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Culture & History

Old Believers of Buryatia

Old Believers of Buryatia

The History of Olbelivers (Semeyskie) of Russia

A land of rare beauty spreads to the south of the capital of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude. 
High mountains and ridges, centuries-old pine forests, sandy decays and water meadows in river valleys. Here is the Tarbagatai district. Trans-Siberian highway Moscow - Vladivostok passes through Tarbagatay, a beautiful Old Believer village. More than 17,000 people live in 22 villages of the district. This is mainly the Russian Old Believers population - Semeyskie (Family people).
    Semeyskie - a very bright and ancient branch of the Russian people, a particle of pre-Petrine Moscow Russia. Who are they, why did they end up in Transbaikalia and why are they called that?
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In the second half of the 17th century, fundamental changes took place in the history of Russia. One of the most significant events of that period was the church schism. The Russian ruler Aleksei Mikhailovich (the Quietest) and the patriarch Nikon wanted to attract peoples professing Orthodoxy to Russia (Slavs, Georgians, Armenians, Greeks). To this end, the tsar decides to reform and bring closer the forms of worship and rituals to Greek patterns of the day that had already been adopted in other Orthodox centers (in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia). The books were corrected, walking with the sun around the analogion during rituals altered, the number of nods decreased, the church chant was also greatly changed, because of which it actually deprived the "polyphony" that reduced the service in the church. The new spelling of the name Jesus was introduced, all the corrections were made by the rites of the Greek church. For many believers, it seemed that in fact a new faith was introduced in Russia. 
In 1656, all the supporters of making the sign of the cross with two fingers were equated with heretics, excommunicated, and accursed. Reform divided the Russian church into two camps of Orthodoxy: the ruling and the Old Believers.
  Old Believers - the part of the Russian population that refused to innovate, continuing to adhere to the old faith, rites, and everyday life. For this, they were subjected to severe repression, many were forced to flee to free lands to the Terek, Don, beyond the Urals, and many abroad to Poland. In the second half of the XVIII century, by decree of Catherine II, a violent pasture of schismatics from the borders of Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine took place. An unknown land was waiting for them, harsh Siberia, untouched lands. The first Old Believers removed from Vetka in 1765 were settled not far from Verkhneudinsk in the villages of Tarbagatai, Kuytun, Kunaley, Desyatnikovo, Burnashevo. They settled with entire families, so they were later called - Family people. They quickly got used to the harsh Siberian nature. Thanks to the exceptional industriousness of Semeyskie, good villages soon grew up. Intangible culture served as a constant support in the difficult fate of the Old Believers, forever persecuted by the official church and state.semeyskie church.JPG
 
    240 years have passed. Semeyskie of Transbaikalia firmly rooted in Siberian land and found a second homeland. Izba (Hut) of Old Believers is a tall wooden building painted inside and out, washed twice a year. Frames and cornices in many huts are decorated with carvings and painted. Old Believers have kept the old cut clothing from the XVII-XVIII centuries to the present day.
 
    Ethnography of Semeyskie gives an indelible idea of ​​the uniqueness and originality of their culture. We find this in their lifestyle, in everyday life, in their culture, the strength of moral principles, in the grandeur of their clothes, in the design of their homes, in the painting of their utensils, living quarters. To this day, they have preserved the golden fund of Russian national culture.
 
   The traditional Old Believers folk culture is a unique, distinctive ethnocultural phenomenon. The value of Semeyskie, as a historical, cultural phenomenon of Russia, is difficult to overestimate. They managed to preserve the spiritual experience that was actually lost among other groups of the Russian people. Folk singing traditions, which are a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage, originating in ancient Russian musical culture and whose roots go back to the Middle Ages, have a relict character. The highest praise deserves the skill and a peculiar technique of polyphonic singing, which has incorporated many special techniques.singing semeyskie.JPG
 
    Representing exceptional value for a new civilization, the original spiritual Old Believers culture of Tarbagatai district of the Republic of Buryatia in May 2001 in Paris was declared as “a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO and is included in the first list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
 
  To get reliable information about the life of the people living in the territory of the Tarbagatai district, you need to drive through the villages of Tarbagatai, Kunalei, Desyatnikovo, Kuytun, and you will find yourself at the end of the 19th century on a typical Old Believer street. Visiting the museum created by the father of Sergius at the temple in the village of Tarbagatai, you will see antiques, icons, household utensils, and touch on the distant past.
Semeyskie - hospitable people, loving bright cheerful colors. The coloring of the eaves, shutters, platbands pleases the eye with cheerful colors. This speaks of the vitality of the people, their cheerful disposition and prosperity. Old Believers cuisine is a large selection of meat, dairy dishes, pastries. Having been at the courtyard of Semeyskie, having tasted pies, pancakes, cabbage soup, porridge, everyone would want to return again.

The second day you may spend travelling to Barguzin Valley and the way back to Ulan-Ude.

If you need any support on the travel from Ulan-Ude to Old Believers' places

Please contact us at: hello@baikalguide.me 

+79025625811 (WhatsApp, Telegram) 

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You will see:
Cities
Suggested time:
5 hours
Route distance:
50 km

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