Wednesday, June 18 thru Sunday, June 22
at the Gualala Arts Center
The 2014 Global Harmony Season of Offerings culminates with a week-long
Days of Sakha Culture Festival
on the Mendonoma coast with activities at Gualala Arts Center, Fort Ross State Historic Park and Gualala Point Regional Park.
further strengthen the bond between the coast community and the Yakut people of the Sakha Republic in the Russian Federation, who first arrived as hired workers at Fort Ross and reconnected during the two-hundredth anniversary of the settlement in 2012.
The Sakha woodcarvers have started creating the ceremonial Serge that will be installed at the Gualala Point Regional Park the week of June 15 and dedicated on Sunday, June 22. They will be working every day at the entrance to the park and welcome visitors to see them in action. The video below shows some of the first day carving on the main Serge pole.
video:Sakha Ser-ge Carving at Gualala Point Regional Park (c) 2014 De Ann Tyler
Wednesday, June 18
On Wednesday, June 18, the Festival begins at Gualala Arts Center with a reception and official opening of the
Sakha Culture art exhibit.
It will feature the art of
Andrey Chikachev, a well-known Sakha artist, whose work captures the daily life of the Yakut people. He has had exhibitions throughout Russia, as well as in Mongolia, Poland and New York.
It will also include the jewelry designs of noted Sakha artist Luka Yegorov.
Sakha costumes and various cultural artifacts are also expected to be part of the exhibit.
More information and examples of some of the artists' work can be found on the Gualala Arts
Sakha Culture exhibit page.
The same evening from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. several films will be shown
which showcase this intriguing culture. The Yakut people are the largest ethnic group in the Sakha Republic, a state with a population of almost a million people. It is located in eastern Siberia and spans three time zones.
The Yakut share a story remarkably similar to the local Pomo in California.
The discovery of gold and the building of the Trans-Siberia Railway brought ever-increasing numbers of Russians to their isolated region. Persecution by the Soviet government in the 1920s reduced their numbers to one-half of the current population, but they now form the federation's majority population and are experiencing a revival of their culture.
Thursday, June 19
The Festival continues on Thursday, June 19, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. with master classes presented at Gualala Arts Center that will teach participants traditional Sakha crafts. Svetlana Petrova will teach classes in creating traditional Sakha clothes, jewelry and carvings, sewing Chepparak (horse saddle cloth) and making toys from fur & cloth. For the musically inclined, Galina Fedorova will demonstrate and teach the Khomus (jaw harp). Luka Egorov and Yuriy Ksenofontov (photo at left) will teach a woodworking class that will show students how to create human and animal figures and decorative home items such as candlesticks, window and door trim, etc.
These classes will be offered again on Saturday, June 21, at Fort Ross State Historic Park. The classes are free to the public at both locations, but the normal State Park admission charge to Fort Ross State Historic Park will be required to enter the park if students want to attend at that venue.
The day's events at Gualala Arts Center will conclude with Festival film presentations from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. and a lecture on "Shamanic Spirituality" from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The films and lecture are free, donations to support the Festival costs are encouraged.
Friday, June 20
On Friday, June 20, Gualala Arts Center will host three unique performances.. At 6 p.m. there will be a theatrical performance of the play The Last Shore of Ellei, followed at 7 p.m. by another live theater performance of Shaman's Rite, also known as The Blessed Khomus. The evening will close with an 8:30 p.m. live music concert of contemporary and traditional Sakha music. All events are free, donations to support the Festival costs are encouraged.
The Last Shore of Ellei is a play that celebrates the experience of Peter Popov, a Yakut who came to the original Fort Ross settlement in the early days of the Russian presence on the North Coast of California. It tells the story of how he fell in love with a girl from the local Pomo tribe and, with the help of the camp's ruler, Ivan Kuskov, and his wife, Ekaterina Prokhorovna - also a Pomo tribe member - was able to marry her. At the center of the story is Peter's taking on the persona of Ellei, the forefather of all Sakha people, and arranging on the shore a festive occasion of thanksgiving to the pure Sakha spirits Aiyy and Yhyakh to celebrate his marriage.
Shaman's Rite, aka The Blessed Khomus
Shaman's Rite weaves the past and the present together with the story of a sacred khomus, the national vargan ("Jew's harp") instrument of the Sakha people. In the present day, the khomus belongs to Niurgun, a young man who uses it to celebrate the birth of the son that will be the successor to his clan. It was passed down to him across generations, after a Shaman used it to save his grandmother Arylyia's life.
Sakha Drum, crafted at Gualala Point
Regional Park, will be played at the concert
The play moves back to the 18th century to tell how Arylyia, also the clan's successor, became very sick when she was a young woman. One of her clan, Niukuus, travels far to ask the blacksmith Kuday Bakhsy to forge a special khomus that would save her. As Niukuus begins playing the khomus at Arylyia's bedside, the Shaman Djereliier appears, takes the khomus from Niukuus and plays the khomus around Arylyia's bed as part of a special shamanic ritual. Magically, Arylyia recovers and Djereliier presents the now sacred khomus to the clan, promising that from that day forward it would protect not only Arylyia but the entire family.
The play concludes back in the present with Niurgun honoring this history of his clan and playing the sacred khomus on the alaas field (a lawn in the forest) of his ancestors as the finale of the blessing ceremony for his son.
