Funeral “Shpruchs” in the Tradition of Russian Germans

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Key words
Shpruchs of the Russian Germans, ethnography of the Russian Germans, culture of Russian Germans
Dmitrii I. Vaiman
About the Author
E-mail: Tel.: +7 (3422) 212-70-19
13а, Lenina str., Perm, 614090, Russian Federation
PhD in History, Senior Researcher, Department of History, Archeology and Ethnography, Perm Federal Research Center of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Date of publication

The study is supported by a grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project No. 17–31–00008 “The Ethnocultural Space of the Urals: Identity, Culture, Interaction.”


This article examines the funeral “shpruchs” (Ger. Sprüche, Rus. shprukhi) of the Russian Germans based on field materials collected in the German settlements in the Urals and Siberia. Shpruchs — ​short quotations from religious texts, proverbs and edificatory material — ​ used in mourning are part of a long tradition among Russian Germans. They appear in letters announcing a person’s death and upcoming funeral and in texts on the coffin lid and wreaths. Funeral shpruchs have their own special design. In some contexts, the texts are accompanied by images of the cross and angels. In a sense, shpruchs themselves can be considered a form of decoration. Initially shpruchs were written in German in Gothic script; by the last quarter of the 20th century, there was a gradual departure from traditional graphics and a transition to citation in Russian. Most funerary shpruchs are on religious themes. Predominantly, they are excerpts or direct quotations from the Bible, often proverbs. Mourning shpruchs focus on the Christian understanding of life and death and reflect well-established social and ethical norms.


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For citation

Vaiman D. I. Funeral “Shpruchs” in the Tradition of Russian Germans. Traditional Culture. 2021. Vol. 22. No. 2. Pp. 153–162. In Russian.