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Eccentric Names of Russian Villages, Part 3
February 27, 2015 14:20


Previous: Eccentric Names of Russian Villages, Part 2

Emmaus in the Tver Region

How did this biblical name (the town of Emmaus is mentioned in the Book Makkaveyev, the Gospel of Luka, etc.) come to the central part of Russia? It happened at the will of Mitrofan Slotvinsky, the archbishop of Tver and Kashinsky. In 1750 he undertook restoration of a decayed monastery and organized shifting it to upland. Having found likeness of the monastery’s new layout to the description of ancient Emmaus, the archbishop named the monastery and the village around it Emmaus.
Modern official documents usually have the village name written with double “s” (Emmauss) but at the same time its original name of Emmaus is used.
 
One more Emmaus existed in Ossetia until the 1930s. The village owed its name, which was extremely unusual for the North Caucasus, to German colonists who settled there in 1887 as the result of successful initiative of the head of the Ossetian Area A.F. Eglau. The concept was to grant this colony with the right of self-government and create “model farming” in this poor terrain and “show improved agriculture methods to the indigenous population”.
 
The project was a success: German colonists built well-planned houses, created infrastructure, and laid out gardens. However the self-government was abolished in 1905. During collectivization after the revolution the village was renamed into Razdzog (i.e. “the leader” in the Ossetic language), but the old name still remains very famous.

Dada in the Khabarovsk Krai


Dada is a Nanay Settlement located on the bank of River Amur. It stands on the place of an ancient settlement of the 1st millennium BC at the confluence of Gassinsky and Halkhalinsky channels.
Its location determined the name of the settlement. “Da” means “the mouth of river, lake, or channel” and “dada” denotes “at the confluence” if translated from Nanay.
 
Chernaya Gryaz’ (Black Dirt) in the Moscow Region

It is assumed that the Chernaya Gryaz’ (meaning “black dirt”) Village of the Solnechnogorsk District on the road connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg owes its name to a small turbid river named this way. The name of the small river is accounted for with its dark soil and the standard meaning of the word “dirt” (sodden soil, impurity, or soil mixed with water).
According to another version the village was named by Catherine II, who stepped down from her carriage and soiled her fair boots when travelling from St. Petersburg to Moscow. The dirt seemed totally black against that light background and this is what the Empress expressed, thus labeling the village as Black Dirt.

Catherine II really used to visit this area, especially after post station and a traveling palace had been constructed there in 1776. It was the last stop on the way from St. Petersburg to Moscow. All those following this route used to stop there. In particular, it is known that Alexander Pushkin and Nikolay Gogol would stop at the post station Black Dirt. Radishchev named the final chapter of his book Travel from St. Petersburg to Moscow after the station.
Interestingly enough, there are other villages under the same name, for example in the Kaluga and Tula Regions. As a legend goes, the present-day Tsaritsyno museum estate initiated by Catherine II stands on the place of a village that used to be named Black Dirt too.
 

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Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Historical Background Russian Settlements Eccentricities   

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