ekzystentsiva brings like-minded people together. Rok Ekzystentsiya was described once as a festival of music for people with higher education. The festival attracts a lot of media attention. Many musicians play Rok Ekzystentsiva early in their career and gain fame immediately. New rockers get the opportunity to play alongside some of the most recognized rockers in Ukraine. Talent scouts, journalists and promoters seek good musicians out and offer contracts and recording sessions.
Rok Ekzystentsiya has acquired a high reputation and it is probably the recognized even by rockers at the main festival in Ukraine.. Such leading performers as Oleh Skrypka, Mykhaylo Barbara, Foma, Taras Chubay and Andriy Sereda call Rok Ekzystentsiya “Number One Rock Festival in Ukraine.
The 2000 United States Census lists 862,762 persons of Ukrainian ancestry. (http://www.euroamericans.net/ukrainian.htm). However, there were some problems with the methodology of the census, and individuals who used historical or geographic terms to identify themselves were counted with other groups. Many individuals identified their country of origin (such as
States with the largest Ukrainian-American populations include:
My grandfather emigrated from
Between the World Wars, when the Holodomor took place, Ukrainians in the
In 1948, the US Congress passed the Displaced Persons Act, permitting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to come to the
My grandparents settled and raised their family in
The Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey is located in northern
Another interesting place I found is the
I find it interesting that there remains such a rich tradition and desire to continue Ukrainian culture even in today’s world. However, I was not extremely surprised to find all of these resources. My grandparents continue to participate in a large community of Ukrainian Americans. I have always enjoyed being able to attend traditional holiday services at a Ukrainian Orthodox Church. My parents were even married in a “traditional” Ukrainian wedding. I think it’s extremely important to learn about one’s heritage, and I hope that I can pass it along to my own children. Though America is often referred to as a "melting pot", I enjoy the fact that I can experience communities in which the culture of the residents' homeland is vibrant and thriving.
*This is my third post, to make-up for missing the field trip
One technique was to send young Communist activists to country regions to hype up support for the Soviet regime. Another depiction of the ideal Communist Party consisted of greater than life images of Stalin. In my opinion, this either made Stalin appear as someone to admire because you were forced to look up to him or as someone to fear because he was larger than life. Another form of propaganda was the denial of a famine by the Soviet regime. This included resistance of any foreign help in the form of food shipments. Also, anyone found using the words "famine", "hunger", or "starvation" could be arrested, since the famine did not exist in the eyes of the Soviet regime. The most prominent form of propaganda was the attack against the Kulaks. They were characterized as being as equally dangerous as an invading foreign enemy.
I end in leaving a quote, that describes the torture that was inflicted to not only adult men and women, but children as well:
"The most terrifying sights were the little children with skeleton limbs dangling from balloon-like abdomens. Starvation had wiped every trace of youth from their faces, turning them into tortured gargoyles; only in their eyes still lingered the reminder of childhood. Everywhere we found men and women lying prone (weak from hunger), their faces and bellies bloated, their
eyes utterly expressionless." --Victor Kravchenko, Soviet official who escaped from the USSR Embassy in the United States
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
He was born to a Cossack family (1722), although whether rich or poor is not clear. For example, links  and  below have contradictory information on this point. As mentioned in class, he attended the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, although he never completed a full program. He also left the Academy on two occasions for travels and other things. In 1769, he abandoned formal teaching and began wandering the country side.
An interesting note, he refused to let his philosophical writings be published, calling them his children. He'd often give his writings to friends as gifts, instructing them to take care of them and keep them in their house. See more about this at link . In a culture clamoring to fit into the Russian aristocracy seek worldly honor and riches (the Cossack Hetmanite being slowly dismantled during his lifetime), Skovoroda refused to be a worldly-type philosopher. More on this in link , with interesting stories concerning Cathrine the Great and a General Shcherbinin.
In his writings, he is critical of the Church, but deeply religious. Soviet realism made him into a pantheist, believing God is nature, but this biased by Soviet objectives. For instance, the following quote from link :
"To Skovoroda, God reveals Himself to men in three ways: the material world into which we are born; Man himself, or the microcosm which reflects the macrocosm; and the symbolic world of the Bible, which gives us the possibility to understand the eternal God. The material world is meaningless without one's intimate connection with the divine. Man has to use his cognitive powers to understand the macrocosm and its Creator."
