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Napoleonic era idolator and sorcerer from Kamchatka

Napoleonic era idolator and sorcerer from Kamchatka


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Napoleonic era idolator and sorcerer from Kamchatka

Illustration from Jean Baptiste Joseph Bretons La Russie: ou, moeurs, usage et costumes des habitans de toutes les provinces de cet empire- a work on the cosumes, social life and customs of Russia in the Napoleonic era. Costumes and accoutrements of a pre-Christian idolator and sorcerer from the Kamchatka penninsula Date: 1813

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Media ID 14397482

© Mary Evans Picture Library/Harry Price

1813 Baptiste Bretons Moeurs Napoleonic Provinces Russie Toutes Usage Habitans


EDITORS COMMENTS
This illustration is taken from Jean Baptiste Joseph Bretons' comprehensive work, "La Russie: ou, moeurs, usage et costumes des habitans de toutes les provinces de cet empire" (Russia: Customs, Usages, and Costumes of the Inhabitants of All the Provinces of This Empire), published in 1813. The image depicts a pre-Christian idolator and sorcerer from the remote Kamchatka Peninsula, located in the easternmost part of Russia. The Kamchatka Peninsula, known for its extreme climate and volcanic landscape, was inhabited by indigenous peoples who maintained their traditional beliefs and practices, including animistic religions and shamanic rituals. The figure in the illustration is dressed in the traditional attire of these indigenous people, with a fur coat, intricately designed leggings, and a headdress adorned with animal bones and feathers. In his hands, he holds a staff topped with a bird skull, symbolizing his role as a sorcerer and spiritual leader. The idolator is shown in a reverential pose, with his eyes closed and his palms pressed together in front of a small altar. On the altar, there are various offerings, including animal bones, fruits, and what appears to be a small idol. The dimly lit scene creates an air of mystery and otherworldliness, transporting us to a time and place far removed from the European society of the Napoleonic era. Bretons' work was a detailed ethnographic study of Russian culture, and this illustration offers a unique glimpse into the lives and beliefs of the indigenous peoples of Kamchatka. It is a reminder of the rich cultural diversity that existed within the vast Russian empire during this period, and the importance of preserving and documenting these traditions for future generations.

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