Translated by David Lewis
Routledge – 2006 – 260 pages
The Kalmyks are in a unique position among the peoples of Europe in several respects, most conspicuously as being the only Buddhist people group in Europe. Until recently they had been a nomadic people, grazing their flocks and herds in the steppe lands north of the Caspian Sea, between the Volga river and the Caucasus mountains. Nowadays, with Russia’s transition to a post-Communist state, the relatively young President of Kalmykia stands out as being a self-made millionaire who has helped put his region 'on the map' not only by promoting economic ties with Japan and the West but also by hosting an international chess Olympiad.
This practical guide written by a Kalmyk anthropologist, provides a comprehensive introduction to the Kalmyk people. The wide-ranging chapters give an overview of the Kalmyks, focusing on many facets of the Kalmyk culture, including language use, the traditional nomadic economy and dwellings, Kalmyk family and gender relationships, rites of passage, food and clothing, folk crafts, Kalmyk religion and the role of folklore and epic in Kalmyk culture. The Kalmyks provides an original and fascinating perspective on little-known Asiatic people whose history and culture have become intertwined with that of Europe.
Preface Introduction Maps 1. Pages of History: From Medieval Oirats to contemporary Kalmyks 2. Deportation as a collective trauma: 13 years, 13 days 3. Diaspora and Identity 4. Language and ethnolinguistic situation 5. Household economy and dwellings 6. Family and gender stereotypes 7. Life cycle rituals 8. Food, Dress and Ornament 9. Folk crafts and decorative arts 10. Religion, calendar and festivals 11. Folklore and Epic mythology 12. The Leader of the Nation and the idea of Nationhood Conclusions: Metamorphoses in Kalmyk ethnicity in a period of transformations Notes Glossary Bibliography
Elza-Bair Gouchinova is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.
David C. Lewis is a Research Associate of the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit, University of Cambridge.