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Since 1900, Nicholas Roerich has been working on a series of paintings conceived on the "Slavic" theme. The artist was then in Paris, but nevertheless he was able to embody the images of ancient Russian life that inspired him. As a traveler, he visited the excavation sites. Barrows were found in Tsarskoye Selo Uyezd where, according to legends, there were pagan prayer places - shrines. Here, according to tradition, animals were sacrificed. Roerich depicted images of pagan religious beliefs in the painting “Idols” of 1901.
On a high steep hill built a Slavic temple. A sacred place for prayers and sacrifices is surrounded by natural elements. We see a cliff and a blue river running into the distance. Flocks of seagulls hover peacefully above it. In the distance, the hills turn green from the dense grass.
The temple contains several idols - statues of pagan deities. In the center of the circle is the figure of the oldest deity, and next to it are smaller statues. All of them are decorated with colorful ethnic ornaments. There is also a large gray stone for sacrifices. Ritual attributes are placed in a circle and surrounded by a picket fence. The tops of the logs are hewn into sharp stakes. The skulls of the killed animals are fixed on them, after sacrificing them to the gods.
Roerich did not portray people in the picture. But he perfectly conveyed the pagan atmosphere, taking into account the objective world. He studied history, personally saw the excavated ancient idols, therefore embodied on the canvas can be perceived as really once existing. The painting "Idols" takes us centuries ago, when the Slavs were closer to nature, worshiped its forces and felt fear of it.
The artist created a harmonious composition. The vertical lines of the stockade and high idols stand out noticeably against the background of the natural smooth lines of the hills and river flow.
In the Russian Museum of St. Petersburg, everyone can enjoy the legendary “Idols” of Roerich.