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National Museum of Kazakhstan presents Golden Warrior at exhibition in Athens

Thursday, 14 November 2019, 10:55:54

The National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan opened the exhibition "The Great Steppe: History and Culture" at the Epigraphic Museum of Athens. The exhibition will be held from Nov. 11 to Dec. 11, 2019, as part of the international project "The Procession of the Golden Warrior through the World's Museums."

The aim of the exhibition is to familiarize foreign audience with the rich historical and cultural heritage of Kazakhstan. The symbol of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Golden Man, will be presented at the exhibition.

As part of the exhibition, a press conference was held at the Epigraphic Museum of Athens with the participation of representatives of the Greek media. The press conference was attended by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to the Hellenic Republic Alexey Volkov, Director of General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage Adam-Veleni Polikseni, Director of the Athens Epanographic Museum Atanassios Temos, Deputy Director of the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan Almaz Nuraskhan and Doctor of History, Professor Zainolla Samashev.

Also, for the Greek audience, a well-known archaeologist, Doctor of Historical Sciences, professor, Honored Scientist of the Republic of Kazakhstan Zainolla Samashev gave a lecture on the topic “The Early Saka Cultural Complex of Kazakhstan.”

At the opening ceremony of the exhibition, the Deputy Director of the National Museum of Kazakhstan Almaz Nurazkhan, noted that the Golden Warrior’s procession around the world was taking his firm and confident step and Greece became the twelfth country where Kazakhstan visited with its exhibition.

“I am grateful to the First President – Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev, who created the program, within the framework of which the Golden Warrior’s Procession project is being implemented so that Kazakhstan becomes recognizable not only politically, but also culturally. I want to express gratitude to the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Greece, the Athens Epigraphic Museum for the joint holding of the exhibition,” said Nurazkhan.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, an archeological sensation occurred in the outskirts of Almaty: in the Issyk barrow, which was studied by the outstanding archaeologist Kemal Akishev, the remains of the Saka king, the Golden Warrior, which later became the symbol of Kazakhstan, were discovered. The priceless find was dubbed “Kazakh Tutankhamun” and recognized as the discovery of the century. Gold jewelry from the crown of the ancient ruler of the steppes – winged horse-tulpars – became part of the national coat of arms of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the sculpture Golden Warrior is installed on Independence Square in Almaty.

At the exhibition in the Athens Epigraphic Museum, one can see the reconstruction of the Golden Warrior in clothes embroidered with gold plaques, in a special conical headdress decorated with gold plates in the form of gold arrows, snow leopards, argali, horses and birds, and a collection of archaeological finds from the early era the Iron Age (V-IV centuries BC) that accompanied the burial of this noble Saka young warrior (according to archaeologists, his age is 17-18 years).

Saki (translated from Persian means "powerful men") – the distant ancestors of the Kazakhs. In the writings of Greek authors they are called Asian Scythians (the word saka goes back to Scythian - “deer”), in other ancient sources they were figuratively described as “tours with fast horses”. Among the three large groups of these tribes were mentioned Saki-tigrahauda (“hats”), who lived in the territory where the Issyk barrow was discovered with the burial of the Golden Warrior.

Over four thousand gold items were found in the mound: details that decorated clothes, as well as jewelry and household utensils. The topography of objects in the burial allowed researchers, as a result of hard work, to recreate the appearance of an ancient warrior, which is presented at the exhibition. A special place in the exposition is occupied by a silver bowl found among the finds of the Issyk burial mound with an inscription made in runic writing – one of the oldest written monuments found in this territory.

The most important feature of the ancient art of the steppe is the dominance of zoomorphic images - the so-called animal style, the distinguishing features of which are stylized images of totem animals, animal fighting scenes endowed with magical functions.

The drama of the plots symbolizes the opposition of the elements and the rebirth to life, the confrontation of good and evil, the eternal movement and the eternal struggle of opposites. A striking example of animal style is a plaque dating from the V-IV centuries BC, made of gold using the stamping and corrugation technique in the form of two mirrored leopards.

With the adoption of Christianity and Islam, the animal style gradually lost its original meaning, dating back to pagan beliefs and ideas.

However, decorative images of animals, deprived of their original magical meaning, continued to exist in medieval art: in jewelry, book miniatures, wood carvings, stones and bones, in architecture – but in a more generalized form, acquiring the forms of a stylized ornament, decor elements. These trends are clearly expressed in the finds from the Sairam treasure, which are represented in the exhibition by jewelry items dating from the 15th century. Also at the exhibition will be presented unique archaeological finds from the Saki barrows Taksay (West Kazakhstan region), Taldy-2 (Karaganda region) and Berel (East Kazakhstan region).

In total, the exhibition features 144 items from the collections of the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Presented at the exhibition are the masterpieces of ancient and medieval art of Kazakhstan, this is only a small part of the creations of nameless masters of the past, reflecting the original heritage of the steppe culture of Eurasia.


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