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Re: [sig] Re: Russian Orthodox dogma about breastfeeding: myth or not?

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  • MHoll@aol.com
    In a message dated 6/5/2001 12:17:12 PM Central Daylight Time, ... I might have more trouble with later dates. I m afraid I don t hold Muscovite Russia in very
    Message 1 of 20 , Jun 5, 2001
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      In a message dated 6/5/2001 12:17:12 PM Central Daylight Time,
      jenne@... writes:


      > I believe the article was discussing something from the fourteenth century
      > or later...

      I might have more trouble with later dates. I'm afraid I don't hold Muscovite
      Russia in very high esteem.

      > Did infants take communion in medieval Russia? I'm aware that the rules
      > for when and who got to take communion were different from those in the
      > West (in the medieval church of Rome, most people only recieved
      > communion once a year).

      Yes, infants did and do take communion as soon as they were baptized and
      churched (introduced into the Church). Rules were more loose in Kievan Russia
      when priests were not always available all the time for every rite. Even
      common-law marriage was recognized, and must be sanctified as soon as a
      priest was available.

      > I don't believe there was a clear reference to a source, but I will find
      > the book and verify it. The article was by N.L. Pushkareva. " Childbirth
      >

      Pushkareva is usually reliable, but even her analyses and conclusions should
      be double-checked. It also matters when the article was written in relation
      to 1991. Long before -- and the analysis will reflect official opinion;
      shortly before -- the author's opinion comes through more clearly. And
      post-1991 -- it's anyone's guess.

      There is also the issue of Soviet scholarship: the methodology is not very
      reliable.

      Predslava.



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Jenn/Yana
      Eve Levin in her article Childbirth in Pre-Petrine Russia , talks about just this issue (and I think that this is the article which Jadwiga may be thinking
      Message 2 of 20 , Jun 5, 2001
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        Eve Levin in her article "Childbirth in Pre-Petrine Russia", talks about
        just this issue (and I think that this is the article which Jadwiga may be
        thinking of). It is part of a wonderful book about how women, in
        particular, retain agency within their lives, in the face of seemingly
        arbitrary and illogical beliefs. So now I will quote from Levin's article...

        From Levin's article of the above name, pages 49-50 in "Russia's Women:
        Accomodation, Resistance, Transformation," edited by Barbara Evans
        Clements, Barbara Alpen Engel, and Christine D. Worobec. Univ. of
        California Press, 1991.

        "Russian canons introduced an additional prohibition [to the beliefs about
        the defilement caused by childbirth]: no one was permitted to eat in the
        woman's company until her purification. This rule created a particular
        problem for the newborn child, who in theory could not nurse from his or
        her mother. There were a number of solutions to this problem. One was to
        delay the baptism of the child until the fortieth day--an infant not yet
        admitted to the Christian community could not be defiled by association
        with its impure mother. The concern for protecting Christians from a
        woman's postpartum impurity was so great as to raise questions about what
        to do if the infant's fraility prompted an early baptism. Metropolitan
        Ioann in the eleventh century had to rule specifically that an infant be
        allowed to nurse, even from an impure mother, to preserve life.

        "There was a second alternative for the problem of feeding the
        newborn--finding a baba [wet nurse, in this circumstance]...The church
        regarded wet nurses favorably, comparing them to their biblical forebears.
        Blessings lauded them for "recieving this infant in Thy name." It appears
        to have been rare for a new mother to have permanently turned over nursing
        of an infant to another woman except when she had no milk. Otherwise the
        mother would take up feeding the child herself as soon as she had undergone
        initial purification. When a wet nurse took on the responsibility of
        feeding an infant, she also acquired a special role in the rituals
        surrounding birth. If the mother was not able to present the child for
        naming or baptism, the baba would tak on this role. Furthermore, whoever
        nursed the infant, either its mother or the wet nurse, would undertake the
        prebaptismal fasts on behalf of the child. This involved abstinence from
        meat and milk for eight days--obviously impossible for the infant."


        So you see, even though the religious restrictions seem illogical and
        impossible to overcome without endangering the continuation of the
        community, people still manage to live with them by actively coming up with
        solutions. A society which fails to preserve the life of its members will
        simply die out, after all.

        --Yana
      • LiudmilaV@aol.com
        In a message dated 6/5/2001 7:02:11 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... This is fascinating, but I still don t understand how could a woman begin nursing 40 days
        Message 3 of 20 , Jun 5, 2001
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          In a message dated 6/5/2001 7:02:11 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
          slavic@... writes:


          > It appears
          > to have been rare for a new mother to have permanently turned over nursing
          > of an infant to another woman except when she had no milk. Otherwise the
          > mother would take up feeding the child herself as soon as she had undergone
          > initial purification.

