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  • Survo, Vera (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The work is devoted to the traditional embroidery of peoples of Karelia (Olonets province),primarily of the Russians, in the context of the way of life in peasant culture. The subject of the research is the traditional embroidered textile of the peoples of Karelia as a cultural and historical phenomenon. This study is based on my fieldwork trips carried out from 1986 to 2011 in the regions of the Russian North, in addition to accessing museum collections preserved in Russia and Finland. The theoretical basis was developed by the researchers, considering the ornament as a special language of culture, a symbolic way of communication, and a thing, a rite as coded ways of expressing of myth. These codes (code of objects, code of actions), along with the verbal (verbal code) express a common meaning and are in a complex relationship. Therefore, to understand the symbolism and the features of traditional existence of embroidery and ornament, the semantics of which is capable for decoding, the author uses people's knowledge, ritual practices, folklore, etc. The use of the comparative-historical method in chronological and local-regional aspect makes it possible to compare the local Russian population groups, their relationship with the Finno-Ugric peoples, as well as to reveal the regional specificity of the embroidery of Russian population of Karelia against the all-Russian ethnic group. With consideration for local features, the author considers the material, coloration, embroidery techniques and gives the classification of ornament and semantics of traditional images. The research deals with symbolic and utilitarian functions of the technological process for the preparation of decorated canvas (from flax cultivation to finished embroidery), the use of textiles in traditional ritual practices, i.e. the historical background, at the time when the embroideries existed, is presented in detail. The manufacture of embroideries is a synthesis of practical and symbolic actions, wherein the following factors are visible: the ideas of fertility, the spinning of life's yarn, visions of the afterworld, and ability to influence the general world order. The function of the handicraft was to introduce the traditional norms and values; it contains archaic traces of transitional rituals, a form of preparation for marriage. Embroidery served as means of sacralizing space, it was a kind of incantation. The canvas personified the idea of the road and transition to other world. In the changed conditions of life the symbols of folk art are able to be actualized and to recode again. Now the traditional symbols of embroidery as part of the cultural heritage of the peoples of Karelia are subject to yet another actualization and recoding, acquiring new configurations, meanings and means for their execution. Although ritual gift exchange figures prominently in Karelian traditions, certain ancestral objects (icons, cloths, etc), which would be categorized as inalienable because of their distinct sacred significance, are kept out of the giving process. Nowadays, traditions as such have a corresponding significance in the transmission of cultural memory.