This is comparable with a 1965 U.S. thesis by Taras Zakydalsky at Bryn Mawr Collage (link ), particularly note the first paragraphs of the Metaphysics chapter. Here is a direct quote from Skovoroda on these three aspects, calling them three worlds.
In all, I find Skovoroda a refreshing individual: a man who had both deep faith in God, and yet was willing to address philosophical issues; a seeker of truth not limited to usual physical experience. He was critical of the church(es) he was familiar with, as they did not seem to fit his ideas of truth, yet not abandoning God because of these church(es).
Personally, am a scientist and also very religious. I believe both these aspects of my life involve seeking and learning truth. I am encouraged to see another truth seeker with both aspects. Was he successful? That remains for each individual to decide.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Figure 1: An aerial view of the Chornobyl Power Plant after the meltdown.
In April 26, 1986 there was a massive explosion in one of the reactors at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant. This explosion caused several more to follow, which set in to motion the largest nuclear meltdown in history. Massive clouds of smoke carrying radioactive fallout carried dangerous debris all over Europe, and even as far as North America. As a result, almost 400,000 thousands residents were forced to relocate. 56 individuals were killed directly by the accident, but today World Health Organization estimates that nearly 4,000 people have died as a result of cancer brought on by exposure to radiation, and that 600,000 individuals have experienced high exposure to radiation.
Most experts blame the meltdown on a poorly designed reactor and personnel who were not properly trained. As a result of Cold War isolation there was little regard for safety, so workers did not receive sufficient education and preparation. The accident itself occurred during a test to see how long turbines would spin after loosing the loss of main electrical power supply. It was known that the reactors were unstable at a low power setting, but the personnel at the plant chose to run the test regardless. During the test, when they attempted to shut down one the reactors there was an enormous power surge, because the reactor was in such a volatile state, and this led to the initial explosion which initiated the meltdown.
When the meltdown first occurred officials failed to warn residents that a meltdown occurred, it was not until radiation levels increased dramatically in Sweden that anyone was notified. When the government finally issued a warning, they gave the impression that the damage was minimal and localized. It was not until almost two days later that the entire surrounding area was evacuated when citizens were notified about the severity of the accident. Originally citizens were told to expect to their homes in three days, as a result many of the still abandoned homes still contain many of the personal items of their former occupants.
Livadia Palace was the summer retreat for the last Russian Czar, Nicholas II and his family, in the city of Livadiya, Crimea in beautiful southern Ukraine. The architecture of the palace was built in white Crimean granite in the Neo-Renaissance style. The palace features an arched porch made out of marble, two enormous patios, a Florentine tower, large elaborate windows, a balcony, and is beautifully decorated with an art gallery. The palace consists of 116 rooms which are furnished and designed in different styles.
What is extremely interesting to me is the neutrality those who follow these traditions take when dealing with religion, or gods in general. There is a Ukrainian proverb that tells the story of an old woman going into a church and lighting two candles, one for God and one for the Devil. When questioned about why she did this, she replies that she is old, and it is nice to have friends on both sides. This duality of pleasing God, but not angering the Devil is something totally foreign to me, perhaps a result of my western catholic upbringing. It is very fascinating to see a different perspective of the afterlife.
While a deep part of Kievan Rus traditon, pagan superstitions and rituals still exist even today. There is evena neo-pagan movement in Ukraine today, and these people are called the Ridna Vira in Ukrainian.
This is a picture of Perun fighting Veles.
For more info:
A quick historical background information about Kobza:
Kobza existed from the sixth century, brought there by Bulgars or by Polovetsians and Khazars (not exactly sure). Some source says that it was brought into Ukraine by wandering Arab scholars in the 10-11th century. It was very popular during the 16th century in Cossack state with the advent of the Hetmanate. The term Kobza later became a synonym for the bandura (newer instrument with more strings) and in the 20th century, it became extinct. However, there is a strong revival of Kobza playing in Ukraine these days, especially in Kyiv and Kharkiv. Kobza is made of a single piece of wod and consisted of a soundboard and 3-8 stings strung across it.
I found a video in Youtube of a Kobzar:
Bandura is differ from Kobza in that it has 32-55 strings and each note is played in different strings. During the 17th and 18th century the bandura was very popular among the common people and by the 18th century the bandura displaced the kobza, and both names are now used synonymously.
