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The principles of resettlement and ethnocultural processes among the Belarusian immigrants of the Urals and Western Siberia

vestnik of archeology, anthropology and ethnography. 2010. No. 2 (13)


A.N. Bagashev *, R.Yu. Fedorov **

Results of forwarding researches in places of compact accommodation of descendants of the Belarusian immigrants of the second half of XIX — the beginnings of the 20th century in the territory of a number of the regions of the Urals and Western Siberia are generalized. On the basis of these materials the correlation between features of resettlement and interaction with the starozhilchesky circle and other ethnic groups of immigrants is studied.

Belarusians, immigrants, agrarian reform, ethnocultural identity, the traditional culture of Belarusians in Siberia.

Summer of 2010 we conducted forwarding researches in places of compact accommodation of Belarusians in the territory of the Omsk, Tyumen and Kurgan regions and also the Republic of Bashkortostan. Their main objective was studying correlation between the principles of resettlement and features of ethnocultural self-identification of the Belarusian immigrants. Results of a research demonstrate that in the areas chosen by us which were becoming populated by natives of Belarus during the period from the second half of XIX prior to the beginning of the 20th century there were several various types of resettlement which had the specific features of obshchnostny interactions of Belarusians with a local ethnic environment.

Among the considered groups of the Belarusian immigrants the first to Siberia profits so-called "armor-clad boyars" whose considerable part moved to the Urals from the Vitebsk province in the 50-60th of the 19th century

Armor-clad boyars represented the special category of sluzhily people which developed in the territory of modern Belarus presumably at the time of Grand Duchy of Lithuania (in the 16th century). Originally they bore horse service in armor-clad vestments with heavy weapons and were intermediate between small shlyakhty and tyagly peasants. After accession at the end of the 18th century of east territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to the Russian Empire the armor-clad boyars entered into estate of the state peasants. By this time on the way of life and the social status they became close to Cossacks and peasants one-palaces. Cultivating the land, armor-clad boyars were engaged in protection of border boundaries and police service. The concept "armour-clad boyars" became an anachronism by then, however remained as the self-name of this category of people.

At the beginning of the 19th century in the western provinces of the Russian Empire the tendency to impoverishment and growth malozemelya the state peasants accrued. The reform of management of the state villages developed by P.D. Kiselyov (1837-1941) provided resettlement of the state peasants on new lands as one of ways of permission of the developed problem. In 1850-1860 several communities of the armor-clad boyars living in the territory of Xie-bezhsky and Nevelsky Counties of the Vitebsk province (now the territory of the Pskov Region of the Russian Federation), decided on moving to far Siberia.

In most cases armor-clad boyars, having come to Siberia, were settled to developed here to earlier starozhilchesky villages. As a rule, it was caused not by the personal choice of immigrants, but the decision of the authorities choosing the place for their reception. A number of the documentary evidences and oral legends indicating that in many cases the armor-clad boyars who came to Siberia remained remained are dissatisfied with the places allocated for them and demanded resettlement on other lands [Gromyko, 1991, page 153-160]. It was connected not only with unsatisfactory quality of the grounds provided to them, but also with the difficult relationship developing with the local starozhilchesky community. So, by the time of resettlement of the first group of armor-clad boyars to the Utchansky volost Ishim

Work is supported by a grant of RGNF No. 10-01-00551 and / B.

