Art and Faith

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Ilya Repin. The Zaporozhe Cossacks Write a Mocking Letter to the Turkish Sultan. 1891

00 Ilya Repin. The Zaporozhe Cossacks Write a Mocking Letter to the Turkish Sultan. 1891

The Zaporozhe Cossacks Write a Mocking Letter to the Turkish Sultan

Ilya Repin

1891

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This is one of the most famous and most-copied artworks in the Russian oeuvre. The original canvas is huge, giving proper scope to the subject. Along with Repin’s Burlaki (Bargehaulers on the Volga) (1873), it’s one of the few Russian paintings familiar to non-Russians. There’s much nonsense out there on the Cossacks, including the claim that they were the precursors of present-day “Ukrainians”. Such wasn’t so. “Ukrainian” is an ahistorical term; one finds no substantial reference to such before the 19th century. The time of the action in the painting is the 17th century, a time when the Cossacks of the Zaporozhean Sich (the main encampment) fought against both infidel Turks and heretic Poles. The Turks held the Crimea; the Poles seized Little Russia to the western bank of the Dnepr (prior to 1648, they also held some lands on the east bank). The Cossacks rose to defend their faith and motherland. The Turks kidnapped Christian boys to forcibly convert them to Islam, to serve as janissaries. The Poles rammed the Unia down the throats of the Little Russians under their rule. This provoked hard resistance from the Little Russians, and in 1654, they asked for the Russian tsar to protect them. This is the reason for the extreme hatred of Poles one often finds amongst “Ukrainians”, as the fighting between the Poles and Little Russians was often more intense than that with the Turks.

You see, Orthodoxy, not nationalism, was the means of unity; that’s been so ever since. When a man came to the Sich, they asked him to cross himself. Obviously, if one did it the Latin way, well… it wouldn’t go well, I can assure you. One must understand that the more a “Ukrainian” confesses true canonical Holy Orthodoxy, the greater the love he bears for his Greater Russian homeland. We can see this today in the parvenu Yushchenko’s favour of EP and self-consecrated (samosvyatsy) schismatics and Uniates. The vast bulk of the Little Russian people, some 85 percent, are loyal to Metropolitan Vladimir Sabodan and the canonical church under the MP, and, no doubt, yearn for the return of the stability, order, and prosperity of the Greater Russian state. In any case, some 45 percent of the “Ukrainian” population is Great Russian and speaks Russian! Be extremely wary of anything you hear from “Ukrainian nationalists”, especially from Uniate sources. As Zhanna Bichevskaya sang in one of her popular songs (My Russkie!, We are Russians!), Russia, Ukraine, and Byelorussia are parts of one inseparable and organic whole, only temporarily rent apart. The day’s coming when we’ll be reunited, never again to be torn asunder.

BMD

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