Dolgans

DOLGANS, ethnic group in Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Aut. Area of Krasnoyarsk Terr. Live mainly in Dudunka and Khatanga distrs. Acc. to the 2002 census, there are 7,300 p. Self-designation—haka; local self-designations dulgaan, tya kihite, tyalar are also used. The Dolgan lang. belongs to the Turkic group of Altai lang. and is often taken for a dialect of the Yakut lang. Presumably, the Dolgan lang. formed on the basis of the Yakut lang. spoken during the first wave of resettlement on the terr. of present-day Yakutia (17th cent.). The absence in the Dolgan lang. of certain Mongolian words borrowed by the Yakut lang. later testify to this. There are diff. dialects of the Dolgan lang.: W, E, and Popigai-Anabar. In 1970, the Dolgan lang. was spoken by 89.8% of the native pop., in 1979 by 90.6%, and in 1989 by 84.1%. Dolgan writing based on the Rus. alphabet was officially adopted in the late 1970s. The first book in Dolgan was published in 1973, and the first ABC book—in 1981. Teaching manuals of the Dolgan lang. are currently being compiled.Textbooks, programs, dictionaries, and oth. educ. publications were prepared by Ye.Ye. Aksenova, A.A. Barbolina, V.N. Parfiryev, M.I. Popova, N.P. Beltyukova, N.M. Artemyev, A.A. Petrov, etc. The local newsp. “Taimyr” presents articles in Dolgan, the area broadcasting center conducts programs in Dolgan.

As an ethnic group, the Dolgans formed relatively recently, in the 17-18th cent., from the mixing and merging of groups of oth. peoples—the Evenks (Tunguses), Yakuts, Turks, Enetses (Samodians), and Russians (the so-called “beyond-tundra peasants”), as well as borrowing certain elements of culture from neighbors—the Evens and N’ganasans. Acc. to Rus. sources, in the 17th cent. the following clans, which formed the foundation of D., are known:

Dolgan (lower Vilyui and Muna rr.), Edzhens (lower Olenek R.), Dongot (upper Olenek R.); probably, the ancestors of the Karyntuo clan lived on this r. D. were known in the Anadyr and Gizhiga areas, in Kamchatka, on the coast of the S. of Okhotsk; Edzhens (Edyans)—in the basin of the Aldan R., in the area of Ayan on the coast of the S. of Okhotsk. In the late 17th cent., the first Yakut resettlers appeared in the basins of the Khatanga and Kheta rr., later they formed Nizhne-Zatundrenskaya (“Lower Beyond-tundra”) Yakut Volost here. Even prior to this, starting in the 1st half of the 17th cent., Rus. manufacturers began settling along the rr. Pyasina, Dudypta, Boganida, Kheta, and Khatanga, thus laying the foundation of the old Rus. settlers pop. here. In the 17-18th cent., Evenk clans, who later formed the nucleus of D., had contacts with Yakut resettlers, and, after adopting their lang., migrated together on common terr.

During the 18th cent., the ancestors of contemp. D. moved to the NW: the clan of Dolgans—to the Popigai and Khatanga rr., clans of Dongot and Edzhen—to the area of Norilsk lake, Karyntuo—to the Boganida R. basin. D. who remained on the Lena R. joined the local Yakut naslegs (terr. units) as separate clans. The assimilation of diff. groups of pop. was very active on Taimyr in the 19th cent. The Yakut lang. began to dominate and was mastered by the Tungus clans and most of the beyond-tundra peasants. Cross-ethnic marriages increasingly erased the diff. among them. On the eve of Oct. Rev., D. formed several clans headed by clan elders: Dolgan-Yenisei (Dolgan proper), Zhigansk-Tungus (Edzhen), Dolgan-Tungus (Dolgot) and Boganida-Tungus (Karyntuo).

The first academic data on D. can be found in the works of Sib. researchers of the 19th cent. M.A. Kastren and A.F. Middendorf. Later, studies of D. were undertaken by B.O. Dolgikh, A.A. Popov, G.N. Gracheva, P.Ye. Yefremov, V.A. Tugolukov, V.I. Vasilyev, etc.

D.’s economy and culture reflect their complex origin. D.’s trad. occupations are reindeer herding and hunting, in some areas—fishing. D. led nomadic way of life, not leaving the premises of forest-tundra. Families of Norilsk and Popigai D. lived separately from each oth. in the winter time, in oth. gr.—5-6 households together. Some families lived in perm. huts. With the coming of spring, several D. families formed nomadic groups who owned their own herding terr. Reindeer were protected twenty-four hours a day, each household sending guards in turn. In the fall, the gr. broke up, each fam. separately prepared polar fox traps and hunted wild reindeer.

