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The Bratina of Russian brotherhood

Compiled by: Julia Roelofse, Deputy Director: DITSONG: Kruger Museum and DITSONG: Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum.

In 1962, the public was able to see an exhibition of a selection of honorary awards which were awarded by the Europeans to President Paul Kruger, General Piet Cronje and the Boers during the South African War (1899-1902). The exhibition was composed of poems, textiles, honorary addresses, ceramics, swords, paintings as well as a Bratina. Ms Kotie Roodt-Coetzee pensively agreed to take on the minor role of the cultural department as opposed to the natural sciences department in the Transvaal Museum. This brought about her active agitation for the division between the natural and cultural history departments to become two separate museums. The National Cultural History Museum was founded on 21 August 1964. After a short interim period, Ms Roodt-Coetzee was made the director of the museum on 1 April 1965.

It is also insightful to note the role that Ms Roodt-Coetzee played in the incorporation of the different museums where she held the executive role.
     During the Century Festival of Pretoria in 1955, Ms Roodt-Coetzee held an exhibition with the title, The City of Pretoria, at the request of the City Council of Pretoria.

Julia Roelofse interview DITSONG Kruger Museum Russian Bratina

     The Bratina was a gift from the Russian people to General Piet Cronje and his Boers. It was described as a fraternity cup. A Bratina is usually used to hold beer or mead for ceremonial occasions, specifically christenings. Copper and wooden Bratinas were objects of folk culture from the 16th to the 19th centuries. It was used as a decorative vessel (prizes, gifts) in the 19th and 20th centuries.
     Up to today, lasting more than three-quarters of a century, through mists of bloody revolutions and radical changes, this spontaneous act remains a valuable heritage gift that was given with love and dedication. It still speaks the language of mutual respect and esteem between people; the language of heroes.
     The artwork was designed by two architects, Schoene and Tchaguine, who were appointed to complete the work. They were supported by many craftsmen in the creation of the Bratina such as the renowned goldsmith Gratchoff, the marble artist List and the sculptors Niné and Klintz, who were responsible for the woodwork.

Continue reading to find out more about the inspiration behind this gift.

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