Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnofrafii   ¹ 1 (52)  2021



Adrian Pushkin: Perm experience of the bureaucratic messiahship  

Bushmakov A.V., Riazanova S.V.  (Perm, Russian Federation)


             page 164171


This paper presents to the reader’s attention a unique case of a local “messianic” prophecy which combines features of folk religious movements and principles of functioning of the bureaucratic machine. The manuscripts of civil servant and merchant Adrian Pushkin, who lived in the 19th century in the city of Perm (Kama region, Western Ural), are considered as a variation of development of popular religion which includes a messianic-apocalyptic narrative. This places the provincial clerk closely to founders of the alternative to the official Orthodox discourse movements in the Russian Empire, as well as new religious movements of the later period. The aim of this paper is to determine the place and the role of Pushkin’s revelation in the religious space of that historical period. The main sources of the research are local archival documents which include business correspondence, personal letters, photographs, also documents related to Pushkin’s psychiatric examination and his subsequent expulsion to the Solovetsky Monastery, letters and family photos of the “prophet”, and service notes. The research method is based on the phenomenological approach with elements of hermeneutical analysis. The new revelation was founded on biblical text well known to the Perm messiah, and its content was provided by the social and historical context. The targeted audience for the new prophet was the middle strata of the society, comfortable for him. The preferred way of communication involved the tools of the bureaucratic system of pre-revolutionary Russia. The development of the new interpretation of Christian teaching was based on individual choice of the revelator and mediated by already initiated processes of secularization of public life. Traditional narratives and imagery of the sacred books of the Orthodox tradition were placed by the messiah-bureaucrat in the context of local space of the region and the country, and were interpreted through realities of personal life. Open criticism of the official Church was combined with a complex of mythological ideas. The main accents of the prophetic text were apocalyptic and chiliastic, related to the personal and professional crisis experienced by the author. The latter was triggered by the abolition of serfdom and destruction of the habitual environment and self-realization system. The style and content of Pushkin’s text represent a mixture of theological concepts and elements of folk narratives based on the biblical tradition. As a result of the textual development, the signature myth was formed, rooted formally in Christian dogmas and associated with folk religious culture.

Key words: national Orthodoxy, messianic ideas, Perm province, religious prophecy, folk religion, individual religion, Messiah.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 07.12.2020

Article is published: 26.02.2021


Bushmakov A.V.

Perm State Institute of Culture, Gazety Zvezda st., 18, Perm, 614990, Russian Federation



Riazanova S.V.

Perm Federal Research Center of Ural Branch of RaS, Lenina st., 13a, Perm, 614990, Russian Federation

Perm State Agro-Technological University, Petropavlovskaya st., 23, Perm, 614990, Russian Federation