Women of the Caucasus in Photographs, Paintings, Sculpture, and Graphics
Editing: A.A. Galazov
Art: R.T. Safiullin
Text and Commentary: Y.Y. Karpov
Translation: T.A. Kameneva, E.I. Tutorskaya
Fortuna EL Publishing House, 2008
Size: 70100/8; 366 pages
Languages: Russian, English

The publication contains photographs of the late 19th-early 20th centuries of undisputed historical and artistic value, as well as painted, graphic, and sculptural women's portraits, genre scenes and landscapes from collections of Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Ethnographic Museum, Russian Geographical Society, Graphics Department of the National Library of Russia, St Petersburg Central State Archive of Cinematographic and Photo Documents, North Ossetian State Museum of History, Architecture, and Literature, Stavropol State Regional Studies Museum, private collections, family archives, portraits of famous women of the Caucasus - our contemporaries, and materials about the Beslan terrorist act.
Going through the gallery of faces and costumes of Caucasian women a viewer can visualize the archetype of woman of the world and her role in the continuation and sustainment of life. This is the main message of the edition that unites people of different cultures, nationalities, and religions around fundamental values.
Going through the gallery of faces and costumes of Caucasian women a viewer can visualize the archetype of woman of the world and her role in the continuation and sustainment of life. This is the main message of the edition that unites people of different cultures, nationalities, and religions around fundamental values.
The publication was realized under the auspices of the Moscow City Government based on exhibits of the Women of the Caucasus in Photographs, Paintings, Sculpture, and Graphics Exposition that was held in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don in 2004-2006 and received a high appraisal of professionals, public, and artists' communities of Russia and the Caucasus.

2nd Honor at the ''Commonwealth'' Nomination, 4th International CIS Competition for the Unique Art Project Women of the Caucasus in Photographs, Paintings, Sculpture, and Graphics (International Council for Cooperation in the Field of Periodical Press, Publishing, Distribution, and Printing Industry, Moscow, September 4, 2009)

The Caucasus accepted us into its sanctuary.
A. S. Pushkin “A Journey to Arzrum”

The Caucasus presents the colourful picture of nature and types of its inhabitants, as well as life philosophies, while the history of its regions is quite original. There are mountains, valleys and steppes here, and also semi-deserts, subtropics and glaciers. There are countries here (Armenia and Georgia) which back in the 4th and 5th centuries were among the first to adopt Christianity as the official religion, while in Azerbaijan and Dagestan, starting from the 7th century, Islam was beginning to take root. At the same time, in the Caucasus’s mountain regions, the basic religious rituals had remained pagan up to the 19th century.
However, the diversity of cultural traditions does not eclipse what the Caucasian peoples have in common and what unites them into a special cultural world.
One of such unifying qualities is the respectful attitude towards the woman: the mother who gives life, the sister and the wife who help the man to be respected by others, the daughter who some day will join another family, give birth to and raise new defenders, new plowmen and shepherds, new philosophers and poets, without whom the land will be impoverished. The respect for the woman is displayed irrespective of whether the men are Christians or Muslims, mountaineers or inhabitants of valleys and cities.
However, outside observers noted some principal distinctions in the status of women among the population of various regions of the Caucasus. In some cases, they were struck by the womens outward independence and unconstrained behavior in public. In others, they had a feeling, of which they tried to convince others, that the mountain woman was a creature subordinated to her husband and to the order established by the world of men. And this view of the Caucasus womens situation took root and became widespread. In reality, the mountain women were carrying out what they truly believed to be their duty and their obligations, just as they considered obligations of their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons entirely reasonable and established by God.

