Dwelling

Dwellings of Nothern peoples can be classified according to various criteria. According to the materials used: dwellings may be made of wood (logs, planks, rough-hewn piles, poles, chopped blocks, branches), bark (either of birch, or bark of other trees: spruce, larch, fir), felt (used for covering), bones of marine mammals, mud, beaten cob, they may be wattle, covered with reindeer skins, etc. According to their position to the ground level: dwelling may be surface, underground (dugouts, semi-dugouts), and elevated (on piles); according to the planning: quadrangular, round, polygonal dwellings; according to the shape: conical, span-roofed, lean-to, spherical, semi-spherical, sectioned cylinder-shaped, pyramid or truncated pyramid-shaped (tabernacular), quadrangular with roofs of various shapes (span, lean-to, conical, etc). According to the construction: frame (with frame made of vertical or inclined piles, covered with skins, bark, felt, etc), log frame (combination of log and frame technique in one construction), and frameless (log or plank d., including plank structures built as log huts). According to the period of residence: permanent, seasonal, temporary; acc. to the way of life (nomadic, semi-nomadic, settled): stationary and portable.

All these types of dwellings (no less than 80) were represented among peoples of the North. The most diverse were the dwellings of settled and semi-settled fishermen and hunters of the Ob, Yenisei, and Amur (Khants, Mansis, Selkups, Kets, Ulchas, Nanais, Oroches, Oroks, Nivkhs, Negidals, and Udegeys), whereas nomadic reindeer herders of the tundra and forest-tundra (Nenetses, Nganasans, Nothern Evenkis, Evens, Khants, Mansis, Selkups, Komi-Zyryans, Saami, Chukchi, and Kereks) usually built dwelling of one type. There were various wooden constructions covered with bark or skins (choom, log hut, golomo, yurt, etc). Felt-covered dwellings were widely spread in the Southern part of the region (Evenkis). Dwellings made of bones of marine mammals—in North East of Siberia (Chukchi, Eskimos, and Koryaks), beaten cob and mud houses were typical of Teleuts and Yakuts (these dwellings have a frame of wattled twig walls and piles). The most common type is a frame structure. Within this type there are two groups: light structures made of poles, bark surface structures with span or lean-to roof, semispherical; and fundamental structures made of logs, piles overlaid with poles, bark, turf, mud, or snow in winter; usually these dwellings are underground or semi-underground.
The first group includes temporary frame constructions used as night quarters (shelters, tents). These are of various types: 1) lean-to roof screening constructions made of inclined piles and poles, covered with bark and skins (Mansi kol pal, Khanty khot pelek, lit. “half of the house”; Mansi nai sis yukh, lit. “wooden back of the fire,” Evenk munak), with needles (Mansi vor tal kol, lit. “forest house made of needles” ), with branches (Khanty sol khot, “house made of branches”), with planks (Mansi part lok), with hay (Mansi pum lok), made of logs in semicircle (Evenk kaltan, kaltama, kaltamni); shelters of this type are also known to Kets, Itelmens, Nanais, Udegeys; 2) constructions resembling halves of a choom (Mansi kol pal, Khanty khot pelek, Ket kol’onkus); these were also used by the Selkups, the Evenks, peoples of the Amur throughout the year.

There were also lean-to roof frame constructions with or without sidewalls. The roof was fixed to two piles or poles. Various frame and bark dwellings serve as temporary and seasonal shelters for hunters and fishermen. Especially widespread are conical frame dwellings, the most typical of which was the choom. A very peculiar type of such d. was the Yakut urasa. Some types of choom, as well as some Evenki underground turf-covered kaltamni with frames made of logs split in two (kalta—“the half”), were cone-shaped, too. Evens used cylindrical-conical frame structures chorama-dyu.
Spherical frame constructions (Evenk marma, Nanai dauro), permanent or temporary, round at the basis, were made of bent twigs and covered with birch bark, grass, cane mats. The same structures were used by the Yakuts and the Udegeys.

Semispherical frame constructions (Ket kunus’, inus) were seasonal or temporary dwellings of fishermen. The same dwellings, but with a quadrangular base, made of bent twigs with an open or closed front wall, were used by the Khants and the Selkups. They were covered with bark or branches. The Kets also made such dwelling joined with a fireplace in the centre and a smoke opening between two parts of the building.
A frame construction in the shape of a dissected cylinder made of bent twigs and bark with a quadrangular base served as a fixed-site seasonal dwelling for fishermen (Ulcha khomira, Nivkh khomora, Ket tunus), the same dwelling was known among the Nanais.

