RYBLOVA M.A. Images of “Their” and “Strangers” in Toponymy and Toponymic Legends of the Don Cossacks

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2023.2.5

Marina A. Ryblova

Doctor of Sciences (History), Associate Professor, Chief Researcher,

Laboratory of Cossacks, Federal Research Center Southern Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

Chekhov St, 41, 344006 Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation;

Leading Researcher,

Department of History and International Relations, Volgograd State University,

Prosp. Universitetsky, 100, 400062 Volgograd, Russian Federation

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1451-2579


Abstract. Introduction. The studies carried out to date on the settlements of the Don Cossacks and the toponymic system associated with them can and should be continued, since they open up prospects for further identifying the images of those with whom the Cossacks waged incessant wars, conquering and protecting the Russian and Don lands. They make it possible to trace the evolution of the development of the images of “us” and “others”, as well as to identify the socio-cultural image of the Cossacks themselves, reflected in the characteristics of the “others.”

Methods and Materials. To solve these problems, field materials were used, collected by the ethnographic expedition of the Volgograd State University, the Southern Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1983–2011, as well as the author’s personal trips to places of compact residence of the Don Cossacks on the territory of the Volgograd region, and newspapers materials of the second half of the 19th century.

Analysis. The analysis showed that the system of toponyms and toponymic folk legends reflected the historical realities associated with the constant military confrontation between the Cossacks and nomadic peoples living in the neighborhood, as well as the respectful attitude of the Cossacks to their enemies. A significant number of toponyms associated with the Tatar and Circassian population, not erased over time in the memory of the Cossacks, but preserved and overgrown with new legends, testifies to how different cultural traditions coexisted peacefully in Diko Pole, despite the extreme nature of life in the zone of constant war. Along with the historical background of the life of the Cossacks, reflected in the toponyms, the mythology of the antithesis “ours and others” is studied, reflecting the Cossack version of social history and eschatology.

Results. Analysis of the legends about the ancient inhabitants of the Don land showed that they appear as mythological creatures associated with the other world, secrets, treasures and dungeons, and in the context of folk eschatology they appear as ancestors – those who “left, but promised to return.” Over time, the images of alien ancestors are replaced in the Don legends by the images of Cossack chieftains, who are also guardians of treasures and must return “in the end times” to restore social justice in the world. Along with the change in the socio-cultural model of the Cossacks, the image of “aliens” was also transformed from the perception of neighbors-enemies as such to “nonresident” living in Cossack settlements, but not associated with the Cossack military service. At all stages of the history of the Cossacks, the antithesis “we–they” reflected in toponyms and legends, was associated with the military status of the Cossacks and contributed to the search and the strengthening of the group’s own identity.

Key words: toponymy, toponymic legends of the Don Cossacks, Don Cossacks, images of “their” and “strangers”.

Citation. Ryblova M.A. Images of “Their” and “Strangers” in Toponymy and Toponymic Legends of the Don Cossacks. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2023, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 57-68. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2023.2.5.

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Images of “Their” and “Strangers” in Toponymy and Toponymic Legends of the Don Cossacks by Ryblova M.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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