C.1 Private and collective sphere of women

Organiser: Ildikó Lehtinen

Friday, August 26, Dept. of Jewish Studies (Judaistik)

(Original symposium call)


Ildikó Lehtinen:

Частная и публичная сфера жизни женщины (The Changing Role of East-Mari Women - Combination of the Individual and Workplace Needs)

Mari women’s stereotypical role in the countryside are the nurturer, the motherhood and the kolkhoz-worker. At the same time, in the local authority sector, women seem to be better represented as the men. In the Mari countryside mostly the women referred to the cultural life working at the local museum, at the library or the cultural centre. The role of women developed enormously in the family life and in the work place, too.

My case represents the East-Mari village of Bahtybaevo (Mari: Kužnur, Baškir: Bahtybaj) of Birsk district in Baškortostan. I visited the village in the frame of my ethnological field-works three time, at 1991, 2009 and 2019. In this paper, I discuss the changing role of the women during the post-Soviet era. Why and how the Mari women combin the family life and the work-place? Why represents the Mari Identity an enormous meaning for the Mari women?

It is about three different levels. The first time at 1991, my key point was the observation and interviewing of Mari women about the outfit, clothing and jewels in the past and the present. By the proposition of the headmaster, I visited the small school-museum. It was situated in a small teaching room with some hanging handmade towels and cloths. Why to collect items? The answer was very simple: the parents donated to the school the useless objects.

At 2009, in the focus of my study was the everyday practices. The village impressed as a well-being place with new houses in Mari type. Firstly, our ethnological group asked about the Mari tradition. All people proposed two craftmen who made decorated window frames. What about the women’s crafts? The answer was negative.

In 2019, the village declared oneself as Mari village. In 2018, the village of Bahtybaevo elected as the most beautiful village of Baškortostan. How was it possible? The first village was Baškirian, but the second – Bahtybaevo. It is true, that in the village is working two craftsmen and one artist. All are quit well-known between the Mari people, but all are working by the own career. Natalya, a young wife, mother and intrested with the art, organised for the children workshops about the Mari tradition. She leaded some international workshops by initiative of administration. She got enthusiastic by the mother’s cloths, and hade idea to collect items for a museum. In 2018 she impressed the administration of the village, and received som space for the museum. She made propaganda for the Mari tradition, and the museum opened in 2018.

Natalya worked for the community, for the museum, for the school-children and at last, for the Mari people. It is true that some feminine traits advanced the cultural work, as she had ability for multitask as mother, and she had sensitivity for the ancestor’s tradition.

Пушкарева, Н. Л. 2010. Власть, этнос, семья. Гендерные роли в XXI веке. Москва: ИЭА РАН.

Wiborg, Agnete 1998. Changing Women in Rural Areas in Change - New Challenges for Rural Development. Hilkka Vihinen & Pasi Saukkonen (eds.) Rural and Regional Development, 97-123. Mikkeli: University of Helsinki.


Roza Laptander:

The Tundra Nenets’ fire rites or What is hidden inside of the Nenets female needlework bag tutsya?

In Nenets culture, the worship of fire is reflected in folklore, cosmology and many religious rites. There are many rules of everyday behaviour in the tundra which are based on the belief that a domestic fire can be protective, but without human control it is destructive and dangerous. The hearth is physically and symbolically associated with women, family wealth, cooking, heating, needlework and childbearing. Thus, it follows that women are responsible for making the fire, along with all rites connected to the fire and smoke. Fire is also communicative; it can talk to people and give omens. The protective energy of the fire helps a woman to fumigate a living space, and bless her family, people and reindeer, protecting them from her dangerous power of female connection to the world of ancestors. During these rites, only the women can talk in the symbolic language of the fire. Both needlework and making the fire are under the control of a woman. This also indicates a deeper connection between female work and the fire which is both practical as well as linked to religious beliefs and rules. I propose that this symbolic linkage between the fire and women also reflects a kind of collaborative teamwork. Women use their control of fire and sewing skills which animal hides are transformed into materials that are physically protective and good for staying outside in the Arctic tundra.


Eszter Ruttkay-Miklián:

Nők a hagyományos hanti faluban / Women in the traditional Khanty village / Женщины в традиционной хантыйской деревне 

Előadásomban arra a kérdésre keresem a választ, hogy hogyan formálódnak a női közösségek a hagyományos hanti falvakban.

A patrilokális házasodási szabályok alapján a férfiak szülőfalujukban élik le életüket, míg a nők elhagyják születési helyüket, és férjük falujában töltik felnőtt életüket. Egy adott időszakban egy településen tehát két női csoport lakik: a helyben született, még nem férjezett lányok, valamint máshonnan származó anyáik, nagyanyáik. A születési hely különbsége természetesen azt is jelenti, hogy eltérő nemzetségbe tartoznak. Amíg azonban a „helyi lányok” egy nemzetség tagjai (a helyi férfiakkal együtt), a „feleségek” különböző falvakból, nemzetségekből érkeztek, eltérő helyismerettel, nyelvváltozattal, hagyományokkal. Annak ellenére, hogy a feleségek eltérő háttérrel rendelkeznek, ők nevelik fel a helyi gyermekeket. A kérdés az, hogy hogyan változik a nők tudása a faluban töltött idő alatt? Megőrződik, továbbadódik-e sajátos, otthonról hozott hagyományuk, vagy kialakul egy helyi norma, amihez minden új, bekerülő tagnak igazodnia kell? Előadásomban szinjai hanti terepadatok alapján mutatom be e kérdéskört.

