E. V. SUPONINA
Candidate of Philosophical Sciences
The history of relations between Russia and Kuwait in the field of culture is now inextricably linked with the dramatic events of the early 1990s.Twenty years ago, when the Soviet Union, torn by internal contradictions, was going through the penultimate year of its existence, Kuwait faced a terrible test. Saddam Hussein's Iraq launched a war against Kuwait in August 1990, declaring it one of its provinces, and occupied the country. And it just so happened that just before this drama, the largest museums of our countries agreed on close cooperation.
Three months before the Iraqi aggression, the National Museum of Kuwait successfully hosted the Hermitage exhibition. Under the cultural exchange agreement, the Kuwaitis were to exhibit the same number - more than 120-of their best exhibits in what was then Leningrad. Thus, at the end of July 1990, the most valuable items from the Kuwaiti collection were exported to the Soviet Union. Accompanying documentation was attached to each of them. Some of the exhibits belonged to the Early Middle Ages. But mostly they were jewelry and precious daggers of the Mughal era, which ruled in India from the XVI to XIX centuries. It is noteworthy that the Russian court once collected Mughal treasures, and one of these collections is kept since the XVIII century in the Hermitage.
In Kuwait, this collection was collected and continues to be collected by members of the country's ruling dynasty, Nasser al-Sabah and his wife, Hissa al-Sabah. Both are direct relatives of almost all previous Kuwaiti rulers, as well as the current Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. And both are particularly interested in the achievements of Islamic culture and promote them.
Princess Hissa al-Sabah (in the Kuwaiti tradition, instead of "prince" or "princess", the words sheikh or sheikha are used as a sign of belonging to the ruling dynasty) created and headed the Museum of Monuments of Islamic Culture (Dar al-Asar al-Islamiya). It is located in the capital Kuwait City and offers not only interesting exhibitions, but also free lessons for everyone. You can learn how to make pots, weave carpets, and play the oriental piano.
the lute. There are quite a few female students.
But in the dramatic summer of 1990, when treasures from Kuwait arrived at the Hermitage, few expected war to break out in the Persian Gulf in a week's time. The Iraqi aggression began at dawn on August 2. It was a Thursday, which is important - the weekend was beginning in Kuwait, and many people had already left for vacation or business in the country or abroad, and therefore were caught off guard.
Sheikha Hissa Al-Sabah, who was pregnant with her sixth child at the time, happened to be in Europe with the children, where she gave lectures on Kuwaiti culture. She was scheduled to arrive home on August 3, but it took her a long time to return. She learned about the aggression from the reports of Western television stations. Since then, her forced emigration lasted almost seven months. Daughter Futuh was born on January 1, 1991 in Syria, more than a month and a half before the liberation of Kuwait.
Her husband, Sheikh Nasser al-Sabah, was caught up in the war in the country, trying to organize resistance to the Iraqi troops, who quickly occupied the small state of Kuwait, but the forces were unequal. Then the Kuwaitis made a bet on international diplomacy, and it was successful. In the winter of 1991, Kuwait was liberated by the troops of the international coalition led by the United States.
The war resulted not only in human casualties (more than 600 Kuwaiti citizens are still missing in Iraq) and destruction, but also a tragedy for cultural monuments. The Iraqis simply looted some museums and homes, although in some places they tried to act with discipline in order to take the most valuable exhibits to the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad, based on the recommendations of their experts. After the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, international experts held talks in the Iraqi capital and secured the return of most of the valuables. Much of it was broken or broken, but it was subject to restoration, although restorers are still working on some copies.
But 59 items are still missing, including three emeralds of the XVII century. One of them is completely recorded, or rather, hand-engraved by an unknown master Quranic verse " About the throne "(Ayat al-Kursi from the second Quranic surah "Cow"). And this is on an area of 3 and a half centimeters in length and even less in width.
Hissa al-Sabah, in an interview with the author of these lines, gave many examples of such losses. "The Iraqis, leaving Kuwait in 1991 and unable to take with them the gate of the XIV century. five meters high, burned it!", - said the director of the museum. One of the lost daggers, however, was recovered thanks to its appearance in the catalog of the London auction "Sotheby's". The seller was an Iraqi merchant. After learning that the item was wanted through Interpol and was part of Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah's collection, he returned it to the Kuwaitis.
The part of the collection that by the will of fate got to the Hermitage, it turns out, was saved by the artist himself.
By Allah and the director of this museum, Mikhail Piotrovsky. The issue of the exhibition immediately turned into a political issue.
The Iraqi aggression against Kuwait came as a surprise to the Soviet Union. At the same time, mutually beneficial relations have long been built with Iraq, much closer than with Kuwait. However, Moscow condemned the aggression and sided with the international coalition.
