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On a vizit to semeiskiye

Source:  Buryatia. The sunny side of Baikal. - Ulan-Ude, 2010. - H. 60-61.

Old-Beleiuers - semeiskie present a bright and ancient branch of the Russian people, a part of pre-Petrine Moscovia. In the second half of the 18th century a lot of schismatic people were exiled to Buryatiya after the decree of Catherine II [the people were those who refused to accept the innovations of church reforms, sticking to their old faith, rites, everyday life routine.

They were exiled in families, that explains the name «semeiskiye» -family. Thanks to these people being extremely hard-working, a lot of good settlements appeared: Tarbagatai, Kuitun, Kunalei, Desyatnikovo, Burnashevo. Nowadays, thanks to their spiritual culture, the relocatees keep their unique traditions and faith.

Their houses are nice and smart with special interior: painted ceiling and inwrought floor-cloths. The main part of the house is the stove where the hosts bake mushroom, fish and bird-cherry pies and pancakes with sour-cream and honey - this is what the guests are treated with, traditional Old-Believers cuisine.

The dresses of semeiskiye ladies are marvelously beautiful: the chemise is wonderfully embroidered with birds and flowers, bright pinafores and dresses are decorated with inkle and the head is covered with kichka (ancient headdress) and on the breast they have several amber bead necklaces, inherited from great-grandmothers. When they start singing their songs, either sad or cheerful, one can not help singing together. And their performance of wedding makes one want to get married. In Tarbagatai there is an amazing museum. Priest of the local «Russian Old-Orthodox Church», fdther Sergii created this museum of the household items of the Old-Believers of the 18th century, conducting the excursions himself.

Presenting remarkable value, the original spiritual culture of Semeiskiye was declared «Masterpiece of oral and noncorporeal heritage of the humankind» and included in the first list of UNESCO in Paris in 2001.

There are tourist routs connected with the traditions of the Transbaikal Old-Believers, cultural programs and excursions following the rout of protopope Avvakum, an unfrocked monk, a martyr for the «Old Faith», sentenced to exile in these areas he wrote about his drudgery a «Hagiorgraphy...»; eventually he was burned «for the great abuses upon the tsar».



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