This presentation aims to present the way female communities take form in a traditional Khanty village.

According to patrilocal marriage rules men live their whole lives in their birthplace while women leave the place where they were born and spend their adult lives in their husbands’ village. Therefore two groups of women reside in a settlement: the girls born in the village and their mothers and grandmothers who originally come from other settlements. While the „local girls” belong to the same clan as the local men, the „wives” come from different villages and clans with different knowledge, dialects, traditions. Despite their different background the wives raise the local children. How the women’s knowledge is formed during their time spent in the village? Do they preserve and pass on the traditions they were born into or as new members of a community do they adapt to a local norm?

The analysis of this question is to be based on my Synya Khanty field work.


Tatyana Voldina & Valery Ledkov:

Особенности выражения этничности хантыйских женщин - горожанок (вторая половина XX – начало XXI вв.)

By the end of the ХХ century, more than half of the Khanty lived in cities. Most of them were women. Men usually adhered to traditional activities, and, therefore, to places of traditional living, while female representatives are more mobile, strive for higher education, are more likely to enter inter-ethnic marriages.

The purpose of the study is to trace the features of ethnicity expression among Khanty women of different generations in urban conditions. Comparative analysis is based on surveys, observations and conversations. At the beginning of the XXI century, it became possible to trace ethnic continuity in three generations. As a reference, the stories of well-known Khanty women, born in the 1930s in the traditional environment, but becoming townswoman, are taken; and also the stories of their daughters and granddaughters, born already in the city.

The frst generation, from childhood, has learned traditional ethnic values, remains loyal to them through life and transmits them through the activities and opportunities that the urban environment provides them. For them, a mono-ethnic marriage is typical.

In the second generation, the connection with the traditional environment is still preserved, certain traditions are assimilated. They do not speak their native language, but they usually understand the Khanty speech. These townspeople experience a certain psychological dissonance, being in an alien environment, they are not considered to be real hunters. To overcome the marginal state, the relevant spheres of activity are chosen. They usually join interracial marriages.

And, finally, the generation of grandsons-mestiza still retains ethnic self-consciousness, but only certain words can be known in the Khanty language. Communication with grandmothers gives them an idea of the traditions and even the possession of practical skills in folk art, but they are already divorced from the traditional environment. If you choose creative professions, for example, an artist, you can use national motives, breaking them through your consciousness formed in urban conditions.

Studying other stories of modern Khanty women, representing today both the first and second generations, in general reminds the examples chosen as reference, but have their own distinctive features. They are associated with changes in historical conditions, the infuence of globalization on the preservation of the traditional environment, the Internet, and many other factors of our time. 

Key words: Khanty, ethnicity, women, townspeople, generations, continuity 




Lyudmila Yamurzina:

Об идентитете марийской женщины в Эстонии / About identity of Mari Women in Estonia

It is known that a person has several identities. He, on the basis of various factors, determines his affiliation in the family, in the team and in other places. We will talk about the national identity of Mari women in Estonia

In Estonia live around 200 Mari people. Some of them come in the Soviet time, and most come in the Independent time of Estonia. This «younger» generation had two reasons for choosing Estonia for living here. The first is to get married and the second - study.

I began studying this issue using the autoethnography method, based on my 14 year old memories and come to the conclusion that the change of residebce contributed to the identification of my national identity. To verify my findings, I decided to conduct a survey of other Mari women who moved to Estonia at different times.

In our questionnaire to identify the identtity of Mari women, 8 girls took part, 2 of them came in Soviet times, 2 to study in Tallinn in the 90s, and 2 got married in the 2000s.

So, the questionnaire results and the autobiografy method allow us to say that several factors influence the formation of identity, the most powerful is the family and its values in childhood, as well as the current living conditions- this is the place where he lives (geographical community), area of interest (cultural), social circle (social).

Also, living in Estonia made many people talk about the national identity, it will be decided with him, since living in Russia this question was not in the first place for everyone.

The national identity of those who came to study during independent Estonia is much higher than those who came to Soviet times. We believe that the Program of the Kindred Peoples of Estonia played a significant role in this.


Natalia Zhilina:

Finnish Attire of Adornments in Middle Ages: General Trends and Originality

Attire of each nation has its originality, but it is possible to distinguish the zones with similar regularities of its development. Baltic and Volga-Kama Finns belong to different zones. Attire of Baltc Finns – Suomi, Korela, Est, Livs – belong to Northern European zone along with the one of Balts and Scandinavians. Draped clothing and heavy metal attire existed in the 5th–8th centuries in Northern Europe. It consisted of numerous heavy metal parts which fastened the clothes (pins and wreaths for headscarf laying, shoulder and chest fibulae); multi-row chest chains with chain-holders and pendants, sewn adornments; massive bracelets, spiral bracelets and rings.

