art and culture
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'Against the blue sky of a summer Sunday morning,
with solemn bells ringing across the city from magnificent silver and
gold domes, Novgorod is touched by a magical variety of tones, shades,
textures and designs that cannot fail to impress. Summoned by bells to
the cathedral of St Sophia, even the secular soul is soon mesmerized by
the theatre of faith: the enveloping incense, the curl of white smoke
rising to mingle with the shafts of sunlight that pierce the gloom from
high above the nave, the icons in deep red and gold, the murals that
glorify saints and martyrs, the guttering candles, the swish of priestly
robes, the long beards and cowls that disguise holy faces, the chants
and incantations from ancient manuscripts, the tinkling of tiny bells
and, not least, the reverence of the faithful.'
Russia, Jonathan Dimbleby
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Once upon a time an old man, a
widower, lived alone in a hut with his daughter Natasha. Very merry the
two of them were together, and they used to smile at each other over a
table piled with bread and jam, and play peek-a-boo, first this side of
the samovar, and then that. Everything went well, until the old man took
it into his head to marry again.
So the little girl gained a stepmother. After that everything changed.
No more bread and jam on the table, no more playing peek-a-boo around
the samovar as the girl sat with her father at tea. It was even worse
than that, because she was never allowed to sit at tea at all anymore.
The stepmother said that little girls shouldn't have tea, much less eat
bread with jam. She would throw the girl a crust of bread and tell her
to get out of the hut and go find someplace to eat it. Then the
stepmother would sit with her husband and tell him that everything that
went wrong was the girl's fault. And the old man believed his new wife.
So poor Natasha would go by herself into the shed in the yard, wet the
dry crust with her tears, and eat it all by herself.
Then she would hear the stepmother yelling at her to come in and wash up
the tea things, and tidy the house, and brush the floor, and clean
everybody's muddy boots.
One day the stepmother decided she could not bear the sight of Natasha
one minute longer. But how could she get rid of her for good? Then she
remembered her sister, the terrible witch Baba Yaga, the bony-legged
one, who lived in the forest. And a wicked plan began to form in her
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By a cliff a golden cloud once lingered;
On his breast it slept, but, rising early,
Off it gently rushed across the pearly
Blue of sky, a tiny thing and winged.
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'The team' of Cedar Gallery visited Moscow in Summer 2008.