Monday, July 4, 2011

Lenin's childhood doodles

Pismo totemami of Vladimir Lenin
The kind people at the Wikipedia Reference Desk share some more information about this surreal image, which was drawn by Vladimir Lenin when he was a child:
...a better translation [of the Cyrillic text "Письмо тотемами", "pismo totemami" in Latin letters] would be "letter written in symbols"...
According to the accompanying text in the journal where it was published, this was a letter "written" on birch bark by 12-year-old Lenin by means of pictograms, inspired by the way North American Indians used them (the pictograms have been mistakenly referred to "totems"). It was made for fun, and addressed to some of Lenin's playmates as a part of some game of theirs, in which they were pretending to be hunters. The exact meaning of the message is apparently not known to anybody. The text suggests that it might be a request by children with the nicknames "Stork", "Crab" etc., where these are asking somebody swimming in a lake to prepare a meal for the hunters or else they'll collapse due to starvation (as depicted in the lower-right corner). The letter is preserved in the Lenin museum (part of the State Historical Museum of Russia).

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