A birch tree as a symbol of Russia
A symbol of Russian nature and Russian beauty, a birch tree has a very special place in the country’s culture. Bereza, as it is called in Russian, is a poetic symbol of spring, light and pure. A white birch brings to mind the image of a slender and beautiful girl, the folklore is full of such images.
A birch forest is beautiful at all times of the year especially in winter when snow covers the white trees.
For the Slavs a birch was as a sacred tree. They planted birches in the garden, and a belt of trees around the village believing it would protect them from bad things.
A birch was also widely used in everyday life of peasants. They covered roofs with it, made clothes, shoes and household items. People still use birch brooms in Russian saunas famous for healthy effect on the body. Specially decorated boxes you buy nowadays as souvenirs started as traditional craft long ago.
The first writings of the Slavs were done on the birch bark as the Egyptians did it on papyrus. They are still being discovered hidden in the ground.
In Russian poetry, songs and paintings a birch always had a special place. My favorite painting is “February Azure” by Igor Grabar.
Marie de la Ville Bauge, a French artist living and working in Moscow, also got inspired by a birch tree. One of her artworks is called “On the surface. This is a story of a man’s flesh and a tree’s bark”.
“I changed my image. I wear my youth over my body. I filled my whole flesh with pigment, I added new stitches and fragments to my skin …”
“As a photographer, I explore the border between “extreme unflinching realism” and write my own fiction by adding layers of drawings, I sew stories and memories, I paint thoughts.”