Whats on

In the Footsteps of Samuli Paulakhariyu
The Solar Symbolics in Traditional Embroidery
Craftsmanship of Ukrainian Embroidery XIX-XX cc
New Additions to the Collection of the RME
Masks: Facets of Tradition
We couldn’t part with this times...
The Arctic – Inhabited Land
XIX Saint Petersburg Ethnographic Readings


of the Russian Museum of Ethnography, a Federal State Budgetary Institution

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Venue: Russian Museum of Ethnography, exhibition “Peoples of North-West Russia and the Baltic Region. XVIII-XX cc.

The Russian Museum of Ethnography, The Foundation for the Memory of Mooses Putro (Finland) and the Agalatov School of Arts (Russia) present the retrospective photographic exhibition “In the Footsteps of Samuli Paulakhariyu”.

Samuli Paulakhariyu is the famous Finnish ethnographer who in 1911 realized a bike trip through Northern, Eastern and Western Ingermanland and captured the life of Finnish and Izhora villages on his photographs in the early XX century.

            One hundred and five years later, in 2016 the representatives of the Foundation for the Memory of Mooses Putro repeated the voyage of his countryman to capture the changes occurred in these years.  

The exhibition showcases rare photographs of the early XX century made by Samuli Paulakhariyu and the pictures of contemporary photographs taken during the trip of 2016.  Comparative photographs of landscapes and villages made in past and present deserve particular attention. They reflect dramatic changes occurred in XX century in destinies of the peoples living on the territory of modern Leningrad region.

The authors of exhibition:  Aune Kämäräinen, journalist, photograph, artist, Helena Miettinen, Dr.of Social Political Sciences, the President of the Society for Ingermanlandian Culture, Finland, Marya Karkhula, film secretary “In the footsteps of Samuli Paulakhariyu” Finland.

Curators of exhibition: N.E, Borodkina (Director MAUDO the Agalatov School of Arts), M.A.Dokuchaeva (research fellow of the Russian Museum of Ethnography.



Author of conception – L.V. Korolkova, research fellow of the Department of North West Russia and Baltic Regions.

Designer – D. K .Maevsky

The exhibition continues the cycle of temporal mini-exhibitions dedicated to decorative applied arts of the peoples of the North West Russia and the Baltic region.  

Embroidery always attracted attention of gatherers of traditional culture.  As early as in XIX century first collections started to be formed in which embroideries of various ethnic groups of Russia are represented.

The exhibition showcases 17 objects of Vepsi, Izhora, Karelians, Seto, Finns and Estonians: headdresses, headdress embroideries, embroideries on towels and woman shirts of XIX century. The embroideries are made with flax, wool, silk and cotton threads. The geometrical pattern features various solar symbols: diamonds, crosses, rosettes with six-eight rays or petals and images of paired curls typical for Baltic Finnic peoples. The embroideries are made with old seams typical for Baltic and Finno-Ugric peoples.

The author of conception– L. G. Ganina, Research Fellow of the Department of Ethnography of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.
Curator  -–N.M. Kalashnikova,  Dr.Sc. in Cultural Studies,  Professor.,  the Head of the Department of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova .
Photographer  -Dyakova E.V.  Research Fellow of the Department of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova  .
Artist  –  Mayevsky D.K.
Restorers :  Zheltova V.L., the Head of the Department of Restoration ; E.A. Kirillova, E. V. Loginova, G.B. Skobeleva, E.V. Tolstykh.
Consultant – E. N. Khokhlova, Researcher, the Head of the School of Hand Embroidery   in Saint Petersburg

The Russian Museum of Ethnography prepared the mini-exhibitions series dedicated to the Ukrainian embroidery which features so rarely exhibited group of artifacts as the samples of embroidery including clothes with embroidered patterns, models for decoration of clothes, and details decorated with ornament.

In traditional culture of Ukrainians embroidery was one of the most important woman crafts. Creating embroidered pattern on the clothes age and family status were taken in account. Special attention was paid to the costume of a girl of marriageable age because in this case apart of decorative and protective functions embroidery served as a characteristic of girl’s skills and demonstrated her diligence.

Brightly expressed regional specifics are typical for Ukrainian embroidery. The preferred ornamental motifs and compositional combinations, stable color preferences and the most typical techniques of embroidery existed in every region.  The series of mini-exhibitions acquaints visitor with the examples of the nineteenth-twentieth Ukrainian  embroidery gathered for  the museum in Chernigov, Poltava, Voronezh, Podolsk provinces  and the embroideries of the  Ukrainian population of Bukovina and the Eastern Galicia.

The exhibitions will be accompanied with gradually completing on-line album in which apart of general view of exhibits the enlarged fragments of embroidered décor and back side will be included.

For more than 120 years the museum carries out the mission formulated by its founders to create the “ethnic portrait” of the peoples of Russia and neighboring countries and to show their “ethnic individuality striking by astonishing brilliance of their inherent specific facets of their exterior and spiritual daily life”.

The exhibition acquaints with the museum’s achievements in collection of funds during the last decade. In course of this period museum fellows brought from ethnographic expeditions and received from private persons - collectors and keepers of family relics about 5000 items. The most unique artifacts and the objects reflecting various trends of the museum’s collecting work were selected for exhibition.  Among them are the pieces of XIX-early XX cc., which are found  less and less frequently  and every new acquisition is great success allowing to broaden the notions about traditional world of objects of various peoples. The important acquisitions are the objects of the Soviet time in which shape, material, patterns and use reflect the processes of evolution and modernizations of traditional culture. It was particularly obvious in the case of costume, therefore, acquisition of festive and casual clothes and jewelry was especially significant. Special attention was paid to collection of objects characterizing the peculiarities of everyday culture of local and subethnic groups of different peoples and the population in the areas of contact residence of various ethnic groups.

