Duńa (Yevdokia) Trofimova

Duńa Trofimova (1908–1981) was a native of the Luuditsa (Luzhitsy) village. Like most Votians in Vaipooli, Duńa was multilingual, speaking Votian, Ingrian and Russian. In her youth, Duńa was the lead singer at feasts and weddings. She learned songs from Votians and Ingrians. Duńa could sing in Votian, Ingrian or Russian language, depending on the performance situation. According to the villagers, Duńa also knew bawdy songs, but she herself denied knowledge of such vulgar songs. Her Votian songs entailed many Ingrian elements and vice versa. During storytelling, or when dictating song lyrics, she used more Votian than during singing.

Duńa Trofimova was always smiling and in good spirits. She was very knowledgeable in Votian folklore and believed in what she was telling. Duńa’s speech was fast and slurred (she was almost deaf) and she never agreed to repeat what she said. Researchers had to make do with what Duńa bothered to tell them. Because of her fast rate of speech, folklorists nicknamed her “the Turkish bullet”, and preferred to record her talk rather than write it down.

During the filming of The Winds of the Milky Way (1977) by Lennart Meri, the filming crew had great difficulties in filming Duńa Trofimova, as she tried to avoid the crew any way she could. Finally, the crew managed to record her performing a rare variant of the Votian folk song Avatka Viro veräjäd (‘Open the gates of Vironia’).

Duńa Trofimova is the aunt of the saxophone player Lembit Saarsalu, who lives in Estonia but has Votian roots.

Ariste 1986, 2005; Arukask, Raudalainen 2005.


Duńa Trofimova in her home yard with Paul Ariste. Photo: E. Ernits, 1976 (VE XX 215 (2)).