The Archangel White Trjasun
By K.D. Spurling
The Archangel White Trjasun (Archangelski bela Trjasuni) is yet another race of Statnije, or Russian Courtyard Tumbler. As its name indicates (which should not allow it to be confused with Gimpels (Archangels), this breed's origin lies within the seaport Archangel in NorthWestern Russia where it has been bred for some 300 years in a relative obscurity to the point of being only little known throughout the great Russian expanse and only then by the greatest students of the Russian Statnije cult.
The story is told, by the last of its old time breeders, one Mikhail Melnikov of Archangelsk, who's family (actually transplants to the region from the Ukrain generations ago) played a dramatic role in the continueing development of this breed, and who as an individual has maintained this breed, mostly singlehandedly, for over some 70 years, that the Archangel Trjasun came about through the local culture of snow white colored Statnije of the common kind with no set characteristics hailing from the surrounding areas, including pigeons from the city of Kazan, which considering its point of origin and its basic characteristics, indicates a relatively close relation to the now extinct Kazanski Trjasuni as it existed during the Bojaren (Imperialist) era. In fact, no different than the Bojaren style Kazanski Trjasuni, the Archangelski Trjasuni was severely devestated during the Bolshevik Revolution when so many breeds of Russian animals were nearly lost or plunged into extinction outright. Fortunately, unlike the Kazan Trjasun, due only to the effort of Melnikov family, did the Archangel Trjasun survive the revolution and the 70 years of communism which followed it. The story is told further, how during the revolution, the Archangel Trjasun's population crept as low as only 5 birds in number due to the level of poverty the Melnikov family experienced. Only through some sacrafise did these 5 individual birds survive to rebuild their breed and among them, but one lone cock who had been named "Otar", a bird of tremendous muff size and perfect form, but with a wry crest who is the effective "Adam" of the entire Archangel Trjasun breed, in that every pigeon after the revolution descends from him and the four hens; these hens included: "Anya" a hen of extremely good form, but shorter in muffs and minus a crest, "Zvezda" (which interestingly enough, is also the name of an Ancient Slavic Godess attributed to as the protector of doves and the Godess of love in Slavic mythology) who was regarded as the finest of the four hens being that she had huge muffs, a swan-like neck, a full crest, large expressive bull eyes, a flat broadtail and extremely short plumage, "Elina" who was a daughter of Otar and Zvezda who was nearing the quality of Zvezda, but like Otar had a wry crest, and finally, "Natazha" who had exquisite type, but had impure color in that she was mottled with black through the chest due to the fact that she had been a local stray and was likely not a pure member of the breed. From these five birds, the modern breed descends exclusively.
As the name would indicate, the only color in this breed is self white with large expressive bull eyes. The head is an oval with a shell crest lacking rosettes and a medium length beak. Due to the fact that Otar was the sole male of the breed, most of the breed today also carries his faulty wry crest. The neck is long and swanlike, bending backwards and shakes viloently when the bird is in a solid stance. Any shaking of the neck while the bird is walking is to be regarded as a grave fault as is a among all Trjasuni Statnije races since the characteristic of shaking the neck while the bird is walking is a characteristic of the Katschuni sub-variety and not the Trjasuni or Vislokrilije (the latter of which are not to shake their necks). The chest is full, rounding and carried uplifted. The back is short and wide. The tail is flat, broad and containing 14 to 18 retrices. The feet are short and completely covered in feathers, varying from simple bell-shaped muffs to muffs roughly three and a half to four inches in length.
This breed is today, easily one of the rarest, with less than 75
birds existing in Russia between three lofts. In August of 1999, this writer
was privelaged enough to obtain two pairs from the loft of that great
Statnije breeder, Ivan Schmelev of Yekaterinagrad as a gift, and a most
glorious one indeed.