Title of the article:



Lyudmila A. Klyukina

Information about the author/authors

Lyudmila A. Klyukina — DSc in Philosophy, Professor, Petrozavodsk State University, Lenina Ave., 33, 185910 Petrozavodsk, Russia. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4843-9357. E-mail: klyukina-la77@yandex.ru


Theory and history of culture




Vol. 58


pp. 21-33


October 08, 2019

Date of publication

December 28, 2020



Index UDK


Index BBK



This article studies visualization of Official Nationality (ideology program designed by Sergey Uvarov, Russian Empire’ Minister of Education) in Russian-Byzantine temple architecture in the first half of the 19th century. The research is based on the semiotic concept by Umberto Eco, which views architecture as a visual means of communicating ideas. Moreover, works of architecture were studied through the lens of R. Ingarden’s aesthetic approach, as entities with emergent aesthetic value. Description of the visual images of Russian-Byzantine temples employs the notion of the “paradigm image” taken from A. M. Lidov’s theory of hierotopy. This paper is the first to provide semiotic analysis of the visualization of Official Nationality with three five-headed cathedral temples designed by K. A. Thon: the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, Church of the Presentation of Mary in Saint-Petersburg, and Cathedral of Pentecost in Petrozavodsk. Analysis results obtained allowed for following author`s conclusions. The images of these temples were constructed by means of ideological, scientific and religious instruments. They may be regarded as “paradigm images” that translate the concept of “Orthodox empire”. These temples are illustrative of the idea of sacralization of authority with its historical mission of spreading and guarding such popular values as Orthodoxy and enlightenment. Irrational connection between “Orthodoxy”, “autocracy” and “nationality” was conveyed in temples designed by Thon by such rational means as “programmability”, “narration” and “quotation”. Thon used an eclectic design method, which combines elements of classic and Old Russian architecture. As a result, his contemporaries interpreted his temples differently: some emphasized “holy” symbols, while others saw “stately” ones. Perception of the temples’ images was defined by the cultural code of the epoch that began in the 18th century; Y.M. Lotman thoroughly studied and described this code. According to the latter, the “national” and “original” is to be defined through opposing to and distinguishing from all that is “alien”. The images of the temples were created by means of distinctive graphic language, which is why they didn’t only convey “Official Nationality” paradigm, but also an idea that a new epoch has come, an epoch in which the nation’s identity is not let loose to be shaped in a natural, historical way, but is consciously constructed by means of social engineering as well as architecture.


visual semiotics, K. A. Thon, Orthodox empire, Russian-Byzantine church architecture, Cathedral of Pentecost in Petrozavodsk, Official Nationality theory, Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, temple architecture, Church of the Presentation of Mary in Saint-Petersburg.


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