Tucked between all the industry, metro stations, modern high-rises and khrushchyovkas, a small open-air museum is fighting to preserve elements of seventeenth-century Cossack architecture and culture. I visited Mamajeva Sloboda with a friend from Kyiv yesterday, exploring the maze of buildings that are a mixture of originals that have been conserved and brought to this site and those intentionally built as a modern reconstruction just for this museum complex. Surprisingly the museum was not just filled with tourists, but also Ukrainian families enjoying the weekend: everyone was eating at the traditional cafe for lunch, feeding the oxen leaves and the rabbits carrots, or stopping by the wooden domed churches for a blessing.
One of my favorite architectural elements of Mamajeva Sloboda was actually not Cossack, but the reconstruction of a small mound at the entrance with a ‘pagan icon’ (the last two photos). These were the stelae that were placed on nomadic Scythian kurgans in modern-day Ukraine in the first millennium BCE to early first millennium CE. Similar stone statues are found into the late first millennium CE out in Central Asia belonging to Turkic groups. These statues are anthropomorphic and carved from stone. The figures are typically wearing a belt with accessories and holding a drinking cup– in this particular reconstruction, a drinking horn. The statues in this region were said to have been thrown into the Dnieper River with the Christianization of the Kyivan Rus’ in the tenth century CE.
a house detaila windmill near the farm animals
a photo at the cafe with Olya
the ‘pagan mound’the stone anthropomorphic stela