13 March 2009

In search of Rusyns

I realized with mild horror yesterday that I had forgotten to share some photos from last Saturday, in which we went up to the northern part of Svidník okres in search of Rusyns. The region is of course rich in wooden churches, and besides the two here, we also visited the one in Ladomirová (where my great-grandfather was baptized) and passed the wooden church in Hunkovce.

This church in Krajné Čierno dates from the second half of the 18th century, and the end of the little blurb in the village said the following:
We hope, that such a sightseeing will leave only pleasant feelings inside of You after the visit of our village.
Well. There were some mighty nice vibes in Krajné Čierno. Seriously, it was so pleasant there. It's about a mile off of the main road to Poland, so it's still quiet and there's an enormous amount of energy in the hills surrounding the village. I almost don't want to mention its name because of how excellent and unspoiled it is -- next thing you know, the NYT Frugal Traveler or someone might show up.

To get to the church in Korejovce, you cross a footbridge over the Hrišov potok (either sinner's or criminal's creek) and walk up a path to the church. In addition to the generations of Rusyns buried there, there are also 5 unknown Austro-Hungarian soldiers buried there from WWI.

I will now intentionally politicize this otherwise pleasant travelogue by providing some statistics from the last census:
Krajné Čierno had (in 2001) 84 residents, 70 of whom said their mother tongue was Rusyn (83%).
Korejovce had 70 residents, 36 of whom said their mother tongue was Rusyn (51%) -- these 36 people all also identified as Greek Catholic (take that, Slovakicized Prešov Eparchy).
People here, for obvious historical reasons (50+ years of forced Ukrainianization) are happy to speak Rusyn and say that they do, but are slow to say that their nationality is Rusyn. We've got work to do everywhere to rectify this issue, because less than half of the people in Slovakia who are Rusyns are willing to self-identify as such to the government. Besides helping people to understand and speak up about who they really are, it helps cultural development receive more government support.

Since it was a Saturday, I kept knowing that eventually we'd be able to actually get into a church towards the evening because there would be vespers somewhere. As we drove back towards Svidník, the lights were on in the Orthodox church in Ladomirová -- the last time I was in there it was 1996 and I had a drink at the well. But I remembered the iconography in there to be quite impressive. We couldn't go and stand in the middle of the nave to see the Pantocrator in the cupola, obviously, because vespers were happening, but I started going upstairs to the loft, and as I opened the door was immediately greeted with the smells and sounds of something truly spiritually authentic. And there was nothing Slovak about the vespers. The books were in Rusyn, everything about it was us, which is a nice feeling.

Rounding out the day, dinner was pirohi, sauerkraut, and some quite nice homemade slivovica and calvados.

1 comment:

pakurilecz said...

Thanks for posting about both of these churches. I visited Ladomirova and Potoky in 2007

map for Krajné Čierno