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  • Writer's pictureVadim Sidorovich

Budy at the Vusa river as one of former key bases of game husbandry and forestry in Naliboki Forest

Updated: May 24, 2023

The toponym of Buda has originated from the Belarusian word of buda, which in the 16th-19th centuries means a remote human site within a forest to work for the local forestry and game husbandry. Buda includes an enterprise to work with timber and possibilities to accommodate workers and managers of forestry and game husbandry for a long-term and faraway from other human settlements. Usually a big buda included a sawmill and a big building with special stoves to burn different wood materials to extract tar, ashes and potash. There were warehouses, living houses and tavern. Buda workers produced tree resin, tar, ashes and potash. In every buda there was a team of loggers. If there was a sawmill, its workers produced many various building materials from wood. Without a sawmill buda workers only produced logs for building of given sizes, built the walls and then took them a part. Then the building logs were taken by horse trailers or rafted along river to the place of destination. In budas game workers such as asochniks (game wardens) and straletses (forest guards) were temporarily or continuously accommodated.

In buda warehouse there was stored a great amount of goods, such as treated and untreated potash, unpacked ash and ash packed in large leather bags or barrels. In the warehouse there were scales for potash and ash weighting, as well as a variety of volume measures such as special dip-buckets and tubs. The rest of the buildings located nearby were: edifices where the manufactory’s management and employed for a long time workers lived, a smithy, a tavern, a liadownia (fulfilled a function of a refrigerator, special building that went down to the ground, where ice, prepared in winter, cooled this warehouse) and a stable. The large wooden building where wood was burnt into patash was about 100 m long and 10 m wide. In the middle of it there were huge brick ovens of about 20 m long. Each of those ovens had two forges and four kiers , and there also was a drying place. The process of wood burning into ash and potash was carried out in those ovens. Usually, approximately 10 to 30 employees worked there constantly. Local peasants were also employed for log felling and sawing. Each buda had many horses and oxen, that would carry barrels of potash up to the river, where the products were rafted by vitsinas (yawls).

Buda could be a specialized one for producing of tree resin, tar, ashes and potash, and simultaneously it could be as an enterprise for logging and producing building materials from wood, too. That buda in the Budy locality was more general one having sawmill at the Vusa river. This buda logged forest several kilometers eastwards from its positioning at the Vusa river, whereas around this buda and in all other directions there was a large area about 5 km in diameter with strictly protected forest, and such areas in Radzivil's husbandry in Naliboki Forest were called as a vodstup.

Vodstup was identified with some picturesque, ecologically rich, mostly mature, almost primeval forest, which was adapted for hunting. For comfortable hunting in vodstup there were horse-riding roads, there were also built hunting towers, in order to shoot from above, there were ground-based hides for hunters, the fence, so that the animals could be directed to the hunters from hunting towers, sometimes there were buildings for night rest and canopies for the feast after hunting. There were long fenced corridors directed to the main vodstups for a large hunt drive, first of all, in relation to wild ungulates and wolves. At the end of the hunt drive there was a hunting platform, from which the Radzivil’s magnates and their noble guests killed a lot of games that were driven by peasants and liasovyia workers. Vodstups were chosen in such a way so that there were grassy openings, which contributed much to hunting, no matter which means it was conducted by. Since the selection of forest plots for vodstup regarded the requirements of natural beauty for hunting, greater visibility and high habitat carrying capacity, primeval deciduous forest was mainly chosen as vodstup. Vodstup was often an oak forest with marsh openings, and both words were used at the same time, oak vodstup. Vodstups were protected by special orders of the Radzivils and general-lowchy. They were closely monitored by forest workers, so that there were not fires and violent logging, and in general so that there were not any strangers.

In the Naliboki game husbandry of Radzivil's magnats just the largest hunting enclosure with shooting platforms was situated in the Budy locality nearby this buda at the Vusa river. That huge hunting construction for fenced hunt-drives and hunting from platforms and towers existed in the 17th and at the end of the 16th century. There was a huge hunt-drive with a fence made of sturdy logs and a special gate for daily passage of wild animals which closed at a drive-hunt. The hunt-drive looked like a getting narrow triangle corridor. Its beginning was very wide extending for kilometres from Prudy in the north up to Naliboki in the south. The narrow exit of the hunt-drive only 30-100 metres wide with hunting platforms and numerous hides was near Budy and got to grassy marshes stretching to Shubin. Before a hunt wild animals were pushed into the hunt-drive through wide side gates which also had fences made of logs. The hunt-drive was about 15 kilometres long. Its maintenance before a hunt involved hundreds of employees and hired workers. There could be hundreds of killed at a hunt animals including dozens of bisons and bears in the shreks (special places to put hunting bag).

