Subsistence economy


REINDEER HERDING, branch of livestock breeding, one of the most important types of ec. activ. of the N and Siberian peoples. Typical of all peoples living in the reindeer distribution range: Saami in the W, Russians, Komi-Izhems, Nenetses in the NE of Eur. Russia, Khants, Mansis, Kets, Selkups, Nenetses in W Sib., Dolgans, N’ganasans, N Yakuts, Evenks and Evenks in Mid. and E Sib., Yukagirs, contin. Chuvans, Chukchi, and Koryaks in the NE. The S borders of r.h. are the Amur area (Evenks and Negidals), Sakhalin (Oroks), the Sayan (Tuvins-Todzhins and Tofalars).

Expansion of r.h. in diff. geogr. and cult. cond. was predetermined by the variety of ec. uses of reindeer. There are two main types of r.h. in the ec. of the N peoples.

In tundra, reindeer provide all the requirements of human life, determine people’s way of life (nomadic) and elements of cult. (settl. and lodgings, clothing, implements and food, transp., soc. relations, spirit. cult.). Domestic large-herd r.h. is the N type of nomadic livestock breeding. This type of ec. was based on hunt. for wild reindeer in the 18th cent. In the taiga zone of Sib., r.h. is used for transp. purposes only. In this case, just a few livestock breeding elements penetrate into trade cult.

In W Sib., large-herd r.h. is characterized by extensive meridional seasonal migrations to tundra in summer and to the N borders of forest-tundra in winter, 24-hour grazing using reindeer-herding dogs. In the NE, the nomadic range is smaller, the tradition of grazing using dogs is not practiced.

Taiga r.h. is characterized by the sedentary grazing system. Seasonal pasturing of reindeer is retained. During high mosquito activ. and summer temp., special protective structures (reindeer sheds, shady awnings, smoky fires) are built in the nomad camps. To limit reindeer mobility, wood. fetters are put on their legs, and stocks on the neck. Dogs are not used.

Transp. use of reindeer differs in taiga and tundra.Pack and riding reindeer transp. is used in the S Sib. taiga by the Tuvins-Todzhins and Tofalars, and to the E of the Yenisei by the Tungus peoples. In S Sib., reindeer are saddled like horses: a horse saddle with stirrups, common halter (a bridle with single rein attached on the l.). A soft Siberian-type saddle is typical of E Sib. It has a hard base, saddletree with shelves hidden in fur bags filled with reindeer hair. This type of saddle does not have stirrups and the halter rein is attached on the right. Pack reindeer saddles can be either the Sayan or Sib. type. Sayan saddles have no cover, have narrow, separate shelves, high pommels, a choke-strap, and a crupper. Siberian saddles are covered with fur or put through wadded bags filled with hair. Pack bags are single or double rovduga bags with a draw-string neck or flap; the Evenks, Evens, and Oroks have hard baskets often covered with kamus.

