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About Russia

Nations of Russia

The Veps

The Veps also known as the Chud (before 1920th), the Vepsya, the Bepsya, the Veps. The basic territory of settling: the Prionezhsky area of the Republic of Karelia, the Boksitogorsky, the Lodeinopolsky, thePodporozhsky and the Tikhvin areas of the Leningradsky region, the Babaevsky area of the Vologodsky region.

There were 12501 persons of the Veps in 1989, 12142 of them were living in the Russian Federation, from them 5954 persons (49,0 %) were living in the Republic of Karelia, 4273 persons (35,2 %) in the Leningrad region. In city settlements lives 49,3 % of the Veps.

The Veps belong to the Eastern Baltic type of the Belomor-Baltic small race. The Vepsian language belongs to the Baltic-Finnish subgroup of a Finno-Ugric branch of the Ural languages. There are 3 dialects, in accordance with ethnographic groups: the Northern, the Middle and the Southern. There are also transitive dialects. The Vepsian language is basically used in a domestic life. The Veps are bilingual. In Russia of 48,3 % of them consider the Russian language to be the native language, and 49,5 % freely speak the Russian. In Karelia 37,5 % of the Veps consider the Vepsian language to be the native, in the Leningrad region - 69,6 %.

In 1932 The Vepsian writing was created and until 1937 was based on the Latin writing. Revival of writing has begun in the end of 1980th and the Cyrillic and the Latin writings were used. Latin writing is in the use now.

The Veps are the Orthodox by the religion. It is the most probable that the Veps ancient ancestors lived in the Southeast Baltic, whence in the beginning of the first millennium AD they start to move eastward. From the 11th to the 14th centuries there was a movement of some ancient Veps to the Olonets isthmus. North to the river Svir' they encountered with a separate groups of the Korels. In same time the Veps ancestors began to explore territories to the Northeast of the Mezhozerie (so called Zavolochie). They have reached a river basin of Northern Dvina. From the end of the 18th to the beginning of the 20th centuries the Veps territory appeared to be divided between the Žlonets and the Novgorod provinces. Veps from the Olonets province were more actively involved in all spheres of public life than their fellow tribesmen in the Novgorod province.

Agriculture was a main occupation of the Veps until the middle of 20th century. Cattle breeding occupied a significant place. The hunt and fishery had a subsidiary role. From the middle of the 19th century the lumbering became an important craft. From the middle of the 20th century the agriculture became meat-and-milk orientated.

In the inhabitation territory of the Veps never existed any industrial productions and that caused outflow of a significant part of able-bodied population to the industrial areas in the beginning of 20th century. The Veps settlements have a free planning. The Southern Veps dwellings have the traditional interior of a North-Central Russian log hut with an archaic building technology. The traditional costume was similar to the clothes of the North Russian population, but there were also some original features. The men's traditional costume consists of a shirt and trousers. The shirt was usually sewed from an unpainted fabric and decorated with embroidery on the collar, on sleeves and on a hem. At the end of 19th century there were two complexes of traditional women's wear: sarafan and skirt.

At the end of 19th century the traditional food of the Veps was bread (the Leib) and flour made products. Bread usually baked of rye flour, sometimes with addition of barley or oats flours. One of the favorite kinds of the open pies was the kalitky. The beer (the Olud) was the main beverage of any holiday at the Southern and the Middle Veps. The " beer holidays " tradition was not so popular among the Northern Veps. The head of the family always sat at the table first and cut the bread. The family ate from the common utensils. It was strictly forbidden to laugh and to swear.

In the past the Veps had the territorial associations. They were replaced by the rural communities, which functions did not differ from the Russian ones. In the beginning of 20th century the Veps had the small family, though the big and undivided families continued to exist in some regions. Woman played an important role in the life of the Northern Veps family.

Because the Veps were adherents of the Orthodoxy, they had a calendar ceremonialism connected to the church calendar. Easter, the Trinity, the Egoriev and the Ivanov days were an important religious holidays. Until 1930th the wedding ceremonialism, in many respects, was similar to the North Russian. The most of the folklore was performed in the Russian language.

The Veps worshiped fur-tree, a juniper, a mountain ash and an alder. There are ancient mythological representations about a bear, the wolf, a swallow, a snipe, the hawk, a pike and snake of happiness (ozamadooúet).

Proverbs, chastooshkas, lullabies songs, legends about conquerors (the Lithuanians, the Turks and the Poles) are the most popular folklore genres. There are also lamentations, fairy tales and lyrical songs.

Woodcarving, elm weaving, a clay sculpture of small forms, embroidery and weaving represent the folk art.


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