Home Region:  Siberia (Central and Northern Eurasia)

Sakha - Early

EQ 2020  ru_sakha_early / RuYakuE

The Lena River Valley, also known as Sakha, is a territory in eastern Siberia over four times the size of Texas. [1] One of the coldest places on Earth, it has been home to the Sakha people since at least the 13th century CE. [2] Cossacks first arrived in the 1620s, and after a long siege of a Sakha fortified settlement, the entire region was placed under tribute to the Russian czar in 1642. [3] The region remained under czarist control until the Russian Revolution, when it was one of the last Russian territories to be consolidated under the new regime. [3]
Population and political organization
Prior to Russian rule, the region was not politically centralized. Early Sakha communities were governed by lineage councils, clans, and elders rather than a bureaucratic state apparatus. [4] After the Russian occupation, the czarist administration imposed taxes and established an administrative infrastructure. [5] For most of the rest of its Russian history, the territory was controlled by governors under the umbrella of the czarist regime. [6]
It is difficult to find population estimates for Sakha. It was very sparsely populated, and according to one account of a late 18th-century expedition to the region, the district of Gigansk (in the Lena River Valley) had 4834 ’tributary natives’ in 1784 but only 1938 by 1789. [7] The account unfortunately does not provide figures for the entirety of the province.

[1]: (Balzer and Skoggard 1997, 1) Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam, and Ian Skoggard. 1997. “Culture Summary: Yakut.” eHRAF World Cultures. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=rv02-000. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/GD78HCEV.

[2]: (Gogolev 1992, 65) Gogolev, A. I. 1992. “Basic Stages of the Formation of the Yakut People.” Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia 31 (2): 63-69. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/F428XZIE.

[3]: (Balzer and Skoggard 1997, 2) Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam, and Ian Skoggard. 1997. “Culture Summary: Yakut.” eHRAF World Cultures. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=rv02-000. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/GD78HCEV.

[4]: (Balzer and Skoggard 1997, 7) Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam, and Ian Skoggard. 1997. “Culture Summary: Yakut.” eHRAF World Cultures. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=rv02-000. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/GD78HCEV.

[5]: (Jochelson 1933, 220) Jochelson, Waldemar. 1933. The Yakut. Vol. 33. Anthropological Papers of the AMNH. New York: The American Museum of Natural History. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/FTJS2I4W.

[6]: (Jochelson 1933, 224) Jochelson, Waldemar. 1933. The Yakut. Vol. 33. Anthropological Papers of the AMNH. New York: The American Museum of Natural History. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/FTJS2I4W.

[7]: (Sauer 1802, 112) Sauer, Martin. 1802. An Account of a Geographical and Astronomical Expedition to the Northern Parts of Russia. London: T. Cadell, Jun. and W. Davies, in the Strand. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/WEZG6MTS.

General Variables
Identity and Location
Utm Zone:
52 V  
Original Name:
Sakha  
Capital:
none  
Alternative Name:
Urangkhai Sakha  
Yakut  
Temporal Bounds
Duration:
[1,400 CE ➜ 1,632 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
none  
Supracultural Entity:
Siberia  
Succeeding Entity:
Czarist Russia  
Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
13,100,000 km2  
Relationship to Preceding Entity:
population migration  
Preceding Entity:
Kurumchi Culture  
Degree of Centralization:
quasi-polity  
Language
Linguistic Family:
Altaic  
Language:
Sakha (Yakut)  
Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
100 people  
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
1  
Religious Level:
1  
Military Level:
2  
Administrative Level:
2  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
absent  
Professional Priesthood:
absent  
Professional Military Officer:
absent  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
absent  
Merit Promotion:
absent  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
absent  
Examination System:
absent  
Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent  
Judge:
absent  
Formal Legal Code:
absent  
Court:
absent  
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
absent  
Irrigation System:
absent  
Food Storage Site:
absent  
Drinking Water Supply System:
absent  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
absent  
Port:
absent  
Canal:
absent  
Bridge:
absent  
Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
absent  
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
absent  
Script:
absent  
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
absent  
Nonwritten Record:
present  
Mnemonic Device:
inferred absent  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
absent  
Sacred Text:
absent  
Religious Literature:
absent  
Practical Literature:
absent  
Philosophy:
absent  
Lists Tables and Classification:
absent  
History:
absent  
Fiction:
absent  
Calendar:
absent  
Information / Money
Token:
absent  
Precious Metal:
absent  
Paper Currency:
absent  
Indigenous Coin:
absent  
Foreign Coin:
absent  
Article:
inferred present  
Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
absent  
General Postal Service:
absent  
Courier:
absent  
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
absent  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
inferred present  
  Stone Walls Mortared:
absent  
  Settlements in a Defensive Position:
absent  
  Modern Fortification:
absent  
  Moat:
present  
  Fortified Camp:
absent  
  Earth Rampart:
present  
  Ditch:
absent  
  Complex Fortification:
absent  
  Long Wall:
absent  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
unknown  
  Iron:
present  
  Copper:
inferred absent  
  Bronze:
unknown  
Projectiles
  Tension Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling:
absent  
  Self Bow:
present  
  Javelin:
present  
  Handheld Firearm:
absent  
  Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent  
  Crossbow:
absent  
  Composite Bow:
absent  
  Atlatl:
absent  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
absent  
  Sword:
absent  
  Spear:
present  
  Polearm:
absent  
  Dagger:
present  
  Battle Axe:
present  
Animals used in warfare
  Horse:
present  
  Elephant:
absent  
  Donkey:
inferred absent  
  Dog:
inferred absent  
  Camel:
absent  
Armor
  Wood Bark Etc:
absent  
  Shield:
present  
  Scaled Armor:
absent  
  Plate Armor:
present  
  Limb Protection:
absent  
  Leather Cloth:
present  
  Laminar Armor:
absent  
  Helmet:
present  
  Chainmail:
inferred present  
  Breastplate:
present  
Naval technology
  Specialized Military Vessel:
absent  
  Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
absent  
  Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
absent  
Religion Tolerance Nothing coded yet.
Human Sacrifice Nothing coded yet.
Crisis Consequences Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions Nothing coded yet.

NGA Settlements:

Year Range Sakha - Early (ru_sakha_early) was in:
 (1400 CE 1642 CE)   Lena River Valley
Home NGA: Lena River Valley

General Variables
Identity and Location

Original Name:
Sakha

’The Yakut, who prefer to call themselves "Sakha," [...] are the farthest-north Turkic people, with a consciousness of having once lived farther south kept alive by legends and confirmed by historical and archaeological research.’ [1]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


The Sakha were initially not organized around a capital: ’As horse and cattle breeders, the Yakut had a transhumant pattern of summer and winter settlements. Winter settlements comprised as few as twenty people, involving several closely related families who shared pasture land and lived in nearby yurts (BALAGAN) with surrounding storehouses and corrals. The yurts were oblong huts with slanted earth walls, low ceilings, sod roofs and dirt floors. Most had an adjoining room for cattle. They had substantial hearths, and fur-covered benches lining the walls demarcated sleeping arrangements according to social protocol. Yurts faced east, toward benevolent deities. In summer families moved to larger encampments with their animals. The most ancient summer homes, URASY, were elegant birch-bark conical tents. Some could hold one hundred people. Their ceilings soared at the center point, above a circular hearth. Around the sides were wide benches placed in compartments that served as ranked seating and sleeping areas. Every pole or eave was carved with symbolic designs of animals, fertility, and lineage identities.’ [1]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


Alternative Name:
Urangkhai Sakha

The term "Yakut" is frequently found in our sources to refer to the Sakha people. However, Sakha is the preferred self-designated term. Therefore, out of respect, we generally prefer “Sakha” instead of "Yakut", except for source titles and direct quotations.’The Yakut, who prefer to call themselves "Sakha," [...] are the farthest-north Turkic people, with a consciousness of having once lived farther south kept alive by legends and confirmed by historical and archaeological research.’ [1]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

Alternative Name:
Yakut

The term "Yakut" is frequently found in our sources to refer to the Sakha people. However, Sakha is the preferred self-designated term. Therefore, out of respect, we generally prefer “Sakha” instead of "Yakut", except for source titles and direct quotations.’The Yakut, who prefer to call themselves "Sakha," [...] are the farthest-north Turkic people, with a consciousness of having once lived farther south kept alive by legends and confirmed by historical and archaeological research.’ [1]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


