Tag Archives: Russian

Art Book of the Month, April 2016

Spine. The Costume of the Russian Empire, by C W Müller, 1804Costume of the Russian Empire, by C W Müller

Illustrated by a series of seventy-three colour engravings, with descriptions in English and French

William Miller, London 1804


A pictorial history of costume in the Russian Empire as it was at the beginning of the 19th century. An empire

“of an extent unknown to other modern nations…it touches the Frozen Ocean and borders upon the warm climates of Persia, Japan and China on the south.”

Not surprisingly, these costumes range from furs and ‘the skin of their rein-deer’ (Yakouti) complete with hair, to the skins of fish (Ostiaks), and – as in the case of the Tschutski of Siberia – ‘Men and women puncture their arms and faces in a regular manner’.  Eat your heart out Lady Gaga.

The elegant engravings are accompanied by hilarious descriptions, obviously from a more urbane explorer viewpoint, of the lifestyle of these people, long gone and long forgotten;

“The most part are satisfied with one wife” (Samoyed)

“Their manner of living, with respect to their food, is disgusting to the greatest degree.  They use no salt, and all their food is simply boiled”

“Their dances are pantomimical, and are not free from indelicacy” (Kamtshatka).

My favourite descriptions are of the Tungoosi, from the Lake Baikal region:

“ignorant of falsehood, treachery and robbery of any descriptions; they possess a gaiety of temper and openness of heart to the greatest degree; They will, with pleasure, divide their last morsel with their almost unknown guest; They fish and hunt with great skill; embroider in a very neat manner and – last but not least –  they are generally supplied with brandy, of which they are very fond.”

A priceless and utterly fascinating insight into primitive ethnicity and cultures that have pretty much disappeared from the face of the earth.

[Rossella]

You can view this book in the Art & Design Collection at Westminster Reference Library.

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Oxford Language Dictionaries

Oxford Dictionaries

Oxford Language Dictionaries was always a useful resource. It was able to translate words from a variety of different languages into another variety of different languages. Recently this resource has been combined with other Oxford University Press online dictionaries to form Oxford Dictionaries online. You can now access the following all in one place:

  • Translating, grammar and pronunciation tools for English, German, Chinese, French, Spanish, Russian and Italian.
  • The ability to search for phrases/proverbs – and translate your phrases so you can find their foreign language equivalents (or vice versa)
  • Find rhyming words – great if you want to write a poem or tell a silly joke!

Many of the old favourites have remained in the new format including being able to listen to words pronounced correctly. Perhaps the best advantage of the new system is the ability to use it on your smartphone.

Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Have a go yourself: www.oxforddictionaries.com

A couple of notes before getting started:

  • If you’re used to the old version, the new format may take some getting used to. Don’t give up. It really is very good!
  • TIP! When on your phone, choose the three lines in your top-right corner to show a menu with all the languages you can access. On a computer you will have more options but this position for the language menu is still important.
  • When logging in from your phone you may need to scroll down quite a way to find the library card number box (no need for a username and password, just the card number).
  • TIP! Clicking on the logo will take you back to the main home page if you’re feeling a bit lost!

[Owen]