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Kukmorsky rayon


Administrative center: Kukmor
Area: 1493.1 sq.km
Population: 51,600


"Are you going to Kukmor? Then bring some valenki (felt boots)!" — runs the popular Tatarstan saying. After the famous copper smelter had closed here, the village switched to home crafts and achieved lasting success in it. In 1870, the Komarov brothers set up a felt boot factory here.

Kukmorsky rayon is located in the north-eastern part of the West Kama region, on the right bank of the river Vyatka. Its neighbor in the west is Sabinsky rayon; in the north-west, Baltasinsky; in the south-west, Tyulyachinsky; in the south, Mamadyshsky; in the south-east, the Republic of Udmurtia, in the east, northeast and north, Kirov oblast.

Topographically, the rayon is a wavy plain dissected by hills, ravines and valleys, as well as medium and small rivers. The hilly right bank of the Vyatka (rising up to 50 meters above the river) is covered with coniferous forests. The rayon’s woods are mostly mixed, with some taiga at its northern and north-eastern extremities. The offsets of the Vyatka ridges cover the rayon as well. With the average absolute height of the rayon ranging between 100 and 170 m above the sea level, some parts of it rise up to 260 m.

The archaeological excavations carried out in the outskirts of the village of Kukmor in 1999 proved that the rich history of this land stretches almost 700 years into its past. Kukmorsky rayon has 16 architectural and historical landmarks of regional status. The village of Adayevo, for instance, is known for the tomb of Sheikh Ishmuhammed, who had been teaching at the local madrassa for 36 years. His father, Sheikh Tukmuhammed, who lived at the end of the 17th century, studied in Dagestan and became one of the few educators who started the revival of Tatar Islamic education after the fall of the Kazan and Astrakhan Khanates.

Kukmor was for the first time mentioned in the scribal book of the Kazan Uezd under the date of 1602/03. The famous Russian historian, a comrade-in-arms of Grigory Potemkin and a disciple of Vassily Tatishchev, Ivan Boltin discovered a message from the Tatar prince Bakshandy Nurushev concerning levying tolls on the peasants of Malaya Kukmorskaya volost’ in the Arsk Daruga.

There is no consensus upon the origin of the name “Kukmor”. According to one version, Kukmor stands for "Blue Mountain” (with “kuk” (“kyuk”), the Tatar word for “blue”, and “mara”, the Persian for “Mountain”). Another version derives it from the Tatar for "blue flower". According to a third, the name of the village comes from the Mari "kok" ("two") or "kugu" ("big") and the ethnonym "Mari". Proponents of this version claim that the settlement was founded by a group of Mari people in their flight from the army of Ivan the Terrible.

It is known that as early as in the Bolgar and Golden Horde periods ore was mined here and primitive copper smelters appeared. Tools, utensils and weapons made here served the needs of the local community. At the beginning of the 17th century deposits of copper ore were found near the village of Bolshoi Kukmor (now the village of Zhiloi Rudnik 2 km west of the modern township). The government soon took control of copper mining, which contributed to the development of Kukmor.

By the decree of the Berg-Collegium dated 26 February 1730 merchant Ivan Tryapitsyn started the construction of a copper smelter alongside the Arsk Road near the Antsubsky spring (a corruption of the name of the nearby village of Yantsobino). Only a part of a dam and a platform where the factory buildings once stood have survived to our days.

The factory’s later owners — merchants Grigory Mikhailovich and Karp Grigoryevich Viazemsky — failed to expand its production due to the lack of water, so they sold the business to another merchant, S.Ye. Inozemtsev for RUB 1,100.

Semen Yeremeyevich Inosemtsev was a highly successful grain trader and wine distiller (he owned the Churakovsky distillery in the Vyatka gubernia, which had 62 distilling cauldrons). He procured the General Berg-Direktorium’s permission to build a new smelter by the river Taishevka. The Antsubsky factory was dismantled, and all of its equipment relocated to the Taishevsky smelter with its four furnaces, which started work on September 16, 1743.

