Photo essay on the lifestyle of nomadic reindeer herders in Yamal
In the modern world, the lifestyle of nomadic reindeer herders of Yamal seems incredible. Some of them cover a distance of more than a thousand kilometers annualy in search of pasture for the herd. This lifestyle is not a necessity due to isolation from the progress. Today, reindeer herders ride snowmobiles, use phones and use electricity in the mya (a transportable home covered by reindeer skin with design simular to teepee) to watch TV in the evening. Indigenous people of Yamal have access to the best universities in the country without exams and free apartments in the villages. The oil companies due the best to change their traditional way of life.
But this lifestyle is a choice. The life of a reindeer herder is considered the most honorable among the indigenous people of the north. This is due to the desire to preserve the national identity and lifestyle that the indigenous people of the North lived for thousand years before.
Yamal cannot be called an easy place to live. Long and severe winters with extreme frosts and frequent snowstorms, permafrost land - it was impossible to settle and cultivate in such conditions. The formula for survival here was the symbiosis of man and reindeer. Reindeer was the source of life. This is transport. Herders ride it all year round. This is meat. This is clothes. This is the home even.
Mikhail is one of the Nenets reindeer herders. You can see Tynzian in his hands. It is the Nenets lasso for catching deer. The classical tynzian is made of reindeer skin and reaches about 30 meters in length. An experienced reindeer herder is able to catch any selected reindeer from his herd with it.
Animistic beliefs are common among the reindeer people. Every tree, river, animal - all have their own spirit. Deer is no exception. Therefore, a deer is slaughtered following a certain ritual. First, the herder asks permission from the deer, then he kill hin with three sharp strokes so that the animal does not suffer. Absolutely every piece of the reindeer is used, including veins and hooves. Then, according to tradition, the skull and horns are left in sacred places or hung on top of a tree in the middle of the tundra. Buried this way, the spirit of the deer will be calm.
Sledges are the main way of transportation in the tundra. They are driven and transports everything including home. It is called narta. It is completely made by hand and without a single nail, the wood is bent by scalding with hot water.
Khanty and Nenets are characterized by the division of the world into male and female origins. It is the same with sledges, there are women's "narta" as well, it differs from men's one by the having place for children.
The main dwelling of reindeer people - the mya. It is built from 30-50 poles. From above it is covered with two layers of deer skins, up to 60 deer go on a mya's tire. The inner layer of the skins is laid with fur inside, and the upper one - outside. For the Nenets, the mya is the foundation of the world around and lifestyle of the whole family. For which the woman is responsible. All life inside the mya is her responsibility, including the putting up the home. With constand mowing women do it up to 30-40 times a year.