Surviving of folk costume in present time predominantly as a base for creation of costumes for participants of folk ensembles and designer clothes in ethnic style made relevant their acquisition as examples of new forms of traditions’ development. Significant importance also had acquisition of  objects of applied arts and crafts of past epochs as well as the works of modern artists: ceramics, textiles, ornamented in various techniques,painted and carved wooden pieces, decorative items, examples of decorative applied arts. Today most of them haven't practical use, however, they are widespread as souvenirs, decorative interior items, examples of decorative applied arts and are among the most persistent and expressive  ethnic symbols. Modern ethnocultural processes also promoted particular attention to religious culture. During past decade the museum’s collection was noticeably replenished with  the attributes not only of religious practices and festivals related to folk beliefs which have been always collecting in the museum but also linked with Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.  

The exhibition is arranged by regional principle; each scientific department of museum  specialized in studies of certain ethnos acquaints with the most important exhibits entered  its funds.

The Department of the Ethnography of the Russian People

About 2000 objects entered the Department of Ethnography of Russian People In the past ten years.  A significant part of them is the products of folk trades and crafts, the articles of clothing, items of interior design and utensils. The Department’s funds were replenished with famous toy whistles of Dymkovo, Kargopol, Filimonovo and other centers, vast collection of painted spoons from Ust’ Tzil’ma on the Pechora River in the Republic of Komi, textile pieces with quilted  ornaments from the Arkhangelskaya Oblast.

Among them there are both the works of the twentieth century and production of modern craftsmen reflecting development of folk and decorative arts over the course of almost one hundred years. For the first time the pottery from the town of Somovo in the Vologodskya Oblast entered the museum’s collection, although it has more than centennial history, Among the items of traditional costume entered the Department’s funds the main parts of woman headdresses soroki and  podzatylni  dated by the late nineteenth century and the elements of clothes  decorated with embroidery and patterned weaving acquired in expedition to the Ves’gonsky District of Tverskya Oblast have particular scientific and museum value. They are important supplement to the collection of the famous Upper VolgaEthnological Expedition in the early 1920s kept in museum. The collection of the items of the Russian house interior was replenished with peasant furniture stunning by richness of its decoration. The collections of religious objects earlier represented by few items were significantly enriched.  Among them the attributes of religious culture of the various territorial groups of  the Old Believers’ are of particular interest.

The Department of Ethnography of the Peoples of Volga Region and the Urals

In the period from 2010 to 2019 more than 500 exhibits replenished the funds of the Ethnographic Department of the Volga Region and Urals. The main source of replenishment became expedition trips of the Department’s fellows and collection work among Chuvashes, Mari, Mordva, Tartars and Izhma Komi. The purchased objects represent the period from the late XIX century to our days. Significant part is comprised by costumes and separate types of clothes of various peoples of the region dated by 1920-1970s which supplementing museum collections allow to trace last stages of evolution of traditional costume.  About a half of exhibits belongs to the Chuvash culture. Among them are head towels and woman shirts made of patterned handwoven fabric, traditional wedding mantle rare in present time, agricultural tools, ritual and ceremonial objects, unique rowan crosses which were put above the door for protection against evil powers.

The Mari collection was replenished by the objects formerly absent or scarcely represented in its collections, as for instance the instrument for making ropes and loom for weaving Yshty – the “rainbow” belts of the Mountain Mari which are widespread up to  present times, some items dealt with festivals and ritual of family rites. For the first time the collection of homemade children dolls of the Mountain Mari was gathered. New versions of traditional children toys also replenished the toy collections of the Izhma Komi. Important acquisition on Tartar ethnography realized with cooperation of the representatives of Tartar people are the woman costume made for performances of folklore collectives and the set of Islam cult objects.

The Department of the Ethnography of the Peoples of North-West Russia and the Baltic Region

In 2010-2019 a bit more than 300 exhibits entered the funds of the Department of the Ethnography of the Peoples of North-West Russia of North-West Russia and the Baltic Region. Their main part was acquired by the Department’s fellows in the course of expeditionar- collection work. In result of the expedition to the Kola Peninsula the collections of traditional objects s of the Sami daily life were gathered including male hunting costume, children outdoor clothes of reindeer fur, instruments and devices for reindeer harness and fishing, spinning and weaving tools including the unique wooden folded distaff of the early twentieth century earlier absent in the museum collection. Significant collections in respect of their scale and content on the ethnography of the Tver Karelians including one of the disappearing groups the Ves’gon Karelians were gathered. They included painted and carved elements of log houses’ decoration, crafted and the home made furniture of the early XX century, textiles, towels, tablecloths. rugs, embroidery samples, spinning and weaving tools, ritual utensils. Today these objects are usually kept as family relics but in some families they are used to recreate ancient interiors – a sort of family museums.

Small but valuable group of exhibits is the objects of 1930–1950s typical for the Baltic Finno-Ugric peoples: Ingrian Finns, Southern Karelians, Veps, Setu who in present times almost lost the artifacts of their traditional culture during the war, mass migration and repatriation.  The rare acquisition is also the objects of 1930s reflecting peculiarities of the traditional culture of no longer existent multi-ethnic and multiconfessional native population of the border areas in Russia, Latvia and Estonia. For the first time the collections on the ethnography of Baltic Germans were formed as well as the complete set of traditional Livonian woman costume some elements of which belong to the last native speaker of Livonian language. The acquiring of the art pieces of the Latvian and Lithuanian modern folk art including the replicas of costumes, jewelry, crafted objects which in present times are important symbols of their ethnocultural identity continued.

The Department of the Ethnography of the Peoples of Siberia and the Far East

 In last decade the funds of the Department of Ethnography of Siberia and The Far East were replenished with almost 600 objects characterizing various spheres of traditional culture of peoples of this multinational region. A significant part of acquisitions are the artifacts related to the art of walrus ivory carving among Chukchi and Yakuts purchased from the private collections. The museum always paid much attention to development of this unique art, and acquisition of new exhibits: instruments and different works of the carvers on a bone of the twentieth century and the modern ones who develop and reconsider old traditions significantly enriched this thematic set in its collection. The gathering of traditional clothes used by many peoples of the region up to our days and original local utensils made of birch bark among Mansi, woven dishes of Nanai, carved spoons of Ulchi having not only utilitarian importance but also the artistic one and the instruments of fishing, hunting and reindeer husbandry which are main occupations of a greater part of the population of the region continued.  Valuable acquisition is the attributes of the Buddhist cult and the costume of the Buddhist priest as a rule seldom entering museum collection.

