Means of Conveyance

Traditional Means of Conveyance of Indigenous Peoples of the NorthThe pack-riding way of moving on reindeer was used by Evenkis since the ancient times.

According to G.M.Vasilevich statement, Tungus transport reindeer breeding is marked since VI-VII centuries. Much later they borrowed from settled neighbors a sled conveyance.Ways and means of Evenkis’ conveyance were adapted to constant travels all year round.Reindeer used for the summer season, were subdivided into two groups: pack and riding. Evenkis used any undersized trained deer as a beast of burden. Such deer could convey on itself no more than 25-30,00 kg.For riding the largest and strongest deer was chosen. Such a riding deer was called Uchak and people very much valued it. If an Evenki set off far away he had to take not less than one or two spare Uchaks since at daily riding on one Uchak he could travel no more than 4-6 hours.

During halts and lodgings for a night deer were always released for free grazing. Usually they grazed around the place of camping. They were caught only before departure [1].The pack-riding harness of a deer consists of a halter, a pack and a riding saddles, pack and riding girths.There are simple and complex types of halters. The simple halter consists of a loop and lead of one or two separate belts. It is typical for pack-riding and sled reindeer herding of Evenkis.Pack saddles differed with pommels. Massive low rounded above not ornamented pommels were characteristic of the Evenki type of reindeer breeding.Riding saddles of majority of the Evenkis had no "wings" and differed from pack saddles with low rounded bone pommels. The saddle without a covering was imposed on Taeninae. The rug Kumalan or something soft (clothes or a blanket) was put on the saddle. A girth was thrown across the saddle and fastened sideways. Women loaded a pair of big soft bags with a light cargo on such a saddle and covered them atop with a rug Kumalan.Pack bags are soft, with firm birch bark bases. They are made of kamuses and head skins, of elk rovduga and fish skin. And the Okhotsk coastal fishermen made them of eared seal skin.

Riding on sleds was uncharacteristic for Evenkis. Appearance of them is registered in the XVIII-XIX centuries. The tundra and forest-tundra Evenkis, (to the north from the Lower Tunguska) borrowed the harness of the Samoyed type from Russians and Dolgans. By the beginning of the XIX century such a harness penetrated to the Syma group of the Evenkis. Having borrowed the riding harness Evenkis creatively adapted it to conditions of taiga. A more advanced type of hand sleds: two-runner, low, long and narrow, normally on three pairs of poppets (sharpened stanchions) rammed into slots in the runners and additionally fastened with straps. Each pair of poppets is tied together in the middle with transverse ties which support plank flooring. On either side of the sled, two side poles are fastened to the curved front ends of the runners and the top ends of the poppets; a net is usually stretched between them and the flooring. A ram (baran, baraban) is fastened to the front poppets and ends of the runners for pressing down the snow during movement A slim shaft is tied to the baran in front for guiding and braking the sled. The Oroches and Primorye Evenkis hand sleds have runners curving upward on either side.Characteristic mean of water conveyance was birch bark boats (Dyav, Dyavkan) since they were light and they were convenient for transferring from one lake or river to another. Light boats were applied in hunting for large game in hot time, for waterfowls, and also for fishing.Also there were boats – log dugouts (Onkocho) which hollowed out of a tree trunk. They served for fast moving in summer fishing. The boat Dolblenka was very heavy. Therefore Evenkis generally used birch bark boats Berestyanka.«Dolblenka-vetka (Ongocho) of the Evenkis from the left middle inflows of the Amur river was long and straight, with a sharp nose and a cut off stern. A line of the board is slightly raised in the middle. There are 4-7 crossbeams inside. Sometimes the end of the nose was decorated, hollowing out a figure. On these boats people went up the river with the help of poles, steered down, sitting on a stern and slightly directing the boat with a short oar in the form of a spade.Flat-bottomed boats, or "Doschanka" are made of 3-4 boards. For steering in the big rivers an amount of boards was increased. On the nose and stern boards were connected in the form of a sharp corner, and Evenkis from the middle inflows of the Aldan river people put short cross boards in the stern and strengthened them with wooden thorns. Flat-bottomed boats belonged only to the settled Evenkis living in a wooden house and who were constantly engaged in fishing in summer. The big wooden boats were made of 5-7 boards.Keel boats Momi, Kona (Lower Tunguska), Mongo (Ohotsk Coast and Sakhalin) had a bottom of 4 boards. A nose of the boat was made raised. Keel boats served mainly for fishing with nets (Lower Tunguska) and for sailing on the sea (Sakhalin). People rowed in one - two pairs of usual one-blade oars and directed with a short oar Yevnachun.From winter types of conveyance Evenkis used skis and sleds. Skis were of two kinds: furred and unfurred. They were made of light wood. Fur covering here besides its basic purpose not to let the skis slide off at rising on a mountain gave them durability as well. Such skis were used in the mountainous places.On flat places Evenkis preferred to go on lighter skis without furring.G.M.Vasilevich writes: «The Tungus skis differed from skis of other peoples that they were short, thin, broad (20-28 sm) and bent, with glued birch bark under a foot… [3].Appearance of modern kinds of transport has not diminished the role of such traditional means of conveyance as reindeer and skis. Preservation and even increasing their role mainly depend on preserving and developing the trades – reindeer breeding and hunting.