In the culture of the Caucasuss peoples, the female and the male both occupy their own space, which has conventional, though recognized by everyone borderlines; however, these borderlines not so much divide as unite these two principal halves of humankind. The right and the left, the upper and the lower. In these pairs, the first positions belong to men, the second to women. A traditional house was divided into the right and left halves, with a conventional border between them lined along the hearth. The hearth itself was in the female zone, or more exactly, the zone itself was organized around the hearth. That is why the woman was charged with setting up the hearth, and taking care of it was one of her duties; hence the woman was called the mistress of the hearth. It was by the hearth that the woman often gave birth, and it was perceived to be the guarantor of the stable future of a family, of a clan group, which determined the symbolic identity of the over-hearth chain and the breast of the eldest woman of a family, or a clan. Whoever sought protection under the roof of a particular house or begged forgiveness from its dwellers, had to either hold the chain or touch the mistresss breast. Both acts were considered equally sacred.
As sacred and unquestionable were the life, health and honour of the woman. The punishment for kidnapping a wife was often more severe than the punishment for killing a father or a son, and a rape was considered a graver offence than a murder. A double kanly (retribution, fine) awaited the one who made an attempt on a womans life – it was incurred on the felon himself and his immediate kin, while the blood vengeance for dishonoring a woman did not entail a reciprocal measure. Moreover, no punishment, no vengeance, and especially no killing, wrote an 18th-century observer, can be committed in the presence of women. The appearance of a woman in the midst of fighting men, when she removed her kerchief and uncovered her head, stopped the bloodshed. The woman was responsible for safekeeping the life potential of her family group, of the community she belonged to. And so the woman a Muslim, a Christian, or a pagan enjoyed an extremely high social status in the Caucasus. What is quite characteristic, in Dagestan, the most effective oath, even more significant than an oath in the name of God, was an oath in the name of ones wife. The perjurer was obligated to divorce a woman who had not only given life to his children, but also extended his whole family tree.
Aware of such a high responsibility, women endured any burdens of life without complaining. All the more so that their everyday duties had a great semiotic value.
The folk proverbial wisdom says: Husband is the outer wall of a house, wife is its inner wall; Wife is the pillar of a house, she holds the house on her shoulders; A hearth built by a wife even God would not destroy, and a hearth built by God a wife can destroy. What kind of a woman is she, the Ossetians used to say, if she cannot lay the table for a guest, doesnt know how to receive him, and is not able to weave fabric for a Circassian coat? People from the outside watched closely how well the woman of the house managed her duties, thus forming the public opinion of the family as a whole. No matter whether the reputation she has earned is good or bad, its shadow… inevitably is cast upon her husband, too. The womans housework built for her family and house a kind of envelope through which they were perceived by society. The woman was the creator, both in the figurative and strict sense, of such an envelope.
The women of the Caucasus are famous for their needlework, woven carpets, and the mountain women are also known for making colorful knitted socks and woolen footwear. Those who saw Balkar women 150 years ago said that they hardly ever parted with a spindle. About the female inhabitants of many districts of the Caucasus, the word was that as soon as they had a free minute, they sat down at the loom or began to knit. Such work operations in a way illustrated a female myth about the creation of the world a symbolic act of weaving women-made threads into one whole. And the thread itself brought well-being. On the New Years night, homemakers in South-East Georgia spun wool and then tied their sleeping childrens wrists with threads, as well as all their crockery and the pillar of the house (which was significantly called deda-bodzi mother-pillar.) Those acts expressed a striving for and wishing health to all members of the household and well-being for the house.
All the fruits of womens work that is concentrated primarily within the space of the house are enveloping, like the flesh, the males bone base which seems to be the life core of a human collective, but, actually, it is due to the female envelope that the base becomes such. That envelope may be likened to the mothers womb, the motherly substance, and that is why the image of the mother the giver and protector of life is so popular in mythology, epos and other genres of folklore. And that is why men treat the woman with such a deep respect.

The album Women of the Caucasus in Photographs, Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings presents an opportunity to peer into the faces and images of those who were the mistresses of mountains and valleys, the ladies of the hearts and minds of warriors and poets in the not-so-distant past, and who are the glory and pride of the Caucasus today.
The old photographs, watercolors and drawings of the 19th-early 20th-century masters impress the viewer in a special way. Although the overwhelming majority of Caucasian women did not hide their faces under a veil, nonetheless their beauty, so different and somewhat unfamiliar to the Europeans, was not openly accessible. Meeting a man, especially a foreign man, women turned away, making way for him. Besides, officially, the Caucasus has always had a male face. The Caucasuss female face, for the most part, remains in the background to this day. However, it is open in the paintings and photographs and it is truly beautiful and expressive.
The old photographs, painted portraits and genre scenes may serve as vivid illustrations to the works of literature and notes of travelers and researches of the past centuries.
Some saw the mountain women as the great-granddaughters of the legendary Amazons. The German traveler Carl von Hahn, who visited West Dagestan late in the 19th century, wrote about the Didoi women that when they stand amid green fields, with the wind blowing up their robes, their headdress coins sparkling in the sun, you might imagine from a distance that youre seeing ancient heroes wearing shining helmets and war attire.
Others found them consonant with their own romantic quests. The womens images painted by Grigory Gagarin very accurately conveyed the impressions of Mikhail Lermontov and his protagonists of the beauty of the mountain women: And a beautiful girl she was indeed; her figure was tall and slender, her eyes black as those of a mountain chamois, and they fairly looked into your soul. Or in another work of his:

Her brow barely inclined,
She stood very proudly and smartly;
There was simplicity in her dress
But taste as well!..

