project was the only one that involved deep archival work, and here I owe everything to the archivists in the Museum of the History of Religion, which at the time was still located under the cupola of the Kazan Cathedral.
Living in areas of high mobility, these groups experienced a long history of cross-fertilization (Zhuk focuses on one of these connections, between the Shalaputs and the Skoptsy
, who were also a branch of the Khlysts).
Calling oneself "tsar" in Russia therefore signified a claim to sacred status, and in that respect it resembled the practice of calling oneself a saint, a prophet, Christ, or the Mother of God--a phenomenon that was also found in early modern Russia, especially among sects such as the khlysty (flagellants) and skoptsy
Laura Engelstein has written a masterful and engaging history of the Skoptsy
, the strangest Russian sectarian group in the modern era.
So too was one of the inhabitants of the Korean quarter of the town, who much to the chagrin of the local women, volunteers for public castration when a group of skoptsy
(members of a religious sect which practised self-castration) arrives in town.
We can only guess what he meant, but here Pestel''s proscription of Muslim polygamy and forced segregation of women may be examples of what Murav'ev had in mind; so might an aversion to Russian castrati (skoptsy
Yet the book makes no attempt to do so, even though it was another philologist, Aleksandr Panchenko, who a decade ago managed to connect Russian sectarian texts to a description of "popular Orthodoxy." (25) Beglov uses Panchenko's works on the "Christ faith" (khristovstvo) and the skoptsy
when he seeks to refute the connection between Soviet "sectarianism" and its prevolutionary variant (though he does this unconvincingly).
Ransel, "Enlightenment and Tradition: The Aestheticized Life of an Eighteenth-Century Provincial Merchant," and Laura Engelstein, "Personal Testimony and the Defense of Faith: Skoptsy
Telling Tales," in Self and Story in Russian History, ed.
Although the Reformation, which transformed the religious landscape through much of early modern Europe, did not come to Russia directly, the 18th century did see the emergence of various small groups (including the Khlysty, Skoptsy
, Dukhobors, and Molokans) who questioned whether religious rites were necessary for spiritual fulfillment and, in the case of the Molokans, encouraged individual reading of the Bible (Russkii protestantizm, 21-22).
(8) Aleksandr Etkind, "Russkie skoptsy
: Opyt istorii," Zvezda, no.
Just a small number of their publications have been cited here, but many topics remain to be investigated, such as Siberia's communities of Old Believers, Poles, and Skoptsy
; the maritime ports of Okhotsk, Vladivostok, and Petropavlovsk; Grigorii Skorniakov-Pisarev's picaresque career; the lucrative gold-mining industry; the Sibiriakov merchant family; the BAM; Primor'e's Asian immigrant population; Siberian monasteries--to name but a few.
(9) Sectarians comprise dozens of larger and smaller religious groups, the best-known being the Dukhobors, Molokans, Skoptsy
, and Khlysty.