believer he sought to create - educated and loyal through their confession -and those against which this ideal would be measured, the benighted masses yet to benefit from the tsar's reforms. As Peter's reforms were disseminated from St Petersburg to the provincial capitals, popular piety became inseparable from location, educational level and political orientation. Social and physical mobility brought individuals from all levels of Russian society into greater, though not necessarily closer, contact beginning in the eighteenth century, a phenomenon that accelerated in the last decades ofthe nineteenth century as a result of improved transportation and communication.
Behind the new religious categorisation lay the notion of dvoeverie, a term first used in medieval sermons, which gradually became the descriptor favoured by Russia's educated elite. By the end of the nineteenth century, ethnographers imbued dvoeverie with an enlightened condescension towards their social inferiors who lacked more than a basic education. Dvoeverie became a symbol of all that was wrong with rural Russia. Mired in a mentality that gave credence to superstitions, dark forces, witches, sorcerers and the ubiquitous evil eye, peasants stood as formidable obstacles to the westernisation of Russia in the eighteenth century and to modernisation and industrialisation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. What these critiques failed to appreciate were the varieties of Orthodox piety that enabled all Russians, peasants included, to make sense of often harsh and senseless conditions of life, whether at the imperial court or in the most remote village.10
Educated and uneducated Orthodox believers shared many things in common. All Russians who considered themselves to be Orthodox Christians divided their world into sacred and profane spaces that aimed at resacralising imperfect earthly life as the Kingdom of Heaven.11 Based in Orthodox theology, religious belief and practice took on a highly personal and local meaning that encompassed both the simple icon corner (krasnyi ugol) in the peasant hut and reliquaries in imperial palaces. If the peasantry sought to benefit from good relations with the spirits of the house (domovoi), forest (leshii), hills (gornyi)
10 E. Levin 'Dvoeverie and popular religion', in Seeking God: the recovery of religious identity in Orthodox Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia, ed. S. K. Batalden (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1993), 31-52; C.J. Chulos,'The end of "cultural survivals" (perezhitki): remembering and forgetting Russian peasant religious traditions', Studia Slavica Finlan-densia 17 (2000), 190-207; L. Engelstein, 'Old and new, high and low: straw horsemen of Russian Orthodoxy', in Orthodox Russia: belief and practice under the tsars, ed. V A. Kivelson and R. H. Greene (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003),
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