Libmonster ID: RU-17251
Author(s) of the publication: Olga BAZANOVA

by Olga BAZANOVA, journalist

On Moscow's northwest (Southern Tushino borough), on a picturesque hill at the confluence of the Bratovka and Skhodnya rivers, there lies one of the most famous patrimonial estates, Brattsevo. In the past it was owned and visited by high-born Russian nobles, eminent public figures and intellectuals who made this country's history.

The "Bowl of Skhodnya".

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The present-day territory of Moscow and its region were settled back in ancient times, as it is very comfortable in layout and landscape diversity: high hills, numerous water bodies full of fish, dense forests rich in game and fowl. One of the best places is what we call the Skhodnya (or Tushino) Bowl: here the Skhodnya makes a U-turn, and its valley, following this U curve, forms a bowl of about 1 km across and as deep as 40 m, resembling a volcano crater or an amphitheater.

This unique natural monument might have appeared due to landslide processes in the Holocene (postglacial period) taking place 9th-7th thous. years B.C. That time the river was more affluent than today: eroding in time the surrounding rock, it became shallow and finally found itself on the bottom of a giant bowl with boggy banks populated by amphibians, waterfowl and wader species that also occur here today. Many, for example, the moor frog, common newt, common lizard, grass snake as well as birds like the snipe, moorhen, and meadow pipit have been entered in the Moscow Red Book.

The steep slopes of the bowl with their leafy forest were a suitable shelter for our forefathers. Here, in this very place, during the construction of the Skhodnya Hydro-power Plant (part of the Moscow Canal system*), the top of a petrified human skull of the New Stone Age, known to as the "Skhodnya skull", was found in 1939.

See: A. Firsova, "Art Deco in Russia", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2010.--Ed.

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Together with the "Zaraisk encampment"*, it is the oldest artifact proving the existence of human settlements in the territory of what is now Moscow Region, one of Europe's northenmost encampments. This skull dated 10-16 thous. years was found at a depth of 4 meters together with bones of a mammoth, urus and musk ox, along with many fragments of birch, willow and alder.

This unique find was examined by an outstanding archeologist, Dr. Otto Bader, who identified it as a frag-

See: O. Bazanova, "At Nikola's of Zaraisk", Science in Russia, No. 3, 201l.--Ed.

ment of human remains belonging to a transitional type man, evolving from Neanderthal man to the present Homo sapiens. The scientist made this conclusion on the basis of skull features: low retreating forehead, prominent eyebrows typical of our ancient ancestors, and so on. According to other reserachers, the skull belonged to Cro-Magnon man*.

A clear print of a regular net structure on the skull's surface (looking like that of cloth made at a loom)

* Cro-Magnon man--early ancestor of modern Homo sapiens in Europe and partly beyond it that lived 40-12 thous. years ago.--Ed.

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became another, even greater sensation. Specialists of the Moscow Research Institute of Bast Fiber (since 1988, the Central Research Institute of Comprehensive Automation of the Light Industry) and Moscow University's Laboratory of Anthropogenesis confirmed the validity of this hypothesis. If so, this may be the world's oldest print of cloth.

It seems the deadman, when buried, wore a headdress. According to the Chief Archeologist of Moscow Alexander Vexler, in time it absorbed soil acids that decomposed the fiber but imprinted its design on the skull in the mineralization process. But this is only an assumption, and this find--one of the most intriguing secrets of archeology--invites many questions (the skull is kept in the Museum of Moscow History).

The Skhodnya Bowl has remnants of the so-called Tushino (encampment) first inspected in 1927 by Konstantin Vinogradov, an archeologist. It belongs to the Diakovo culture (early Iron Age) dated 1 thous. years B.C.-6th century A.D. in what is now the Novgorod, Upper Volga, Valdai Highlands and Volga-Oka regions. Representative of this culture--Ugro-Finnic tribes--lived in family communities on the banks of water bodies and surrounded their settlements with deep ditches, earthworks and solid wooden ramparts.

