Historical and Cultural Potential of the region
Pryazha national region is rich in history. People used to settle here from time immemorial. The earliest archaeological finds date back to the VIII-VII millenia B.C. Basic occupations of pioneer inhabitants were fishing, hunting and gathering. Territory of the region is one of the oldest places of farming in Karelia. Here, by Lake Syamozero, archeologists have discovered the very first center of agriculture in the whole area – traces of cutting farming and rye blossom dust, which by means of radiocarbon method dates back to the 1020s B.C. Some places are associated with the history of relations between Russia and Sweden and Finland. Names of some settlemts are mentioned in the chronicle of 1496. The settlement of Pryazha, capital of the region, in 2002 celebrated its 420 anniversary. The name of 'Pryazha' was registered since the turn of the XVII century in the form of 'the village on Lake Pryazha'.
The modern administrative-territorial system of Pryazha region was formed stepwise. Before 1927 territory of the region in modern borders was part of Svyatozero and Syamozero, and partly Shuya volosts of Petrozavodsk uyezd, Vedlozero, Tulmozero and partly Kotkozero volosts of Olonets uyezd of Olonets province, then (1920-1923) – Karelian Labour Commune, and (since 1923) – Karelian Autonomous Republic.
New administrative division took place in Karelia in autumn of 1927. Instead of 7 uyezds and 55 volosts there appeared 26 districts. Within the territory of Pryazha region these were Svyatozero and Syamozero districts. The finally established regions of Pryazha national region were stated on February 28, 1930.
Thanks to such long history the region is rich in heritage – 354 monuments of history and culture registered in the republican State Center for Protection and Use of Monuments of History and Culture.
The list of monuments of archeology inludes 195 names. First of all, these are excavations of sites of primitive people around Syamozero near Shotozero, Lakshezero, Kinejärvi, on coasts of rivers and islands of Vedlozero, Svyatozero and Tulmozero. Unique may be considered the Kamennavolok copper smeltery which dates back to the I millennium B.C., and a trade site of Kinejärvi. Finds on the site of the latter date back to the Middle Ages.
Registered by the state in therritory of the region there are 131 monuments of architecture: ecclesiastical buildings (churches, chapels, worship crosses), houses and utility structures. Most of ascertained monuments of architecture are situated near the interlake and around-the lake spaces, limited by lakes Syamozero, Shotozero and Kroshnozero: in villages of Korza (18), Lahta (17), Rubcheila (11), Sargilahta(13), Kinerma (9), Ruga (6), several objects in Chuinavolok, Kishkoila, Kurmoila, etc. The most valuable from the point of view of history and culture are chapels of the Descent of the Holy Spirit of XVI century in Ahpoila, of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and Prophet Elijah (the second half of the XVIII century) in Chuinavolok, of the Smolensk icon of the Mother of God of XVIII century in Kinerma, of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Manga (XVIII-XIX centuries), the pogost chapel in Sargilahta (XVIII century), worship cross of 1796 in Kärgelä.
Monuments of history total 42 objects, including 22 cult groves, three memorable places: location of Toporetsky blast furnace and hammering factory (1763-1786), remains of buildings of Tulmozero factory (1762-1778, 1874-1903) near Kolatselga and location of the concentration camp and central prison of Military administration of East Karelia of the time of the Great Patriotic War in the village of Kindasovo.
In Pryazha region there are five ensembles ranked as 'national' – Mejän Paö art song ensemble, the Russian Song chorus, Tuomi Finnish song ensemble, Vecherka ensemble of national song, Aldoine ensemble of Karelian songs. Ensembles perform in the region and beyond, participate in national holidays of the region, such as Kindasovo festival of national humour, Kukushkina Gora (settlement of Chalna), Trinity Sunday (Vedlozero), Fun of Svyatozero, Karelskaya Gornitsa ceremonial holiday (Kroshnozero), etc. All activities are intended to preserve and develop nation culture, languages, customs of peoples ytraditionally residing within the territory of the national region.
Kindasovo rural festival of national humour
Funny tales about fools are very popular among many nations of the world. More often heroes of these tales are living in a certain place that actually exists: villages, cities or provinces. Russians tell about Poshekhonians, Bulgarians tell about Gabrovians, Germans – about Schildbürghers, Swedes – about residents of Södertälje near Stockholm, etc. In Finland heroes of such tales were people from Häme, and in Karelia these are people from Kindasovo. In 1973 Karelia publishing house has released A.S.Stepanova's book Truth and Fables printed in 13republish000 copies which was sold quickly, and today the book became a rarity and is found only in private collctions. In 2005 the book was republished. The richest collection of the Truth and Fables book became a basis of scripts of many rural festivals of national humour Kindasovo held annually in Pryazha region with success since 1986. Its initiator, the first organizer and director is the famous collectress of Karelian folklore Viola Malmi.
Kindasovo residents, as Karelians as a whole, are hospitable, cheerful, industrious, they enjoy good songs and fairy tales, are endowed with a good sense of humour. It became the reason to hold the rural humour festival in the village of Kindasovo. Once a year Kindasovo residents become heroes and hosts of the festival thanks to which many people from far beyond the borders of Karelia and Russia have learned about the small village. in the village there are 30 inhabitants, the festival in different years gathered from 500 to 10 000 people. Over the period of 18 years Kindasovo humour festival received ensembles from Olonets, Veppsian volost, Suojärvi and Kalevala regions, Louhi region, Petrozavodsk, Moscow, Leningrad, Pskov and Novgorod areas, guests from Gabrovo (Bulgaria), Finland, Sweden, and America. Now the festival has got the international status.
Demographic and national characteristics
Population of Pryazha national region is 16,882 people, including 24% of urban population and 76% of rural population. Currently, the region has the highest natality in the Republic of Karelia.
The region is a unique place of compact residing of representatives of two indigenous northern peoples: Karelians (representing Livvik and Lud dialects of Karelian language) and Finns. Russians make 46.1% of the population of the region, along with 36.8% of Karelians, 6.3% of Finns, and 10.8% of representatives of other ethnic origins.