          This is fascinating, but I still don't understand how could a woman begin
          nursing 40 days after giving birth! As a newly nursing mother, I read a lot
          on the subject and know that it is possible (but hard) to restart lactation
          (and even induce it in adoptive mothers), but milk supply remains low. So,
          how id they do it?

          Liudmila


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Jenne Heise
          ... Yes, it is. I had out two books and apparently got them confused. ... Well, this is what puzzles me. It seems like either women were routinely expressing
          Message 4 of 20 , Jun 6, 2001
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            > Eve Levin in her article "Childbirth in Pre-Petrine Russia", talks about
            > just this issue (and I think that this is the article which Jadwiga may be
            > thinking of).

            Yes, it is. I had out two books and apparently got them confused.

            > So you see, even though the religious restrictions seem illogical and
            > impossible to overcome without endangering the continuation of the
            > community, people still manage to live with them by actively coming up with
            > solutions. A society which fails to preserve the life of its members will
            > simply die out, after all.

            Well, this is what puzzles me. It seems like either women were routinely expressing
            breast milk (an option not mentioned in the article) or routinely delaying baptism. I was
            always led to believe that a long, for instance, 30-day, hiatus in breastfeeding is going
            to seriously impact lactation. The body believes that there is no baby to feed, and shuts
            down lactation.

            It's possible that women of the class from which wet nurses came simply delayed baptising
            their babies until the 40th day, and women of the class that hired wet nurses had their
            babies baptised within the 8 day recommendations, then hired a wet nurse to nurse their
            child.

            --
            Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise jenne@...
            disclaimer: i speak for no-one and no-one speaks for me.
            "It's no use trying to be clever-- we are all clever here; just try
            to be kind -- a little kind." F.J. Foakes-Jackson
          • Jenn/Yana
            ... Well, Levin says that the mother would take up feeding the child herself as soon as she had undergone initial purification. Could this have been some
            Message 5 of 20 , Jun 6, 2001
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              >This is fascinating, but I still don't understand how could a woman begin
              >nursing 40 days after giving birth! As a newly nursing mother, I read a lot
              >on the subject and know that it is possible (but hard) to restart lactation
              >(and even induce it in adoptive mothers), but milk supply remains low. So,
              >how id they do it?
              >
              >Liudmila

              Well, Levin says that "the mother would take up feeding the child herself
              as soon as she had undergone initial purification." Could this have been
              some time earlier than the 40 days?

              I know that women can continue lactation without the stimulous of suckling
              for quite some time by expressing milk. I have read of women doing this
              for several weeks (the woman I am thinking of was on an extended camping
              trip without her very young baby), so perhaps the mother kept her milk
              supply going in this manner (it is too bad that the baby may have not
              gotten the colostrum, the pre-milk filled with antibodies and such). Also,
              the canons stated that no one was to eat in the _presence_ of the woman,
              not that the baby could not drink the milk that the mother had produced.
              Maybe the woman expressed the milk and had someone else (the baba?) feed it
              to the baby, away from the mother. There may have been some question about
              whether the milk itself was "defiled", but perhaps there was a way around
              the problem.

              So with the combination of delaying baptism, the possible early start to
              purification, feeding the baby with expressed breast milk, and continuing
              lactation by manual expressing, and feeding the baby for a time via a wet
              nurse, it appears that there were many alternatives to the baby starving or
              needing to be fed permanently by a wet nurse. Babies obviously survived
              the restrictions placed on the mother, so the community must have figured
              out some way to follow the canons without killing off all the new members.
              Humans have a marvelous capacity to work with impossible-looking situations.

              --Yana
            • Jenne Heise
              ... That s a good question. In the context it appears that it is in fact the 40 days purification, but perhaps those learned in Russian medieval religion can
              Message 6 of 20 , Jun 6, 2001
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                > Well, Levin says that "the mother would take up feeding the child herself
                > as soon as she had undergone initial purification." Could this have been
                > some time earlier than the 40 days?

                That's a good question. In the context it appears that it is in fact the 40 days
                purification, but perhaps those learned in Russian medieval religion can give us a better
                answer. Was there an additional part-purification undergone before the end of the 40
                days' seclusion?

                > I know that women can continue lactation without the stimulous of suckling
                > for quite some time by expressing milk. I have read of women doing this
                > for several weeks (the woman I am thinking of was on an extended camping
                > trip without her very young baby), so perhaps the mother kept her milk
                > supply going in this manner (it is too bad that the baby may have not
                > gotten the colostrum, the pre-milk filled with antibodies and such).

