In the ethnographic collection of the Taimyr Museum of Local Lore, Dolgan jewelry made of metal is well represented. The most unique exhibits in the collection are hryvnias made of 500 silver. The museum acquired these items in the 80s of the XX century. The collection also includes hook-type earrings – ytyrga – with pendants, as well as belts – koor – with overlaid metal and silver plates.
Neck ornaments are openwork wide chains with pendants and crosses – urek byata. They are typical large pectoral crosses on wide flat decorative chains. Dolgan women wore them with paired bracelets on especially solemn occasions. Only women from wealthy families could afford silver.
Dolgans’ jewelry fulfilled not only an aesthetic and utilitarian purpose, but also a sacred one, playing the role of amulets. For example, according to the old belief of the northern people, earrings protected from evil spirits. It was believed that if a woman’s ears were not pierced, an evil spirit could use them as spoons after her death.
Dolgan traditional jewelry clearly characterizes their ethnic connection with the Yakuts. These two indigenous northern peoples have long maintained cultural ties, and the Dolgan jewelry is mostly Yakut work.
Read about other unique items from local museums in our Artefacts section.
Text: Tatiana Ermolaeva, Photo: Taimyr Museum of Local Lore and open sources