Russia Day 11 – A Russian soul

The morning was filled with souvenirs and row after row of matrushka dolls in the market. When buying, the more dolls that nest inside each other, the better. It’s the uncovering that’s the delight.

The same might be said of Russia. In fact, in 1939, when trying to predict how Russia might respond, Winston Churchill called the nation “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

Russian poets understand this. One said, “Russia cannot be understood with the mind, nor can it be measured by a common yardstick. A special character she has. In Russia, one can only have faith.”

The depth of mystery that is Russia was reflected in the native art of the Tretyakov Gallery. Amid the centuries of art, is the work of the painter Ilya Repin. One of this most well-known works, painted in 1885, is titled “Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan.” The painting portrays events from 1581 and features the grief and madness of a father as he clutches his dead son in his arms.

Russian culture is also reflected in its ballet. Before bidding farewell to Moscow, we watched a production of the Nutcracker with its sugar plum fairies in swirling white tutus, rat kings and a dance of cultures. It was a world of fairy tale and imagination, with a dangerous undercurrent, all set to music and defined by beauty.

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