The Battle of Ardahan


This print showing the Battle of Ardahan (in present-day Turkey) is from the collection of World War I Russian lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “On the night of December 20, our troops, while fighting, force-marched to Ardahan from two sides—from the west and the north. There was a heavy fog. The Turks, firmly settled in the trenches, met our troops with an outpouring of bullets and shrapnel. Late at night the commanding officer of the western detachment led his troops on an assault of Ardahan. The enemy trenches were taken after a quick bayonet assault. The battle lasted all night, and at first rays of sun the northern detachment joined the attack. The Turks suffered huge losses. The enemy trenches were filled with stacks of corpses. The enemy was quickly driven out and Ardahan fell.” In the bottom left corner of the picture appears “№ 82,” meaning that by the time this print was published, this printing house had produced more than 80 war-related lubok pictures. This picture, like many others in the collection, was printed in the Moscow printing house of Ivan Sytin (1851–1934). By the 1880s, Sytin was the most popular and successful publisher of lubok pictures in Russia. He also published cheap popular books for workers and peasants, textbooks, and literature for children. The quality of this print is much better than many images from other printing houses—more colors and shades are neatly matched and more small details are available for the viewer. Lubok is a Russian word for popular prints created from woodcuts, engravings, etchings, or later, by using lithography. The prints were often characterized by simple, colorful graphics depicting a narrative, and could also include text. During World War I, lubok informed Russians about events on the frontlines, bolstered morale, and served as propaganda against enemy combatants.

Last updated: April 3, 2015