Chuvantsy

CHUVANS, etel, atal (Chukotka Yukagirs), people in Chukotka Aut. Area, mainly in Anadyr Distr. Pop. (2002) 1,300. Subdivided into ethnogr. gr. of nomadic and settled C. (Markovetses). The lang., presumably close to Yukagir, has been lost. The C. speak Chukchi lang. (nomadic C.) and the Markovets dialect of the Rus. lang. (settled C.). Relig. C. are Rus. Orthodox Christian.Pre-Christian notions and rites exist among nomadic C., along with Rus. Orthodoxy.

 

Rus. sources mention the C. in the mid-17th cent. as one of the Yukagir clans. They were settled on Chukotka near Shelagski Cape, in the basin of the lower and mid. reaches of the Palavaam R., in the upper course of the Amguema, Chaun, Bolshoi and Maly Anyui rr. Presumably, the ethnonym “C.” was derived from the name of the Chauna R. The C. had nomadic reind. breeding, hunting and fishing. Hunted wild reind. during their seasonal migrations through the rivers, argali, etc. The C., together with other Yukagir clans living along the rivers by which the Rus. traveled to the Extr. NE, were among the first indigenes of the region to have yasak imposed on them. The C. transported state cargoes by reind. and acted as intermediaries btw the Rus. and Chukchi, exchanging Rus. goods, mainly metal articles (arrow- and spear-heads, axes, knives, copper boilers, etc.) for furs. In the late 17th—early 18th cent. the C. particip. in mil. campaigns of the cossacks against the Chukchi and Koryaks (incl. V.V. Atlasov’s Kamchatka campaign in 1699). Joint attacks on non-yasak pop. facilitated the rapprochement btw the C. and the Rus. This process was further intensified by the christianization of the C. in the 17-18th cent. In the late 17th cent., c.10% of all C. women lived outside their clans as wives or concubines of the Cossacks and industrial people. The russification of a large part of the C. already began during that period. In the early 18th cent. the C. totaled 520. In 1740-50s., after massive Chukchi forays on Chuvan nomad camps, a large gr. of the C. moved to the Anadyr ostrog, under the protection of the Rus. garrison, and when it was abolished in 1771, to Gizhiga. The Gizhiga C. were infl. by Koryak cult. and lang. With the cessation of armed conflicts btw the Chukchi and the Rus. in the late 18th cent., gr. of C. and Rus. old residents started moving to the Anadyr R. again. By the mid-19th cent., two ethnic gr. of the C. were formed: the largely russified Markovetses—settled C., living near the vill. of Markovo, and nomadic reind. C., living in the upper reaches of the Anadyr R. and close to the reind. Chukchi and Koryaks in their way of life and cult. Acc. to the 1897 all-Rus. census of pop., the C. numbered 452, incl. 275 settled and 177 nomadic C., out of which the Anadyr Area had 262 settled and 144 nomadic C.; the Gizhiga Area, 15 C.; the Kolyma Area in Yakutia, 32 C. Acc. to the 1926-27 census of pop., the C. numbered 707, with settled C. accounting for 55%. During the early years of Sov. State, the Markovetses were called Kamchadals, and for several decades the ethnonym “C.” was applied only to nomadic C. Before 1989 the C. were registered by censuses of pop. as the Rus. or Chukchi. There were 1,384 C. in 1989. At present, the nomadic and settled gr. of C. have largely mixed with each other and neighb. peoples, but still preserve their cult. peculiarities.In the late 19th cent. the settled C. were the most numer. of the five “communities” of the Anadyr Area. The other four (the Lamut and Yukagir communities and the two Rus. ones—Townspeople’ and Peasants’) also spoke the Markovets dialect and called themselves the Markovetses, Anadyretses, Anadyrshchiks (see Russian Old-Settlers of Northeast Siberia).

The settled C. were characterized by the Yukagir type of ec.: fishing, harpooning of wild reind. at river crossings, sled dog breeding. They lived in settlements together with Rus. old residents, Yukagirs and Evens, in log framework dwellings, usu. with a flat roof and no ceiling, with a wooden or earth (covered with reind. skins) floor. Whale guts bought from the Chukchi or scraped reind. skins, okonchinas, were used instead of window panes. In frosty days square ice blocks were frozen onto the windows to keep the warmth. The houses were heated with chuvals—fireplaces made from thin barlings woven together like a wicker fence and clayed. The C. slept on wooden beds—uruns, on benches, plank-beds, on the floor; they used feather-beds, pillows, hareskin blankets. Many houses had chests. Some of the homesteads had bathhouses. The C. lived in undivided fam., 8-9 people each. Widows with children sometimes united into fams. and lived together in separate houses grouped together. Rus. and Am.-type clothing bought from the Chukchi were widely used.The settled C. ate mainly fish and reind. meat with seasoning of herbs and other products of gathering. Yukola—dry-cured salmon—was an everyday dish. Boiled fish was eaten without salt. Meat was eaten boiled, fried or dried. Bread and pies were baked on holidays. The C. brewed home-made beer (burduk), drank a lot of tea.

