A Folk Song as a ‘Witness’ to the Ethnic History of the Descendants of Stolypin Migrants

Key words
Western Polesie folklore tradition, Ukrainian musical folklore, Belarusian musical folklore, Western Polesie dialects, folk song, dynamics of folklore tradition, Stolypin migrants in Eastern Siberia
Yelena V. Minyonok
About the Author
E-mail: trewsd@yandex.ru Tel.: + 7 (495) 697-13-89
25a, Povarskaya str., Moscow, 121069, Russian Federation
PhD in Philology, Senior Researcher of the Folklore Department, A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Date of publication

The article is based on expedition research conducted by the author in the village of Akhiny, Ekhirit-Bulagatsky district, Irkutsk region in 2015 and 2017. It examines the dynamics of folklore tradition following the migration of its bearers from the villages of Western Polesie (Kobrin district of Grodno province, which according to modern territorial and administrative division is Ivanovo district, Brest province, Republic of Belarus) to Eastern Siberia because of the consequences of the Stolypin agrarian reform (1906–1914). The ‘maternal’ tradition was preserved in the song repertoire of the first generation of performers who were born in a Siberian village but they simultaneously assimilated new musical forms, which they got acquainted with during their school education. Since the 1930s, when the Stolypin migrants’ children were growing up, they liked folk songs to be performed in a more simplified form, samples of which were broadcast to a mass audience via Soviet radio.

Songs recorded from the first generation of the natives of Akhiny village are the most important source for the study of dialects that have been lost to date. Fortunately, folk songs have turned out to be more conservative than oral speech. The article presents five song samples (with notations) that have preserved the characteristic features of Western Polesie dialects in the singing speech. All five songs are closely resemble the variants published in academic collections of Ukrainian folk songs, which indicates that the ‘maternal’ tradition carried by Stolypin migrants to Eastern Siberia between 1906–1916 had a significant Ukrainian substrate.


Bogatyrev P. G. (1962) O yazyke slavyanskikh narodnykh pesen v ego otnoshenii k dialektnoi rechi [About the Language of Slavic Folk Songs in Its Relation to Dialect Speech]. Voprosy yazykoznaniya [Questions of Linguistics]. 1962. No. 3. Pp. 75–86. In Russian.

Minyonok Ye. V. (2019) Dinamika fol’klornykh traditsii v “ukrainskikh” i “belorusskikh” pereselencheskikh selakh Vostochnoi Sibiri [Dynamics of folklore traditions in “Ukrainian” and “Belarusian” migrants’ villages of Eastern Siberia]. In: III Vseros. kongress fol’kloristov. T. IV: Rossiiskaya fol’kloristika v XXI veke. Perspektivy razvitiya [III All-Russian Congress of Folklorists. Vol. IV: Russian Folklore Studies in the 21st Century. Perspectives of
Development]. Moscow. Pp. 531–537. In Russian.

For citation

Minyonok Ye. V. A Folk Song as a ‘Witness’ to the Ethnic History of the Descendants of Stolypin Migrants. Traditional Culture. 2022. Vol. 23. No. 3. Pp. 47–59. In Russian.