Temporal Bounds
Duration:
[1,400 CE ➜ 1,632 CE]

Before the Russian invasions, the territory was governed by independent Sakha and other tribes: ’The Sakha are thought to be an admixture of migrants from the Lake Baikal region with the aborigines of the Lena-probably mostly Evenk (Evenki), who have contributed much to their culture. Other evidence, however, points to a southern ancestry related to the Turkic-speaking tribes of the steppe and the Altai Mountains. The early history of the Sakha is little known, though epic tales date from the 10th century. In the 17th century they had peacefully assimilated with other northern peoples and consisted of 80 independent tribes, subdivided into clans.’ [1] ’Yakut oral histories begin well before first contact with Russians in the seventeenth century. For example, OLONKHO (epics) date at least to the tenth century, a period of interethnic mixing, tensions, and upheaval that may have been a formative period in defining Yakut tribal affiliations. Ethnographic and archaeological data suggest that the ancestors of the Yakut, identified in some theories with the Kuriakon people, lived in an area near Lake Baikal and may have been part of the Uighur state bordering China. By the fourteenth century, Yakut ancestors migrated north, perhaps in small refugee groups, with herds of horses and cattle. After arrival in the Lena valley, they fought and intermarried with the native Evenk and Yukagir nomads. Thus, both peaceful and belligerent relations with northern Siberians, Chinese, Mongols, and Turkic peoples preceded Russian hegemony. When the first parties of Cossacks arrived at the Lena River in the 1620s, Yakut received them with hospitality and wariness. Several skirmishes and revolts followed, led at first by the legendary Yakut hero Tygyn.’ [2] In the early 17th century, Cossack expeditions invaded Yakut territory and exacted tribute from the population: ’By 1620 a report had reached Tobolsk from the Mangaseya Cossacks of the Great (Lena) River and the Lena Yakut. In 1631 they descended by the Viliui River, a tributary of the Lena, to the Lena River and imposed tribute on the adjacent Yakut. In 1632 a party of Cossacks under the command of the Boyar’s son, Shakov, took tribute in sables from a clan of Viliui horse-breeding Yakut. The Viliui River farther up from its mouth was occupied by Tungus only. The northern boundary of the distribution of the Yakut at that time was the mouth of the Viliui. The whole Lena Valley from the mouth of the Viliui River to the south, at a distance of about 500 kilometers (or 710 miles) was occupied by Yakut. In their possession were also all the Lena islands of that region, rich in pasture lands. There is no definite information as to how far inland they penetrated at that period. We may admit, however, that the Yakut, being horse and cattle breeders, were hardly inclined to move into the dense forests far from the majority of their tribesmen, i.e., far from the Lena Valley. In the beginning of the seventeenth century the Yakut abode on the western banks of the Lena must have been the territory of the two present uluses of Yakutsk District, Namskij and Western Kangalassky. There, according to Yakut traditions, was the first place of refuge of their mythical forefather, the “Tatar” Elliei. From there a part of his nearest descendants could also have emigrated over the Lena islands to the eastern banks of the Lena River, where excellent pastures are as abundant as on the western banks.’ [3] During the Russian period, Yakutia came under Czarist political and administrative control: ’By 1642 the Lena valley was under tribute to the czar; peace was won only after a long siege of a formidable Yakut fortress. By 1700 the fort settlement of Yakutsk (founded 1632) was a bustling Russian administrative, commercial, and religious center and a launching point for further exploration into Kamchatka and Chukotka. Some Yakut moved northeast into territories they had previously not dominated, further assimilating the Evenk and Yukagir. Most Yakut, however, remained in the central meadowlands, sometimes assimilating Russians. Yakut leaders cooperated with Russian commanders and governors, becoming active in trade, fur-tax collection, transport, and the postal system. ’ [2]

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Sakha-people

[2]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

[3]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut", 220


Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
none

During the Russian period, Sakha came under Czarist political and administrative control: ’By 1642 the Lena valley was under tribute to the czar; peace was won only after a long siege of a formidable Yakut fortress. By 1700 the fort settlement of Yakutsk (founded 1632) was a bustling Russian administrative, commercial, and religious center and a launching point for further exploration into Kamchatka and Chukotka. Some Yakut moved northeast into territories they had previously not dominated, further assimilating the Evenk and Yukagir. Most Yakut, however, remained in the central meadowlands, sometimes assimilating Russians. Yakut leaders cooperated with Russian commanders and governors, becoming active in trade, fur-tax collection, transport, and the postal system. ’ [1] Before that, the Lena river valley was inhabited by independent tribes (see above).

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


Supracultural Entity:
Siberia

The Sakha may be of Turkic origin, but mingled culturally with other local tribes: ’The Sakha are thought to be an admixture of migrants from the Lake Baikal region with the aborigines of the Lena-probably mostly Evenk (Evenki), who have contributed much to their culture. Other evidence, however, points to a southern ancestry related to the Turkic-speaking tribes of the steppe and the Altai Mountains. The early history of the Sakha is little known, though epic tales date from the 10th century. In the 17th century they had peacefully assimilated with other northern peoples and consisted of 80 independent tribes, subdivided into clans.’ [1] ’Yakutia is a 3,100,000-square-kilometer territory (over four times the size of Texas), in eastern Siberia (the Soviet Far East). Located at approximately 56 to 71 degree north latitude and 107 to 152 east longitude, it is bounded by Chukotka to the northeast, Buriatia in the south, and the Evenk region to the west. Its northern coast stretches far above the Arctic Circle, along the East Siberian Sea, whereas its southern rim includes the Stanovoi Mountains and the Aldan plateau. Its most majestic river, the Lena, flows north along cavernous cliffs, into a long valley, and past the capital, Yakutsk. Other key river systems, where major towns have developed, include the Aldan, Viliui, and Kolyma. About 700,000 named rivers and streams cross Yakutia, which has some agricultural land, but is primarily nonagricultural taiga, with vast resources of gold, other minerals, gas, and oil. Tundra rims the north, except for forests along the rivers. Notorious for extremes of cold, long winters, and hot, dry summers, Yakutia has two locations that residents claim to be the "coldest on earth": Verkhoiansk and Oimiakon, where temperatures have dipped to -79 degrees Celsius. More typical are winters of 0 to -40 degrees Celsius and summers of 10 to 30 degrees Celsius.’ [2] Wikipedia provides 13,100,000 km squared as the total extent of Siberia [3] . We have opted for Siberia rather than Sakha as the supra-cultural entity in question, hence the large number. This remains open to re-evaluation.

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Sakha-people

[2]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

[3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberia


Succeeding Entity:
Czarist Russia

In the early 17th century, Cossack expeditions invaded Sakha territory and exacted tribute from the population: ’By 1620 a report had reached Tobolsk from the Mangaseya Cossacks of the Great (Lena) River and the Lena Yakut. In 1631 they descended by the Viliui River, a tributary of the Lena, to the Lena River and imposed tribute on the adjacent Yakut. In 1632 a party of Cossacks under the command of the Boyar’s son, Shakov, took tribute in sables from a clan of Viliui horse-breeding Yakut. The Viliui River farther up from its mouth was occupied by Tungus only. The northern boundary of the distribution of the Yakut at that time was the mouth of the Viliui. The whole Lena Valley from the mouth of the Viliui River to the south, at a distance of about 500 kilometers (or 710 miles) was occupied by Yakut. In their possession were also all the Lena islands of that region, rich in pasture lands. There is no definite information as to how far inland they penetrated at that period. We may admit, however, that the Yakut, being horse and cattle breeders, were hardly inclined to move into the dense forests far from the majority of their tribesmen, i.e., far from the Lena Valley. In the beginning of the seventeenth century the Yakut abode on the western banks of the Lena must have been the territory of the two present uluses of Yakutsk District, Namskij and Western Kangalassky. There, according to Yakut traditions, was the first place of refuge of their mythical forefather, the “Tatar” Elliei. From there a part of his nearest descendants could also have emigrated over the Lena islands to the eastern banks of the Lena River, where excellent pastures are as abundant as on the western banks.’ [1] During the Russian period, Sakha came under Czarist political and administrative control: ’By 1642 the Lena valley was under tribute to the czar; peace was won only after a long siege of a formidable Yakut fortress. By 1700 the fort settlement of Yakutsk (founded 1632) was a bustling Russian administrative, commercial, and religious center and a launching point for further exploration into Kamchatka and Chukotka. Some Yakut moved northeast into territories they had previously not dominated, further assimilating the Evenk and Yukagir. Most Yakut, however, remained in the central meadowlands, sometimes assimilating Russians. Yakut leaders cooperated with Russian commanders and governors, becoming active in trade, fur-tax collection, transport, and the postal system. ’ [2]

