Saint Petersburg is one of the most creative cities in Russia; the former capital just hosted the 2018 Sand Sculpture Festival (English version of their website), and it…was…amazing!
This year’s theme was “World Wonders (Masterpieces)”, and it took place right beside the historic Saints Peter and Paul Fortress, the burial site of Russian Czars after the 1700s. Check out their 2018 short ad:
Great masterpieces of human history from Egyptian wonders, to Russian dreams were recreated in brilliant sand sculptures, and here are some of the best photos, like the marvelous Last Supper pictured above.
Brought to you by Peter the Great
Next up, we really should feature the founder of Saint Petersburg, and therefore the man who made it all possible, Emperor Peter the Great.
His Imperial Majesty is looking very lively, and wearing his iconic gorget. He fits in nicely with this princess.
Great Russians weren’t the only legends featured. The Saint Petersburg festival turns back the sands of time to the earliest periods in human history, featuring some of the oldest rulers.
These Egyptian statues truly look like they could have come out of the Egyptian desert. Had the walls of the Peter and Paul Fortress not been directly behind them, I would have believed this WAS Egypt.
A Pyramid from the New World
A Northern Russian Temple
This church seems to resemble/represent the Transfiguration Monastery on Kizhi island. Much like this sand sculpture, believe it or not, the original wooden church was built without a single nail, a masterpiece of Northern Russian architecture.
The Kizhi Island Churches are masterpieces of the Northern Russian Wooden style architecture. If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend “Architecture at the End of the Earth: Photographing the Russian North” by renowned Professor William Brumfield. See his amazing series on Russian Architecture at Russia Beyond the Headlines!
As Russian architecture progressed, this style was sadly neglected and forgotten at times, in major cities, for a baroque, more western style, like the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in the background here.
The Mona Lisa
Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam
The Buddha and his Army
If you look closely, there is someone out of place in this time period, looking over on the far left.
I saved my favorite part for last…
The Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks
This has to be one of my favorite things at this year’s festival, and based on one of my favorite paintings of all time. This sculpture depicts the ICONIC “Reply of Zaporozhian Cossacks” to the Turkish Sultan, famously represented in the legendary painting by Ivan Repin.
The reply, however, was not invented by Repin, it actually happened in Cossack history!
Well, Historians are actually about 50/50 on whether or not the letter was an actual diplomatic document from Cossacks. Some historians (those who are NO FUN at all), believe while it was real, that it was a literary joke, not an actual message to the Sultan.
Still, we almost all agree it was written in the mid 17th century, around when Ivan Sirko was Ataman, and there is evidence they really wrote it, and sent it to the Sultan.
So what was the letter, and why is it so famous?
The legend goes that the Turkish Sultan wrote a letter to the Cossacks of Zaporozhia (the wild fields of modern-day Southern Ukraine), demanding that they essentially bow down to him, and cease from raiding Constantinople.
In the letter, he arrogantly describes himself with platitudes and his many full titles, as he was angry with the Cossacks for attacking his powerful Ottoman Empire.
How do you think the Cossacks first responded?
- With sabers and gunfire.
- They laughed and tore it to pieces.
- They laughed and declared war.
- They wrote an extensive letter, filled with profanity, parodying his many titles, and including. among many things, that the Sultan has sexual relations with goats.
While they indeed responded with all of the above, it was the fourth choice which is depicted in the painting. In a masterpiece of Slavic diplomacy, the Cossacks got profoundly drunk, and then wrote a letter…no…a monumental work of profanity and insults mocking the Sultan and daring him to fight them.
While I don’t recommend the use of profanity and cursing, understanding the circumstances, that the Cossacks were facing possible death, from one of the most powerful Empires in the worlds, the way these Steppe Knights bravely stood up to him was legend.
They dared to say the famous words:
“You won’t make Slaves of Christians!”
Not only was the letter brave, but it is by far the funniest historical document I have ever read in my entire life.
It is especially hilarious considering this was a diplomatic letter, and literally, in opening sentence, they say:
You, oh Sultan, are a chort (black daemon), the brother to the damned one (Satan), and the very secretary of lucifer himself!
That’s how you know diplomacy is off to a good start. Wikipedia has an uncensored verson of the letter, if profanity does not offend you, it will make you fall over laughing. Below is a more censored version, which is still amusing.
This scene was also replicated in Taras Bulba, who Bogdan Stupka (eternal memory) will forever represent for me unto the ages of ages. He truly captures the spirit of Cossackdom. Dobre sinku, Dobre!
For the best pictures, it is recommended that you go to Yandex.com, the Russian version of Google, and image search “фестиваль песчаных скульптур 2018 спб” though you may get photos from other years – as if that’s a bad thing)))