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«    March 2010    »
электронный журнал "Новые исследования Тувы"

Tuva: So many of us are not indifferent

The first stage of the “Nine treasures” project ended

During the past two months, I had the good fortune to meet and to get to know a huge number of people, different in age and in character, in their profession and in their relationship to life in general. All of them had one thing in common – their participation in the special project “Nine Treasures”, which started on January 13 of this year.

March 15 was the deadline for the first stage of the project – collection of the entries.

As is so often the case, we had a slow start, but then things took on momentum.

In the first two weeks, we received only 5 entries. But the last few days before the deadline we were flooded. The letters were brought in stacks, there was an endless stream of people, who came from distant districts, wishing not just to hand in their report, but to make sure personally that it was received and examined.

One of the first ones was a picturesque grandfather Khertek Lenov, who reported a stone bridge in Kara-Khol, made by Nature itself. The young people and the middle generation preferred the Internet, and their reports were usually laconic and brief. But there were pleasant surprises as well. Vova Baikara, a fourth-grade student from Lyceum No.15, wrote very seriously about Dus-Khol. He wrote in great detail not just about the medicinal properties of the lake and the organization of recreational activities there, but also about our behavior towards the riches given to us by Nature – parking cars right on the banks and removing the healing mud by buckets, which causes the lake to become increasingly shallower, and leaving piles of garbage behind us. Vova believes that “if the visitors’ behavior does not change for the better, the lake will quickly die. It is necessary to transmit, together with stories about the lake’s healing properties, also caring and respectful behavior to the unique and irreplaceable natural resources, so that every visitor could feel himself a hero who touched a natural wonder, who bathed in the mythical water of life”.

Sergei Ivanovich Kopanev’s report was astonishing – not just by its sincerity, but by its unusualness. He remembered a 4 meter ceramic statue of a Buddhist deity with a wrathful face, which had been exhibited in the “Aldan Maadyr” museum in the 1960’s. The accompanying plaque advised the spectators not to look into the deity’s eyes, because some people could faint from his terrifying gaze. He remembered that there was much written about it in the newspapers at that time, and then the statue was taken to the Hermitage in a special plane with a fuselage that could open up

“The ceramic statue of a Buddhist deity is also one of noteworthy things of Tuva,. It is absolutely necessary for us to find out the fate of this statue. I hope that some eyewitnesses will come forward – everybody used to go to the museum, whole school classes used to be taken for excursions. I believe that one day it will come back home, back to Tuva”, writes Sergei Ivanovich.

Muna Shenne, another student of lyceum No.15, reports a very rare and curious object. “Near Turan, there is an unusual tree trunk. A tumor growth showed up on a larch tree, which looks like a head of an old man. The tree trunk was chopped off above this growth. When they were chopping the top of the tree, the head, supposedly “ screamed” from pain, and an expression of suffering became fixed on the face. One of the eyes had run oul, and the other bulges. The wrinkled bald head of the old man stares with the surviving eye to the south. Resourceful little birds made convenient nests in the old man’s ears. Turan’s little children and even the adults often come to take a look at “Grandpa”.

Shavy Aislu from 5th School reported about Uttug-Khaya mountain, which fulfills various wishes – to have children, real estate, a car, to pass exams with good results, etc. “And because of that, inside the mountain you cansee toy little houses, baby dolls, office tool – for good exam results or simply for intellectual development and study activities in general. But this mountain has a mystical character. The mountain won’t “let through” people with bad character. I heard from acquaintances that a case with a lethal outcome was well documented, when a woman could not squeeze through the hole. But the people who passed through the mountain receive prosperity, luck, and happiness, in other words, “aas-kezhik”.

And this is the poetic way that student Vitalii Tyulyush describes Mongun-Taiga:” You have to see it, to feel it, she lures you, she inspires, gives you wings, she heals the wounds of your soul, she inspires awe and astonishes with her silence, impregnability, aloofness…

Only in the mountains, on the glaciers, a man can find out what he’s worth. In front of him is a peak which has to be conquered, hurricane winds, cold, fear of heights, instinct of self-preservation, mountain sickness. Eternal ice is under your feet, which never thaws, probably not for million years. And infinite white space all around. Time itself seems to slow down its passage here.”

