Thursday, May 10, 2012

Visit to the House Where H.P. Blavatsky was Born

The Theosophist, the journal founded by Mme. Blavatsky in 1879 and still published at Adyar, Chennai, India, carries an account in its May issue of a recent “Visit to the House Where H.P. Blavatsky was Born.” The travelogue by Jan Jelle Keppler, General Secretary of the Belgian Section of the Theosophical Society, begins at the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. “It was well after midnight when we arrived at the building [where he was staying], where it appeared that the elevator did not work, so we had to carry our luggage to the fourth floor ourselves. This was a good introduction to the general state of affairs in the country.”

Dnepropetrovsk, Blavatsky’s birth place (then known as Ekaterinoslav), is reached by train from Kiev. “The area around the house has become industrialized and most of the old buildings have been demolished.” But Blavatsky’s birthplace, near the centre of the old part of the town, has survived. The ground floor includes a large entrance room, followed by a smaller room, another large room, where Blavatsky’s grandmother, the Princess Dolgoruki, resided, and then a smaller one in the back of the house that contained the library of her uncle, Prince Pavel Dolgoruki, famed for its rich collection of occult books.

There was a big garden at the back of the house, where HPB’s grandmother had a vast collection of plant species. Her family had some fourteen servants, some of whom belonged to a family of serfs, who had been there for generations.” The building was bought by Blavatsky’s grandfather, Andrei de Fadeyev, when he became head of the Bureau for Foreign Colonists in 1815.

The HPB Museum Centre is open to the public two days a week during the summer. The building, parts of which are in disrepair, it is under the authority of the Literature Museum, which in turn is under the authority of the Historical Museum. “We were told that in the Literature Museum were stored some 5,000 objects of HPB and her family, waiting to be put on display.” The piece is illustrated by a photograph of the house (a better picture was given in a previous post) and a colour reproduction of a portrait of “the fourteen-year-old Helena with her mother, painted after the death of the latter” seen here. At one time it was credited to Blavatsky herself. It appears this is no longer part of the official story.

The May issue of The Theosophist also carries a short piece by Patrizia Moschin Calvi on “Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Italy.” It is an English extension of her article published in Italian, and covered here in October 2011.

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