Today bell-ringer of the Moscow Kremlin and Temple of Christ the Savior Igor Konovalov opened the second All-Russian exhibition of bells in the Russian city of Yaroslavl. An old craft of bell casting is being revived in Russia for about ten years already after 70-year silence of Russian bells. The exhibition presents works of casters from Russian cities of Voronezh, Tutayev, Kamensk-Uralsky, Moscow.
It is not accidental that Yaroslavl was chosen for the exhibition. A very old tradition will be soon revived here: Russia’s famous bell casting factory owned by the Olovyanishnikovs and smaller, but still very significant bell-producing enterprises functioned here 200 years ago. Thanks to a pre-revolution edition of a book by Nikolay Olovyanishnikov “History of bells and the art of bell casting” the art has been successfully revived by contemporary masters.
Really unique exhibits are presented at the exhibition. For example, a 200-pood bell (one pood is Russia’s old measure of weight that makes 16,3 kg) made by ten masters from Russian city of Tutayev within six months. Another large bell was brought to the exhibition from Voronezh. The two mentioned are the largest bells presented at the exhibition within past two years.
Many exhibits have already found its new owners right at the exhibition. Seven bells cast in Kamensk-Uralsky will be taken to the nunnery near Poshekhonje in September. There is not a single bell in the nunnery, although the restoration started almost a year ago. Other exhibits will be also sent to Russia’s Orthodox Churches as soon as the exhibition ends. Traditionally, whole communities collect money to cast a bell. Average price of one kilo of a bell makes up $15. As it is well-known, besides tin, copper is also necessary for bell casting, as sound of a bell depends on the copper content: the more the copper content in a bell, the better its sound.
The best bells are made of silver. There is a legend about Yaroslavl’s St.Peter and Paul’s Church with a bell, allegedly made of silver mostly. Its copper and tin content was slightest. Ages and ages ago a rich merchant lived in Yaroslavl. He made his fortune not only with trade turnover and ships travelling on the Volga river, he also resorted to murky deals: he oppressed and robbed the poor. The merchant made great fortunes on his dealings. He reached his great age, when the fate decided to punish him. The only son of the merchant, a handsome, smart and successful merchant disappeared once. People said, he disliked living in his father’s house, that had been built with blood and tears shed by poor people. The merchant missed the son very much and decided to change the way of his living. He gave up his murky deals, became a friend to the poor and oppressed, and started making donations to churches and monasteries. The merchant ordered to cast a bell of the silver he had plundered within many years. The bell was hung in a church in Yaroslavl. The merchant said at that: “Let the silver bell ring about my evildoings and take my prayers to the Most High, for my son to hear the sound some day and come back to me, at least to close my eyes at death moment.” And the wish came true: the son got back from distant lands as if he really was called with the bell sound. He came back to the father, like the Bible’s prodigal son, and bowed down to the ground to the father. The son lived with his father till his last day, and like the father, he became a true friend to the poor and oppressed. Descendants of the merchant still live in Yaroslavl. Citizens of Yaroslavl believe, sound of the ancient silver bell is really very pleasant for everyone, and it rings to remind people of the native place they once left and forgotten. Sound of the silver bell calls people back home, to the old Russian city of Yaroslavl. Yelena Kiseleva PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/culture/2002/05/27/41785.html