                Presumably, since the baby was not yet baptised, he/she could nurse during the time the
                colostrum was coming down.

                >Also,
                > the canons stated that no one was to eat in the _presence_ of the woman,
                > not that the baby could not drink the milk that the mother had produced.
                > Maybe the woman expressed the milk and had someone else (the baba?) feed it
                > to the baby, away from the mother. There may have been some question about
                > whether the milk itself was "defiled", but perhaps there was a way around
                > the problem.

                Expression of milk would certainly be possible, but the technical issues involved in a)
                expression of milk from the human mammary gland, and b) widespread 'bottle' feeding of
                babies, make me think that if this was widely practiced there would be archaeological
                artifacts of the technology. Further, modern women note that even with a combination of
                nursing and modern expression technology it's often difficult to maintain appropriate
                amounts of lactation flow. It's possible that when the mother resumed nursing the child
                (at the age of a month and a half) was put on some sort of supplemental feeding.

                > So with the combination of delaying baptism, the possible early start to
                > purification, feeding the baby with expressed breast milk, and continuing
                > lactation by manual expressing, and feeding the baby for a time via a wet
                > nurse, it appears that there were many alternatives to the baby starving or
                > needing to be fed permanently by a wet nurse.

                Unfortunately, none of the alternatives are satisfactory solutions to the physical and
                theological dilemma. When using a wet nurse who had delayed her own child's baptism, or
                delaying one's own child's baptism, one was disobeying that dogma about time of baptism.
                One could feed a baby with expressed breast milk, but even today infants in that
                situation require supplemental feedings.

                --
                Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise jenne@...
                disclaimer: i speak for no-one and no-one speaks for me.
                "It's no use trying to be clever-- we are all clever here; just try
                to be kind -- a little kind." F.J. Foakes-Jackson
              • Brent Rachel
                From my reading, most of Levin s research in her Sex and Orthodox Slavs was from sources stating what SHOULD happen and not what DID happen . When she
                Message 7 of 20 , Jun 6, 2001
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                  From my reading, most of Levin's research in her "Sex
                  and Orthodox Slavs" was from sources stating "what
                  SHOULD happen" and not "what DID happen". When she
                  talks about penance for certain sexual activities, she
                  IS able to cite a FEW examples.., but for the most
                  part she states the penances that OUGHT to be assigned
                  for the activity. There is no way to determine if
                  they were ever imposed that way, and how widespread
                  any applications might be.

                  Now, I haven't read the work by Levin that we are
                  discussing., but might it not be the case that what
                  she is descibing was the "official" policy.., one that
                  you are all discovering is impractical in the extreme?
                  Are most of her sources records of what DID happen?
                  I find it unlikely that there would be many such
                  sources.., judging by Levin's previous work.

                  So, I hypothesize that this restriction was probably
                  adhered to about as much as the requirement that women
                  not attend church during their cycle. Who's to know?
                  And if such a wholely impractical rule (directly
                  influencing procreation - the MAIN driving concern in
                  all matters of intergender relations, per Levin,
                  herself) *was* strictly enforced I believe that the
                  ensuing chaos would have been recorded by visitors to
                  a greater degree, and would have had PAGES devoted to
                  it in the Domostroi. I think it is *just that
                  impractical*.

                  Just one man's opinion.

                  Brent / Kazimir

                  --- Jenn/Yana <slavic@...> wrote:
                  > >This is fascinating, but I still don't understand
                  > how could a woman begin
                  > >nursing 40 days after giving birth! As a newly
                  > nursing mother, I read a lot
                  > >on the subject and know that it is possible (but
                  > hard) to restart lactation
                  > >(and even induce it in adoptive mothers), but milk
                  > supply remains low. So,
                  > >how id they do it?
                  > >
                  > >Liudmila


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                • stasi.wa
                  ... From: LiudmilaV@aol.com To: sig@yahoogroups.com Date: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 11:36 PM Subject: Re: [sig] Russian
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jun 6, 2001
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                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: LiudmilaV@... <LiudmilaV@...>
                    To: sig@yahoogroups.com <sig@yahoogroups.com>
                    Date: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 11:36 PM
                    Subject: Re: [sig] Russian Orthodox dogma about breastfeeding: myth or not?


