Russia - exotic, mysterious and unknown

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Russia - exotic, mysterious and unknown
Russia - exotic, mysterious and unknown

The new book of Nikolay Ovcharov " From Kamchatka begins Russia", similar to "The searcher of the past discovers the world" and "In Africa - among lions and shadows of the ancestors", is filled with many exciting moments. Immerse yourself in the new Far Eastern adventure of Professor Ovcharov and get to know Russia - exotic, mysterious and unknown! The book is filled with a number of curious facts, little popular among Bulgarian readers.

About the author


Nikolai Ovcharov is a famous Bulgarian archaeologist and great traveler. He is famous for the famous rock town of Perperikon, which thanks to his efforts has become one of the most popular tourist sites in our country. His discoveries at Tatul, Urvich, the royal palaces in Veliki Preslav, as well as many other important historical monuments are known to many.

Nikolai Ovcharov was born in 1957 in Veliko Tarnovo. He graduated in history at the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski". He is the author of numerous books and articles on the Bulgarian cultural heritage. Knight of the Order of St. St. Cyril and Methodius" with a necklace for outstanding merits in the field of culture (2010) and winner of the grand prize for contribution to the study of Thracian culture "Prof. Alexander Fall" (2009). He is a member of the Order of the Bulgarian Templars, with a huge contribution to the development of cultural and historical tourism in Bulgaria.

After the success of the books "The Searcher of the Past Discovers the World" and "In Africa - Among Lions and Shadows of the Ancestors" now comes the turn of the journey called "From Kamchatka Russia Begins".

About the book


The book "Russia begins from Kamchatka" is the new Far Eastern adventure of Professor Nikolai Ovcharov. In this travelogue, he tells us about his exciting wanderings in North-Eastern Russia, he also dedicates a special place to the Kamchatka Peninsula. Ovcharov tells us about the contemporary situation in Russia, making a historical overview of the Russian epic in the conquest of the East.

The part in which Ovcharov talks about his stay in Kamchatka is particularly interesting. The peninsula is described as a land of fiery mountains and geysers, rich in animal species and vegetation. Here, before the arrival of the Europeans, the harsh expanses were inhabited by the tribes of the Itelmen, Chukchi, Koryak, Eveni, Ainu, etc.

The new book by Professor Ovcharov is particularly curious. He charmingly describes his expedition through the Russian lands and shares a number of facts, little popular among Bulgarian readers. And here, like his other books, the professor manages to discover the story in every moment of his exciting journey.


From "The Koryaks and the Evens - Hunters, Fishermen and Shamans"

The Itelmen are not the only small local people on the territory of Kamchatka. The Chukchi came from Chukotka to the northernmost parts of the peninsula, and the Ainu from the Kuriles to the southernmost parts. The former are the most organized among the local peoples and when the Russians came they were in the stage of military democracy. That is why their detachments of 150-500 fighters are a serious obstacle against the expansion of the Europeans. The Ainu began to settle already in the 6th-10th centuries, and in the 13th century they already occupied a fairly large area. At the same time, they often have to wage wars with the oldest population - the Itelmen. In the interior of Kamchatka, however, two local peoples are the main ones, and it is they who are well represented in the exposition of the Historical-Ethnographic Museum in Esso. These are the Koryaks and the Evenis.

Our guide Ivan Lipatov himself originates from the Koryaks. Their history leads to the period a thousand years ago, when the so-calledso-called Okhotsk culture. These are fishermen and hunters of wild deer and large marine mammals. The basis of this culture are the Neolithic traditions of the Baikal region and the Amur region. The first real ancient Koryak settlements on Kamchatka date back to the 16th-17th centuries, shortly before the arrival of the Russians. From the archaeological record it is understood that they interacted closely with the autochthonous population of the Itelmen. Today, this similarity can also be seen in their language, which is related to the Itelmen and Chukchi languages and originates from the linguistic substratum of the peoples of North-Eastern Siberia. At the same time, numerous dialects of the Koryak language were formed, related to the separate economic regions of the peninsula.

The people of this nation belong to the Arctic Mongoloid race and are divided into two groups. One of them is the Chavchuveni reindeer herders, whose name translates as "rich in deer". The others are the settled coastal dwellers, the Nimilans, mainly engaged in maritime activities. Hunting is everyone's occupation, and in addition to wild deer, bears and mountain rams are hunted. Until the expansion of Europeans, the shooting of animals with valuable skins was not very common. On the other hand, until the beginning of the 20th century, the hunting of large marine animals occupied 63% of the activities of the settled Nimilans. Again, in connection with the peculiarities of their economy, the breeding of dogs for sleds and the production of various vessels, similar to Chukchi and Eskimo vessels, were developed there.