The French novelist Alexandre Dumas père, who traveled around the Caucasus in the mid-19th century, noted the beautiful eyes of the local ladies, as well as their profiles of Greek purity, though flavoured with life.
As for Leo Tolstoy, he admired the inimitable beauty of the Cossack women, born of the Caucasuss nature: She is happy, she is like nature: consistent, calm and self-contained Her features might have been considered too masculine had it not been for her tall stately figure, her powerful chest and shoulders and especially the severe yet tender expression of her long dark eyes which were darkly shadowed beneath their black brows, and for the gentle expression of her mouth and smile.
The Caucasian men, for all their outward reserve, are also romantic and sentimental. The lyrics, which occupy an important place in the poetry of the Caucasuss peoples, are expressive and sensuous.

Your braids of hair like basil in dew are softer than precious silks,
Your brows painted by a pen, your face is a golden veil,
Your lips to everyones woe more beautiful than pearls and spinelle,
Even if I die, just you be well. Im ready to sink into the grave
For the sake of your cunning games, your light footsteps.

Thus wrote the Armenian poet Sayat Nova more than two centuries ago.
In the late 19th-century Dagestan, recovering from the decades-long Caucasian war, songs battle themes were replaced by an entirely different poetry. One of the reformers of the poetic word was Makhmud from Kakhab-Roso:

Having built for the world
A palace of love,
I myself
Am now without shelter.
Having built for the world
Bridges of love,
I myself am standing over an abyss

And another Dagestan man, our contemporary Rasul Gamzatov, made Woman the main theme of his poetry a genuine inspiration and the supreme judge.

- Come, say what was the fire
That inflamed your young desire?
- Love of a woman!
- Today, what is the torch
You blaze with, not unscorched?
- Love of a woman!
- With what flame do you yearn,
While yet alive, to burn?
- Love of a woman!
What do you treasure more
Than honours by the score?
-Love of a woman!
- What sends you downstream in despair,
And raises, like a dagger, up in the air?
- Love of a woman!
- With what again, defying Fate,
Will you share your love, my mate?
- Love of a woman!
- With what, O reckless man,
Shall you conclude your span?
- Love of a woman!

The new time has brought about many changes in the life of the woman, in her social status. Poetesses and actresses, ballerinas and singers, conductors, public and political figures are the pride of not only particular peoples but of the entire Caucasus. Among them, Raisa Akhmatova, Silva Kaputikyan, Veronica Dudarova, Nani Bregvadze, Fazu Aliyeva, Liya Akhedzhakova, Nina Ananiashvili, and many other, no less illustrious names. Their creative work is distinguished with a great vitality, drawn particularly from cultural traditions of their native environment. And how inspired are their faces.
However, the modern Caucasus takes pride not only in its outstanding women. For the society's life can only be robust if the family foundations are kept firm; when children are inoculated with ethical principals at home. The mission is carried out with dignity by common village and town women — wives, mothers, and grandmothers. It is also thanks to their laboured hands that fields and orchards bloom and fruit, and homes, according to the ancient Caucasus' tradition, are hospitable.

However, the new time, too, is darkened by wars, terrorist acts, and blood. And the women mothers, wives, sisters are shedding tears over their dead children and husbands and often become victims themselves. But despite everything, they continue to carry out their high mission of giving and preserving life.

The album is based on the materials of the exhibition Women of the Caucasus in Photographs, Paintings, Sculpture and Graphics which was twice presented in Moscow (Maly Manège, July 2004, February 2006) and in Rostov-on-Don (October 2005). The organizers and sponsors of the exhibition sought to reveal to the wide public the traditional image of the Caucasian woman the keeper of the home, peace, and harmony between people.
This album allows to familiarize a still wider circle of people with the history and culture of the Caucasus in all the diversity of its national components yet in the unity of the image through the faces of women representing various peoples, lives, and generations.
On the other hand, the absolute majority of the photographs, paintings, and other works presented in the album have been produced by true masters in their field and constitute genuine works of art.
The following is a list of masters whose works make up the major part of the album.