Later on, this territory was settled by Slavs of the Vyatka River who used to build houses in places colonized by the Diakovo tribe; they also left traces of their life there. For instance, burial mounds of the 9th-13th centuries; one of them, "The Great Tomb" of the registers of the 1620s, is the biggest in the Moscow Region: it is over 7 m high and about 20 m in diameter. In 1828 an archeographer and historian, Konstantin Kalaidov-ich, studied this burial site and sketched a plan of the neighborhood. In 1883-1885 Alexander Kelsiev, an anthropologist, archeologist, ethnographer and caretaker of the Moscow Polytechnical Museum* did research there; he found a soldier's remains wrapped in birch bark as well seven-leaf temporal pendents, white-red cornelian beads and other jewelry pieces of the Vyatka Slavs.

In the Middle Ages Skhodnya was part of a busy water trade system, while the neighboring territories were joined to the administrative district of Goretov Stan; from the early 14th century on it belonged to Boyar Rodion Nestorovich Ryabets, a close associate of Moscow Prince Ivan Kalita. The Brattsevo village was built there; it was first mentioned in 1565 in the testament of one of Ryabets' descendants--Danila Grigoryevich Kvashnin-Fomin, who left it to his wife. Four years later the village was signed over to the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius**, and in 1572 it was bought by Gentleman of the Bedchamber (later, oprichnina boyar) Dmitry Ivanovich Godunov, uncle of the future tsar Boris***.

One of the most dramatic periods in the history of our country--the Times of Troubles (early 17th century)**** was a hard time for Brattsevo, too; in 1618 it was no more a large village but became a Goretovo Waste Land and was given to a church clerk, Alexander Ivanov. In 1657 it went to Boyar Bogdan Matveevich Hitrovo, a butler and armorer at the court of Alexei Mikhailovich; this boyar founded the town of Simbirsk and, as one of the first Russian art collectors, the Armory*****. In 1672 he built there a stone Church of the Protecting Veil of the Holy Mother of God with a hip roof bell tower; the church survived and was renovated in 2000.

See: G. Grigoryan, "Polytechnical Museum", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2003.--Ed.

** See: V. Darkevich, "The Monastery of St. Sergiy", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2000.--Ed.

***Boris Godunov--a boyar, brother-in-law of Tsar Fyodor loannovich, in 1587-1598 an actual ruler and, in 1598-1605--the tsar of Russia.--Ed.

****See: A. Bogdanov, "All of Us Should Be in Chime and Union...". Science in Russia, No. 6, 2007.--Ed.

*****The Armory--a Moscow treasury museum, part of the complex of the Grand Kremlin palace. The collection is represented by valuables kept for centuries at the tsar's treasury and the patriarch's vestry room made at the Kremlin workshop or donated by foreign countries.--Ed.

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The cube of the main church building decorated with laconic stone decor, glazed tiles, a series of semicircular corbels and crowned with five domes has an adjacent refectory and a side-chapel consecrated to Alexei, God's simple man (today, the chapel of St. John Chrys-ostom) built in 1887 to the design of architect Afanasy Latkov so as to give more room to worshipers. Local relics--boyar Khitrovo's inserted book and worship accessories dating from the 17th century (chalice, paten, etc.) have been kept in the Armory since 1924. A unique Museum of Ascetics of the Faith and Piety was established in the church to let worshipers learn more about national history.

The exposition of the museum deals with a special phenomenon in Orthodoxy, the eldership (governance of spiritual fathers, or elders) practised in the Russian monasteries in the 19th-early 20th centuries. You can see personal belongings, photos, portraits and letters of those mentors of life and faith as well as pictures and drawings made by the Rev. Mikhail Maleev, the museum's founder.

In 1695 Brattsevo changed owner again--it went to a maternal relative of Peter I, Kirill Alexeevich Naryshkin, then to his heirs, including his son Semyon Kirillovich--"the first dandy of his time", and in 1780--to one of the richest and extravagant grandees, Count Alexander Ser-geevich Stroganov. A descendant of a rich merchant family of salt producers*, he was a well-educated man and patronized arts, and in 1800-1811 served as Presi-

See: O. Bazanova, "At the Foot of the Stone Belt", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2012.--Ed.

dent of the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. Thereupon, Brattsevo was inherited by his wife Yekaterina Petrovna. After her death in 1815 the village was bought by Adjutant-General Ivan Nikolayevich Rimsky-Korsa-kov, one of the handsomest men of the latter half of the 18th century and a favorite of Empress Catherine 11. He ordered to build a two-storey mansion in the Classical style there (architect, presumably Andrei Voronikhin); today this manor-house is the gem of the nature park "Tushinsky" set apart in 1999.

