Slavs in Their Original Homeland

Slav Epic

Slavs in Their Original Homeland (1912) by Alphonse MuchaPrague City Gallery

The original homeland of the Slavs was in the swampy country stretching from the Baltics to the Black Sea. 

Small clans as well as large tribes – the Veneti, the Antes and the Sclaveni – lived along the Vistula, the Dnieper, the Dniester and the Western Dvina. 

They lived by hunting and farming. Their property as well as themselves were atactive prey for the nomadic tribes from the east and south, the Turanians and the Sarmatians. 

From the north and west they were frequently attacked by the Goths. They built their settlements in swamps to be protected against the raiders.

The painting shows a clear starry night.

On the left, in the back there is a burning Slavic village which has been attacked by a horde of nomads.

The wild nomads have killed the old and infirm villagers and are taking away their cattle as well as the young people, who will be sold into slavery. In the town of Kherson by the Black Sea, there was a large slave market where the captives could be sold profitably.

In the lower part of the picture there is a cowering couple, the only ones who have saved their lives.

In the lower part of the picture there is a cowering couple, the only ones who have saved their lives.

Their eyes radiate dread and terror. 

The fear, which makes them press themselves against the ground, becomes increasingly infused with hatred and desire for revenge but also a wish to live in peace.

These feelings acquire a real form, rising up to the stars and symbolically forming the figure of an ancient Slavic priest asking the gods for help. 

His right hand is supported by an armed young man dressed in red – a symbol of war –

– and his left hand by a girl dressed in white – a symbol of peace.

The painting expresses the idea that fight is necessary for protection on but that it is only possible to flourish and thrive in peace.

It is an introduction on to the whole cycle because it shows the background of the Slavs and suggests what acts they might be capable of in the future.

Credits: Story

Written on the basis of the "Catalogue for the Exhibition 'The Slav Epic' by Alphonse Mucha"
Published in 2022 by the Municipal Cultural Centre of Moravský Krumlov, náměsti T. G. Masaryka 40, 672 01 Moravský Krumlov

Written by: Bc. Pavla Červinková. Language and history proofreading: Mgr. Šárka Kočí

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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