D.’s reindeer husbandry combined trad. of Tungus riding reindeer herding with methods borrowed from the Samodians. Deer were used for riding and as beasts of burden in summer and as draught animals in winter (with sleds). The types of sleds are basically similar to those of the Nenetses and N’ganasans, but there are also sleds of the Yakut type, with low vertical poles. The way of harnessing is diff. from the Nenets: the front deer is harnessed and controlled by reins from the right side, whereas the Nenetses, Enetses and N’ganasans harness from the left. The milking of reindeer characteristic of the Evenks is preserved. The reindeer herding dog is used the same way as in the Nenetses and N’ganasans. Saddles and the method of mounted riding is of the Tungus type.

D. hunted polar fox, N reindeer and wildfowl—geese, ducks, ptarmigan. Acc. to legends, D. hunted wild reindeer with slings, missile arrows and bow; the cross-bow is still used today. Nowadays, firearms borrowed from the Russians are widely used. D. used poisoned bullets, extracting poison from the rank fat of wild reindeer. The collective slaughter of reindeer in the fall, at river crossings, was of great importance. In the summer and fall, reindeer were tracked down with the help of hunting dogs. In the fall, during the reindeer chase season, a spec. trained reindeer, manshik, (from the Rus. ‘to lure’, ‘to decoy’) was used. In the winter, D. hunted reindeer by chasing: they harnessed four deer onto light sleds and chased the spotted herd for hours. In winter, while sneaking up to a wild reindeer herd, hunters hid behind a screen on sled runners. D. moved on broad skis of the Tungus type. To hunt waterfowl, D. used nets, snares, and traps. During the ptarmigan hunt, a live hen was tied as bait. While hunting polar fox, a spec. trap called past’ was used: a polar fox, grabbing the bait, pulled out the stick to which it was attached, causing the weight log to fall. Polar fox hunting was primarily important for trade. For ice fishing, D. used a spec. installed net—push’al’ni (from the Rus. ‘to let’) made of threads or horsehair brought from Yakutia. While catching fish using this method in mount. rr., riding reindeer were used as draught animals. Hooks for pike, grayling, and E Sib. char were made by handicraft methods from nails. Small-size boats were bought from the Russians and Yakuts.

D.’s diet consisted mainly of meat and fish (boiled and dried). Frozen and thawed fish was eaten fresh. Roots and berries were also used for food. Women baked Dolgan flat cakes and pancakes. Conical tents of the Tungus type covered with rovduga (in summer) and reindeer skins (in winter) is the trad. Dolgan nomadic dwelling. In the olden days, D. also put up golomo and balagans of the Yakut type, but with no windows or plank beds (with the arrival of the Russians, this type was replaced with houses on runners and frames). Balok or sled choom, had windows with glass, an iron furnace, plank beds, a table, sometimes chairs, was very convenient during roaming, and is preserved in Dolgan everyday life today. Storage houses and barns on high posts are the most popular household structures.

D.’s outer clothing was sewn of purchased fabrics. Men wore Rus. style shirts and trousers, women wore dresses with closed aprons. Girdles ornamented with beadwork were worn on top. There was no underwear. All yr. round men and women wore linen caftans called sontap, during the winter, they also wore polar fox or hair fur coats, throw-open coats of reindeer fur (parka) with hoods, and sokui. Dolgan male caftans and ancient male and female aprons are similar to Evenk parki and breast strips. A slightly longer back hem is the charact. feature of D. clothes. Bergese fur caps were made like hoods with broadcloth or fox kamus on the outer side, embroidered with beads and color strips of fabric. Winter footwear made of reindeer kamuses (similar to Evenk unts or unty, high fur boots) is of two kinds: short, knee-high, and above the knees; embroidered with beads. Summer footwear was sewn of rovduga. Festive clothes and footwear was richly decorated with beadwork, applique from color strips of fabric, and embroidered with reindeer hair on top of the rovduga, dyed red with alder water or ochre, and black—with graphite. In the past, straps and belts of reindeer harness were embroidered with sinew threads. Mammoth bone carving was a male craft. Carved cheek plates for reindeer semi-bridles are also typical. Tin incrustation of knife handles may also be seen. D. mainly used geometrical decorative patterns.