In the 9th–15th centuries the attire became lighter, and some features of jewelry attire appeared: the number of chest chains reduced; necklaces made of pendants were spread; jewelry adornments in difficult techniques and artistic styles were used. Filigree fibulae and adornments in Scandinavian art styles were created. Scandinavian variants of them were spread among Finns along with local ones (oval fibulae of Korela).

Costume and attire of Volga-Kama Finns are close to Byzantine-European zone along with the ones of Western Europe and Old Rus’. They consist of tunic-like clothing with sewn-on adornments, headgear of ribbon hoops with side pendants, chest necklaces made of beads and pendants, and wide folding bracelets.

Headgear of Merya, Muroma, Mari, Mordva, Udmurts from the early Middle Ages had ribbon construction with wreath and temporal rings (Muroma had the heaviest variant). It developed to the composite and solid types of headgear (kichka, kokoshnik). Adornments and cases for braids were used. Neck torques and bead necklaces with pendants were characteristic. On the surface of clothes was a layer of sewn noisy metal adornments (chest, back, shoulders, belt, shoes) made of leather, fabric and metal. Central large plates had “doors” and holes. Fasteners (sulgam) had sprout-like parts for fitting the edges of clothing. Horseshoe fibulae were used by Udmurts. Hand adornments included spiral, plate, and rod forms.

Attire of Ves’ demonstrates the traditions of Volga-Kama Finns.

The transition from abundant metal attire to jewelry attire in the 10th–15th centuries was determined by its rationalization. Slavic-Russian and Byzantine influences also took place, but the bunch-shaped pendants of Udmurts were original.

So, there is a difference between two traditions of attire in Finnish environment. Baltic and Volga-Kama Finns developed different types of heavy metal attire in early Middle Ages. The general trend was the transition to jewelry attire. Maintaining the originality of each tradition, the sources of external infuence were different: Scandinavia for the Baltic Finns, Byzantum and Ancient Russia for the Volga-Kama Finns.




Mariia Viatchina:

Финно-угорские женщины и раннесоветское здравоохранение: дискурсивные методы борьбы с трахомой через эмансипацию

Доклад будет посвящен тому, как в раннесоветской кампании по борьбе с трахомой обсуждалась роль женщины - националки. Трахома - это инфекционное заболевание глаз, которое на поздних стадиях вызывает слепоту. В поздний период существования Российской империи и в раннесоветское время, когда повсеместно обсуждалась эпидемия этой инфекционной болезни, среди врачей и ученых было распространено убеждение, что именно «инородцы», а в особенности финно-угорское население, повсеместно подвержено трахоме. В 1920-е годы, до начала осуждения расовых теорий, часть ученых пыталась найти причину в биологических отличиях (например, особенности устройства глазного века у монголоидного населения). Привлекались множественные экзотические концепции об эндемичности трахомы и ее исторической укорененности в некоторых регионах. По мере изменения политической идеологии разнообразие идей 1920-х сменилось на трактовку о неблагоприятных бытовых условиях. Работая с архивными источниками (медицинской документацией, описаниями болезни, визуальными источниками раннесоветской пропаганды и материалами на языках коренного населения), я ставлю задачу показать, что представление овыборочном поражении трахомой именно финно-угорского населения - это результат распространения расиализированного языка науки, смещенных выборок и существовенного bias в медицинских данных и их анализе. В рамках конгресса я бы хотела остановиться подробнее на том, как врачи и специалисты из сферы здравоохранения рассматривали распространение болезни через призму «женского вопроса», как эмансипация женщин-представительниц коренного населения дискурсивно осмыслялась как один из инструментов борьбы с эпидемией.

Эмансипация оказывалась связана с борьбой с трахомой среди коренного населения. Например, борьба против ношения традиционных головных уборов объяснялась в том числе как способ борьбы с инфекцией. Также считалось, чтоболезни глаз может провоцировать занятие вышивкой. Другая форма связи фигуры женщины и трахомы - это обсуждение нагрузки, связанной с домашним трудом, который ложился на женщину. Распространение инфекционных заболеваний также фреймировалось как результат «половой распущенности», с которой можно бороться, влияя на сексуальность. Наконец, женщины выделялись в категорию особо опасных врагов советской модерности, поскольку они, по мнению врачей, через знахарство и приверженность идеям целительства останавливали население от того, чтобы обращаться к врачам. На женщин были нацелены руководства от врачей-педиатров, которые называли недостаточно «гигиеничную» материнскую заботу основной причиной трахомы у советских младенцев. В этих медицинских материалах трахома оказывалась связанной с видением будущего. Для будущего советских граждан было необходимо, чтобы матери меняли бытовые привычки и домашний уклад, чтобы женщины отказывались от традиционной этнической одежды, ремесел, и чтобы их раскрепощение физическое было сопряжено с «революцией нравов».