Staunton, Feb. 28 – Until the last decade of so, icons were the focal point in Russian peasant homes. Now that has changed to the point that one resident sadly concludes that “in the past, the icon was a window to God, but now it is the television,” Klim Antonov of the People of Baikal portal says.
He provides numerous photographs of peasant residences in the Trans-Baikal to make his point (baikal-journal.ru/2023/01/10/kak-menyayutsya-derevenskie-interery-i-chem-oni-interesny-gorozhaninu/ reposted at sibreal.org/a/kak-menyayutsya-derevenskie-interery/32289605.html).
Indeed, Antonov says, “the television ow occupies the central place in the interior of rural residences” no matter how distant they are from the cities. In the north of Irkutsk Oblast, he reports, where there are only a few hours of light in the winter, most peasant houses have at least two televisions, a small one or a widescreen one, depending on their incomes.
This shift marks the passing of one way of life and the arrival of others more than almost anything else, and it is thus not surprising that Antonov’s article came as St. Petersburg’s State Museum of the History of Religion opened an exhibit on icons found in Soviet-era homes (stoletie.ru/fotoreportazh/religioznyje_artefakty_kommunisticheskoj_epohi_216.htm
What that exhibit and Antonov’s article make clear is that icons were far more common in peasant homes during the times of Soviet atheism than they are now, a victory of the television not just over the refrigerator but over the beliefs of the Russian population.