Quite naturally, the way of life determines the food of the individual branches. Nomads eat mainly boiled venison. The brain and liver are eaten raw. Everything is used from the slaughtered animals, from the skin to the blood and the entrails. The dried meat is mainly used for ritual meals, and the frozen meat is used by the Koryaks in winter while on the road. At any time of the year, you can eat yukola - smoked venison or fish. The hooves are cooked in the blood marinade, and the horns of young animals are eaten boiled.

Sedentary Koryaks feed on fish and meat of large marine mammals. It is eaten cooked or frozen. Everything is used there too, whale, walrus and seal meat being especially prized. The fat is consumed raw or with meat and yukola dipped in it. The latter is mostly made from salmon fish and is very nutritious. Both main branches of the Koryak people do not give up all kinds of edible plants, nuts and fruits.

With the arrival of the blonds, many things in the life of the Koryaks change. This mostly affects the coastal ones, while the reindeer herders preserve their traditions to a greater extent. Today, the number of this small nation on the territory of Russia is estimated at a little more than 8,000 people.

According to the tales of the conqueror of Kamchatka, Vladimir Atlasov, when the Cossacks came, the Koryaks were a rich and independent people. In the 17th century, their society was divided into territorial-municipal associations, which survived until the end of the 19th century. Among the coastal Koryaks, the so-called "baidar unions" were organized on a tribal basis, where people and guns were united during sea hunting. labor. These alliances are not only economic but also sustainable social structures. They regulate the entire internal life of the Koryak with its traditional norms of culture, religion and customary law. There is no clear regulation in the distribution of the harvested loot. The most striking is the principle of equalization seen in whaling. The killed animal is the property of the whole village, regardless of the degree of participation. The same rules apply to fishing.

The public life and economic activity of the reindeer herders are concentrated in their stands. Usually, around the farm of one large owner, several smaller owners are united there. They are connected to each other by kinship or close friendship relations, and sometimes the settlement can reach 50-70 people. The chief necessarily owns the largest share of the herd and for this reason leads the social life of the herd. Accordingly, several such nomadic settlements that graze the herds in a certain territory are connected to each other by blood, marriage and economic ties. The form of ownership is twofold – joint over the pasture and private over the deer herds.

The smallest unit in Koryak society is the patriarchal family. Marriages take place within the group, but exclude relationship between cousins. The people of this nation are monogamous, although at the end of the 19th century, rare cases of polygamy were observed. Otherwise, there was a strict division of labor between the sexes in the family.

From these features comes the layout of the home. For reindeer herders, the stand consists of several dwellings, called yarangi. They are specific tent-like structures made of wooden poles on which deer skins are stretched with the fur inside. The diameter of the yaranga is about 10 m, and its height is 4 m. From the inside, wide leather beds are attached to the walls, on which the whole family sleeps. Bachelors and bachelors are separated and sleep separately. At the border between the last and the previous century, 25 people gather in one yaranga. Commercial premises are not made.

Sedentary Koryaks build semi-dugouts with a hole in the roof. In 2003, such a dwelling was restored in the Historical and Ethnographic Museum of Esso. The walls are made of wooden boards, and in the center of the house is the hearth. In fact, the hole in the roof serves as a chimney, but also as an entrance to the house in winter. This is not difficult, since several meters of snow accumulate in Kamchatka and the houses end up under a thick blanket. An original engineering solution is the placement of the chimney in a recess formed by wooden beams, which the strong wind clears of the snow through a clever aerodynamic effect. In the summer, the opening is closed, and the entrance is through a special corridor with a flat surface. Like the reindeer herders, the Nimilans sleep on wide, leather-covered beds along the walls.

The settlements of the settled Koryaks are on the coast of the sea and in the mouths of rivers, and they live in them all year round. Some distinct groups, such as the pollans, also have winter sites, and in the summer they settle on the coast. Among them, the settlements reach up to 200 people, while, for example, among the Apukin people, the village is often made up of only one semi-earthen woman, gathering many people. In contrast to the reindeer herders, the settlers also built auxiliary buildings (balagans) serving as barns and warehouses. Under the influence of the Russians, after the middle of the 18th century, the Koryaks also built wooden houses.