By the time the Russians came, D. had divided into clans. Kinship was conducted patrilineally using Yakut terminology. D.’s clan organization disintegrated by the 19th cent. Coll. forms of hunting for wild reindeer and wildfowl, as well as fishing, etc. are still preserved. The catch was to be divided among everyone, pelts for trade belonged to the hunter. The owners of large herds employed their poorer relatives as workers. In the 2nd half of the 19th cent., intermediaries of Rus. and Yakut merchants, who exploited their kinfolk, appeared among the D. D. preserved their animistic views. Deities and spirits, the same way as the Yakuts, were divided into three categ.: ichchi—invisible creatures who could inhabit any object; aiyy—spirits benevolent to p.; abaasy—spirits not benevolent to p., inhabiting the underground world. Shamans—oiun—had costumes and tambourines of the Evenk type.

The rituals of a shaman (man or woman) included singing, onomatopoeic sounds, recitations, exclamations, beating the tambourine, and sounds of pendant rattles. In the same way as the neighboring Samodian p., D. shamans differed by the degree of their magical skills: yryakhyt—“singer-healers,” without a costume with rattles or tambourine; muolin oiun—“shaman, addressing the spirits of the netherworld for help,” uostugan oiun—“shaman wielding bits,” i.e. having the set of ritual accessories. In the same way as the Evenks and Yakuts, Dolgan shamans could be divided into: ylgyn—“small, weak,” orto—“medium,” and atyyr—“great, chosen by the spirits.” D. worshiped fam. and hunting patrons—saitaan, which could be diff. objects (stones of unusual shape, reindeer antlers, etc.), into which the spirit ichchi was placed by a shaman. Wooden cult sculpture also existed. The dead were buried in the ground. E D. constructed a wooden frame over the grave and decorated it with intricate patterns. A reindeer was killed at the grave. The clothes and personal belongings of the dead were left on the ground near the grave or hung on a tree. W (Norilsk) D. did not construct a frame over the grave, but felled a tree over the grave mound.

Ref.: Popov, A.A. “Reindeer Husbandry of Dolgans.” Sovetskaya Etnografia. 1935, #4-5; Popov, A.A. “Technics of
Dolgans.” Sovetskaya Etnografia. 1937. #1; Popov, A.A. “Hunting and Fishing of Dolgans.” In Commemoration of V.G.
Bogoraz. M., Leningr., 1937; Popov, A.A. “Fam. Life of Dolgans.” Sovetskaya Etnografia. 1946. #4; Popov, A.A.
“Dolgans.” Peoples of Siberia. M., Leningr., 1956; Dolgikh, B.O. “Origin of Dolgans.” Siberian Ethnogr. Coll. Vol. 5. M.,
1978; Aksenova, O. Baraksan. Krasnoyarsk, 1973; Gracheva, G.N. “Multinational Taimyr Settlement Ust-Avam.”
Sovetskaya Etnografia. 1978. #1; Gracheva, G.N. “Trip to Western Dolgans.” Field Research of Ethnogr. Museum.
1979. M., 1983; Gracheva, G.N. “Exped. to Eastern Dolgans.” Field Research of Ethnogr. Museum. 1980-81. M., 1984;
Ubryatova, Ye.I. Lang. of Norilsk Dolgans. Novosibirsk, 1985.

Dolgan folklore combines original features with elements belonging to peoples who the D. were comprised by: Yakut olonkho, Evenk legends, Rus. fairytales, etc. Original folklore genres reflect the actual nature of the N, nomadic life. Borrowed plots describe a sedentary life, a diff. environment and soc. relations not typical of the N. The D. themselves distinguish the three following types of folklore: riddles taaburuunnar, songs yryalar, olonkho combining several genres: fairytales, legends, stories of real events (sometimes they are called bylyrgy, ostor), and olonkho proper, or yryalaak olonkho (olonkho with singing).

Performers of olonkho were considered to be the chosen ones of the good spirits and enjoyed special reverence. D. olonkho is close to olonkho of the N and Yenisei Yakuts in plot, compos. Arrangement, and means of expression. The olonkho hero protects p. and inhab. of the middle world from bogatyrs abaasy who live in the nether world. The first recording of D. olonkho was made in 1902 by P.E. Ostrovskikh, later—by A.A. Popov, B.O. Dolgikh, M.S. Strulev, P.E. Yefremov. Sev. texts have been published, oths. (a limited number) are manuscripts.

Fairytales are the most widespread genre, preserved until today. Types of fairytales are trad.: about animals, magic, everyday life. Heroes of animal fairytales—a bear, wolf, fox, hare, polar owl, diff. fish—are endowed with distinctly human features, such as character and speech. This gr. of fairytales features etiologic plot lines. D. magic fairytales absorbed borrowed plots and motifs, esp. from Rus. fairytales. Everyday life fairytales are similar to stories about real events. There are no miraculous transformations or magic powers here; wit, resourcefulness, fortitude are the dominating features of the protagonist. Often fairytales of diff. types contaminate the plots.

