This is the story of the Lykovs, a crazy Russian family who’s strict religious beliefs led them to live like like anarcho-primitivists isolated in the Russian Taiga for over thirty years. It’sÂ very interesting for the social/religious aspects as well as the wealth of survivalist type information.
The Lykov’s brought seeds with them when they dissapeared into the wilderness, and over thirty years later they were still gardening from those same seeds. They lived mostly on potatoes and pine nuts, though they also dug pit traps for “deer” and other large animals. In the summer they gathered and dried wild nettles that they ate all winter with their potatoes (they even made a sort of bread from potatoes). They used birch bark for shoes and containers, but not for medicine. Their medicine, though vastly unsophisticated (they had two kinds of sickness: cold, and “the strain”) kept the family patriarch alive to the ripe old age of 87.
Apparently lack of salt was a major health issue for them. That’s something I had never thought of. Salt. Do we really need it? Where can we get it, if we don’t live near the ocean?
Although the author doesn’t explore it specifically, I also found the shifts in self awareness throughout the book really interesting. In the begining of the book, the Lykovs seem unaware of how they appear to others. They are, however, very aware and firm in their own beliefs (offered canned food, rice, etc., they always responded “we are not allowed”), and constantly aware of their God’s perception of them. In the middle of the book Agafia, the 37 year old daughter who had never seen a human outside her family before they were “discovered,” goes to visit relatives in an Old Believer’s sect (which, I gather, is rather the equivelent of an Amish community). When she comes back she washes the windows and her hands. She becomes embarrassed, at times. The author’s perception and explanation of this is endearing and interesting, as well.
All in all, this is a fascinating book. It is the only true account I’ve found of a group of people actually dropping out of civilization and their survival.
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