Photographers Capture a Fading Culture in Russia

Photographers Fedor Tyolkov and Sergey Poteryaev have chronicled changes within a particular indigenous group in Russia.

The Mari people are an indigenous group that are mostly located in Russia, Ukraine and Estonia. The populations are dwindling and around only 451,000 people speak the Mari language.


Their project Ural Mari focuses “on the group of around 24,000 who migrated to the Urals in the 16th century to avoid forced Christianisation.”

After the collapse of the USSR, more problems appeared to the Mari people — “a decline in agriculture and rural flight.”


A main result of these problems has been the disappearance of the Mari lifestyle. Their traditions are being forgotten and by creating a project with the main focus on this culture, Telkov and Poteryaev hope to revive the need to hold on to these traditions.


“We create a kind of typology of people, situations, interiors and landscapes,” says Telkov. “We’re trying to create you a detailed snapshot of local phenomena and people.”


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