The book is a collection of essays and field sketches made by L.I. Lavrov in his numerous expeditions to various regions of the Caucasus. These materials cover a vast period of time – from 1929, when L.I. Lavrov, as a student of the Ethnographic Department of the Leningrad State University, made his first research trip to Adygea, until his last trip to Armenia and Abkhazia in 1978. He studied religious beliefs and practices of various peoples inhabiting the Kuban Region and the Caucasus Republics. Since the late 1920s, a special subject of his studies was pre-Islamic beliefs (in the Soviet historiography of that time they were called ‘religious relics’), and local peculiarities of the funeral cult. He gathered data on the history of monuments of religious architecture – mosques and mausoleums, and worked out questions of the methodology of ethnographic research.
Many years of consideration on the genesis and distribution of long-lasting folklore plots and images led Lavrov to the conclusion that it would be necessary to study written materials, including epigraphic ones, as well as iconographic and onomastic sources for the sake of building a sound history of the Caucasian folklore. Only this way would make possible to reveal the difference in the dating of legends and folk narratives, to prove that the Caucasian folklore has undergone a process of development, and many of its plots were borrowed from other peoples or passed through external influence. Therefore, according to L., a mechanical transfer of current folklore plots and images to the distant past could not be acceptable. The collection of essays is finished with a reflection on the methodology of the Caucasian studies in general. The author noted that “the attention of researchers should be drawn not only to the specifics of culture and life of singular Caucasian peoples or all of them, but also to the long and deep ties of the Caucasus with adjacent regions, and through them, with distant countries. The Caucasus has never been aloof from world history, but it still harbors a lot of unsolved problems, and in the future it will undoubtedly present a lot of unexpected and valuable findings not only for a Caucasian scholar”.