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Tsars and Cossacks

Tsars and Cossacks

A Study in Iconography

Serhii Plokhy

ISBN 9780916458959

Publication date: 04/30/2003

Ukrainian Cossacks used icon painting to investigate their relationship not only with God but also their relationship with the Russian tsar. Could Emperor Peter I and his adversary in the Battle of Poltava (1709)—the Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa—be depicted in the same icon? Why did the Cossack colonels commission icons with the portraits of their tsars, but not of their own Cossack leaders, the hetmans? Could a Catholic king be portrayed in an Orthodox icon? Why are the Russian tsars and Orthodox hierarchs missing on some of the Zaporozhian Cossack icons?

In this groundbreaking study, Serhii Plokhy provides answers to these and many other questions pertaining to the political and religious culture of Ukrainian Cossackdom, as reflected in the Cossack-era paintings, icons, and woodcuts. By encouraging the iconography to “speak,” Tsars and Cossacks helps to broaden and deepen our understanding of Ukrainian iconography as well as Russian imperial political culture.

Praise

  • The brevity of this work (seventy-five pages) should not blind the reader to the fact that it is a complex and comprehensive summary written for a knowledgeable audience. Plokhy is particularly adept at referring the reader to the important problems and contradictions that make up Ukrainian identity as it developed in the Little Russian context… This study is a pleasure to read and adds in important ways to our awareness of the sources of Cossack and Ukrainian identity.

    —Carol B. Stevens, The Russian Review

Author

  • Serhii Plokhy is Mykhailo S. Hrushevs´kyi Professor of Ukrainian History in the Department of History and Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University.

Book Details

  • Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute

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