When in the 18th century Radzivils logged a lot of forest in the Naliboki husbandry (by the end of 18th century there was cut down nearly a quarter of the forest), still in many places it was strictly prohibited to log any forest. In 1778 there were 14 such strictly protected patches in the Naliboki husbandry, and among the most famous ones were Budy, Brodnaye and Lipovitsa i.e. all three around the Budy settlement.

Duchess Maryia Hohenlohe (the daughter of Stefaniya Radzivil and Liudvih Vitthenstein) in the last quarter of 19th century owned in different times larger or smaller piece of Naliboki Forest with control center in the Naliboki borough, as it used to be in the early Radzivils’ times. It was ordered to build a small hunting palace in Budy near (about 100 meters) the Vusa bank among almost primeval predominately oak forest.

Duchess Maryia Hohenlohe surrounded by forester and hunting wardens. Naliboki Forest, the Budy locality, 1889. Photo from Prince Konstantin Hohenlohe' collection (Germany). That was photo-copied by me from the exhibition in the Mir castle.

Prince Maurice Hohenlohe-Schilingsfurst with the elk bull hunted by him in Naliboki Forest.Naliboki Forest, the Budy locality, 1889. Photo from Prince Konstantin Hohenlohe' collection (Germany). That was photo-copied by me from the exhibition in the Mir castle.

The neighborhood was a wild terrain that was prevailed by old deciduous forests with a lot of centuries-old oaks, spruce-pine mixture, marshy black alder forest and grassy marshes. The densely forested area was crossed by river valleys of the Pawdniovaya Kamienka river, Vusa river, Liebiazhoda river, Bystraya river and Kramanitsa river. The picturesque lake Kroman’ was just seven kilometers away along a well-travelled road, which farther joined the forest public road of Naliboki-Shchorsy. This road to Kroman’ from Budy was a causeway on dry land areas and a well-composed jetty on swampy plots. The same road was built from Budy to the village of Haliandernia, where it also joined the forest public road of Naliboki-Liubcha, or Naliboki-Kupijsk (as there was a corresponding road divarication).

Small hunting palace in Budy in Naliboki Forest. It existed in since the 1890s and was ruined in 1943. Drawing by Valiantsina Tsehanovich based on the reconstruction by Vadim Sidorovich.

That small palace in Budy was built from specially treated wood. The walls of the small hunting palace in the Buda locality were made of massive logs that were skived from the inner and outer sides. A little later they were handled with the clapboard from the outside. The small palace was on quite a high base of the split of large stones, which were fortified with clay. The windows and doors were specially trimmed that gave the small palace rather decorated view. The roof was made of wood shingles with small windows. A number of furnaces were decorated with artistic tile. The walls in the middle were either handled with boards or decorated with elegant cloth. The ceiling was made of wide boards on thick beams; the floor was made of wood, or with special tiles. In different years there were from three to six families, who took care of the small hunting palace and served the guests and the owners during the hunting. Also there were root cellars from cut stones, one of which was used as a beer cellar, the second one as a ice-cooled refrigerator.

Frydrykh Falts-Fein and the general P.К.Kazlow. Photo from the Internet-site
Frydrykh Falts-Fein and the general P.К.Kazlow. Photo from the Internet-site

