The collection of the Moscow Kremlin Museums contains unique art pieces reflecting the centuries-old history of relations between Russia and Oriental countries. Among them are State regalia, ceremonial weapons, magnificent horse harness, pieces made of gold and precious stones, luxurious fabrics, works of stone-carving art, presented in the 16th-19th centuries as diplomatic gifts or purchased for royal use. However, in later times, during the Soviet era, the Kremlin's collection was further enriched with material evidence of the country's strengthening its international position, its high status and intensively developing cultural ties with Oriental countries.
A special value of these works is reflected both in their precious decoration and the highest level of artistic performance, while their exceptional rarity emphasizes the memorial and historical significance. Many of them are directly associated with Russian rulers and prominent statesmen, as well as with great events in Russian history. These artefacts appeared in the Armory Chamber as gifts to Russian tsars from Iranian shahs and Turkish sultans in the context of diplomatic and trade contacts or as gifts to a tsar from his relatives, some valuable items got to the treasury from the escheat of famous boyars and prominent statesmen.
For Russia, the Orient had always been an important area of expansion, military as well as economic and cultural. At the same time, the East "conquered" Russia in its way—Russian elite was increasingly falling under the charm of Oriental culture, many oriental traditions and household items, cuisine and drinks firmly entered everyday life and were perceived as originally Russian.
During the Soviet period, contacts with Eastern and Southeast Asian countries expanded and bore mainly good neighbourly character. For many newly independent states that had liberated from colonial dependence, the Soviet Union pursued a policy of comprehensive assistance, investing substantial financial resources in their support.
The exhibition "Oriental Treasures in the Moscow Kremlin Museums’ Collection" consists of seven sections reflecting Russia's relations with Turkey, Iran, Caucasus, Central Asia, India, China and Southeast Asia. Russia's relations with each of these regions have their historical peculiarities, which are reflected in the exhibits on display.
For many centuries Russian culture had been constantly interacting with national cultures of the East. Pieces preserved in the collection of the Moscow Kremlin Museums reflect the most significant stages in the art history of Turkey, Iran, China, India and other Eastern countries. Ceremonial weapons and horse harness, luxurious fabrics and vessels were usually made by court masters or in major production centres. At the same time, not only individual works but their entire groups have a unique artistic value. Finally, many artworks of the collection, restored by museum specialists, received new attribution, that testifies to an attentive and careful attitude of the Moscow Kremlin Museums to historical and artistic values of the East, which represent an integral part of the world cultural heritage.Read more