The name “nenets” means “man”, “neney nenets” – “real man” – was introduced into official use in 1930. In the Tale of Bygone Years related to the beginning of the XII century, they are called samoyeds-yuraks. Initially, these were nomadic reindeer herders. The nenets is the second largest Taimyr nation after the dolgans.
Today, many nenets are sedentary. For example, employees of the Taimyr House of Folk Art are the main artist Sergey Kashov and the artist-master Anna Yarotskaya. Sergey is responsible for printing production, Anna sews national costumes. Including those in which our heroes are represented in the photograph.
1. A part of the nenets have preserved the traditional way of life nowadays. They have a large number of reindeer – up to one and a half thousand, roam with them along the tundra. They hunt, fish, sell fish and meat, sew national clothing, which is also in demand among Norilsk residents, because it is warm. In general, in our automated age they live on subsistence farming. This does not exclude the presence of laptops and tablets, which, however, catch the Internet only near settlements. Long-distance communication is carried out with the help of radio station. It is needed to find out the news or to call for medical help.
2. Free-cut winter clothing of the nenets is made of dark and white fur of a young deer with inserts of red cloth between the ornaments, summer clothes are made of fabric mostly. The women’s parka is possible to unfasten, so that it is convenient to feed a baby, the male malitsa is one-piece. A rather long outer clothing easily turns into a short one: it is pulled up with the help of a belt – when a reindeer breeder has to to run after the deer. Ornaments are cut separately and sewn onto the clothes with a loop seam with thread floss. Each ornament means something: a mammoth tusk, a bear trace, a young deer horns, the tent, and even a fox elbow.
3. Previously, when there were no rubber boots, the nenets wore shoes made of dense rovduga – buckskin. Water slipped from it, and the seams did not get wet, as they were treated with wood resin. The sole was made of the five-year-old deer-producer’s neck skin, which is very thick and strong. The sole of winter shoes was sewn from tiny pieces of fur located under a hoof. What is higher was called kamus and used the shoes themselves – bokari. The nenets bokari are long, black and white, with a comfortable wide foot and always bright garters. In the city, the simplified version called untayki has replaced the bokari.
4. In winter, reindeer herders live in transported carriages covered with winter reindeer skins; in summer – in cone-shaped tents covered with thin and strong spring skins – nukes. Nudes smoke – and rain they do not care.
In earlier times fire was made in the middle of the tent but now the stoves in the dwellings are ordinary, welded. The Nenets sleep on featherbeds stuffed with goose down and sheared reindeer hair; deer skins are laid on top. Reindeer herders used to make summer mattresses from long tundra straw, now they buy foam rubber, Anna explains. Not long ago, winter blankets were made of hare, fox and arctic fox skins, now they are often purchased ones. With a large number of herds, the nenets change summer pastures every three days. Such a trip on sledges pulled by reindeer teams is called argish.
5. Dishes of all northern peoples are similar and differ only in names. In the nenets diet there are soups and, of course, deer meat and fish – fried, boiled, dried. The need to survive in the harsh conditions of the Far North taught its inhabitants to eat raw meat and fish, which supply the body with vitamins, especially C and B2. Therefore, the nenets and other northern peoples do not suffer from scurvy.
“If Russians have borsch as the most popular dish, we have stroganina”, says Anna. “We whittle whitefish, broad whitefish. Pelyadka, pike are suitable only for frying or fish soup. Reindeer herders catch fish in small lakes, they know what fish inhabits this or that one”.
Stroganina is prepared simply: they remove the skin from frozen fish and whittle it into straws. Eat with salt and black pepper. Meat is sliced in the same way. Venison is considered the universal medicine of Taimyr residents.
“In summer, we store berries, cook them with sugar”, Anna adds. “We prepare herbs and then use, for example, rosemary broth to treat colds and disinfect wounds. Yagel moss is good for digestion – the one that the reindeer eats is round, “rubber”, and also used for decoctions”.
6. The nenets language was originally unwritten. The first primers appeared only in the XX century. It belongs to the samoyed group of the uralic family of languages.
“We have a lot of similarities in culture with the enets and nganasans, and the languages are similar”, says Anna. “The nenets arrived from Yamal, from the Urals. They conquered lands from other nationalities. The sun in nenets is “haer”, the deer is “ty”, the woman is “ne”.
Come and you will see the northern “ty”.
Text: Tatyana Rychkova, Photo: Slava Shoot, Maxim Shapovalov, Nikolay Schipko