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut", 220

[2]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
13,100,000 km2

km squared. The Sakha may be of Turkic origin, but mingled culturally with other local tribes: ’The Sakha are thought to be an admixture of migrants from the Lake Baikal region with the aborigines of the Lena-probably mostly Evenk (Evenki), who have contributed much to their culture. Other evidence, however, points to a southern ancestry related to the Turkic-speaking tribes of the steppe and the Altai Mountains. The early history of the Sakha is little known, though epic tales date from the 10th century. In the 17th century they had peacefully assimilated with other northern peoples and consisted of 80 independent tribes, subdivided into clans.’ [1] ’Yakutia is a 3,100,000-square-kilometer territory (over four times the size of Texas), in eastern Siberia (the Soviet Far East). Located at approximately 56 to 71 degree north latitude and 107 to 152 east longitude, it is bounded by Chukotka to the northeast, Buriatia in the south, and the Evenk region to the west. Its northern coast stretches far above the Arctic Circle, along the East Siberian Sea, whereas its southern rim includes the Stanovoi Mountains and the Aldan plateau. Its most majestic river, the Lena, flows north along cavernous cliffs, into a long valley, and past the capital, Yakutsk. Other key river systems, where major towns have developed, include the Aldan, Viliui, and Kolyma. About 700,000 named rivers and streams cross Yakutia, which has some agricultural land, but is primarily nonagricultural taiga, with vast resources of gold, other minerals, gas, and oil. Tundra rims the north, except for forests along the rivers. Notorious for extremes of cold, long winters, and hot, dry summers, Yakutia has two locations that residents claim to be the "coldest on earth": Verkhoiansk and Oimiakon, where temperatures have dipped to -79 degrees Celsius. More typical are winters of 0 to -40 degrees Celsius and summers of 10 to 30 degrees Celsius.’ [2] Wikipedia provides 13,100,000 km squared as the total extent of Siberia [3] . We have opted for Siberia rather than Yakutia as the supra-cultural entity in question, hence the large number. This remains open to re-evaluation.

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Sakha-people

[2]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

[3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberia


Relationship to Preceding Entity:
population migration

The Sakha entered the Lena river valley in the 14th century. The area was inhabited by Evenk and Yukagir nomads : ’Yakut oral histories begin well before first contact with Russians in the seventeenth century. For example, OLONKHO (epics) date at least to the tenth century, a period of interethnic mixing, tensions, and upheaval that may have been a formative period in defining Yakut tribal affiliations. Ethnographic and archaeological data suggest that the ancestors of the Yakut, identified in some theories with the Kuriakon people, lived in an area near Lake Baikal and may have been part of the Uighur state bordering China. By the fourteenth century, Yakut ancestors migrated north, perhaps in small refugee groups, with herds of horses and cattle. After arrival in the Lena valley, they fought and intermarried with the native Evenk and Yukagir nomads. Thus, both peaceful and belligerent relations with northern Siberians, Chinese, Mongols, and Turkic peoples preceded Russian hegemony. When the first parties of Cossacks arrived at the Lena River in the 1620s, Yakut received them with hospitality and wariness. Several skirmishes and revolts followed, led at first by the legendary Yakut hero Tygyn.’ [1]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


Preceding Entity:
Kurumchi Culture

The Kurumchi culture flourished in the Baikal region from the sixth to the tenth century CE, and strongly influenced the Sakha. [1]
New excavation of Sakha graves reveal bent posture burials linked to the early ethnic history of the Yakuts, chronologically associated with the Kulun-Atakh archaeological culture (fourteenth through sixteenth centuries). The closest analogues to bent posture burials are the burial traditions of medieval tribes of Cisbaikalia and Transbaikalia. In the Hunnu-Xianbei time and in the era of the Early Middle Ages, bent posture burials spread into Cisbaikalia in groups of burials of the Elga (3rd century BCE to fourth century CE) and Cherenkhyn (fifth through eight centuries CE). “B.B Dashibalov attributed them to the Kurumchi culture, dated to the fifth through fourteenth centuries CE and left, in his opinion, by the Kurykan and Khori tribes, which subsequently became foundation in the constituting of the Yakuts.” (243) [2]
The Sakha entered the Lena river valley in the 14th century. The area was inhabited by Evenk and Yukagir nomads : ’Yakut oral histories begin well before first contact with Russians in the seventeenth century. For example, OLONKHO (epics) date at least to the tenth century, a period of interethnic mixing, tensions, and upheaval that may have been a formative period in defining Yakut tribal affiliations. Ethnographic and archaeological data suggest that the ancestors of the Yakut, identified in some theories with the Kuriakon people, lived in an area near Lake Baikal and may have been part of the Uighur state bordering China. By the fourteenth century, Yakut ancestors migrated north, perhaps in small refugee groups, with herds of horses and cattle. After arrival in the Lena valley, they fought and intermarried with the native Evenk and Yukagir nomads. Thus, both peaceful and belligerent relations with northern Siberians, Chinese, Mongols, and Turkic peoples preceded Russian hegemony. When the first parties of Cossacks arrived at the Lena River in the 1620s, Yakut received them with hospitality and wariness. Several skirmishes and revolts followed, led at first by the legendary Yakut hero Tygyn.’ [3]

[1]: Irina Dmitrievna Tkačenko. 2010. “Riding Horse Tack Among the Cattle-Breeders of Central Asia and Southern Siberia in the First and Second Millennia CE. Études mongoles et sibériennes, centrasiatiques et tibétaines, 41: (pp. 21-22.)

[2]: R.I. Bravina, V.M. D’iakonov, A.N. Bagashev, D.I. Razhev, O.E. Poshekhonova, S.M. Stetsenko, E.A. Alekseeva, Ia.V. Kuz’min & G.W.L. Hodgins. 2016. Early Yakut Burials of the Fourteenth–Seventeenth Centuries, Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia, 55, 3-4: 232-268

[3]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


Degree of Centralization:
quasi-polity

Sakha clan and tribal organization was decentralized: ’Kinship and politics were mixed in the hierarchical council system that guided AQA-USA, AIMAK, and DZHON. Yakut explanations of DZHON in the nineteenth century included concepts like "people," "community," or "tribe," territorially defined. Councils were composed of ranked circles of elders, usually men, whose leaders, TOYONS, were called nobles by Russians. A lineage head was BIS-USA-TOYON; respected warriors and hunters were BATYR. Lineage councils decided major economic issues, interfamily disputes, and questions of blood revenge for violence committed against the group. AIMAK and DZHON councils were infrequent, dealing with issues of security, revenge, alliance, and, before Russian control, war. Through war, slaves were captured for service in the wealthiest TOYON households. Kin-based councils were rare by the nineteenth century and had little influence on twentieth-century politics.’ [1] ’Key kin relations are based on a patrilineage (AQA-USA) that traces membership back nine generations. Within this, children born to a specific mother are distinguished as a group (YE-USA), and may form the basis for different households (KORGON). Historically, more distant kin were recognized on two levels, the AIMAK (or territorial NASLEG), with one to thirty lineages, and the DZHON (or territorial ULUS), composed of several AIMAK. These larger units were united by alliances, including for common defense, alliances, and by economic relations; these links were renewed at councils and festivals.’ [1] ’The Sakha are thought to be an admixture of migrants from the Lake Baikal region with the aborigines of the Lena-probably mostly Evenk (Evenki), who have contributed much to their culture. Other evidence, however, points to a southern ancestry related to the Turkic-speaking tribes of the steppe and the Altai Mountains. The early history of the Sakha is little known, though epic tales date from the 10th century. In the 17th century they had peacefully assimilated with other northern peoples and consisted of 80 independent tribes, subdivided into clans.’ [2] During the early Russian period, the Czarist administrative structure was superimposed on the Sakha system: ’No less significant changes occurred in the administrative organization of the Yakut country. In the seventeenth century Yakutsk was the center of a great independent country directly subordinate to Moscow, although for some specific questions it was dependent on the governors of Tobolsk. In the time of Peter the Great, Yakutsk entered into the newly organized Siberian Goubernyia (government) and with the division of the Siberian government into provinces was included in Irkutsk Province. In 1775 Irkutsk Province was organized into a government and the Yakut country formed one of the provinces of the new government. ’ [3]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