Legends and stories about real events reflect ancient kin relations. Intertribal and interfamilial clashes (among brothers) is their major theme. Songs were divided into short lyrical songs, love songs, and long songs improvised by “p. of the song” yryapyt kiheler (today these songs are preserved only by the older generation). Riddles are popular among children and adults. Proverbs and sayings are largely borrowed from the Yakuts. Oral folklore is an integral part of poetess O.E. Aksenova’s works.

Ref.: “Dolgan Fairytales.” Fairytales of Peoples of the North. M.; Leningr., 1959; Demianenko, Z.P. “Dolgan Texts.” Fairytales of Peoples of Siberian North. Tomsk, 1980; Yefremov, P.E. Taimyr Stories. Krasnoyarsk, 1982; Yefremov, P.E. “Olonkho Texts.” Dolgan Olonkho. Yakutsk, 1984; Yefremov, P.E. “Dolgan Folklore.” Myths and Legends of the North. M., 1985; Artemyev, N.M. “Text of Legends.” Anthology of Folklore of the Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East. Krasnoyarsk, 1989; Artemyev, N.M. “Dolgan Folklore.” Folklore and Ethnogr. of Peoples of the North. St. Pet., 1992.
Dolgan Music. In genre and style D. music is a local variant of the culture of N Yakuts, and has kin relations with the music of the Evenks, Evens, N’ganasans, Enetses, Nenetses, and Rus. old settlers of N Sib.

Five spheres can be identified in the genre system of D.music: epic music, songs, ritual music, phono-signal, and instrumental. Epic music is represented by the individual song features of the characters in olonkho tales. Songs appear at the most important (ritual) moments of the characters’ behavior, this is an epic form which registers forms of behavior in the trad. D. environment. Tunes not only reflect the ritual character of the plot sections in which they appear, but also serve as melodic description of the characters—the protagonist, messenger-herald, horse, protagonist’s bride, bogatyrs of the nether world, etc. Several tunes can be distinguished within the frame of a single tonal system, “leitmotifs” related to a gr. of characters untied on the basis of kin membership and function in the subject context. Substantial distinctions in the characters’ melodic presentation is the pitch of singing, the rhythmic formulaic properties, and the nature of the ornamental-timbre sound production.

D. songs are related to personal singing traditions, both among the Tungus and Samodian peoples. The D. song system features a wide range of tuoisuu yryata songs—mutual addresses of boys and girls, which play a major role in forming fam. and marriage relations in the trad. ethnic environm.

Song-reflections about bygone life, p., surroundings, etc. are widely performed by elderly p. The trad. of personal songs determines the rich and diverse melodic range of D. music. Lullabies are preserved in the form of beeideehin, or cradle tunes.
Ritual genres are divided into all-tribal and shamanic. Circular song-dances heiro, ohuokai belong to the first gr. Heiro is usually started by men, who slowly rock and sing in a drawling manner, which gradually swells with increasing dynamism. Ohuokai is an all-tribal dancing and singing action with an introduction and choir repetition (diff. from the analogous Yakut genre by its slower movement).

D. sound instruments reflect features of ec. life, ritual trad., and specificity of musical and artistic thinking. Household and ceremonial instruments are multiple: kaangalda—pendant bell (made from a wooden plate or tin can) on reindeer antlers; kupuleen—a bell on the neck of a draught reindeer for scaring wolves away; kobo—rattling bells on the festive clothes of children and women, on shaman’s attire (uostaak kobo—pendants), in reindeer husbandry (kaagyr kobo—metal balls on reindeer); chuoraan—bells on infant cradles and clothing; tingkines—tinkling ornaments suspended on clothes; kyyraan—shamanic pendant-rattles symbolizing shaman bones and feathers; sitim—shaman’s belt with three bells onto which the shaman holds during his ritual journey; dungur—shaman’s tambourine of the Yakut type. Musical instruments and sound toys compose one single and poorly differentiated gr.: bargaan—bow-shaped jew’s harp; unguohbar-gaan—lamellar bone jew’s harp; iriirer—a whistle made of willow and a hunting pipe made of goose feather (both are also used as hunting bait); alanga, alynga—a bow that can be used as a musical toy, timer—“button,” giving and effect of a vortical aerophone.

