Altai

The Altai region is located in the south-eastern part of Russia. The peculiarity of the region is its natural uniqueness. There are almost all known types of terrain — steppes, mountains, valleys on the region’s territory. Civilizations and cultures were layered on and connected to the Altai region for many centuries. The religious beliefs of the Old Believers and other settlers, the pagan cults of nomadic tribes and the shamanic tradition formed the saturation of this region. New cultural layers were formed in this region after Altai lands joined the Russian Empire in the 18th century, the arrival of Soviet power and then its collapse. The new economic relations forced the population of Altai region to adapt to them. Now the main activity in Altai is tourism, which is complemented by an ethnic flavor. Recently, the role of Altai has acquired a different aspect. In a society that lost its unifying meanings after the collapse of the Soviet government, there was a need to search for symbols that can heal and fulfill spiritual needs. Altai is a place with a rich mythology, where paganism with its rituals were preserved along with the connection to the earth and nature, and so the region has become a shelter for the seekers, a “place of power”. I was intrigued by the mysterious charm of this place, and I wanted to know how people live in these conditions. Being imbued with the spirit of the nomads, I drove through the entire Chui highway, which crosses the Altai region from the west to the east, while taking pictures of the people I met.