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The Ballets Russes series is on holiday for the observance of a Fiery Furnace.

I’m not a Biblical scholar so had no idea that in the Hebrew book of Daniel, Chapters 1- 3 to be exact, there are three young Jews named Hananiah,  Azaria, and Mishael who are saved by an angel from being burned alive in a fiery furnace by the Babylonians. 

The Art Nouveau painting is very dark in hue. Naturally I assumed it is of an Eastern Orthodox Fiery Furnace Christmas  Pageant performed at a nighttime matins service on the two Sundays before the Nativity of Christ. The story of the fiery furnace is later read in a vesperal Divine Liturgy celebrated on Holy Saturday.

Costume devotion of Fiery Furnace before Christmas Liturgy in Russian Orthodox Church, or simply Пещное действо, was painted by Nicholas Roerich, a Russian mystic, painter, philosopher, scientist and writer with an incredibly lengthy Wikipedia page. 

Costume devotion of Fiery Furnace before Christmas Liturgy in Russian Orthodox Church, Nicholas Roerich. 1907

I guess most famously he established the Roerich Pact a treaty  for  the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments. The most important idea of the Roerich Pact is the legal recognition of the fact that the defense of cultural objects is more important than the defense in its traditional meaning, and the protection of culture always has precedence over any military necessity.

NOTE: Wikipedia states “The neutrality of this article is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (November 2011)” 

Presumably the dispute is over the legal recognition of the fact that the defense of cultural objects is more important than …  is not necessarily a fact. Roerich is quite an interesting fellow despite the fact he was a Czarist who was thrown out of the “Motherland” following the Bolshevik Revolution.

 The International Centre of the Roerichs is currently celebrating 75 years of the Roerich Pact. The ICR is an international public organization ◊ Associated member with UN DPI ◊ Associated member with INTO  Institutional member of International Council of Museums (ICOM) ◊ Member of pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage EUROPA NOSTRA. 

Among the many awards Nicholas Roerich received are the Russian orders of St. Stanislaw, St. Anne and St. Vladimir.

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Merry Christmas!

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