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Culture in the area

A special spiritual link between humans and nature in the Homeland of the Crane can be traced back to the beginning of time.

The Dubna valley is a priceless source of archaeological information about the Stone-Age hunting and fishing tribes who settled here around 10,000 years ago. Scientists from the Institute of Archaeology have found the world's oldest corduroy road -a wooden causeway across a bog, built around 7,500 years ago. The frequent discoveries of images of birds and beasts bear witness to the deep-rooted spiritual link between the ancient people and nature. Bone figurines of birds from the Zamostye-2 site that have been analysed by scientists from the Sergiev Posad Reserve-Museum are 7,400 years old. It is possible that the shaman of an ancient tribe wore them as part of his clothing during a kamlaniye [seance], with the birds helping him ascend to the sky and communicate with the spirits.

Even now, people respect the birds, especially the cranes. Old-timers will tell you that the crane is a divine bird. That cranes live in pairs - husband and wife - and that if the one dies, the other 'pines away' with grief. Hunting cranes has here been since ancient times considered a sin that brings misfortune on the killer's village and relatives. When saying goodbye to the cranes in the autumn, people would call out after them, wishing them a safe journey and return: 'A journey is like a wheel! Farewell, dear mothers; we'll meet again!'

The traditional ecological culture of the local residents had not yet been completely crushed under the onslaught of modern civilisation when, at the end of the 1920s, Mikhail Privshin took up residence in the area around Lake Zabolotskoye to write a novel about an engineer called Allatov who was supposed to drainabog lake and open up 'A Golden Meadow' for the people. But the longer Privshin lived near the bogs, theless he liked the idea of exploiting and destroying them. The planned novel did not pan out. Instead he wrote a story about the crane's precious bogs - The Homeland of the Crane, which was to give its name to the area as a whole.

Even today, that link remains unbroken. Every autumn the Crane Festival, run by the Homeland of the Crane Ecological and Educational Centre, brings together children from Taldom and Sergiev Posad districts. The children go bird-watching and learn about the wildlife of their native bogs. The Taldom Museum of History and Literature, in collaboration with the EcoCentre, has set up a Museum of the Crane. It is located on farmland where the poet Sergey Klychkov once lived, in the village of Dubrovka. A group called "Veresen" [from the Old Slavonic word for 'September' -A. G.], from the Taldom College of Arts, performs at ecological festivals and conferences, and young artists from the college design information panels for wildlife sanctuaries. Schoolchildren from the village of Koshelevo organise drives to clean up and improve the condition of the protected natural areas.

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