Our compatriot Vera Sagaan, who now lives in the USA, writes: ”I want to present my version of interesting places of our beautiful country! The first of the unusual and unbelievable, is a place on the old road between Abaza and Ak-Dovurak, on the Eagle Pass, where the ovaa stands. As you look down, you can see three regular circles – small, medium and large. I believe that these are, quite possibly, footprints of cosmic ships, which came here from far-away worlds. I do not think that yurts in the old times had such humongous dimensions. And I like to believe, no matter how absurd my version might seem, that visitors from other galaxies came to our beautiful Earth, bringing a good mission.”

Many people responded to our special project with ideas of re-establishing lost objects and building new ones. There are many ideas, but, unfortunately there are only very few who are ready to make them into reality. Where are you, managers? The new generation, unfortunately, it seems, prefers trade to production. And at the same time, we have here, in the sphere of tourist services and manufacture of souvenirs, a veritable “Klondike”, with an almost complete absence of competition. Sure, the profits will not be great at the outset, but even Moscow was not built in a day.

I know several entrepreneurs, who started with a capital of two thousand rubles, and managed to get ahead with perseverance, intuition, and unbelievable capacity for hard work. In Altai, at Teletskoye Lake, almost all the people offer lodgings for tourists, there is a great range of places to live, from a wooden yurt for 300 rubles to private houses with sauna and billiards. I even saw somebody who lived in a shack, leaving his house to the tourists. The two months of summer season will feed a family for the whole year. The local administration, thanks to the taxes, built approaches to the sights of the lake, there is a dock for boats at Korbu waterfall, paving and railings, toilets and a private café. There is a small fee for going down to the beach, which is used to keep the place clean. Almost all the people from the village have boats and take tourists out for excursions. The shops are stuffed with souvenirs, produced by local craftsmen. They have honey in bear-shaped jars, amulets from furs, artifacts made from wood and bark.

We have masses of craftsmen like that in Tuva, too. But there is nothing for the tourists to buy. One often hears people blaming it on lack of starting capital. “Oh, if I had some, I would have started doing that long ago!” On this occasion we can remind ourselves of the ostentation with which our people like to celebrate weddings and anniversaries, inviting 300 distant relatives they hardly know, how they show off wealth in front of each other, what amounts of money they just throw to the winds out of vanity and conceit, how many cars here are bought on credit. That means that things are not so bad, but we simply live for the here and now, without thinking about tomorrow. Maybe we could take another look at our priorities?

The Tuvan nation was often called one of the noteworthy things of Tuva in the reports. But 70 year-old Militina Shatrova’s letter was especially poignant: “Even though I am illiterate, but in mu heart I have always know, always felt…I consider the Tuvan nation a treasure of Tuva, who, in the hard war years took their livestock, in the cold, in rain in snow, to feed our soldiers, to clothe them in warm socks, and jackets, to warm their wounded souls, to give them strength of will to win the war and to come back as heroes.”

The project helped me to discover not only a new, so far unknown Tuva, with her innumerable riches, but also people – active, not apathetic, who can appreciate beauty, who respect and have a deep knowledge of the history and culture of our republic. I was especially gladdened by the young generation; one could feel the work of their teachers – activists in their attitude towards their native country. How many of them are there in the districts of the republic, with inquisitive minds, carefully collecting priceless material about their region, and inculcating this interest in their surroudings to their charges. They called, asked, sent their reports over the Internet or with registered mail. But the educational institutions in the Capital, regardless of the proximity and amount of available information, showed great passivity, with rare exceptions. Is this mot an indicator of the “regional expertise” type of work? We speak so much about patriotism, but that is something that children are brought up to by their parents, teachers, and their whole environment.

My colleagues recently visited one of the districts of the republic. Preparation for the festival “Salute, Victory!” was going full blast at the school, and next to the school, there is a monument to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War, which has been turned into a place for drinking alcohol – filth, cigarette butts, empty bottles, broken plaques with signs. The children walk past it every day. What good are all the speeches and reportages about preparation for the 65th anniversary of the Victory, all the concerts, if the schoolchildren do not even know the names of their compatriots who died on the fronts of the war?

I hope that the project “Nine Treasures” will make us see our world in a different way. So that we would no end up like in the proverb: “We don’t protect what we have, but we cry when we lose it.”

So, the first stage of the project is finished – more than 150 objects, some famous and some obscure, but no less valuable, have been reported, dozens of our famous countrymen and events. The next step is to introduce our treasures to our compatriots, to Russia, to the world, in all their beauty and originality.

I hope that deeds will follow words, good and constructive ones.

Anna Khadakhane, coordinator of the “Nine Treasures” project, translated by Heda Jindrak
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