Evens. Since the end of the XIX and the beginnings of the XX centuries the reindeer has been used byEvens as a transport animal in two forms – sled and pack-riding. Both forms work all year round, but especially in summer traveling. Reindeer of "a summer season» are subdivided into two groups: pack ones Inuchae and riding ones Uchak. Saddles are of three kinds: riding, pack and children's. Harnessed conveyance, first of all, is used both in tundra and in forest-tundra. If a usual weight of a pack makes up 20-40 kg, 100-160 kg are loaded on a sled. Evens’ sleds are various, depending on their origins. The Evens bordering with Chukchi and Koryaks, borrowed sleds of Chukchi-Koryak type with arch-shaped poppets, on the Indigirka river reindeer sleds similar to dogs’ are used. The Evens, neighboring with the Yakuts, the Tungus-Yakut type of sleds is applied. The team consists of two deer. Directing deer harnessed in a sled is realized with the help of a rein. Besides a rein a staff Tijun is used which is 2 -3,5 meters long and serves for controlling deer, and also for leaning during going up and down a slope, for measuring depth of snow as well and etc.The hunters were either mounted (on reindeer), or they used unfurred Golitsy made of planks (kaisar) or furred skis Maerintae. Larsh and birch furred skis of Evens are identical with Evenki ones. They are inalienable part of both peoples hunting.At the end of XIX and at the beginning of the XX centuries wooden and log dugout boats were spread in taiga zone, sea-mammal hunters had leather keel-shaped boats [1].The ethnographer V.A.Tugolukov in his article dedicated to the Evens’ means of conveyance writes that “The only transport mean in the past for majority of Evens was a reindeer. It was used as a transport in any season.The pedestrian Tungus and the settled Evens used dogs as means of transportation. The deer were subdivided into two kinds: pack and riding. Any deer was trained to a pack, the largest and hardest animals were selected for riding.Taming and training a deer to work under a saddle and as a beast of burden began usually since two-three-year-old age and occupied two - three weeks. In order to obey a deer quickly, a special bone plate with spikes was fixed to the left side of a halter. Pressing it with the help of a rein a deer was forced to go quicker or slower and to turn to the left or to the right. When the deer got used to go under a saddle, the plate was removed. A halter was used for each riding or pack deer. It consists of a belt loop with two straps which were tied behind the animal’s antlers and a rein for directing. Fringes and brushes are obligatorily sewn to the head bridle which shook during moving and drove away tiresome insects.Evens have never had problems with catching deer before moving on. The animals were caught with lassos or even with hands. A whole preparatory operation occupied no longer than an hour. As to Chukchi, it took them 3-4 hours to catch riding deer, and also they had to construct a shelter. On V.G.Bogoraz's observations, in some households deer could not be caught for several days.Evens approached to a deer, saddled and packed, and also sat on it only from the right side. The saddle was fixed on deer’s blades with the help of the only girth.

During riding people leaned on a special staff. Due to it a rider maintained a balance on a saddle during moving. Staffs were man's nishes and woman’s tijun. The woman’s staff had a metal hook on its end which helped women to raise slipping down pack bags.Riding on a deer required special skills. The saddle placed on the blades of the animal constantly shook. It was uneasy to sit on a deer, therefore, since the early age children were trained in riding on a deer. A five-six-year-old child could do it himself already: a boy - on a man's saddle, a girl – on a woman’s.Each riding or pack deer had its own applicability according to which it had a special name. Children at the age of till five years old were transported by the deer Baebaeruk (from "Baebae" - a cradle) in a special cradle; the deer going with children's saddles, named Oneruk or One-saek; blankets, sleeping bags Kukuli,, deer skins (beds) were transported by the deer Khulruk, utensils – Khaekuruk etc. The last deer in a nomadic caravan was Iruka-ruk lugging behind itself frames of a yurt or a choom.In the beginning of the XX century rather widespread type of conveyance at separate groups of the Evens became dog teams. At first they were used by settled Evens in the Ohotsk coast where there were good conditions for sled dogs breeding. At trips on a long distance deer could not compete with them. If a deer covered the distance of 20-25 km., a dogs team two - three times as much as a deer could, and in spring when a thick ice crust was formed - up to 100 km. and more. This type of transport appeared to be particularly effective in passenger transportations which intensively developed in the 20-30s of the XX century.At first Evens used mainly the Kamchatka husky in sled dogs breeding possessing excellent draught qualities. However, the custom to castrate sled animals has quickly resulted in degeneration of this breed, and for trips people began to use any dogs. As a rule, twelve dogs were harnessed in a team. The work term of a dog in a team did not exceed 5-6 years. At seven-eight-year –old age many dogs already lost teeth and could not eat dry rigid yukola (dried fish) which was main forage during trips. Each dog needed 500-700 grams of yukola per day. During distant trips 100 grams of sea mammal fat was added to the daily diet. Sled dogs were kept tied in open-air all year round.

