284 Pages
    by Routledge

    284 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Kalmyks are in a unique position among the peoples of Europe in several respects, most conspicuously as being the only Buddhist people group in Europe. Until recently they had been a nomadic people, grazing their flocks and herds in the steppe lands north of the Caspian Sea, between the Volga river and the Caucasus mountains. Nowadays, with Russia’s transition to a post-Communist state, the relatively young President of Kalmykia stands out as being a self-made millionaire who has helped put his region 'on the map' not only by promoting economic ties with Japan and the West but also by hosting an international chess Olympiad.

    This practical guide written by a Kalmyk anthropologist, provides a comprehensive introduction to the Kalmyk people. The wide-ranging chapters give an overview of the Kalmyks, focusing on many facets of the Kalmyk culture, including language use, the traditional nomadic economy and dwellings, Kalmyk family and gender relationships, rites of passage, food and clothing, folk crafts, Kalmyk religion and the role of folklore and epic in Kalmyk culture. The Kalmyks provides an original and fascinating perspective on little-known Asiatic people whose history and culture have become intertwined with that of Europe.

    Preface  Introduction  Maps  1. Pages of History: From Medieval Oirats to contemporary Kalmyks  2. Deportation as a collective trauma: 13 years, 13 days  3. Diaspora and Identity  4. Language and ethnolinguistic situation  5. Household economy and dwellings  6. Family and gender stereotypes  7. Life cycle rituals  8. Food, Dress and Ornament  9. Folk crafts and decorative arts  10. Religion, calendar and festivals  11. Folklore and Epic mythology  12. The Leader of the Nation and the idea of Nationhood  Conclusions: Metamorphoses in Kalmyk ethnicity in a period of transformations  Notes  Glossary  Bibliography


    Elza-Bair Gouchinova is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.

    David C. Lewis is a Research Associate of the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit, University of Cambridge.

    "Guchinova (Institute of Ethnography and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences) and Lewis (Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit, U. of Cambridge, UK) present a historical-cultural introduction to the Kalmyk people of southern Russia, who combine a heritage of Mahayana Buddhism and a historical past rooted in the Mongolian Khanates. Aside from the beginning discussion of the Kalmyks' origins, the material generally focuses on their experiences and way of life during the Soviet and contemporary eras. Opening chapters describe their experiences with forced deportation in the 1940s and 1950s and explore more recent issues of diaspora and identity. Later chapters are devoted to language and ethno-linguistics; traditional economy and dwelling; family and gender stereotypes; life cycle rites; food and dress; handicrafts and decorative-applied arts; religion, the calendar, and festivals; folk arts and epics; and folk consciousness and national identity." -- Book News, 2007