View of the Little Yenisey River near Mother Sevastiana’s Hermitage

Description

The schismatic monasteries along the headwaters of the Little Yenisey River came into being in February 1917, when one of the splinter groups of the well-known monastery of Father Nifont moved to the Tuva (or Tyva) area, near the Mongolian-Russian border, from the Ural region. The Tuva copy of the Genealogy of the Schismatic Sect, composed by Father Nifont between 1887 and 1890, contains an appendix by Father Palladii, the head of monasteries in Tuva, laying out this succession of 20th-century monastic fathers-superior in Tuva: Nifont, Sergii, Ignatii and Palladii. Father Ignatii died in prison before World War II; shortly thereafter, Father Palladii’s brother committed suicide while under arrest by jumping into the frigid rapids of the Little Yenisey. Father Palladii was arrested three times, but he was able to escape (from exile in Krasnoyarsk and then from the camp near Vladivostok where the poet Osip Mandel’shtam is known to have perished). Toward the end of his life, Father Palladii was director of the Tuva monasteries, having gained the consent of the authorities to assume this position by promising that he no longer would object to military service for Old Believers. Father Palladii was a skilled transcriber and binder of manuscripts and early printed books who owned a large library of these materials. In 1966 he acquainted Novosibirsk archeographers with previously unknown and unstudied literary works composed in the Urals and Siberia from the 17th to the 20th centuries by Old Believer schismatic writers. The residents of these monasteries refuse to be photographed. They explain this refusal in the following way: upon christening, a person acquires an invisible aura around the head and, after death, this aura serves as a pass into heaven; the aura is diminished each time the person sins, and it is further weakened by photography. Outside monasteries, however, this prohibition is not enforced nearly as strictly, even in the families of spiritual teachers. The image presented here is from the collection “Photographs from Archeographic Expeditions to the Schismatic Monasteries on the Upper Little Yenisey River (Tuva, 1966‒75)” held by the Archeographic and Source Study Section of the Institute of History of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia. It was digitized for the Meeting of Frontiers digital library project in the early 2000s.

Last updated: July 12, 2017