Tales from the Urals

Nikola, inspired by Urals. Source: Personal Archive

Nikola, inspired by Urals. Source: Personal Archive

Nikola Lečić, RBTH Guest Editor, speaks about "The Malachite Casket" by Pavel Bazhov.

This collection of tales showed me the interaction between the spirit of the Russian people and a specific landscape, in this case the Ural Mountains and their minerals, metals and gemstones.

This portrayal of people immersed in the dust of forges, quarries, mines and foundries opens several dimensions of thought. It shows a deep people's philosophy of labour, a love of minerals and art, and a sublime and noble attitude toward those who use their handicraft without being aware of its origins.

The work presents a magnificent picture of the Mistress of the Copper Mountain, a supernatural creature that fuses cruel, inhumane yet beautiful nature with her affinity for the working people.

These dimensions are perfectly interwoven by the use of the Urals dialect, lending an exceptional perspective on the depth of the Russian spirit. And, to quote Bazhov, on the hope to gain “the key to the Earth”, the philosophical concept of the “complete change of life”.

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