“I was Ferocious Walking on Mountains”: A Round Dance by the “Polish” Old Believers from Stepan I. Gulyaev’s Collection

Key words
Stepan I. Gulyaev, the Altai Region, “Polish” Old Believers, spring round dance songs, “Arrow” song
Lyudmila P. Makhova
About the Author
E-mail: maxoba@mail.ru Tel.: +7 (495) 629-67-11 13–6,
Bolshaya Nikitskaya str., Moscow, 121009, Russian Federation
Research Fellow, Kliment Kvitka Research Center for Folk Music, Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory
Date of publication

This article deals with the round dance song of the “Polish” Old Believers “Ya lyuta byla po goram khodit’” (“I was ferocious walking on mountains”; its other name is “The Arrow”). Five versions of the song were recorded in the Altai region, the Republic of Altai and the Republic of Kazakhstan, in 1976–2016. The Old Believers brought this song with them from Starodub and Vetka, having settled in Altai by a decree of Catherine II in 1766. The author was able to identify three song plots that are genetically related to the Polesye rite called “funeral of the arrow.” They are performed to the same tune as “The Arrow,” with the song stanza rhyme scheme AABB; these reveal features of the Old Believers’ musical style.

In contrast to Polesye, in Altai a formal chant accompanied not only processions, but also round dances, which was noted by S. I. Gulyaev and confirmed by expedition records. The author reconstructs two versions of the text contained in S. I. Gulyaev’s manuscript “Round Songs” (1848). The publication of the previously unpublished texts from Gulyaev’s collection together with their audio versions significantly enriches our knowledge of the Altai song tradition and reveals the uniqueness of the songs of the “Polish” Old Believers who have preserved the tune of “Arrow” for over 250 years. The tune is still connected to the spring and retains its polytextual nature. 


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For citation

Makhova L. P. “I was Ferocious Walking on Mountains”: A Round Dance by the “Polish” Old Believers (from Stepan I. Gulyaev’s Collection). Traditional Culture. 2020. Vol. 21. No. 1. Pp. 11–35. In Russian.