Anthology of Traditional Prikamye Folklore «A Golden Treasury of Permsky Kray»

Permsky Kray has a very special place in the ethnic and cultural environment of Eurasia. Located at the junction of several ethnic and cultural zones, Europe and Asia, the Great Forest and the Great Steppe, its geographical position has determined the fate and fortune of Prikamye to become the historic crossing where the life of many nations has been intertwined from long ago to this day. The region is one of the top in Russia by its ethnic diversity. The official data alone report that Permsky Kray is home to over 120 peoples. The top ten most numerous of them include Russians, Tatars, Komi-Permyaks, Bashkirs, Udmurts, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Germans, Chuvashes, and Maris, each nation enjoying its colorful and distinctive traditional culture.

The multi-ethnic and multi-faceted Perm land has for many centuries cherished an amazing blend of material and spiritual values, identified as ethnical and cultural heritage of Prikamye peoples. With the boost of interest in the history and culture of native land and nation among different social groups, older generations and young people, protecting the ethnic and cultural heritage is ever more vital. It is just as essential to define the place of the tradition in the modern world and bridge the epochs. Introducing the most valuable systems of traditional culture into the contemporary social context will enable us to preserve and cherish the ethnic and cultural heritage.

This message lies at the heart of ‘Anthology of Traditional Folklore’ project. The idea has been designed and implemented by Kamwa, the Perm Public Regional Organization for Promoting Cultural and Youth Projects, and scientific centers of Permsky Kray: Perm Branch of Institute of History and Archaeology of Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, and Perm State Pedagogical University. The project consisted of several stages. From 2007 through 2010, Kamwa Production Group and the ethnographers and folklorists of Perm did scientific expeditions to villages and settlements of Permsky Kray. Geography of the expedition speaks clearly for the project wide coverage. Audio recordings of authentic folk singers and ensembles were taken in 80 localities of 18 administrative districts of the region. Performed in the native language of each people, the songs, tales, charms, legends and chants communicate the diversity of the traditional folklore genres. Following the expeditions, six CDs were released, each featuring the folklore of Prikamye indigenous peoples: Komi-Permyaks, Udmurts, Maris, Tatars, Bashkirs, and Russian. Six CDs stand for six languages and six folk cultures. This is the pioneer systematic project conveying the musical performance of the peoples. Until recently, most publications were released in textual form. As for the Komi-Permyaks, Maris, Udmurts, Bashkirs, and Tatars, this became the first publication of traditional folk music ever in the history of the Perm folklore studies.

This unprecedented publication has come out as the next stage of the project. Earlier released on CDs, the folklore texts were ultimately combined under one cover. For the first time you will find the traditional folklore of six nations of Permsky Kray in six languages compiled in one book.

The biggest challenge was the transcript and translation into Russian and English of the texts collected. This material features a diverse specific character reflecting the dialects of the Russian, Tatar, Komi-Permyak, Udmurt, and Mari languages. Literary adaptation of the texts could not always provide a complete idea of the dialect peculiarities of the locals. However, reproduction of the entire transcription would impede the perception of folklore texts for a large public. With this regard we’ve opted for happy medium by preserving lexical features of native speech and the most typical phonetic features, such as ‘okanye’ (which is the retention of unstressed ‘o’), so intrinsic to the Russian natives in Permsky Kray. When translating the texts into Russian, we’ve attempted to convey the imagery and poetics of each piece and decode some of the complex folklore images of different nations to the Russian reader instead of delivering mere word-for-word interlinear translations.

Working on the book we’ve combined efforts of experts from various realms: ethnographers, folklorists, linguists, translators, professional musicians and producers. The work involved linguists and folklorists from Perm, Yekaterinburg, Yoshkar-Ola, and Izhevsk. Such mutual effort and synergy were instrumental in ensuring that our Anthology would see the light of day.

The book features many color photographs taken during the expeditions. These photographs serve more than the mere evidence to the field work of the project participants; they display faces of the artists and illustrate traits of traditional folk culture. This is a visual portrait, an image of the folk.

The Anthology publication, it is hoped, will contribute to the awakening interest in folklore and folk music culture, since Prikamye’s authentic traditions are a brand of Permsky Kray.

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