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November, 02, 2012 - February, 27, 2013

the State Historical Museum, Moscow

Organised by:
the State Historical Museum 

01# Two-sided icon with In 2012 we celebrate the 1150th Anniversary of the formation of the Russian state. The period, known through historical records as “the calling of Varangians and "the rise of the Russian state", is assumed to have started in 862 AD and considered to be the beginning of Russian history. According to the story "The Primary Chronicle" that year saw the arrival of the Varangians to the land of Slavic tribes in response to the invitation made by the Novgorod elders. Three Varangian brothers, including the most renowned Prince Rurik, established a state that later historians called Kievan Rus and became the founders of the first Russian ruling dynasty of Russia and one of the oldest royal houses in Europe, the descendants of which were named the Rurickovichies. The exhibition in the State Historical Museum, covering the period from the IXth to the XVIIth century, reveals the process and peculiarities of the state formation in Old Rus, one the most important periods in the history of Russia. The project is supported by the major museums of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

The group of items, lent by the Moscow Kremlin Museums, includes two ancient and highly esteemed relics "of Korsun" from the Kremlin Assumption Cathedral - the crystal processional cross and the two-sided icon with "Virgin Hodegetria" and "Christ Pantocrator". Both the relics are recorded to have been brought to Rus around 992 from Chersonesus (Korsun) by Grand Prince Vladimir I of Kiev. Nevertheless, from the contemporary researches’ viewpoint, the crystal cross could have been taken to Moscow in 1473 by Sophia Palaiologina (a niece of the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI and second wife of Ivan III of Russia), and the two-sided icon is considered to have been transferred from Constantinople circa 1283-1300s by Metropolitan Maximus of Kiev to Vladimir, from where it was derived by Metropolitan Metropolitan Peter and taken to Moscow. These sacral objects, having been preserved in the sanctuary of the Assumption cathedral, in the course of many centuries were used during religious processions and coronation ceremonies.

The exposition also includes gold pieces from the processional sanctuary cross "of Korsun" of the XVIIth century – three enameled decorative plaques (miniature plates-insets), embossed with a relief images of the Saviour and evangelists, and three enameled figurines of the Crucified, Virgin Mary and John the Baptist.