Petrova S.I., Prokopeva A.N.

Yakut tangalai clothing: cut, trimming, and technologies

Costume of the 17th–18th cc. is a little-studied subject in the history of the Yakut costume. This is due to the fact that costume of this period can be studied only on the materials of the funerary monuments of Yakutia (Eastern Siberia). There are scanty written and pictorial sources of this period, and they do not provide detailed information about the material and technique of making clothes. One of the outstanding examples of the clothing of that time is tangalai - ritual women's clothing with short sleeves embroidered with beads and metal plaques, which in the literature is called fur coat or caftan. Due to its beauty and ritual purpose, tangalai represents a most interesting and controversial element of the wardrobe. Such waistcoats were widespread among Turkic-Mongolian peoples of Eurasia and are often associated with the wedding ceremonial and status of married women. The aim of the work is to identify specifics of the make, cut, and decor of tangalai. For this purpose, four samples of clothing identified as tangalais were selected from museum collections. All samples were found in female burials of Central and Northern Yakutia and consist of fragments of the base and decorative trim in different states of preservation. A comparative analysis showed that according to the material, cut, and principle of manufacture all samples represent variations of the same type of clothing. Suede made of deer or elk skin, smoked and painted, was used as the basic material. The skin was supplemented with an edging made of expensive and rare furs, which at that time included beaver fur. Beads of predominantly blue color were used in all the samples, supplemented with white and black beads, metal stripes and pendants. Beaded embroidery emphasized certain parts of clothing: shoulders, chest, and back. Accentuation of similar zones preserved in elegant women's fur coats until the beginning of the 20th century. The manufacture of such clothing implied a complex and lengthy technological process from the processing of raw materials to the connection of all the numerous elements. The high quality of the processing of leather and fur and complex beaded decor indicate the presence of professional seamstresses and a more complex organization of the Yakut society of those times. Needle beds, scissors, and workpieces of fur and beads in very rich women's burials, as well as the folklore motifs on this subject may indicate the significance of the sewing workmanship.

Keywords: Yakutia, archaeology, shoulder clothing, ritual clothing, production technology, needlework, funerary monuments.


Bravina R.I.

Mammoth bone collecting as a traditional occupation of the indigenous population of the East Siberian Arctic (17th — early 20th c.)

The paper is concerned with the history of collecting and trade of fossil mammoth bones as a traditional occupation of the indigenous population of the East Siberian Arctic in the 17th — early 20th c. For a long time the indigenous peoples of the North practiced individual collecting, incidental in the course of hunting, of fossil bones for their household needs. Meanwhile, archaic ideas about the mammoth as a sacred chthonic animal served as a regulator of ecological balance of the traditional nature management, introducing constraints on the scope of the search and size of the spoils. Starting from the 17th c., the search for and quarry of fossil bone are most closely connected with the history of the colonization and exploration of the Arctic regions of Eastern Siberia by Russian pioneers. In the context of the development of commodity-money relations on the sea islands, artels were formed from among the northern Yakuts and Russian Arctic old-settlers, supplying tusk to the merchants who traded in furs and mammoth tusks. The extraction of fossil mammoth bones reached its peak in the middle of the 19th c., when the “Russian, or Moscow ivory” was current on the world market as the fifth grade, with the total assortment of six grades. At the turn of the 19th–20th cc. the mammoth ivory industry in Yakutia was experiencing a crisis; the demand for the products of mammoth ivory within the country was decreasing, merchants could not find markets, and ivory harvesting in Africa increased. However, despite these factors, this occupation preserved in places until the 1930s. In the modern conditions of the development of the Arctic, inclusion of collection and extraction of mammoth tusks in the list of traditional economic activities will help to solve economic and legal problems in this region in the interests of the indigenous population.

Keywords: East Siberian Arctic, indigenous peoples, traditional occupations, mammoth tusks, history, types, fishing methods, marketing.


Tadina N.A.

