"Yermak's banner" from the kremlin armoury collection: legend and facts

Arseny Petrov

Abstract


The historical comprehension of the journey to Siberia that resulted in its conquest and annexation by Russia almost immediately started with the sacralization of Yermak as its protagonist. Thus, it was natural for ‘contact relics’ to appear, i.e. items that had belonged to the legendary conqueror. Among them was Yermak’s armour and banners: these were invested with a certain holy power that gave them a sacral character. This is certainly the case with regards to the banner in the Kremlin Armoury in Moscow that depicts Archangel Michael’s appearance before Joshua. It was sent, along with other banners, from Tobolsk in the early 19th century and was until recently attributed to Yermak without any doubt. This article provides proof that the banner was created a century later than originally supposed, in the late 17th century. This can be demonstrated by the artistic character of the banner, the decorative elements along the edges borrowed from book illustrations, and the details in the depictions of figures and the landscape. The banner is unlikely to have been taken to Tobolsk after its creation in Moscow, although data exists about the production of banners in several Siberian cities (Krasnoyarsk, Yeniseysk, Tobolsk) in the late 17th century. It is known that S. U. Remezov, a famous chronicler and cartographer, made seven banners destined for Tobolsk in 1697. Based on these facts, the author puts forward the hypothesis that the banner in question, as well as a number of others kept in the Kremlin Armoury, were made by Remezov himself. The author proposes that the banner was dated to the times of Yermak much later, when its real point of origin had been forgotten.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2016.1.147

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