The Department of Ethnography of the Peoples of Caucasus and Crimea

In last ten years more than 450 exhibits replenished museum collection on ethnography of peoples of Caucasus and Crimea. The greater part of them are carpet pieces, arms, jewelry and articles of clothing dated from the late nineteenth century to our days including production of modern craftsmen used in popular milieu. These are embroidered towels, jewelry and ceramics of Crimean Tartars which are the symbols of culture of this people now, dresses and accessories of artist designer reflecting the notions how the Kabardin woman costume should look today, The objects associated with modern religious practices earlier represented in museum by few items of exclusively Pre-Soviet times  form particular group.

During the past period the Department’s collection was significantly replenished by the articles of clothing and utensils of the peoples of Dagestan – Laks, Dargins and many others. Great success was acquisition of unique embroidered towel made in the Dagestan village Usisha famous by its embroidery traditions. Earlier these pieces were absent in museum collection. The collection of Khevsur clothes significantly replenished museum collection was also valuable acquisition. For the first time the objects of traditional cultures of the Iranian Talyshes entered the museum which allowed to compare them with the everyday objects of Azerbaijanian Talyshes kept in museum and obtain more comprehensive notion about traditional daily culture of this people historically divided between two states. Впервые в музей поступили предметы традиционной культуры талышей Ирана, что позволяет сопоставить их с предметами быта талышей Азербайджана, хранящимися в музее, и получить более полное представление о традиционно-бытовой культуре этого народа, исторически разделенного между двумя государствами.

The Department of Ethnography of the Peoples of Central Asian and Kazakhstan

Over the course of the last decade the funds of the Department of Ethnography of the Peoples of Central Asia and Kazakhstan were generally replenished thanks to donations from private persons and only some collections were gathered during the expedition trips to the republics of the region. The most significant part is the objects of traditional culture of Tajiks and Uzbeks of the late nineteenth-early twentieth century:  woman dresses and man robes, burkas, embroidered wedding veils, curtains, small sacks for mirror decorated with embroidery or in quilted technique. Similar objects comprised bridal dowry and were used in wedding ritual and were further conserved as the family relics. Several collections of ancient woman jewelry showing the specifics of traditional Uzbek and Tajik art jewelry also entered the Department’s collection. For the first time the collection of objects of traditional everyday culture of the mountain Tajiks entered the museum. It has been gathered during the expedition in mountain villages of Tajikistan undertaken by the museum after almost the 50 year-old pause. The acquisition of Turkmen carpets and carpet works of late nineteenth early twentieth centuries −the unique phenomenon in culture of this people continued.   Important  significance had the objects of the Kazakh and Kirghiz  traditional daily life  which are found less and less frequently and the objects of contemporary folk art,  many of which the museum could received by cooperation of the members of these peoples.

Among Slavs, Balts, Finno-Ugrians and Romance peoples mumming was  the most widespread during the Yule and the Butter Week. In the Caucasus using of masks was linked with meeting of the New Year and with festivals of begining and final of agricultural works. In many cultures mumming was important element of wedding. Masks can be found in traditional rituals of many peoples of Siberia and the Far East; these are birch bark masks of "bear dances" among Khants and Mansi and "wooden faces" of autumn festival among Koryaks.

In various regions of Eurasia particular traditions of masks' making existed. The simplest ones were made of a piece of cloth, leather or paper, in which slots for eyes, nose and mouth were cut. The masks comprised of many elements could be kept in family for years and passed by inheritance. Among the peoples of the Caucasus  felt masks were widespread; masks skilfully carved of wood were used among Russians and Lithuanians.

Masks represented animal heads, faces of men or mythic characters.They often created image of a "scary" being or an animal with shaggy brows, thick beard, moustaches, huge nose, protruding teeth, etc. Folk names of masks also indicated their demonic nature – devil or fiend faces. In attitude to the mummers the feeling of fear combined with the joy of waiting; they scared and cheered up simultaneously. It was believed that their visit is indispensable, otherwise there would be no hapiness, good harvest and livestock breed.

In general, transformation into zoomorphic, antropomorphic and otherworldly beings through putting on mask, skin, fur coat  turned inside out or special costume reproduced mythological notions about supernatural powers and necessity of contact with them. Not in vain, appearance of mummers is associated with the rites related to changes in environment and human life. In people's conscience mythological significance of many calendar festivals was determined by their "border" nature. The interval beetween old and new years, winter solstice and spring was believed to be dangerous for man, because hostile power rampaged on the earth in that time. Wedding was also considered the rite of passage when man "died" in one status and was born in another.

Masks occupied particular place in shamanic practice of the peoples of Siberia.They were put on during rites and ritual acts which were accompanied by singing, sound imitation and various movements that correspondes to the image of deity or spirit in which name seance was performed.  Masks performed various functions: ones facilitated shaman's moving between the worlds: the Middle – world of humans, the Upper – world of gods and the Lower – the world of evil spirits; moreover covering his face during  such "voayge" they allowed him to remain unrecognized for hostile powers in profane time. Other masks helped shaman to receive productive power, chase away evil spirits and fight them for curing of patient.

The exhibition Masks: Facets of Tradition present the most important attributes of calendar, family and religious rites, festivals,and shamanic practices. It shows rare masks which were used in theatrilzed performances by the members of male unions among the peoples of Dagestan and the mask which Buddhist monks put on during  the Cham dance. The exhibits from the the collection of the Russian Museum of Ethnography belong to the culture of Slavic and Romance peoples, Finno-Ugrians and Balts, the peoples of the Caucasus and Siberia. Many of them are unique products of late XIX–early  ХХ cc., others were made in the second half of  ХХ – early XXI cc. and illustrate the link between ancient rites with modern festive traditions.

