Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 914 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
KORYAKS, a Mongoloid people of north-eastern Siberia, inhabiting the coast-lands of the Bering Sea to the south of the Anadyr basin and the country to the immediate north of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the southernmost limit of their range being Tigilsk. They are akin to the Chukchis, whom they closely resemble in physique and in manner of life. Thus they are divided into the settled fishing tribes and the nomad reindeer breeders and hunters. The former are described as being more morally and physically degraded even than the Chukchis, and hopelessly poor. The Koryaks of the interior, on the other hand, still own enormous reindeer herds, to which they are so attached that they refuse to part with an animal to a stranger at any price. They are in disposition brave, intelligent and self-reliant, and recognize no master. They have ever tenaciously resisted Russian aggression, and in their fights with the Cossacks have proved themselves recklessly brave. When outnumbered they would kill their women and children, set fire to their homes, and die fighting. Families usually gather in groups of sixes or sevens, forming miniature states, in which the nominal chief has no predominating authority, but all are equal. The Koryaks are polygamous, earning their wives by working for their fathers-in-law. The women and children are treated well, and Koryak courtesy and hospitality are proverbial. The chief wedding ceremony is a forcible abduction of the bride. They kill the aged and infirm, in the belief that thus to save them from protracted sufferings is the highest proof of affection. The victims choose their mode of death, and young Koryaks practise the art of giving the fatal blow quickly and mercifully. Infanticide was formerly common, and one of twins was always sacrificed. They burn their dead. The prevailing religion is Shamanism; sacrifices are made to evil spirits, the heads of the victims being placed on stones facing east. See G. Kennan, Tent Life in Siberia (1871); "Ober die Koriaken u. ihnen nahe verwandten Tchouktchen," in Bul. Acad. Sc. St. Petersburg, xii. 99.was sent abroad at the expense of the state to complete his military education. In Germany, Italy and France he studied diligently, completing his course at Brest, where he learnt fortification and naval tactics, returning to Poland in 1 774 with the rank of captain of artillery. While engaged in teaching the daughters of the Grand Hetman, Sosnowski of Sosnowica, drawing and mathematics, he fell in love with the youngest of them, Ludwika, and not venturing to hope for the consent of her father, the lovers resolved to fly and he married privately. Before they could accomplish their design, however, the wooer was attacked by Sosnowski's retainers, but defended himself valiantly till, covered with wounds, he was ejected from the house. This was in 1776. Equally unfortunate was Kosciuszko's wooing of Tekla Zurowska in 1791, the father of the lady in this case also refusing his consent. In the interval between these amorous episodes Kosciuszko won his spurs in the New World. In 1776 he entered the army of the United States as a volunteer, and brilliantly distinguished himself, especially during the operations about New York and at Yorktown. Washington promoted Kosciuszko to the rank of a colonel of artillery and made him his adjutant. His humanity and charm of manner made him moreover one the most popular of the American officers. In 1783 Kosciuszko was rewarded for his services and his devotion to the cause of American independence with the thanks of Congress, the privilege of American citizenship, a considerable annual pension with landed estates, and the rank of brigadier-general, which he retained in the Polish service. In the war following upon the proclamation of the constitution of the 3rd of May 1791 and the formation of the reactionary Con-federation of Targowica (see POLAND: History), Kosciuszko took a leading part. As the commander of a division under Prince Joseph Poniatowski he distinguished himself at the battle of Zielence in 1992, and at Dubienka (July 18) with 4000 men and 10 guns defended the line of the Bug for five days against the Russians with 18,000 men and 6o guns, subsequently retiring upon Warsaw unmolested. When the king acceded to the Targowicians, Kosciuszko with many other Polish generals threw up his commission and retired to Leipzig, which speedily became the centre of the Polish emigration. In January 1793, provided with letters of introduction from the French agent Perandier, Kosciuszko went on a political mission to Paris to induce the revolutionary government to espouse the cause of Poland. In return for assistance he promised to make the future government of Poland as close a copy of the French government as possible; but the Jacobins, already intent on detaching Prussia from the anti-French coalition, had no serious intention of fighting Poland's battles. The fact that Kosciuszko's visit synchronized with the execution of Louis XVI. subsequently gave the enemies of Poland a plausible pretext for accusing hex of Jacobinism, and thus prejudicing Europe against her. On his return to Leipzig Kosciuszko was invited by the Polish insurgents to take the command of the national armies, with dictatorial power. He hesitated at first, well aware that a rising in the circumstances was premature. " I will have nothing to do with Cossack raiding," he replied; " if war we have, it must be a regular war." He also insisted that the war must be conducted on the model of the American War of Independence, and settled down in the neighbourhood of Cracow to await events. -When, however, he heard that the insurrection had already broken out, and that the Russian armies were concentrating to crush it, Kosciuszko hesitated no longer, but hastened to Cracow, which he reached on the 23rd of March 1794. On the following day his arms were consecrated according to ancient custom at the church of the Capucins, by way of giving the insurrection a religious sanction incompatible with Jacobin-ism. The same day, amidst a vast concourse of people in the market-place, Kosciuszko took an oath of fidelity to the Polish nation; swore to wage war against the enemies of his country; but protested at the same time that he would fight only for the independence and territorial integrity of Poland. The insurrection had from Lhe first a purely popular character. We find none of the great historic names of Poland in the lists of the original confederates. For the most part the confederates of Kosciuszko were small squires, traders, peasants and men of
End of Article: KORYAKS
KORTCHA (Slavonic, Goritza or Koritza)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.