The Taishevsky plant’s heyday were the 1820s, before the exhaustion of the copper ore deposit precipitated its decline. In 1851, the almost abandoned smelter burned down and was never restored. On its site, a private factory of copper kitchenware was soon built.

Apart from copper smelting, in late 18th and early 19th century Kukmor was known for its potash plants (potash is a common name for many salts used for the manufacture of liquid soap, crystal or refractory glass, dyes or fertilizers). Yevgraf Alekseyevich Lebedev started a potash plant with 12 boilers which could produce up to 1,000 pouds of potash (16.38 tons).

After the closure of the smelter the village of Kukmor becomes the center of home craft industries. In 1870, the Komarov brothers start a felt boot-making business here.

By early 1900, Kukmor had three steam-powered felting factories producing valenki and burki (leather-soled felt boots) — Komarov Trading House, a factory owned by the Rodygin brothers, the Vavilovs’, and the felt boots produced by mechanical engine by the Voydinov brothers. A merchant named Volodin owned a ropeworks and a production line of copper and nickel-plated goods. The produce of these factories and works was exhibited not only in Russia, but also at world exhibitions (Paris, Chicago). It was awarded a number of medals for quality, which can be seen reproduced on the artifacts in the Kukmor museum.

The development of home crafts and factory industries gave a boost to the Kukmor trade. The following is a description of the village from the Geographical and Statistical Dictionary of the Russian Empire, compiled by the famous Russian geographer and statesman Petr Petrovich Semenov-Tyan-Shansky in mid-19th century, "Kukmor, a village in the Mamadyshsky uezd of Kazan gubernia 65 miles away from the county town, on the river Nurme. Population: 857 of both sexes, 125 households, a school, weekly bazaars selling bread, foodstuffs, textiles, haberdashery, and especially horses (up to 2270 heads a year to the amount of 2263 rubles). The total annual turnover of the bazaar amounts to 50,000 silver rubles..." In early 20th century the market square and its shops was open for trade every day from morning to night, like in a big city. The bazaar also dealt in agricultural products: linen, hemp, tallow, leather and wax. "... Ethnicities, languages and costumes are extremely various here. Here comes a Russian, there a Votyak [Udmurt] with its sluggish and clumsy gait and his wife goose-marching in a motley dress, there a Cheremisin [Mari], or a Tatar scurrying here and there, buying and selling anything."

The construction of a railway further boosted the Kukmor trade. Kukmor became an important trade and cottage industry center in the north of the Mamadyshsky uezd. The report of the Kazan Diocese for the year 1904 reads, in part: "Now the village of Kukmor has been completely transformed into a huge factory relying on the latest technical equipment. Human and horse power has been replaced by steam engines and electricity, and kerosene lamps, with electric ones. Factory offices talk to each other by phone, Kukmor has its own post office with a telegraph..."

Today the industrial development of Kukmor is continuing. The Kukmor felting mill is the leading element of the township’s industry. But there is another enterprise which pays more tax to the local budget than the felt boot business — Kukmara, the metal kitchenware factory. Agriculture is also quite important. The crops cultivated include winter rye, spring wheat, barley, oats, peas and potatoes. Livestock breeding is mainly focused on dairy and beef cattle.

The rayon has a well-developed network of social and cultural institutions. Medical care is provided by the central rayon hospital. 76 schools and 59 pre-school institutions provide quality education. The construction of new mosques and churches is underway; a lot of attention is paid to social work. People of Kukmor are proud of the local newspaper Hezmet Dany ("Glory of Labor"), which is published in two languages — Russian and Tatar.

The Kukmor mountain skiing resort is one of the favorite places for many people of Tatarstan, but by far not the only sports facility in the rayon. An ice hockey arena, the Yalkyn and Zilant sport facilities have opened their doors to all sport fans. Helping the young develop their bodies and minds is a good investment in the future of the rayon.