Both plays were written by Elena Rumyantseva and produced by Ruslan Tarakhovsky, and will feature actors Iliana Pavlova, Izabella Nikolaeva, Alexander Borisov and Innokenty Lukovtsev.
The finale of the evening will be a live music concert of contemporary and traditional Sakha music, which generally falls into the Ethno/Folk Rock musical genre and will include guitar, bass and drums.
In case you missed the live music concert of contemporary Sakha music on June 20,
here are videos of the songs and the dancing that ensued.
Global Harmony experience indeed!
At 10:00 a.m. the round table topic will be "Indigenous peoples, identity, history and post-colonialism," chaired by Aleksey Istomin of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg. Panelists will include Jurgen Kremer from Saybrook University, William Yakovlev from Yaroslavskii Historical Museum, Takasayeva Kunney from the Warsaw University, and
Ekaterina N. Romanova from the Institute of Humanities, Yakutsk.
The second round table discussion, "The Interconnection of Ecology and Spirituality in Modern Society," will start at 1:00 p.m. and will be chaired by Marjorie Mandelstam Blazer of Georgetown University. The panel will include Stanley Krippner of Saybrook University, Julian Lang, a Karuk artist from the Karuk Cultural Center, Elenita Strobel, Chair of American Multicultural Studies at Sonoma State University and Alexander Artemev, Sakha healer and ecology activist from the Sakha Republic.
When the round table discussion ends at 3:00 p.m. there will be demonstrations by Sakha artisans of the creation of traditional Sakha crafts. Svetlana Petrova will demonstrate creating traditional Sakha clothes, jewelry and carvings, sewing Chepparak (horse saddle cloth) and making toys from fur & cloth. For the musically inclined, Galina Fedorova will demonstrate the Khomus (jaw harp). Luka Egorov and Yuriy Ksenofontov will present a woodworking demonstration that will show how they create human and animal figures and decorative home items such as candlesticks, window and door trim, etc. The day will finish with a live acoustic performance of Sakha folklore music from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 22
The Festival concludes Sunday, June 22 at Gualala Point Regional Park with a traditional Kumis ritual, Ousuohay dance and dedication of the Serge that the Sakha woodcarvers have created during the Festival. These events will begin at noon, and will be followed by samples of traditional Sakha foods.
There will also a National sport competition which will feature championship Mas-wrestling. This traditional Sakha sport features participants sitting in front of each other, propping their feet against the board that divides the competition area and tugging on a wooden stick (mas), making sure to keep it parallel to the propping board. Mas-wrestling demands great muscular strength from the hands, legs, back, and abdominals and has recently been added as an event at World Strongman Federation Cup events. The Festival will be formally closed when all the festivities have been completed.
video:Yakutia Today CostaProduction (c) 2011;
Director: Konstantin Timodeyev;
SITIM Media Group
The 40-member delegation and other visitors from around the world will be hosted in various locations up and down the coast. Hank Birnbaum, Fort Ross Conservancy, and Robin Joy, Fort Ross State Historic Parks are coordinating the programs with Sue Bechtel of Sonoma County Parks and David "Sus" Susalla, Gualala Arts Executive Director.
2014 Global Harmony Season of Offerings
began on March 21 with Rumi's Caravan, an evening of Middle Eastern cuisine, music, and poetry inspired by Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet. In all, the series included seven performances from around the world, which showcased cultures spanning several centuries.
Previous Sakha cultural events at Gualala Arts Center:
video:Sakha Ser-ge at Fort Ross (c) 2012 Tim Solovyev
The 2014 Global Harmony Season of Offerings is partially underwritten
by the generosity of art patron Andrea A. Lunsford.
Sakha Cultural Festival
Serge Raising & Dedication
Gualala Point Regional Park
"A Serge Volunteer Ballet"
It indeed took a village to create such a magnificent gift for our community from the Sakha people of Yakutia.
A self-funded delegation of six dedicated artists and craftsmen and a shaman arrived in Gualala at the end of May 2014. They worked tirelessly for weeks with the assistance of our local artists, volunteers, parks agencies, businesses for literally hundreds of hours to carve and place the serge's by the opening of the Global Harmony Series Days of Sakha Culture Festival on June 18. Their delegation grew to over 50 Sakha by the time the Festival was in full swing, all sharing their culture through visual arts, theater, music, lectures, master classes, textiles, jewelry, food, drink, conversations, love and friendship. The grand finale to the Festival was the serge dedication and formal closing ceremonies at Sonoma County's Gualala Point Regional Park on June 22.
I refer to the images by
Bob Rutemoeller and
as the "serge volunteer ballet" as they show how it took a village to accomplish and install such a wonderful work of art on the historic morning of Wednesday, June 18, 2014. It is truly an example of how when people work together with passion for sharing of cultures, respect, experience, hard-work, creative vision and love, everything is possible.
Gualala Arts' mission is to promote public interest and participation in the arts. The Global Harmony Series program sponsored the Days of Sakha Culture Festival and this truly international week of events fulfilled the series' goal of encouraging global harmony by sharing cultures through the arts. Gualala Arts could not be more thrilled with the offerings from our friends from Sakha and we hope and our entire coastal community feels the same.
We look forward to continue to share the Sakha culture!
- David Sus Susalla, Executive Director, Gualala Arts
Selected photos below by Bob Rutemoeller and Bones Roadhouse
The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email
Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.