The transport reindeer breeding borrowed from the Evens in XVII century has played an important part among tundra Yukagirs. Each family had from 2-3 to 19-20 deer, rich families had 100-150 ones. Yukagirs rode on deer, they transported things in packs (Velil), used sled teams in winter. Draught sleds had arch-shaped poppets (Anibae), cargo sleds were short and had one poppet. As a rule, one deer was harnessed in a sled, the taiga Yukagirs harnessed 4-5 dogs in a sled.A dog sled (Midi, Miaedgae) with a straight poppet was up to 2,5 m long, with a front arch - "Baran".In winter people went on wide, padded with kamus step skis (Mojaedin, Ugurcha), on an ice crust golitsy were used (Kokisa).In summer people moved on log dugout boats (Anabuska), rafts (Mino), birch bark boats [1].The tundra Chukchi moved on deer sleds, the seaside people did on dog teams. Chukchi have borrowed a way of traveling on dog teams, harnessed in a way of a fan, from Eskimos.The basic means of conveyance on sledge ways were deer, harnessed in sleds of several kinds: for transportation of cargo, utensils, children (tilt cart), poles of Yaranga frame.For moving on water Chukchi used oar boats Bajdara and Kayak. Bajdara is an open boat holding from one to 20-30 persons, made of walrus skins, with oars and a slanting sail. Kayak is a closed boat stretched with leather above (there is a small aperture for a person). Both boats had a trellised frame fitted with skins of sea mammals or deer. At a fair wind straight (square) sails of deer suede were applied. For crossing rivers the reindeer Chukchi used rafts, constructed by linkage of several sleds and water-proof skins. For moving on bajdara along seacoast or rivers Chukchi used dogs naturally moving along a bank or a coast and tied to bajdara with a cord as draft force for towage of a vessel. People rowed with short one-bladed oars.For moving on snow and ice step skis were used, in the area of the Kolyma river people went on sliding skis borrowed from the Evenkis [5].

Dolgan’s reindeer husbandry combined traditions 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 Evenkis 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 are of the Tungus type.

