April 6, 2021

K is for Kitezh

         (My A-Z Blog Challenge theme this year is Mythical and Imaginary Places.  Be sure to visit the Master List to see what all my fellow A-Z Bloggers are up to this year.)
        Kitezh was a city on the shore of Lake Svetloyar in central Russia.  Why is Kitezh sometimes called “the Russian Atlantis,” and why is that a dumb thing to call it?  Why is it always important to have a wise and virtuous nature maiden on your side?  And what does this city sound like?  To find out all this and more, you can 

read the post about Kitezh here.

        In an interesting historical note, apparently the entire lake is quite geologically recent, forming as the result of some sort of natural cave-ins… right around the same time that the Mongol Golden Horde of Batu Khan was conquering the area.  Coincidence?  Moreover, some evidence was found of artificial structures on the lake 
bottom.  Of course, none of these sorts of expeditions is ever conclusive, and really there would be no mystery about it at all if you could still see the dome of the church as advertised!  Still, I do get a kick out of whatever little clues may be found.
        I have some fun illustrations for you today, the first being an absolutely magnificent lacquer box in the traditional Russian style.  You can see the Russians and Mongols fighting in the foreground, some other scenes from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera around the edges, and the sunken city under the waters of the lake in the middle.  Today’s second illustration is also based on the opera, being another stage-set design.  (It’s another design from the same production as the second picture in the main Kitezh post, I believe.)
        This third picture is a different take on the whole legend.  It’s an in-game shot from the video game “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” featuring Lara Croft having adventures in her search for some sort of magical artifact hidden in Kitezh.  The plot of the game has nothing to do with the traditional legend, but I’m sure they had fun adapting it.
        And finally, a painting clearly inspired by the legend but without specifics from either the opera or the video game.  A single woman in the foreground simply looks out at the waters of the lake, seeing the perfect city preserved below in all its sparkling glory.
        The MORAL of Kitezh: Perfect faith and virtue will protect you.
              OR:  Better to have loved and been lost than never to have loved at all.
        So, which of Kitezh’s variant preservation options would you choose: turn invisible, or sink to the bottom of a cold Russian lake?  Seems like a no-brainer to me, but I do know some crazy cold-water swimming enthusiasts, so let’s hear your take.

[Pictures: The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, painted lacquer box by Ivanovo Oblast Kholuy, 1973 (Image from The Virtual Russian Museum);

The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, watercolor by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin, 1928 (Image from Sotheby’s/akg-images);

The City of Kitezh, screen shot from “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” 2015 (Image from Steam Community);

The Drowned City, painting by Konstantin Gorbatov, 1933 (Image from Wikimedia Commons).]


Steph W. said...

Invisible cities sound like a great setting for a good story! Very interesting, love the works you are choosing.

Sue Bursztynski said...

The invisible city sounds rather Brigadoon to me! As for seeing structures on the bottom of the lake, they could send down an archaeological expedition but that would spoil it, just as a scientific hunt for Nessie would spoil that. And the British royals really don’t want anyone to use DNA to find out if those two kids found in the Tower really were the Princes either.

Some things really need to stay magical and secret.

Olga Godim said...

I think the bottom of the lake would be more romantic. On the other hand, the invisible city sounds more magical.

AJ Blythe said...

Oooh, it's always fun when there is a little bit of evidence (traces of structures) that cast just enough legitimacy to make you wonder if it's true.

Melanie Atherton Allen said...

Hello! Another really fun post. And the images in the post are glorious. I am especially fond of that last one. Gorgeous color.

Deborah Weber said...

Such an interesting legend and I love the geological findings. Wait...are those bells I hear ringing? All the images are lovely, but I find the last one most captivating.

Lisa said...

I think being invisible would be best. A lot of people take it as a challenge to search for sunken treasure, ship wrecks, cities...
I like that last photo of the paining.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

It occurs to me that we're all assuming that when a city and its inhabitants are invisible together to the outside world, they remain visible to each other. Otherwise it would be extremely inconvenient!

JadeLi said...

Another new and fascinating place to add to my bank of knowledge. I love the rich colors of the first one but I like the styling of the last one best.

My "K" Tull song is here:

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Beautiful selection of images! I was reading about this legend recently, good to see the visuals for it :)

The Multicolored Diary

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Turning invisible sounds like a good strategy to me.

Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge with an A-Z of Faerie: Kappa