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Key words
Pomeranians, votive crosses, ritual practices, votive gifts
About the Author
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2 “A”, Glinki str., St. Petersburg, 190000, Russian Federation
Leading expert, Center of Folklore and Ethnography named after A. M. Mekhnetsov, St. Petersburg State Conservatory named after N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov

Groups of sacred crosses, which play an important role in cultural traditions of the Pomeranian Russian population, were observed during field work 2008–2010 at the Belomorsk district of the Republic of Karelia (Pomeranian coast of the White Sea) in Nyukhcha and Shueretskoe the villages. In this paper the author considers such sacred objects, as: crosses nearby houses of villagers, a cross at the mouth of the river of Shuya (the sacred complex called “Crosses”), the Great cross at the cemetery and memorial crosses for destroyed churches. Author’s attention is focused on practices related with honoring of sacred places. Votive gifts left to crosses by women (items of clothing, icon veils) attract particular interest. Substantive projections of ritual practices allow to track schemes of spatial moving of the gift and to find answers to the questions connected with functionality of sacred objects. In cases when intercessions were related with production activities, votive gifts were left at the cross of Shuya the river’s mouth or at cros ses situated within the village nearby residents’ houses. When one prayed for health for herself or near and dear ones, women brought textile items and meals to the Great Cross at the cemetery. Votive objects can be considered as a gender marker. Female gifts on crosses represent “traces” of women’s ritual practices which demonstrate usage of a sacred object by female group. Crosses, control of which is exercised by men’s group, are located far from the settlement, on islands and shallows of the White Sea. As a rule, they remain without fabric items — “naked”. Data of field materials allow to note the changes that have taken place in cultural tradition of Pomeranians during a period of hundred years (the beginning of the 20th — the beginning of the 21st century): homespun textile items on crosses are replaced with factory fabrics, domestic pastries are replaced with confectionery bought in shops (candies, cookies); collective is replaced with individual; elements from other ritual practices appear in practices of honoring the sacred crosses, etc.


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