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EXERCISES. 1 Check the pronunciation of the following words in the dictionary:

1 Check the pronunciation of the following words in the dictionary:

Skithian, archeologist, kingdom, campaign, jewelry, unbearable yoke, an arrow and a bow, to wander, armour, a tomb, an inseparable part.

2 Answer the following questions:

1 Who were the first inhabitants of the steppes?

2 Why did the peasants run away from the land-owners?

3 Why did they settle in the steppe?

4 What does a word « a Cossack» mean?

5 What were the first Cossacks engaged in?

6 What was their first organization and when was it founded?

7 What were the functions of the Army Circle?

8 What role did the Cossacks play in the war of 1812?

9 How do you estimate the traditions of a boy’s education in a Cossack family?

10 What were the relations between the Cossacks and the Russian government?

11 What do you know about the uprisings led by Stepan Rasin and Emelyan Pugatchov?

12 What folk-songs, novels, poems and films about the Cossacks do you know?

13 What do you know about the present Cossack movement, education, traditions?

3 Complete the following sentences:

1 Our country is rich in woods, forests, rivers and ...

2 In ancient times Russian ... traveled all over the world.

3 The Slavs formed their state in ...

4 During the war of 1812 ... played a great role.

5 The Cossacks lived ... because the Tatars and the Turks regularly attacked them.

6 The first notes about the Cossack villages ... to 1549.

7 To take strong drinks to the war-campaign was prohibited ...

8 The Army Circle was ... of the Don Cossack Army.

Ask your friend 10 questions on the text.



Some Words about Life and Traditions of the Don Cossacks


If you are interested in history and culture of the Don Cossacks, full of heroism and romance and called by V.G. Belinsky «...a big river falling into the river of Russian history», you can visit the Rostov Regional Local Lore Museum. The Cossacks are known as the outstanding warriors because for centuries they had been constantly struggling against the Turks and the Tatars who attacked them. Nevertheless the Cossacks gradually acquired the skills of hunting, fishing and agriculture. The living conditions influenced upon the cossack culture – the way they arranged their dwellings, their clothes, customs, traditions and economy.

In the middle of the 19-th century the most common dwelling in the Don area was a cossack house called «kuren». Its architecture is very specific: it was built on a high foundation in which there was a store-room with a front door facing the street and windows decorated with carved platbands. A house was painted green or blue. The shutters were white making the house look particularly cheerful. A house was planned as 2, 3 or 4-roomed depending on the well-being of the owner. No matter how few rooms there were in the house one was used as a kitchen where meals were cooked and another as a reception-room for guests to be received and treated. In the «red» corner of the reception room a number of icons were put. On the walls there used to be many photographs. Nearby there was a table covered with a beautiful table-cloth. Along the walls stood wooden chairs and an obligatory piece of furniture was a chest with a woman‘s clothes.

At the end of the 17-th century a specific type of cossack dress was formed in the Don area. It combined features of Russian and oriental dress. Cossacks wore knee-long shirts and wide cossack trousers. Over there a coat without collar was put on. To complete the dress there were boots, a mutton hat «papakha» and a bright girdle. A cossack woman had a heel-length chemise with puffed sleeves and over it «a kubelyok» – a kind of a robe with high waist, tight sleeves of an elbow length made of silk or wool, buttoned down to the waist. It was tightened with a belt decorated with silver and pearls. Married women had a specific horned head-dress and unmarried girls – a head-ribbon.

In 1801 the government edict prescribed a blue and red cossack uniform, obligatory at service and on holiday. Its main components were a coat, a hat «papakha», a bashlyk (a hood), cossack trousers with stripes boots.

When free from service the men took agriculture which had become the main branch of economy since the beginning of the 18-th century. Wine-growing was an important part of agriculture and in spite of being a hard work it was done by old men and children. Cattle-breeding did not form a separate branch of agriculture, but on every cossack farm there were horses, oxen, cows and sheep. In 1748 the Cossacks were granted the right of tax-free fishing in the Don mouth. And as fishing lasted practically all the year round it had become an important branch of economy. Elderly cossacks were engaged in pottery, they also wove baskets for vine.

The Cossacks due to their life conditions were very close to nature, and their history as well as culture are in many ways unique and amusing. Michael Sholokhov, a famous Russian writer, who glorified the Don area, wrote: «I dreadfully love the Don, this centuries-old cossack way of living. I love my cossack men and women. I love everything. The scent of the steppe makes me cry... And when the sunflowers are in blossom and the odour of vineyards wet with rain flows over the Don, I love this deeply and sharply».


1 The Rostov Regional Local Lore Museum – Ростовский краеведческий музей

2 carved platbands – резные наличники

3 shutters – ставни

4 pottery – гончарное ремесло

5 winegrowing – виноделие

6 a chest– сундук



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