Weather forecasting in the practice of reindeer herders from the Subpolar Urals

Liskevich N.A. (Tyumen, Russian Federation), Kopyltsova I.Yu., Porshunova L.S. (Khanty-Mansiysk, Russian Federation)


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The present article considers a complex of various signs used for predicting significant weather phenomena in the practice of reindeer herders from the Subpolar Urals. The authors obtained empirical data in the course of ethnographic expeditions (2007, 2012 and 2018) by conducting semi-structured interviews with hereditary reindeer herders, managers and specialists from the reindeer herding company of Saranpaul village (Beryozovsky District, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area Yugra). Systematisation along with the thematic classification of the field data revealed that the practical knowledge and skills of reindeer herders include prompt and long-term weather observation, experience in predicting and evaluating changes in hydrometeorological conditions, the ability to determine their impact on the food supply, as well as on the behaviour and health of deer. A complex of various signs helps to predict short-term weather changes or seasonal prospects: incoming of spring / summer / winter, rainy weather and summer temperature, snow depth in winter, bad weather, rain, snow, snowstorm, wind, cold, frost, heat and other meteorological changes. For making a short-term forecast, the following points are taken into account: wind direction in the mountains; presence and location of fog in the mountains; colour of sunset; twinkling of stars; halo around the moon; beauty of Northern Lights; quality of carried sounds (voiced and voiceless); fire draught and smoke movement; cloud form; bird cries; and animal behaviour (deer, dogs, insects). For the most part, these signs are rationally explained by changes in atmospheric pressure and humidity. As a result of long-term weather observations, reindeer herders have noted certain climate mitigation, as well as an increase in the number of anomalous weather phenomena, which are uncharacteristic of their seasons.

Key words: Subpolar Urals, Komi, Mansi, Nenets, reindeer herding, signs of weather.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted: 23.09.2019

Accepted: 30.09.2019

Article is published: 30.12.2019


Liskevich N.A.

Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Malygina st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation



Kopyltsova I.Yu.

Museum of Nature and Man, Mira st., 11, Khanty-Mansiysk, 628011, Russian Federation



Porshunova L.S.

Museum of Nature and Man, Mira st., 11, Khanty-Mansiysk, 628011, Russian Federation