Zoomorhic Characters in Ritual Mumming among the Peoples of Central and Eastern Europe

Leading of  a zoomorhic mummer ("goat",  "horse", "bear", "aurochs") was widespread among Slavs, Balts, Finno-Ugrians and Romance peoples predominantly during the Yule and the Butter Week. He was usually led from house to house performing good wishes and receiving prizes, less frequently he was expelled from settlement. The mummer was led on a leash or by bridle and the drivers often were such characters as "devil", "grandfather" and "gypsy". People also dressed up as birds  – a crane, a hen, a stork, etc.

As a rule only men or lads dressed up as animals. There were prefered characters in different regions. In north of Karelia people dressed up as reindeer putting on genuine reindeer skins with head and fastening antlers to them. In Belorusian villages the lad performing a goat put on two sheepskins  turned inside out,(one on his legs) and a cap with antlers made of withe or straw. A man wrapped in furcoat and covered with linen or carpet  often held in his hands wooden head of a "goat" or a "little mare" on a stick. The lower jaw of mask was moving and a  rope was fastened to it which mummer pulled when "goat" was speaking. These things were widespread among Eastern and Southern Slavs, Romance and Finno-Ugric peoples. In some South Russian and Volga disticts a "horse" was lead during the Pentecost or the Green  week. It could be represented by two lads covered with curtain, one of them was given a stick or a oven fork on which the "mare head" was put.

In the East Slavic tradition an outdoor clothing turned inside out could be used for dressing up as "bear"; among the Baltic peoples skilfully carved wooden masks were used and in the Romance tradition costumes made of straw, sheep skin or bear pelt served for this purpose.

The mummer copied behavior of an animal; he butted, jumped,  waved his tail, imitated animal voices: "bleated", "baaed", "roared", and danced clumsily together with rider or drover. Funny scenes were performed: gypsy sold horse, blacksmith or doctor cured animal.

Zoomorphic masks incartnated the notion of fertility, they were attributed particular  fecundity force  which sometimes was expressed in very frivolous, erotically accentuated behavior of mummers, inadmissible in other times.  "Goat" jumped and butted girls trying to raise their skirts and make them blush. "Horse" sprinkled them with his "tail" a brush wet and dirtied in soot.   "Bear" caught girls' legs and could even knock them down on the floor. The scene of animal's "dying" or "killing" was perfromed at final stage. "Death" and subsequent "ressurection" of the character ("goat" or "mare") should trigger off the most rapid coming of prosperous year.

The  costume of "bull" – mumming character. Karelians. The Governorate of Olonets. Late XIX– early ХХ cc.

In vast territory of the European North among Russian and Finno-Ugric population the Yule mumming play "killing of bull" was widespread. The base of theatrilized performance was the notion of ritual sacrifice and fertility cult. The mummer   generally old man in Karelian tradition and youth or young man among Russians fastened to his head a pot, threw on turned inside out   skin or caftan, put on felt boots, woollen mittens and socks. Lads and men pulled the "bull" on the rope across the entire village and he resited and roared frightfully. This scene provoked genuine fear among women and children who  observed the performance aside. The "bull" was pulled to certain house and then "killed" - broke the pot on his head and unfold furcoat. After that  feast with drinking beer and home-made brew and accordion playing started in house.

The costume of "bear" – the character of  Malanka, mummers' parade. Romanians. Ukraine. The District of Chernovets. 2015 г.

The costume was made by Vasily Isopel for his three-year-old son who particpated in the festival Malanka in 2016. Similar costumes but of bigger size are made for adult particpants of festival. 

The "bear" is the most colorful character of Malanka annual mummurs' parade which is held on in the night from  January 13 to 14 on the eve of the old New Year. The name Malanka is linked with the Saint Melania whose feast falls on January  13.

The "gypsy" leads the "bear"  on the rope and the mummer is dancing, roaring and resisting.  The sense of performance is taming of "bear".In Krasnoil'sk Malanka is held on in five districts (kuts) simultaneously. Groups of mummers compete with each other by diversity of characters, showmanship and expressiveness of performance which is especially manifested in costumes of "bears". In the Districts of Dyal and Trazhany they are made like big straw overalls. Making of such costume requires about  150–200 kilograms of straw;  straw bunches are fingered, crumpled and twisted in long "thread". Costume in made directly on the person who will wear it; legs and torso are wrapped with straw thread joining ends with rope.  Costume is decorated with artificial flowers, the New Year flippery, fir branches, sometimes electric garlands. In many respects the "bear" dance is determined by heaviness of costume; he moves slowly  raising his legs with difficulty in turn  and swinging his "shoulders",  whirls and  whengetting tired rests periodically sitting or reclining.


Zoomorphic characters of Caucasian peoples

Animals played important role in various rites among the peoples of the Caucasus. Their horns and skulls were fastened on fence poles or house door to scary away evil spirits.  

Particular significance in ritual life had goat which cult was associated with agriculture. In theatreilized performances during calendar festivals and weddings death and resurrection of the fertility god was presented. In course of time this character was changed by a man in “goat” mask or doll. The masks of black or brown felt were usually made by girls of young women exclusively for every solemnity.

The Caucasian wedding long and crowdie was filled with humor and festive spirit. During its celebration various theatrelized scenes were performed. One of personages was the mummer in felt mask of “goat”. He jumped and butted, chased children and women, accosted passers-by with jokes and requirement of ransom. The mummer “goat” could joke on every participant of wedding, even the master of ceremonies. According to people’s beliefs, he not only cheered up the party guests but also scared evil spirits.