Among the experts and performers of D. music are: I.A. Yeremin, I.A. Anton, N.D. Bolshakov, F.S. Sakhatin, N.P.
Khristoforov, A.A. Aksenov, I.A. Chuprin, Ye.A. Zharkova, A.S. Kirgizova, O.Ye. Aksenova.
Ref: Alekseyeva, N.N. “Dolgan Music Folklore.” Music Ethnography of Northern Asia. Novosibirsk, 1989.

Dolgan dance. The earliest mention of the D. trad. dance “Heiro” dates back to the 2nd half of the 18th cent. Traveler and researcher A. Mordvinov wrote: “Dolgan dance consists of a standard circle: men and women, holding hands, whether in pairs or as it happens, form a circle and start turning slowly now in this, now in that direction, stepping with the right foot before the left, or the oth. way round, and reciting at each step: “ehor’-e, ehor’-e, chah, cheh, cheh, eher’e,” or “hei-nan-hachu, hai-nan-hachu.”

The opinion is sometimes expressed in ethnogr. essays on the everyday life and culture of the D. that the art of dance is almost absent in the D., and that they merely dance in a ring (while singing “Heiro”), the same way as the Evenks. However, A.A. Popov, B.O. Dolgikh, and Y.B. Simchenko testify that the “Heiro” dance was performed during the holiday of the “Big Day,” or “Anna kuun,” in late April—early May (when the sun rises) and could go on almost the entire day. Acc. to existing data, the D. performed their dance on oth. occasions as well: during weddings or meetings with old friends, etc. It was mostly young p. who danced, but older p. could also join the circle, as well as anybody who was present. Holidays were usually org. on even platforms near a r. or on the ice of a lake. P. from several camps would come to such festivities; here meetings of young p. took place, and relatives living far apart could see each oth. Horei—a pole used to drive on reindeer was an indispensable accessory of the dance. This pole was driven into the ground or ice in the center of the circle. Most likely, this pole was the embodiment of the male principle.

In the remote past, the D. trad. dance undoubtedly had a ceremonial nature. Its meaning consisted of soliciting the spirits for fertility, well-being of the fam., increase of cattle herds. The ancient dance “Nek choin-atyl” (“Step with a bow”), or “Butaan-Kaamy” (“Slow dance”), as well as “Kigi kaamy ginan” (“P. walking in step”), a constitutive part of the shaman’s ritual journey, were also of a ceremonial nature. The shaman guided this ceremony-dance: accomp. by his introductory singing, recitation, and shouts, echoed by all participants, he led the circular dance first around the hearth inside the choom, and then outside around the choom. A triple circular movement clockwise, following the course of the sun, was supposed to “protect wild reindeer:” by dancing and singing, performers of the ceremony solicited spirits for successful hunting.

The character of the “Heiro” dance (called so by the first word of the song that accompanies it) depended upon the introduction, which determined its rhythm and tempo: “Kien-atyl”—wide step, “Kylgan-atyl”—short step, “Turgene-kaamy”—fast step. The dance would always be started by men: the leader—kotor’djut fastened the pole and invited oths. by shouting “heiro”; men, usually three of them, started to move clockwise around the pole, with the body slightly bent forward, stepping with the left foot to the left, the right foot crosswise to the left foot. Gradually women would join them, and a full circle formed. Taking each other arm-in-arm, the performers intertwined their fingers; one was not supposed to move one’s shoulders or body. The dance continued until the men were tired of singing (women did not sing during the dance). Performers say that it was easier to dance when the step was short. The “Heiro” dance has survived until the present: today it is performed during all kinds of holidays. The dance is made particularly beautiful by the participants’ richly ornamented trad. clothes, with silver and metal pendants that accompany the dance with their tinkling. The plastique of the movements in “Heiro” is used to create new stage dances. There are a number of such dances in the repertoire of the amateur ensemble “Heiro,” e.g. “Reindeer herders,” “Elden” (“Aurora borealis”), “Taimyr patterns,” lit.-choreographic miniatures “Dawn over the Taimyr,” “Friendship of Taimyr Peoples,” etc.

Ref.: A. Mordvinov. “Non-Russians Living in Turuhansk Area.” Bulletin of Rus. Geogr. Soc. Part II. 1860; Dolgikh, B.O.“Pop. of the Taimyr Peninsula and Adjoining Area.” Sovetskaya Asia. 1929. #2; Simchenko, Y.B. “Festival Any’o Dyaly of Avam N’ganasans.” Siberian Ethnogr. Coll., Vol. 5. M., 1963; Zhornitskaya. Trad. Dances of Dolgans and Their Relation to the Popular