Automaton "Pierrot writing to Colombine" to mark International Literacy Day

Today we are considering the musical automaton "Pierrot writing a letter to Colombine" in the light of the International Literacy Day on the one hand and post it under the heading "Exhibit in Detail" on the other one.

Automaton, created in the Parisian workshop of Gustave Vichy in 1880, is made as a figure of Pierrot, sitting on a chair at the curvaceous table, is mounted on wooden mahogany stand. The unfinished letter lies on the table with green felt insert and metal frame. Kerosene lamp stands on his left-hand side. Pierrot has picture face, eyes with moving eyelids; hat with velvet ribbon and pompons is on his light hair. He is dressed in white silk suit with red pompons, shirt with guipure collar and cuffs, socks and black leather shoes are on his feet. Pierrot holds goose-quill in his right hand, he leans his left hand on the tabletop. Musical movement with sound comb, pinned cylinder for two tunes, spring drive and control mechanism is mounted in the trunk, with winding key and activating lever on the left side.
When the movement is switched on, the music sounds, Pierrot raises and lowers his head, goose-quill in his right hand moves along the letter lines, the lamp illuminates the scene, and then his eyelids cast down. He seems to be asleep, the lamp fades. He opens his eyes, sees that the lamp went out, lowers his left hand to pick up the wick, the lamp is lighted again, he turns his head, moves his eye and continues to write.

International Literacy Day is celebrated on September 8. UNESCO established the holiday in 1966.  The holiday is celebrated for the 57th time this year.

Literacy, that is the acquired skills to read and write, has been considered a very important habit pattern since ancient times, and a good speller had higher status. In all five ancient civilization sites of the world, written language was invented and, consequently, literacy developed. They are Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Indus Valley, China and Mesoamerica.

In Russia, the spreading of skills to read and write was connected with the adoption of Christianity. Translations appeared, especially, of course, the church and religious literature. Centuries of Tatar-Mongol yoke put a crimp in the development of literacy. Princes and boyars did not know A from B, even among the clergy there were very few literate people.

Literacy is more than just knowing how to write, read and count. For many, it is an opportunity to cognize the mysteries of the universe, learn the basics of the exact sciences, and excel in their chosen field of activity. Initially, the concept of literacy was meant to define the level of reading mastery and writing skills according to the native language norms. Within the context of the everyday world, this concept has acquired a broader meaning and is used nowadays to denote the degree of knowledge in various spheres of human activity. Nowadays, it is increasingly common to hear people talk not only about language literacy, but also about political literacy, techno literacy and computer competence, geographical and environmental awareness, legal and economic competences or skillfulness and other types of literacy and awareness. All these types of literacy are separate networks of semiotic systems and the skills needed to operate their elements.

International Literacy Day is now celebrated around the world, with activities involving many nations, governmental and non-governmental organizations, individuals, communities of all kinds, as well as teachers and tutors, scientists and experts, school pupils and students.