EVA 2002 Moscow
Exhibition "Multimedia in Culture, Art and Education"

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Internet project «There Lived a Couple». Komi People Traditional Culture in Life Cycle Rituals (the end of XIX - beginning of XX century)

Year of production: 2002

Languages: Russian


Komi peasants of the past accompanied all significant events of their life with special ceremonies and rituals which determined the whole life a person — from birth till death. The sections of our exposition describe religious holidays, events that had secret meaning for the inhabitants of komi land in the end of the 19th — the beginning of the 20th centuries:
Section 1: Komi as a path of Finno-Ugric ethnic group, the past and the present.
Section 2: Choice of a marriage partner in komi traditions.
Section 3: Weddings ceremony. Precepts of spiritual well-being of a family
Section 4: Maternal love in Komi Culture. Children — new «sprouts» of peasants life.
Section 5: Komi man in his hunting grounds.
Section 6: House of well-to-do family. Spiritual traditions of a peasant family.
Section 7: Christmas in Komi at the end of the 19th — early 20th centuries. Death as a completion of life cycle. But life goes on…
Section 8: “World of ancestors” in Komi folk art.
Section 9: The circle of Religions Holidays — orthodox holidays in traditional komi culture.

The komi-zyryans belong to a Large Finno-Ugric ethnic group, which is characterized in the first section of the exposition “Komi as a part of Finno-Ugric ethnic group, the past and the present”. The map, which opens the section, shows the areas of settling of Finno-Ugric peoples. The archeological finds discovered in the excavations of medieval monuments are placed in show-cases. They disclose the domestic conditions of our ancestors and testify to the ethnocultural connections between komi people and Finno-Ugric peoples. The items of the “Permial animal style” (the images a bear, of a bird with a human mask on its breast, of a married couple with a child), presented in the exposition, introduce the world of pagan beliefs of the ancestors of komi people.
The figures of pagan idols, brought to the museum from the shores of the Arctic Ocean, finish the section. For centuries they “helped” komi and Nenets reindeer – breeders in their hard nomadic life. In the context of the exposition the idols symbolize the “Sacred world of ancestors”.
The second section of the exposition “Choice of a partner in komi traditions” consist of two complexes. The first one is based on the game of komi people from the Sysola area. The game is called “Hunting”. During this game a young man, having overcome all the obstacles, chose a bride. The traditional costumes of komi people of the 19th — 20th centuries are demonstrated on the dummies, specially made view of existing anthropological types.
Another plot of the section is revealed in a relatively-scenic complex “Irkap and Blue Reindeer”, which is created on the basis of a legend, written down by K.F.Zhakov. The Hunter pursues a blue reindeer; as the plot develops the reindeer transforms into a beautiful girl.
The complex “Departure of the Young to the Wedding Ceremony” is created to disclose the topic of the third sections of the exposition “Wedding of komi. Precepts of spiritual well-being of a family”. This complex shows a bridegroom with a godmother, a bride with a godfather, parents and friends in the wedding train made of sledge. Before the departure the parents blessed the young with an icon and a loaf of bread. Icons, woven towels, belts, festive costumes, bells, decorated baskets, made of bats and chests with dowry. multicolored shawls emphasize the beauty, brightness and significance of wedding.
The fourth section of exposition “Maternal love in komi culture. Children — new «sprouts» of peasant life” is opened with a collection of cradles of the end of the 19th — early 20th centuries. The complex “Bath - house in ceremonies of life cycle” underlines the role a bath-house played in birth giving ceremonies, in rituals connected with childe treatments. The set of talismans, used by women in childbirth and in children treatments, is also displayed.
Komi people associated the recovery from sterility, healing children and relatives of sufferings with worshiping the so-called Promised Crosses. The complex “Promised Crosses” is devoted to this topic.
The topic “Êomi woman-an absolute mistress to a house” is revealed on the basic of the fairy tale about a woman and three pots, written down by V.P.Nalimov. According to this fairy tale the woman herself creates her home, family, well-being. The pots are expected to help her in creating her home, where people live in plenty.
One of the investigators of komi everyday life in the 19th centre wrote that “if it were necessary and possible to write Zyryan history, one should have started with the history of their hunting”. The fifth section of the exposition “Komi man in his hunting grounds” acquaints us with the development of hunting and fishing of the komi-zyryans. The exposed material is divided into 3 complexes: “River possessions”, “Forest possessions”, “Hunting hut”. Among the exhibits there is a boat, hunter’s and fisherman’s equipment, traps for animals and birds, items of a traditional interior of a hunting hut.
The sixth section of the exposition “House of a well-to-do family. Spiritual traditions of a peasant family” reflects the significance of a house of the center of household and spiritual life of a family. The main essence is disclosed with the help of three relatively-scenic complexes. The main one is “Winter house”. It reproduces the interior of a traditional house during the period of Easter celebration at the end of the 19th — early 20th centuries. In the corner there are the most respected among the komi population icons, such as “St.Nicholas”, “The Vernicle”, “The Virgin of Kazan”.
The complex presents male, female and children clothes, a cradle, a toy horse, caskets for needlework, tableware, utensils, The complex “Outer entrance hall” displays the photos of traditional buildings for living. The complex shows the visitors various agricultural instruments; joiner’s and carpenters tools, means of transportation.
The Complex “Christmas”, which is a part of the seventh section of the exposition called “Christmas in Komi at the end of the 19th — 20th centuries”, gives the idea of celebration of one of the basic Christian holidays on Komi land. The plot is based on legends about Christmas fortune-telling, written down by K.F. Zhakov and A.S. Sidorov. The interior of old deserted house is reproduced. The topic “Death as a completion of life cycle” is exposed by means of the photocomplex showing funeral rites of komi.
The complex “And life continues…” is arranged as an exposition with open access and specially designed for work with children.
The reference to the past is of vital importance for any nation. Each ancient exhibit is a special story about our grandfathers’ and great-grandfathers’ life style, their joys and sorrows. The strings of fairy plots the ancestral world lean us to the future, transferring the wisdom of human soul, skills of living in peace and harmony...

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