[2]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Sakha-people

[3]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut”, 224


Language

Language:
Sakha (Yakut)

The Sakha people refer to their language as ’Sakha’ however, many scholars have used the term ’Yakut’. ’The Yakut speak Yakut, a Northeast Turkic language of the Altaic Language Family. It is one of the most divergent of the Turkic languages, closely related to Dolgan (a mixture of Evenk and Yakut sometimes described as a Yakut dialect). The Yakut, over 90 percent of whom speak Yakut as their mother tongue, call their language "Sakha-tyla." Their current written language, developed in the 1930s, is a modified Cyrillic script. Before this, they had several written forms, including a Latin script developed in the 1920s and a Cyrillic script introduced by missionaries in the nineteenth century. Yakut lore includes legends of a written language lost after they traveled north to the Lena valley.’ [1]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


Religion

Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
100 people

Inhabitants. There were no large urban settlements at the time. Sakha settlements were initially comprised of residential homesteads only: ’As horse and cattle breeders, the Yakut had a transhumant pattern of summer and winter settlements. Winter settlements comprised as few as twenty people, involving several closely related families who shared pasture land and lived in nearby yurts (BALAGAN) with surrounding storehouses and corrals. The yurts were oblong huts with slanted earth walls, low ceilings, sod roofs and dirt floors. Most had an adjoining room for cattle. They had substantial hearths, and fur-covered benches lining the walls demarcated sleeping arrangements according to social protocol. Yurts faced east, toward benevolent deities. In summer families moved to larger encampments with their animals. The most ancient summer homes, URASY, were elegant birch-bark conical tents. Some could hold one hundred people. Their ceilings soared at the center point, above a circular hearth. Around the sides were wide benches placed in compartments that served as ranked seating and sleeping areas. Every pole or eave was carved with symbolic designs of animals, fertility, and lineage identities.’ [1] We have chosen the figures provided by Balzer, although it is not quite clear from her description whether urasy tents were regularly pitched together or stood alone. Accordingly the figure provided may be in need of re-evaluation and additional evidence.

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
1

levels.
(1) Sakha Homesteads (Balagan, Urasy) and Farms
Nomadic Sakha alternated between winter yurts and summer homes: ’As horse and cattle breeders, the Yakut had a transhumant pattern of summer and winter settlements. Winter settlements comprised as few as twenty people, involving several closely related families who shared pasture land and lived in nearby yurts (BALAGAN) with surrounding storehouses and corrals. The yurts were oblong huts with slanted earth walls, low ceilings, sod roofs and dirt floors. Most had an adjoining room for cattle. They had substantial hearths, and fur-covered benches lining the walls demarcated sleeping arrangements according to social protocol. Yurts faced east, toward benevolent deities. In summer families moved to larger encampments with their animals. The most ancient summer homes, URASY, were elegant birch-bark conical tents. Some could hold one hundred people. Their ceilings soared at the center point, above a circular hearth. Around the sides were wide benches placed in compartments that served as ranked seating and sleeping areas. Every pole or eave was carved with symbolic designs of animals, fertility, and lineage identities.’ [1] ’Traditional pastoralism in central Yakutia required homestead self-reliance, with intense dependence on calves and foals in a harsh climate. Stables, corrals, and haying developed in conjunction with hardy breeds of cattle and short, fat, furry horses. Richer families owned hundreds of horses and cattle; poorer ones raised a few cattle or herded for others. A huge variety of dairy products, including fermented mare’s milk, (Russian: KUMYS), was the staple food, with meat for special occasions. The diet was augmented by hunting (bears, elk, squirrels, hare, ferrets, fowl), fishing (salmon, carp, MUSKSUN, MUNDU), and, under Russian influence, agriculture (cereals). Wealthy Yakut hunted on horseback using dogs. The poorest Yakut, those without cattle, relied on fishing with horsehair nets and, in the north, herded reindeer like their Evenk and Yukagir neighbors.’ [1] Only later did Russian invaders build riverside towns: ’In 1632 the Russian invaders erected a little fortress called Lesnoi Ostroshek, on the eastern bank of the Lena; ten years later they transferred it seventy kilometers to the south, where it became the center of the territory under the name of the City of Yakutsk. The fortress, now the City, of Olekminsk was erected by a Cossack party under the command of Buza in 1635. In the summer of 1637 Buza built two flat-bottomed ships, called kocha, and descended to the mouth of the Lena River, and traveled in an easterly direction on the Polar Sea. Not far from the mouth of the Omoloi River he was barred by ice and was compelled to abandon his ships. For three weeks his party walked over mountain ridges until they arrived at the upper reaches of the Yana River, where they met Yakut and took many sable skins from them as tribute.’ [2]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

[2]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut”, 221


Religious Level:
1

levels.
(1) Local Shamans (Oiun, Udagan)
Shamans served local communities even after the spread of Christianity: ’As with other Siberian peoples, Yakut shamans (OIUN if male, UDAGAN if female) combine medical and spiritual practice. [...] In the nineteenth century a few Yakut leaders financed the building of Russian Orthodox churches, and many Yakut declared themselves Christian, but this did not mean that they saw Christianity and shamanism as mutually exclusive. The Yakut also believed in the spiritual power of blacksmiths.’ [1] ’Nevertheless, the outward conditions of life have hardly changed after the Russian conquest. There is always the same uncertainty of existence; the unsatisfactory conditions for men as well as for animals continue to exist. The sacrificial priests still everywhere and always hold position and duties of priests, physicians, and fortune-tellers (prophets).’ [2] ’In the Yakut district all Yakuts with rare exceptions have been baptized according to the ‘ancient faith’ [RCH: i.e. , Christianity] rite, or were born from parents of that faith. Yet one can hardly be sure that a Yakut, professing the ancient faith, has given up his shamanist creed, or that he does not have recourse to the latter. I have personally known two shamans, one of them in the Yakutsk district, the other on the Kytach island on the mouth of the Lena, who were both known as followers of the ‘ancient faith.’’ [3] There where black and white shamans: ’Supernatural power was attributed to blacksmiths, since their art was considered a divine gift. The old Sakha religion had many supernatural spirits, good and evil. Black shamans dealt with evil spirits and could be benevolent or harmful; white shamans were concerned with spiritual intercession for human beings. Two major religious festivals were celebrated with ritual use of koumiss (fermented mare’s milk), one in spring for good spirits and one in fall accompanied by blood sacrifices of livestock for evil spirits.’ [4] Shamans officiated at seasonal festivals: ’The most important festival among the Yakut is connected with the preparation and use of kumiss, and is called ysyax, or kumiss festival. It has both a social and a religious significance. During the summer, in olden times, every rich man arranged a kumiss festival, at which all members of the clan assembled and were entertained. Other people, and frequently whole clans, were invited; and during the festival, defensive and offensive leagues were concluded. Every such festival commenced with sacrifices, and was accompanied with songs, dances, games, horse and foot races, and other contests.’ [5] ’The first night of the festival is in honor of Big-Lord ( Ulu-Toyon ) and the evil spirits of the upper world subordinate to him. The second night is in honor of Axsan Duolai and his subordinates, the evil spirits of the lower world. To all of these evil spirits, in addition to the libations of kumiss made to the benevolent deities, blood sacrifices of cattle and horses are also made. This ceremony, according to Trostchansky, is superintended by nine male and nine female shamans.’ [6] Shamans were compensated for their services, but did not receive sufficient payments for their livelihood: ’I at least never heard anything about a wealthy shaman; on the contrary, the shaman often gets no more than 5 kopeks for healing a sick eye. And how little is this sum worth north of Yakutsk! Some Yakuts refused to accept a twenty kopeks coin for a hazel-hen I wanted to buy, saying that they could not manage to use the money; if it had an eye, they would have used it as a button; but as there was no such, I was to take it back. The smallest unit for them is the ruble.’ [7]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

