Photo of the Day for May 21, 2013

May 20, 2013 7:00 pm

Near Navahrudak, May 2001.  Навагрудчына, травень 2001 г.

The uplands around the central-western city of Navahrudak have a specific light not found elsewhere in Belarus.  Owing to the planting of thick hedges as a snow and wind barrier, in many places it is no longer possible to see these vistas from the road.

Photo of the Day for May 20, 2013

May 19, 2013 7:00 pm

Belarus in Faces (part LXXVIII).  Беларусь у тварах (частка LXXVIII).

This lady sold cheese with such grace and elegant good humor that I wanted to become a regular customer, but could never find her again.

Kamarouski Market, Mjensk 2012.  Камароўка, Менск 2012 год.


Photo of the Day for May 19, 2013

May 18, 2013 7:00 pm

Churches of Belarus (part XXXII):  Orthodox church of the Raising of the Holy Cross, Vistychy 2012.  Цэрквы Беларусі (частка ХХХІІ):  царква Ўзвышэньня Сьвятога Крыжа, Вістычы 2012 год.

Father Anatol’ stands in front of his Orthodox parish church of the Raising of the Holy Cross.  A splendid example of Baroque architecture (1678), the structure was built as a Roman Catholic (Cistercian) church but converted into an Orthodox church during the Russian imperial repressions after the failed anti-Russian uprising of 1863.

Father Anatol’ has taken an intense interest in restoring the church as authentically as possible.  In this regard he is consulting closely with the leading preservation group in Belarus, the Belarusian Voluntary Association for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments (БДТАПГК) and its chairman Anton Astapovich.  This is an exceptionally admirable approach on the part of Father Anatol’ at a time when a series of historic wooden Orthodox churches in Belarus has been disfigured by inappropriate and ahistorical Russification of domes or use of plastic siding.


Photo of the Day for May 18, 2013

May 17, 2013 7:00 pm

Enduring Faces (part XV), Machul’ 2012.  Выветраныя твары (частка XV), Мачуль 2012 год.

Traditional wooden buildings in Belarusian villages resonate with the pride, craftsmanship and hard work of their owners.

Photo of the Day for May 17, 2013

May 16, 2013 7:00 pm

Morning in May, Tsjerablichy 2011.  Травеньская раніца, Цераблічы 2011 год.

Photo of the Day for May 16, 2013

May 15, 2013 7:00 pm

Kudrychy (Pinsk District), May 2012.  Кудрычы (Пінскі раён), травень 2012 г.

I first visited Kudrychy during the spring of 2007:  see photos for April 27 and April 5, 2013.  Kudrychy lies 25 km. east of Pinsk on the Jasjel’da (Ясельда) River, just upstream from the Jasjel’da’s confluence with the Pripet (Prypjats’ – Прыпяць).  Linked to the outside world by road less than 30 years ago, Kudrychy is one of a handful of Pripet Marsh villages in eastern Pinsk District which have maintained traces of traditional Polesian farming life, traditional thatched-roof architecture, and the traditional means of transport by wooden boat.  Indeed, it was impossible to enter the village on foot in early May 2013 as the higher-than-normal spring flood waters still covered the village streets.

However, depopulation (children leaving for Pinsk or beyond); prohibitions on traditional marshland farming activity owing to Kudrychy’s inclusion in the Central Prypjats’ Preserve, proclaimed in 1999; the loss of desire and skills needed to maintain thatched roofs; regulations inhibiting private initiative in tourism; and a top-down approach by regional authorities planning out-of-scale tourism projects have severely affected these villages’ ability to survive in their traditional way.

This photo illustrates the vice now squeezing Kudrychy and similar villages.  The family diligently working its acreage no longer lives in the village but travels from Pinsk every weekend to weed and tend its plots.  In the center background one can see an iconic Polesian thatched-roof granary in front of two formerly thatched-roof houses now covered in corrugated roofing.

Photo of the Day for May 15, 2013

May 14, 2013 7:00 pm

Evening Light in May from the Navahrudak-Mir Road 2001.  Травеньскі вечар з дарогі Навагрудак-Мір 2001 год.

The Navahrudak area in central-western Belarus seems to have more expansive vistas and a more expansive sky, and certainly has a different light, that other areas of the country.

This photo is from the years when a majority of my photography was color rather than black-and-white.

Photo of the Day for May 14, 2013: Radaunitsa III / Радаўніца ІІІ

May 13, 2013 7:00 pm

Radaunitsa (part III), Tsjerablichy New Cemetery 2011.  Радаўніца (частка ІІІ), новыя могілкі, Цераблічы 2011 год.

Honoring the memory of one’s forefathers at specific times is a central element of Belarusian culture.  Families who have moved away from their home villages will travel back — sometimes long distances — to clean the family graves in time for Radaunitsa, the main rite of homage in the cycle of the year.  Radaunitsa falls on the ninth day after Orthodox Easter, thus May 14 in 2013.

Here a daughter lovingly refreshes the lettering on her father’s grave.

Photo of the Day for May 13, 2013: Radaunitsa II / Радаўніца ІІ

May 12, 2013 7:00 pm

Radaunitsa (part II), Tsjerablichy Old Cemetery 2011.  Радаўніца (частка ІІ), старыя могілкі ў Цераблічах 2011 год.

Radaunitsa, the main Belarusian rite of paying homage at the graves of one’s forefathers, falls on the ninth day after Orthodox Easter (thus May 14 in 2013).  Here, after an open-air liturgy and reading of names of the departed, Father Aljaksandr blesses a family grave in the old cemetery of the Polesian village of Tsjerablichy.

Photo of the Day for May 12, 2013: Radaunitsa І / Радаўніца І

May 11, 2013 7:00 pm

Radaunitsa (part I), Azdamichy 2011.  Радаўніца (частка І), Аздамічы 2011 год.

Radaunitsa is the main occasion among several during the year when Belarusians honor their forebears by cleaning the family graves and having them blessed by the parish priest.  The rite, which falls on the ninth day after Orthodox Easter (thus May 14 in 2013), is profoundly syncretic:  fully Christian and fully pre-Christian, reaching back millennia.

In parishes with a cemetery chapel, as here in Azdamichy, the priest leads a liturgy in the chapel before circulating through the cemetery to bless graves.