THE FIRST POST- REVOLUTIONARY RENDITION OF
THE GREATER COAT OF ARMS OF THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE
by Commander Valery Yegorov, a Founding Father and
Saint Andrew Principal Herald Master of the Russian College of Heraldry,
Vice President of the Russian Heraldry Society
This story began quite a lot of years ago, in August 1983,
when I completed a full colour painting of the Greater Coat of Arms of the
Russian Empire, a job done for the first time since 1917 in the post-revolutionary
history of Russia (or rather the U.S.S.R. at that time). The whole undertaking, however,
proved to be rather difficult to perform for a number of reasons.
I had obtained, by a lucky chance, a small black-and-white line drawing
of the Greater Coat of Arms of the Russian Empire. I found it quite accidentally
in a very old book, the Brockhaus & Ephron Encyclopaedic Dictionary,
Volume 17, 1893 (sic!). I had to research and thoroughly check it, and then
paint all the figures and tictures of each component exactly, to depict
the grandiose Coat of Arms correctly. The whole achievement encompassed
64 separate heraldic fields.
Secondly, there were no available copying
facilities in the Soviet Union at that time. So, to convert a small
monochrome line drawing into a large full colour picture might seem
a daunting task, if not impossible. Happily enough, my motto
at that time was: "The difficult we do immediately,
the impossible takes a little longer".
we must remember all that occurred in 1983, for during the Communist
regime of the time any serious research into Russia`s pre-revolutionary
past as well as any special interest in the monarchist symbols on
the part of a common individual could be dangerous to some extent.
It was not, of course, as if I might
be caught by gloomy KGB agents in the night, put in prison and tortured
in their dark and damp basement cells, in the way those cinematographic
fables used to frighten the western people during the cold war.
Every country in the world, even those
considered to be more free and democratic than some others,
have their own social taboos, the violation of which
would inevitably inflict punishment within their society, and perhaps
from their government. Naturally enough, the Soviet Union of 1983
vintage had various specific taboos of its own; should I have revealed
my sincere love of, and profound reverence to the Tsarist Russia,
I might easily have to face the fire of slashing criticism and probably
be treated as a reckless person. For these reasons, my work on the
Greater Arms of the Russian Empire was performed in secret.
It took me
several months to complete the work and fully achieve the
goal of reviving the magnificent Greater Arms of the Russian Empire
to their former glory and splendour, the artwork being executed with
gouache on a large sheet of plywood. Although there were only a few
friends to whom I could show the unusual rendition, I was nevertheless
happy and proud of the fact that I was the first person to have done
it in Russia in 66 years.
Seven years later on, in 1990, it was I
who first dared to launch a vigorous campaign
in the press for the Double-headed Eagle to be returned as the State
Emblem of Russia. Soon afterwards, in 1991, I made the first historical
translation of the full blazon of
the Greater Arms of the Russian Empire into English, which was published
in the Russian heraldic magazine Gerboved, Number One, 1992.
Commander Valery Yegorov
Photo above right:
The proud author, Commander Valery Yegorov, at his famous piece of heraldic
artwork 20 years later, in August 2003, Russia.
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