Children’s Museum of Myths and Forests
Long, long time ago, in the pagan times of our history, beliefs of Belarusian ancestors were directly influenced by the environment. Today, it might be difficult to believe how dense the ancient forests were, how rich and versatile flora and fauna could be found there, and how cruel the numerous predators were. Many environment phenomena appeared to the archaic men spooky and unexplainable. To understand the nature, to live in harmony with the environment was the necessity and the mentality of our ancestors. They employed their excellent observation skills and rich imagination to fully comprehend the world around them. According to the ancient creation concept, the World Tree grew in the center of the universe. Our ancestors believed that its branches and leaves held the sky up high; the trunk grew from the earth to the skies; and the roots plunged down to underworld, or hell. Thus, all space between the sky and underworld was split into three parts. The sky was the home to highest pagan deities – Rod, Piarun, Viales, Lada – highest mythical creatures. Birds lived among the branches and leaves. Humans associated themselves with the Tree trunk, and lived in neighborhood with even-toed animals. Bears, wolves and all other animals that dig holes in the ground lived in the Tree roots level. The underworld was swarming with snakes, toads and all sorts of evil demons – lower mythical creatures. The latter are well represented at the Children’s Museum of Myths and Forests, which opened in the Museum-Preserve “Zaslavl” in September 2005.
The exhibition consists of two parts: (1) Real forest with stuffed brown hare, hazel grouse, raccoon dog, pine marten, common buzzard, Eurasian jay, fieldfare thrush, singing thrush, tit, swallow, and (2) Mystery land with sculpture displays of Vurdalak (ghoul), forest old man, Lieshy (wood ghost), Vadzianik (water ghost), Damavik (home ghost). All characters dwell in their typical environments. Artificial light and music accompaniment the exhibits and create the authentic ancient forest atmosphere.
Children’s Museum of Myths and Forests was created to demonstrate nature deification and to display the unique atmosphere of our ancient culture.