districts (nowadays the territory of Petukhovsky and Chistoozersky districts of the Kurgan Region) a considerable share of the starozhilchesky population of these places were made by the Old Believers called here dvoyedana. In stories of most of informants — descendants of armor-clad boyars it is noted that country communities of Old Believers and the Belarusian immigrants lived enough separately from each other. The informant A.Ya. Tyabutov, 1938 living in New Ilyinka of Petukhovsky district of the Kurgan Region so proves cultural differences between the Belarusians living here and dvoyedanam from next. Are liquid: "Character and a way of life at us different. Belarusians people hospitable, hospitable. What guest will come — will always feed, will give to drink. And dvoyedan will not let the stranger for a threshold. Happened, you will come into the yard to a dvoyedan, you will ask to get drunk. It will give a glass which is stored not houses, and somewhere in an outer entrance hall. And if gives the, then after that will throw out it. Will not drink after me. In New Ilyinka and Gide-kakh many ceremonies differ from each other. Both holidays, and church ceremonies, and bury in a different way". Certainly, the similar opposition of starozhilchesky and new settlement country communities based on world outlook opposition "-others" not only interfered with fast assimilation of the Belarusian immigrants on the new place, but in certain cases even promoted strengthening of their ethnocultural self-identification on the new place. This assumption confirms the analysis of the local legends which remained in the Belarusian villages of Mizonovo and New Elbows of the Ishim district of the Tyumen Region. In both villages the arrived armor-clad boyars were settled to the old residents living here earlier — to chaldona. In this case both communities also tried to stand apart from each other. According to stories by informants from of Mizonovo, after arrival of armor-clad boyars she was actually divided into two parts in one of which there lived chaldona, in another — self-feeds (this self-name is often applied to many immigrants from Belarus living in the territory of the Trans-Ural region and Western Siberia). The legend that in the village there was the material marker of border of the starozhilchesky and new settlement worlds remained — in the agreed place the special mezhevalny column was established. Even after death the local old residents and immigrants found a final resting place in different places. With these purposes the cemetery was partitioned off on two parts by specially dug ditch: in one part buried chaldon, in another — self-feeds.

Here is how explained given, repeating in many settlements, M.M. Gromyko's situation: "Two country communities, each of which developed long ago and passed the way in sociohistorical and economical and geographical conditions, other than another, were connected in one village, in one territorial community. The Siberians who enclosed at the time a lot of work in development of the new territory, founded the village applied for certain advantages before the strangers who were on all ready. The immigrants rallied by process of moving, who got used to a little privileged position in comparison with other categories of the state peasants did not want to concede" [1991, page 159].

The similar situation developed also in the neighboring village. Elbows where there arrived other party of armor-clad boyars, from of Ramusi of the Gultyaevsky volost of the Nevelsky County of the Vitebsk province. Immigrants complained to the authorities of oppressions from chaldon and requested granting a separate ground to them for settling. In this case the request of peasants was granted and provided them the free site which was in several versts from Elbows. Here they founded the village which received the name New Elbows.

Most of informants of places of compact accommodation of descendants of armor-clad boyars in the territory of the Trans-Ural region note that among their ancestors marriages and even household contacts with chaldona and dvoyedana were rare up to the 1930th when the processes connected with destruction of a traditional way of life in the village began to promote washing out of ethnocultural borders between descendants of old residents and immigrants. Despite this, some descendants of the armor-clad boyars who moved in the Trans-Ural region more than 150 years ago still emphasize the otherness in relation to a starozhilchesky environment.

Similar trends were characteristic and for places of compact accommodation of Belarusians in the territory of Vikulovsky district of the Tyumen Region. In the 80-90th of the 19th century a number of villages by immigrants from the Gomel and Mogilev provinces here was founded. By then the basis of the population of the area was formed by old residents-chaldony with whom immigrants had difficult relations. The informant V.N. Silchenko, 1953, from the village of Vikulovo so explains this situation: "Newcomers — self-feeds were not loved anywhere. Locals saw in them

The principles of resettlement and ethnocultural processes among the Belarusian immigrants...

excess eaters, competitors". Valentina Maleshina, 1948 who is also living in page to Vick-lovo adds: "Our family arrived to Siberia from the Mogilev province in 1916. The relations with chaldona and other locals developed difficult. Always there was an alerted relation to each other. Therefore Belarusians were a loner. The father's sister was married to the akin brother. There were also other cases of marriages with close relatives. It occurred because strangers did not accept Belarusians for the conclusion of marriages, besides in these severe and far-away countries it was more reliable to keep together".

