The Defeat of the Turks near Sarikamish


This print of a 1914 battle scene near Sarikamish, showing fighting between the Russians and the Turkish army, is from the collection of World War I lubok posters held at the British Library. The caption explains: “After fierce battles, the main forces of the Turkish army, having been surrounded by our troops behind Sarikamish, laid down their weapons. This glorious victory of our Caucasian Army, like thunder, struck the German leaders. We defeated two Turkish corps. One of these corps was captured entirely with the corps commanders, three chiefs of divisions, and all of the staff. A small party of Turks that managed to move forward was vigorously pursued and destroyed. The fate of the Turks was decided by our schemed retreat. A detachment sent to retreat had to overcome inhuman difficulties, struggling not only with the superior forces of the Turks, but also with natural obstacles—mountains. The victory of our army at Sarikamish, achieved by our Caucasian heroes, reminds us of the feats of Suvorov and Skobelev. For the first time in world history, a battle between two large armies broke out at altitudes of 8,000 to 10,000 feet in the brutal cold of winter. The most heroic deeds of military history pale before the feats of our Caucasian army.” 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. Lubok gained popularity in Russia beginning in the late 17th century. The prints, which often depicted narratives from a historical event, literature, or a religious tale, were used to make such stories accessible to illiterate people. These expressive prints had a wide range in tone, from humorous to instructive to sharp political and social commentary. The images were clear and easy to understand, and some of the pictures were serialized, predecessors of the modern comic strip. Prints could be reproduced inexpensively, and were thus a way for the masses to display art at home. Initially, this artistic style was not taken seriously by the upper classes, but by the end of the 19th century, lubok was so well-regarded that it inspired professional artists. During World War I, lubok informed Russians about events on the frontlines, bolstered morale, and served as propaganda against enemy combatants.

Last updated: November 14, 2017