The petition stone at Kolomenskoye Estate in Moscow.
Have you ever heard about the phrase “Get off your soapbox”? I have, many times and have always associated it with a person who is a little too melodramatic. Many,many years ago soap boxes were made from wood, were larger than normal boxes and very strong. If you wanted your voice to be heard, you had to raise yourself head and shoulders above the crowd. In fact, the first wooden box were borrowed from a soap shop and that is how the soapbox was born.
Little did I know that Russians also had a soapbox. It wasn`t a wooden box, like the one I have descibed to you. It was also not in the times of the Soviet Union but goes back to the Tsar era in the 1600`s. They called it a Petition Stone.
We were walking through the gardens of Kolmenskoye Palace on our way to the wooden cabin of Peter the Great, when I saw a large white stone in the middle of the gardens. I had to stop and read what this stone was about. Yes, to my surprise I found a Russian Soapbox!
In front of the stone was a small information plaque. It didn`t contain a lot of information and I left with more questions. It said the following:
The Petition Stone was placed near the front of the Tsar`s palace. It was used for submitting petitions personally to the tsar from his subjects. Later the stone was equipped with a marble solar dial.
Many images played off in my mind. If I read the above correctly then it means that the Tsar actually listened to the people as they presented their grievances. It is said that the people from Moscow were “Beating their brows” against the stone. I didn`t know what this saying means, so I looked it up in the dictionary. It means: “To browbeat is to intimidate with language.”
Having your say at the Petition stone.
During the uprisings between 1648 and 1652 this was common practise and the Petition Stone very popular. Today it is a normal white stone without a marble solar dial. The Petition Stone carved in stone in the history of Kolomenskoye Palace.
Where: Kolomenskoye Palace,Moscow,Russia
When: 12 August 2012
© Photographer: Nelieta Mishchenko | Agency: Dreamstime.com