What Qoiqa tells about
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What Qoiqa tells about

January 29, 2021

In the Main chum of Taimyr, a collection of Nganasan culture began to form in the 1970s.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The director of the Taimyr House of Folk Art Lyubov Popova says that its specialists bring objects of material culture, which the indigenous inhabitants of the peninsula once used in everyday life and in ritual ceremonies, as a rule, from scientific research expeditions to remote villages. However, five years ago, the collection of Nganasan rarities of the Main Chum was replenished with a unique collection, as they say, out of the blue.

A resident of the remote village of Volochanka came to Dudinka and gave the Taimyr House of Folk Art a collection of Nganasan artefacts that he had collected all his life in the village. Moreover, the collector asked not to advertise his name.

The gift from Volochanka became the favorite of the ethnographic exhibition Taimyr. The Secret of the Past. It was exhibited at the Norilsk Museum in late 2015 – early 2016. With the blessing of the leading chum’s methodologist Svetlana Kudryakova, who is in charge of the Nganasan culture, one of the items in the collection – a protective idol qoiqa – was left in the Norilsk museum after the exhibition. The guests from Dudinka presented the idol to the famous Norilsk explorer and scientist Vladimir Larin, who by that time had moved from the Taimyr Reserves directorate to work in the museum.

To date, this collection has visited Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and St. Petersburg. In the cultural capital, the Taimyr House of Folk Art organized two expositions with its participation: Reflection of Taimyr – in the Museum of the Arctic and Antarctic – and Taimyr nomad in the Round Hall of the Kunstkamera (Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography named after Peter the Great). At the opening in the first Russian museum – Kunstkamera, it sounded that the exhibition reflects not so much the life of the indigenous Taimyr peoples as the state of their spirit.

The most interesting objects of the gift from Volochanka are associated with the ritual side of the ancient people’s life. For example, the traditional bodyamo – breast decoration – is part of a qoiqa.

The Nganasan women’s bodyamo was a kind of a passport and a strong amulet at the same time. The number and size of the plates reported the age and status of the owner. Usually the set consisted of five to seven pieces, which were hung from the chest part of the garment with the help of leather straps. The ornaments on the plates also carried a lot of information about the woman, but their meaning has not reached our time, and they have long become sacred decorations.

The bodyamo for the idol is adjoined and protected by seemy, which is translated from Nganasan as ash, coal. A leather sack with ash or coals from the chum fireplace was worn around the neck. Such a talisman on the front side necessarily had a shiny object, for example, a button, the so-called sun-eye, attracting the Sun’s rays. The Sun was considered the Mother of all mothers. The Nganasans addressed it with the following words: “Mother Sun, mother of my mother, show yourself, bring us joy, if life is good, then shine, the sun, bright!”

Read about many other unique exhibits of Taimyr museums in the Artefacts section.

Text: Valentina Vachaeva, Photo: Taimyr House of Folk Art

January 29, 2021

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