Exhibit in detail. Minute repeater and automaton pocket watch "Bear Hunt"

Since prehistoric times, man was hunting to survive. With the development of society, the goals, methods and tools of hunting changed. If in primitive society hunting was the primary occupation and the main source of food, then over time it began to acquire the character of a rite and ritual. The tradition of winter bear hunt existed in Russia since ancient times, and over time it became part of Russian national culture.

Each hunter chose his own way of hunting during this harsh period of the year. Bear hunting was usually done in winter or early spring, when the bear lost its strength from hibernation. The oldest and most dangerous method was often used – bear hunting with a forked club (a spear with an iron tip). A daredevil hunter would engage in almost close-handed fight with the animal. Of course, several hunters went hunting together. A forked club stuck in the bear’s lair was used to wake up a sleeping bear. The hunters tried to shoot at the moment when the predator's head was sticking out. If the shots were unsuccessful, one of the hunters held the animal with a forked club (or a dog distracted the bear) while the others reloaded their rifles. Bear hunting was also done with a fork club merely, which required even more courage, agility and strength. It was in bear hunt that courage, cold-bloodedness, endurance, determination, lightning-fast reaction, agility, accuracy; quick wittedness and selflessness were tested, as during an exam. Scenes of winter bear hunting rather often were the plots for various works of art. The items featuring scenes of traditional bear hunt are also presented in the museum Collection exposition.

Today, our traditional colomn "Exhibit in details" features an item from the museum collection section "Clocks and Objects with movement"Minute repeater and automaton pocket watch "Bear Hunt", created circa 1910 by Paul Buhre firm. 

Mechanical pocket watch, in artistically decorated round gold case, with three lids, crown with ring, minute repeater and automaton. The enamel image of a bear hunt in winter coniferous forest is depicted on the upper flip-top lid. A bear standing on its hind legs and two hunters – one with a forked club, the other – with a rifle are in the foreground; two hunters with rifles are in the background. The image is framed by a strip of gold enamel with floral decoration in red and blue enamel. The inner polished side of the lid is branded. Rosette with a rose-cut diamond in the frame of black enamel and polished gold is in the center of a flower with red hollowed enamel petals decorate the rear lid. White enamel dial with the inscription "Pavel Buhre", hours’ designation with Arabic numerals, minute divisions and two gold ornately-shaped hands is in the center. Below is the small dial of the stopwatch. A switch for winding the watch and adjusting hands is on the bezel; a repeater switch is on the side surface. On the polished inner lid in a medallion with chased frames is the engraved inscription: "Paul Buhre", "Horloger de la Marine Impériale" and "Pétersburg". Rhodium-plated movement with bimetallic compensating balance, straight escapement with regulator indicator, 29 jewels and gong minute repeater.

No less exiting item, a diorama model*, covered with glass, depicting a scene of winter bear hunt performed following the watercolour by artist P.P. Sokolov "Hunting a bear with a forked club"* is presented in the museum Collection exposition.

A composition representing two hunters attacking a bear standing on the hind feet is in the foreground. One hunter – with a rifle, another - with a forked club. The hunting scene takes place in a snow-covered forest. Natural forms - trees, snow, a bear and all hunters are figural, volumetric, made of diverse materials. The sky in the background is pictorial.

* Watercolor by P.P. Sokolov "Bear hunt with a forked club” was created by the artist in the 1860-1870s. It was published in the Veldten album “Russian Hunters" in Petersburg in the 1870s. The lithographs from watercolours that are stored in the State Russian museum were included in it. Since that time, P.P. Sokolov was glorified as "a painter of hunt scenes". 1)

** Details of the diorama model "Bear Hunt with a Fork Club" are presented on the photo album published in the museum  Photo Gallery.

Petr Petrovich Sokolov (1821-1899) was the son of a famous watercolour artist of the early 19th century, Petr Fedorovich Sokolov (1787-1848) and the nephew of the painter Karl Bryullov (1799-1852). Petr Sokolov was recognized as book illustrator. He created two major cycles to the "The Hunter’s notes" by Ivan Turgenev and "The dead souls" by Nikolai Gogol. He painted portraits as well, depicted Russian nature and peasant life, as well as the everyday life of small gentry and hunting scenes. His watercolours with hunting scenes were successfully exhibited in Paris. A series of tapestries following the artist’s watercolours depicting various hunting scenes were manufactured in one of the French private tapestry workshops in 1870-1890s. Similar types of trellises were executed, as a rule, by special order and were intended to decorate a particular interior - a palace cabinet or a hunting salon. 2)

The article "Winter Bear Hunt - Part of Russian National Culture" is posted in the Articles and Reviews column.

1) Ref.: Petr Petrovich Sokolov. [Album of reproductions] / [Comp. and author’s entry articles by O. Podobedov]. - Moscow: Изогиз, 1959.
2) Ref.: https://www.boccara.com/ru/товар/sokolov-1881-275-x-165
3) Ref.: Matveeva P.A. World exhibitions as prototypes of ethnographic museums // Collection of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography LVIII. European cultural space in the collections of the MAE. - SPb.: Electronic Library of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. Peter the Great Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Access mode: http://www. kunstkamera.ru/lib/rubrikator/08/08_03/978-5-88431-228-9/ © МАЭ РАН