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USEINOV, Kazim Useinovich.

Skazki i legendy tatar Kryma.

[Folk Tales and Legends of Crimean Tatars].

Simferol: Gosizdat Krym. ASSR, 1936 Stock Code: 145240
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Attractive celebration of Tatar folklore

First edition of this rare and fragile compilation of regional folklore, an area of research that was soon to be suppressed under detatarization with fatal consequences for Useinov. Highly attractive little book, thematically woven together by design elements drawn from local textile and visual arts employed as head- and tail-pieces, elaborated initials, section titles, and "carpet" frames to the illustrations. Somewhat compromised in condition, but remains a delightful cultural celebration. Worldcat offers just 5 locations, Columbia, Harvard, Oregon, Stanford and NYPL.

These texts were gathered by Kiazim Useinov (1886-1938) who graduated from Taurida University, and from 1923 was director and a teacher at the Alupka Tatar school. Working with his students he sought out traditional storytellers in the South Crimean mountains, these included Useinov' own parents. In 1934 the Folklore Brigade of the Alupka Historical Museum (later the Museum Palace) joined their efforts contributing to this final collection. Useinov's work, characterized as nationalistic "hostile anti-Soviet activity" drew him to the attention of the local NKVD troika, he was fired from the school, arrested and in 1938 sentnced to VMN - Vysshaya Mera Nakazaniya, the supreme degree of punishment, the death penalty - and shot, his name being removed from all of his publications. Usneiov had also edited a collection of Anecdotes about Khoja Nasreddi (1937), the thirteenth-centry Seljuq Sufi satirist/trickster figure.

Useinov's murder was part of the wider detatarization campaign. Of the Soviet Union's minorities repressed under the charge of nationalism, the Crimean Tatars were among the worst affected, subject to internal exile and execution. In 1944, they were accused of collaboration with the Nazis, and Beria swiftly organized mass deportations to "specialized settlements" in Soviet Central Asia, with over 150,000 being sent to the Uzbek SSR where they met with an extremely hostile reception as "fascist collaborators". Those who refused to agree to exile were summarily executed. A scarce, delicate survival of a brief flowering of regional folkloric researches in early twentieth-century Russia.

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Octavo. Wire-stitched in the original fawn cloth with pale brown Tatar-style floral decoration, colour-printed endpapers with similar folk-art designs.


Numerous full-page illustrations, head- and tailpieces, separate story title pages, historiated initials.


A fragile provincial production, cloth rubbed and soiled, somewhat shaken with title bifolium detached and the last coming loose, splits of endpapers at the hinges, short clean tear to the frontispiece repaired with archival tape verso, browned throughout, remains good.


Vasilkov & Sorokina, People and Fates. Biobibliographic Dictionary of Orientalists - Victims of Political Terror in the Soviet Period (1917-1991) (2003).


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