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Old Russian ornament

I think many will agree with me that the ornament, like any other folk art, is a reflection of the culture, customs, and foundations of its time. Ornamental art, in my opinion, is very unique, it can be perceived as a kind of diary, only you need to learn how to read it.

<Old-Russian ornament. Of course, in ancient-Russian ornament, as in many others, there are many motifs that were borrowed from other nations, in particular, from Byzantine and Eastern art. But at the same time, only those motifs that were close and understood by Russian masters took root in the ornament of Ancient Russia. Many motifs and ornaments were changed and, reflecting now Russian culture, they were loved by the masters and became an integral part of Russian decorative and applied art.

One of the motifs of old Russian masters is the “bestial” motive. As in Byzantine art, in Russia, the animals depicted in ornaments were endowed with mostly positive qualities. For example, the dragon serpent, personifying lightning, was considered the patron saint of housing and fire. And, initially, the Byzantine braid began to develop so strongly in Russia that it rather quickly acquired independent artistic features.

Ancient Russian masters also used ancient motifs that came to Byzantium and eastern countries to create ornaments. In the old Russian ornamental art, a reworked image of the fairy-tale bird Sirin and half-man, the half-horse of the Centaur, caught on. You can also find an ornament of lush leaves, flowers, palmetok, located on the sides of a straight boom, patterns of herbs, passed through the crown, carnation, fan, cypress, pomegranate apple.

The masters of ancient Russia managed to create harmonious ornaments from such diverse, sometimes asymmetrical and saturated motifs. Perhaps this harmony was achieved precisely because all the features of the motifs used in other countries were softened and processed.

<Old Russian OrnamentsOrnaments in ancient Russia were used as decorations for clothes, houses, household items, interiors, and other all sorts of objects. However, despite this, the ornament very often had not only aesthetic, but also a symbolic meaning.

Much of the ornament of ancient Russia went from the views of paganism, was endowed with a special meaning and value, and should have protected a person from all evil. For example, the most ancient motifs depicting the similarity of pictograms (square, rhombus, circle) were conventional symbols of the sun and were considered sacred images.

In addition to the geometric ornament, in the ornament of Ancient Russia, it is very often possible to meet various ancient pagan plots. For example, the female figure personified the goddess of the earth, fertility; waterfowl – water element. In pagan art, the tree of life embodied the power of living nature, it represented the divine tree, on which the growth of herbs, cereals, trees and the “growth” of man himself depended.

Very often you can find scenes of magical calendar rites, which are associated with the main stages of agricultural work.

Of all the richness of the motifs of the ornamental art of Ancient Russia, one can nevertheless single out the most popular motif — the plant motif. The plant motif is present at the base of all the ornaments of ancient Russia. The most common of them is the motif of a winding vine with large flowers enclosed in circles formed by processes.

Old Russian ornament
A special feature of the old Russian ornament are the inscriptions made with decorative letter. Very often inscribed in a circle, rhombus or strip, they sometimes served as the main, or even the only decoration of the object.

In the XVII century. on gold and silver products there is another type of ornament, which, in addition to decorative, also has a special meaning – this is the emblem. Coats of arms were very popular and were used to recognize the social status of the person to whom they belonged.

To determine the names of the owner of the subject, an equally important role was played by the monogram, in the XVIII and XIX centuries. they were depicted in such a complex interlacing of carved and chased letters, that monograms, like coats of arms, often served as the only decoration of jewelry.

The ornamental art of Ancient Russia plays a very large role both in the development of decorative and applied arts in Russia and in the arts as a whole. Ornament is a unique tool that deserves to exist as an independent art direction.

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