Nicholas Roerich Estate Museum in Izvara
Nicholas Roerich
Estate Museum
in Izvara


The Desert Cities

The world is described as an old man…

The people answer for their striving.

Thoughts grow through striving.

Thought gives birth to desire.

Desire has stirred up the command.

The human structure quivers with desires.

Do not fear, ancient man!

Joy and sorrow are as a river.

Waves are passing, purifying.

The Czar rejoiced: “My land is vast. My forests are mighty. My rivers are teeming. My mountains are precious. My people are merry. Beautiful is my wife.”

The Czarina rejoiced:

“Many forests and fields have we. Many song birds have we. Many varied flowers have we.”

An old man entered the palace. A newcomer. He greeted the Czar and Czarina. And he sat down exhausted.

The Czar asked:

“Why art thou weary, old man? Hast thou been wandering long?”

The old man became sorrowful.

“Vast is thy land. Mighty, thy forests. Teeming arc thy rivers. Thy mountains are unsurpassable. During my wanderings I nearly perished. Yet I could not reach a city where I could find rest. Few cities hast thou, O Czar! We old ones love city structures. We love the trusty walls. We love the watchful towers and the gates, which are obedient to command. Few cities hast thou, O Czar. Thy neighboring rulers surround themselves more strongly with walls.”

The Czar became sorrowful.

“Few cities have I. Few trusty walls. Few towers have I. Few gates to encircle all my people.”

The Czar commenced to mourn.

“Old man! Wise in years! Teach me how to cover my vast domain with cities. How shall I set within walls all my people?”

The old man rejoiced.

“Thou shalt set all thy people within walls. Two lands beyond thine lives a giant Czar. Give him a great prize. The giants shall bring thee from the Indian Czar, countless cities. They shall bring them with walls and gates and towers. Do not spare in rewarding the giant Czar. Give him a great prize. Even if he shall demand the Czarina, thy wife.”

The old man got up and departed—as though the passer-by had never been there. The Czar sent his request into the land of the giants.

The giant, woolly Czar was laughing.

“He sent his people to the Indian Czar to steal away the cities with walls and gates and towers.”

And the giant, woolly Czar did not take a small reward. He took a precious mountain. He took a teeming river. He took an entire mighty forest. He took into the bargain the Czarina, the wife of the Czar. Everything was promised to him. Everything was ceded to him.

The Czarina sorrowed.

“O, the woolly Czar will take me to please a strange man, an old one! All the people will be enclosed by heavy gates. O, they will trample all my flowers with cities. And they will cover with towers the whole starry canopy. Aid me, my blooms—the underground secrets are known to you. The giants bear the Indian cities, with walls and gates and towers!”

The blossoms heard the complaint. They began to wave their flowery heads. From beneath the world rose their thought. The great thought began to stir beneath the earth. The forests began to waver with thought. The mountains were devastated by thought: they crumbled even into small stones. The earth was fissured with thought. Fissured also became the heavens.

The thought came flowing across the desert sands. The thought stirred the free sand. It rose as undulating ramparts. The sands rose against the giant people.

The giants stole the Indian cities with walls, gates and towers. They drove the Indian people from their huts. They lifted the cities upon their shoulders. Swiftly they returned. They went to earn their great prize for the woolly Czar.

The giants approached the desert sands. The desert sands lifted into masses. The sands rose like dark whirlwinds. The sands veiled the beautiful sun. The sands raised themselves into the heavens. And how the sands smote the giant people!

The sands crept into the broad jaws. The sands flowed into the woolly ears. The sands obscured the eyes of the giants. The sands conquered the giant-people. The giants abandoned the cities to desert sands. Scarcely did they escape, without eyes or ears.

The desert sands buried the Indian cities. They buried them with walls, gates and towers. The people know of these cities, even up to the present time. But who brought the cities to the desert sands, the people do not know. The flowers bloom as never before. From the flowers the Czarina understood that the cities were razed. And the Czarina sang a merry song—for honest people to hear, to the glory of the Saviors!

The Czar heard the song and rejoiced, exulting. And the Czar laughed at the giant’s misfortune. And the Czar smiled at the cities, hidden in the desert sands. No longer yearned the Czar for foreign cities.

The teeming river remained with the Czar. His was the precious mountain. His was the mighty forest. His, the flowers and singing birds, and all his people. His, the beautiful Czarina. His, the merry song. Greatly rejoiced the Czar. Not so soon shall the old man again enter the Palace.

Museum Address: 188414, Izvara Village, Volosovo District, Leningrad Region, Russia.
Phones: +7-813-73-73-273 (group tours); Phone/Fax +7-813-73-73-298 (general)
Museum Director: Cherkasova Olga Anatolievna E-mail: