Revolt of Grannies: The Bursylysyas Komi Folk Orthodox Movement


  • Piret Koosa University of Tartu, Estonian National Museum
  • Art Leete University of Tartu


the Komi, Orthodox faith, religious movement, women, Soviet period


We study the role of women in the Bursylysyas Komi folk orthodox movement. Throughout the history of the movement, women have gradually gained more authority in this religious community. The initial stage of communist rule and the final phase of the Soviet Union were periods in which women’s domination in local religious life was most obvious. We argue that men lost their leadership in the movement because their way of execution of religious power was public and thus they became targets for Soviet repression. Komi women continued to keep the Bursylysyas faith alive, although they did so in a more domestic, hidden way. This enabled women to lead local religious practise throughout the Soviet period. In addition, the peculiar ecstatic practices of Bursylysyas, most fully developed during the initial period of Soviet rule, were more suitable for women in the framework of Komi traditional folk religiosity.


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