The Soul of Stone: Mineral Symbolism in Vepsian Villages of Karelia

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Anna Varfolomeeva


Indigenous Peoples, Vepses, Karelia, Mining, Stone Symbolism


This article is a case study of the northern Vepses, an indigenous group residing in the Republic of Karelia, and their relations with mining industry. As early as the eighteenth century, Vepses in Karelia were involved in the extraction of rare decorative minerals(gabbro-diabase and raspberry quartzite), and this involvement continues today. The article discusses the variety of symbolic meanings stone has for contemporary residentsof Vepsian villages, who see it simultaneously as a source of hardship, struggle, and pride. Local residents view nature and stoneworking as interconnected, seeing mining development in the region as a consequence of its natural richness. This case study illustrates that indigenous lifestyles, industrial development, and nature may be perceivedas coexisting and interconnected elements. In English, extended summary in Russian.

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