Treasures of the Orient

November 30, 2023

Something of the luxury of the orient shows that the soul of the people was involved in it.

The Persian carpet was not thought up by some nabob; not the designs, nor the colors, nor the manner of weaving them.

Weaving a Persian carpet in Esfahan, Iran. Photo by Julia Maudlin.

Happy are the modest artisans who, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, make and sell those carpets; as it is that they are the ones that dream these carpets up, they are much happier than those that use them.

They are the nabobs of dreams.

Those of the West feel represented when they hold elections and select deputies. Those of the East feel represented when a man of genius among them elaborates a dream.

The photograph shows us the fairylike towers of the famous church of St. Basil, in Moscow.

This admirable edifice, built by Ivan the Terrible in the XVI century, evokes that which is most typical of Czarist Russia.It is divided into two parts, separated by a line ideal and common to them both. The part that goes from the ground to the lower part of the towers is solid, massive, and extremely heavy. It is an enormous architectonic ensemble, the stones of which are laid in such a way as to form a most dense block, that even seems to be sinking into the earth.

Above the common line, the towers suddenly contrast with the heavy foundation and, as if they were slender needles, raise themselves gracefully skyward. The byzantine domes seem so light and delicate that to those of us who come from the modern West they appear to be balloons ready at any moment to soar into the sky. The dainty dome on high, that seems to draw its immense triangular tower behind it like the tail of a comet, precedes the others with stupendous daring.

Close up of the towers of Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Photo by Robert Brumter.

In this masterpiece, severity, stability, and strength are reconciled with and complemented by grace, imagination, and levity.

The first impression one receives from this crown-shaped mitre, used by ecclesiastical dignitaries in official ceremonies, in one of richness. A detailed analysis shows that this richness was enobled by a sense of harmony and proportion, and evident taste and majesty.

It is a splendid manifestation of an exalted idea of the sublime dignity of the Priesthood and of Religion.

O Universo é uma Catedral: Excertos do pensamento de Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira recolhidos por Leo Daniele, Edições Brasil de Amanhã, São Paulo, 1997.


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