Agafia's Taiga Life

Agafia's Taiga Life

2013, Nature  -   42 Comments
Ratings: 8.62/10 from 292 users.

In 1936, a family of Russian Old Believers journeyed deep into Siberia's vast taiga to escape persecution and protect their way of life. The Lykovs eventually settled in the Sayan Mountains.

Two children were born during the isolation. They ended up in a dwelling in the taiga, in the Abakan river basin (Khakassia), 250 kilometres from any settlement.

In 1978 their location was discovered by a helicopter pilot, who was flying a geological group into the region. The geologists got in contact with the family, but the Lykovs decided not to leave the place.

Karp's wife Akulina died of hunger in 1961. Three of his children died in 1981. Karp died in 1988. He is survived by his daughter Agafia Lykova who continues to live in isolation in her Abakan fastness.

Today, she is the last surviving Lykov, remaining steadfast in her seclusion. VICE crew travels to Agafia to learn about her taiga lifestyle and the encroaching influence of the outside world.

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42 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Radoslav

    This movie is an escape when I watch it. Excellent. The moments in the helicopter leading to Agafia's nook of the taiga makes me feel the vastness, chaos, beauty, and silence within the trees and snow.

  2. Dan

    Amazing woman....hard,hard work in even tougher conditions...perfect simple life where nature provides all(most) things that you need to live/survive,at her age tho now she definitely doesn't need to be grafting hard for 2 peoples firewood/water/all the housing maintenance that needs doing yearly...."if your listening up there god to Agafias prayers ,I think its time you repaid her faith..." I wish you all the best Agafia...youve definitely humbled me for best...

  3. Jack

    They were escaping the Boshevik Jews who killed "Millions " of Christians in Russia !

  4. Jason

    As if life wasn't hard enough for this beautiful old lady, without some one-legged geezer turning up uninvited, moving hiimself in, making unwanted advances and living off her generosity and the doublinig of her work.

    She will be rewarded in the afterlife.

  5. QueuedOut

    Of all the docus on this website, this one along with a few others, for some reason has a very short queue, whilst others have a very loooong to no queue. Why is that?

  6. John

    Can this documentary be purchased?

  7. Galen

    It would have been interesting to know how she procured food. I think I saw potatoes in the root cellar. Where did the grain come from? What did she use for illumination? Did they hunt animals for meat? Bears? There were glass windows. Where did the glass come from? Surely they didn't carry it in with them in 1936. Since then Yerofey Sedov died in 1915, but she is still going strong as of 2017.

    1. Gab

      Glass , potatoes and so on , she got later

  8. Paul

    Humbling. I think a lot of people here may be missing the lesson of the man with the missing leg though. The lesson, according to Agafia, was that she did what was right according to her bible and because of this, what her attacker threatened her with ironically befell him. He fell into the trap he made—which is also a teaching from that book. I think if we properly understand this principle, we will all be asking each other and God for forgiveness of the bad things we’ve done. Not demonizing someone else for what they’ve done. Much less a crippled old man who has clearly already been punished for his sins. The other lesson here everybody seems to want to miss (which I can understand) is she helps this guy daily. How many of you here would have the heart of Agafia and help the very one who wronged you daily? You can’t even bring yourself to have mercy on him from your desk chair and he didn’t wrong you. She is following the Bible and blessing her enemies. That’s the clear lesson to take from this. The lesson is not that men or women are categorically evil. I will not defend this man’s evil, except to say that I doubt anyone in this forum is more virtuous than him. Humble out and seek God’s mercy for yourself and others.

  9. raikko umacob

    she live behind what other people do..but the style of life she had was really amazing.....the good story of her was an eye opener of all....i salute for her braveness for facing the life everyday.......................

  10. jen

    great doc. I've been waiting for Rebecca Marshall's doc on Agafia (Forest in me) I am wondering about the goat and rooster. Were they just for a few meals? With no knowledge of science does she know that a goat must be pregnant and give birth (continually) to make milk . I saw no other goat -only a sheep. I didn't see any hens for the rooster. Maybe they just weren't shown. Admirable that she's survived such hardship and had the inner awareness and fortitude to block further sexual pestering after the initial unwanted encounters. I can't help but think how terribly different it would have been had he been able-bodied.

  11. Mary E Isenberg

    I literally could not take my eyes off this beautiful soul.
    I feel driven to visit her.

  12. Robert

    What a beautiful soul. It shows you what is really important: the beauty of nature and a pure, simple, honest lifestyle.

  13. Mohammed

    Iron woman amazing

  14. jonathan

    this Gody lady Agafia is precious because of her perfect character & faith in Christ despite several family tragedies that happened in her life!

  15. jaidip koodali

    ..In the era of the photoshopped plastic surgeoned super made up human being...what joy to see a truly beautiful face.In her eyes do sparkle a truth we no longer recognize simply because it has vanished from our midst.Quite a startling documentary.Thank you.

