Unique collection graces museum exposition

National History Museum funds expanded by collection of 10th-17th century pagan amulets and Christian crosses of Belarusian origin

By Kristina Kurlovich

The collection includes 168 amulets and crosses bought from a private collector. “We don’t know why the collector decided to part with his collection but it’s wonderful that he chose to sell to us rather than to another private collector and that he kept the collection complete. In fact, collectors often come to the museum proposing us to buy historically important items.

Annually, we expand the museum’s archive, with assistance from our partner — Belvnesheconombank,” notes Sergey Vecher, Director of the National History Museum of Belarus.

The collection of 10th-17th century pagan amulets and Christian crosses of Belarusian origin is one of the largest and most diverse in the Republic. Some of the crosses reflect the influence of Scandinavian countries, showing the crafts of bronze and casting art in Belarus. Many amulets and crosses show the pan-European character of Belarusian art. The collection includes encolpion crosses, which are composed of two halves and would contain fragments of holy relics. A silver gold-plated encolpion cross from Golsahny is viewed as the most interesting exhibit.

Co-operation between the National Art Museum and Belvnesheconombank began in 2008, with the acquisition of one of two famous copies of an ancient map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, dating from the late 16th-early 17th century. In 2009, collaboration continued, with the museum receiving precious 14th-18th century black-letter books. In 2010, the bank funded the purchase of a rare 14th century silver coin and, early this year, a joint project to restore the Apostle ancient book was completed.

The collection’s exhibits were displayed over three days before being returned to the museum’s funds for complete scientific processing. The unique collection will soon occupy a place at the National History Museum of Belarus.

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