Vinogradov I.À.


This paper provides an ethnographic description of traditional ceremonies, during which the Poqomchi’ people (Mayan language family, Guatemala) make offerings to supernatural spirits and natural forces. Poqomchi’ rituals have not received sufficient research attention yet; this accounts for the relevance of the topic. These ceremonies are analysed against a general background of Mayan ritual practices. Special attention is paid to the process of altar preparation and to the peculiarities of the ritual language within which Poqomchi’ spiritual guides make requests to their divine authorities. The study considers burning rituals during which the Poqomchi’ ritual specialists collect the offerings and place them on the altar in a specific way. Then they light it with fire so that the flames transfer the offerings to the world of supernatural spirits and forces. While the fire is burning, ritual specialists invoke the deities, inviting them to the ceremonial place and bringing to their notice the petitions of the humans. A special discursive genre, different from an everyday language, is used for this ritual communication between the two worlds. The paper also describes some basic notions and concepts of Mayan spirituality, such as the 260-day ritual calendar, nahual, copal resin, daykeeper (or shaman), colour symbolism and interpretation of colours in terms of the four cardinal directions, among others. The most of them are shared with other ethnic and language communities in the Guatemalan Highlands. It is shown that some of the properties of the Poqomchi’ ritual language, such as the abundant use of semantic and syntactic parallelism (couplets) and different kinds of borrowings from Spanish as manifestation of religious syncretism, have been observed in other Mayan languages and in the Mesoamerican area in general. Other linguistic properties, such as the use of future or potential verb forms in the optative sense, seem to be more language-specific. The article is based on the fieldwork data obtained by the author in 2017 (with the financial support from the Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research). The working corpus comprises three offering ceremonies, recorded in different places of the Poqomchi’-speaking area (Santa Cruz Verapaz, Tactic and Pajuil) and with different spiritual guides performing.

Key words: Poqomchi’, Maya, ritual language, offering ceremonies, Guatemala.


Baulo A.V.


The article describes an attribute of a Selkup shaman a trimmed garment, which is kept in a private collection in Salekhard (the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug). The shamanic garment was purchased from the relatives of I.S. Bezrukikh, a famous shaman, who had lived in the village of Farkovo, Turukhansk district, Krasnoyarsk Territory. The trimming on the garment is made of fabric pieces, bead strings and some iron figures tied with laces. The total length of the trimming is 80 cm. Three bird beaks (possibly of wild ducks) and seven pieces of skin are sewn on a red ribbon. Figures of two animals a mammoth with a long tusk and a moose with an elongated muzzle are sewn on a white ribbon. The mammoth tusk and the moose mouth are connected. The trimming is made of things produced at different times and combined in one unit presumably in the 1970s. The iron figures and a copper ring are the earliest items, which can be dated the second half or the end of the 19th century. The animal figures (a mammoth and a moose) sewn on a ribbon must have been produced in the 1950s or 1960s. The article describes main Selkup beliefs related to mammoths using data from publications by E.D. Prokofieva and G.I. Pelikh, as well as from unpublished materials reporting the 1970 and 1979 expeditions to the Selkups. According to E.D. Prokofieva, a mammoth was believed to protect the entrance to the underground world, to the «land of the dead». Sometimes the image of an underground mammoth would merge with that of a bear (a mammoth-bear), or even with a pike (a mammoth-pike). The Narym Selkups distinguished two kinds of mammoths: sourp-kozar (a beast mammoth) and kvoli-kozar (a fish mammoth). The former looked like a moose, who would turn into a mammoth as soon as it got old, with tusks starting to grow instead of its horns in the process of transformation. The latter resembled a huge pike. As far as the two images sewn on a ribbon are concerned, they are supposed to depict either the transformation of a moose into a mammoth after its death, or a kind of confrontation between a moose and a mammoth. Iron figures that are present on most of the known Selkup shamanic costumes most likely belong to the category of myrak, a spirit enclosed in an iron object. It is known that an iron figure of a swan used to be sacrificed to the spirit when a family member was ill or when some other misfortunes had occurred, with the purpose of conciliating the spirit. Unfortunately, we lack information about the role played by the images of a mammoth, a moose, birds and other animals in the beliefs of I.S. Bezrukikh. In any case, the investigated artefact is a unique cult attribute of a Selkup shaman, which demonstrates an extremely rare plot of including an underground creature the mammoth into the religious ritual practices of a small northern people.