In tundra from the Kola Pen. to Chukotka, sled reindeer transp. is used. Sleds are the main vehicles here. They differ in shape of poppets depending on the reg.: in the Eur. part of Russia and W Sib., poppets are placed obliquely, in E Sib., straight, and in the NE, in an arch. The number of reindeer harnessed to riding and cargo sleds varies from one to eight. One-reindeer relay is typical of the Oroks, Chukchi, Koryaks and neighb. Evens, two-reindeer relay is used by the Evenks, Evens, Yakuts, and Negidals, sometimes by Chukchi and Koryaks. Samoyedes and neighb. peoples of W Sib. (Khants, Mansis, Kets, and Dolgans) harness three and more reindeer to a fan-shaped riding sled. A two-reindeer team is used with cargo and women’s riding sleds. The fore-deer (the leading one) in Samoyed teams is placed at the left side, in Chukchi, Koryak, Even, Evenk, Yakut, Dolgan, and Negidal teams at the right.
The reindeer harness consists of a halter with reins and strap with a traction belt. 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 of pack-riding and sled r.h. of Chukchi, Koryaks and neighb. Yukagirs, Evens and Evenks. It can also be used for cargo teams of Samoyed r.h. The complex halter is used in Samoyed riding teams. Its head bridle consists of sev. belts connecting two or four bone plates which fix the halter on the reindeer’s head. The chain connecting the halter to the harness of the next reindeer is fixed to one of the plates.
Straps are simple and compound. The simple strap is a loop which is thrown over the reindeer’s shoulder and btw its fore legs. It can be an extension of the traction belt (Negidals, Evenks, Evens, neighb. Yakuts, Oroches) or it can be a separate belt connected to the traction belt (Chukchi, Koryaks, harness for the cargo sled of Samoyedes and neighb. peoples). Samoyed
peoples used a compound strap as the riding harness. It has choke-straps and a belt clasping the reindeer’s body and preventing the strap from twisting and the lead from falling down (the belt was also used in the Tungus-Yakut riding team).
There are three ways to connect the traction belt to the sled: fastened (fixed), cross-over and block types. The fastened type is the simplest and is used by the Chukchi and Koryaks (the traction belt of each reindeer is tied separately to the sled binding). The Orok traction belt was forked at the end and tied to the runners btw the hind legs of the reindeer. For spans, the Yakuts, Evenks, Evens, Dolgans, etc. used the cross-over type of hauling belt fixation. The end of the traction belt/cord was passed through the “ram” or btw the runners of the sled front (like the cargo team of Nenetses and Mansis). In Samoyed teams the traction belt/cord was connected to the sled front by blocks—a system of rings and loops, the complexity of which depends on the number of reindeer in the team: for spans (cargo sled), the traction belt for both reindeer was passed through the rings of the corner blocks at the front ends of the runners; in a three-reindeer team, the block for the mid. reindeer was passed btw the other two; in a four-reindeer team, the central block was fixed to the front cross-bar of the sled and the blocks for the two mid. reindeer were passed through the belt loops formed btw it and the side blocks, etc.
Acc. to one of the modern classifications, there are sev. types of r.h.: 1) Saami—using reindeer for pack and in teams, milking, pasturing with dogs, using a decoy reindeer; 2) W-Sib. or Samoyed r.h.—draught r.h., decoy reindeer, pastoral dog, no milking; 3) Tungus (Sib.)—pack-riding r.h. with saddle without stirrups, partly draught, decoy, milking, no pastoral dog; 4) NE—draught r.h., use of a decoy, no pastoral dog; 5) Sayan—pack-riding r.h. with saddle and stirrups, milking, no pastoral dog, no decoy.
Acc. to the available data, r.h. as part of human cult. appeared quite late. The most reasonable conception of the origin of r.h. was developed by G.M. Vasilevich and M.G. Levin and is a hypothesis about the Sayan and Baikal centers of r.h. formation. Currently the hypothesis has its followers as well. S.I. Vainshtein established another monocentric Sayan-Altai theory of r.h. formation, acc. to which it appeared at the end of the 1st millennium BC within the Samoyed ethnic environm. under the influence of the cattle-breeding tradition. It is supposed to be transp. pack r.h. of taiga hunters and reindeer herders. At the end of the
1st—beg. of the 2nd millennium BC, r.h. was mastered by the Turki, which led to the formation of the Sayan type of r.h. in the mid- 2nd millennium AD. In the Sayan area, Samoyed r.h. was borrowed by the Tunguses. Then r.h. came to the N, where it became sled r.h. under the new georgr. cond.
There are four official reindeer breeds.The largest is the Nenets breed, which is widespread in Murmansk and the Arkhangelsk obl., Komi Rep., Yamal-Nenets, Khanty-Mansi, and Taimyr aut. areas. Reindeer are pastured in large herds in the tundra and forest-tundra. Reindeer exterior – appearance and body build (from the Lat. exterion—outer): satisfactory body develop. in length and width, the front part of the body is developed better than the back part, moderate withers height, mid. length of legs, head is not long, front part is wide and well-developed. Adult buck weighs 52-56 kg, does are 36-53 kg .Using does as draught animals often led to a reduction in their reproduction functions and size of their offspring.
The smallest Chukotka breed is widespread in Chukotka and Koryak aut. areas, and in the NE of Yakutia. Does weigh 5.4 kg at birth, and bucks 6.4 kg. However, during the first months Chukotka reindeer undergo rapid growth. During the short veget. period, for example, they are able to restore winter weight losses in full and reach top condition by Sept. An adult buck weighs 58.8 kg, and a doe 49.1 kg.
Evenk reindeer are herded in Evenk Aut. Area, Tuva, Buryatia, S part of Yakutia, Khabarovsk Terr., Amur, Chita and Sakhalin obl. They are tall, have long legs, and are recognized as the largest in the world. An adult buck weighs 135-168 kg, and a doe 108-120 kg.
Nearly 600,000 Even reindeer (the fourth breed) are distributed throughout Yakutia, Magadan and Kamchatka obls. These reindeer are relatively tall, with a deep but narrow chest, long croup, strong bones. Adult bucks weigh 110-125 kg, does 91-103 kg. Reindeer pastures cover one quarter of the entire dry land on the planet. There are 6.5 mln reindeer in the world, 60% of them are domestic. In Russia, reindeer pastures amount to over 300 mln ha, or 20% of the entire country area.

Ref.: Vasilevich, G.M., Levin, M.G. “Types of Reindeer Breeding and Their Origin.” Sovetskaya Etnografia. #1, 1951;
S.I. Historical Ethnography of the Tuvins. M., 1972;
Syroechkovski, Y.Y. The Reindeer. M., 1986;
“Reindeer Breeding.” Mat. Cult. M., 1989;
Krupnik, I.I. Arc. Ethnoecology. M., 1989;
Pomishin, S.B. Origin of Reindeer Breeding and Domestication of Reindeer. M.,