Among the peoples of North-Western Caucasus every undertaking (haymaking, livestock pasturing, kidling, start of ploughing, etc.) was accompanied by great festivities and merriment. For instance, among the Karachays mumming was linked with the start of haymaking. Sacrifices and prayers were performed before beginning of works. The old man mummer who was in every group of haymakers should have particular qualities such as force, wittiness, sense of humor and actor talents. The goat-bearded mummer could mock laziness, poor handling of working tool and incapacity for labor.

The feast of ploughmen was known to all the Adyg peoples. After finish of fieldworks they returned to village and made a feast in which the entire community participated. The main actor was the mummer chosen among ploughmen lived in the same village. Even princes couldn’t pass by the mummers and join the feast without obtaining his permission or paying a ransom.

During the feast the target for arrow shooting k’abak’ – a high pole with figures of different animals, birds and horsemen was placed on a cart. One should hit the target riding, the most successful shooter received a prize, and moreover, according to folk tale he became endowed with the magic of good luck in his undertakings. .

The Maimuli Mummer at the Uastyrdzhi Feast

 In the Ossetian tradition shrines dzuares, where various festivals were carried out, played important role. One of the most important events was the Saint George Feast or Uastyrdzhi which celebration started on November 23 and lasted one week. On the eve men gathered near dzuar and seven persons – the organizers of the feast were by casting lots.

The feast stared with procession of villagers to a shrine dzuar tying red ribbons on the horns of sacrificial animals. On the way the participant of procession sang songs addressed to Uastyrdzhi to make him help wanderers and give everybody good life. Coming to the shrine they removed ribbons from horns and prepared a banquet.  

In course of the feast its organizers chose a mummer maimuli (“the monkey”) In the dzuar he was dressed in a fur coat turned inside out and put on a mask of felt or skin, he was also given wooden dagger, saber and watch. The mask was “decorated” with small horns, thick moustaches, woolen or horse hair beard. Exiting the dzuar maimuli scared and entertained the gathered public, stroke his legs with saber and danced. 

Moreover, the mummer gathered alms for the needs of the dzuar.When he threw his wooden saber or gun to one of observers, he should give him something, usually money.As a rule the maimuli chose  of wealthy fellow-villagers but he could also put on arms on a girl whom he liked.

According to tradition the maimuli was considered to be mute and communicated by gestures or through translator. During the feast a priests prayed the Saint Uastyrdzhi to pardon the maimuli all his sins and to give him human speech. The culmination of rite was the acquisition of capacity to speak by the maimuli.


The Cham Masked Dance

The Cham ("dance" in Tibetan)  is the dance of mystic content during which monks dressed in costumes and masks of the characters of the Buddhist pantheon represented the triumph of the Buddhist doctrine over evil spirits, life over death and goodness over evil with help of symbolic gestures and movements.  

The origins of the Cham dance date back to theatrilized mystery plays of South and Central Asia. Every year the Cham dance was performed in all Buddhist convents which traditions determined  the time of its carrying out. This grandiouse treatrilized performance with big number of participants gathered thousands of believers and could last several hours. Every Buddhist convent had its own set of masks, costumes and musical instruments to perform the Cham dance.

The Cham dancing  masks were made in convent workshop; they were usually made of papier-mache or carved wood and painted with mineral dyes. Some masks were decorated with corals, turquiouse, malachite and embellished with gilt earrings and crowns. Masks were sancrtified before their using. Their crafting was equaled to high art and the names of masters were immortalized in religious traditions. Masks especially those which were passed from generation to generation were considered to be the sacred relics endowned with magic gualities. 

The Cham dance was performed by specially prepared monks, only few roles, for example the roles of warriors and the Raven could be played by laymen. Only men participated in the Cham dance. The role which was trusted to a certain lama depended first of all of his knowledge in the spheres of  Buddhist philosophy  and mystic foundations of the Cham dance.

Masks of the Cham dance participants. Buryats. Eastern Siberia. The Transbaikalia region. Early ХХ c.

The mask was an element of costume of a follower of the war god Jamsaran, a fierce protector of the Buddhist doctrine. Jamsaran usually entered in the circle and performed his ritual dance accompanied by eight followers-sons whose roles were played by huvaraki - children novices dressed in red costumes and masks.

Fierce and sinister appearance of masks was to scary and to fill with terror the enemies of Buddhism.The mask of Jamsaran which distinguished by big size in comparison with other Cham characters especially impressed. Sometimes it was embellished with large number of corals for this reason it was given name the "coral mask".

The carved figurines of the Cham dance participants. Mongols. Mongolia. Urga. Early  ХХ c.

The figurines represent monks and laymen dressed as the characters of the Cham dance.In total the set includes  76 wooden figurines painted with mineral dyes. They were made by lama artist on comission of Ya. P. Shishmarev, the General consul in Urga.


"Scary" and "Alien": Fantastic and Antropomorphic Masks of Eurasian Peoples

In traditional culture the time of transition between old and  new years and one season to another was always considered dangerous; demonic powers rampaged on the earth during the Yule and the Butter Week. These notions corresponded with ritual acts - mumming when man explicitly emulated the beings from "other" world.

The masks of devils, demons, witches, dead men and other fiends were considered as the "scary ones". Shaggy and horned with hypertrophied noses and grinning teeth they sometimes provoked serious fear. The "scary" mummers behaved themselves fiercely: they could tease passers, roll them in  the snow, push them, fliped whips. Entering the house they turned pots and vats upside down, scattered cords of wood, dispersed rabbish in izba. However, it was believed that "everything is permitted for mummers", their actions explicitly reflected mythological notions and should create the scaring effect.

Apart of  the "scary masks" large number of "beautiful" or "clean" masks of everyday characters existed. They danced with members of household, congratulated them with festival, cheered up and made them laugh. Creating these characters the "our" was opposed to the "alien". Men dressed up as women and women as men, youths as old men, people of advanced age as groom and bride. Numerous group of mummers represented the members of "other" ethnic, social and professional environment. 