[2]: Priklonski, Vasilij, and Friedrich S. Krauss 1888. “Shamanism Among The Yakut”, 166

[3]: Priklonski, Vasilij, and Friedrich S. Krauss 1888. “Shamanism Among The Yakut”, 167

[4]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Sakha-people

[5]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1906. “Kumiss Festivals Of The Yakut And The Decoration Of Kumiss Vessels”, 263

[6]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1906. “Kumiss Festivals Of The Yakut And The Decoration Of Kumiss Vessels”, 265

[7]: Priklonski, Vasilij, and Friedrich S. Krauss 1888. “Shamanism Among The Yakut", 175


Military Level:
2

levels.
(1) War-Leaders (Toen, Toyon) of the Military Aristocracy; (2) Warriors (Säpi, Säpi Kisita) and Voluntary Spies
Sakha warriors and spies fought for their clans and tribes: ’Yakut warriors ( säpi, säpi kisita ) were usually mounted horsemen ( minjär ), but there were also foot soldiers ( sat[unknown]ykisita ). Their weapons ( säp ) consisted of a light bent bow ( s[unknown]a ), a quiver ( käsäx, s[unknown]adax ), and arrows ( aya ) .’ [1] ’These warriors formed a chain of movable, vigilant pickets around the settlements. In case of war they formed the kernel of the fighting detachment -- sari Some of the bolder ones went to find their fortune, dzhol. They would go far into unknown territory, among foreigners, either by themselves or with companions. Such detachments would not take their cattle with them and often traveled on foot. They made their living exclusively by hunting, fishing, and looting. The Yakut kept these habits for a long time, until very recently. Khudiakov has a legend about Khaptagay-batyr and his son Khokhoe-batyr, and their three khosun: Sappy, Yngkabyl, and Batagyyan, who roamed about in the seventeen forties, during the time of Pavlutskii, in the north of the Yakutsk Oblast. In the Kolymsk Okrug (1882), I wrote down a legend about the two Yakut brothers who were the first to make their way into the kolymsk Krai. Their names have been forgotten. In the Namsk Ulus I was told a legend about the Vilyuysk Yakut Tangas-Boltongo who also wandered by himself somewhere in the little-known, remote regions of the Vilyuysk Okrug. He was called a bagatyr, just as the old epic heroes. Apparently he lived in the beginning of the present century; this is indicated by the name of a Yakut hunter of the Namsk Ulus, Betyunsk Nasleg, Chaky clan, whom he encountered: his name was Soldat. Soldiers appeared in the Yakutsk Oblast only in the last century, at the time of the Kamchatka campaigns of Pavlutskii. Then Middendorf mentions solitary Yakut hunters whom he encountered far from their native tribes in the mountains of the Amur Basin. Such bold fellows served their clans as a sort of voluntary spies, searching out new pastures suitable for settlement in case some sort of unpleasantness or inconvenience should arise in the homeland. They brought back word of new lands, of the peoples they had encountered, the details of the route, and the obstacles involved. Sometimes the clan would choose such people out of their own number and deliberately send them out on a searching party. The tales The Golden Eagle and the Teal, and The Flying Winged Creatures hint at this. These were chosen people and were also called bagatyr, baatyr, batyr, or batur; strictly speaking in the Yakut language this word means valorous, exceptionallymanly, bold, strong, and clever. But these people did not have any special rights in the clan besides the usual rights gained through personal superiority.’ [2] Military operations were led by war-leaders, who formed a military aristocracy based on heredity and personal military success: ’Just as now, common matters were managed by the clan assembly. Matters of war and minor legal cases, which demanded quick settlement without any delays, were managed by a war leader -- toen -- acknowledged by the rest of the people. According to the Yakut this service was hereditary, on the strength of their belief that an eaglet is always an eagle; a young crow is always a crow. But this hereditary right was not strictly followed. Thus, the heir of the Borogon toen, Legey, was not his son, but a foreign adopted son who had been bought for money. Another saga relates, with full consciousness of the legality of such a matter, that the Tungus chose as their toen a Yakut, Khaptagay-batyr, because of his valor. The sago says: No Lamut (Tungus), no matter who, will kill you. Now you be our lord (toen). If a Lamut will not obey your word, let there be a sin upon him. The toen always had in addition the title of bagatyr (valorous) and in the popular conception his traits of character had to correspond with those demanded of a hero. But he would not wander by himself, nor look for adventures, but would always live where the clan was and only leave in time of war, at the head of the mounted and armed detachment.’ [3] ’We can judge how large these unions sometimes were by the fact that in 1634 600 Yakut warriors under the leadership of prince Mymak took part in a battle on the right bank of the Lena, in which the army of ataman Galkin was crushed and all his horses were lost.’ [4] ’At this period, however, the clan-tribal structure was already in a state of decomposition. The tribes and clans were headed by the military aristocracy-the toyons. These possessed large herds of cattle and employed the labor of slaves and dependent fellow clansmen on their farms; they were also the military leaders. Heading detachments of armed servants and junior fellow clansmen, the toyons raided each other’s territory, and frequently looted the farms of the free members of the community, seizing their cattle and destroying their economic independence. These toyon wars and raids were one of the factors which speeded up the decomposition of the clan commune. The ruined members of the commune were reduced to the status of “balyksyts” (poor people without cattle, or fishermen), or else became the indentured slaves of the toyons. Most of the slaves (kuluts or bokans) originated in this way.’ [5]

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut", 172

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 717

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 718

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 760

[5]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 270


Administrative Level:
2

levels.
(1) Councils of Clan Unions and Tribal Units (Dzhon/Ulus) (2) Clan (Aimak/Nasleg) and Lineage (Aqa-Usa) Councils comprised of Elders, Prophets (Sesen) and Leaders (Toyon) or ’Princelings’
Until at least the 19th century, lineage councils were the primary administrative bodies: ’Kinship and politics were mixed in the hierarchical council system that guided AQA-USA, AIMAK, and DZHON. Yakut explanations of DZHON in the nineteenth century included concepts like "people," "community," or "tribe," territorially defined. Councils were composed of ranked circles of elders, usually men, whose leaders, TOYONS, were called nobles by Russians. A lineage head was BIS-USA-TOYON; respected warriors and hunters were BATYR. Lineage councils decided major economic issues, interfamily disputes, and questions of blood revenge for violence committed against the group. AIMAK and DZHON councils were infrequent, dealing with issues of security, revenge, alliance, and, before Russian control, war. Through war, slaves were captured for service in the wealthiest TOYON households. Kin-based councils were rare by the nineteenth century and had little influence on twentieth-century politics.’ [1] ’Key kin relations are based on a patrilineage (AQA-USA) that traces membership back nine generations. Within this, children born to a specific mother are distinguished as a group (YE-USA), and may form the basis for different households (KORGON). Historically, more distant kin were recognized on two levels, the AIMAK (or territorial NASLEG), with one to thirty lineages, and the DZHON (or territorial ULUS), composed of several AIMAK. These larger units were united by alliances, including for common defense, alliances, and by economic relations; these links were renewed at councils and festivals.’ [1] ’Prophets’ and other elders dominated most councils: ’According to tradition, the seseny played no minor role in assemblies in the past. The word sesen comes from the same root as the verb sesenibin - I advise, I think, I predict. Legend portrayes the seseny as white-haired, honored, experienced elders.’ [2] ’This dignity was neither elective nor hereditary, but not every old man was considered to be a sesen. For this he had to have a special gift of prophecy - in other words: an acknowledged intellect, experience, and knowledge. In difficult moments the heroes of olongo frequently turn to such advice-giving, honored, light-eyed Old Men-Talkers.’ [3] ’In the past we did not decide anything without sesen. (Namsk Ulus, 1888). I will note that in this testimony sesen is used in the sense of sorcerer. The sesen decided disputed questions on the basis of custom, and gave advice when the clan was undergoing hard times. At ysyakh, before the games and contests began, the sesen of each clan or clan union would look over their own wrestlers; and they would remove those who were not good enough, who had recently sinned with a woman, who did not restrain themselves sufficiently in eating and drinking, so that they would not bring shame to their own people. They found all this out by feeling the body of the wrestlers, and by looking into their eyes and face. (Namsk Ulus, 1891). In the Bayagantaysk Ulus, when I asked who had named the rivers, hills, and other natural features, they answered: It must be the sesen - the old, ancient men, who knew everything! (Bayagantaysk Ulus, 1885).’ [3] Sesens were often from the toen class: ’Since within the clan many sesen were at the same time toen, i.e., the representatives of separate groups, they wielded enormous influencein clan councils. Usually in legends they are simply called old men - ogonior.’ [3] Clan unions and tribal units also held council: ’They wielded less importance in councils of clan unions: there the first place was held by the heads of the clans, bis’ usa toeno.’ [3] It seems that the Russian period was preceded by a period of heightened social stratification favouring the Toyons: ’At this period, however, the clan-tribal structure was already in a state of decomposition. The tribes and clans were headed by the military aristocracy-the toyons. These possessed large herds of cattle and employed the labor of slaves and dependent fellow clansmen on their farms; they were also the military leaders. Heading detachments of armed servants and junior fellow clansmen, the toyons raided each other’s territory, and frequently looted the farms of the free members of the community, seizing their cattle and destroying their economic independence. These toyon wars and raids were one of the factors which speeded up the decomposition of the clan commune. The ruined members of the commune were reduced to the status of “balyksyts” (poor people without cattle, or fishermen), or else became the indentured slaves of the toyons. Most of the slaves (kuluts or bokans) originated in this way.’ [4] The Russian administration later reinforced kin-based hierarchies and superimposed a supratribal structure onto the Sakha system (see next sheet): ’The system of tsarist administration was no different here from what existed in any other part of Northern Siberia. The Dolgans, Yakuts and Evenks had to pay the fur-tax as “natives” and formed “clans” headed by princelings, while the tundra peasants were forced to pay a poll tax, were formed into a “community” and headed by an elder. People living many hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest centers were economically dependent on the merchants who monopolized supplies to the region, bought up all the furs, and cruelly exploited the population.’ [5]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 736