In 1897, Maryia Hohenloe sells Naliboki and the whole Naliboki husbandry together with the Budy small hunting palace to Frydrykh Falts-Fein – a rich businessman, a fan of hunting and one of the founders of the reserve activity in contemporary Russia. Falts-Fein made that hunting palace larger and significantly increased the number of buildings. Near the bridge across the Vusa river a high (about 20 m), two-storied observation tower was built, from which the whole Vusa valley from the Shubin locality (upstream) and to the village of Brodnaye (downstream) could be observed. The other tower, a hunting one, (one-storied about 15 m high) was built on the road from Budy to the lake Kroman’ at a distance of about two kilometers away from Budy. There was a feeding station for wild animals with grain and solt, so wild boars, elks, red deer, and sometimes brown bears were hunted for there. The hunting of Falts-Fein specialized not only on wild hoofed animals (the elk, red deer, roe deer and wild boar), but on large predatory mammals (the wolf, brown bear and lynx), as well as on birds such as the capercaillie, black grouse, ducks, woodcock, snipes. The most popular hunting was early-autumn one for red deer and elk during their rut, spring hunting for grouses in their leaking places, and winter hunting for wild boars with dogs. Many huntings were carried out on horses with greyhounds and other hunting dogs. Therefore, in the Budy hinting palace there were a stable and a kennel. The kennelman and the stableman lived on palace territoty in separate houses. Also, a hunting with the peregrine and golden eagle often took place among the Nioman and Vusa valleys, Valasien’ marshy opening. For the sake of hunting prey birds raising Falts-Fein had a special worker, who came from Germany. In general, the matter of hunting in Budy was not the number of prey, but the skillfulness of the hunting. Before the First World War on the right bank of the Vusa valley between Budy and haiownias in Smiejna a menagerie was formed, which contained the local wild and exotic animals such as wolves, lynx, otter, European moufflons, fallow deer, diurnal raptors and even a few Przewalski’s horses that were imported from Askaniya Nova reserve (currently in Ukraine). Incidentally, the owner of Naliboki and Budy was the founder of one of the first Russian reserves Askaniya Nova. Although Falts-Fein financed the first forest drainages in the south-eastern part of Naliboki Forest, but at the same time he took much care about the preservation of the nature, including marshes. The associate of Frydrykh Falts-Fein and a famous Russian hunter and environmentalist general P.К. Kazlow happened to be more than once in Budy. He expressed great admiration of the nature of that place. Both Falts-Fein and Kazlow dreamt about the creation of large Naliboki reserve. However, it did not come true because of the First World War, in which the family of Falts-Fein forever lost Budy and the whole Naliboki husbandry.

Between the two world wars in the 1920s and 1930s in the period of occupation by the Polish state in Budy there was functioning the Polish forestry department. That was largely known and quite social place. The settlement includes 8-15 living houses of forestry works, the Budy forestry office and the Maryia Hohenloe hunting palace, which was mainly used as a guesthouse for hunters. There was a tavern and several warehouses. Organizing of a commercial hunting and hunting for important Polish official was one of the main duries of the Budy forestry office.

Letter in Polish from forester Wincenty Gozdowskiego,

who worked in the Budy local forestry to the forestry office

in the Naliboki village, 1930s. From the collection by

Henryk Zurawiel.

Meeting of local foresters in the Budy, the group photo at the hunting palace of Maryia Hohenloe in Naliboki Forest in autumn 1930. The meeting was devoted to the retirement of the merited forester Wincenty Gozdowskiego. Photo by B.Trypucko from the collection by Henryk Zurawiel.

Forestry office in Budy in 1930s. Photo by B.Trypucko was taken from Echa Leśne, 1932 (7).

The same forestry office in Budy in 1937. The photo was taken from the opposite side of the building. The photo source is the Polish site of KARTA.

Forest workers at the forestry office in Budy in the middle of 1920s. The photo source is the Polish site of KARTA.

Planting of pines in felling area by local women under local forester’s control in the Budy locality, 1930s. Photo from the collection by Henryk Zurawiel.

Rough houses and yard of temporal forestry workers in Budy in 1937. The photo source is the Polish site of KARTA.

Timber of the Budy forestry at the Shubina-Niomanski canal. Photo by B.Trypucko was taken from Echa Leśne, 1931(4) and 1933(4).

The left photo shows the group of hunters after successful hunting on wild boars in the Budy locality, January, 24, 1928. Photo from the collection of Henryk Zurawiel.

On the right photo you see Aliaksandr Tallen-Wilczewski with hunted lynx in Budy locality in Naliboki Fores. Photo by A.Badzynski taken from Lowiec Polski, 1938 (6).

Piyus Farbotka during hunting on waterfowl in the Vusa valley nearby the S’miejnaye haiounia, late summer of 1930. Photo from the collection of Henryk Zurawiel.

