Jump to content
IGNORED

Isolated Russian Old Believer Family - Merged


Black Aliss

Recommended Posts

I just came across a fascinating story of a Russian family, fundamentalist Russian Orthodox, who retreated to the Siberian taiga in 1936, living in total isolation for 40-some years, until they were discovered by a group of geologists. Some of the behaviors are so reminiscent of the Maxwells, as to be downright eerie.

The silence was suddenly broken by sobs and lamentations. Only then did we see the silhouettes of two women. One was in hysterics, praying: ‘This is for our sins, our sins.’ The other, keeping behind a post… sank slowly to the floor. The light from the little window fell on her wide, terrified eyes, and we realized we had to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Warily, the three strange figures approached and sat down with their visitors, rejecting everything that they were offered—jam, tea, bread—with a muttered, “We are not allowed that!†When Pismenskaya asked, “Have you ever eaten bread?†the old man answered: “I have. But they have not. They have never seen it.â€

A bit of similarity to the Arndts:

The daughters spoke a language distorted by a lifetime of isolation. “When the sisters talked to each other, it sounded like a slow, blurred cooing

Read more: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/history ... z2JO3K5C1Z

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is completely fascinating. I don't know how these people would compare to say, the Maxwells, except that Stevie is obviously way, way, way more evil than this family's father. At least he had serious cause to believe his family was in danger and did what he could to save them. All these fundies crying persecution should take note.

That said, what a life!

ETA: Wow, I just finished the article and it's so interesting that the last girl is still living there, by herself. She has literally never lived among non-relatives before and will likely die that way. So strange.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh man, this article touched on so many of my favorite subjects: Siberia, feral children, religious extremism. Thanks for posting!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Holy crap. Not that I'm an apologist for the Russian Orthodox Church (just a scholar of it), but what they are doing bears absolutely no resemblance to traditional ROC practice. It's a Church that places heavy emphasis on living and worshipping as a part of a community guided by thousands of years of tradition - not isolation like this.

ETA to amend that - just realized that they were Old Believers. That makes a lot more sense. But even OBs usually live in small communities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, this is so Maxwell-ian:

Most of these innovations were only grudgingly acknowledged, but the sin of television, which they encountered at the geologists' camp,

proved irresistible for them.... On their rare appearances, they would invariably sit down and watch. Karp sat directly in front of the screen. Agafia watched poking her head from behind a door. She tried to pray away her transgression immediately—whispering, crossing herself.... The old man prayed afterward, diligently and in one fell swoop.

Not that the Maxwells would ever watch TV. Fascinating story, though, thanks for posting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Certainly the eldest son would have encountered little resistance from Natalia, who always struggled to replace her mother as cook, seamstress and nurse.

Ew, I hope she didn't struggle to replace her mother in other ways as well. Ew.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ew, I hope she didn't struggle to replace her mother in other ways as well. Ew.

I think that there would have been children if she had.

I don't think that this group is like the Maxwells for a few reasons. First of all, there seemed to be actual danger at the time they ran. Second of all, when faced with outsiders who they realized were safe, they began to socialize. I also don't think that the Maxwells could live without a grocery store.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Goodness, what a story. How resourceful must you be to survive for decades in the Siberian taiga with no proper boots, coats, a grocery store and a furnace.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-a ... z2JO3K5C1Z

This is a fascinating true story of an Old Believer family in Russia who lived from 1936 until their discovery by a geologist in 1978 in a forest in Siberia 150 miles from the closest neighbor. Old Believers are a fundamentalist Russian Orthodox sect. They had no other human contact but each other for those 40+ years. Their only reading material were prayer books and an old family Bible.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of the Lykovs' strange story was the rapidity with which the family went into decline after they re-established contact with the outside world. In the fall of 1981, three of the four children followed their mother to the grave within a few days of one another.

Hmm, why does Steve Maxwell come to mind?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It didn't escape me that one of the kids (Dmitri? I don't have the window open now.) died of pneumonia, and they think it was from exposure to his new friends.

To the science FJers: How possible is this? We snark on a lot of families that have mulitiple unvaccinated children that only spend time with their siblings. A few go to the conferences or dances or elderly prisons, but over all they stay alone. Could one of these children truly die due to prior exposure to "worldly" germs?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that there would have been children if she had.

I don't think that this group is like the Maxwells for a few reasons. First of all, there seemed to be actual danger at the time they ran. Second of all, when faced with outsiders who they realized were safe, they began to socialize. I also don't think that the Maxwells could live without a grocery store.

I agree with this. Obviously the situation was pretty terrible, but at the very least this man probably did keep his family safe from what was at the time an actual REAL danger - and he also didn't try to keep them away from socializing once he realized there was no danger. Steve Maxwell keeps his children "safe" from no danger at all, is very much aware of that, and just likes to stroke his colossal ego by sabotaging his grownup children's lives.

Frankly these people in their homemade hut in the Siberian taiga may have had more freedom than Sarah Maxwell will ever know, for all their deprivations. That one daughter digging a cellar at night may have had more time for herself and a bigger pride in her accomplishments than ANY Maxwell will ever be allowed. Which says a lot about the Maxwells, really.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apologies for making extra work for the mods. I almost always check first to see if a story has been posted, the operative word being "almost always".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great article-thanks!

