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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 April, 2004, 21:00 GMT 22:00 UK
Russian artist makes icons for blind
A blind person feeling one of Roman Baturin's carved icons
Blind people can 'see' faces through their fingertips

Russian wood carver Roman Baturin has discovered a new vocation in life - to create icons that blind people can "see".

Mr Baturin, who lives in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, has put his ability to produce carved images of the saints to good use by making special icons for the blind.

According to Russian Channel One TV, Mr Baturin got his first inkling of the power of his work a year ago. It was last Easter that he presented Irina Sumarokova with a carved wooden icon.

This is not a type of surface where things can be erased with a rubber
Roman Baturin

"And she told me it was the first time she 'saw' an icon because the thing is, she cannot see," he said proudly.

Ms Sumarokova lost her sight as the result of a childhood illness and has ever since then sensed the texture of the outside world through her fingertips.


She used to pray before painted icons at home, but always wished she could see the expression on the face of the saint she was praying to.

Mr Baturin's carved image enabled her to form a much clearer picture.

"It showed an old man. And his face was very kind. I guess it showed total forgiveness," she said.

Mr Baturin said it is important to get the expression of the eyes right, but it is precisely this aspect of the icon that poses the greatest challenge.

"This is not a type of surface where things can be erased with a rubber," he remarked.

However, he admitted that he was by no means the first Russian artist to make icons for the blind, pointing out that the first such icon was the work of the wood carver Artemy Troitsky, a contemporary of the famous Russian religious artist Andrey Rublev.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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