" the bread and salt of hospitality "
Ceremonial bread and salt - Credit: Monika
Across the Slavic world, bread and salt is offered as part of a traditional welcome ceremony. A round loaf of bread is placed on a tray, with a salt cellar placed on top, or in a hole cut into the bread. Both the tray and the loaf would be highly decorated. The tradition persists to this day, especially at weddings, and during state visits from foreign leaders, where local people dress up in national costume to present the bread and salt.
The tradition is known as khleb-sol in Russian ('bread-salt'), giving rise to the word khlebosolny, 'hospitality'. In the twentieth century the tradition spread into space; it took place on the Mir Space Station and on the International Space Station as a way of greeting newly arrived astronauts.
See here for this and other salt-related traditions.
" Freemasonary is the teaching of Christianity freed from the bonds of State and Church "
The idea that the principles of Christianity were important but that they had been obscured or corrupted by the institutions of the churches was to become fundamental to Tolstoy's later thought, after his conversion in 1878. Its presence here shows Tolstoy was wrestling with these ideas for a long time before his conversion. This goes against the commonly-held idea of two Tolstoys: a young, carefree, family-orientated gambling addict and an old, whitebearded religious sage. The same questions preoccupied the writer throughout his life.
For more on Tolstoy's conversion, read his own account of it in A Confession and Other Religious Writings.
" that is Herder's theory "
Johann Gottfried von Herder
Johann Gottfried Herder
(1744-1803) was an Enlightenment philosopher from Mohrungen in Prussia. He was a student of the great philosopher Immanuel Kant at the University of Königsberg. His work primarily concerned theories of aesthetics and language and the relationship between culture and nationalism. Going against Kant's philosophy, Herder embraced the ideas of Johann Georg Hamann and Jacob Böhme, arguing in favour of mysticism and the emotions rather than cold rationalism. He became a clergyman in 1784.
" Masha's 'God's-folk' "
Solovki by Mikhail Nesterov
From the eleventh century onwards, a tradition of pilgrimage developed in Russia. It started with pilgrims visiting the Holy Land, from where they would bring back palm leaves, earning themselves the name palomniki. But this was a prohibitively expensive form of worship, so soon places of pilgrimage sprang up within Russia, such as Solovki, off the coast of Northern Russia. Pilgrimages could be one-off journeys or semi-professional occupations whereby people constantly travelled across the country, seeking religious education and comfort in shrines and monasteries. Often people who took on this lifestyle were those with learning difficulties or physical disabilities.
" Kiryushova the holy fool "
Hexameron icon (Russia, 1850)
were those who rejected the ordinary standards of society in order to devote their lives to the imitation of Christ, following his example in enduring mockery and suffering. They would give up their worldly possessions in favour of an itinerant life of poverty, worship and 'foolish' action, hoping by the latter to show up the inherent inconsistencies and hypocrisies of their society. (Sometimes the holy fools were genuinely mad; sometimes madness was simulated). Several Russian Orthodox saints were holy fools, including St Basil and St Procopius.
" And was the Holy Mother promoted to the rank of general? "
Russian icon of the Virgin Mary
A star on a military uniform is an indication of the rank of general. As a star has appeared on the icon of the Virgin Mary, Prince Andrei is joking somewhat blasphemously that she has been promoted to such a position.