Perhaps one of the main objectives of each museum or gallery is to preserve some sort of art and share knowledge among larger groups of people. But when a spectacular collection of ancient treasures and never-seen before pieces meet our modern days, well then, it becomes obvious that there is much more to it than simply preservation and exchange of information. When 62 priceless antique masterpieces, part of Vasil Bojkov collection, were showcased at the National Gallery of Art in Sofia earlier this year, people were actually introduced to something that goes far beyond mere facts. They faced symbolism and artistry. They explored culture and history. They learned and admired. Stories of ancient Greece came to life. The legends of Orpheus and the Argonauts visited the present and made people question themselves whether or not these were just myths or things that appeared as a result of people’s imagination and freedom of interpretation. Images of heroes left the realms of myths and comfortably inhabited the present and the minds of historians, archeologists, culture and art lovers, children and adults.
‘The Golden Fleece. The quest of the Argonauts Exhibition’ took place back in March 16th and was extended until the end of June this year due to the high interest. And even though it happened months ago, it still remains as vivid as then. The marvelous craftsmanship of the ancient world gave people an opportunity to go on an a fabulous adventure and follow the Argonauts in search for the Golden Fleece that represents fertility, kingship, and sacrifice. Everyone who went to see the exhibition was transported to an intriguing world of elaborate designs, history, and ancient heroes like Orpheus.
Most people know him for the legendary musician he was who was famous for his ability to enchant all living creatures with his music. However, a few may know that Orpheus was also among the crew of Argonauts who travelled with Jason on their great expedition, looking for the Golden Fleece. According to different stories, the musician used his music on several occasions to make help them along the dangerous journey. One time, he is said to have pacified the furious sea by playing on his lyre.
Another time, Orpheus managed to save the Argonauts from the Sirens by playing so loudly on his instrument that he overcome the deadly songs of the Sirens and the crew did not hear them.
All of these stories and more were brought to life by the amazing objects displayed at the National Art Gallery.The sixty-two carefully selected pieces, from the splendid private collection of Bojkov that comprises of over 3000 cultural and historical valuables, allowed everyone to trace back our connection with the ancient people of Thrace. Thracian kingdoms, mystical lands, and sacred places were once again brought up. They included gold and silver vessels, red-figure vases, ritual silver-gilt vessels, objects used for funerary rites, other ritual sets, and other never-showed-before artworks.Among the most spectacular treasures was definitely the silver kantharos that depicted a scene of sacrifice and was at the center of the exposition. It was used for rituals that honored Dionysus, the ancient God of wine. Only one more similar artifact exists in the world and it is featured in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Truly, the collection interested various groups of people – from mythology lovers to experienced historians; from newcomers to the world of art to other collectors – proving that the world of Ancient Thracians is far more spectacular and full of secrets than we can actually imagine.