Saturday, December 03, 2016

PHOTOGRAPHY: The Tale of the Last Molokans. By the Georgian Levan Kherkheulidze (

( A village in Kakheti (Eastern Georgia, Caucasus), formerly called Ulianovka, and even earlier mentioned as Alexandrovka, is a distinguished place – more than a century and a half it has been a residence area of the Molokans (Russian: молокане) are sectarian Christians with centuries-long history of existence) . Decades ago the whole village was densely populated but nowadays there are only 80 of them left.

The majority of the youth has left Georgia, or moved to towns. Only the elderly are left, sticking to their protestant belief and devoted to their customs.

The Molokan liturgy is a truly distinguished, interesting and joyful process to watch: on Sundays they gather in an azure-blue chapel-house, divide into two groups.

In the main chapel hall Nikolay Presbyter (priest) reads the Bible from the Obryadnik (or the Typicon/liturgical book), he offers prayers and chants together with the congregation.

There is a kitchen next door with a heated Russian Pechka (oven) and a stove.

Under the careful eye of the cook women roll out dough, put it on longer sticks and let it dry in the oven, later to slice it into strings of dough and boil noodles. Next to it one can see huge pots of steel, fixed in the middle of the stove, with boiling meat in one and compote (stewed fruit) in the other; Samovars are lined up outside: boiling water for some tea.

As soon as 3-hour-long prayers are finished, a long table is laid in the chapel; and while Nikolay the Presbyter keeps praying, the table is laid with the Samovars, teapots, tea glasses, pieces of sugar and candies. The joyful priest orders the Molokans to keep quiet and have some tee; the tee is again followed by prayers; the next is noodles, yet another session of prayers, then the sliced, boiled meet followed by apple compote, slightly shaded red with some extra cherry marmalade. All this is followed by yet another set of prayers, of course. The liturgy is over.

Having witnessed this, you can imagine yourself in a Russian fairy tale; though you can never get rid of the disturbing idea: this might be the tale of the last Molokans.

Molokans in Georgia, Photo: Levan Kherkheulidze

Molokans in Georgia, Photo: Levan Kherkheulidze

Molokans in Georgia, Photo: Levan Kherkheulidze

More photos by Levan Kherkheulidze are here in

Interesting link: Molokane and Pryguny in Georgia

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