The Vepsa
May 3, 2005 3:57 PM   Subscribe

The Vepsa are a distinct ethnic people who live in the Russian territory of Karelia, on the border with Finland. They are also scattered throughout the Leningrad and Vologda regions of Russia. Before many were assimiliated to Russian, the Vepsa spoke their own distinct variant of Finno-Ugric. [See more inside]
posted by gregb1007 (14 comments total)
Historically the Vepsa adhered to a pagan religion that worshipped animals such as bears, fish pike, and elks as divinities. Similar to followers of witchcraft, they also believed that the incanation of charms served to heal diseases. As they were christened, many of their pagan beliefs became integrated with Christianity.

The intended use of their cultural artifacts remain a mystery. Researchers still are not certain about the purpose of the stone labyrinths that were built by Vepsa in Karelia but also by other Finno-Ugric peoples. They do speculate though that the labyrinths were built for some kind of a religious ceremony. (For more in depth info on the Vepsa, visit the index of the site which contains a total of 45 articles about them.)
posted by gregb1007 at 4:03 PM on May 3, 2005

Where's the scooters?
posted by jsavimbi at 4:06 PM on May 3, 2005

posted by spock at 4:15 PM on May 3, 2005

Neat page. I had been under the assumption that Veps was a Karelian-like Finnish dialect. But the separation date sugested in the article (600-800 AD) suggests that there should be greater separation between Veps and Finnish than Finnish and Estonian.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:18 PM on May 3, 2005

I used to date a Vepsa, but her infatuation for smearing her body in two-stroke oil during wild animal sex became a bit much after awhile. Glad she liked Castrol though. . . .
posted by mk1gti at 4:19 PM on May 3, 2005

It was the head of the house who first passed over me threshold of the new dwelling with an icon and hunk of bread, followed by his wife bearing a cock and a cat. The cock was set free immediately after she had passed over the threshold. If it crowed, the life in the new house would be happy; if the cock did not, it meant that the head of the family would soon die.
A bit rough on the husband.
posted by wilful at 4:25 PM on May 3, 2005

I guess I'm kind of happy to see something about Veps, or anything Balto-Finnic on metafilter. Balto-Finnic and Finno-Ugristics are one of my linguistic interests.

Anyway, Veps is quite distinct from Karelian, Mayor, and is still spoken, albiet in small numbers. All the balto-finnic languages in the area, however, represent more of a dialect continuum, or heck, dialect bush, than anything. Veps is kind of somewhere inbetween Estonian and Finnish, but more precisely, somewhere inbetween Karelian and Estonian. To me, it sounds closer to Estonian than Finnish, but there are certainly many languages closer to Estonian than Veps, and many closer to Finnish than Karelian.

Another language, representing one of Europe's smallest linguistic minorities is Livonian, and for anyone who is interested, there's a lovely site about it here.
posted by taursir at 6:19 PM on May 3, 2005

Nice post.

Obligatory linguistic nitpicking: as the Mayor implies, the normal English way of referring to these people is "Veps." If you're going to use their name for themselves, it's Vepsä (with an umlauted a) among the southern Veps, but I don't see any reason to do that, especially since the northern Veps call themselves Lyudinikad. (Not a criticism of the post, of course, which is just quoting the linked site.)

Their language (brief description here) is, as the Mayor says, close to Karelian, which is mutually intelligible with the northern dialect of Veps.

On preview:

Veps is quite distinct from Karelian

Distinct as in "a different language" or distinct as in "different branches of Finnic"? Because my sources say it's relatively close to Karelian.
posted by languagehat at 6:30 PM on May 3, 2005

Distinct as in "different language", hat. It's close to Karelian, but I speak some Karelian, and it looks quite different to me from Northern Karelian. Since you mention though that the northern veps call themselves Lyudinikad, makes me wonder if they're close to Lyydi Karelians, at all.

It also looks like Veps has dropped vowel harmony, which Karelian retains, and which some dialects of Estonian have lost (lost in terms of loss from some sort of proto-balto-finnic).
posted by taursir at 6:56 PM on May 3, 2005

Labyrinthos. New Age, informed, lots of photos - including :

Church & Cathedral Labyrinths - English Turf Labyrinths - Native American Labyrinths - Roman Labyrinths - Prehistoric Labyrinths -
Scandinavian Stone Labyrinths - Scandinavian Church Labyrinths

They'll even make you a labyrinth if you want one.
posted by TimothyMason at 11:40 PM on May 3, 2005

*waves to taursir*
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:17 AM on May 4, 2005

Do the Vepsa ride moepds when they're feeling dyslexic?
posted by jonp72 at 5:09 PM on May 4, 2005

speaking of vespas wheeeeeeee!
posted by specialk420 at 6:47 PM on May 4, 2005

A while ago I stumbled upon Vepsian Society's Web Site.

Some of the content is mildly put, psychdelic. For example a 3-D Virtual tour of Vepsian landscapes and a vepsian soundscape.

The art of web design just hasn't arrived to Veps yet...
posted by hoskala at 5:42 AM on May 5, 2005

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