The Iraqis have declared everything Kuwaiti their property. Therefore, the opening of the Kuwait exhibition in the Hermitage on August 6, immediately after the occupation of Kuwait by the Iraqis, was a kind of symbolic step, evidence of a change in Moscow's policy both in relations with the United States and in the Middle East. Even now, the Kuwaitis say that the exhibition turned into an action of solidarity with their country, which suffered from aggression.
On August 3, Sheikha Hissa al-Sabah received a call from the Hermitage asking what to do. "Kuwait exists, and we need to open an exhibition to prove it," she said. As a result, the exhibition opened and was a great success.
After its closure, Mikhail Piotrovsky ordered to seal the chests with exhibits with sealing wax and store them until the moment when they can be picked up by the Kuwaitis. This happened after the war. "We clearly remember the grand opening of the Kuwait exhibition at the Hermitage in the summer of 1990, at the height of the enemy invasion of Kuwait. Cultural ties and museum cooperation have once again shown their strength, which can ultimately defeat tanks, " Mikhail Piotrovsky says today.
The exhibition " Treasury of the World. Jewelry art of India in the Mughal era", which was held in 2009, first in Moscow, and then in St. Petersburg. The owners and compilers of this rare collection are again Nasser and Hissa al-Sabah. In Moscow, the exhibition was opened at the end of February 2009 in the hall of the Assumption Belfry of the Kremlin at the invitation of the Moscow Kremlin Museums. And in St. Petersburg - in the Hermitage Museum, which is already familiar to the Kuwaiti side, and in August, that is, 19 years after the August 1990 exhibition.
Memories of that event were not spared, and it seems that in such cases they will not be spared. This was discussed in speeches at the opening of the exhibition in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. "There were fears that the Iraqis would demand that the Hermitage hand over Kuwaiti treasures. But the Russians claimed it was Kuwaiti property and kept it until the war was over. The exhibition turned into an action of solidarity with Kuwait, which suffered from aggression and demanded the restoration of sovereignty, which happened with the help of the international coalition troops at the end of February 1991, " explained Sheikha Hissa al-Sabah in an interview during her stay in Russia in 2009.
This time the Kuwaitis brought gold rings decorated with rubies, processed by Indian jewelers in a special technique known only to them at that time-kundan-gold is purified and processed so that it becomes "sticky" even at room temperature. With the help of special tools, narrow strips of gold foil compress stones or even wood and bone without any melting. Thanks to this fine workmanship, the product looks even more elegant.
Mughal rulers loved beautiful daggers in exquisite scabbards; they are also on display. There were also unusual exhibits, for example," spinochesalka " made of jade-a rod with a tip in the form of a palm, which really could be scratched back. There are also many emeralds in the collection. During the Middle Ages, people often made these minerals from grayish-green basubands-bracelets that were worn on the shoulder. It was believed that they are not only beautiful, but also protect from the evil eye. Та-
what magical power was supposedly possessed by ornaments on the turban or on bandages on the forehead.
The Museum of Monuments of Islamic Culture, headed by Sheikha Hissa al-Sabah, attracts Russian specialists to work on its collection - this applies to both expert assessments and restoration works. Another area of activity is participation in archaeological excavations, particularly in Egypt. The museum plans to organize new exhibitions in Russia, including in the Hermitage Museum.
The museum's interests are not limited to arts and crafts. Its leaders, together with the Center for Kuwaiti Studies, regularly invite historians, geographers, and political scientists from various countries of the world to give lectures in Kuwait City (the capital of Kuwait).
Among them were the Russian orientalist Alexey Vasiliev, who spoke about the Arabic translations of A. S. Pushkin, and the historian Grigory Bondarevsky, who tragically died in Moscow in August 2003. Bondarevsky found many documents in the archives proving that Kuwait, even during the existence of the Ottoman Empire, was not subject to it, unlike neighboring Iraq. Thus, he proved that the territorial claims of the Iraqi authorities led by Saddam Hussein were groundless, and the attack on Kuwait was a violation of international legal norms.
G. Bondarevsky's book "Kuwait in International Relations (late XIX-early XX centuries)" was published first in Kuwait in 1994 in Arabic, and then in Russian in Moscow. He paid much attention to the activities of one of the brightest representatives of the ruling dynasty, the creator of the modern Kuwaiti state - Sheikh Mubarak al-Sabah, stories about his skillful maneuvering between great powers, about his desire to pursue an independent policy. The study presents little-known facts about the first contacts of representatives of tsarist Russia with the Kuwaitis.