Here is a video of an Ukrainian woman singing and playing Bandura (Youtube):
Personally, I hear their sounds to be very distinct and different. As a musician, I hear the sound of Bandura resembles more of a sound of harpsichord or a harp instead of a lute or a Kobza which are fretted (playing more than one note on a string). Both bring out the soul of Ukrainian musicians very well though. I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Ukrainian Music as I have~
The Chicago Tribune suggests that efforts to improve or modernize Ukraine's wooden churches is in fact destroying them:
When Ukraine gained its independence, villagers embraced the return of religious freedom, but many viewed their wooden churches as eyesores—rickety, difficult to maintain and ripe for renovation or demolition.This could be an interesting topic for further exploration. Here's the link in case anyone is interested!
"People stopped feeling that all of these churches have value—not material value, but spiritual or emotional value," Salyuk said. "Now, many people look at churches not as sacred buildings, but as houses which need to be rebuilt or renovated."
In many cases, those renovations make preservationists shudder. In the village of Stary Yar, 24 miles northwest of Lviv, a makeover of the 450-year-old Our Blessed Virgin of Pokrova, a Ukrainian Greek Catholic church, amounted to nailing tin plating painted yellow onto the wooden exterior. Inside, walls that had been covered with centuries-old paintings have been concealed behind particle board amateurishly decorated by a village artist.
"You can see this church is almost totally covered with metal, which makes it look like a submarine," said Rev. Stepan Kobasyar, whose diocese includes Stary Yar. "I can encourage the priest here and the parishioners to take the metal down, but I can't make them do it.
"This is the attitude of people who don't understand the value of a wooden church," he said.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
As we saw in class, the Swallow's Nest Castle is a popular landmark of Crimea. Before the castle was built, a small cottage occupied the cliff. It was built for a Russian general in 1895 and was called "The Love Castle". However, in 1911 a German man who had been very successful in the oil business purchased the cottage and within two years built the castle that we can see today. Over the years, the castle passed through many hands and had many different uses. It was a restaurant in 1914, a tourist spot in 1917 , and acted as the meeting place for a reading club in 1930.
The use of the building came to an abrupt halt in 1927. An earthquake judged to be a 6 or 7 on the Richter scale led to a large crack in the cliff the castle lies on. Renovation did not begin until 1968, and a majority of the work involved inserting a concrete plate to strengthen the cliff. It opened as an Italian restaurant in 1975 and still serves the tourists coming through.
Finally, there are many legends that come along with the castle. One of the funnier ones I found involves a young man in love who is rejected by his mistress. "Apparently", to win the girl's heart he continually rode a horse up to the cliff and then jumped off falling all the way to the sea. He always survived, and therefore that implies that his "infinite love and the magic/power of the castle" made him lucky enough to continually jump off the cliff. Below is a video of a tourist taking in the view:
Korovai are intricately designed breads that are baked for and historically have been served at Ukrainian weddings. These days, a simple bread (and perhaps a more modern, Western-style cake) may be served to the happy couple and their guests, and the korovai may be mostly for display purposes. Some couples go so far as to dry out and/or varnish their korovai so that they can display them around their houses for years to come.
As you can see from the photo, korovaii have incredible detail and display many of the same symbols found on the similarly intricate pysanky. The bread itself is made of wheat, and the wreath wrapped around it is typically made of periwinkle, a symbol of love and purity. The bread may also be adorned with berries, flowers, and ribbons. However, what's perhaps most impressive about a korovai are the carefully crafted bread figures that adorn it. Doves represent the couple, and the 'tree of life' in the center of the cake symbolizes the newlyweds' building a nest, in this case, home and and family, together. Other prominent symbols include suns, moons, flags, flowers, and elaborate braiding.
The baking of korovai is perhaps as interesting as the finished result. In the past, an odd number of women (in Eastern Slavic cultures, odd numbers are luckier than even ones, and you shouldn't offer a bouquet containing an even number of flowers unless at a funeral), usually seven, would gather to make the korovai. These korovainytsy would provide the ingredients needed to make the bread: seven eggs, seven cups of flour, water from seven different wells, etc. They'd make the bread together, singing traditional songs that accompanied each step of the baking process.
Ultimately, the korovai is symbolic not only of a new couple united, but a new couple welcomed into a community.
