Mintimer Shaimiev in Bolgar: ‘We are starting the construction of the ‘second’ floor’

Tatarstan undertakes the restoration of intangible cultural heritage

Mintimer Shaimiev in Bolgar: ‘We are starting the construction of the ‘second’ floor’
Photo: provided to by press service of the State Councillor of the Republic of Tatarstan

The Renaissance: Epic in Modern Interpretation started in Bolgar on 15 July. It marked the start of a new stage in the republic — the revival of intangible cultural heritage. Festival participants will see productions from Yakutia, Karelia, Kyrgyzstan, Bulgaria, Tatarstan, fashion shows, theatre laboratories, and a fair. Up to 50 thousand people are waiting for the event, which lasts 9 days. Admission is free.

Shaimiev: the history of each nation goes deep into the centuries

“We haven't fully realised why we are here today and what is happening. Let's remember today's meeting. I believe that a new phenomenon is beginning in this holy land of Bolgar — a milestone event," Tatarstan State Councillor Mintimer Shaimiev said during the opening ceremony of the festival.

Mintimer Shaimiev recalled that UNESCO has two concepts — the preservation and revival of tangible cultural heritage and intangible ones. If everything is ok with the revival of the material heritage in the republic, then it's time to take up the intangible one:

“Ten years ago we undertook the revival of the material heritage of the peoples of Russia. We have succeeded somewhat in this matter — Bolgar, Kazan, and Sviyazhsk have become objects of world recognition, we have made good progress in including these objects in UNESCO. It is eternal and recognised by the whole world. This is a path that we have already passed. And today's meeting is the beginning of a new stage. You are the first witnesses of this outstanding event," he noted.

“We should take pictures of everyone, you are witnesses of this process," he amused the assembled audience.

According to him, cultural heritage needs to be dealt with, because it is “the creativity of its time — the creativity of the mind, culture, talent of the people”.

“The concept of cultural heritage has a complex content. Epic is history, miras, it is our heritage. It is here, on the Bolgar land, that we begin to revive the cultural heritage of our people. It needs to be brought to the next generations. Now we are starting the construction of the “second” floor. If we are already talking about it, then we are already doing it. Otherwise you won't fall asleep. This thought will not give rest.

Bales of hay were laid out as spectator seats in front of the main stage, just like last year. Drawing attention to this, Shaimiev said that “straw is also part of this process, it's all ours, it's the history of our development”.

“What works we have, of what centuries! It is the duty of all adult peoples to preserve epics. We are witnessing the first conversation on this topic. We try to work in such a way that words and deeds do not jibe. If it has already been said, then it will be done. We undertook the restoration of the material heritage and were able to restore it. We are surrounded by centuries-old historical monuments. If we didn't do this, it would all disappear. Then what would we leave for our children?" he wondered.

“The layers of the times of our existence are rising. Not one, but all generations. These are modern requirements, and we cannot lag behind other countries. All decisions have been made to revive the spiritual heritage of our people," Mintimer Shaimiev added.

Photo provided to by press service of the State Councillor of the Republic of Tatarstan

We are undertaking this and will report back in a couple of years

“The task itself dictates how and what to develop. We are literate people, fortunately, educated. We should not lag behind in anything. We should act. And let's start acting from today. Today, we are at the beginning of a historic event for the intangible revival of our history. We'll under take it and report back in a couple of years. We should revive our past — both material and immaterial. Otherwise, we will complicate the future even more for our children. They are moving even further away from history. And the Tatars are a literate people. We need to get into gear early," the State Councillor of the Republic of Tatarstan summed up.

Then the Chamber Choir of Tatarstan under the direction of Milyausha Tamindarova, vocalists Alina Sharipzhanova and Ilsia Badretdinova, the headliner of the festival, took the stage. During the concert, everyone went dancing — Shaimiev with Ayupova! And Milyausha Tamindarova began conducting the audience, encouraging them to sing and thereby become happier.

