Monday, May 28, 2012

World's Largest Statues: the Mamayev Monument


The Motherland Calls, (Russian: Rodina Mat' Zovyot!), also called Mother Motherland, Mother Motherland Is Calling, simply The Motherland, or The Mamayev Monument, is a statue in Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd, Russia, commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad.

(Note the scale of the people in the photo above. They come up to the base.)

It was designed by sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich and structural engineer Nikolai Nikitin. Declared the largest statue in the world in 1967, it is the last non-religious statue to be declared the largest; every record holder since has been a Buddhism-related sculpture. Compared to the later higher statues, The Motherland Calls is significantly more complex from an engineering point of view, due to its characteristic posture with a sword raised high in the right hand and the left hand extended in a calling gesture. The technology behind the statue is based on a combination of prestressed concrete with wire ropes structure, a solution which can be found also in another work of Nikitin's, the super-tall Ostankino Tower in Moscow.

Construction and dedication

When the memorial was dedicated in 1967 it was the tallest sculpture in the world, measuring 85 metres (279 feet) from the tip of its sword to the top of the plinth. The figure itself measures 52 metres (170 feet), and the sword 33 metres (108 feet). Two hundred steps, symbolizing the 200 days of the Battle of Stalingrad, lead from the bottom of the hill to the monument. The lead sculptor was Yevgeny Vuchetich, and the significant structural engineering challenges of the 7,900 tonnes (7,800 long tons; 8,700 short tons) of concrete[1] sculpture were handled by Nikolai Nikitin. The statue appears on both the current flag and coat of arms of Volgograd Oblast.

Sculpture name and translation

The duplication of the wording in the title "Mother Motherland" does not exist in the original. The Russian word for "Motherland", "Родина", is derived from "birth" and can be literally translated as "birth place". The phrase:'The Motherland that gave Birth to me is Calling...' might best capture the mood of the piece, but the words 'The Motherland Calls' is clearly more axiomatic.

Sculpture model and inspiration

The model who posed for the statue, Valentina Izotova, a native of the city, is still recognized for her resemblance to the statue. She was recruited by Lev Maistrenko, an artist who was working on the memorial complex in the early 1960s.
According to some sources the statue was partially inspired by the Winged Victory of Samothrace,[citation needed] with somewhat more extended drapery. Marshal of the Soviet Union Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov is buried in the area of the monument, as is famous Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev, who killed 242 Axis soldiers in the battle of Stalingrad.

Structural problems

The statue is currently leaning due to groundwater level changes causing movement of the foundations; the leaning is rapidly getting worse.[1] The statue is not fixed to its foundations and is held in place only by its weight. It has moved by 20 centimetres and is not expected to be able to move much farther without collapsing. While local authorities deny that the statue is in danger, conservation and restoration works started in 2010.

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