Cultural and semiotic codes of Burkhanist wedding rites of the Altai-Kizhi

The Altai-Kizhi, as the central group of the Altaians, the titular ethnic group in the Republic of Altai, are the guardians of Burkhanism. Burkhanism refers to a belief system that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century as a “reformed” version of shamanism. In Soviet times, forbidden Burkhanism preserved in the intra-ethnic ritual culture, and in the post-Soviet period it began to revive. The purpose of the article is to identify Burkhanist concepts in the cultural and semiotic wedding codes. The material for the study was author’s own field accounts of 2020–2022, collected by the method of participant observation and interviewing informants, as well as archival records of A.V. Anokhin, an antiquarian of the early 20th century. When analyzing the source base, a comparative method of research was used. The bride’s transition into a category of married women occurs through the rite of changing the maiden hairstyle for two braids with a parting, and introducing her to the groom's ancestral hearth by ‘treating’ the fire with oil. In the ritual actions of the participants, the Burkhanist attitude towards ‘the positive’ and the observance of the custom of ‘bay’ are encoded. For the first time, on the basis of the collected material, an anthropomorphic code of the ritual practice of the wedding has been identified, associated with the key idea of Burkhanism - the veneration of Altai-deity, the upper heavenly world that provides earthly life. The temporal code of the ritual actions corresponds to the Burkhanist rule — the period of the new moon and morning is a ‘favorable’ time for proposal and marriage. The spatial code of the wedding ceremonies accounts for the contraposition of ‘east-west’, ‘right-left’, and ‘male-female’. The actional code consists in performing the ritual ‘posolon’ actions and an even number of times according to the Burkhanist symbolism. The object code involves sacred attributes — a whip, a gun, a sheath for opening bride's curtain, juniper, and dairy products for ‘feeding’ the hearth fire. The color code of the wedding is in observance of light symbols — bride's curtain, milk, and sacrificial ribbons. The verbal code is realized in the ritual texts of good wishes and songs. The character code is contained in the composition and role of the sex and age groups: elders as experts in the ritual; maternal uncles-taay and nephews of the bride and groom, whose participation means social recognition and approval of the marriage. The analysis of the wedding ritual actions reveals the ‘stringing’ of one code upon another, which enhances the significance of the ritual. One and the same ritual meaning can be expressed by means of different codes and by several of them simultaneously. Despite the fact that the ritual codes are universal, their manifestation and significance in the wedding rituals of the Altai-Kizhi are unique, which is in accordance with the ideas of Burkhanism and is explained by the historical and ethno-confessional factors of the adaptation of the Altaian tribal society.

Keywords: wedding rituals, Altai-Kizhi, Burkhanism, cultural and semiotic codes, field material, analysis.


Malinov A.V. A.B.

Anokhin's letter “On shamanism among the Altai tribes”

The paper is dedicated to Andrey Viktorovich Anokhin, a renowned scholar of shamanism of the Turkic peoples of Siberia. The paper precedes publication of A.V. Anokhin's letter to ethnographer Lev Yakovlevich Sternberg discovered in the St. Petersburg Branch of the Archive of RAS. The main subject of the letter is female characters-deities in Altai shamanism, with whom Kam enters into an intimate relationship. Anokhin elaborates on this subject using examples primarily from Teleut shamanism, and only briefly mentions shamanic practices of the Shorians, Kumandins, and other peoples of Southern Siberia. Anokhin's material is supplemented by information from his unpublished “Report on Teleut Shamanism” (1912) and his article “The Soul and Its Properties in the Perception of the Teleuts” (1929). In particular, information is given about female deities residing in the fourth celestial sphere (kat); Enem-Jajuchy — the Mother of the Creator; daughters of Eligeni, dwelling on the fourteenth celestial sphere (kat); and about female ancestors worshipped by the Teleuts. The letter of Anokhin was written during a school expedition led by him in the Teleut village of Cherga in the Altai Mountains. In the letter itself, Anokhin gave details of the female characters inhabiting the third, fourth, seventh, and fourteenth celestial spheres (kat). It is noted that in the beginning of the research work initiated by G.N. Potanin, Anokhin started recording Turkic and Mongolian folklore in Southern Siberia and Mongolia, but the Russian Committee for the Study of Central and Eastern Asia of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, which funded the expedition, was interested in the study of shamanistic cult. For this reason, shamanism of the Turkic peoples of the Altai, including the Teleuts, became the main direction of Anokhin's research. The letter by Anokhin is a fragment of the correspondence between the two scientists, partly already published, that started in connection with publication of Anokhin's main work “Materials on Shamanism of the Altaians” (1924). The letter by Anokhin coincides with the publication of the book and represents the answer to a question of L.Y. Sternberg probably posed during the preparation of this publication.

Keywords: shamanism, female characters, Anokhin, Teleuts, Altai ethnography, epistolary heritage.


Pashkova T.V., Rodionova A.P.