Other situation developed in those low-developed areas in which the specific weight of immigrants considerably exceeded a share of the starozhilchesky population. Mentions of opposition of to the starozhilchesky environment occur in stories of the descendants of the Belarusian immigrants living in them much less often. On the contrary, in these cases it is quite often possible to note ethnocultural consolidation between immigrants of different nationalities. To it settlements of Belarusians in the Iglinsky district of Bashkortostan can be a striking example. Following the results of the All-Russian population census of 2002, in its territory 6629 Belarusians lived that made about 40% of the Belarusian population of the republic [Yanguzin, 2007, page 82]. At the end of XIX — the beginning of the 20th century there was here a number of small farms, the majority of which was originally based by the Latvian immigrants. Later in them natives of Belarus began to be settled actively. This system of farm settlements received the name "Baltic Colony". As a result of creation of collective farm and carrying out policy of collectivization in the late thirties — the beginning of the 1940th most of residents of farms was forced to move to slightly settlements formed here, the largest of which was an item Baltic (till 1954 carried the name "Stalin"). According to stories by informants — descendants of immigrants, despite existence of significant cultural differences between Belarusians and Latvians (language, belief, customs, methods of managing, etc.), among them tendencies to mutual exchange of cultural and economic experience dominated. For example, according to stories by the inhabitant of the item Baltic, the artistic director of the Belarusian folklore Syabry  ensemble A.N. Kharitonov, 1934, Belarusians and Latvians found much in common in national holidays, popular in their environment, "Bathed" also Ligo. In Soviet period of tradition of carrying out the Latvian holiday were more resistant, and at the local Belarusian community began tradition to note it together with Latvians. The mixed marriages promoting deleting of cultural sides between two people quite often occurred among the Belarusians and Latvians living in the area.

The similar situation was characteristic also of a number of places of compact accommodation of Belarusians in the territory of Tarsky district of the Omsk Region (Ermakovka, Atirka, Bygan, etc.). At the time of Stolypin resettlements these places actively moved into and accustomed Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Latvians, Chuvashs and representatives of some other nationalities. Despite the cases of the conflicts noted in stories by informants and documentary sources between different groups of immigrants, in general the tendency to mixed marriages and loans each other of separate elements of traditional culture was here too noted.

In both areas at the end of XIX — the beginning of the 20th century foundation of small settlements of farm type was characteristic of the Belarusians arriving in them. At the same time the remained certificates indicate that they originally on the new place of community of peasants from Belarus tried to reproduce the principles of planning and architecture of estates introduced from the homeland and also housekeeping methods, thus reproducing the specific principles of the organization of a cultural landscape of places of the exit. However by 1930th many the farm and small settlements of Belarusians stopped existence because "collectivization and socialist forms of farming assumed & #34; стягивание" the population in the centers, association of acreage, application of new agrotechnical methods of field husbandry, other organization of rural life" [the People of Bashkortostan..., 2002, page 302]. As a result of carrying out similar policy the population of many farms by violent methods "got off" to large collective-farm settlements. These processes laid the foundation for serious transformations not only managing methods, but also many fundamental lines of traditional culture and obshchnostny interactions of Belarusians in the Urals and in Siberia.

We will try to consider in more detail mechanisms of preservation or transformation of some main markers of ethnocultural identity of the Belarusian immigrants acting in

quality of the peculiar invariants defining features of traditional culture of places of their compact accommodation.

Speaking about features of economic activity, it is possible to refer a lnovodstvo to them. The Belarusian immigrants began flax cultivation at once at development of the site under an arable land in view of the fact that, besides use for production of clothes and oil, it had useful properties for preparation under crops of winter and helped to fight against weeds. In most cases cultivation and processing of a flax pursued the aim to provide family with clothes, necessary items of household and ritual and ceremonial actions (cloths, towels, bench hammers, etc.). In days of the Soviet power in places of compact accommodation of Belarusians attempts of industrial production of products from a flax were quite often made. Here only one of typical examples of fate of similar production. In of Ermakovk of Tarsky district of the Omsk Region, construction of flax-processing plant was begun in 1930. The first decades of existence the plant was located in the small wooden barrack, production was carried out mainly manually. The main draft power at the enterprise was made by bulls. In the late fifties for flax-processing plant built the brick building in which installed the new electrodriving equipment. In the 1960th the output of linen fabrics increased, the role of the plant in economic life of the village raised. As well as most other similar enterprises, Ermakovsky flax-processing plant stopped the existence in the 1990th, without having sustained economic realities.

