The avatars of Yermak: monuments and historical memory 

Agapov M.G. (Tyumen, Russian Federation)


                      page 142–150


In the Hindu mythology an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to Earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being. There is the human and divine natures of avatar as they coexist within one person. Talking in a metaphorical we can say that every monument to historical figure is another reflection of his or her avatar. The object of our study is Yermak memorials regarded as the representations and mainstreaming historical memory about the meaning of «Conqueror of Sibiria». Usually life period of the memorial is limited to a time period of the existence of a political regime which established it. in the case of Yermak we have phenomenon «monumental reincarnation» of the historical figure. Yermak Memorials were established and re-established in the Russian Empire, in the USSR and in the post-soviet Russia. Thereby if the case of Yermak is not unique, it is an atypical one at least. Incarnation of Yermak was formed in multiple steps. Initially Yermak too seemed to Russian authorities as some kind of highway robbery. In the second half of XIX century Yermak turned national hero of the Russian Empire. The first Yermak Memorial was raised in Tobolsk in 1839, it perpetuated only the name of the cossack leader who started the Russian conquest of Siberia. The first body incarnation of Yermak related to 1896. He was represented by a high-artrelief picture among «military men and heroes» on the Millennium of Russia in the Novgorod. The first Yermak Memorial with his full length sculpture was erected in Novocherkassk in 1904. At a later time Yermak was represented in the form of the warrior hero of Russian folk epics, the frontier man and the chthonic creature. As a legendary hero Yermak was in demand for the construction of a diversity of local communities. At the present day the promotion of the historical memory about Yermak serves the interests of a wide range of social groups and constitute them to a certain extant. The supporters and the opponents of Yermak, historians, tourism officials, bureaucracy, sculptors and architects are combined in heterogeneous associations arising in connection regarding Yermak.


Key words: Yermak Memorials, historical memory, group-making, regionalization.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2016-32-1-142-150




M.G. Agapov

Institute of problems of development of the North Siberian Branch RAS, Malygina st., 86, Tyumen, 625003, Russian Federation