The book was written by M. in Kazan in 1928 on the base of materials of his own field research. It contains not only descriptions of religious beliefs and practices among the peoples of the Volga and Kama Region, but also a study of forms of religious syncretism, i.e. ‘common day’ religious mentality and life — it was the aspect which attracted the researcher most of all.
He made a survey of religions of the Volga Region since the most ancient times till the contemporary religious movements. He described religious taboo, the cults of ancestors, and sacred objects, and various rituals, including sacrifices, festivals, healing and folk medicine; he put a special attention to social reasons producing new religious forms as well as keeping traditional religious beliefs and rites. Among such social reasons he saw ‘survivals of the past’, but he also explained them with a low level of literacy and culture, outdated forms of production, epidemical diseases, weak medical service, international enmity, political inertia, and so on.
He set some important ways of anti-religious work in the region; he criticized an administrative approach and violence in the struggle against religion. He argued for individual work, enlightenment of the population, qualified propaganda and overcoming the national conflicts – together with solving economical problems of the region.
The book was welcomed by A.M. Gorky, and N.C. Krepskaya, as well as by ethnographers. For instance, S.P. Tolstov wrote a review, where he said: the work by M. “is a well-structured whole picture based on a whole concept — with an approach ro a certain religion not as an abstract dogmatic system, but as a complicated block of elements formally belonging to various religions… and linked together with the social and economical way of life of local population” (Tolstov S.P. Review on: Matorin N.M. Religion of the Peoples of the Volga and Kama Region Before and Now // Sovetskoe kraevedenie. 1930. # 11 – 12. P. 50).