Monday, May 5, 2014

The Komi Art: Knitting

A big thing the Komi people thrive in is the art of knitting. There ability to knit all different patterns and has been known to be almost impossible to imitate. A writter named Charlene Schurch wrote a book on their incredible knitting ways called "Mostly Mittens". In the book it teaches the ways the knit like Komi's including 36 mittens, two socks, and two hats that represent the Komi knitting styles. Knitting in the Komi tribe is a traditional art that was passed down from ancestors to ancestors and is still a huge tradition in the Komi tribe. Their knitting style is known as the 5-needle partnered knitting style. It is said that each different tribe has created their own art of knitting styles and all different patterns, that when all put together are absolutely incredible.



3 websites:


3 academic journals:

  1. Countries & Their cultures: Komi- History and cultural relations
  2. The Komi, Ethnic Stereotypes, and Nationalities Policy in Late Imperial Russia by Indrek Jaats
  3.  Theories of Nomadic Movement: A New Theoretical Approach for Understanding the Movement Decisions of Nenets and Komi Reindeer Herders by M. J. Dwyer and K. V. Istomin

3 Books:

  1. Including Indigenous Culture and Language in Higher Education: The Case of the Komi Republic by Paul Fryer
  2. Encyclopaedia of Uralic Mythologies - Komi Mythology by N. D. Konakov
  3. Mostly Mittens: Traditional Knitting Patterns from Russia's Komi People by Charlene Schurch

The Komi Cultural Survival

Cultures also have obstacles they face when trying to maintain their culture. One of the biggest obstacles Komi's face is that of the industrialization I kept reapeating. Since the manufacturing is thriving more it has caused some of the Komi's to pack up and move out of the area. With the Komi territory being one of the largest oil manufactoring parts in Russia, they experience many oil spills. Although these oil spills are not as bad as the onesthat have occured in say The Gulf of Mexico, they still affect the Russian waters. With the oil going in the waters this has been drastically affecting the Komi people since they hunter fish in those waters. Without those fish that are being killed off by these oil spills, the Komi do not eat.

Another one of the problem the Komi people have been facing is that they are known as the indigenous people of Russia which means that they are not protected under all of Russia's laws. Although they are protected under Article 69, the Russian government can still overpower them when it comes to their territory and land since the Komi Republic is so rich with resources. One website I researched on said that nickel mining has really hurt the reindeer herding and their pastures. On the bright side Russia ended up passing a law for "foriegn agents" that gave the indigenous people more rights.

With the Komi population growing because of the birth rates there is still the issue of the extinction of their Komi language that has been passed down for centuries. The Komi people are working hard at preserving the language by opening up schools to teach the new generation the language. In works of also trying to preserve their culture he schools have been a very important part. The Komi's beliefs of education have become very important to them. They think their generations education is the key to their survival, which is true in many ways. By the older Komi's teaching the newer generations their beliefs and customs and also means of living, that is their success in the Komi growing population!



For my Geography Class we were sent out as explorers to find a person from our culture and interview them. I was sent out to interview someone from my Komi Culture. However, it was almost impossible for me to find an actual Komi person to interview, one reason being all the people I found spoke only their native Komi language and not any form of English. I am originally from New Jersey so while home one weekend I set up an interview with my neighbor. My neighbor, Alex, is Russian and only moved to America about 5 years ago. Her and her family for most of their lives lived in Moscow, which is only 600 miles away from the Komi Republic where most of the Komi's live. Therefore, she knows about the Komi culture and even has some friends who's ancestors were Komi. She was the closest I could get to a real Komi. This is my interview...

1. Have you ever met a person of the Komi culture?
 No, I have never actually met a person of the Komi culture. I know a lot of my friends who live back in Moscow have traces of the culture Komi in their ancestors, however they all don't take place in any of the Komi rituals or beliefs anymore.

2. What are the Komi people like?
Well the Republic of Komi has been rapidly expanding. I haven't been there since I moved her but I can only image how big it is now. They are very industrialized, being home to many of the biggest natural resources for the surrounding areas. The Komi's living in the area try to keep to themselves for the most part. But I noticed that because of this urbanization occurring many of the Komi's having been moving out of the area.

3. Throughout my research I learned that the Komi language has been disappearing? Do you know anything about why?
As I said before the urbanization of the Komi Republic has been definitely taken a toll onto the Komi people. Their language has become almost extinct and many of the Komi people have moved out of Komi. I have many friends who have ancestors tracing back to the Komi and they do not know the language or practice the customs anymore.

4. What is an interesting fact about the Komi's?
The Komi's are known for their excellent skills in knitting. They make these lovely designs with all their knitting patterns, almost all Komi people know how to knit.

5. What is their homeland like?
I've never been to the Komi Republic but from what I've heard it is a beautiful place. There are many mountain regions and lakes. From what you've told me it makes sense how the Komi people are hunters and gatherers because of all the fresh water resources they have to live off of.

