Monday, January 6, 2014

Culture flashback: Russian peasant woman crushing corn

This undated old stereographic card features the following downbeat description of Russian life on the reverse side:

Russia is still first and foremost as an agricultural country. She produces 1,000,000,000 bushels of grain a year, and grain products form more than one-half of her total exports to Europe. But it is in her most fertile districts that the worst famines occur. And the country, as one flies across it, leaves the general impression of indigence. In sharp and painful contrast with Western Europe and Germany, there are virtually no fat cattle, no cosy farm houses, no villas or castles of large land owners, nothing but ugly little villages of little, flat, shed-like houses, all huddled together around a white church with a green roof. There is nothing of the industry and economy of the French peasantry, nothing of the varied, rich agriculture of England. Wheat is threshed by lean horses tramping on the sheaves, and the women crush the kernels to flour by hand.

This photo was probably taken sometime between 1900 and 1910. One gets a rather dreary impression of Russia from the description on the card. But I think it was a bit exaggerated. For some other views of life in Russia, circa 1909, check out this post on Prokudin-Gorskii's color photographs.

Here's a closer look at one of the frames from this stereographic card.

Other stereographic cards

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