Key words: shaman, mammoth, moose, religion, cult, peoples of North-West Siberia.


Khasanova Z.F.


This paper is aimed at investigating the area of distribution, production and use of kitchen utensils used by the Bashkirs, in particular by those peoples having resided or residing around the Inzersky basin (situated in the present territory of the Beloretsky district, the Republic of Bashkortostan), from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 21st centuries. The sources for the study comprised archival and fieldwork materials collected by the author. A series of expeditions were conducted in 20102011 and 20162017 across the settlements of Gabdiukovo, Zuyakovo, Assi, Novokhasanovo, Usmangali, Inzer, Azikeevo, Aznalkino, Khusainovo, Sermenovo, Utkalevo, Uzyannbash, Shigaevo (Beloretsky district of the Republic of Bashkortostan). The author studied collections assembled by the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography of the R.G. Kuzeev Institute for Ethnological Studies (the Subdivision of the Ufa Federal Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences) and by various school and local history museums in the region. In addition, the archival materials of the National Museum of the Republic of Bashkortostan (Ufa) were examined. In the Bashkir population, who led a nomadic and semi-nomadic lifestyle for a long time, household utensils were largely made of leather and wood. With the transition to a settled way of life, leather dishes lost their popularity among the Bashkirs. At the end of the 19th century, the population began to widely use wooden utensils, which would be manufactured not only for their own needs, but also for sale in other Bashkortostan regions. Kitchen utensils used to be made from various tree parts trunks, limbs, branches, birchbark, bast fibre, roots, etc. Virtually all tree species growing in the region were used as a working material. Due to the peculiarities of the production method, three types of wooden dishes that were in use among the Bashkirs having resided around the Inzersky Basin can be distinguished: carved from a whole tree piece, with an inserted bottom and riveted. Vessels differed in shape, size and purpose. Huge one-piece tubs were used for storing flour and grain, while smaller bowls were considered suitable for melted fat, corned beef and other supplies. In tall and narrow vessels, oil, honey, sour cream and loose products were transported. Vats and tubs were used for kneading dough, shaking kumis, storing milk, beating butter and preparing yogurt. Wood was also a material for making trays for flour, troughs for cutting meat, buckets for biscuits, rolling pins, spatulas for dough and bread, buckets for water and other items necessary for cooking. Birchbark utensils were used for harvesting berries, as well as for storing salt, flour and cereals. As a result of technical progress and the development of trade and economic relations, the items of traditional domestic production started to lose their significance. However, such their qualities as durability, accessibility, environmental friendliness and cost-effectiveness have contributed to their long-term preservation in the everyday life of Bashkir people. Even today, the Bashkirs living in the Beloretsky region remember and use many methods of wood processing, including making wooden utensils. Unfortunately, this mainly refers to the older generation: the young know little about traditional wooden utensils and rarely use them in everyday life.

Key words: Bashkirs, Inzer Basin, Beloretsky District of the Republic of Bashkortostan, wooden utensils, kitchen utensils.


Tadina N.A.


