A close look at Russian peasant art yields two divergent impressions. The profusion of styles and techniques is amazing, testimony to the ready creativity of peasant craftsmen. But throughout this wealth of invention, a constant tone prevails: the images portrayed are few and everywhere much the same.
Two images predominate: the sun, at times accompanied by flowers, birds, and animals; and a flowering tree (drevo zhizni) or a woman raising her arms, with two figures, often armed men on horseback, at either side. Most designs in peasant art involve one of these persistent images. The concern of the present paper is to explore what they may have meant.
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