Another attraction in the tourist town of
The Massandra winery was built in the 19th century to supply the needs of the Tsars' court. Every year during the Russian winter, the Tsars took the imperial family to their summer palace in
In 1894, Tsar Nicholas II decided to build his own winery there. It was an enormous undertaking. Work on the cellars took three years as miners dug deep into the mountainside to create a labyrinth of 21 tunnels that to this day rank among the finest cellars in the world. The cellars are also exceptionally solid and strong - when violent earthquakes caused widespread damage in the region in 1920, the cellars of Massandra were completely unscathed.
While I was researching the winery, I found an article about a 2004 event by Sotheby’s of
When the area was engaged in civil war after the 1917 the wine collection was placed under special defense. To protect the Tsar's wine from looters it was bricked up in tunnels built in the 1890s by an army of laborers who burrowed deep into a hillside to create some of the world's finest and coolest wine cellars. More than twenty years later, when the Nazis invaded the
Today, the Massandra Winery claims to hold the biggest wine collection in the world. Besides history and process of wine making, tourists have an opportunity to join wine tasting in the halls of Massandra Winery.
The Massandra Winery was fascinating to me because it represents a cultural connection between historical figures and today’s generation of
Livadia Palace originally belonged to the Potocki family, an aristocratic Polish family. In the 1860s a large palace, a small palace, and a church were built there, and Livadia became a summer residence for the Russian Imperial family. Both Alexander II and Alexander III spent great deals of time at the palace, and Alexander III died in the smaller palace. In 1909 Nicholas II, Alexander III's son, had the two palaces torn down and a new larger palace was constructed on the site. On September 11, 1911 the Livadia Palace that still stands today was inaugurated.
Since Nikolai II's stays at Livadia, the palace has been utilized in numerous ways. As mentioned in class, in 1925 the first sanatorium for peasants was opened in Livadia Palace. Also mentioned in class, in 1945 the Yalta Conference was held at Livadia Palace. Today Livadia Palace is a museum with most of its historical artifacts lost or destroyed throughout the years. The palace has also served as a location for international summits by Ukrainian authorities.
The Palace, which is built in a Neo-Renaissance style, has over 116 rooms and numerous patios and towers, all of which are built in a variety of styles. The interiors of the rooms also vary in style - from Pompeian to English-inspired rooms, the palace offers a variety of architectural influences. Sofia Rotaru, a Ukrainian female singer, announced in 2008 that she will oversee the reconstruction of Livadia Palace. Rotaru is the first female singer to be awarded the People's Artist of the USSR and celebrated her 60th anniversary at Livadia Palace.
What I found most interesting about the information I found regarding Livadia Palace is that the original two palaces were torn down and a larger palace was built to replace them. I read that Nicholas II tore down the two original palaces after his father died there. I'm not sure what the relationship was between Alexander III and Nicholas II, but I would guess that this might have something to do with why Nicholas II had a new palace built.
Below are some links to videos taken in and around Livadia Palace. The architecture is phenomenal.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
I was interested in finding out about the Crimean Tatar traditions, especially artistic ones, since they weren't covered in class. To me, artwork is a powerful way of representing a culture's richness, history, and ideology. The revival of Crimean Tatar traditions, especially in the arts, will give future Crimean Tatars something to be proud of, something to show off when someone asks them about their history/ancestors.
The people depicted in this picture are wearing traditional outfits. Women traditionally wear a long dress, while men wear baggy pants (Shalvar) and cloaks. The white scarf on the woman and black headgear on the man in the middle (called "kalpak") are traditional headgear.
Tatar Decorative Arts - Embroidery
(picture of women's headdress)
There are many beautiful objects that you should look at here. Most interesting, to me, is the embroidery in gold thread that adorns most objects. There has been a project started by Ayshe Osmanova, to teach Crimean Tatar women how to do this type of embroidery, an art that had almost disappeared. According to her, traditional embroidery motifs are simple. For example:
"One common ornament is the 'nar,' which translates as the fruit 'pomegranate.' The nar has a grain inside that is sweet. This design is embroidered almost on all ornaments, whether they are for men, women or children. It's like a talisman and is closely linked to the family. The grain itself refers to the people in the family, which should be healthy and harmonious. The design is divided into squares to refer to the house where they all live. " (see first link below)
Tatar architecture shows clear Islamic influence. A following buildings below show off Crimean Tatar architecture. (All information from the Crimean Tatar Architecture link = link #4)
Özbek Han Mosque
Eski Kirim (Stariy Qrim), Crimea
This is the oldest Islamic building in Crimea, located in a city known as Solhat (former capital of Crimean Khans until early 16th century). It has similar architectural features to mosques in Anatolia during the Seljuk period with its square floor plan and monumental entrance with a carved wooder door. A Medrese (Islamic school) used to be next to the southern wall of this mosque, which remains can be seen from the rear of the mosque.