This article is written on the basis of fieldwork materials collected by the ethnographic methods of observation and conversation with informants from the southern Altai-Telengits and Altai-kizhi population groups. The aim of the research was to reveal a connection between the new tradition of installing generic «stones» typical for the Altai-kizhi, continued in the practice of hoisting stelae in honour of the tribal leaders of the past in the Telengits, and embodied in the creation of monuments and bas-reliefs dedicated to the memory of the Altai Republic founders. This relationship is shown to be determined by the multi-level identification of the Altai characterized by tribal, territorial and ethnic specifics. Under the conditions, when Altai people have to co-exist with Russians who currently represent the population majority, the installation of tribal «stones» and memorable stelae seems to be important for maintaining the Altai cultural continuity. The revival of old traditions and the creation of new ones is initiated by the older generation as memory bearers of the past. Among them are zaisans elected from family men and the Zaisanat Council, whose function is to deal with the village and regional administration, as well as with regional authorities on various issues, such as the protection of the Altai sacred places. The territorial identification is carried out by marking the area (frequently the roundabouts of sacred mountains), where the majority of the seok reside and where the family meetings take place. Using the examples of monuments that have been erected to the memory of G.I. Gurkin and V.I. Chaptynov in Gorno-Altaisk, this article investigates the transformation of the role of the leader among the Altai. These people are famous for realizing the idea of creating the Altai Republic. These monuments reflect the ethnic level of the Altai identification, because they are meant to recognize the contribution of Altai people into the ethno-political development of the Region from the autonomous Oirot region to the Altai Republic.

Key words: Altaians, republic, syok-tribe, zaisanat, ancestral stone signs, patrimonial consciousness, image, levels of identification.


Ershov M.F.


The problem of adaptation of societies to global changes is known to be one of the most challenging for research in humanities. Processes involved with the breakdown of traditional society and transition to market relations are affecting all ethnic groups, with those in the periphery suffering the most. The purpose of the article is to analyse the form of socio-cultural change in the Ob Ugrian culture that occurred during the last period of Imperial Russia. The work is based on materials collected in the Yugra region, historical psychology methods and intercultural communication theories. It is shown that the inhabitants of the Northern part of the Tobolsk Governorate chose different scenarios when the previous stability had been undermined. Initially, the associated mental discomfort urged some representatives of the indigenous population to demonstrate antisocial behaviour. However, at later adaptation stages, the people’s self-esteem and desire to defend own interests and rights was gradually restored. The behaviour of the indigenous population was realized through a spontaneous generation of protective adaptive mechanisms under the continuously growing external influence. These mechanisms were manifested in the denial or, conversely, in the uncritical perception of alien values, in the partial assimilation of economic skills and the attributes of a new life, in the assimilation of literacy and language, in mixed marriages, in the development of rental relations, in the transition to entrepreneurship, in the property differentiation. The described contradictory processes of socio-cultural change and acculturation (separation, marginalization, assimilation, integration) were spreading across the entire Yugra region: from the South-West to the North-East, from towns to taiga wilderness. They affected both sovereign men and dependent women, short-term contacts and permanent interethnic interaction. By the turn of the 19th–20th centuries, the dominant acculturation version of the Ob Ugrians had been their integration with Russian culture. However, the final assimilation has not been achieved so far, as well as a complete emancipation of the indigenous societies from Russian merchants, native entrepreneurs and other intermediaries with the outside world.

Key words: adaptation, acculturation, assimilation, changes, integration, marginalization, Ob Ugrians, entrepreneurship, market, separation.


Adaev V.N.


The paper presents an overview of the new elements that have come into the life of the Tundra Nenets of Northwest Siberia in recent decades, and their prospective impact on the traditional reindeer husbandry. The emphasis is on those innovations or their aspects that have not yet been reflected in modern studies. These are, in particular, such points as reindeer herding, dwelling, transport, means of communication, toys and entertainment. The culture of the Nenets nomads is characterized by a special dynamism and an active driving approach they not only easily adopt technological innovations coming from the outside world, but are also constantly ready to search and try things out to improve the quality of their living. In recent years, this process has become particularly fast and intensified. It is concluded that the presence, spreading and functioning of these innovations in the life of the Tundra Nenets often becomes an effective catalyst for large and accelerated changes, the consequences of which can become destructive for the Tundra Nenets reindeer husbandry as a traditional economic and cultural base. The topic under consideration is part of a larger issue of adapting the Tundra Nenets to the modern circumstances of active industrial development in the YNAO. There are several alarming symptoms that are caused by these modern innovations. The first symptom is a rapid reduction of the sacred sphere in the objective world of the Tundra Nenets. The second one is the increasing disruption of internal social ties, manifested in the cutback of direct personal contacts between people and in the deterioration in the quality of the traditional knowledge transfer to younger generations. The third is the trend of a cardinal change in the traditional mode of reindeer pasture management, where one plausible option for development now is the cessation of the practice of year-round nomadic movements led by family groups. And the fourth is the increasing economic and psychological dependence of the indigenous population on external resources and services.