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 737

[4]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 270

[5]: Popov, A. A. 1964. “Dolgans”, 656


Professions
Professional Soldier:
absent

Full-time specialists. Sakha warriors and spies fought for their clans and tribes, and were not professionals in the conventional sense of the term: ’Yakut warriors ( säpi, säpi kisita ) were usually mounted horsemen ( minjär ), but there were also foot soldiers ( sat[unknown]ykisita ). Their weapons ( säp ) consisted of a light bent bow ( s[unknown]a ), a quiver ( käsäx, s[unknown]adax ), and arrows ( aya ) .’ [1] ’These warriors formed a chain of movable, vigilant pickets around the settlements. In case of war they formed the kernel of the fighting detachment -- sari Some of the bolder ones went to find their fortune, dzhol. They would go far into unknown territory, among foreigners, either by themselves or with companions. Such detachments would not take their cattle with them and often traveled on foot. They made their living exclusively by hunting, fishing, and looting. The Yakut kept these habits for a long time, until very recently. Khudiakov has a legend about Khaptagay-batyr and his son Khokhoe-batyr, and their three khosun: Sappy, Yngkabyl, and Batagyyan, who roamed about in the seventeen forties, during the time of Pavlutskii, in the north of the Yakutsk Oblast. In the Kolymsk Okrug (1882), I wrote down a legend about the two Yakut brothers who were the first to make their way into the kolymsk Krai. Their names have been forgotten. In the Namsk Ulus I was told a legend about the Vilyuysk Yakut Tangas-Boltongo who also wandered by himself somewhere in the little-known, remote regions of the Vilyuysk Okrug. He was called a bagatyr, just as the old epic heroes. Apparently he lived in the beginning of the present century; this is indicated by the name of a Yakut hunter of the Namsk Ulus, Betyunsk Nasleg, Chaky clan, whom he encountered: his name was Soldat. Soldiers appeared in the Yakutsk Oblast only in the last century, at the time of the Kamchatka campaigns of Pavlutskii. Then Middendorf mentions solitary Yakut hunters whom he encountered far from their native tribes in the mountains of the Amur Basin. Such bold fellows served their clans as a sort of voluntary spies, searching out new pastures suitable for settlement in case some sort of unpleasantness or inconvenience should arise in the homeland. They brought back word of new lands, of the peoples they had encountered, the details of the route, and the obstacles involved. Sometimes the clan would choose such people out of their own number and deliberately send them out on a searching party. The tales The Golden Eagle and the Teal, and The Flying Winged Creatures hint at this. These were chosen people and were also called bagatyr, baatyr, batyr, or batur; strictly speaking in the Yakut language this word means valorous, exceptionallymanly, bold, strong, and clever. But these people did not have any special rights in the clan besides the usual rights gained through personal superiority.’ [2] Military operations were led by war-leaders, who formed a military aristocracy based on heredity and personal military success: ’Just as now, common matters were managed by the clan assembly. Matters of war and minor legal cases, which demanded quick settlement without any delays, were managed by a war leader -- toen -- acknowledged by the rest of the people. According to the Yakut this service was hereditary, on the strength of their belief that an eaglet is always an eagle; a young crow is always a crow. But this hereditary right was not strictly followed. Thus, the heir of the Borogon toen, Legey, was not his son, but a foreign adopted son who had been bought for money. Another saga relates, with full consciousness of the legality of such a matter, that the Tungus chose as their toen a Yakut, Khaptagay-batyr, because of his valor. The sago says: No Lamut (Tungus), no matter who, will kill you. Now you be our lord (toen). If a Lamut will not obey your word, let there be a sin upon him. The toen always had in addition the title of bagatyr (valorous) and in the popular conception his traits of character had to correspond with those demanded of a hero. But he would not wander by himself, nor look for adventures, but would always live where the clan was and only leave in time of war, at the head of the mounted and armed detachment.’ [3] ’We can judge how large these unions sometimes were by the fact that in 1634 600 Yakut warriors under the leadership of prince Mymak took part in a battle on the right bank of the Lena, in which the army of ataman Galkin was crushed and all his horses were lost.’ [4] ’At this period, however, the clan-tribal structure was already in a state of decomposition. The tribes and clans were headed by the military aristocracy-the toyons. These possessed large herds of cattle and employed the labor of slaves and dependent fellow clansmen on their farms; they were also the military leaders. Heading detachments of armed servants and junior fellow clansmen, the toyons raided each other’s territory, and frequently looted the farms of the free members of the community, seizing their cattle and destroying their economic independence. These toyon wars and raids were one of the factors which speeded up the decomposition of the clan commune. The ruined members of the commune were reduced to the status of “balyksyts” (poor people without cattle, or fishermen), or else became the indentured slaves of the toyons. Most of the slaves (kuluts or bokans) originated in this way.’ [5]