In many places of residence of descendants of the Belarusian immigrants rather resistant traditions of arts and crafts introduced from places of an exit of their ancestors remained. First of all it is ornamental motives of an embroidery on towels, bench hammers, shirts and sundresses. Among the first generations of immigrants many women carried andarak once widespread in Belarus — woolen skirts from checkered fabric.

One of the most resistant markers of traditional Belarusian culture in the Urals and in Siberia are features of cooking. Among national dishes almost all informants mention hash browns. Potatoes dishes always took the key place in a diet of Belarusians. Among meat food pork dishes, including fat were most widespread. Descendants of immigrants from the Minsk and Vitebsk provinces mention the dish under the name of "coma" representing balls from the wiped potatoes with a fat or pork stuffing which cook in the boiling water or are baked in the furnace. It is remarkable that the similar dish under the name "zeppelins" has wide circulation in the national cuisine located in the neighbourhood with these regions Lithuania. Among natives of the different regions of Belarus there is a number of the similar dishes which are carrying different names and having differences in recipes. So, natives of the western regions of Belarus mention more often zrazas and also flour and potato trickled pastries which, as a rule, were added to soup. Among natives of east provinces "sorcerers" — similarity of dumplings from potatoes or the test filled with pork or poppy are quite often mentioned. Many Belarusian families living in the Urals and in Siberia carry pork sausages to national dishes. The descendants of immigrants living in Bashkortostan from the Pruzhansky district located in the territory of the modern Brest Region called similar sausages "shklyondry".

For many representatives of the first generations of immigrants from Belarus the language was one of the main markers of ethnocultural identity. Many informants note that the first generation of immigrants spoke mainly Belarusian. At the following which is given rise in Siberia, generations language began to lose purity, gradually turning into a specific Russian-Belarusian dialect. It can be partly compared with a phenomenon of "trasyanka" — the dialect which was widespread in some rural areas of Belarus in which the Russian words pronounced according to rules of vocabulary and phonetics of Belarusian prevail. Now among most of descendants of the Belarusian immigrants pronounced dialect distinctions with the starozhilchesky population did not remain any more. However in certain settlements, among representatives of the senior generations, we recorded separate elements of "the Belarusian dialect" and also use of some nouns borrowed from Belarusian, the majority of which is of particular importance in their life (for example, instead of "onions" speak to "tsybu-la", instead of "potato" — "potatoes", etc.).

The principles of resettlement and ethnocultural processes among the Belarusian immigrants...

Among specific calendar ceremonialism of Belarusians the informants most often call such holidays as Bathed, Yuryev, Dzyada. Over time many of them lost the majority of elements of the initial sacral context. So, some younger generations of descendants of the Belarusian immigrants in the territory of the Tyumen and Omsk regions in daily use called Kupala's holiday the word "fire". According to their descriptions, it came down to an evening sit-round gathering outdoors about a fire. Similar simplification of the ceremonial party is characteristic also of descriptions of a holiday of Dzyada. Now most of the Belarusian families in which this holiday is celebrated reduce it to simple commemoration of ancestors, passing the majority of the ceremonial actions which once developed in national culture.

Against the background of a tendency to fading of folklore traditions and calendar ceremonialism of Belarusians of Siberia it is possible to track the process of their artificial revival which began in the 1990th the Belarusian national cultural associations created in many places of compact accommodation of Belarusians in the territory of the Russian Federation. So, thanks to activity of similar associations, reconstruction of national holidays became widespread in many settlements in which Belarusians lived. For example, in the Tyumen Region, to the village of Desyatovo of the Ishim district in which there is no carrier of traditional Belarusian culture left efforts of national and cultural society "Belarus" carry out every year a performance of the holiday "Bagach" celebrated during the end of harvesting. In the areas explored by us, modern reconstruction of such Belarusian holidays and ceremonies as Gramnitsa, Radstvo, "Gukanye of spring", "Bathed", "St. George's day", Dzyada, etc. in this way are carried out

