Posted by J Russell
I picked this up at a craft fair today. I was torn between an old spoon, a cocktail shaker and an old tin for tooth powder when I noticed it hiding underneath a green onyx frog. It was the horse which was the USP, obviously and its unusual script that I couldn’t read. Turns out, after a blind alley up the Greek alphabet, it is the Cyrillic alphabet and the writing is the name of a town in Russia, on the banks of the River Volga, called Gorodets.
Apparently the town Gorodets, or ГОРОДЕЦ as it is depicted on the souvenir, is known for its colourful folk art depicting, amongst other things, roosters and this Gorodets style black horse.
That’s something I didn’t know this morning. If I was in the market for a tattoo, this horse would be rather up my street. It proved awfully difficult to photograph too. Over-exposed or blurry seemed to be the choice. In the end I have just propped it up on the laptop and snapped it there. I think it is something to do with the surface being enamelled and slightly reflective. My digital camera is either too limited in its settings to cope, or I am too limited in mine…
It has reminded me of a story my grandmother used to tell me about her father. They all lived in Istanbul in the early 1900s and he was a collector of Russian icons. When Attaturk came to power there was some law made about foreign nationals not being allowed to be in business in the country (my great-grandfather was Scottish). He had to dissolve the business and trust his Turkish business partner to ship the icons to Scotland, but they never arrived. I have a number of questions about the story, which of course I wished I had asked her when she was alive. The thing is, I didn’t think they (my great-grandparents) ever left Istanbul permanently and what had a private collection of iconography got to do with business law anyway. Maybe I have mixed up the time period. I know the whole family were evacuated to Malta during the First World War, so maybe it was then. I think I might have to do some investigations. Either way, the art was gone, and a considerable family nest egg at today’s prices. The subtext is that the Turkish partner diddled my grandfather. This is not meant to represent Turkish people as a whole, of course. My grandmother’s greatest friend was Turkish, my grandmother an grandfather grew up in, and loved Turkey. Her parents and brother lived there until they died. I grew up knowing that the greatese cuisine in the world is not French, it is Turkish and only this weekend we found out that many European languages, including English originated in the Anatolian mountains of Turkey
I have digressed. Perhaps I will follow in the family’s footsteps and start collecting Russian folk art. At a £1 a pop it’s not going to break the bank quite yet…
Perhaps tomorrow I will photo an artefact I have from their evacuation in Malta during the First World War. It, like the Gorodets horse is going to be tricky to snap (reflective glass…)