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The Bear as a Russian National and Militarist Symbol The Bear and the Finnish Maiden. Vesa Matteo Piludu 2009. University of Helsinki Department of Art Research, Semiotics. National symbols are taboo

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The Bear as a Russian National and Militarist Symbol The Bear and the Finnish Maiden


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    1. The Bear as a Russian National and Militarist SymbolThe Bear and the Finnish Maiden Vesa Matteo Piludu 2009 University of Helsinki Department of Art Research, Semiotics

    2. National symbols are taboo In a negative sense (general prohibition: for Italians it is quite uncommon postulate that Dante was a mediocre poet) In a positive sense (they include general rules of behavior: the Bulgarians enjoy if the Bulgarian football national team defeat Germany 2-1) Generally national symbols are part of Doxa (Common sense), are not object of discussion, are accepted and celebrated as a matter of faith The semiotic analysis of national symbols includes a deconstruction and often a critic of the ideological use of the national symbols Semiotics as taboo-breaker National symbols as taboo

    3. Deconstruction - Construction • the so-called deconstruction of the national symbols includes the knowledge of the historical and cultural construction of the national symbols • Often the national symbols are based on folk or ethnic culture • The modern nationalism is based on the national romantic philosophy that idealized folklore as the true soul of the nations • Many scholars and artists participated in the nationalization of folk symbols (Grimm, Wagner, Lonnrot, Sibelius…) • The nationalization of the folk symbols includes a complete redefinition, simplification and sometimes falsification of folklore

    4. Ethnosemiotics and semiotics of popular culture • The semiotics analysis of National symbols could include • Ethnosemiotic for the analysis of the symbols in their original folk culture • Cultural and social semiotics for the process of nationalization of the symbols • Semiotics of popular culture and media for the study of the sprawl of national symbols in different contexts (advertising, satirical magazines…)

    5. Ethnosemiotics • Using methods of semiotics in the traditional fields of cultural anthropology, ethnology, ethnography, folk studied • Anthropology and semiotics are related field of studies • (Auge is popular in semiotic studies) • Today cultural anthropology and folkloric studies includes the study of modern societies

    6. Animals as national symbols • Part of the study of the cultural representation of animals • Cultural semiotic • Significational Anthropological biosemiotics according to Dario Martinelli • According to cultural anthropologist, animals are one of the most important sources of symbols and significations

    7. Nationals animal symbols in Russia and Finland • In Finland and Russia the bear is an unofficial national symbol • The Finnish coat of arms has a Lion • The Russian coat of arms has the Imperial Eagle • But the bear, in both countries, is more popular

    8. Bear: a national symbol rooted in folklore • The identification between Russia and the bear is deeply rooted in the Russian folklore • The identification between Finland and the bear is deeply rooted in the Finnish folklore • The bear compares often in the Russian rituals and wonder tales (volshebaia skazka) • The bear had a great importance in the Finnish oral poetry: • In epic poems (Kalevalaic songs) • In ritual songs to hunt the bear (karhunpeijaiset) • In rituals to summon female power (lempi) • In healing songs, as a helping-spirit of the Finnish healer (loitsut) • In folk tales

    9. Veles or Volos: the Master of the Animals, protector of cattle and bears

    10. The constellation of Volos (Volosynia, Pleiades)

    11. St. Nicholas, protector of cattle from bears

    12. St. Nicholas, carring a teddy bear

    13. The bear hunt by Gorbatov

    14. The bear hunt in Russia • In Russia there were hunters which bagged bears with a spear (Russian word for the bear spear is "rogatina" and the hunter is called "rogatchik"). Different people of Russian society from the ordinary peasant up to the noble aristocrat were keen participants of this very dangerous method of hunting, with a few people being professionals. • They have to be a brave and strong person, and have to anticipate the unexpected bear behavior. • The great specialist of bear hunting was the main huntsman of the great duke Nikolay Romanov - Mihail Andrievskiy. In the magazine ("Nature and Hunting" 1894) he published a well known and very interesting article about bear hunting with "rogatina". He described every detail and all aspects of this hunting: bear behaviour, psychology and strategy fighting, construction of spear and so on. Vadim painted this picture according to this article and following some advice with bear specialist zoologists.

    15. St. Sergius of Radonezh: protector of the bears

    16. Seraphim of Sarov feeds a bear

    17. Seraphim of Sarov feeds a bear

    18. St. Seraphim and the bear • One day a nun coming to visit St. Seraphim at his hermitage in the woods near Sarov, found the old monk being visited by a bear. • Terrified, the nun let out a scream. • But the bear lay down by Seraphim’s feet. • “I was as terrified as before,” the nun later recorded, “but when I saw Father Seraphim, quite unconcerned, treating the bear like a lamb, stroking him and giving him bread, I calmed down.”

    19. The female bear cub (bride)

    20. Wonder tale Ivan the bear son Viktor Vasnetsov: Ivan's Battle with the Three-Headed Serpent (1912)

    21. The Soviet Olympic bear: Misha (Moskow, 1980)

    22. Bear politics: United Russia party (the party of Putin

    23. Bear Politics:Oh when the bears are marchin’ in …

    24. Other sportive Russian Bears …

    25. Hokey bears

    26. The great game: Russia, England, India

    27. The Russian bear and the Queen of England

    28. Russian Bear and Uncle Sam

    29. Bear president 1

    30. Bear president 2

    31. The Russian bear and Ukraine

    32. Bear oil politics

    33. The Russian bear’s crutches: oil and gas

    34. The bear and Georgia

    35. The bear and Georgia 2

    36. The bear president 3

    37. Appling Lotman to the national symbol analysis • Long ”memory” of the national symbols • Diacrony: vertical cut • Sincronicity1: adaptation to the (contemporary) cultural context • Sincronicity 2: the same (national) symbol could be idealized in a context (Soviet Olimpic – United Russia) and ridiculized in others (foreign newspapers’ articles about the Russian agressive foreing politic)

    38. Finland, Helsinki: National Museum

    39. Finland Helsinki: Maiden of Finland 1 (Esplanadi)

    40. Helsinki: Maiden of Finland 2 (Senate Square)

    41. Helsinki (National Museum): Satakunta’s Bear

    42. Finland, Helsinki: Pohjola-building’s bear