Taras Shevchenko MemorialAugust 1, 2019 in Ukraine ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C
The main stop on the bus ride today was an excursion to the Taras Shevchenko Memorial near Kaniv. Taras Shevchenko was a famous Ukrainian poet / artist from the 1800s. We were taken on a short tour of the museum and then got to see the memorial site / grave.
The next bit is a description of what we learned during the tour, mostly so we can look back and recall what we were told. I apologize if I state anything historically / factually incorrect.
Taras Shevchenko was born in 1814 in Ukraine. At a very young age he learned to read, which was a rare occurence in that time. He began to make extra money by doing drawings and started to get noticed. Eventually he was taken to an actual school where he further developed his artistic and literary skills.
Throughout his life he made over 1200 artistic works. He was often wanting to earn more money to buy his brothers and sisters from serfdom. Eventually he was commissioned to examine national monuments in Ukraine and develop paintings of them.
In 1847 Taras was arrested for being part of a secret political society. He was exiled to Kazhakstan to become a soldier there and was forbidden to write and draw (his pockets were even searched for pencil and paper). However he still was finding ways to write secretly for 3 years, but was eventually found out and arrested this time as a prisoner for 7 years. They thought he would die before the sentence was up.
While in Kazhakstan the authorities needed someone to draw maps for them and chose Shevchenko. Apparently he made over 700 pictures of Kazakhstan. One interesting point was that while he was exiled he was still able to create paintings with no supplies by using squid ink and a needle. The museum had some of these paintings on display.
After 10 years of exile, Taras Shevchenko was liberated and eventually came back to Ukraine. When he returned, he wanted to build a dream house. People recognized him as a poet / painter, but where he wanted to build was protested against because he didn't come from upper class. He was taken into custody again for this controversy and taken to Kiev. They decided to let him go but was heavily suggested to go back to St. Petersburg. While there he published a book with his own money and it was the first book published in Ukrainian, which was of course forbidden.
Taras Shevchenko died in St. Petersburg shortly after his 47th birthday in 1861. The main reason of his death was heart attack, but it also due to the process used to make etchings (type of ink was harmful for the lungs).
He was initially buried in St. Petersburg. But his friends remembered his last will and testament to be buried in Ukraine. There was a petition to move his body to Ukraine. Eventually his body was transported by horse and cart (10 day trip) to Kaniv, which is the location where he wanted to build his house.
Initially his grave wasnt allowed to be very fancy. After some years, one local man found out and started to spread word, people donated money, and authorities gave permission to make a better grave. The museum dedicated to him was eventually built at his grave site and it was initially opened in 1939.
The end of the tour involved more of the memorial pieces that have been done in his name. There was a wall of books of all of the different languages that his works have been published in. And then the coolest piece was a tapestry sized picture of him that was actually fully embroidered!
We finished off the tour by getting some pictures in front if the main memorial statue that has been built over top of his grave site. Then it was back on the bus to carry on with the day.