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut", 172

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 717

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 718

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 760

[5]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 270


Professional Priesthood:
absent

Full-time specialists. Shamans served local communities even after the spread of Christianity: ’As with other Siberian peoples, Yakut shamans (OIUN if male, UDAGAN if female) combine medical and spiritual practice. [...] In the nineteenth century a few Yakut leaders financed the building of Russian Orthodox churches, and many Yakut declared themselves Christian, but this did not mean that they saw Christianity and shamanism as mutually exclusive. The Yakut also believed in the spiritual power of blacksmiths.’ [1] ’Nevertheless, the outward conditions of life have hardly changed after the Russian conquest. There is always the same uncertainty of existence; the unsatisfactory conditions for men as well as for animals continue to exist. The sacrificial priests still everywhere and always hold position and duties of priests, physicians, and fortune-tellers (prophets).’ [2] ’In the Yakut district all Yakuts with rare exceptions have been baptized according to the ‘ancient faith’ [RCH: i.e. , Christianity] rite, or were born from parents of that faith. Yet one can hardly be sure that a Yakut, professing the ancient faith, has given up his shamanist creed, or that he does not have recourse to the latter. I have personally known two shamans, one of them in the Yakutsk district, the other on the Kytach island on the mouth of the Lena, who were both known as followers of the ‘ancient faith.’’ [3] There where black and white shamans: ’Supernatural power was attributed to blacksmiths, since their art was considered a divine gift. The old Sakha religion had many supernatural spirits, good and evil. Black shamans dealt with evil spirits and could be benevolent or harmful; white shamans were concerned with spiritual intercession for human beings. Two major religious festivals were celebrated with ritual use of koumiss (fermented mare’s milk), one in spring for good spirits and one in fall accompanied by blood sacrifices of livestock for evil spirits.’ [4] Shamans officiated at seasonal festivals: ’The most important festival among the Yakut is connected with the preparation and use of kumiss, and is called ysyax, or kumiss festival. It has both a social and a religious significance. During the summer, in olden times, every rich man arranged a kumiss festival, at which all members of the clan assembled and were entertained. Other people, and frequently whole clans, were invited; and during the festival, defensive and offensive leagues were concluded. Every such festival commenced with sacrifices, and was accompanied with songs, dances, games, horse and foot races, and other contests.’ [5] ’The first night of the festival is in honor of Big-Lord ( Ulu-Toyon ) and the evil spirits of the upper world subordinate to him. The second night is in honor of Axsan Duolai and his subordinates, the evil spirits of the lower world. To all of these evil spirits, in addition to the libations of kumiss made to the benevolent deities, blood sacrifices of cattle and horses are also made. This ceremony, according to Trostchansky, is superintended by nine male and nine female shamans.’ [6] Shamans were compensated for their services, but did not receive sufficient payments for their livelihood: ’I at least never heard anything about a wealthy shaman; on the contrary, the shaman often gets no more than 5 kopeks for healing a sick eye. And how little is this sum worth north of Yakutsk! Some Yakuts refused to accept a twenty kopeks coin for a hazel-hen I wanted to buy, saying that they could not manage to use the money; if it had an eye, they would have used it as a button; but as there was no such, I was to take it back. The smallest unit for them is the ruble.’ [7]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

[2]: Priklonski, Vasilij, and Friedrich S. Krauss 1888. “Shamanism Among The Yakut”, 166

[3]: Priklonski, Vasilij, and Friedrich S. Krauss 1888. “Shamanism Among The Yakut”, 167

[4]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Sakha-people

[5]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1906. “Kumiss Festivals Of The Yakut And The Decoration Of Kumiss Vessels”, 263

[6]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1906. “Kumiss Festivals Of The Yakut And The Decoration Of Kumiss Vessels”, 265

[7]: Priklonski, Vasilij, and Friedrich S. Krauss 1888. “Shamanism Among The Yakut", 175


Professional Military Officer:
absent

Full-time specialists. Sakha warriors and spies fought for their clans and tribes, and were not professionals in the conventional sense of the term: ’Yakut warriors ( säpi, säpi kisita ) were usually mounted horsemen ( minjär ), but there were also foot soldiers ( sat[unknown]ykisita ). Their weapons ( säp ) consisted of a light bent bow ( s[unknown]a ), a quiver ( käsäx, s[unknown]adax ), and arrows ( aya ) .’ [1] ’These warriors formed a chain of movable, vigilant pickets around the settlements. In case of war they formed the kernel of the fighting detachment -- sari Some of the bolder ones went to find their fortune, dzhol. They would go far into unknown territory, among foreigners, either by themselves or with companions. Such detachments would not take their cattle with them and often traveled on foot. They made their living exclusively by hunting, fishing, and looting. The Yakut kept these habits for a long time, until very recently. Khudiakov has a legend about Khaptagay-batyr and his son Khokhoe-batyr, and their three khosun: Sappy, Yngkabyl, and Batagyyan, who roamed about in the seventeen forties, during the time of Pavlutskii, in the north of the Yakutsk Oblast. In the Kolymsk Okrug (1882), I wrote down a legend about the two Yakut brothers who were the first to make their way into the kolymsk Krai. Their names have been forgotten. In the Namsk Ulus I was told a legend about the Vilyuysk Yakut Tangas-Boltongo who also wandered by himself somewhere in the little-known, remote regions of the Vilyuysk Okrug. He was called a bagatyr, just as the old epic heroes. Apparently he lived in the beginning of the present century; this is indicated by the name of a Yakut hunter of the Namsk Ulus, Betyunsk Nasleg, Chaky clan, whom he encountered: his name was Soldat. Soldiers appeared in the Yakutsk Oblast only in the last century, at the time of the Kamchatka campaigns of Pavlutskii. Then Middendorf mentions solitary Yakut hunters whom he encountered far from their native tribes in the mountains of the Amur Basin. Such bold fellows served their clans as a sort of voluntary spies, searching out new pastures suitable for settlement in case some sort of unpleasantness or inconvenience should arise in the homeland. They brought back word of new lands, of the peoples they had encountered, the details of the route, and the obstacles involved. Sometimes the clan would choose such people out of their own number and deliberately send them out on a searching party. The tales The Golden Eagle and the Teal, and The Flying Winged Creatures hint at this. These were chosen people and were also called bagatyr, baatyr, batyr, or batur; strictly speaking in the Yakut language this word means valorous, exceptionally manly, bold, strong, and clever. But these people did not have any special rights in the clan besides the usual rights gained through personal superiority.’ [2] Military operations were led by war-leaders, who formed a military aristocracy based on heredity and personal military success: ’Just as now, common matters were managed by the clan assembly. Matters of war and minor legal cases, which demanded quick settlement without any delays, were managed by a war leader -- toen -- acknowledged by the rest of the people. According to the Yakut this service was hereditary, on the strength of their belief that an eaglet is always an eagle; a young crow is always a crow. But this hereditary right was not strictly followed. Thus, the heir of the Borogon toen, Legey, was not his son, but a foreign adopted son who had been bought for money. Another saga relates, with full consciousness of the legality of such a matter, that the Tungus chose as their toen a Yakut, Khaptagay-batyr, because of his valor. The sago says: No Lamut (Tungus), no matter who, will kill you. Now you be our lord (toen). If a Lamut will not obey your word, let there be a sin upon him. The toen always had in addition the title of bagatyr (valorous) and in the popular conception his traits of character had to correspond with those demanded of a hero. But he would not wander by himself, nor look for adventures, but would always live where the clan was and only leave in time of war, at the head of the mounted and armed detachment.’ [3] ’We can judge how large these unions sometimes were by the fact that in 1634 600 Yakut warriors under the leadership of prince Mymak took part in a battle on the right bank of the Lena, in which the army of ataman Galkin was crushed and all his horses were lost.’ [4] ’At this period, however, the clan-tribal structure was already in a state of decomposition. The tribes and clans were headed by the military aristocracy-the toyons. These possessed large herds of cattle and employed the labor of slaves and dependent fellow clansmen on their farms; they were also the military leaders. Heading detachments of armed servants and junior fellow clansmen, the toyons raided each other’s territory, and frequently looted the farms of the free members of the community, seizing their cattle and destroying their economic independence. These toyon wars and raids were one of the factors which speeded up the decomposition of the clan commune. The ruined members of the commune were reduced to the status of “balyksyts” (poor people without cattle, or fishermen), or else became the indentured slaves of the toyons. Most of the slaves (kuluts or bokans) originated in this way.’ [5]