In spring the C. caught “white” fishes: broad whitefish, humpback whitefish, common whitefish, white salmon; in July-Aug., “red” fishes: dog salmon, humpback salmon. Getting ready for salmon migration in June, whole fam. moved in Rus. type longboats to summer grounds located near fisheries. They lived in Yakut type yurts. Fish was stored in barns—small span-roof blockhouses on piles. They fished with nets, drag-nets, rods, landing nets. As there was not enough drag-nets to go around, the C. united in artels (co-op. assoc.) consisting of the drag-net owner and several shareholders. Both men and women took part in dragging nets. Red fish was dried and preserved for winter in large quantities, incl. as dog food. A portion of the catch was soured in pits. In years when fishing was bad the pop. starved. In such years, reind. breeding Chukchi and C. rescued their settled neighbors, supplying them with reind. meat for free.In the fall the C. hunted wild reind. on rushy water using spec. lances—pokolyugas. They went out to hunt in single-seat dugouts—kayaks. Reind. meat was dried and preserved for winter in spec. bags, suede was made from skins for sale. Squirrels, wolves, hares, foxes, Arctic foxes were hunted with guns and traps. A portion of the modern C. are employed in catching and processing fish at state farms.The main means of transportation of the settled C. was the dog team, usu. of 8-12 sled dogs harnessed in pairs to light birch sleds, all parts of which were held together with straps. In winter the dogs were fed with yukola or fish and flour broth. In the early 1930s there were up to 300 dogs in Markovo, 260 of them sled dogs. By 1980s, harness dog breeding among the Markovetses had almost completely disappeared.The spiritual cult. and soc. rel. of the settled C. were greatly infl. by the Russians. Rus. Orthodox holidays were celebrated, there were icons and sacred books in the houses. Weddings were celebrated acc. to the Rus. trad. Before the wedding a stag party took place at the groom’s, and a hen party at the bride’s, where gifts were exchanged. The groom’s gifts usu. incl. wedding clothes. The dead were buried acc. to the Rus. Orthodox norms, except tobacco and alcoholic beverages were put into men’s coffins, and tools for needlework, into women’s. In their spare time the C. played lapta, with a ball made from reind. skins. In 1883 the first parish school on Chukotka was opened in Markovo, sponsored by the Rus. Orthodox mission; the teacher was A.Y. Diachkov, one of the first C. intellectuals and the author of a famous work on the hist. and ethnogr. of the Anadyr reg. The Markovo C. are, to a large extent, the keepers of the Rus. folklore cultural traditions. They have preserved old Rus. legends and songs; they are well acquainted with the game Lodka (Boat) which they adopted from Kamchatka cossacks in the 19th cent. Round-dance and dancing songs to the accomp. of a violin, balalaika, concertina were widely popular. In their manner of presentation, Markovets songs are close both to the songs of the Rus. N and to those of Rus. old residents of Kolyma, in whose musical culture Yukagir elem. can be traced. The infl. of N Rus. song trad. can be felt in the type of descant polyphony; while unison and octave singing prevails, some tunes are two- or three- part. The chorus founded in Markovo in the 1930s, named Markovo Evening Parties in 1967, helped preserve and popularize the unique C. folklore during the Sov. period.

Nomadic C. were engaged in large-herd reind. breeding, like the tundra Chukchi and Koryaks. They lived in yarangas. Their clothing was similar to that of the Chukchi: in winter, kukhlyanka and pants (with a double fur lining); in summer, kamleika of deerskin or fabric. The footwear was made of eared seal skin, kamuses, deerskin: torbasa (kultas, suturs, kaliplyaks, sotkars) and sars—a kind of boots with soft soles of reind. or eared seal skin. The food of the nomadic C., just like that of the reind. Chukchi and Koryaks, consisted mainly of domestic reind. meat. The nomadic (and settled) C., just like the Chukchi and Koryaks, used fly-agaric as a stimulating and intoxicating substance.The nomadic C. celebrated seasonal holidays related to the reind. breeding ec. cycle, accomp. by reind. slaughter, sacrifices and animistic rituals. Fortune telling on a reind. shoulder blade, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines made of wood, leather, bone, fortune telling stones similar to Koryak anyapels, etc. were widely popular.

The folklore of the nomadic C. is largely infl. by the Yukagir, Koryak, Chukchi cultures.In winter the nomadic C. roam with their reindeer herds in whole families, riding in reind.-drawn sleds; in summer, only the herdsmen roam on foot, in the Chukchi way. In the 1930s the first Chukchi cattle-breeding farm was organized in Markovo Distr.; hotbed farming started developing in the 1960s.

Ref.: The Anadyr Terr. The Manuscript by Diachkov, Resident of the Vill. of Markovo. Vladivostok, 1893 (reissued Magadan, 1992);Olsufyev, A.V. An Overview of the Anadyr Area, Its Ec. Conditions and Everyday Life of the Pop. St. Pet., 1896; Gurvich, I.S.Ethnic Hist. of Northeast Sib. M., 1966.