Key words: Siberian ethnography, nomads, technological innovation, cultural sustainability, indigenous knowledge.


Volzhanina E.A.


This article analyses data collected by the 1959 All-Union Census and the 2002 and 2010 All-Russian Censuses on the education and employment levels of the Nenets having lived and living in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, the Northern part of Western Siberia. We use statistical analysis methods, such as statistical observation, the summary and grouping of materials, the calculation of absolute and relative values in order to characterize the level of respondents’ education, as well as differences between the age groups of men and women. The gender approach is also used to analyse the structure of employment. We draw attention to diffe-rences in education and employment levels among the Nenets residing in urban and rural areas. An analysis of the census data has allowed us not only to confirm and clarify some of the sociological survey conclusions, but also to obtain new results. Due to the efforts of the state, illiteracy among the Nenets was almost completely eliminated in 50 years. Such a coercive approach has led to a gap in the educational levels between urban and rural groups, thus resulting in a peculiar division of labour between them. It is shown that city dwellers can find jobs in the spheres of education, public health, public administration, etc.; however, the rural economic branches, such as reindeer husbandry, fishing and hunting, are still the only sources of work for rural dwellers. According to the mass statistics data on urban Nenets, there is no significant difference between the educational levels of pa-rents and children. It is highly alarming that middle-aged people and older generations among the Nenets seem to be more educated than the youth. Another worrying trend is the growing gender gap in the education between men and women. It might be predicted that such trends would result in an increase in the number of interethnic marriages, migration of Nenets women to urban areas and a subsequent decrease in the number of female Nenets in the tundra areas. In general, our results indicate a significant change in educational levels among the Nenets, which occurred in the second half of the 20th century. This population is shown to possess a substantial educational potential, which could potentially be realized in various economic sectors. Nonetheless, the data on the distribution of the main sources of subsistence for the Nenets shows that this potential remains largely unfulfilled. The Nenets cannot compete successfully with Russians in the labour market. A possible solution to this problem is reliance on the resources of their traditional households, where the Nenets have no competitors.

Key words: the Nenets, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, All-Russia censuses, All-USSR censuses, educational level, population distribution by sex, age and educational level, economic activity, population employment, sources of livelihood.


Agapov M.G.


The paper analyses the collective cultural representations (identities) of local communities, as well as the methods of framing and narrative coding of the social world in Northern rural communities. The research is based on the author's fieldwork conducted in the Yamalsky District of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in JulyAugust, 2017 and April, 2018. The basic theoretical approach employed is an ethnographic version of the Theory of Local Texts. A model of the sign-textual environment of the Northern rural community (sender form of speech addressee) is proposed, which specifies communication levels and respective identity formulas. This model has allowed the manifestations of official and lower identity politics to be determined. With regard to the dynamic aspect, the sign-textual environment of a Northern rural community presents itself as a constantly unfolding polylogue between «producers» of meanings who have different, varying in power, interests and positions. Each position correlates with a certain form of expression (official billboard, artistic street art, graffiti) and narrative strategy. Visualization of local identity formulas, the professional brand of a community and the formation and development of a presentation «clip» (graphic promotional merchandise) characteristic of Northern communities enriches their cultural landscapes and opens new channels for self-identification and self-expression to its members. In the second part of the research, the paper presents a case study, which is aimed at analysing an actual case of producing a local text in a typical Northern community «under the patronage», the Novy Port settlement. The paper reveals interaction mechanisms between the main subjects of local text production: «Chief» companies, Administrations, painters and local citizens. At the end of the paper, it is concluded that the collective cultural representation of a place results from a situational compromise between «producers of meanings». In other words, the identity of a Northern community is not merely something given that demands expression, but rather a «negotiated» construction recorded here and now. In a wider time perspective, it is only one of possible methods for the framing and narrative coding of social experience and social world by individuals connected to this place.

Key words: local text, identity, Yamal, northern community, street art, graffiti.