The Lake Peipsi area



The Folk Culture Centre

The Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA)


Projekt financial support:
Foundation "Enterprise Estonia"
The Union of Old Believers Parishes of Estonia
NGO Society of Old Believers Culture and Development
Department of Russian language of Tartu University
Foundation of Peipsi Lake region Development


I. P. Kulmoja

Publication of the "Essays on History and Culture of the Old Believers of Estonia" and putting the materials on the website bring to completion the project "The Study of culture of Russian Old Believers of Estonia" carried out by the Society of Old Believers Culture and Development together with the Department of Russian language of Tartu University in 2003. Financial support was provided by the Regional Development Foundation of Estonia. The chairman of the Society of Old Believers Culture and Development P. G. Varunin supervised the project. Professor I. P. Kulmoja, research fellows and lecturers K. Karu, O. N. Palikova and A. V. Steingold participated in the project on the part of the Department of Russian language of Tartu University. The experts from Russia - the specialist in the Old Believers' book culture, archeographer E. A. Ageeva and the dialectologist, senior research fellow of the Vinogradov Institute of Russian language O. G. Rovnova took part in the project too. Technical support was provided by M. A. Varunina.

To prepare dialectological and historical-culturological expeditions to Prichudie (the Lake Peipsi region), E. A. Ageeva and O. G. Rovnova gave the lecture course "Introduction to Russian dialectology", where the problems of description of Russian dialects as well as the history of Old Belief and Old Believers' settlements in Estonia, their customs and traditions were discussed. The course was intended for B.A., M.A. and PhD students of Tartu University. The experts instructed those who wanted to participate in expeditions in methods of collection of dialectological materials and informants' data as well as dialectologist's ethics. According to the project program, E. A. Ageeva studied and made a description of the Estonian Historical Archive materials referring to Old Believers and materials from the Old Beleivers' parishes of Prichudie. Some of them are published in the book and on the website for the first time, in particular the data from the funds: the Livland Governor General 1783-1801; the Livland, Estland and Courland (Kurland) Governor General 1801-1876. At the same time, as E. A. Ageeva observes, a series of the Estonian Historical Archive funds and archives of the Old Believers' parishes of Prichudie still demand a close investigation.

A number of dialectological and culturological expeditions to the places of Old Believers' dense settlement on the western shore of Lake Chudskoe were organized from April to November of 2003. About 50 hours of tape recordings were made during the expeditions. The entries concern different topics: Old Believers' mentality, awareness of their place in society, linguistic peculiarities, rites, folklore, family history and everyday topics. The Old Believers' stories about the history of the region and the Old Belief were recorded, too. Recordings were made in the villages Varnja (Voronja), Kolkja (Kol'ki), Uus Kasepa (Novaia Kazepel') and in Kallaste and Mustvee towns. The informants were inhabitants of these villages and towns in the age of 70 and older since the speech of the younger people is poor in dialectological elements. The essential factor to be taken into consideration was the level of education of informants, which is directly connected to the presence or absence of the dialect traits. The dialects are well preserved in Varnja, Kolkja and Kasepa inhabitants' speech, and to a lesser extent in Mustvee and Kallaste population.

In the book and on the website the dialect speech entries are assigned to various sections according to their topics. Interpretation of recordings and their preparation for publishing have been carried out by O. Rovnova, O. N. Palikova, K. Karu, A. V. Steingold and I. P. Kulmoja. The dialect texts have been adapted for the reader's use: only such distinctive phonetical traits of western Prichudie dialects have been fixed as strong "jakanie" (pronounciation of a instead of the other vowels in the first pretonic), usage of prothetic j in the third person pronouns (у йих) and prothetic i in some verbal and nominal forms (мать ишла, пуд иржи). Other phonetical dialect traits (nondissimilative "akanie", i.e. pronounciaton of the unstressed Russian u as a; hard long consonants s, z, hard c, assimilation and dissimilation in consonant groups) have not been fixed in writing. The stress is put only when its absence hinders comprehension of meaning. Some peculiarities of respondents' oral speech have been dropped (e.g. parasite words, unmotivated repetitions,etc.). All proper names have been changed.

All project participants express their sincere gratitude to Varnja, Kolkja, Kasepa, Mustvee and Kallaste people for their co-operation. We are especially grateful to Zoja Ivanovna Kutkina and Apollinaria Ivanovna Repkina for their assistance. Thanks to all for hospitality and cordial reception!