In the 1920s-1930s the Budy game-forestry complex includes the haiownia (big house for game warden family and hunter-guests) in neighbouring S’miejnaje homested. S'miejnaje was situated about 2 km southwards of Budy. This haiownia stood in a very picturesque place – on the border of old oak forest with its facade to the large marshy opening of the Vusa valley. In the 1930s there lived an ordinary young forester Piyus Farbotka with his wife Lionia and daughter Tereza. They were not wealthy, although their home building was large enough. Although Piyus had a lot of forestry duties, he was mainly engaged in the hunting affairs, as he was a clever and a skillful hunter. Numerous wealthy or influential hunters came to the neighboring hunting palace in Budy, and he supplied their hunting. The Farbotkas considered themselves poles; they spoke Polish and stuck up to the Polish culture. As the Polish forestry official and Polish-speaking person Piyus Farbotka was qualified by the Soviet authorities as hostile. On this occasion, in February of 1940 the family of Piyus Farbotka was evicted from their home in S’miejnaye, transported to the railway station in Stawptsy, and farther to the north of Russia to Vologda. Their fate is unknown for sure.

Forestry team at the forestry office in Budy in 1950s. Photo from the collection of Kaliej family from Brodnaje.

Logging in the Budy forestry in 1950s and 1960s. Photos from Belarusian archive of cinema and photo documents.

Broadleaved deciduous oldgrowth that is situated at the Valasien' opening quite close to Budy. Photo was taken in 2017.

Pine stand with oak underforest in the S'mejnaje locality, where a broadleaved deciduous oldgrowth used to be a century ago. Photo was taken in 2013.

You see the location of Budy on this old Polish map (Warsaw, 1924) that was provided by the Internet project www. (contact person Henry Neugass); 1cm of the map equals 0.52 km of the terrain. At Budy you see the remainder of riverbed of Vusa and the Liebiazhoda tributary of Vusa. Waters of the Vusa river was taken by two canals of Shubina-Niemanski and Zhowta-Niemanski in the mid 19th century at the Kliatsishcha village about ten kilometers noirthwards of Budy.

Remainder of the Vusa river in the Budy locality that is in the downstream of its second inflow into the Shubina-Niomanski canal. The photo was taken by Ivan Daniliuk in 1949 (from the photo collection by Mikola Cherkas).

Waters of the Vusa river was taken by two canals of Shubina-Niemanski and Zhowta-Niemanski in the mid 19th century at the Kliatsishcha village about ten kilometers noirthwards of Budy.There was still much water in that part of the Vusa river due to inflows of the Ferbina and Pawdniovaya Kamienka rivers as well as flowing-over from the Shubina-Niomanski canal, which banksides were destroyed by floods in 1964.

Space photograph (taken from Google Earth) of the former valley of the Vusa river in the Budy and S’miejna localities of Naliboki Forest, 2007.

The former valley of the Vusa river nearby Budy in the autumn of 1984 and winter 1996. The valley was entirely open, because of hay taking was carried out the valley-wide.

The last remainders of the Vusa river bed in the Budy locality. The photo was taken in 2013.

The last remainders of the Vusa river bed in the Budy locality. The photo was taken in 2013.

The S'niejnaje, Budy (including Maryia Hohenloe hunting palace) and other neighboring haiownias were burnt by the German retributive troops during the blockade of Naliboki Forest in 1943. After the Second World war in Budy there were built three houses, but people (game and forestry workers) lived there till the end of 1970s and beginning of 1980s.

The first time I visited the place in August of 1983. There was an abandoned house (quite recently left by the family) and two semi-underground buildings from Maryia Hohenloe' time. Those were liadownjas (a cold-storage in kind cellar) and pivnitsa (a normal cellar) both having solid stone walls, floors and seilings. Nowadays, nothing left in Budy. Still you may see the grassy mound with remains of Maryia Hohenloe hunting palace and stone walls of the pivnitsa.

Opening in the Budy locality. You see heap, in which all remains of the small hunting palace of Maryia Hohenloe were graved in the 1960s. It is more or less the same place, where the former building was.

Cold storage in the kind of cellar with stone walls. During late winter, a number of pieces of ice were brought there from the Vusa river to keep cold in summer. The cold storage cellar existed in Budy since the 1890s (at least, the underground part), and the cellar was destroyed and wall stones were taken approximately in 1984-1986. You see the cold-storage cellar photos (the upper ones) taken in August 1983. On the below photo you see the stone wall of another cellar that still exists; the photo was taken in 2012.

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