The characters of masked parades and various funny scenes were the "professionals" whose occupation differed from peasant labour: "smiths" and "millers", "potters" and "chimney sweepers", "priests", "soldiers", "doctors", "musicians". Representatives of  different social strata became the mumming characters: on one hand "wealthy man", "sir", "scribe", "voevode", on the other hand "pauper", "wanderer", "brigand".

The image of "stranger" was presented in parody way. In the masquerade tradition of Eastern Europe the most common characters were "Gypsies" and "Jews". In the Russian North people also dressed up as Lapps and Samoyeds and in the Eastern Finland mummers played "Russians with bear". Among Khants and Mansi the mummers dressed as "priests" and "Russian oficials" appeared during the Bear Feast.

The sense of such transformation wasn't mocking but ritual-carnival reincarnation-representation of the "world turned upside down". At the same time  comedy presented in the images of "others"; mummers danced, messed around, spoke in changed voices. According to folk notions laugh was endowned with vital force, moreover it was consdered as alternative to the state of everyday life when everyone both mummers and spectators found themselves in other world changing their behaviors.


Costume of "Jew" – The Character of Mummers Parade Malanka. Romanians. Ukraine, The District of Chernovits 2015.

The costume was presented to K.Bruzha who put it on festivals in 2015-2016. It consist of "robe" and mask, the face part of which is made of papier-mache and the upper one is "hat". The making of mask starts with the creation of plaster cast of "face" on which pieces of journals or newspapers, patch of jeans fabric are glued in layers, then it is covered with layers of paper inside and outside.When the mask gets dry, nostrils and hole for mouth are burnt with glowing iron bar, then it is covered with paint. Traditionally dark colors brown, black sometimes blue and red are chosen for the masks of "Jews". The "face" of this mummer as of many others must scare and amaze. The mask is supplemented by a hat with high crown on carton base to which animal skins. horns, claws and other scaring elements are fastened. The mummer indispensablyy holds in his hands bag or small suitcase. Usually this character leans on a stick kyrzha made of tree route to which skin of recently killed rabbit or hare is fastened. During mummers' parade Jews keep apart of the other characters. Their actions is playful attack with purpose to "reach" a man who has to buy off. 

Costume of "witch" – the character of the Butter Week Parade. Lithuanians. Lithuania Samogitia.Early ХХ c.

Witch is harmful being, devil's helper who can transform into various animals and fly. This character is common in carnival parades of Europe which are held on the Butter Week before the start of Great Lent. In Lithuanian tradition this festival is called "Uzhgavenes" that is the eve of fast. Witches and devils alongside other masks accompany the dummy of More, a woman figure incarnating winter which mummers rode in sledge. According to traditions it must be burnt, but today the dummy is sometimes kept untill next year.


Shaman's Masks of the Peoples of Siberia and the Far East

Shaman's masks and  maskoids the objects resembling them are  one of the most interesting phenomenon in traditional culture of the peoples of Siberia and the Far East. Unlike the masks which were  used during festivals and predominantly had play character, the meaning and functions of shaman's masks were much broader. Ones were put on for incarnation, second ones  chased away evil spirits and the third ones personified shaman's helpers-spirits or shaman's ancestors.

Among the peoples of Siberia and the Far East mask was important attribute of shaman's costume. Covering of the face helped to concentrate and to enter in  ecstasy condition facilitating communication with spirits more rapidly.  It was believed that donnig  mask of ancestor shaman absorbed his spirit  which helped him during shamanistic ritual. Mask was among necessary attributes of the Nanai shaman during spring festival Undi aimed to provide fertility and health of people.Masks were also donned during curing rituals.

Sometimes wooden and metal maskoids were placed on the shaman's clothes or personal belongings. Their use is known in shamanic traditions of Evenks and Samoyedic peoples (Nenets, Enets, Nganasans). Maskoids  – the images of protecting ancestors and mythic characters as men and women faces were on the headdress of Tuvinian shamans. 

The Borto ongons of Buryat shamans are also maskoids.  They were chiefly made of wood, with hair, moustaches and beard of sheep or bear skin.  They were worshipes as the protectors of line, fed with lard and kept in yurt. If the line ended, ongon remained in hole made in special pole placed near settlement.

Material for mask making was diverse. Metal masks and their miniature copies were made by smiths under supervision of shaman. Holes were near the mouth, eye brows and the exterior age of mask to which pieces of animal skin or fur were fastened.Wooden and birch bark masks were painted with dyes. Some masks were covered with leather and decorated with fabric and beads. Like on the Udege mask of the shaman of the highest consacration headdress was sewn up to masks. Small metal cone-shaped pendants were hanged on the Buryat maskoids - the Borto ongons.  In some masks metal inlays were made  instead of slots for the  eyes. Nenets embroidered the eyes and the mouth on the cloth masks-veils or sewed buttons instead of them.

Shaman's masks and maskoids were sometimes kept together with other sacred objects, passed on wtihin the family and considered to be the protectors of lineage. The Evenk shamans as rule "took" their masks in other world leaving them near a tomb.


The Dagestan “Shah” Or Shah Games

Among the peoples of Dagestan (Dargins, Kaitagtsi and Kubachintsi) ritual mumming was practiced by members of male unions who finished   their annual meetings with bright theatrical performance. The time of carrying out the ritual was called gulala-abiltzil –“the last three days of bachelors”.

The main characters of performance were “shah” or “khan” chosen among old men who wore an iron mask, his wife, four or six courtiers and a body guard. A jester was always in the “shah” retinue whose task was to make his master laugh.

The festival started with solemn carrying of “shah” to the village square filled with spectators and his placing on the special dais. During games twelve unmarried lads paraded in masks and ancient armory before the public so that nobody could recognize them. In course of festival shah’s enemies suddenly appeared trying to abduct his wife and courtiers. Fighting started between the shah’s retinue and the abductors and the participants of game started to persecute the abductors. In pauses between fighting various running and shooting competitions were organized. Performance was ending with returning to “shah” his wife. In evening “bachelors” headed by “shah” returned home and during festive dinner “shah” put off his mask.  

