The returned heritage: a cooperative Russian-German project on publishing Dyrenkova’s archive

The returned heritage:
A cooperative Russian-German project
on publishing Dyrenkova’s archive

Irina Nevskaya

(53rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, St. Petersburg 2010)

The project “The returned heritage: Shor heroic epics and traditional culture in recordings and investigations of Nadezhda Dyrenkova” is in progress. It is going on for the third year in the Kunstkamera of Saint-Petersburg and in the Berlin Free University. The project leaders are Larisa Pavlinskaja and Claus Schönig. It is supported by the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research and the German Research Society. The most important tasks of the project at the moment are deciphering, translation into Russian and publishing of Dyrenkova’s recordings of Shor epic poems and publishing of her ethnographic research articles and field materials.

Nadezhda Dyrenkova was a very important Russian ethnologist and linguist. In the 1920s and 1930s she documented the traditional culture of Turkic peoples of South Siberia (Shor, Tuba, Chalkan, Teleut, Kumandy, etc.) and their folklore. Her archive is kept at the Kunstkamera. It includes more than 400 objects. Her methods of documentation were very precise so that her materials have not lost their importance in the least. On the contrary, her documentation was made during the time when neither the Russian influence on the traditional culture nor the recent assimilation processes were so prominent. Her scientific transcription of epic poems can become now the most important source of our knowledge on the historical phonetics of these languages, some of which stay unwritten till our days.