Maris - Settlements

Prior to Russian domination, the arrangement of buildings in Mari villages was irregular. Later on, a street plan was gradually adopted. In the 1920s the average size of a settlement varied from about thirty households in the northern areas to fifty-five households in the southern areas (i.e., approximately 160 to 300 inhabitants respectively). A traditional Mari house ( pört ) was built of logs with a peaked roof and window frames decorated with carvings. The house and outbuildings formed a closed four-cornered yard. The summer kitchen ( kudo )—a place of prayer and sacrifice as well—was constructed of logs and had no ceiling, no window openings, and no chimney. The fireplace was located at the center of the dirt floor. Today, rural houses are also built of bricks or manufactured elements. The yard has become more compact and the surrounding buildings are joined together. The entrance into the yard is through a wooden gate the height of a person. In recent decades, as a result of the concentration of agricultural production, a large number of villages have died out. Though increasing, the Mari portion of the population in urban centers remains relatively small. For instance, over 50,000 Maris live in the capital of the republic, Yoshkar-Ola, but they constitute less than a quarter of the population of the city.

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