Steve Maxwell doesn't remind me of this guy at all. The father actually tried to protect his family-Steve is all about control.

The language qwirk made me think of the Ardtt (sp?) boys.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great article-thanks!

Steve Maxwell doesn't remind me of this guy at all. The father actually tried to protect his family-Steve is all about control.

The language qwirk made me think of the Ardtt (sp?) boys.

I agree this father actually did a better job than Steve. Which really says so much about the Maxwells - how completely terrible must your situation be when people can FAVORABLY COMPARE a family living in a Russian taiga and slowly starving to death to you????

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The book "Lost in the Taiga" by Vasily Peskov is totally worth reading. It's out of print but you can order it for not too much money.

The youngest daughter, Agafia, is actually a really sad case. She's the only one of her relatives who got to travel... the geologists helped her visit distant relatives in another Old Believer community, and she enjoyed herself and was popular. She couldn't really adapt, though, and returned home. But they were famous enough in Russia that somehow some dude actually tracked her down and she had an unsuccessful and very brief marriage with him!

And then there's this:

http://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthread ... a%20of%20L

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It didn't escape me that one of the kids (Dmitri? I don't have the window open now.) died of pneumonia, and they think it was from exposure to his new friends.

To the science FJers: How possible is this? We snark on a lot of families that have mulitiple unvaccinated children that only spend time with their siblings. A few go to the conferences or dances or elderly prisons, but over all they stay alone. Could one of these children truly die due to prior exposure to "worldly" germs?

I haven't read the article yet, but in terms of total isolation, that makes a lot of sense because if you don't get exposed to germs you can't develop your immune system. I think it would be analogous to how babies can be easily overwhelmed by infections. Not just not having antibodies to whatever caused his pneumonia, but not having a strong enough immune system to begin with?

As for the anti-vax kids... they might get exposed to stuff through their parents, if their parents work? Or maybe through conferences? If they are totally isolated, I think it'd be possible for them to generally be at risk too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fascinating.

It reminds me a bit of a documentary I saw years ago about some families living completely isolated in the bush in Alaska. They were not originally from Alaska, but rather migrated up from the lower 48 specifically to "get away from it all" and go isolationist. They lived in various places completely isolated as single families, and they did have kids who had never seen any humans except their own families and (the big difference from the Smithsonian story) bush pilots who would deliver some supplies every 6 months to a year or so. Plus they had radio.

Still though, to never see anyone other than your own family? I just can't imagine.

Watching that show also made me think of just how different those single-family "we wanna be ALONE dammit!!!" hermiting families are from the little villages that also exist out in the bush of Alaska, they might be pretty much on the ass end of nowhere and only accessible by plane, but they're on rivers and have entire networks of people who have lived there for hundreds of years and they live subsistence. They do have markets and buy supplies though (people have monetary income through the reverse income tax thing if nothing else) so they can get normal modern stuff like pots and snowmachines.

Though going on some "tiny villages in Alaska" googling binges a while ago, probably the most isolated place I found that still has a web page is the village of Diomede, AK, which is on the island of Little Diomede in the middle of the Bering Strait (where you really CAN see Russia from your house, though they won't let people mix anymore) and is small enough to not have room for an AIRSTRIP.

Me, I grew up in a little town of 17 million people... I just can't imagine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In contrast to certain other families talked about, these people were actually being persecuted and in legitimate fear for their lives. Well, at the beginning, anyway, but for all they knew it might have even gotten worse.

So, yes, no contest, in any comparison with snarkfodder they're better parents because they actually were trying to protect their children from real dangers. Still a bit of a sad end, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@gardenvarietycitizen: The hermit-families tend to raise hackles in Bush communities because neighbors are literally a vital resource in an area that thinly populated. It's one thing if you live so far out to heckangone that you can't get anywhere except by float plane. But if you can get on your sno-go and visit your neighbors and you won't, people are going to be suspicious. If you just plain don't want to socialize, you should cultivate a reputation as a quiet, polite hermit. If you have kids who never see anybody even though they could, people are still going to look at you funny. The Bush network, which may be the only emergency services available in time to help, relies on people getting to know each other and trading favors. If your kids aren't being raised to join the network, what are you doing out there?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fascinating.

It reminds me a bit of a documentary I saw years ago about some families living completely isolated in the bush in Alaska. They were not originally from Alaska, but rather migrated up from the lower 48 specifically to "get away from it all" and go isolationist. They lived in various places completely isolated as single families, and they did have kids who had never seen any humans except their own families and (the big difference from the Smithsonian story) bush pilots who would deliver some supplies every 6 months to a year or so. Plus they had radio.

Still though, to never see anyone other than your own family? I just can't imagine.

Watching that show also made me think of just how different those single-family "we wanna be ALONE dammit!!!" hermiting families are from the little villages that also exist out in the bush of Alaska, they might be pretty much on the ass end of nowhere and only accessible by plane, but they're on rivers and have entire networks of people who have lived there for hundreds of years and they live subsistence. They do have markets and buy supplies though (people have monetary income through the reverse income tax thing if nothing else) so they can get normal modern stuff like pots and snowmachines.