Span-roofed frame structures (Ulcha aunza, Udeg., Oroch dzhugdy, Orok kaura, Udeg. tuo dzho, Khanty tonta-khot), fixed-site, seasonal, or temporary, had variations in their construction: e.g. span roof formed by inclined poles, connected by two at the top with a ridge pole placed inside the coupling fork (Nivkhs); or a structure supported by two vertical poles with a ridge pole placed in their forks upon which inclined poles of the covering leaned (Khants, Mansis). The covering itself could be made of poles, bark, planks, branches, etc. Such dwellings were used by fishermen of the Ob, the Amur and their tributaries.
Rectangular frame constructions made of poles and bark (Evenk ugdan, ugdama, Nedig., Ulcha daura, Udeg., Oroch kava, Khanty tonta-khot, tuntokh-kat, Mansi saskol, lit. “birch bark house,” Nanai dauro, Nivkh om-ryv, lit. “bark house”), with span, shed, span-rounded or conical roof (Khanty sessop-khot) were widely spread as seasonal and permanent fishermen’s dwellings. Temporary buildings were covered with hay or grass. Similar structures used by Eskimos and Chukchi as summer dwellings had lean-to roofs, and were covered with reindeer skins. Evenks and peoples of the Amur made such constructions with a frame of piles.
A bark-covered frame dwellings with a smoke opening in the ridge was particularly typical of Ob Ugrians. It was made of two types: either twinned or rectangular span-roofed frame structures. The fireplace was in the center with an opening for smoke in the roof. The skeleton of the bark-covered d. was often left in its place, but the coverings were transported from one place to another.
Some peoples made their frame dwellings a more expensive investment: the structures were rectangular, with a span roof, the walls notched, weaved of twigs, coated with clay (fanza); these dwellings could be permanent or fixed-site.
The second group of frame structures was represented by a variety of building techniques: frame and pile buildings, notched walls, surface and underground dwellings. Frame constructions with piles, pyramidal and truncated-pyramidal structures were typical, the dwellings were surface (golomo) or (more often) underground. The frame of a pyramid construction was formed by 4-8-12 inclined piles connected at the top, which were then overlaid by poles, half-beams, bark, turf, mud, or snow. In truncated-pyramid constructions, four inclined corner piles were joined by their tops within a quadrangular frame, forming a small roof, in which there was an opening for smoke, and in larger structures also for entering the dwelling. Frame underground or semi-underground dwellings of a pyramid or truncated-pyramid shape (Khanty myg-khot, Selkup tiai-mot, Ket ban oos—“mud-house,” Evenki utan, Nivkh to-ryv) were underground or partially underground structures with the frame formed by vertical and inclined piles, a covering of poles, half-beams, and mud (turf). Winter dwellings usually had 1-2 small windows, and were entered through an entry-corridor, earlier through the roof. Varieties of this construction were used by many Northern peoples (Saami, Evenks, Kets, Selkups, Dolgans, Evens, Itelmens, Aleuts, etc). The most ancient was the underground type, which developed along the line of gradual raising of the dwellings to the surface and transforming of the structure into a surface dwellings (vezha, golomo, myg-khot, chandal, odag, utan, balagan, khalangali).

Log constructions (Khanty yukh-kat, Mansi nor-kol, Nivkh locha-ryv, Yakut povarnya) were structures made of logs bound in different ways (“in a corner,” “in ohlup,” “dog’s head,” “in oblo,” “in a cup,” etc.). In most cases the technique of building log houses was borrowed from the Russians, but some peoples (Khants, Mansis, Teleuts, peoples of the Amur) developed building techniques of their own (seroma, khulbu, ugdan). The dwellings were surface, underground or pile, it was roof flat, span with an opening for smoke in the ridge beam, or a pyramid. Usually such dwellings were quadrangular. The Yakuts built polygonal log houses, which were used as permanent fixed-site dwellings, sometimes as household structures (ambars).
Plank constructions (Khanty yukh-kat): the ends of planks were coupled like in log structures (“in ohlup”), or inserted in the notches of the corner piles, or placed between two corner posts, or butted. Such structures of the later period (19th cent.) were used as summer dwellings by the Khants, the Mansis, the peoples of the Amur (frame log structure), and the Teleuts. Ugrians of the Ob strengthened the walls and frontispiece with vertical poles or beams joined together, passed through holes in planks, and fixed with special clips or with rope made of cedar roots. The Khant and the Mansi hunters sometimes built span-roofed plank d. with one mudsill and two supporting piles made of tree trunks, to which a longitudinal beam was fixed, bearing roof planks. Pile-buildings on 4-6-8 piles were used as summer dwellings by Ob Ugrians (log structures, Khanty yukh-kat), the Ulchas (genga), the Nivkhs (frame log structures), the Itelmens (pyramidal frame structures made of pillars and poles, grass-covered). The main dwellings of nomadic reindeer herding peoples were portable tents made of reindeer skins (Nenets choom, Chukchi yaranga).

References:
1.Peoples of Siberia. M.; Leningrad, 1956;
2.Historical-Ethnographic Atlas of Siberia. M.; Leningr., 1961;
3.Sokolova, Z.P. Dwellings of Siberian Peoples (Essay on Typology). M., 1998.