|hauling, trading, salt industry|
Chumak (Ukrainian: чумак) is a historic and traditional wagon-based trading occupation on the territory of modern Ukraine in late Medieval and early Modern periods of history. It consisted in the delivery of goods (salt, fish, gran, others) for the purpose of long-distance sales using carts (wagons) harnessed by oxen.
They prospered until the end of the 19th century, when competition from railroads made longer trade routes unprofitable. The process of transportation was conducted by wagons that were pulled by two oxen paired with yoke. Oxen were often of Bessarabian breed.
Chumaks were the most popular during the times of the Cossack Hetmanate (17th century) trading between the Moscow state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Crimean Khanate, and Moldavia. Further modernization marginalized traditional economic activity, and relegated Chumak traders to areas in western Ukraine with the lowest levels of service.
Influence on the Ukrainian culture
The chumak way of life set a great mark on Ukrainian folklore, language, and overall culture, due to the hardships and perils inherent in that trade.
Chumak traders also were featured heavily in Ukrainian folklore and fables. Their trade is mentioned in the literal as well as artistic works of Taras Shevchenko, the Crimean-Armenian Ivan Aivazovsky, the song of Taras Petrynenko Ukraina.
- Chumak's roads by A.Basargina, a senior scientist at the Belgorod State Museum of Folk Culture (YouTube)