Árpád versus Saint István.

Abstract

Symbolic representations of national heroes are a rich field for the analysis of changes in national ideology and politics. This paper looks at the making of two Hungarian heroes: chieftain Árpád and Saint lstván, both belonging to the pantheon of the nation's founders. Over the centuries they have symbolized two different sets of ideas about Hungary and Hungarianness and formed the basis of two competing national iconographies. Through the medium of the figurative arts we can follow how these national symbols have been used by different interest groups over the centuries and how their representations have been charged with new meanings: the East versus the West, the nationalists against the Habsburgs, Protestantism against Catholicism, tribal history versus royal legitimacy, etc. This dualistic character of national consciousness which can be found in many other national settings as well, must not only be seen as a symbolic battle arena for competing interests, but also as an instrument for compromises and reorientations in the construction and reconstruction of national identity.

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Katalin, S., (1988) “Árpád versus Saint István.”, Ethnologia Europaea 19(1), p.67-83. doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/ee.1392

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Sinkó Katalin (Hungarian National Gallery)

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