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Geographical Location and Population
The name of the city originates from its location near the Irkut River means “rapid stream”. Irkutsk is the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast. It is situated on the Angara River, 68 km. from Baikal, the deepest and oldest lake in the world and listed as UNESCO world heritage list. The population of Irkutsk is 600,000 as of 2002 and the city occupies 31 thousand hectares.
Irkutsk appeared in the map of Siberia in the middle of the 17th century. They considered July 6, 1661 as the foundation day when Jacob Ivanovich Pokhabov made a report about the town’s foundation.
Due to its favourable geographic position, Irkutsk has attracted the resources to create a remarkable ensemble of historic architecture. This was destined to become “window to the east'' as the way to the Pacific. All the expeditions arranged by the government to the Far East, Yakutiya, Mongolia, China and Alaska were organized in Irkutsk. This made people started to settle in Amur region from Irkutsk.
In the early 19th century, many Russian artists, officers and nobles were sent into exile to Siberia in taking part in the Decembrist revolt against Tsar Nicholas I. This made Irkutsk the major center of intellectual, social life and influences of the city's cultural heritage due to these exiles
Intangible Cultural Heritage
The Russian traditional culture can be observed in folk, oral history, arts and crafts. Culture enthusiasts, non-commercial and non-governmental organizations of local crafts work in the city and started to save the traditional culture which lasted for many years. The local associations successfully work in Irkutsk, preserving the culture by working with people in more than 20 workshops around the city such as ceramics, pottery, woodwork, weaving workshops. The costumes, shoes, and other traditional musical instruments like garmons, gusli, wooden spoons, balalaikas, and accordions are all parts of the intangible heritages of Russian culture and Siberian culture.
A special House of Crafts is a municipal cultural institution to showcasing local craftsmanship timed in accordance with a folk calendar. It also held workshops especially to youth on wood work, weaving, ceramics, pottery, embroidery, working with beads, making traditional fabric dolls Other activities held in the house such as Folk celebrations representing traditional Russian songs, games, ceremonies and Russian tea with jam and pies.
One of the most important contributions of traditional folk culture of the world history is the Russian fairytales, proverbs, tales, sayings, folk games. A special folk festival is conducted every year in accordance to the folk calendar to preserve the musical folklore such as folk songs, folk dances, round dances. In addition, specialized seminars on folk dance, folk celebrations, folk songs are also planned annually. There is also a special “school of folk culture” in one of the high school of the city where school kids study weaving, ceramics, painting and fairy tales stories are played. The traditional Byryats culture also exists in Irkutsk since shamans living nowadays. The traditional Byryats festival “Altargana” is held every summer in Irkutsk.
Saving the folk culture helps people to realize their identity, the place of their country in the world’s history, gives “the feeling” of the culture. Moreover, it’s a possibility to tell our children about the history, about our culture. In our case, we use the folk culture to help people recover from illness, and also to create work places.