From the White Sea to Bering Strait
The aim of the project is the ethnological examination of the contact inhabiting zones of the ethnoses of Russia in the extreme natural conditions, study of the mechanisms of the cultural adaptation to these conditions, ethnic auto- and hetero-stereotypes and features of the ethnic and local self-consciousness.
The general idea is the concept of the Boarder: ethno-cultural (contact inhabit ting zones of different ethnoses), ethno-confessional (contact inhabiting zones of different confessional groups - Orthodox and Old Believers, Christian and Pagans, etc), natural (land/water, plain/mountain, taiga/tundra, taiga/steppe). This assumes cross-cultural comparison of different ethnic traditions.
Owing to the technical support of the "Laboratory HPP" (land rovers, tractors, jeeps) the route of each expedition goes through the regions which are the most difficult of access and where local groups of population live. Since 2003 several expeditions to the Kola Peninsula, White Sea Coast, Pineg river (Archangelsk area), Vaksha river (Komi, Archangelsk area), Kanin Peninsula (Nenet national region, Archangel area).
Work of the northern division (2 ethnologists, 1 director and 1 sound technician) of the expedition to the Kola Peninsula took place in the village Krasnoshel'e from December 28, 2004 to January 7, 2005. The expedition was to solve 2 tasks: a) shoot the ethnographic documentary and b) collect text materials on the Program "Local groups of the inhabitants of the Russian North". As a result more than 20 hours of the ethnographic interviewing of the informants, funeral and calendar rituals, traditional winter fishing, performing of the funeral songs have been shot.
Ethnographic materials on the following topics have been collected: 1)
Sorcery (or witchcraft): external and internal features of the sorcerer (or magician), variants of bedeviling, protection against evil eye (protective amulets - needles, mirror, salt, herbs, etc), death of the sorcerers (they suffer while dying until they hand over to somebody their power). To find missing (drowned) people, folks come to witches - they show the place where the missing (drowned) person is. 2)
Folk medicine: which diseases are recognized (for instance, child's convulsions are treated by covering a child with a white kerchief and casting a spell), who sends the diseases (Saami are usually blamed). 3)
Rites of the life cycle
Rites of the life cycle (birth-giving, wedding, funeral). Funeral ritual remained the most accomplished (full). Details: funeral clothes women prepare for themselves since they turn 40, people from outside wrapped around a dead person, they hired mourners, a mirror was covered so that the dead person could not see himself, otherwise another person would die, coins were put on the eyes of the dead, in the coffin people put shavings, birchen leaves, favorite objects; for the dead not to come back after the funerals, one should wash the floor in the house, put furniture upside down, people went to the cemetery and scatter grains, buried in the grave certain objects; if the dead person was buried in a wrong way, his/her soul was coming back to the house and frightening people. 4)
Calendar rites (Christmas, Christmas-tide, Easter, Midsummer day, etc). Details: till present young people continue telling fortune during Christmas-tide, playing ritual games: throw sledges onto the roof, block or freeze the entrance door, block the chimney. On the Midsummer night they collect 12 herbs which have healing power; they put wreaths in the river and do fortune telling. 5)
Interethnic contacts. Mixed marriages prevail - Komi-Saami, Russians-Saami, Russians-Komi. Saami are considered to be sorcerers and people are afraid to offend them. When problems appear, local population always attribute them to the Saami sorcery. However, the Saami are given such positive qualities as honesty, decency, devotion to the family values. Active contacts with the inhabitants of the Tersk Coast have existed before. People went there to sell deer fur, freshwater fish and to buy textile, sea fish, potatoes.