Migration and Diaspora of the Komi Tribe

Since the Komi culture split up into 8 different subgroups, and all live throughout the Republic of Komi, it is hard to say exactly how many Komi people just packed up and migrated and different parts of Russia. However, a large portion of the migration in the Komi tribe occurs because of the reindeer herding. As I said there are the two main different groups of the Komi people, the reindeer herders, and the hunters and gatherers who live by the lakes. Ever since the Komi tribe has picked up on reindeer husbandry they have began to migrate again. These Komi migrations occur in the early spring and once again in the early summer. They are very long migrations often traveling up to 400 km to reach their next migration pastures. The migration routes are used annually. Compare this reindeer migration as one to a person who lives in Florida during a winter month in New Jersey, and then comes back to New Jersey when it becomes warm there. According to the, the Komi's winter reindeer pastures are located in the Southwest forest tundra, while their summer pastures are located in the North and Northeast tundra's.

On the other hand, the other group of Komi people who are known as the hunters and gatherers do not migrate. However, while conducting my interview with my neighbor who is from Russia she told me about the Komi migration. She told me that since the Komi Republic is becoming so industrialized and urban many of the Komi's are packing their things and moving out into different sections of Russia. Some of these Komi's are keeping the culture and others are just giving it up all together. Like she told me, a couple of her friends have ancestors who were Komi and they do not take practice in it now.

Since the growing population of the Komi Republic, many Komi's feel the need to leave because the older ancestors do not want to be bothered by the modern world. Because of this migration and diaspora it has caused a decrease and almost extinction of their native language. The Komi people have been taking large measures to try and preserve their language and have been successful in the process.

Interviewer: Alex

Monday, April 28, 2014

Komi and Their Neighbors

The people of Komi are located in the North-East Russian Confederation which is known as the Republic of Komi. They are located by the basins of the Vychegda, Pechora, and Kama rivers. About 23% of the people in the Komi Republic are native Komi's. The other percent is made up from over 100 different cultures of people. The Komi people divided into eight subgroups and live throughout the Republic, so most of their neighbors come from the Komi tribe. They live by the capital of the Komi Republic which is called Syktyvkar and also about 1200km away from Moscow.

The Komi Republic is also in the Soviet Union of Russia which are the neighbors that have had the biggest impact on the Komi tribe. Over the past few centuries the Komi language has been disappearing with the Soviet Union population growing and invading on the Komi territory. The Komi language has been spoken from generation to generation and is a very important custom to the Komi tribe. Over the past few years the Komi tribe has been creating more schools and education for the new generations to try and revive the national Komi language. Many of the Komi's have resulted to speaking Russian, however with their hard work in the school systems the original Komi language is making a return. 

Since the Republic of Komi has such high natural resources like natural gas, oil, and many other minerals, the Komi culture has been exposed to great industrialization and manufacturing over the years. The Russians living next to The Russian's have been responsible for over 80% of all raw material products for the regions around the Komi Republic. Because of this, the Komi culture has a greater impact with society than most other tribes do. The people of Komi still stick to their beliefs and customs however they are aware of the world around them. The neighbors of Komi respect them and their beliefs and customs and do not try to make them any more industrialized than they want to be.
On the other hand, one thing the Komi culture has in common with its neighbors is that all the neighboring cities and cultures believe in either Russian Orthodox or Christianity as a religion. Like I said in an earlier blog, there are traces of Christianity leading back in the Komi Culture. However with more Russian's coming into the Komi territory they decided to convert to Russian Orthodox. Many of the churches spread out around the Republic are Orthodox churches, therefore all celebrating and believing in the same religion and beliefs. My research on the Komi tribe has lead me to believe they do not share any tension or fighting between their neighbors.  


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Birds of the Komi

There are a variety of birds located throughout the Republic of Komi, which is where almost all of the Komi culture is located. Throughout the Republic there is about 221 different species known to live there. Of those 221 species about 9 of them are globally threatened birds. These threatened species include:
  • Velvet Scoter
  • Siberian Crane
  • Yellow-breasted Bunting
  • Red-footed Falcon
  • Eurasian Curlew
  • Black-tailed Godwit
  • Great Snipe
  • Great Bustard
  • Yellow-billed Loon
Many of these birds living in Republic of Komi are vulnerable or are becoming highly threatened in their habitats. While doing my research I found that one of the species is a breeding endemic. This species is the Red-breasted Goose (Right).

The Komi tribe are hunters and gatherers, however the only animals they hunt is fish besides the raising of their reindeer. The are protectors of their natural resources and animals. The Komi people find it important to protect the birds and that is why they make sure they protect their endangered birds. Many of the birds located in this habitat are under protection because there is so many dwindling away. According to the Komi mythologies, bird-like creatures existed in the stories passed down from generation to generation. Hurting the birds that share the Komi habitat would make some of the Komi people believe that they are going against their ancestors because of their beliefs about the Komi mythologies.