Chechens preserve cultural heritage with new museums
Chechen authorities opened two new museums after the only ethnographic museum which was came to life last year.
Clad in a shaggy white ram's wool hat and sporting a matching beard, museum founder Adam Satuyev says Chechnya is undergoing a cultural revival after decades of war.
Perched in a clay-covered 18th century watchtower with a 100-year-old rifle, Satuyev says he opened "Donde-Yurt", Chechnya's only ethnographic museum, last year.
"After the wars and all the horrors that we went through, it's important to preserve our cultural heritage, which we are so proud of, now that we have finally achieved peace," the 52-year-old retired policeman told Reuters.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has given him 1 million roubles ($33,314) for its upkeep and demanded more museums celebrating the region's rich cultural legacy be built.
Showing off a collection of 400-year-old jugs and rusty accordions, Satuyev remarked: "Chechens now know what a museum is."
Satuyev spent years collecting over 2,000 items from all over Chechnya -- from bayonets used in battle to paintings to string instruments -- for the open-air museum in the town of Urus-Martan, 24 km (15 miles) southwest of regional capital Grozny.
Chechen authorities opened two other museums on Thursday in the name of 19th century Russian writers Leo Tolstoy and Mikhail Lermontov.
Tolstoy's great-grandson Vladimir, who jetted in to Chechnya for the museum's unveiling, told Chechen reporters: "You, like no other, have the right to call him (Tolstoy) a brother."
Tolstoy gave some of his great-grandfather's furniture and clothing to the museum, in the village of Starogladovskaya, not far from Grozny, where the writer served in the Tsar's army for three years in the 1850s.
Though Tolstoy fought against the Chechens, his later novel "The Cossacks" describes much of what he saw in the Caucasus, of a strong-willed people who made a deep impression on him.
The small museum for Lermontov, whose novel "A Hero of Our Time" cemented his fame and painted Chechnya as a place of freedom, was also opened in Poraboch, a village near Starogladovskaya.
Reuters Last Mod: 12 Aralık 2009, 12:05