                    >In a message dated 6/5/2001 7:02:11 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
                    >slavic@... writes:
                    >
                    >
                    >> It appears
                    >> to have been rare for a new mother to have permanently turned over
                    nursing
                    >> >This is fascinating, but I still don't understand how could a woman
                    begin
                    >nursing 40 days after giving birth! As a newly nursing mother, I read a lot
                    >on the subject and know that it is possible (but hard) to restart lactation
                    >(and even induce it in adoptive mothers), but milk supply remains low. So,
                    >how id they do it?
                    >The same way working women do it. They continue to express the milk even
                    when they are not acutally feeding the child. We put it in bottles and
                    refridgerate it, but they would have probably dumped it being "un pure". You
                    don't need a pump to get the stream going, you know.
                    B. Anastasia with two babies to her credit>
                    Liudmila
                    >
                    >
                    >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                    >
                    >
                    >


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                  • Jenne Heise
                    ... Yes, but do you need a pump to get any significant amount expresssed after you ve got it going? I was under the impression that the average human mammary
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jun 6, 2001
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                      > >The same way working women do it. They continue to express the milk even
                      > when they are not acutally feeding the child. We put it in bottles and
                      > refridgerate it, but they would have probably dumped it being "un pure". You
                      > don't need a pump to get the stream going, you know.
                      > B. Anastasia with two babies to her credit>

                      Yes, but do you need a pump to get any significant amount expresssed after
                      you've got it going? I was under the impression that the average human
                      mammary gland was not well configured for manual milking purposes.

                      --
                      Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise jenne@...
                      disclaimer: i speak for no-one and no-one speaks for me.
                      "It's no use trying to be clever-- we are all clever here; just try
                      to be kind -- a little kind." F.J. Foakes-Jackson
                    • MHoll@aol.com
                      In a message dated 6/5/2001 9:01:58 PM Central Daylight Time, ... Is there a footnote, a specific reference to the Russian text? I know the book it comes from,
                      Message 10 of 20 , Jun 6, 2001
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                        In a message dated 6/5/2001 9:01:58 PM Central Daylight Time,
                        slavic@... writes:


                        > "...Metropolitan Ioann in the eleventh century had to rule specifically that
                        > an infant be allowed to nurse, even from an impure mother, to preserve
                        >

                        Is there a footnote, a specific reference to the Russian text? I know the
                        book it comes from, I'm sure I even read the article, but I don't have it
                        now.

                        Predslava,
                        who just loves to check the original of a quotation. Saves her from doing any
                        *real* work.


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • LiudmilaV@aol.com
                        In a message dated 6/6/2001 1:42:40 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... Of course, and it was silly of me not to think of expressing. You actually can do this by
                        Message 11 of 20 , Jun 6, 2001
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                          In a message dated 6/6/2001 1:42:40 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
                          jenne@... writes:


                          > > >The same way working women do it. They continue to express the milk even
                          > > when they are not actually feeding the child. We put it in bottles and
                          > > refrigerate it, but they would have probably dumped it being "un pure".
                          > You
                          > > don't need a pump to get the stream going, you know.
                          > > B. Anastasia with two babies to her credit>
                          >
                          > Yes, but do you need a pump to get any significant amount expresssed after
                          > you've got it going? I was under the impression that the average human
                          > mammary gland was not well configured for manual milking purposes.
                          >
                          >

                          Of course, and it was silly of me not to think of expressing. You actually
                          can do this by hand (that is, you or someone else might, I can't master the
                          skill so far). I have a relative who expressed milk by hand for her baby
                          back in Ukraine about 20 years ago, when there weren't any pumps available
                          and her baby refused to nurse.

                          What still bugs me is what did they do with the milk? There is a strong
                          sentiment in Russian culture not to waste food, so could they throw it away?
                          If not, how would they feed it to the baby? I understand that without a
                          nippled bottle this could be very tricky and time-consuming. Also, what
                          about going back to work in the fields soon after giving birth? How would
                          this non-nursing thing work?

                          Liudmila,
                          wondering if male populations of the list heard more than they'd ever want to
                          know about breastfeeding.


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Robert J Welenc
                          ... milk even ... and ... pure . You ... after ... human ... No, it s not -- but I found that manual expression worked much better than a breast pump. I kept
                          Message 12 of 20 , Jun 7, 2001
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                            At 04:36 PM 6/6/01 -0400, you wrote:
                            >> >The same way working women do it. They continue to express the
                            milk even
                            >> when they are not acutally feeding the child. We put it in bottles
                            and
                            >> refridgerate it, but they would have probably dumped it being "un
                            pure". You
                            >> don't need a pump to get the stream going, you know.
                            >> B. Anastasia with two babies to her credit>
                            >
                            >Yes, but do you need a pump to get any significant amount expresssed
                            after
                            >you've got it going? I was under the impression that the average
                            human
                            >mammary gland was not well configured for manual milking purposes.