The first Russian explorers noted with amazement the beautiful clothes of the Koryaks. They served not only to protect against the cold, but also to demonstrate we alth. The women's costume was so encrusted with pearls and fine embroidery that in tsarist times it was valued at 500 rubles. For comparison, a teacher's monthly salary was then 10-15 rubles, and a cow could be bought for 3 rubles.

Naturally, clothes are mostly made of skins. The winter version is double, with the inner shell with the fur inside, while the outer shell is with the fur outside. Men wear jackets with hoods called hooded jackets. The northern peoples believe that the blood of the old is thicker, moves through the veins more slowly, and therefore it is difficult for them to warm up. It is colder for them and the hoods are sewn below the knee. Leather pants are tucked into tall deerskin boots with the fur out. Even the socks are made of fur. When traveling or hunting in the ocean, a camleyka is put on top - a waterproof, broad garment made from the fur of large marine mammals. For women, the main thing is the long gagaglia with an embroidered hood, replacing the headdress.

Naturally, summer clothing is much more elegant. It is made from light materials such as sheared deerskin and tanned in an original way. The ritual and dance clothes are especially lavish. Koryaks add an unimaginable amount of bracelets, pendants and earrings made from old silver and copper objects to their outfits. Many of the ornaments play the role of protective amulets. Original women's tattoos also have a magical meaning.

However, for the preparation of the decorations and apotropaes, the Koryaks have created a real decorative art. There, too, the roles are strictly defined. Women deal exclusively with the artistic processing of soft materials, and men with stone, bone, wood and metal products. The representatives of the fairer sex are incredible masters of the northern leather mosaic, skillfully selecting the light and dark tones in the deer fur. The ornament is mostly geometric and less often - vegetal. The embroidered decoration on the back of the gagagli is especially carefully made. A special section in sewing skills is the artistic goatees. The execution technique is by joining pieces of light and dark fur combined with interweaving colored threads.

Men have mastered bone and wood carving to perfection. They perform the complex ornaments created even in the prehistoric art of the ancient Siberian peoples. The most valued are walrus tusks and bone, from which miniature figurines of people and animals are made, earrings, necklaces, pipes, snuff boxes decorated with engraved drawings are made. Blacksmiths and craftsmen processing metal products are distinguished by great skill.

The artistic crafts originate directly from the rather interesting worldview and beliefs of the Koryaks. They are animists, but in their imaginations they also animate the entire surrounding world - the mountains, the sea, the plants and the rocks. According to them, it consists of five separate worlds. Besides the Earth inhabited by men and animals, there are two more heavenly and two hidden in its bowels. Above is the Supreme Ruler, identified with the Sun and the Universe. The upper of the underworlds is inhabited by evil spirits, and the lower is inhabited by the shadows of the dead.

Like many Siberian peoples, the Koryaks especially revere various sacred places, which they call apapels. These are rock massifs, peaks, river canyons, capes sunk into the sea. On them they also make sacrifices of dogs and deer. Their priests are the shamans, but unlike other northern peoples, those of the Koryaks do not have special ritual clothes. At the expense of this, they use various cult objects - anjapels. We are talking about a whole range of divination stones, sacred boards, figurines for obtaining fire by friction, totems symbolizing the ancestors, etc.

Very important in shamanism is falling into a trance and the Koryaks are no different. In the exposition of the museum in Esso I see an interesting exhibit. A dried toadstool type mushroom is presented in the showcase. This is vapak, a hallucinogenic agent, which in the ideas of the Koryaks and Chukchi is the embodiment of the universe. Through it, one can visit deceased ancestors, travel to other worlds, find lost things, and most importantly - ensure the happiness and prosperity of the great patriarchal family.

The Koryaks are famous for their traditional holidays. For reindeer herders, the main event is the spring Feast of the Antlers, when the herds are driven out. The seasiders celebrate the launching of the first fishing boats, and in the autumn is the Olo-lo seal festival. Among them there are celebrations of the first fish caught or the first seal killed. Both perform religious ceremonies in the event of a successful bear hunt or chase of mountain rams. In the families of twins there is a special Wolf holiday, as such are considered relatives of predators.

Ritual dances are performed at the celebrations, in which the movements of bears, seals, deer, crows are imitated. The Mlavitin dance is traditional, accompanied by characteristic throat singing. On the holidays, wrestling, running competitions, chasing deer and dogs are arranged. The dances are accompanied by local dances called vargani. Today, the disappearing Koryak culture is preserved by music and dance ensembles such as the Angt Ensemble.

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