Palace of the Khans (Han Saray)
Bahçesaray (Bakhchisarai), Crimea
Bahçesaray was the capital of the Crimean Khanate from the early 16th century until Russian annexation in 1783. Built by Mengli Giray in the early 16th century, this palace was the residence and administrative center of the Crimean Khanate. The palace has the "State Council's Hall (Divan), reception halls, administrative and service quarters, guest rooms, the Harem, gardens, a mosque, a private chapel (mescit), and a cemetery for the Giray family" (see fourth link below). The Palace was rebuilt after the 1736 Russian attack on the city, so most of the structures are from 1737-1743. The oldest part is the Iron Gate, designed by an Italian architect in Renaissance style. The Fountain of Tears is located within an enclosed courtyard outside of the Council's Hall. After Russian annexation, the building was renovated by architects and artisans who weren't familiar with Islamic art and architecture, so today there is a great interest in restoring the palace to its original state.
Khan Mosque (Han Camii)
Gözleve or Kezlev (Yevpatoria), Crimea
As one of the few Tatar buildings that survived Russian domination, this building from the 1550s was designed by Ottoman architect Sinan and modeled after the original Fatih Mosque of Istanbul. It has one central dome, one half-dome, and three smaller domes to each side. The entrance is a wooden door on the north side. The front facade is an arcade with five smaller domes. In the 1980s, the Russians used it as a museum of archaeology, but the Tatars reclaimed it in 1990. The structure has gone through extensive renovation and restoration in order to it into a mosque again.
Ukraine: Tatar Women Rediscover Their Roots
Crimean Tatar NGOs
Crimean Tatars - most of info and all pictures from this site
Crimean Tatar Architecture
Monday, March 31, 2008
Ze'ev Jabotinsky was a Jewish and Zionist author, orator, soldier, leader, and founder of the Jewish Self Defense Organization in Odessa. He was born and raised in Odessa and wrote in some of his works, that despite attending Hebrew school, he felt rather detached from the religious aspects of Judaism. His writings were printed in Ukrainian/Russian papers before he even graduated high school and was sent to Switzerland and Italy to be work as a reporter for a Russian paper. He attended the University of Rome, while in the area, and later became a lawyer upon his return to Russia.
After the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, he joined the Zionist movement. Jabotinsky quickly established the Jewish Self Defense Organization and learned modern Hebrew. He changed his Russian name of Vladimir to Ze'ev, meaning wolf, in Hebrew. He became the leader of right-wing Zionists after Theodore Herzl's death in 1904 and was the Russian delegate to the Sixth Zionist Congress. At a conference in Helsinki, Finland, he called upon European Jewry to help with the liberation struggle of ethnic minorities in Russia. Jabotinsky criticized Russian Jewish leaders for participating in the centennial celebration of Nikolai Gogol, because Gogol was a reputed anti-Semite.
Jabotinksy ended up in Palestine and helped establish defense training for Jewish men, however was thrown in jail for being Socialist and enveloping Bolshevik views. Both of which, were untrue. Upon returning from the 16th Zionist Congress, Jabotinsky was exiled from Palestine under British rule. In the 1930s, Jabotinsky was concerned with the Polish Jewish population, whom he believed 'were living on the edge of the volcano'. He predicted "bloody super-pogroms" would strike European Jews. He pleaded with Polish/Hungarian/Romanian governments to allow a 10 year plan for the evacuation of their Jewish populations to Palestine. They all agreed, however some Jews of these countries viewed this as playing into the hands of the anti-Semites. He also understood that there would be Arab opposition to the emigration of Jews, and drafted a constitution for a Jewish state that held Arabs in an equal light in all aspects of public life. He died of a heart attack in New York in 1940, while visiting a Jewish self-defense camp.
There are more streets, parks, and squares named for him in Israel than for any other Jewish or Israeli person in history. I find it incredibly interesting that stemming all the way from Odessa, a middle-class Jewish kid was able to help pave the way for the modern formation of Israel.