Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Shigir Idol

The Shigir Idol is the world's oldest wooden carving. It was made sometime around 7500 BC for some unknown reason. I joked on the podcast that it might have been made as a coat and hat rack. I don't actually believe that in case you were wondering.

Any way the idol is unique because we don't have a lot of these old wooden sculptures because wood doesn't hold up as well their stone counterparts. This one was preserved in some peat and found in the late 19th century in the Ural Mountains. The picture on the left is how the idol looks now, preserved in a glass case and on display in a museum in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The picture beneath is a drawing made of the sculpture by the early 20th century archeologist Vladimir Tolmachev. This is a fascinating piece of early Russian history and gives us a glimpse of what their religious sentiment was about. Unfortunately though, many of the idols created in pre-Christian Russia were lost or destroyed during the Christianization. So we don't know too much about the religion, only what we can glean from the few remaining statues.

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