Museum collections are of interest both as monuments of material and spiritual heritage of mankind and bystanders of historical events and processes. Such may be added by Montenegrin man’s and woman’s costumes kept in Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) Russian Academy of Sciences. The costumes were brought to Russia from Montenegro by Lieutenant Colonel Yakov Ozeretskovsky in 1838 and were first placed in Arsenal of the Tsarskoye Selo.
Yakov Nikolayevich Ozeretskovsky (1804-1864), son of Russian natural scientist, academician Nikolay Yakovlevitch Ozeretskovsky, figured in history as well-known public person of Novorossiysk Region, participant of Caucasian, Turkish, Iranian war campaigns and writer. In the 1830s Yakov Ozeretskovsky served in Gendarme Corps as Lieutenant Colonel, he was attached to the Chief of Gendarme Corps Count A. N. Benkendorf, with confidential instructions worked in Vienna.
In the summer 1837 by the order of Emperor Nikolas I Lieutenant Colonel Ozeretskovsky was assigned to hand over a yearly financial allocation for the Montenegrins to the young ruler Petar II Petrovic Njegos (1813-1851). In addition Ozeretskovsky had to advise 24-year-old Montenegrin Governor on the questions of state construction, political relations with the Ottoman Empire and spending of the funds towards the people’s needs as well as to collect information about Montenegro.
During Ozeretskovsky’s stay in Cetinje Petar II Petrovic Njegos again elected the Senate, convened public police, introduced the institution of treasury, continued and intensified works on state construction. Besides it was planed to develop stone buildings in Cetinje. The design of Njegos residence – “Biljarda” was worked out with Yakov Ozeretskovsky’s support.
Yakov Ozeretskovsky left Montenegro in autumn 1837. Petar II Petrovic Njegos adopted his recommendations and advises, besides they established sincere friendship. Njegos published a poem dedicated to Ozeretskovsky (“Grlica”, 1839).
Lieutenant Colonel prepared for the Emperor Nicolas I detailed reports on Montenegro and the personality of the Montenegrin Ruler. The reports were illustrated by an album with drawings presenting Montenegro and the Montenegrins and geographical map. Ozeretskovsky brought from Montenegro man’s and woman’s festival garments, and order in Vienna two wooden sculpture to demonstrate the costumes.
Yakov Ozeretskovsky was introduced to the Emperor Nicolas I and earned honorific mention for the analytical reports on Montenegro. For the fruitful activity in Montenegro Lieutenant Colonel Yakov Ozeretskovsky by the Emperor’s order was appointed as colonel and granted tobacco box with diamonds.
The Montenegrin costumes were placed due attention of the Emperor. In the letter to Petar II Petrovic Njegos Yakov Ozeretskovsky wrote: “I brought the statues, assembled and dressed them, and put in the dining room, where the same day the Emperor, Empress and the Heir feasted their eyes on them. Her Majesty in one day came four times to look at the Montenegrins. Three or four days later the Emperor ordered to bring them to the Tsarskoye Selo to the new arsenal which is collected for the lyceum, a very rich arsenal and probably one of the most famous in the world, - I by myself brought my Montenegrin friends and placed them in front place”.
Thus the Montenegrin collection from the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) RAS may be considered as a monument of foreign policy of Russia during the reign of Nicolas I and development of relations with the Slavic countries.