  16. manamghulamali

    was a great doc n she really deserved bleesing of god but i think govt should take her out in real world as she beard hardship now its time for rest if she dislike city she can get in some village but ii think being human she deservs all those benifits which we r having comfort peace n rest etc evn if she dont want still we should protect her as she has big knowledge how to survive or at least we can provide her some technical support each month by visiting providing food n gasoline n easy thing invention made life easy

    1. ???????????

      These "benefits" would kill her. And also, comfort... You think this is what she wants? What she wants is to live rest of her life alone, without interruption from outside.

  17. rocketmahn

    Fascinating. I stopped what I was doing so that I would not miss a frame of it!

  18. bringmeredwine

    Utterly fascinating doc!
    At the beginning,The filmmaker rides in a helicopter along with a goat and a rooster to the taigas in Siberia.
    The footage takes the viewer into into the great unknown; a frozen world dripping with harsh beauty and isolated magnificence, where we meet an incredibly hardy and humble woman named Agafia.
    She exudes a zest for life, despite the loss of her entire family, and her endless toil to survive on her own..
    I was so engrossed watching how Agafia lives that I was disapointed when the story ended.
    Agafia must have incredible genes. Contact with the outside world each time made her ill, but didn't kill her. Her siblings all died because of it. She also lived through starvation..
    I'm guessing her unwavering faith,always keeping busy, and the love for her animals, keeps her sane.
    I was amazed that she hadn't murdered her predatory neighbor.(I would have). Must be her strong religious beliefs and kind nature that stopped her.

  19. Kathy

    I'm impressed - this 70 something woman lifting tree trunks and carrying them around, sawing her own firewood, smiling through it all? wow lady, hats off!!

  20. Elf87

    Are you sure Siberia is in the southern Russia? Check out a map or goole it first before you make a documentary maybe?

    1. Jack1952

      If you look at a map I think you'll find that most of Russia lies north of Agafia's home. She is definitely in southern Siberia.

    2. Meg

      I suppose you missed the map in the documentary clearly depicts Agafia's home, in Siberia, in the south of Russia?

    3. AsylumSeaker

      Maybe in future you should check out a map or google before you make a comment.

  21. oldfox

    Fascinating. I'll pray for this lady and hope to meet her in Heaven. Praise the Lord!

  22. thinkagainagain

    I am a bit amused at the doc slipping in the sponsor's logo (The North Face) here and there. Just shows that Agafia has her icons and we have ours.

    1. oQ

      Somebody has to pay for the cost of making this doc including flights and posting it for free on the internet.

  23. tomregit

    There are a number of documentaries from Vice that I don't care for, but I really enjoyed this one. A great story about a beautiful lady.

  24. Pysmythe

    A hard, solitary life of nothing but the fundamentals in a very beautiful environment, surrounded by cats and bears, and one horny old peg-legged geologist. Even out there, the sweet, honorable woman couldn't altogether get away from a man chasing her, poor thing. I just loved listening to her talk...That language has always sounded so rich and beautiful to me, like a lush feast with a lot of sauces. There was something a little hypnotic about the whole thing, too, like listening to a clock tick in an empty house.

    1. Jack1952

      Go into the woods in Central Ontario in the winter after a snowfall and the silence can be un-nerving. If there is no wind, there is absolutely no sound...not a bird, distant traffic, nothing. You can sit still for a hour and not hear a thing. Total silence. The sound of a single chickadee seems amplified against this background. I would think most of us would start talking to themselves aloud just to hear something.

    2. Pysmythe

      I said it before on this site, not too long ago, that I've started using this sort of imagery of a vast, frozen, empty wilderness, with mountains and the whole bit, to help me get to sleep at night. Works almost every time, too. Unless I happen to think on whether I could actually live like that! Clearly, it must just be a way of dismissing stimulation, but its been very effective. I don't have anything like the insomnia I used to.

    3. Donttalkshitcuzillshootyou

      very interesting, i suffer from crazy insomnia, in fact i sleep every 2-3 days because of it, maybe i will try this out.

    4. Pysmythe

      I happened on it entirely by accident about 6-8 months ago, not from a self-help book or anything. I think the trick is to find some sort of imagery that works well for you, in particular, something that you like. Could be a small tropical island, flying along in interstellar space in your own little ship, whatever makes it peaceful and quiet and gets rid of the world. ;)

    5. Good Karma

      Works for me. My favorite image is riding my motorcycle on a cool dark night:)

    6. rocketmahn

      Wow, I will try that. I have wicked until 6am insomnia.

    7. Susan Bechhoefer

      I'm afraid senor peg leg would be frozen dead if I had lived there with him sniffing around all the there no peace on earth for women, anywhere!

    8. Pysmythe

      Maybe if he'd been willing to do more for himself, and her, or as much as he could do, considering his disability, she'd have eventually taken a more favorable view of him. But I kind of doubt it, at least as regards any kind of love life.

  25. oQ

    the titles for the music are Nature and Get Free, well chosen.

  26. wald0

    Amazing woman.

  27. disqus_DckmtFvCrE

    What a strong woman!

  28. TheDanishViking

    Good documentary. Thanks!