Komi - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Practices. Although the Komi accepted Christianity in the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries, numerous traces of their ancient animistic religious beliefs remained as superstitions. One of the characteristic features of Komi mythology is the belief in the guardian spirits, the shadow souls; there is also belief in water spirits, forest spirits, etc. Memories of shamanism are preserved in words such as tun (soothsayers) and čikedis (evil magician). The Orthodox (Pravoslav) variant of Christianity was one that spread among the Komi. After the Russian Revolution, church activities were severely curtailed, the practice of religion being restricted to families. In the 1960s and 1970s the Baptist church gained importance in parts of the Komi territories.

Arts. Wood carving has had a great tradition in Komi folk art. In the south, the Komi-Permyaks have developed a specific church sculpture containing many pre-Christian motifs. Komi folk art has been subjected to a strong Russian influence. The most original Komi art genres are the bridal songs and mourning laments, epic songs, and children's verses. Komi folklore, likewise, has been much influenced by Russian folktales. As already mentioned, the work of I. A. Kuratov and G. S. Lytkin was of great merit in the creation of the Komi-Ziryene literary language. Some important figures of Komi-Ziryene literature are Michael Lebedev, poet (1877-1951) and Nyobdinsa Vittor, poet and dramatist (1898-1922). Ilja Vas (V. I. Lytkin), poet (1895-1981), also achieved world fame as a Fionno-Ugrian linguist. Of today's poets and writers the names of Albert Vaneyev, Ivan Toropov, and Gennady Yuškov can be mentioned. The most prominent representatives of the Komi-Permyak literature are Andrei Zubov (nom de plume Piťu önö, 1889-1945), Stepan Karavayev, and Valerian Batalov.

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