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PhD in Historiy, Leading Researcher, Department of Ethnography of the Russian People, N. N. Miklukho-Maklay Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Science
The gravestone, being a materialized memory about the deceased person it marks, carries information about him/her and about the whole community to which the person belonged. In the sect of the Doukhobors, which is the subject of this article, gravestones directly reflect of its teaching and the changes that occurred in the community during the 170 years of its residence in Transcaucasia. The Doukhobors, followers of a doctrine about “the inner Church” who denied the worship of any material thing, believed in the resurrection of the spirit, not the flesh, and repudiated the veneration of graves and rejected material perpetuation of the memory of the dead. Secularization of religious consciousness, weakening of their doctrines, changes in the organizational and religious structure of the sect and economic stratification in the group — all of these have led to the transformation of these views and changes in the appearance of tombstones. Doukhobor gravestones have gone from rough stones, which were the religious symbol of burial and which lay near the head of the grave, to become monuments, devoid of religious content, that are subject to fashion and the ambition of the relatives of the deceased. This article is the first study of Doukhobor tombstones; it is based field materials, including a survey of Doukhobor cemeteries, collected by the author between 1988 and 2015 in Georgia and Azerbaijan.
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