Exhibition of the Great Steppe will open in Macedonia

On July 11, 2019 the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan opens the exhibition “Great Steppe: History and Culture” in the exhibition hall of the National Archaeological Museum of North Macedonia. The exhibition will be held from July 11 to August 11, 2019, in the framework of the international project "Golden Man Procession through Museums of the World".

The aim of the exhibition is to familiarize the foreign audience with the rich historical and cultural heritage of Kazakhstan. The exhibition will feature the symbol of the Republic of Kazakhstan - the “Golden Man”.

In the late 1960s - early 1970s, an archaeological sensation occurred in the vicinity of Almaty: in the Issyk mound, which was investigated by the outstanding archaeologist Kemal Akishev, the remains of the Saka king “Golden Man” who later became the symbol of Kazakhstan, were discovered. The priceless find was dubbed the "Kazakh Tutankhamen" and was recognized as the discovery of the century. Golden ornaments from the crown of the ancient ruler of the steppes - winged horses-tulpars - became part of the national coat of arms of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the sculpture of the Golden Man was installed on Independence Square in Almaty.

Almost half a century later, the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan announces an international tour - "The Procession of the Golden Man through the museums of the world". As part of a ambitious project, the exhibition was successfully held in the museums of Belarus, Russia, Azerbaijan, China, Poland, South Korea and Uzbekistan; by the end of 2019, the exhibition will be visited by five countries worldwide.

At the exhibition in the National Archaeological Museum of North Macedonia you can see the reconstruction of the Golden Man in clothes embroidered with gold plaques, in a special conical headdress, which is decorated with golden plates in the form of golden arrows, snow leopards, argali, horses and birds, and a collection of archaeological findings of the early Iron Age (IV-III centuries BC), accompanying the burial of this notable young Saka warrior (according to archaeologists his age is 18-20 years).

Sakas (in Persian means "mighty men") are the distant ancestors of the Kazakhs. In the writings of Greek authors, they are called Asian Scythians (“saka” dates back to the Scythian - "deer"), in other ancient sources they were figuratively described as "men with the fastest horses". Among the three large groups of these tribes were mentioned the Saka-Tigrahaud ("sharp-hatters"), who lived in the territory where the Issyk mound was found with the burial of the "Golden Man".

More than four thousand gold items were found in the mound: details for decorating clothes, as well as decorations and household items. The topography of the objects in the burial has allowed the researchers, as a result of hard work, to recreate the look of an ancient warrior, which is presented at the exhibition. A special place in the exposition is occupied by the silver bowl with the inscription made in the runic script found among the finds of the Mound of Issyk - one of the oldest written records found on this territory.  

The most important feature of the ancient art of the steppe is the dominance of zoomorphic images - the so-called "animal style", the distinctive features of which are the stylized images of totem animals, scenes of fighting animals, endowed with magical functions.

The drama plots symbolize the opposition of nature and the revival to life, the antagonism between good and evil, the eternal movement and the strife between opposites. A striking example of "animal style" is a plaque, dating from the V-IV centuries BC, made of gold in the technique of stamping and grooving in the form of two mirrored leopards.

As Christianity and Islam were established, the "animal style" gradually lost its original meaning, which goes back to heathen beliefs.

However, decorative images of animals, devoid of their original magical meaning, continued to exist in medieval art: in jewelry, book-miniature, wood carving, stone and bone, in architecture - but in a more general form, acquiring forms of stylized ornament, decorative elements. These trends are clearly expressed in the finds from the Sayram treasure, which are presented in the exhibition items of jewelry, dating from the XV century. Also at the exhibition will be presented unique archaeological finds from Saka mounds Taksay (West Kazakhstan region), Taldy-2 (Karaganda region) and Berel (East Kazakhstan region).

In total, the exhibition features 292 items from the collections of the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The masterpieces of ancient and medieval art of Kazakhstan represented at the exhibition are only a small part of the works of the nameless masters of the past, reflecting the originality of the heritage of the Eurasian steppe culture.