Russia's cooperation with Kuwait in the field of culture and education today is not limited to these projects. In 2003, events were held in both countries to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kuwait and the Soviet Union in March 1963. In those years, Moscow promoted Kuwait's admission to the United Nations. And on March 27, 1967, an important agreement on cultural and scientific cooperation was signed, on which the parties still rely when developing projects in the field of culture, science and education.
The Week of Russian Culture, organized in connection with the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations, delighted the residents of Kuwait City with our art exhibitions and performances by fellows of the Vladimir Spivakov International Charitable Foundation. A year earlier, in May 2002, the Moscow Central House of Artists hosted an exhibition of works by the famous Kuwaiti master Bader al-Qatami.
One of the founders of the art school of realism in Kuwait, Bader al-Qatami draws attention in his paintings to things and images that are symbols of the connection of times. These are ancient fortresses far from the Kuwaiti capital, old coffee pots in modern homes, camels walking through the desert and small wooden boats on which local residents still go to the sea of lo-
catch fish. He also has works about the Iraqi aggression and the happy liberation of the motherland, combined in a thematic series called "209 days of occupation".
By the way, many Muscovites got an idea of the sights of this Arab country thanks to the photo exhibition "Kuwait - the Pearl of the Gulf", held a few years earlier in one of the halls of the House of Journalists.
As the Embassy of the State of Kuwait in Russia informed the author of these lines, another important aspect of cooperation is the study of students under the exchange program. Russian students go to study Arabic in Kuwait, and from there young people come to Russia to get an education. The State Institute of Russian Language named after A. S. Pushkin has agreed to send teachers of Russian language and literature to this country. The agreements on cultural and scientific cooperation between the two countries also state that "the parties exchange visits of children's creative groups and encourage the participation of children from Russia in the cultural festival of future generations, which is organized annually by Kuwait."
There are other unexpected examples. In the fall of 2008, a Russian delegation of media representatives and writers ' organizations visited the Kuwaiti capital. At the invitation of the Kuwaiti side, they took part in an international conference dedicated to literature and the presentation of a 25-volume Encyclopedia of Arabic poetry of the 19th and 20th centuries. Over the course of 11 years, 500 scholars and writers worked on it, who collected biographies and poems (both published and unpublished) of about 9 thousand Arab poets. "Arabic poetry is a single and living organism, where there are no state borders or political restrictions," said the sponsor of this project, a Kuwaiti businessman and head of a large charitable foundation, Abdel-Aziz al-Battein.
Particularly noteworthy is Kuwait's cooperation with Russian Muslim organizations and with regions where the majority of the population professes Islam. The current Kuwaiti Ambassador to Russia, Nasser Al-Muzayan, has repeatedly visited the Republic of Tatarstan. In August 2008, he participated in the conference "Science, Technology, Innovation for Sustainable Development of the Islamic World: Bringing Politicians and Scientists Closer together"in Kazan.
In the spring of 2010, the Ambassador arrived in Kazan with Hamad al-Sinan, Chairman of the Board of the Kuwait Organization of Islamic Sciences. The reason was the holding of the Days of Arab Culture in Kazan. They are organized annually by local universities, and each time they are dedicated to a specific country, this time Kuwait. The program included a concert, an Arabic language Olympiad for schoolchildren and students, and a tasting of Kuwaiti cuisine.
Tatarstan intends to step up economic and cultural cooperation with Kuwait at the regional level. The Ambassador spoke about this at the talks with Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture of the Republic Zila Valeeva and President Rustam Minnikhanov, who, when he was Prime Minister in November 2008, visited Kuwait at the head of a representative Tatarstan delegation.
One of the proposals is to jointly celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of the Tatar poet Gabdulla Tukay in 2011. In the spring of this year, the all-Arab magazine Al-Arabi, which is published in Kuwait, already published a translation of his fairy-tale poem "Shurale" (as the Tatars call mythical creatures from their fairy tales). The Ambassador also suggested that representatives of Tatarstan open a tourist office of the republic in Kuwait.
Finally, the Kuwaitis organized several Islamic educational programs in Russia. An important decision was made in December 2009 at the 5th meeting of the Strategic Vision Group "Russia-Islamic World", held in Kuwait City, to open a representative office of the Kuwait International Center"Al-Wasatiyah" in Moscow. Its name comes from the Arabic al-wasat - literally "middle", from the same root comes the word "intermediary".
In this case, the term refers to the idea of a moderate, enlightened Islam that categorically rejects all forms of extremism. As it is written in the Qur'anic surah "The Cow":"We have made you a community of mediators, so that you may be witnesses for the people, and that the Messenger may be a witness for you."
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