«True people» (Nenei nenecha) – self-name of Nenets, the indigenous people of the Yamal peninsula, and the name of the complex 2015–2016 ethnographic expedition. Project participants and the visitors of the resource will be the part of the reindeer herders's family during the whole year just to «dive» in the casual life of the modern XXI century nomads.


On February 12th in the night Albina's brother Hanuta with his mother stayed in our chum on their way back from Panayevsk town. After 200 kms to their chum on Mordy-Yaha river Hanuta's snowmobile has got a problem with shock absorber. Tundra residents who buy imported machines have to deal with technical problems and problems with spare parts differently. They usually buy secondhand spare parts (and have to wait for them to arrive for a long time) or purchase those parts in the town shops (which means a lot more money, then in the bigger cities). Kostya and Hanuta made several phone calls and found the spare parts they needed - and then started their ride - 600 kms both sides. Albina's mother stayed in our chum. We talked a lot, discussed a genealogical tree of the family with it's numerous relatives.   

We also discussed language differences related to the orientation in space. There are two different ways to express directions right and left in the Nenets language. In the language lesson books one find mahanya' - to the right and syatanya' - to the left. These words derives from maha (back) and sya' (face), but this kind of orientation (to the back and to the face) aften misleads even the Nenets themselves. Many people use more convenient and understandable yinya' and venya', which literally means "from the side of neva'yinya" (rope leading to head of the leading bull, the linkest in the team) - to the left, and "from the wrong side" (other side of the leading bull) - to the right. 

Another example is orientation in the chum space. One call floor boards closer to the stove "lower boards", and those closer to the bed - "upper boards". So if somebody wants you to move down or up, it means that you have to move closer to the stove or to sit on the bed. At first it confused us a lot! 

One more observation is connected to rivers. In the Russian language a river starts from the head/outflow, and finishes in the outfall/mouth. In the Nenets language the outflow is called yaha'mal (end, finish of the river), and outfall is called yaha'nya''av (yaha - river, nya''av - open part, opening, hole).  

The air temperature has risen the day before and stays at the level of -1 to -10ºC.

February 14th:

Our chum now is further north than most private herder's chums, so very less tundra residents are coming to this area. Brigade's herds spend the time from the end of December till the end of March at so called Henska (or Nadym) side - on the other side of the Gulf of Ob. This day we have had guests - Yasha, Yefim Yaptiks and their uncle, known to us since the last year, were on their way to Baydaraks gulf. In the evening Kostya and Hanuta were back in the chum. In the Portsa-Yaha factory (60 kms north of Yar-Sale town) Kostya's bought 300 loafes of bread.   

February 16th:

Our chum's residents all are busy with their everyday's tasks: Kostya is making a new narta, Alexander helps him by cutting boards with a saw, Albina is sewing a malitsa for Semyon, Alexandra is cleaning the chum and cooking, also teaching the kids. The winter road is quite vivid lately - in the evening we've got a guest from Yar-Sale town, Kostya's relative Roman Serotetto, one of the richest herder's Medko (Vassilly Tokolevitch) son. Roman was heading to Bovanenkovo town. 

Alexander, Semyon and Pedava while painting: 

IMG 5175

(to continue reading please press "Читать полностью")


Pedava as an avante-garde artist:

IMG 5176

Semyon is drawing a landscape:

IMG 5177

Kostya is making a narta. In the front there is hanako - the children's narta. One not only use is to play the games, but also to transport useful things through the camp (firewood, ice, generator and so on).

IMG 5251

On February 19th the air temperature suddenly dropped to -26ºС. The men went to th "13th district" (it's a nickname for several chums, which are not about 40 kms from us) to collect Kostya's reindeers in other herder's herds. They were going to bring hobbled animals in the freight sledge, but as often comes in life - there were a change in the plans. Kostya and Alexander came back without reindeers, but with the news. The 13th district's residents were going to build a big coral in the middle of March to disdivide the mixed herds. Then our "rescue team" will try to pick Kostya's reindeers again. 

Albina suddenly started cooking experiments: she made a dough for blinis (thin pankakes), and then two days in a row made reindeer meat's jelly.

IMG 5221

Add comment

Security code*