                            No, it's not -- but I found that manual expression worked much better
                            than a breast pump.

                            I kept lactation going during a 10-day hospital stay, (forbidden to
                            breastfeed because I was being pumped full of antibiotics) but it was
                            awkward and painful. I can't imagine being able express enough to
                            keep it going for 6 weeks. (And like many young nursing babies, my
                            5-month-old refused to take a bottle.)

                            What does the Domostroi say about women feeding their babies? Was it
                            common for the upper class to put their babies out to a wetnurse as a
                            matter of course, as was done in western Europe? If so, I imagine
                            that this was the only class that observed such a rule.

                            Otherwise it's wholly impractical and unlikely. Professional
                            wetnurses wouldn't exist in small villages, only in larger cities,
                            and the key there is 'professional'. Where does a peasant find space
                            to house and money to pay a wetnurse?

                            Perhaps you could have a relative or friend nurse the child, with the
                            understanding that the next time she gave birth, you would do the
                            same for her. Is there any evidence for such a practice? And having
                            a newborn and an older baby at the breast at the same time wouldn't
                            be easy. They have completely different suckling patterns. A strong
                            let-down reflex on the part of the woman can be handled easily by an
                            older infant, but tends to choke a newborn with too much milk all at
                            once.



                            Alanna
                            ***********
                            Saying of the day: You cannot unscramble eggs.
                          • Art Plazewski
                            ... From: Robert J Welenc [mailto:rjwelenc@erols.com] Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 7:55 AM To: sig@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [sig] Russian Orthodox dogma
                            Message 13 of 20 , Jun 7, 2001
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                              -----Original Message-----
                              From: Robert J Welenc [mailto:rjwelenc@...]
                              Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2001 7:55 AM
                              To: sig@yahoogroups.com
                              Subject: Re: [sig] Russian Orthodox dogma about breastfeeding: myth or
                              not?



                              Otherwise it's wholly impractical and unlikely. Professional
                              wetnurses wouldn't exist in small villages, only in larger cities,
                              and the key there is 'professional'. Where does a peasant find space
                              to house and money to pay a wetnurse?

                              Perhaps you could have a relative or friend nurse the child, with the
                              understanding that the next time she gave birth, you would do the
                              same for her. Is there any evidence for such a practice? And having
                              a newborn and an older baby at the breast at the same time wouldn't
                              be easy. They have completely different suckling patterns. A strong
                              let-down reflex on the part of the woman can be handled easily by an
                              older infant, but tends to choke a newborn with too much milk all at
                              once.



                              Alanna
                              ***********
                              Saying of the day: You cannot unscramble eggs.



                              Up until today wet nurse is a common practice in almost every village I
                              know of in Poland. They did not have to take money - goods and services
                              are most common to exchange for that service. Also what was a theory (
                              don't feed the baby till 40 days) was theory only , observed in some
                              sporadic examples.
                              Art.
                            • Jenne Heise
                              ... I don t remember the Domostroi saying anything about women feeding their babies. Is it possible that the issue never came up for the author (because babies
                              Message 14 of 20 , Jun 7, 2001
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                                > What does the Domostroi say about women feeding their babies? Was it
                                > common for the upper class to put their babies out to a wetnurse as a
                                > matter of course, as was done in western Europe? If so, I imagine
                                > that this was the only class that observed such a rule.

                                I don't remember the Domostroi saying anything about women feeding their
                                babies. Is it possible that the issue never came up for the author
                                (because babies weren't nursed in front of men, or priests, or something?)

                                Maybe it was only the wives of priests that obeyed the rule? ;)


                                --
                                Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise jenne@...
                                disclaimer: i speak for no-one and no-one speaks for me.
                                "It's no use trying to be clever-- we are all clever here; just try
                                to be kind -- a little kind." F.J. Foakes-Jackson
                              • MHoll@aol.com
                                In a message dated 6/7/2001 5:40:54 PM Central Daylight Time, ... Yep, or else, considering the personality of the author, since it s woman s work, it s not
                                Message 15 of 20 , Jun 7, 2001
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                                  In a message dated 6/7/2001 5:40:54 PM Central Daylight Time,
                                  jenne@... writes:


                                  > Is it possible that the issue never came up for the author
                                  >

                                  Yep, or else, considering the personality of the author, since it's woman's
                                  work, it's not really worth mentioning, as it doesn't immediately affect the
                                  household.

                                  Predslava,
                                  being her cynical feminist self.


                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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