Dialogue on the Threshold

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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Vogouls (3) Theology, eschatology

On the 14th of May [1692], he embarked at Solikamskoi, and crossing the little River of Usolkat, half a League from this City, he entered the Kama again, and crossed that River from Europe to Asia, arriving in the Country of the first Tartars of Siberia, called Wogulski, which is indifferently well people, and a most pleasant Country all along the Banks of the Susawaia, having on it all Sorts of Flowers and odoriferous Herbs; with prodigious Numbers of Deer, and all Sorts of Game. As the Tartars of Wogul upon this River are Heathens, he had the Curiosity to go on Shore to talk with them, concerning their Belief and Manner of Life. (...) M. Isbrant, the Muscovite Minister, asked them if they had any Knowledge of a God, and if they did not believe there was a supreme Being in Heaven, who created all Things, and governs the World by his good Providence, and who gives Rain and fair Weather? They answered, it was not unlikely, seeing the Sun and Moon, which they worshipped, and the other Stars, were placed in the Firmament, and that there was doubtless a Power that ruled them: But they would by no means agree, that there was a Devil, because he had never made himself known to them: Yet they do not deny the Resurrection of the Dead, but know nothing of what is to become of them.

John Mottley, The Life of Peter the Great, Emperor of all Russia. The second edition, with curious Copper Plates, and Maps. London. Printed for M. Cooper, in Pater-noster Row. 1755.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Description de la Moldavie

La Moldavie est une des plus belles et des plus agréables Provinces de l'Europe. On y voit de grandes Campagnes, qui font arrosées de diverses rivières, dont la principale est la Moldava, qui serpente à-peu-prés comme la Seine, et qui semble par tous ces détours vouloir porter l'abondance partout. Toutes ses eaux rendroient en effet les Campagnes trés-fertiles, et contribüeroient assurément à faire de cette Province, une des meilleures et des plus riches de l'Europe, si elle étoit moins exposée qu'elle n'est aux insultes des Turcs et des Tartares.

P H. Avril, Voyage en divers Etats d'Europe et d'Asie. Entrepris pour découvrir un nouveau Chemin à la Chine. Contenant Plusiers Remarques curieuses de Physique, de Geographie, d'Hydrographie et d'Histoire. Avec une Description de la grande Tartarie, et des differens Peuples qui l'habitent. Paris, 1692.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Vogouls (2) Character, social organisation

The Vogouls are hardly of a middling stature, have generally black hair, and for the most part a scanty beard. They have some traits of the Kalmouks in the style of their physiognomy. They are of a gay disposition, teachable, honest, laborious, and acute; but sloveny and fickle, inclined to be disorderly and passionate to excess. Their women are robest, civil, laborious, and generally speaking well made. (...) They distinguish themselves into tribes or races; and commonly a Vogoul village is only composed of one family, whose chief or elder performs the functions of a staroste or mayor of the village. 

Russia, or a Compleat Historical Account of All the Nations which Compose that Empire. London. Printed for J. Nichols; T. Cadell in the Strand; H. Payne, Pall-Mall; and N. Conant, Fleet Street. 1780. 2 volumes in 8vo. 10 shillings.

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Vogouls (1) Ethnonym, territory, language

These people are sometimes called Vagouls and Vagoulitzes; but the appellation they give themselves is Mansi. They are of Finnish extraction as well as their language, but this latter has so many peculiarities of its own, and comprehends such a number of different dialects, that it has often, with good reason, been taken for a distinct language. The Vogouls have established their habitations in the forests on the northern side of Mount Oural, extending themselves to the westward, and still farther on the plains to the eastward of this chain of mountains. The disposition of their abode is such, that the houses are continued along the borders of a number of little rivers which fall into the Kama and Irtisch, on the borders of Solikamsk and Verghotouria, not far from the rivers Kolva, Vischoura, and Tawda. Here they have dwelt for time immemorial, and are possessed of traditions which have a great conformity with history. Some authors pretend that they are the brethren of the ancient Ougrians, or of the present Hungarians, and found their conjecture on the situation of the Vogoul territory, and the striking resemblance there is between the languages of the two nations. This people was subjected to the dominion of Russia at the same time with Siberia.

Russia, or a Compleat Historical Account of All the Nations which Compose that Empire. London. Printed for J. Nichols; T. Cadell in the Strand; H. Payne, Pall-Mall; and N. Conant, Fleet Street. 1780. 2 volumes in 8vo. 10 shillings.