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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 16:09 GMT
The Doukhobors of Georgia

copyright: Agnes Montanari

The Doukhobors or "Spirit Wrestlers" were expelled from Tsarist Russia in the 19th Century for practicing a "heretical" form of worship.

copyright: Agnes Montanari

Photographer Agnes Montanari visited the community in the village of Djavakhetie, on a high plateau in Georgia.

copyright: Agnes Montanari

Little has changed in dress and customs since the 19th Century. Few men remain on the remote plateau.

Copyright: Agnes Montanari

Women pay their respects at the tombs of the leaders expelled by the Orthodox church. Many had arrived on foot and several died on the way.

Copyright: Agnes Montanari

A ceremony to celebrate the Trinity, or Pentecost, begins at the House of Prayer at 0500.

Copyright: Agnes Montanari

A ritual kiss during the religious service. To avoid persecution as heretics, 19th-C Doukhobors recited the psalms as a slow, barely-comprehensible chant.

Copyright: Agnes Montanari

The Doukhobors are farmers and methods have not changed for 150 years.

copyright: Agnes Montanari

Milking cows by hand - the first task of the morning. The cattle and land are owned by the community and managed on a co-operative basis.

copyright: Agnes Montanari

Koozma and, before him, his father and grandfather have prepared the community's cheese since the family arrived in 1830. Stalin is said to have enjoyed it.

copyright: Agnes Montanari

One of only two shops in the village, owned by an Armenian. The Armenians are slowly taking over, buying houses from the leaving Doukhobors.

copyright: Agnes Montanari

Only 700 Doukhobors remain in the village, as the younger ones leave for town. Photographs: Agnes Montanari





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