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The museum of indigenous peoples of St.Petersburg's lands

RAS Anthropology and Ethnography Museum Named after Peter the Great, St.Petersburg Society of Ingermanland’s Finns Inkerin Liitto

On Wednesday, on February 28 at 15.00 at the RAS Anthropology and Ethnography Museum named after Peter the Great (Kunstkammer) a festive opening ceremony of a new temporary exposition will take place. A new Museum of Indigenous Peoples of St. Petersburg Lands will be presented, which was organized in the end of 2006 by St. Petersburg Ingrian Finn Society "Inkerin Piitto" with the support of the St. Petersburg Government's Committee on youth affairs and relations with public organizations.

The opening ceremony is timed to the Kalevala Day, which by tradition is celebrated on February 28. Many runes of this famous epic were written from the folk tales of the indigenous peoples of St. Petersburg's Lands.

In the ceremony will take place director of RAS Kunstkammer (MAE) doctor of history Y.K. Chistov, the management of St. Petersburg Ingrian Finn Society "Inkerin Piitto". The participation of the Consul General of Finland in St.Petersburg Mr. Yuhani Väänänen is expected.

In the vicinity of St. Petersburg still live the Vods, Izhors, Finns - the most ancient indigenous peoples of the North-Eastern lands that from times immemorial inhabited the coasts of the Gulf of Finland, the lands to the South and to the North of the Neva River. Their past is lost somewhere in the depth of the thousands of years; they were mentioned in the European documents of the Middle Ages and the Old Russian Chronicles. Despite the geographical proximity to St. Petersburg these peoples remained almost unknown to us. Meanwhile the Vods, Izhors, Finns long ago opened up and cultivated these cold stony lands and for centuries on end protected them from the enemies' attacks, and managed not only to survive, but to preserve their unique culture. It is on the lands of the ancient Izhors, where multiple settlements of Izhors and Finns were located, that St. Petersburg was founded. The native peoples of this land has left a folk heritage of a really incalculable value - exceeding a hundred thousands beautiful songs and ancient runes, lamentations, charms and incantations. Their culture and languages gave the material of the highest value for studying the history of the Ancient Russian state and that of Europe.

An unusual form of this new interactive mobile Museum of Indigenous Peoples of St. Petersburg Lands permits to organize on its basis educational mobile exhibitions that can be deployed in any place from the museum halls to the rural clubs, schools, and libraries. The museum can provide presentations of various forms; live folk music performances, teaching traditional crafts and folk dances, lecturing and all sorts of thematic expositions.

Rare items of everyday life of the 19th - 20th centuries are on display in the museum. Some 200 genuine objects are exhibited here.

The folk costumes are thoroughly reconstituted on the basis of museum collections of Russia, Estonia and Finland by a specially established Reconstruction Group, which united people of different ages - the Vods, the Izhors and the Finns.

Genre scenes titled "The Marriage of the Vods", "The Izhors at the seaside", "Ivan's day (Saint John the Baptist's Day) at the Finns - Auramoisets, (Evremeisets)" "Christmas at the Finns-Savakots" are a dramatic illustration to the exhibition. Their characters are created in the traditions of the folk puppets of Ingermanlandia.

Extraordinary is the settlement map of the indigenous peoples of St.Petersburg's land - it is done in an ancient patchwork technique with the puppets dressed in the garments of various parishes of Ingermanlandia, the puppets that were in use on the isles of the Gulf of Finland.

The festivity and vividness of the exposition are far from accidental: bright yellow, red and blue colors are constantly mentioned in old folk songs and prevail in mysterious looking folk embroideries.

The mobile Museum of Indigenous Peoples of St. Petersburg Lands is rich in a great amount of ethnographic photographs. More than a thousand unique photo materials and drawings were used for the exposition. Multiple rare pictures underwent creative computer processing according to an author's methodology. A group of young photographers "Uusi Kaarti" went to more than 50 expeditions all over Ingermanlandia. Their works are also to be seen at the exhibition.

While the exhibition is open the DVD-films will be shown non-stop, i.e. ethnographic films "The Vods. The Past and the Present of the Disappearing People" and "Izhora: the Wind Brought Songs to Them" shot at the Ethnos Studio in 2004 - 2006 (script writer - Olga Igorevna Konkova; director - Nina Olegovna Serebryakova).

The Museum of Indigenous Peoples of St. Petersburg Lands will undoubtedly enrich the culture of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, will widen the horizons of our culture, including into it a distinctive and unknown ancient culture and the history of the native peoples of our land. The visitors to the exhibition will learn that the first settlers arrived to these lands some 10 thousand years ago. They will be able to imagine, what the ancient tribes believed in and what they worshipped. They will understand the mysterious world of magic rituals and incantations. They will wonder the beauty and peculiarity of the folk costumes of the Vods, the Izhors and the Finns. They will begin to empathize with the events of the 20th century. And they will understand what riches are still hidden in our land.

The mobile museum was created by volunteers - the representatives of indigenous peoples of St. Petersburg's lands - Finns, Izhors and Vods. The author and director of the project - a scientific worker of RAS Anthropology and Ethnography Museum named after Peter the Great (Kunstkammer) O.I. Konkova.

The traditional Izhor garment.
Settlement map in patchwork technique.
Puppets and musical instruments.


Saint John the Baptist's Day at the Finns -
Auramoisets, (Evremeisets)"
A puppet scene "The Izhors at the seaside"
Some everyday things.


The first stand (general view)
Christmas at the Finns.
There are 16 such stands.


These costumes will be on display in the
show cases.
A puppet scene "Marriage of the Vods".

A folk musical group of the Korpi native people will play at the opening ceremony, Old Kalevala songs will be sung.

During the exposition a Day of Culture of Indigenous Peoples of St. Petersburg Lands is planned. The exhibition will be open till December 31, 2009.

Telephones: 328-14-12 (coordinating manager), 328-41-41 (Konkova Olga Igorevna).

The working hours of the museum 11.00 - 18.00. Tickets on sale from 11.00 till 16.45, except Mondays and last Tuesday of each month. Fax: 328-08-11.
199034, St. Petersburg, Universitetskaya Embankment, 3.