August is the mushroom season. Images of mushrooms in the museum

August is generally considered the most productive and favorable summer month for mushroom pickers. Honey fungus, brown birch boletus, girolle, xerocomus, variegated boletus, russula, porcini ... Great variety of mushrooms grow in the August forest… Mushrooms refer to unique and mysterious form of life, which only by the 1920s scientists separated from plants.

Mushrooms have a special place in human life and culture -- they are presented in the mythology of many peoples of the world, used in the traditional medicine and cookery. The "king of mushrooms" porcino is a common character in Russian fairy tales and Soviet cartoons, where it acts as a wise counselor and good friend of title characters.

Understanding the symbolism of a mushroom is important as it helps to uncover the meanings behind the images. Different cultures have their own views on the meaning of a mushroom in art. For some peoples, mushrooms are a symbol of abundance, for others a symbol of naivety and humility, and for somebody -- a symbol of death and danger. In general, mushrooms carry a symbolic meaning associated with transformation, rebirth and the connection between the world of the living and the world of spirits. In different cultures, mushrooms are associated with divine powers, knowledge and wisdom. Some species of mushrooms have special properties, namely hallucinogenic. They were widely known among shamans (medicine men) in many countries that ate them and dived into different states of consciousness.

The ancient Egyptians believed that mushrooms were plants of immortality and called them "a gift of the God Osiris". The first cave painting of a mushroom was found by archaeologists in one of the Egyptian royal tombs, dating back to 1450 BC. It was forbidden for anyone but the Pharaoh to taste mushrooms under penalty of death. The Mayans used constantly used mushrooms in ritual ceremonies. Archaeologists have found peculiar stone mushrooms: a pileus with stipe, on which a head or even a god image is carved. In the ancient religious rituals of the Scandinavian peoples, mushrooms were also used for communication with other worlds. In folklore and national costumes, one can see images of mushrooms and mushroom trees, which remind of the significant place of this resource in the culture of the people. In Japan, due to the shape of some species, mushrooms act as a phallic symbol and are associated with fertility. In Estonia, mushrooms are a national symbol and are embroidered on national costumes. Mushrooms are also a significant symbol of Siberian culture and are associated with many folk rituals. In ancient China, the mushroom, a symbol of long life, was also called the plant of the gods or the plant of immortality.

In general, we can distinguish several main types of the way mushrooms are depicted in art:
- a detail of a landscape indicating a wildlife;
- a symbol of the presence of spiritual, often evil powers (in allegories) or for setting the right mood;
- an element of still life painting, along with vegetables, fruit, flowers and hunting trophies;
- in genre scenes of mushroom picking ("silent hunting").

In modern art, mushrooms are used as a symbol, as a source of inspiration and even as raw material for creating works of art. Mushrooms are the new trend in the 2022-2023 fashion collections. Stella McCartney started a new global fashion trend "Mushrooms are the new flowers". The designer presented an updated late 60s, a new reading of boho style, spicing it up with modern relaxation and eco-orientation, and literally bombarded us with mushroom prints in all their variety. The traditionally rebellious Alexander Mcqueen brand did not avoid the mushroom theme either. And even the super conservative Hermes didn't ignore mushrooms this season.
Many objects and images have acquired numerous and sometimes contradictory meanings over the millennia. Они используются во всех жанрах искусства: от живописи до фотографии, от графики до скульптуры. Mushrooms are no exception to this. The museun "Collection" section "Lapidary works of art" features works of decorative and applied art in the form of various mushrooms:
Prince Frog fountain pen and ring set. Luis Alberto Quispe Aparicio. Brazil. 2019
Box in the form of a mushroom. Paul Dreher. Germany, Idar-Oberstein. The 20th century
Mushroom with insects. Japan. Early 20th century
Seal preform "Mushroom" (in the box). Russian Empire, The Urals. Late 19th - early 20th centuries

On the cover: Caviar serving bowl (butter serving bowl?) in the form of wooden bucket with detachable lid with mushrooms shaped grip. K. Lincke workshop, Bolin firm. Russian Empire, Moscow. 1891