The Face of the Country

Face of A Country



Primitive cultures are fast dying out. Years ago, Dr. Margaret Mead a distinguished American anthropologist, warned students of human behavior that haste was imperative if the rapidly disappearing traditions of primitive societies were to be fully utilized as valuable research material before it was too late.


A similar note of warning might be sounded with regard to the native traits and customs of a small branch of the Ukrainian people living under the Carpathians. True, their traditional pattern of life is not a primitive culture in the true meaning of the word; the illiterate sections of the population have been partly influenced by the better-educated members of their society, their peasant traditions have been modified and even blurted by contact with civilization. None the less, a Westerner might be surprised to find such arts and crafts, customs and folk-lore as are still partly preserved in die remote and isolated parts of the country. Some of the habits, beliefs and attitudes of the uplanders are unbeliev­ably crude. The devil still haunts the forsaken depths of the vast forests and witches can put a spell on anyone who moves them to wrath.


But time marches on, and the simple pattern of life in Carpatho-Ukraine has been disintegrating, slowly but irrevocably. During the past twenty-five years illiteracy was greatly reduced, sanitary conditions were improved and an attempt was made to introduce Western standards in the more easily accessible parts of the country. War and enemy occupation made further inroads. Scores of the boldest men were killed as “rebels.” The Gipsies, who used to be an interesting feature of the country’s racial pattern, were wiped out by the henchmen of the master race. Many villages were destroyed in battle and several of the rare wooden churches were burnt down. The new political allegiance of the country----now a province of the Soviet Union is likely further to alter what is still left of its former character.

Before long, the sketchy outline of the Carpatho-Ukrainian pattern of life contained in this book may be little more than an epitaph on the tomb of a crude and backward, but in some ways interesting, peasant culture.


East Slovakia Genealogical Research Strategies