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Everyday Russia


Tuesday, May 31, 2016


by Constantine Gulyaev

Name: Constantine Gulyaev

Age: 34

Profession: Photographer

City/Region: Republic of Khakassia

How long have you been doing photography? What style or genre most interests you? 

I have been doing photography since 2012. I am most interested in photojournalism and environmental portraiture, visual storytelling about people, places and events.

Can you give us a short description of your city? Where is it located? What is it famous for?  

Khakassia is a subject of the Russian Federation and is located in southern Siberia. It is blessed with natural beauty (steppes, mountains, lakes, caverns), monuments of ancient culture that are thought to be thousands of years old, the richness of Khakassian national culture and customs, and shamanism. Esoteric Tourism has become extremely popular here of late. Khakassia has many so-called “places of power,” where there is a strong and variegated concentration of energy forces, such that people experience a wide range of unusual reactions, from deep meditation to conditions of unfounded happiness.

What is something about your city that only locals would know?

Locals call Khakassia "Warm Siberia." The number of sunny days in the republic far exceed those in neighboring regions. What is more, the Minusinsk Depression, located in Khakassia, is protected from winds by the Western and Eastern Sayana mountain ranges, as well as by the Kuznestk Alatau, which creates beneficial conditions for all sorts of life.

Shamanism has always played and continues to play an important role in the life of Khakassian society. They conduct ceremonies, lead craft groups, treat illnesses, bring the souls of unborn children to be with their countrymen, and accompany the souls of the deceased to the other world. If in Moscow millions of rubles are spent to chase off clouds from coming holidays, in Khakassia local politicians merely turn to the shamans for help in guaranteeing better weather.

According to ancient tradition, Khakass men grow their hair long and braid it in a tight braid, a kichege, which symbolizes their close bond with the heavens, the spiritual world of Tengri [The main god of the Turkic pantheon, considered to be the chief god who created all things, and which has been worshiped by Central Asian and Eastern European people’s since the sixth century, but which may have roots in China dating back ten centuries prior.]

Which places or sites are a must for someone to see if they visit your city?

Historical and natural sights: the lake in Shirinsky Rayon, the Sunduk mountain rang, Tiyum Depression, Caverns, Petroglyphs in various regions of Khakassia.

Abakan is the capital of Khakassia. The city is young (founded in 1932) and similar to many other Soviet cities. But there are things to see. For example the Khakass Republic Philharmonic, in order to experience Khakass national dances (the ensembles «Кÿн сузы» and «Солнечный луч») and music (the ensembles «Унгер» - «Созвездие»). Abakan also has tourism sites conveniently located near the city:

  • Askiz Rayon, where the Khakass people predominate, and site of the stone sculpture known as “Улуг Хуртуях тас” (Great Old Woman Stone).
  • Sayano-Shushensky Hydroelectric Station and the picturesque road leading to it along the Yenisey River.
  • Mount Kunya (Sun Mountain), with its soul piercing views of the Krasnoyarsk Sea.
  • The great Salbyk Kurgan and Oglakhty National Park.

It is also easy to get to several sites in neighboring Krasnoyarsk Krai from Abakan: Shushenskoye (the town where Lenin was exiled and now home to an annual festival of ethnic music), the city of Minusinsk, Mount Tepsey (a mountain along the Yenisey river that is considered sacred by the Khakass).

Anything else you would like to add?

The natural landscape in Khakassia surprises with its scale, variety and primordial state. Here, you can sense the true power of nature and the richness of ancient history. Being a photographer and visual storyteller, I want to return to these places again and again...

Do you have a website?

  • Menhirs

    When traveling to Khakasia, pay attention to the numerous standing stones - menhirs. They are scattered across the prairies, large and small, inclined and straight, dug around a mound of earth fence, or arranged in rows, circles, or all alone in the desert. Most often, menhirs are arranged around the perimeter or in the corners of small mounds hiding an ancient burial, which relates to periods of Tagar (VIII - III century BC) or Okunevskaya (II thousand years BC) cultures.
    Konstantin Gulyaev @gulyaev_k

  • Igor

    A shepherd named Igor, but nicknamed Khakas, shows me pikulki (Siberian irises) flowers growing in the prairies and meadows of Khakassia. Igor is 46 and an ethnic Khakass. Since childhood everyone has called him Khakas. He considered it an insult until he was 14, when he learned it was the name of his nationality. The flock he oversees belongs to a Chinese guy who has been living in Khakassia since the 1980s. Everyone calls him Kolya. 
    Konstantin Gulyaev @gulyaev_k

  • Sunbeam

    A rehearsal of "Kÿn Susy" ("Sunbeam”) dance ensemble, under the direction of choreographer Natalia Apunevich. This ensemble was created in Abakan in 2007. It is so popular that even in small areas of Khakassia it gives 2-3 performances per day. It has also performed abroad including most recently at the Venice Carnival in February 2016.

    Konstantin Gulyaev @gulyaev_k

  • Abakan

    Abakan is the capital of Khakassia. 170 thousand people live there. Abakan railway station was first opened in 1925, when the “Achinsk-Minusinsk” railway was being built. Between the railway station and the Ust-Abakansk settlement, a housing complex was built, on April 30, 1932, that complex was officially transformed into Abakan city. 

    Konstantin Gulyaev @gulyaev_k

  • Kunja

    The road on the slopes of the ancient mountain Kÿn Tag, or Kunja, which in Khakassian means "Mountain of the Sun."
    Konstantin Gulyaev @gulyaev_k

  • Fisherman

    A fisherman on the shore of a small pond at the entrance to the Shira urban settlement. Shira region in Khakassia is famous for its many lakes, the banks of which host a number of resort areas with sanatoria and tourist complexes. Shira's location is very conveniently located if one wants to visit Khakass points of power and points of interest.
    Konstantin Gulyaev @gulyaev_k

  • Constellation

    A rehearsal of the "Ülger" (Constellation) song and dance ensemble, founded in 1989. When asked why the ensemble is much more likely to work abroad than in Russia, its leader, Kuchen Aycharkh Sayn, jokes: “Perhaps in our country we all are tired of each other." Photo: Altyn Tan Tayas Tag Kharga (member of the ensemble) plays the Topcu-homyse – a two-stringed Khakass musical instrument.

    Konstantin Gulyaev @gulyaev_k

  • School

    Students of School №11 in Abakan, dressed in Russian national costumes. In one of the underpasses on Pushkin Street, they record a mini-video for their school graduation celebration.
    Konstantin Gulyaev @gulyaev_k

  • Horses

    Galloping and glazing horses in the Khakass open spaces. You can watch at this forever. The horse is one of the most common animals in Khakass open spaces. Breeding of horses, cattle and sheep has always been a traditional occupation among the Khakass people. 
    Konstantin Gulyaev @gulyaev_k

  • Kichege

    According to ancient tradition, Khakass men wear long hair in a tight braid called kiӌege (Kichege). It symbolizes their strong connection with the sky, the Tengri world of spirits.
    Konstantin Gulyaev @gulyaev_k