An elegant X-shaped building erected, like the palace in another Moscow estate, Lyublino*, after the Rotunda villa designed by an Italian architect, Andrea Palladio (late 16th century), has four entrances. The front facade, like the opposite side of the building, is decorated with four twin columns, with an ornate balcony above and a semi-round window on top. On the left and on the right sides the mansion has symmetrical extensions in the form of semirotundas with caryatid columns; from above it is crowned with a cupola supported by a tall drum; the cupola has windows and a big skylight in the center to let the light to the first floor housing a small and but cozy library hall decorated with pale rose columns and gray-green artificial marble,--the focal point of the mansion.

Other premises of the house are finished in the same gamut. Some rooms have retained rich molding and beautiful wall paintings made in the 1830s-1840s presumably by the Italian artist Giovanni Scotti. Finally, speaking of the buildings of the early 19th century, an

See: O. Bazanova, "A Paradise", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2011.--Ed.

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annex and a rotunda pavilion Milovid, or "Lovely View" ("the temple of Catherine II") decorated with 10 columns are still there; the rotunda pavilion is located in the English (landscape) park planted with predominantly old oaks, linden trees and some pine species brought in from Europe. We can visualize what the estate looked like thanks to Alexander Kuznetsov's water colors in the 1810s. At present these works, which made up part of a big collection of fine arts belonging to the Stro-ganovs, are kept at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

In the mid-19th century the estate's owner was Princess Sofia Fyodorovna Gagarina, daughter of the first Russian aeronaut Praskovya Yuryevna Gagarina-Kolog-rivova, who in 1803 made her first trip in a balloon built by a Monsieur Garnerin of France. Brattsevo is also famous as a place where a great landscape painter, Ivan Shishkin*, worked. He spent there the summer of 1866 and recalled this period as very fruitful, for he managed to paint several sketches a day, including his best canvas, "Noon. Localities of Moscow. Brattsevo".

On the basis of his Brattsevo sketches, in 1869 the artist finished one of his best paintings "Noon. Localities of Moscow" purchased by the entrepreneur Pavel Tretya-

See: O. Bazanova, "'Merchant Capital of the Kama Region", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2012.--Ed.

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kov for the public art gallery named after him, its founder (in 1892 the patron of arts donated his collection and its building to the city of Moscow). This is how the gifted painter won public acclaim, and the collector made it a practice to buy Shishkin's works at each exhibition.

This picture stands apart in the creative heritage of the painter. Forest was Shishkin's favored environment. Viewers are captivated by a spacious sky with floating silvery clouds filling the landscape with light and air. Below is a patriarchal rural setting: a field, a river, a church with a bell-tower, a country road running through a rye field, peasants with rakes walking by the road. Images of people are not typical of this landscape painter since he believed nature to be self-sufficient.

The last owner of the estate (from 1885 on) was Prince Nikolai Sergeevich Shcherbatov, one of the most generous donors and from 1909 on an aide to the head of the Moscow State Historical Museum*. For many years he gave up his salary for "emergency needs" of the museum he was heading, which made it possible to install library lifts there, repair several premises, order equipment and publish works of the house scholars. In Brattsevo he built a water tower and an artesian well (1898), carriage repair

See: V. Yegorov, "Treasure-House of Russian History", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2004.--Ed.

workshops (today, the parking house) and in 1917 he signed the estate over to the state and championed the idea that it should be protected as a historic and cultural monument.

In 1931 an aerodrome of the Civil Air Fleet was put into operation in Tushino; soon it was assigned to the Chief Department for the Northern Sea Route. The estate was visited by Otto Yulyevich Schmidt*, a mathematician, geographer, astronomer, researcher of the Pole, and Vice-President of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1939-1942; he came up with the idea to open a vacation hotel in the manor-house. In 1936 architect Alexander Varshaver had one-story wings added to the mansion with a fountain in front; a heath center was put up nearby. Today it houses a vacation hotel of the Union of Stage Actors; restoration and beautification work is proceeding apace on the estate grounds.

See: V. Markin, "A Man of His Epoch", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2012.--Ed.


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Olga BAZANOVA, THE "BOWL OF SKHODNYA" // Moscow: Russian Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.RU). Updated: 01.11.2021. URL: https://libmonster.ru/m/articles/view/THE-BOWL-OF-SKHODNYA (date of access: 23.01.2022).

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