form of superstition, thus enshrining notions of the dual faith for generations to come.29
For the majority of Russia's Orthodox Christians, the faith's rich variety of symbols and rituals provided the foundation for a proto-national identity that began with the local parish or village and expanded to include the entire empire.30 Ignorant of theological principles, most believers nevertheless placed the Eucharist and liturgy at the centre of religious tradition, imagining that they shared this sacrament with their coreligionists throughout the empire. The parish served as the most accessible manifestation of Russian Orthodox identity for all the faithful, but with improvements in transportation and the spread of literacy after i86i, pilgrimage and related literature provided new opportunities for mass creations of wider-ranging associations.^
The convergence of religious and secular identities among Russia's peasantry is found in village histories, which can usually be traced to a mythical event or an event that took on mythic proportions - a visit of a tsar, the spontaneous appearance of a wonder-working icon or an interaction with a holy person. By locating their villages within a greater historical context, peasants connected their small communities to larger and larger entities that included the entire cosmos.32 Peter the Great's larger than life image dominated village tales from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Often, a visit by the rumbustious tsar was commemorated by the construction of a church or the acquisition of a special icon (occasionally a gift of the tsar himself).33 Icons also played important roles in the historical development of communities by offering their protective powers against calamity. Disputes over ownership of and user rights to special icons sharpened communities' sense of identity as they argued their cases to the diocesan authorities and appealed local decisions
29 See B. M. Firsov and I. G. Kiseleva, Byt velikorusskikh krest'ian-zemlepashtsev: opisanie materialov etnograficheskogo biuro kniazia V. N. Tenisheva (naprimere Vladimirskoi gubernii) (St Petersburg: Izd-vo Evropeiskogo Doma, i993).
30 E.J. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger, The invention of tradition, Introduction, and 263-307.
31 V and E. Turner, Image and pilgrimage in Christian culture: anthropological perspectives (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, i978), i0-ii; V Turner, Drama, fields and metaphors: symbolic action in human society (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, i974), 20i-7.
32 See M. Eliade, Images and symbols: studies in religious symbolism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, i99i), 40; R. Redfield, The little community and peasant society and culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, i960).
33 N. V Riasanovsky, The image of Peter the Great in Russian history and thought (New York: Oxford University Press, i985), 83-4.
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