Team I, May 31 - June 11, 2012
Smolensk province, Velizh district, Selezni village Cost: $1400
(US dollars) Rendezvous point: Moscow End point: Moscow
Tucked up against the Belarusian border, the
region around the west
Russia town of Velizh has preserved a rich variety of folk songs and
ritual traditions. People still strongly believe in house spirits,
forest nymphs and witches. We will be staying in the village of
Selezni, home to a wonderful, authentic folklore singing group. As most
of singers are in their 70s, one of our most urgent projects will be to
record their songs.
In addition, we timed our expedition in order
to document the important
religious holiday of Trinity (Whit Sunday, June 3rd). We expect
to see both Christian and pagan elements in the local Whitsuntide
(Trinity week) observances. According to local belief, during
Trinity week you may meet a house spirit or a forest nymph, or have a
prophetic dream. We will document the Whit Saturday rituals for
commemorating the dead, and record the holiday dancing and singing.
Our third major project in Selezni will be
visiting local residents to
collect their stories about house spirits, forest nymphs, witches and
other magical personages.
On our way to Selezni we will visit the city
of Smolensk, the “western
gate” to Russia. Founded in 863, Smolensk has dealt with centuries of
invasions from the west - Lithuanian, Polish, French, and
German. The city was burnt down 27 times, but its 12th
century churches and large Kremlin still stand, along with more recent
monuments and a modern city center.
In addition, our team members will have
an option to visit the
wonderful museum-estate of the famous Russian zoologist and explorer
Nikolai Przhevalskii (1839-1888), a place where we can feel the
atmosphere of that elegant epoch which the Russian revolution closed
down with a crash.
This expedition is the part of American
Friends of Russian Folklore
program. Please, have a look at -
A detailed briefing and itinerary are if you
send a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org