Thanks to penetration into life of rural settlements of media and the Internet and also trips of some of their inhabitants home of ancestors, similar holidays are most often spent according to their prototypes taking place in the territory of modern Belarus. At the same time, as a rule, only the outer, aestheticized side of these holidays deprived of their original sacral, cultural or economic context is reproduced. Only in rare instances it is possible to speak about revival of the original traditions transferred from generation to generation which did not lose the initial value and semantic value for local community. It is possible to refer honoring and a ceremony of transfer of an icon to their examples "Candle" in of Osinovk of Vikulovsky district of the Tyumen Region. The icon "Resurrection" called by locals "Candle" esteemed in this village according to the legend, was brought to Siberia still by the first generation of immigrants from the Mogilev province and was considered as the keeper of residents of this village. The name of an icon indicates that the ceremony of its transfer, most likely, was combined with the national holiday "Candle", once widespread in some regions of Belarus, originating in pre-Christian history of east Slavs. By the tradition existing in the village, for every Christmas the transfer of an icon accompanied with a religious procession from one log hut in another where it will be within a year is made. As a rule, the choice falls on the oldest and most dear residents of the village. In registration of an iconostasis and traditions of honoring of an icon it is possible to track presence of many specific echoes of traditional Belarusian culture. So, the iconostasis is decorated artificial with flowers, a foil and a national embroidery. The locals reading an icon have a custom to leave it in "victim" money, products or jewelry, thinking at the same time in prayers of treasured, intimate desires. There is a custom to sit down under an icon, receiving thus "blessing". The road for a religious procession is always covered with straw. Today on transfer of an icon a large number of descendants of the Belarusian immigrants from different districts of the Tyumen Region

gathers every year in Osinovka of

Speaking about a modern sociocultural situation in the places of compact accommodation of Belarusians explored by us in the territory of the Urals and Western Siberia, it is possible to draw the following conclusions. To a degree all descendants of the Belarusian immigrants underwent process of economic and cultural integration into the regional communities which accepted them that in no small measure promoted their assimilation in ethnically related environment consisting of some other groups of immigrants and Siberian old residents. However in most cases in the cultural landscape of the settlements founded by Belarusians meaning unity of material, spiritual culture and a way of life in our understanding it is possible to track the unique lines expressed in the principles of managing, features of architecture and arts and crafts traditions, calendar ceremonialism and folklore. Fundamental

a condition of further existence of these lines is maintaining ethnocultural consciousness of local community. In it it is possible to track several contradictory trends. On the one hand, these people consider themselves full Siberians, old residents of places in whom they live. With another, in archetypes of consciousness of these local communities the otherness elements expressed in opposition of to culture and a way of life of starozhilchesky — the chaldonsky and Old Belief environment remain. However similar opposition most often has only declarative character connected rather with the memory of traditions of the ancestors, than with preservation who were once taking place of real cultural or economic contradictions. Therefore, besides preservation of separate elements of ethnocultural self-identification, among descendants of the Belarusian immigrants it is possible to track also the accruing processes of their assimilation with a local ethnic environment. This process is strengthened by the trends, general for the modern Russian village, connected with outflow from it of youth, destruction of cultural continuity of generations and fading of many traditional forms of managing which were once playing an important role in life of these local communities.


M.M. Goomyko world of the Russian village. M.: Young Guard, 1991. 445 pages

People of Bashkortostan: Historical and ethnographic essays. Ufa: Gel, 2002. 504 pages

R.Z. Yanguzin. The ethnic structure of the population of Bashkortostan (following the results of the All-Russian population census of 2002). Ufa: Kitap, 2007. 124 pages

Tyumen, IPOS Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science;

** Tyumen scientific center Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science

The article generalizes results of expeditionary investigations at the places of dense residence with descendants of Byelorussian settlers of the second half of XIX — early XX with. on the territory of certain districts in the Urals and West Siberia. Basing on these data, authors studied correlation between settlement characteristics and interaction with the environment of old residents and other ethnic groups of settlers.

Byelorussians, settlers, agrarian reform, ethnocultural identity, traditional Byelorussian culture in Siberia.

Nicole Martina
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