Raffaele Petralla is a documentary photographer based in Rome. He graduated at Scuola Romana di Fotografia in 2007. His focus is on reporting social, environmental and anthropological issues. He also works like a social worker and educator in emergency reception centers for unaccompanied immigrant minors since 2012. Actually is working on a documentary photo project in Republic of Mari-El, Russia, about the last pagan population of Europe.
He’s a member of Ulixespicture photoresearch and documentation.
Mari People, A Pagan Beauty.
There is a population with Finnish ancestors living in a rural area near Joshkar-ola, in the Republic of Mari-El, Russia. They are called Mari, speak a language belonging to the Ugro- Finnic and use a modified version of the Cyrillic alphabet. They settled in this area around the fifth century a.C.
The current population is about 600,000 people.
Mari people are the last pagan population of the West. They live in symbiotic relationship with nature, which is celebrated as the basis of their existence. Nature exerts a magical religiosity on people. In the twentieth century, with the rise of the Soviet Union, it was officially forbidden to celebrate rituals and sacrifices. Poverty and unemployment led young people to migrate to the big cities in search of a stable future, abandoning their villages and their ancient traditions. In this journey back to the origins of man, in search of languages and cultures not yet disappeared, we came across this peasant ethic not yet affected by time.