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Russian coachman - yamshik

Carriers trade was always popular in Russia. As in trade, people  register their business rarely. Carriers trade brought an additional profit to many families. Even nowadays, instead of the danger, a lot of people, who have a car, are engaged in this business from time to time (of course, except rich people). Women dont stand aside carriers trade, particularly women at the unpopular age today after 40. But certainly, women are engaged in such venture business rarer than men.

It is said that the word "chauffeur" (that means "a driver") came to us from France. In the times of the French Revolution robbers were called in such way. People told terrible stories about them: that they soiled the faces of their victims with soot and set on fire their soles if they wanted to extort something from them. Later stokers and people, whose profession was connected with fire, were called chauffeurs. Then people, who drove self-propelled steam-engines, were called chauffeurs, too. So, this word appeared in Russia in such way and it has existed more then 100 years.

In Russia a man, who was engaged in carriers trade, was called yamshik. They often became the In Russia a man, who was engaged in carriers trade, was called yamshik. They often became the witnesses of sorrows of many people, who left their house and family. Yamshik, dont ride a horse hard These lines are known to every Russian man. A lot of melancholy lines devoted to people of such profession, as yamshik, and to their uneasy work, we can find in Russian verses and romances.

The word yamshik came from the word yam. Post stations, where people changed their horses, were called in such way in the 13-18th centuries in Russia. In Tatar the word yam means a stop place. Since the middle of the 18th century a post-office was called yam. This word became the part of many yamshik villages for many years: Yam-Izhora (in St. Petersburg Province), Yam-Bronnitsi, Yam-Zimogore and others. Even nowadays, a village with the name Yam exists near Leninskiye Gorki.

In the 13-15th centuries the state carriers trade service was also called yam. Since the end of the 15th century all people were obliged to keep the roads and the yams (post stations) in order and to have horses, foodstuffs and guides for the state needs. In the 16th century Russian coachmen got help in money or products. They were also the arable land-owners (according to their share).

A civil servant  from Moscow or the nearest city came for the post station foundation  . He made a map of a road and fixed the duties of the inhabitants. The contract was concluded officially and was given to the man, who was called prikazchik (since 1679 this post was cancelled and his duties were filled by voevode). In Novgorod post stations yamshik got an annual payment in money, oat or rye. Sometimes the contract was concluded between the inhabitants and yamshik himself. Yamshik pledged to pay a state obligation and the community pledged to pay him an annual salary. Moreover, the inhabitants helped him in the road cleaning and he was also released from taxes.

Yamshik had to keep 3 geldings, to fix all travelers, their documents and how much money he received from each of them.

Dmirty Pozharsky was the first head of the Yamskoy Department. His subordinates were boyars by birth. Ivan III (1462-1505) invoked in his will to keep yamshiks business in order (1504). In the 16th century Boris Godunov (1598-1605) took part in organizing the post service with stations in Siberia. Under Peter I post-offices appeared and a special post was organized for the military and administrative needs. Ekaterina II continued post reform: a post staff was created, post workers were engaged and a single post way was established. There were 458 post-offices and 5000 post officials at the beginning of the 19th century in Russia. Since the 8th of September, 1802 all these post-offices were under the authority of Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Carriers trade was a hard business; yamshik often left his family for a long time. A lot of their progenies were also engaged in this business. According to the rules of 1887 the carriers trade tax couldnt be more than 10 rubles for a horse and was paid 2 times a year.

There were many kinds of coachmen: some of them carried people, some of them products etc.

In 1904-1905 a tax for car carriers was established: 60 kopecks per hour. Car tax and horse tax were the same in spite of the fact that the cars speed was bigger and it had more places. However, the name of car carriers was changed: they were called chauffeurs.

Picture by Molotilov K.

. 2001- 2006.
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