Collection of Relics of Byelorussian, Ukrainian and Moldavian Cultures
In 1902—06 the curator N. Mogiliansky was the first to carry out field studies in the Ukraine and Moldavia. His collections are marked by a thorough classification of objects into typological categories as well as by a strict recording of the ornamental patterns, techniques and tools used by the artisans. The researcher also attached great importance to photography, which enabled him to depict the way various objects or dwellings were made and costumes worn.
While working in Moldavia, the researcher took note of a phenomenon that was extremely rare in the early twentieth century: the local Romance culture had retained some traces of Turkish influence, particularly in the bridal head-dress (the fez), which was an important feature of the Moldavian wedding ceremony. The articles of clothing collected by N. Mogiliansky became the foundation of a very notable section devoted to Moldavian national costume which was to grow afterwards into one of the largest depositaries of this kind in Europe.
The earliest collections covering the culture of the Ukraine were made by I. Zaretsky in the Poltava and Kharkov gubernias in 1902-10. They consisted of over a thousand articles of clothing, headgear, footwear, utensils and implements for land tilling and stockbreeding, as well as samples of glazed pottery and embroidery.
The most notable collector of Ukrainian objects was F. Volkov, who added to the Department's possessions a wide range of ethnographic objects from different regions of the Ukraine, including the Chernigov, Volhyn, Kiev, Ekaterinoslavl and Kuban gubernias, as well as the regions of Galicia and Bukovina. Over the period of 1902 to 1916, he procured more than three thousand items and took about a thousand photographs. Things that E Volkov collected are not only remarkable for their geographic origin and thematic diversity — their sheer number is impressive. Apart from being of great value to the Museum, some of his contributions are truly unique. F. Volkov's style of collecting was marked by a forward-looking approach to acquiring items that reflected the most characteristic ethnic traits of the Ukrainian people. Therefore he looked for both very old and more recent objects so as to be able to observe the trends and dynamics of their development. He was often attracted by objects of scientific rather than artistic value. The scholar took particular interest in the philosophical and theological aspects of traditional culture and in ecclesiastical objects connected with the Christian tradition and its transforation in the ethnic reality of the early twentieth century.