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Present trophies - Vasily Vereshchagin. 240 x 171 cm
At first glance, this picture may seem like an ordinary genre scene depicting the peaceful life of an exotic palace. But, remembering that the canvas belonged to the Barbarian series and looking closely, many spectators involuntarily recoil - piled round objects turn out to be not at all ordinary gifts of nature. These are severed heads of enemies captured by the victors like trophies.
The tradition of chopping off heads, hands and other parts of the body has survived to our days since ancient times, and it has ceased to be practiced among civilized peoples for a very long time. But the master’s picture refutes the view that modern warfare has a different nature. Nothing of the kind, it is led by the same barbarians as it was centuries ago.
The theme of the canvas contrasts with its light delicate flavor and elegant oriental architecture. It is full of the blinding Central Asian sun, bright colors, but behind all this beauty lies the grim shadow of death - cruel and cold, meaningless and greedy.
The heads were brought to the palace in Samarkand, belonging to the emir. They are proof of the prowess of his warriors, a wild way to demonstrate their effectiveness in warfare. This monstrous, grotesque action in its incredible cruelty and disrespect for the death of a human being takes place in a beautiful place. The internal gallery of the palace with a carved colonnade on elegant grounds contrasts sharply with the repulsive essence of what is happening. In the depths of the picture depicts the legendary throne of Tamerlane - a symbol of the divine power of the local emir.
The "deity" with an unhealthy interest looks at his military trophies, while his retinue is kept at a distance and carefully covers his noses with the wide sleeves of his motley oriental robes. In the hot Central Asian sun, the flesh decomposes instantly, and the smell should be simply murderous. Here it is, the real spirit of war - the smell of death.