Laughing in the Face of Death

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It is really weird for onlookers: decrepit old women with wild whooping shred a doll. The doll’s clothes flocks and last year’s straw are flying right and left and soon this all will be over.  The old women will go back home with a daubed head of the doll. According to an old popular belief they have just provided rich crop for the next year.

This is how ends a complicated ritual of Stroma’s funerals that has been celebrated in Shutilovo village in Nizhny Novgorod region since the beginning of time.

Each year old women dress up a doll and then they shred it and blow around in a field. They say that in the place of a doll there used to be a real man …

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via genamikheev

40 thoughts on “Laughing in the Face of Death”

  1. We are probably the most superstituous peoples in Europe. Did not know about this event.
    Typical for people who
    feel they are not controlling their own life – they are making an attempt to control it by using all this strange rituals. Like in old times. Sad.

    Reply
  2. Why on earth was the abandoned kolkhoz named “Demiurge”? Maybe Bulgakov was right and the whole USSR was a result of black art 😀

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    • My exact point.
      After a terrible intro to these pictures I see Demiurg written in cyrillic. Whole conception of CCCP is a work of fat cat hanging from a candelabrum.

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      • Considering that word demiurge came from Greek demiourgos (“public worker” or craftsman), it may have been a suitable name for a collective or a village, assuming that whoever named it used the literal meaning.

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  3. There isn’t 8 teeth in the whole village. They should have a ritual which produces a dentist to visit next year.

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  4. Fascinating set of pictures. A real ‘slice of life’ that no tourist (or even sophisticated urban local) can ever see up close like this.

    This is the kind of photoset that makes EnglishRussia such an incredible website. Kudos!

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    • I see a great deal of happiness in these pictures. Many smiles – yes these old woman show the signs of having lived life without many comforts, but they have truly lived. Not pitiful existences in front of the TV or other modern day gadgetry. The comments about the lack of dental care – only we who live with ready access to a dentist have the luxury of a full mouth of teeth at middle age and beyond. Get real… most of the world’s elderly suffer from lost teeth as they get older.

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  5. There is a very similar ritual in Romania as well. It’s called “caloianul”.
    Take a look here and judge for yourself how different it is from you you have just seen
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nucqzF3B95E

    or here for some more pics – complete with toothless old ladies, backward villages, and kids acting at a mock funeral – this time in EU ( namely Romania) but I am quite sure you can find similar traditions all around East Europe as well.

    My opinion ? This should be forbidden by law 😛

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  6. Great real life pictures. When they used a ‘real man’ originally for this tradition, was he shredded, and the head taken home as a souvenir? I doubt it, but all cultures had some weird practices hundreds of years ago.

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  7. Unfortunately this is quite normal village. This is most likely somewhere on the Don. Sholokhov book “Silent Don” – remember?

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  8. I mean this sincerely- those women have the most beautiful faces. True beauty, of experience, and life, and love. What wonderful pictures.

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  9. Each post I have read is well written and to the point. I would also like to say, not only are the articles well written, but the lay-out of your site is excellent. It was easy to navigate from article to article and locate what I was looking for with ease. Keep up the excellent work you are doing, and I will be back many times in the near future.

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