Taimyr Nenets have little darkness month

Taimyr Nenets have little darkness month

December 15, 2022

Among the Nenets, until recently, the months’ names were closely associated with the most important events in economic activity or with natural phenomena.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The main role in the Nenets people’s life and culture formation – the second largest Taimyr ethnic group after the Dolgans – was played by the reindeer, and all the reindeer breeder’s activities are connected with the preservation and increase of the herd.

We can say that all the deep concepts in the Nenets calendar are directly or indirectly related to reindeer herding and the laws of nature. Experts from the Taimyr Museum of Local Lore tell about the peninsula indigenous peoples’ calendar cycles.

The Nenets have such concepts as the “year” – “to”, the “month” – “iry”. This word also refers to the Moon. Day or light among the Nenets is called “yala”, and night – “pea”.

But the concept of “week” was adopted by the Nenets from the Russians, it was denoted by the combination “si`ivyala” – “seven days”.

The Nenets divide the year into two periods. The first covers winter, the second – summer. The language has such concepts as “winter”, “snow” – “syr”, “spring before the ice drift” – “nara”, “summer” – “ta”, “autumn” – “neryo”.

Time was calculated by the Nenets in 13 lunar months, of which 12 are constant and one is a leap month; it was added every few years to equalize the lunar and solar time calculations. Today, the Nenets names of the months are gradually falling out of use: many Nenets do not know them and use Russian names.

“In November and December, the Nenets in Taimyr continue to have a pevdei ira – a month of little darkness (now it is polar night beyond the Arctic Circle). Earlier, throughout this month, the nomads moved with the reindeer herd along the tundra with small stops”, experts said.

Now the settlements are much closer, so the nomad travelling ends by mid-December. In tribal communities, the reindeer slaughter begins, the sale of skins, meat, deer antlers and hooves.

The Nenets also dedicate the month of little darkness to purchases – they purchase snowmobiles, generators, chainsaws, spare parts, food, clothes, dishes, and so on. It is during this period that snowstorms, strong winds begin, and moving from place to place becomes rare.

Earlier in Norilsk, the Nenets Nomad Dictionary VR application, created with a grant from Nornickel, was presented. We also said that venison is rightfully considered a universal medicine for the Taimyr inhabitants, the Yamal nomads wear the same belts as the Taimyr reindeer herders, and the Nenets legend of the Spring Girl was embodied in designer clothes.

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Text: Anzhelika Stepanova, Photos: Denis Kozhevnikov, Dmitry Bykov and Nikolay Shchipko

December 15, 2022

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