Carl Carlovich Bulla (18531929).
A subject of Prussia, from the mid-1860s, he lived in St. Petersburg. In 1876, was granted Russian citizenship. From the early 1880s, he was assistant photographer at an atelier on Nevsky Prospect. From the 1890s, worked independently, owned several photo studios in St. Petersburg. C. C. Bullas works earned numerous prestigious awards and diplomas. He enjoyed the patronage of Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, was the photographer of the Public Library, the Russian Red Cross, and many other organizations. At present, a small museum of his works is housed on the premises of the former Carl Bulla Photo Atelier on Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg.

Dmitri Ivanovich Yermakov (18451916).
A well-known photographer and traveler. Born in Tiflis. Graduated from the Military School of Topographers. Opened two ateliers in Tiflis: Photography of Artist Kolchin and Yermakov (late 1860s1870s) and Photography of D. I. Yermakov in Tiflis. From 1870 to 1915, for long periods, lived and worked in Persia, Turkey, Crimea, and Transcaspian Region. Traveled over the entire Caucasus. Yermakov went on his trips with a camera and a field laboratory, on horseback and on foot. Participated in many expeditions, including archeological ones. The Caucasian collection of photographs, taken by him, numbered several thousands of shots. Yermakov was the court photographer of His Highness, the Shah of Persia, Honorary Member of the Caucasus Section of the Moscow Archeological Society, as well as of the Tiflis Society for Encouragement of Fine Arts. For his successes in photography, received awards from the French Photography Society (1874), Moscow Anthropology Exhibition (1878), as well as from Iran, Turkey and Italy; was bestowed the title of the Honourary Citizen of the City of Tiflis.

Dmitri Alekseyevich Nikitin.
A Tiflis photographer. Authored a collection of photographs In the Caucasus and Asian Turkey during the Eastern War of 18771878. Was a war photographer assigned to the General Staff of the Russian Army Group on the Caucasian Front, photographing the realities of war, the environs of the city of Kars. In 1878, his album The Collection of Ethnographic and Archeological Photographs received a citation in the Russian section of the Paris World Fair.

Grigory Ivanovich Rayev.
A photographer whom contemporaries called a photo chronicler of the Caucasus. In the 1880s, became engaged in portrait photography, owned an atelier in Kislovodsk. Published albums of landscape photographs of the Caucasus and postcards with photographs he had taken. In his works, Rayev was popularizing the Caucasus. He also photographed in England, Germany, France, Egypt, and Turkey. In 1909, he was awarded a silver medal by the Russian Geographic Society. G. Rayevs heritage numbers about seven thousand photographs. Among them, there are large cycles devoted to the Teberda Reserve, the cities of Pyatigorsk, Kislovodsk, Yessentuki, the Elbrus area. Of superb quality are his works of ethnographic character, comprising the cycle Types of the Caucasus Mingrelians, Khevsurians, Gurians, Chechens, and Persians in their national costumes. Some of the landscapes and images were colour painted.

Jean X. Raoult (Ivan Raoult, according to some sources in Russia).
A native of France, he had an atelier in Odessa. Raoult traveled and photographed in the Ukraine, Bessarabia, on the Volga; in the Kursk, Tambov, Oryol, and Tula Guberniyas; in Crimea, the Northern Caucasus, and Transcaucasia. In 1878, he published The Album of Russian Costumes an album of national types, genre photographs and views of various localities, mostly in the southern Russia. Contemporaries called that album a true masterpiece of technical production, at once presenting an incredible richness of the artistic and scientific material. For that album, Raoult earned a special mention at the World Geographic Exhibition in Venice in 1875 (for a still incomplete album) and was awarded a gold medal in Paris at the World Fair of 1878. His album includes not only portraits and group compositions he also photographed everyday affairs of the local population. It was after his photographs that drawings were made for the Russia section of the well-known many-volume French edition on the history of costume (Racinet M. Le costume historique. VI. Paris. 1888). In 1883, Raoult left for France. Nothing is known about his subsequent life.