Field journal as a source of information on traditional medicine (based on the materials of the expedition to the Trans-Onega region in 1931)

The interest towards the Trans-Onega region of Karelia emerged among researchers from the second half of the 19th c. at the folklore, linguistic, and ethnographic levels, although the researchers have not yet considered traditional medicine as a cultural layer of the ethnos. The problematics of the research is determined by insufficiently studied traditional and non-traditional cultures of the Trans-Onega people, including ethnomedicine. In order to fill this gap, the data from a field journal reposited in the Scientific Archive of the Karelian Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences are drawn upon. When systematizing the information obtained from the field journal, scientific inquiries into traditional medicine of the Russian and Finno-Ugric peoples were utilized. The proposed research is aimed at the analysis and systematization of the materials of the field journal, which contains information about the traditional medicine of the Russians of the Trans-Onega region in the 1930s collected in the villages of Petry, Longasy, Garnitsy, Migury, Konda, Motalovo, Lelikovo, Koselga, Zinovievo, Sennaya Guba, etc. The research was carried out using the contrastive-comparative method. For this analysis, data were used on the rational and irrational healing practices of one of the groups of the Karelian ethnos, the Ludian Karelians, which is justified by their close contacts with the Russians of the Trans-Onega region. Ludian Kalelians traditionally live in a number of villages and small towns of the south-eastern part of the Republic of Karelia in Olonetsky, Pryazhinky, and Kondopozhsky Districts; hence, the settlement territory of the Ludian Karelians spans approximately 200 km in the eastern part of Olonets Isthmus, from north to south, from the Suna River to the Svir River on its northern tributaries, the Uslanka and Vazhinka Rivers. Based on the research on the traditional medicine of the Russian and Finno-Ugric peoples, we managed to systematize the information obtained from the field journal, distinguishing two groups of healing practices: rational and irrational. According to the journal accounts, in the first half of the 20th c. (1931), among the rational treatment methods of the Trans-Onega people one can identify phytotherapy (plant and herb substances); treatment with substances of animal origin, human excreta, mineral substances, food, precious metals, and combustion products; and physiotherapy, which should be considered as one of the most common methods of traditional medicine, along with phytotherapy. The natural environment (flora and fauna), methods of farming, as well as traditional crafts of the Trans-Onega people reflect in the medicine used. To the irrational methods of treatment one should ascribe the incantation tradition and sorcery. As the result of the conducted research, it was possible to identify similar features in the traditional medicine practices of the Ludian Karelians and Russians of the Trans-Onega region, induced by their long-term residence on the same territory and indicating close contacts between representatives of the two ethnic groups.

Keywords: Trans-Onega region, Russians, field diary, Karelians-Ludiki, rational folk medicine, irrational folk medicine.


Sadikov R.R.

“Field Journals” of ethnologist R.G. Kuzeev: archaeographic and source-study characteristics

The process of rapid development of the ethnological research, taking place currently, necessitated the search for new sources. Among them, of a great value are the records from expeditions of researchers of the past, which bear witness to the ethnographic realities of the respective time. From this point of view, the field notes (notebooks and journals) of Rail Gumerovich Kuzeev (1929–2005) — an outstanding Russian ethnologist, founder of the ethnographic sciences in Bashkortostan, who greatly contributed to the development of the problems of ethnogenesis and ethnic history of the Bashkirs and other Turkic peoples,— have priceless scientific value. The field records from the expeditions of the scientist in 1953–1982 to all major ethnographic and local groups of the Bashkirs are now reposited in the Scientific Archive of the Ufa Federal Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The notes are made in special notebooks issued by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR for documenting materials of expeditions. In addition to the text (narration of observations, description of ethnographic objects and phenomena, transcripts of conversations with informants, etc.), they also contain many graphic representations (drawings, plans, diagrams). The notes and drawings are made in ink and pencil; in the latest documents, with a ballpoint pen. The aim of the work is to identify their archaeographic features and source-study value (ethnographic and historical evidence, methodology of the scholar's fieldwork). The textual analysis of R.G. Kuzeyev's field notes showed that they captured unique information on the history and ethnography of the Bashkir people, concerning ethnogenesis, migration, tribal structure, ancestral symbols, genealogies, social organization, land ownership, arts and crafts, clothing and ornaments, dwelling, economic activities and trades, traditional festivals and ceremonies, and toponyms. From the source-study perspective, they are of obvious interest to the ethnologists, ethnographers, and socio-cultural anthropologists, as well as to the folklorists (they contain texts of many historical and toponymic legends and tales), archaeologists, especially those dealing with the ‘archaeology of the modern period’ (there is information about old Bashkir settlements, summer camps, abandoned cemeteries), local historians and genealogists (information about history of the settlements, generation lists), etc.

Keywords: R.G. Kuzeev, Bashkirs, ethnography, expeditions, field notes, tribal structure, decorativeapplied art, tamgas.