The White Seagull

Petruț Călinescu / 18 December 2015
In the most isolated village in Romania's Danube Delta, the Russian community of Lippovans of Sfiştofca hold an annual championship in chess

Retired art teacher from Romania's northeast town of Sighetul Marmatiei, Octav Postolache, moved to one of the most remote spots in his country, the village of Sfistofca, where he has set up 'The White Seagull' chess championship - now in its sixth year.

Nearby in the coastal village of Sulina, hundreds visit daily in the summer, but no one comes to Sfistofca. The visitors see no need.

But a representative of the Russian community of the Lippovan, Vasile Sarbov, aims to attract hundreds of tourists to this intellectual challenge of minds.​

Here the houses are made from a framework that disintegrates in the rain and wind and disappears altogether after 20 years of existence.

The village is home to fishermen, Lippovan elders, a church and a few beautiful traditional houses.

In the interwar period, the community had 800 inhabitants. Today fewer than 40 people still live here. The school is abandoned because of a lack of children, but the Lippovan community have brought young people from Sulina to the annual Chess Championship to keep their tradition alive.

They cook fish, play the accordion and teach chess to the uninitiated.

On the following day, after the children leave, the Lippovan elders party by themselves.

These pictures were taken in November 2015 - with the support of EEA Grants and Pact Foundation - Oamenii Sudului Project.

All photos are copyright Petrut Calinescu

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