The album also presents works by:
G. Barkanov, war photographer, member of the Imperial Russian Technical Society (Tiflis Branch);
N. A. Bush (18691941), geographer, botanist, Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, who extensively traveled over the Caucasus and left interesting life descriptions of the inhabitants of the Caucasuss mountain regions;
N. K. Zeidlits (18311907), statistician and ethnographer who was also the editor of Collection of Information about the Caucasus (18711885);
A. K. Serzhputovsky (18641940), ethnographer and folklorist;
A. K. Engel, one of the countrys first photographers, working member of the Russian Geographic Society;
Dzhanaev-Hetagurov, one of the first professional native photographers from the Caucasus;
as well as M. Ashenbrenen, T. Gnuni, the Rudnevs, F. Orden, Rainov, and others.

In the section of painting and drawing, most famous names are prince Grigory Grigoryevich Gagarin and Max Tilke.

Prince Grigory Grigoryevich Gagarin (1810-1893).
Born in St. Petersburg; in 1816, moved with his family to Italy. Upon returning to Russia, entered diplomatic service, participated in the war operations in the Caucasus. From 1848 to 1854, lived in Tiflis, studied the art and everyday life of the Caucasian peoples. In 1853, he painted the interiors of the Sion Cathedral. Prince G. G. Gagarin, a painter, lithographer, and architect, did not receive a regular education in arts, he took lessons from Karl Pavlovich Bryullov. In 1859, Prince Gagarin was appointed vice-president of the Imperial Academy of Arts. Prince Gagarin made a series of drawings of the Caucasus; he had them printed in Paris in several editions as an album with accompanying texts by Ernest Stackelberg (Gagarin G. Scenes paysages, moeurs et costumes du Caucase. Paris, 1840).

Max Tilke (18691942).
German illustrator, researcher of costume. Born in Breslau, studied at the Berlin Academy of Arts (Meyerheims school of drawing). In 1890, Tilke undertook a study trip to Italy and Tunisia. He worked in Berlin as a decorator, then in Paris as an illustrator, researching costume. In 19121913, he worked at the Caucasus Museum in Tiflis. During World War I, Tilke was a war artist in Stuttgart. He died in Berlin in 1942. M. Tilkes most famous work is Oriental Costume: the Design and Colours (1924). He authored 700 colour sketches of costumes for the Caucasus Museum (now Museum of Georgia) in Tiflis and for the Museum of Folk Art in Berlin.

In the album are also presented drawings of artists M. S. Tuganov, D. S. Fyodorov, F. M. Chernousenko, V. S. Shlipnev, A. G. Khokhov, H. B. Akhriev, and others.

Works of contemporary photography, painting, and sculpture are presented by the following artists:

Gadayev Lazar Tazeyevich, sculptor. His works are purchased by the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian Museum, the State Museum of Oriental Art, and collectors from different countries. He is also the author of a number of monuments in several cities of Russia.

Grigoryan Yuri Surenovich, painter, Honoured Artist of Russia. His works are included in collections of state museums and galleries of Russia and countries of former USSR, including the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Museum of Oriental Art, and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.

Grigoryan Yuri Yurievich, painter.

Karayeva Lyudmila Aslanbekovna, sculptor, Palmares 2000 (France) award winner. Her works are part of the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Modern Art Museum, and foreign collections.

Mukagov Vladimir Sandroyevich, photographer, member of the Russian Union of Journalists, ITAR-TASS news photographer.

Nikogosyan Nikolay Bagratovich, sculptor, painter, professor at the Russian Academy of Arts, People's Artist of Russia.

Soskiyev Boris Vladimirovich, sculptor.

Soskiyev Vladimir Borisovich, sculptor, honoree of international exhibitions, Corresponding Fellow at the Russian Academy of Arts. His works are acquired by the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian Museum, the State Museum of Oriental Art, and private collectors in various countries.

Khetagurov Vladimir Borisovich, photographic artist. Has had personal exhibitions in Moscow, Vladikavkaz, Tallinn, and Tolyatti; participant of Russian and foreign photographic exhibitions.

Tsarikayev Bilar Khushinovich, sculptor, participant of exhibitions in Russia. His works are in the collections of the State Tretyakov Gallery, museums of Vladikavkaz, Tver, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and the National Museum in Krakow.

Materials for the exhibition and the photograph album are selected from collections of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Museum of Ethnography, the Russian Geographical Society, Prints Department of the National Library of Russia, the St. Petersburg Central State Archive of Film, Photo, and Phonographic Documents, the North-Ossetian State Museum of History, Architecture and Literature, the Stavropol State Museum of Local Lore, and private collections.

Yuri Karpov, D. Sc.