The exhibition "We couldn’t part with this time: The Russian Museum of Ethnography – Chronicle of war years"

In early autumn of 1945 the railway echelon, in which the collections of the State Museum of Ethnography returned from evacuation, departed from Novosibirsk. On September 27 they arrived to Leningrad. We synchronized the opening of the exhibition dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War and our colleagues who preserved unique collections and museum with this date.

The historical sections of the exhibition tell about the main stages in the museum’s war history: beginning of war, evacuation, saving of museum in the besieged Leningrad, the work of the museum branch in Novosibirsk. They showcase the objects which survived the blockade and were in evacuation, archive documents, museum equipment as well as video and films.

The artistic part of exhibition - the works of the creative association G.A. Traugot are paintings and graphics united by the war theme.

For the first time the material about the events of the museum’s war history will be presented in so large-scale completeness and diversity of formats.

Most documents, photographs and objects will be on display for general public for the first time.


 We couldn’t part with this time: The Russian Museum of Ethnography – Chronicle of war years

In the Year of Memory and Glory the museum presents the project We couldn’t’ part with this time. The Russian Museum of Ethnography ‒ Chronicle of War Years which continue the series of exhibitions and publications about the heroic deed of people who preserved the cultural heritage of our motherland in the years of the Great Patriotic War.

The project purpose is reflection on history by our contemporaries in dialogue with the people who survived the tragedy of war and the victors in this case with museum fellows.

Coordinators: E.E. Gerasimenko, L.A. Zhgun
Authors: E. Yu. Gulyaeva, A.N. Kopaneva, V. E. Pervak, Yu. S. Smirnova, I.Yu.Khurgina
Photography and video montage O.V.Ganicheva
Working group: M.V. Voronova, S.M. Ivanova, V.A.Kapustina, E.F. Kononova, K.H. Moiseeva
Editor: I. V. Beloborodova

The exhibition «The Arctic – Inhabited Land»

For  most  of us the Arctic is an enigmatic “ice corner” of our planet with numerous shining white icebergs and ice covered seas, endless polar days and nights; it is the land of unlimited domain of  the cold and the source of constant challenges to man, the  place of self-sacrifices and achievements. It’s here, on the territory of extreme natural, cultural and value contrasts, where the hidden potential of culture, its flexibility and endurance emerge allowing man not only survive in hardly suitable for life environment, but make the Arctic a part of his cultural space.

The exhibition invites visitor to travel across the spaces of the Russian Arctic and to make a glimpse at history and culture of its inhabitants. The choice for exhibition of such ethnographic topics as economic and hunting activities, trade, home, clothes, rites and beliefs, navigation and missionary work is determined by the main objective of exhibition -  to show how and by what means people made the Arctic, the territory with extreme environmental conditions for man, their home.

The name “Arctic” (ἄρκτος – she-bear) is not directly related to its largest inhabitant – white bear, but is derived from the Ancient Greek names of constellations of the Ursa Major and  the Ursa Minor with unmovable Polaris and territory situated under it in the Northern hemisphere.

Not being a mainland the Arctic embraces vast territory (27 millions square km) of the northern periphery of Eurasia and North America neighboring the North Pole and the entire area of the Arctic Ocean with its islands. The Arctic territory with its richest mineral deposits and resources has been always the center of allure for traders, merchants, travelers and explorers.

Russia always longed the Arctic that had especially attractive power for our country throughout its history from Novgorod merchants and the Pomors to poets and conquerors of the North Pole. The result of this multi-century endeavor was exploration of vast polar territories by Russian travelers, men of service, traders, missionaries, scientists and navigators. Observing, and recording the life of indigenous ethnic groups, living side by side with them they not only introduced new elements in their culture and religion, but also enriched their own with practices of local peoples related to economic activity and life-maintenance system, without which it’s impossible to imagine the present existence of the Russian Arctic’s population.

Ethnographic objects and archeological findings representing the circumpolar cultures alongside photographs and drawings from the Russian Museum of Ethnography collections and multimedia programs will help visitor to know general and unique features of different ethnic and local cultures’ traditions, the complex of which shapes the image of the “Arctic house” common to everybody.

1-3 декабря 2020 г. XIX Санкт-Петербургские этнографические чтения

Министерство культуры Российской Федерации
Федеральное государственное бюджетное учреждение культуры «Русский музей этнографии»
Инженерная ул., 4/1, г. Москва, ул. Санкт-Петербург, 191186, тел. 007 (812) 570-5768, факс 007 (812) 315-8642
E-mail:  5705768@mail.ru 
ОКПО 02174030 ОГРН 1037843105277 ИНН 7825005700 МЭК 784101001

Информационное письмо

Дорогие коллеги!

Несмотря на трудности, возникшие в связи с эпидемиологической ситуацией, Российский этнографический музей планирует провести 1-3 декабря 2020 г. XIX этнографическую литературу Санкт-Петербурга «Этнокультурная идентичность: феноменология и изменчивость в контекстах истории XIX-XXI веков». Независимо от Формат ее организации (внутренний или заочный), материалы конференции обязательно будут опубликованы к 1 декабря 2020 года.

Из-за естественного исторического исчезновения, трансформации определенных элементов традиционной культуры, процессы построения этнической принадлежности и этнической идентичности играют все более заметную роль. Поиск ценностного образа своего народа, ориентированного как на историю, так и на живую реальность, осуществляется на групповом и индивидуальном уровнях. Коммуникативное пространство Интернета часто становится новой платформой для формирования этничности и этнокультурной идентичности.

Этнокультурная идентичность на групповом уровне является формой солидарности, содержательного единства членов конкретной культурно-исторической общности (этноса, этноса, этнотерриториальной единицы и т. Д.). Оно состоит в ценностных ориентациях, направленных на утверждение конкретного образа жизни и особенностей менталитета, в стремлении сохранить, продолжить и оживить свои традиции.

