From the 30th of September to the 30th of November 2013 the exhibition “Thracian gold from Bulgaria. Legends comе to life” will be presented in the State Historical Museum in Moscow. That is a joint exhibition of historical treasures from the antiquity of Bulgarian state and private museums: The National Museum of History, the Regional Archeological Museum, Plovdiv, the Regional Historical Museum, Rouse, the Regional Historical Museum, Lovech, the Thrace Foundation and the Vassil Bojkov Collection and the Arete-Fol Foundation museum
The exhibits to be presented are 317, a considerable portion of which – 127 items, belong to the largest private collection – The Vassil Bojkov Collection.
For the first time state and private museums are partners in an international exhibition where they gather in one joint representative exposition some of the most significant and valuable exhibits from ancient Thrace – the treasures from Letnitza, Borovo, Zlatitza, the Panagyurishte and Rogozen treasures – hundreds of unique golden, silver and gold plated insignia, Tzar’s military – offensive or protective armament, funeral gifts, ritual vessels and jewelry, symbolizing the worship of Dionysus, the myths of Orpheus and the amazons and others.
The preparation of the exhibition is entrusted to the National Museum of History of Bulgaria. The team who made the selection of the exhibits, includes two members of the Thrace Foundation – Prof. Dr Ivan Marazov and Prof. Dr Veselina Inkova, as well as two experts from the National Museum of History – Elka Penkova and Dr Lyubava Konova.
It was designed and accomplished as a story about the Thracians, their belief, and rituals, represented by exhibits in a number of thematic circles.
The first of them is about the Thracian Tzar. In the presentation of his person as a Thracian ruler, warrior and hierarch, insignia, armament exhibits and ritual vessels are included.
The military armament is presented by swords, sheaths, helmets, chair armour and others. Two of the three exhibited swords are from the Vassil Bojkov Collection – an early bronze sword with gold plated hilt from 11th – 10th c B.C. and a Sica sword from the 4th c B.C. with a unique exquisite hilt, representing the figure of a galloping horse with copper inlaid rein.
The offensive armament is completed with a gold and silver sheath, dating back to the second half of IV century B.C.
Two of the three helmets presented in the exhibition are from the Vassil Bojkov Collection. One of them is a bronze helmet with plastic decoration – cheek plates and applications from IV century B.C., and the other one is from the second half of the IV century B.C. made from over 2 000 plastic iron flakes, fixed on leather.
The same museum participates in the exhibition with the bronze armour dating back to the V – IV century B.C., the labrys (bipens) incrustation of which, moreover that it is made from iron, evidences its aristocratic Tzar’s belonging.
The Vassil Bojkov Collection is the one with the largest number of rhytons in the world – one of the most prestigious ritual Tzar’s regalia. It is participating in this exhibition with as many as ten of them, made of silver and gold, with horse-, deer-, he-goat, centaurs- and ram-headed protomes. The ritual vessels are completed with a gold phial from VI century B.C. and a cup shaped as a ram’s head, silver with gilding – III to I century B.C. Insignia for aristocratic representation follow – a gold wreath from the second half of the IV century B.C. (one of the three wreaths at the exhibition), 2 gold bracelets, from the end of the VI – the beginning of the V century B.C., funeral gold mask from the first half of V century B.C. and others.
The second thematic circle of the exhibition is related to the significance of the horse in the land of the “horse loving” Thracians, where owning a horse was the token of a supreme social rank, an attribute of might and power. The sacred animal of the ruler, his godly guard and inseparable cohort, that is escorting him on his last earthly pilgrimage and leading him to immortality in the world of eternity. The bearer of the symbolic significance and magic function of the horse and its and his owner’s apothropeus, is the horse ammunition decoration, the headstall elements in particular, crowning the most sacred part of the horse – the head, a central point of its spiritual energy and power. As a divine token for the acquisition of power, the very horse ammunition is a subject to burial, as a “treasure”. It is hardly a coincidence that seven sets and individual applications to horse ammunitions are included in the exhibition, the specific style and workmanship of which reflect the Thracian type of horse rein decoration. Five almost complete sets at the exhibition, two of which containing the basic semantically significant applications, as well as a number of separate ones, are from the Vassil Bozhkov Museum.
The third theme is related to Orpheus and consists entirely of artifacts from the Vassil Bojkov Collection.
The name Orpheus is the denoting of the alien to the Hellenistic thinking notion of death as a passing to and life in Eternity – the final goal of man’s existence. The antic literature attributes to him the authorship of cosmogonies and theogonies, other than the official Olympic religious idea of the structuring of the Universe. The Thracian origin of the singer remains comparatively consistent during the centuries, with which mythology and literature emphasize the reason for this dissimilarity, which is called Orphism – a religious-philosophic teaching, based on the immortality of soul.
According to Prof. Alexander Fol, the image-idea Orpheus is the brightest metaphor of Thracian belief in immortality. The appearance of the singer, teacher, enlightener Orpheus on object-signs in Thracian environment probably identifies the belonging of their owner to the circle of the ones, consecrated to that belief-knowledge, experienced by them too through the death and the new birth of the Teacher. A rhyton with he-goat-head of silver with gilding from the end of V century B.C., on the frieze of which a scene of the murder of Orpheus is depicted – enraged women are attacking him from both sides. Following are an exquisite kantharos from silver with gilding with two different storylines, depicted on its two sides, dating back to the last quarter of the V. century B.C. and a kylikes from silver with gilding from 430 – 425 year B.C.
The other thematic circles represent the myths about the amazons, Dionysus and the belief of the Thracians through various figurines of deities. Since Thracians had no script, their life and ideas are presented by outstanding works of gold and silver, detailed stories, drawn on various phials, situla, different vessels from terracotta and so on. All of them are a pleasure to the eye for both experts and amateurs.
Along with the artifacts included in the exhibition, posters of some of the most significant and interesting exhibits are presented in an innovative way, illustrating the process of restoration and conservation and technical and technological studies, and so their cultural and historical interpretation is made easier.
Thus a further broadening of the knowledge of experts is achieved and in the same time, the path of the artifacts from the ground to the museum is revealed to the wide audience.