Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/789

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769
THE URAL COSSACKS AND THEIR FISHERIES.

In 1580, we read in a historical document, came to the lower part of Yaik River a band of Cossacks and expelled from the country the remainder of a once famous and strong Gold-Horda of Tartars. They ruined Saraitchik, the chief residence of the Tartars, and sailing up the river, founded a fortress near the place where is now situated Uralsk, the chief city of the Ural Cossacks.

At first these warlike bands lived by a rather peculiar industry—marauding of hostile neighbors (Tartars) and sometimes commercial ships on the Caspian Sea en route from Khiva and Persia.

"Ah, formerly we Cossack fellows
Sailed pretty well on thy waves,
In light boats looking for prey,
For the prey from Khiva and Persia,"

says one Cossack song about this old time.

It is difficult to say when the Ural Cossacks changed this industry for the more peaceful one of fishing. Probably this was

PSM V43 D789 Three generations of ural cossack women.jpg
Married woman.Old woman.Girl.
Fig. 2.—Types of Ural Cossack Women.

very soon after the conclusion with the Muscovite Czar of a kind of protectorate (1613), which is commemorated by a peculiar old custom of presenting fish and caviar from the community to the imperial court. This custom, sanctified by more than three centuries, exists yet, and was doubtless a token of loyalty and hospitality similar to the custom of the Russian agricultural population of presenting bread and salt on like occasions. As the Russian peasant poetizes his hard agricultural labor and surrounds it with