Chuvashia: where beer is not just a drink
Ask someone in Russia about Chuvashia and they will likely say something about beer. The republic in the Volga region has been a center of brewing for hundreds of years and claims the country’s only beer museum.
The region is also known as the land of a hundred thousand songs.
You are warmly welcomed when you come to the beer and guest house in the tiny Chuvashian village of Tugayevo. And since people there are so kind and their tune so harmonious, you can’t help but join a traditional two-step dance. Hospitality and the performances are truly Chuvashian.
But what lures people to the area is the homemade beer. Every village has their own brew. And as brewmaster Lyudmila Dankova says, everyone has their own secrets:
“Some people put in pumpkin peels, some people add black bread or different dried fruit. I’m using sun-dried apples,” Ludmila says.
Several years ago she founded a guest house as a way to share the area’s rich culture. Visitors are treated like family as they explore the beer museum, get a look at village life, and dine on traditional Chuvashian cuisine.
Chuvashia is no less famous for its colorful embroideries and silver decorations.
Maria Simakova is a national master embroideress. She specializes in stitching the Chuvashian national costume, menswear, and towels – all by hand.
“Embroidering is a tradition in Chuvashian culture. This is old, our ancestors did it. So we inherited it. We’re developing it now,” she says, adding proudly, “I have been to a lot of exhibitions all over Russia but I haven’t seen any embroidery that is better than ours.”
A trademark of this folk art is that there are no visible knots – so the image on the front is identical to what is on the back.
And some are inspired by the local crafts for the creation of haute couture designs.
The fashion house of Igor Dadiani captures Chuvashian history with a modern stitch. His designs reflect the 17th and 18th centuries. He says that by “adding a modern twist to tradition it helps to preserve it”
“Things are treasured not only when they are locked up in a museum, but when we actually see and experience them in everyday life also,” he adds.
Local resident Tatyana Egorova says she is proud to be Chuvashian and speak her own language.
“I think we have pretty nice songs around here. It’s kind of nice once in a while to dance to your own Chuvashian music.”
With its rich and varied culture, Chuvashia is always eager to welcome visitors and even to teach them some of the local crafts and language.