Though going on some "tiny villages in Alaska" googling binges a while ago, probably the most isolated place I found that still has a web page is the village of Diomede, AK, which is on the island of Little Diomede in the middle of the Bering Strait (where you really CAN see Russia from your house, though they won't let people mix anymore) and is small enough to not have room for an AIRSTRIP.

Me, I grew up in a little town of 17 million people... I just can't imagine.

They have an airstrip. For part of the year, anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Essentially, a family fled the Russian cities at the turn of the century in order to escape persecution and continue to practice their brand of conservative religion. They wound up living in Siberia for forty-plus years. I ran across this article on Gizmodo, of all places, and aside from the fact that it's completely fascinating, it reminded me very much of the systematic way in which so many of our fundie families isolate themselves. For example, does this quite remind you of the Arndts?

The two younger children, on the other hand, were more approachable and more open to change and innovation. "Fanaticism was not terribly marked in Agafia," Peskov said, and in time he came to realize that the youngest of the Lykovs had a sense of irony and could poke fun at herself. Agafia's unusual speech—she had a singsong voice and stretched simple words into polysyllables—convinced some of her visitors she was slow-witted; in fact she was markedly intelligent, and took charge of the difficult task, in a family that possessed no calendars, of keeping track of time.

And this sounds like where the Maxwells are headed:

Two more children had been born in the wild—Dmitry in 1940 and Agafia in 1943—and neither of the youngest Lykov children had ever seen a human being who was not a member of their family. All that Agafia and Dmitry knew of the outside world they learned entirely from their parents' stories. The family's principal entertainment, the Russian journalist Vasily Peskov noted, "was for everyone to recount their dreams."

The Lykov children knew there were places called cities where humans lived crammed together in tall buildings. They had heard there were countries other than Russia. But such concepts were no more than abstractions to them. Their only reading matter was prayer books and an ancient family Bible. Akulina had used the gospels to teach her children to read and write, using sharpened birch sticks dipped into honeysuckle juice as pen and ink. When Agafia was shown a picture of a horse, she recognized it from her mother's Bible stories. "Look, papa," she exclaimed. "A steed!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.



  • Recent Status Updates

    • Bluebirdbluebell

      Bluebirdbluebell

      I highly recommend Not the Good Girl's Youtube channel. She is making great documentaries about cults.
      · 0 replies
    • BlackberryGirl

      BlackberryGirl

      Ohh jeeze, GrandBerry6 just came to me, snuggled his face in my neck and barfed, all over me. In my neck, in my hair, on my face, down inside my nightie all over the front of my nightie. Ohh FUCK! Bath, washed hair, cleaned sofa. Good times, good times.
      · 2 replies
    • Scrabblemaster

      Scrabblemaster

      I danced through my living room feeling awesome. From time to time I do this. Maybe wine is involved. Good music is definitely involved. It is awesome. I recommend it to you. With or without wine.
      · 2 replies
    • Hazelbunny

      Hazelbunny

      After a few months of trying to decide what kind of new computer to get and my brother telling me a Mac would be the best decision I could ever make and my sister telling me that would be the worst and I ought to stick to Windows.... I now have a used Mac. I am trying to get used to it. Not easy, but the Magnifying program is a lot better than the Windows one (that was the ultimate reason for my decision) and FJ works a lot better than on my 10-year old Laptop, too!!  
      · 0 replies
    • WannabeHistorian

      WannabeHistorian

      Y'all, holter monitors suck. And naturally the palpitations that caused this test to be ordered are remarkably absent today. 
      I'm off to go work out in the hopes that triggers it. T minus 10 hours till I get this thing off. 
      · 4 replies
    • 47of74

      47of74

      Fuck Fornicate.  Glad I got in to see this place before the world went to shit.
       
      · 0 replies
    • PreciousPantsofDoom

      PreciousPantsofDoom

      I frigging hate the toilets at this worksite. Specifically the door locks. Stupid little knoblet that isn't clear if it is locked or not. Door opens right off the main hallway and the toilet is just far enough from the door that I can't just hold the door shut in case I've got the lock wrong. I mean really people, how hard is it to design this? I just want to pee in private with no anxiety. Apparently that is too much to ask for. 
      · 1 reply
    • 47of74

      47of74

      First thing I'm doing when I get to the hereafter is finding the ancestors who moved to the US in the first place and asking them what the fuck they were thinking moving here in the first place.  Along with giving them an epic the reason you suck speech hopefully in the presence of God and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to all of them for condemning their descendants to living in a shithole.
      · 0 replies
    • feministxtian

      feministxtian

      Its STILL snowing. Its not like I don't have a million things to do and need to take crap to the dumpster. 
      · 2 replies
    • Chocolate Lover

      Chocolate Lover

      Do any of you play Dyson Sphere Program?   For those who don't know what it is I'd suggest Googling it, because there's no way I could do it justice. 
      There's always just one more thing to do before I turn off.  Blink!  And it's 2 hours later.  
      · 0 replies
  • Recent Blog Entries

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.