The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Leo Tolstoy’s Grave

mogilaIn the last years of his life Leo Tolstoy more than once mentioned that he wanted to be buried at Yasnaya Polyana. For example, he wrote: «There should be no ceremonies while burying my body; a wooden coffin, and let anybody who will be willing to take it to the Old Zakaz forest, to the place of the little green stick, by the ravine».

Tolstoy heard the legend about the little green stick from his most beloved eldest brother Nikolai when a child. When Nikolai was 12 years old, he once told his family about a great secret. If it could be revealed, nobody would die any more, there would be no wars or illnesses, and all the people would become «ant brothers». To make it happen, one just needed to find a little green stick, buried on the edge of the ravine in Old Zakaz, as the secret was written on it. Playing the game of «ant brothers», the Tolstoy children settled under arm-chairs covered with shawls; sitting there and snuggling up together (like ants in their little home), they felt how good it was to be together «under the same roof», because they loved each other. And they dreamed of the «ant brotherhood» for all the people.  As an old man, Tolstoy wrote: «It was so very good, and I am grateful to God that I could play like that. We called it a game, though anything in the world is a game except that».

Leo Tolstoy’s grave is quite unusual. It seems to be too simple: a green mound on the edge of the ravine, no tombstone and not even a cross... But this grave, as well as the peace and quiet of the old forest, can tell us a lot about Tolstoy and his understanding of life and death.

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