Photo provided to by press service of the State Councillor of the Republic of Tatarstan

Rap in Finnish and a bouquet from State Councillor

The first day of the festival finished with the performance “Kullervo” based on the Finnish epic “Kalevala” of the National Theatre of Karelia. The audience warmly received the performance, which was presented by the main director of the theatre, Vyacheslav Polyakov. “Kalevala” is a Karelo-Finnish poetic epic consisting of 50 runes. It was created by Elias Lönnrot on the basis of the folklore texts he collected. The first version of the epic was published in 1835.

Vyacheslav Polyakov greeted the audience in Karelian, but the performance itself was mostly in Russian. But the stanzas from the runes sounded in the original — in verse form in Finnish, sometimes even in the form of a rap recitative to the original music.

As the director of the Karelian National Theatre, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, told the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya later, they stage their performances in four languages — Russian, Vep, Finnish, and Karelian. But national performances are also alternating with the Russian language.

“We are forced to stage performances in Russian and Karelian 50 to 50, because things are getting worse and worse in our republic with the knowledge of the native language every year," he admitted.

It is worth paying tribute, Mintimer Sharipovich, known for his interest in the national theatre, watched the entire performance with interest to the end, applauded standing up, and at the end presented the artists from Karelia with a huge bouquet of flowers as a gift.

Chuvash traces on Bulgarian land are ancient

Also, within the framework of the festival, the Aga Bazaar ethno-cultural festival was opened, within which more than 100 masters of folk arts and crafts of Tatarstan and Russia present their products and hold master classes. The fair was held in a stylised medieval Bulgarian market in the form of shopping stalls. However, Shaimiev, in company with Minister of Culture of Tatarstan Irada Ayupova, had time to inspect the shopping arcades and communicate with artisans on the first day.

“Beauty is the same — there is everything in Aga Bazaar!” Shaimiev gave his assessment to the fair.

Shaimiev stopped especially for a long time at the stand with ancient Tatar national instruments — dombra, kyl-kubyz and others, the restoration of which was undertaken by the Vildanov family workshop, and at the stand with the products of Chuvash masters. He noticed that the bath in Chuvash sounds the same as in Tatar — “muncha”.

“The Chuvash traces on the Bulgarian land are ancient," the State Councillor of Tatarstan noted.

Photo provided to by press service of the State Councillor of the Republic of Tatarstan

This festival is needed so that we don't become mankurts

A theatre laboratory also began, in which students from Tatarstan and from GITIS participate (50 people in total). It is directed by director Alexander Koruchekov. They will prepare sketches of performances based on the novel The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years... by Chingiz Aitmatov and the poem Kissa-i Yusuf by Kul Gali.

The second evening finished with a dramatic tale from the Bishkek City Drama Theatre Manaschy based on the epic Manas. On the same day, Jukebox Trio performed in Bolgar. Realnoe Vremya reported about the festival programme in detail earlier.

On July 23, the festival finishes with a screening of the opera Kara Pulat, which last year was moved from the stage of the Tinchurin Theatre to Bolgar, equipped with mapping and 70 microphones.

According to the minister of culture of Tatarstan, both of these works were chosen for a reason.

“The meaning of these works is the prevention of the loss of their cultural code, the prevention of the loss of connection with their roots. This festival is necessary so that we do not become mankurts," said Irada Ayupova, announcing the festival.

The funds for the event were won at a competition from the Presidential Foundation for Cultural Initiatives (this is the largest project from the republic in the history of the foundation). It arose after the organisation last year in the shortest possible time of the show of the opera Kara Pulat in Bolgar. After that, the initiator of his show, Tatarstan State Councillor Mintimer Shaimiev, proposed to scale the project.

“There are a lot of examples in the world when attention to UNESCO sites is attracted by holding various festivals. It is very important not only to preserve these objects, but also to popularise them," said Zulfiya Sungatullina, the executive director of the Renaissance Foundation.

More information about the programme, catering, and other things can be found on the festival's websites.

Gulnaz Badretdin