The Sakha people. The Yakuts’ ancestors formed a cattle-breeding culture in the ancient times, which refers to Skythian-Siberian cultural heritage. A horse for a Yakut man is not only the main conveyance, but also both an irreplaceable satellite, and a true friend during long moving. In the taiga conditions and impassability horses were used by people for riding and under a saddle and a pack (Yndyy). The participants of the Second Kamchatka Expedition wrote in their works about the Yakut riding art and similarity of horse gear with Tatar art (hence, Turkic one). The Yakut masters produced all necessary equipment themselves: a saddle (Yngyyr), bridles (Uun), halters (Sular, Bass byata), shabracks (Chapparakh), girths (Kholun), cords (Orgon, Otuu) and other things [1].There were men's and women’s saddles; pommels had an oval or rectangular form and rich Yakuts decorated them with silver. The author of the ethnographic research "The Yakuts" V.L.Sieroszewski marks: «The Yakut saddle, both a pack and a riding one, is all made of wood. A pack saddle consists of two boards connected on the ends by small wooden arches. In the middle there is a cross attached to these basic boards, and pack bags are fixed to it. Thick pads are put under a saddle and weights on a horse’s back and sides.A riding saddle is similar to a pack one. It consists of two parallel boards slightly curved and inclined to each other reminding a trough without a bottom and sides. On the ends they are connected by arches, but these arches are thick, high, accordingly cut out and adapted. They form a high Asian pommel and not less high back. From the pommel to the back, in the emptiness which is between the wooden frame described above, a belt of a seat is stretched. On the top of the saddle there is a cushion. Stirrups are attached to the rings in the parallel boards and three girths are farther behind them. The stirrups are quite often wooden, with a rim of rose willow. All parts of the saddle are fastened with the help of belts that provides elasticity and a greater resistance on a break.The Yakut saddle, especially ancient, is a less advanced device than, for example, Mongolian or Buryat one. It is heavier than the latter one, its pommel is higher and rougher. It is inconvenient to skip and to jump over barriers, but it is fixed on a horse tightly and, due to its height, length and width, it is convenient to sit on and it allows to load much under a rider. For Europeans the breadth of the Yakut pommel causes pain in hips and groin until they get used to it. A back and legs get tired a little on the Yakut saddle even at distant trips. Other parts of the Yakut riding and pack harness are made of horse hair, leather and dry grass» [2].In winter a harnessed horse all covered with hoarfrost was cleared by a scraper (Kyryachchy). It was an iron plate with spikes and a handle. In winter time snow lumps were frequently formed under horse hoofs, which made problems to walk. They were removed with a special iron hammer (At ihaekhtiir).Working bulls were used as conveyance animals: people rode on them (without a saddle) and harnessed a sledge (Syargha). A yoke was called Burghaljy, the bottom detail of the yoke - Suuraer. Sieroszewski described the yoke as follows: «A bull yoke consists of two completely identical parts: the top – Ara and bottom - Bulgali. They are smoothly planed, curved and connected with each other and with shafts by belts. Ara is attached tightly, and one end of Bulgali, ordinarily left, can slide freely on a loop on the shaft. The Yakut yokes are completely similar to the Buryat and Mongolian ones. The form, sizes, work of the Yakut sledge are completely similar to the Russian wood sledge; they serve only for transporting weights: hay, fire wood, and a leader sits on a bull» [2].A rose willow or an iron ring Churumchu were passed through bull’s nostrils and a long cord was tied to the ring which was passed between horns. A rather light sledge was used all year round. In the time of haymaking and moving to summer places (Sajylyk) bulls were irreplaceable assistants of a Yakut cattleman. Hay was transported on a sledge, having pressed down by a long stick Baltaryk which ends were tied with a cord to the edges of a sledge. Also a dead wood was delivered on them from the wood for maintaining continuous fire in the Yakut stove Kamelyok. Everybody rode on bulls regardless of sex and age. Measured steps of the animal inspired on a poetic mood that is reflected in the proverb: «A Yakut man on a bull becomes a singer» [1].Boats (Tyy) differed with materials and technologies of making: Tuos tyy - a birchbark boat, reminding a Northern Kayak, Dulun tyy/Ongocho - log dugouts, Khaptahyn tyy – a flat-bottomed boat made of boards.The researcher-ethnographer V.L. Sieroszewski writes: «Large wooden objects as the Yakut boat, the sledge and the cart have so many traces of various latest influences, that their initial form and stratifications on them is extremely difficult to discover. All of them are recent Yakut gains» [2].

1. Yakutia. Historical Cultural Atlas. Yakutsk, 20072. Sieroszewski V.L. The Yakuts: Experience of the Ethnographic Research. – The second edition, Moscow, 1993. – 736 p.3. Vasilevich G.M. The Evenkis: Historical Ethnographic Sketches (XVIII-beg. of the XX cent.). Leningrad, 19694. Tugoloukov V.A. The Evens’ Means of Conveyance // Peoples of the Arctic and the Far East of Russia in the Works of Researchers / Edited by T.N. Emeljanova, M.V.Juzhaninova. - M.: Severnye Prostory, 2002.5. Practical Dictionary of Siberia and the North. - M.: The European Publications and Severnye Prostory, 2005

The bibliography:1. Alexeyeva E.K. Sketches on the Evens’ Material Culture (the end of the XIX –beg.of the XX cent.). Novosibirsk, 20032. Bogoraz V.G. The Chukchi. Material culture // Peoples of the Arctic and the Far East of Russia in the Works of Researchers (17-20th cent.) / Ed.by T.N.Emel'janova, M.V.Juzhaninova. - M.: Severnye Prostory, 2002.3. Shereshevsky E.I., Petrjaev P.A., Golubev V.G. Sled Dog Breeding. Moscow - Leningrad, the Publishing House of Glavsevmorput, 1946, 248p.4. Vasilyev F.F. About Wheel Transport of the Yakuts // Siberian Readings. St.Petersburg,1992 –pp.26-275. Grachyov I.A. Wooden Boats of the Upper Abakan River // Materials of the Field Researches of the Russian Academy of Science. St.Petersburg, 2007. Ed.27 pp.24-32.6. Yermolova N.V. Traditional Means of Conveyance of Northern Siberia Peoples. Reindeer Transport and Sled Dog Breeding // Ecology of Ethnic Cultures of Siberia on the Eve of the XXI century. St.Petersburg,1995 –pp.166-196: illustrated7. Levin M.G. About the Origin and the Types of Sled Dog Breeding // The Soviet Ethnography. 1946. Ed.№ 4.