Этнокультурная идентичность на индивидуальном, личностном уровне является формой личной идентификации, самоотождествления по происхождению и / или общим культурным ценностям, вероисповедания, образа жизни и т. Д. С конкретным этническим единством, его культурой. 

На конференции планируется обсудить следующие темы:

• уникальность этнокультурной идентичности среди различных этнических единств (людей, этнических групп, этнотерриториальных или этнодисперсных групп); Историческая память как основа представлений об этнической и этнокультурной идентичности.

• Историческая изменчивость представлений о своей этнокультурной идентичности: акцент на исторических корнях, верность традициям «малой родины», семейным и родовым обычаям, этнополитическим, этносоциальным интересам, актуальным в современную эпоху; «знаковые» образы, символы этнокультурной идентичности в зависимости от изменений в социально-политическом контексте.

• Традиционные этнокультурные поведенческие границы и представления (снаружи, внутри) об этнической самобытности, уникальности национальной психологии

• Этнокультурная идентичность на уровне личности, сформированная в процессе социализации или в результате индивидуального выбора, множественной этнокультурной идентичности.

• Этнокультурная, этноконфессиональная символика в современном городе.

• Роль общественных движений, виртуальных сообществ, средств массовой информации, школьного образования и музеев в построении этнокультурной идентичности (коллективной и индивидуальной).

• Этнокультурная идентичность и процесс социализации личности.  

Независимо от внутреннего или заочного формата конференции материалы конференции, включенные в Российский индекс научного цитирования, обязательно будут опубликованы до 1 декабря 2020 года. Для подготовки издания необходимо отправить заявку в соответствии с приложенным примером и тезисами докладов максимального объема 8000 писем. (5 печатных страниц). Аннотация максимум 200 слов не входит в указанный объем. 

Участники конференции, чьи доклады будут опубликованы в материалах конференции, должны оплатить организационный взнос в размере 500 рублей. Оплата производится после получения от автора сообщения о включении доклада в программу конференции. Оплата должна быть подтверждена фотокопией счета или печатью безналичного банковского перевода.

Требования к подаче публикуемых материалов

Тексты представляются в электронном виде в формате RTF без нумерации страниц.

Шрифт Times New Roman, размер 14, межстрочный интервал 1,5 строки.

Ссылки - это автоматические сноски (в конце статьи), арабские цифры. 

В случае использования сокращений в тексте необходимо предоставить список сокращений с указанием их значений.

Структура и последовательность публикации материалов

На русском:

- индекс УДК (над фамилией автора слева) - должен отражать тему статьи (для ознакомления с основными правилами индекса УДК обращайтесь по адресу: http://www.naukapro.ru/metod.htm);

- название статьи (от заглавной буквы, далее крошечные буквы);

- имя, отчество, фамилия автора (полностью);

- информация об авторе (полное название учреждения, вуза, кафедры, города, ученой степени, ученого звания), электронная почта;

- аннотация максимум 200 слов после интервала;

- ключевые слова (после интервала не более 10 слов);

На английском:

- индекс УДК (над фамилией автора слева);

- - название статьи (от заглавной буквы, далее мелкие буквы);

- имя, отчество, фамилия автора (полностью);

- информация об авторе (полное название учреждения, вуза, кафедры, города, ученой степени, ученого звания), электронная почта;

- аннотация максимум 200 слов после интервала;

- ключевые слова (после интервала не более 10 слов);

Внимание! «Компьютерный перевод», который выполняется с помощью онлайн-сервисов и программ автоматического перевода, таких как Google-переводчик или Яндекс-переводчик, абсолютно недопустим! На русском языке текст статьи следует присылать до 7 сентября 2020 года по электронной почте: us@ethnomuseum.ru , zhgun05@yandex.ru

Тел .: 570-53-53, 570-52-25; факс: 570-53-53


Dear friends!

We are glad to inform you that the Russian Museum of Ethnography will open its doors for visitors on July– the Day of Ethnographer. We waited much this moment and were preparing for it!

Your health and the health of museum staff are our main priorities. Therefore museum established the new rules of visiting to stay safe for you and its personnel. The entrance to museum is possible only in hygienic masks and gloves. Please, keep the distance of 1,5 m  visiting museum. You can acquire the means of individual protection and use antiseptics in the entrance zone of museum.

Museum will be opened from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 07:00 p.m.

The admission to museum will be by the electronic tickets which you can buy at the museum website from July 13, 2020. We maintained the federal benefits for museum visitors, however, note that the free on-line ticket can be purchased only with the paid ticket at the website. While visiting museum it’s necessary to have a document confirming the right for benefit. The museum book office will work for service of from 11:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m. and only cashless payment is accepted.  

The entrance to museum will be opened according to exhibit session every half and hour from 11.00 a.m. to 06.00 p.m.

We would like to draw your attention that the exhibit sessions are for groups of no more than 5 persons. The number of exhibit sessions is limited.

New unusual tour “The main exhibit: the building of the Russian Museum of Ethnography” will be the present for our public. The visitors will have an opportunity to see the parts of museum building earlier hidden from their sight. Rising to the vault of the Marble Hall you’ll see the “inside” of crystal ceiling and other fascinating details of the building construction and pest control machine made for treatment of collection   in the early 20th century.

We have prepared the quest inside museum “The expedition in museum” for individual visitors. We invite you to travel to historical Eurasia. Our mediators and route sheets will help you to travel in museum halls, you can download and print them in advance or receive paper version in museum. 

You can select the route for children or adult visitors. The quest is prepared for you comfort and safety: it will help you to avoid crossing of public torrents without hindering your acquaintance with museum collection.   We ask you to pay attention to marking and pointers which will allow you also to know about traditional ways of distance measurement among various peoples.

Please, consider new rules with understanding. All these measure are temporal but very important and we can secure the safety of each other only through responsible attitude to them.

We wait impatiently the opening of museum and will be happy to see you again!


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