Modern Funeral in Gubcha Village, Khmelnytsky Region (Ukraine): FIELD Observations of the late 20th — early 21st Century

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Key words
funeral ceremony, South-east Volyn’, dynamics of rite’s functioning, performance, worship of the dead
Lyudmila Ivannikova
About the Author
Lyudmila Ivannikova
Tel.: +38- 044-278-34-54
4, Grushevskoho str., Kyiv, 01001, Ukraine
PhD (Philology), senior researcher, folkloristics department, M. T. Rylsky Institute of Art Studies, Folklore and Ethnology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

The article is devoted to the functional dynamics of a modern funeral rite, which has been observed longterm in a certain Ukrainian village. The local ritual displays common features of Ukrainian and Eastern Slavic traditional funeral ceremony. Article is based on the author’s field observations conducted during 40 years — since the end of the 60s of the 20th century up to 2015. Particular attention is paid to the ceremony modifications which have taken place during the last 10–15 years. After comparison with the records obtained from this region (South-East Volyn’) during he late 19th century, the author argues that during a hundred years the ritual has changed little, its key stages are preserved. Major transformation has occurred in recent years, after 2000, it has been caused with changes of demographic and social conditions of the village.

The author starts with peculiarities of the rite’s recordings, characterizes its performers. Desacralization of funeral’s several stages is emphasized and factors which predetermine the dynamics of the rite are listed. The changes have involved almost all rite components: both actional and verbal, acting characters and material items sustained changes as well. Several episodes, namely night vigil, preparing of clothes for the case of death and funeral, reception of the preventive magic, singing and reading Psalter and laments over the dead) either suffered a reduction or even disappeared entirely. Nevertheless, certain mechanisms conserve the rite in the village oral tradition. Mythic-poetic consciousness and the traditional verbal code of the rite serve as stability framework.

Later on author focuses more particularly onto separate elements of the funeral rite: the preparation for burial; last hour before and the first few minutes after the death; protective magic practices; vigil near the body; memorial meal. Acting persons and material items involved into the rite are concerned, Analysis deals with the verbal codes, ritual space and time of the ritual.


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