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut", 172

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 717

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 718

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 760

[5]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 270


Bureaucracy Characteristics


Full Time Bureaucrat:
absent

Full-time specialists. Prior to Russian rule, Sakha communities were governed by lineage councils, clans, and elders rather than a statist bureaucratic system. Until at least the 19th century, lineage councils were the primary administrative bodies: ’Kinship and politics were mixed in the hierarchical council system that guided AQA-USA, AIMAK, and DZHON. Yakut explanations of DZHON in the nineteenth century included concepts like "people," "community," or "tribe," territorially defined. Councils were composed of ranked circles of elders, usually men, whose leaders, TOYONS, were called nobles by Russians. A lineage head was BIS-USA-TOYON; respected warriors and hunters were BATYR. Lineage councils decided major economic issues, interfamily disputes, and questions of blood revenge for violence committed against the group. AIMAK and DZHON councils were infrequent, dealing with issues of security, revenge, alliance, and, before Russian control, war. Through war, slaves were captured for service in the wealthiest TOYON households. Kin-based councils were rare by the nineteenth century and had little influence on twentieth-century politics.’ [1] ’Key kin relations are based on a patrilineage (AQA-USA) that traces membership back nine generations. Within this, children born to a specific mother are distinguished as a group (YE-USA), and may form the basis for different households (KORGON). Historically, more distant kin were recognized on two levels, the AIMAK (or territorial NASLEG), with one to thirty lineages, and the DZHON (or territorial ULUS), composed of several AIMAK. These larger units were united by alliances, including for common defense, alliances, and by economic relations; these links were renewed at councils and festivals.’ [1] ’Prophets’ and other elders dominated most councils: ’According to tradition, the seseny played no minor role in assemblies in the past. The word sesen comes from the same root as the verb sesenibin - I advise, I think, I predict. Legend portrayes the seseny as white-haired, honored, experienced elders.’ [2] ’This dignity was neither elective nor hereditary, but not every old man was considered to be a sesen. For this he had to have a special gift of prophecy - in other words: an acknowledged intellect, experience, and knowledge. In difficult moments the heroes of olongo frequently turn to such advice-giving, honored, light-eyed Old Men-Talkers.’ [3] ’In the past we did not decide anything without sesen. (Namsk Ulus, 1888). I will note that in this testimony sesen is used in the sense of sorcerer. The sesen decided disputed questions on the basis of custom, and gave advice when the clan was undergoing hard times. At ysyakh, before the games and contests began, the sesen of each clan or clan union would look over their own wrestlers; and they would remove those who were not good enough, who had recently sinned with a woman, who did not restrain themselves sufficiently in eating and drinking, so that they would not bring shame to their own people. They found all this out by feeling the body of the wrestlers, and by looking into their eyes and face. (Namsk Ulus, 1891). In the Bayagantaysk Ulus, when I asked who had named the rivers, hills, and other natural features, they answered: It must be the sesen - the old, ancient men, who knew everything! (Bayagantaysk Ulus, 1885).’ [3] Sesens were often from the toen class: ’Since within the clan many sesen were at the same time toen, i.e., the representatives of separate groups, they wielded enormous influencein clan councils. Usually in legends they are simply called old men - ogonior.’ [3] Clan unions and tribal units also held council: ’They wielded less importance in councils of clan unions: there the first place was held by the heads of the clans, bis’ usa toeno.’ [3] It seems that the Russian period was preceded by a period of heightened social stratification favouring the Toyons: ’At this period, however, the clan-tribal structure was already in a state of decomposition. The tribes and clans were headed by the military aristocracy-the toyons. These possessed large herds of cattle and employed the labor of slaves and dependent fellow clansmen on their farms; they were also the military leaders. Heading detachments of armed servants and junior fellow clansmen, the toyons raided each other’s territory, and frequently looted the farms of the free members of the community, seizing their cattle and destroying their economic independence. These toyon wars and raids were one of the factors which speeded up the decomposition of the clan commune. The ruined members of the commune were reduced to the status of “balyksyts” (poor people without cattle, or fishermen), or else became the indentured slaves of the toyons. Most of the slaves (kuluts or bokans) originated in this way.’ [4] The Russian administration later reinforced kin-based hierarchies and superimposed a supratribal structure onto the Yakut system (see next sheet): ’The system of tsarist administration was no different here from what existed in any other part of Northern Siberia. The Dolgans, Yakuts and Evenks had to pay the fur-tax as “natives” and formed “clans” headed by princelings, while the tundra peasants were forced to pay a poll tax, were formed into a “community” and headed by an elder. People living many hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest centers were economically dependent on the merchants who monopolized supplies to the region, bought up all the furs, and cruelly exploited the population.’ [5]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 736

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 737

[4]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 270

[5]: Popov, A. A. 1964. “Dolgans”, 656



Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent

Sakha assemblies did not admit advocates, only witnesses and oaths: ’4. When a complaint is brought, the defendant is summoned and if he admits the claim against him to be just, a decision is made, and if not, witnesses are summoned by the nasleg corporals, who are paid by the petitioner for the service. At the end of the case, the petitioner gets this payment back, along with other losses, from the defendant if the latter is convicted. If he is not convicted and the petition proves unjust, these losses are imposed on the petitioner as a penalty. 5. Converted witnesses are questioned under an oath made before an image of God. After they have kissed the image, they briefly declare that they will tell the genuine truth about what is asked them, and, if not, that they will incur the wrath of God and be deprived of His blessings, etc. Priests are not required to make this oath. 6. Unconverted witnesses are administered an oath in which they bow to a fire and swear that they will be deprived of God’s blessings, etc., if they give false testimony. 7. Claims and disputes to which there are no witnesses are decided by an oath administered in the manner described above. If both the plaintiff and the defendant wish to take it, the oath is usually given to the defendant. 8. Important and complex claims, such as those concerning big thefts, disputed places, etc., are settled on the basis of instructions given on June 30, 1728 by the ambassador plenipotentiary to China, Count Ragunzinskiy, to the frontier guards Firsov and Mikhalev,; the clan-chiefs of the nasleg in which the affair took place invite the clan-chiefs of the neighboring naslegs, six men in all, whose unanimous decision ends the case; there is no appeal. Although this is called an intermediary trial, the name is wrong, since the plaintiffs do not take part in inviting the clan-chiefs of the neighboring naslegs.’ [1] Sauer describes oaths taken by witnesses: ’A magician [RCH: i.e., the shaman] places his tambour and dress before the fire, the embers of which are burning. The accused stands before it, facing the sun, and says: ‘May I lose during my life all that man holds dear and desirable [...]’ The magician throws butter on the hot embers; the man accused must then step over the tambour and dress, advance to the fire, and swallow some of the exhaling smoke from the butter; then, looking to the sun, say, ‘If I have sworn false, deprive me‘of the light and heat.’ Some of the tribes close the ceremony by making the accused bite the head of a bear; because they allow this beast to have more than human wisdom, and suppose that some bear will kill the aggressor.”’ [2]

[1]: Samokvasov, D. I. A. 1876. “Collection Of Customary Law Of The Siberian Natives”, 5

[2]: Sauer, Martin 1802. “Account Of A Geographical And Astronomical Expedition To The Northern Parts Of Russia By Commodore Joseph Billings, In The Years 1785-1794”, 123


Clan elders fulfilled judicial, but also ceremonial and other duties: ’The oldest kinsman in the clan, or the [unknown]iye-[unknown]usa , is always heaped with honors, if he is both rich and has never been put on trial. To him pertains the jurisdiction in trifling quarrels between kinsfolk. The following ceremonies serve to recall the religious functions that he (Ysekh) formerly exercised a. At the time of the spring festival, which bears a strictly clan character, they bring to him, first of all, a large wooden vessel ( Choron ) containing kumiss; he pronounces a prayer of thanks to the gods and then pours the kumiss upon the fire. b. At the time of the arrival of the betrothed at the bridegroom’s yurt, they take from the sleigh of the betrothed, and place upon a table in front of the fire place the boiled head of a horse, whose eyes are covered with butter, to whose ears are attached intestines filled with horse’s blood, and a wooden cup filled with butter. After this the betrothed enters the yurt, and stands, having first untied her girdle, on the right side of the komelok [RCH: i. e., the fireplace] where she is met by the oldest kinsman, whose place is sometimes taken nowadays by the most honored guest, who, kneeling, throws into the fire pieces of meat, blood and butter, and blesses the bride. For the completion of this ceremony, whose obvious object is to unite the bride with the bridegroom’s home, the oldest kinsman secures for his use the head, blood and butter brought into the yurt, and in addition the sum of one ruble.’ [1] Clans also handled criminal cases and litigation in assemblies of elders: ’I shall end this survey of Yakut clan institutions and their self-government by a note about Yakut legal procedure. Strictly speaking the Yakut court is the assembly: the clan, nasleg, or ulus assembly, depending on the circumstances. These courts are under each other’s jurisdiction as courts of appeal. The Yakut enjoy waging law suits against each other and witnessing court proceedings. More important matters are always handed over to the assembly. At the assembly the wealthy people usually put in their comments, which areheard attentively, and although the final judgement is pronounced by the chairman of the assembly, he usually simply transmits a condensed form of the general opinion. The ligitants stand before the presiding clansmen with their heads bare, and, frequently nodding their heads and, while making the most important points, making deep bows from the waist, each in turn expound their case. Witnesses are called forth and interrogated on the spot, while unruly witnesses are brought by policemen. The judges always have to sit. In some localities it is customary for the judges to wear caps on their head.’ [2] Criminal cases were transferred to Russian courts only after 1889: ’Nevertheless until very r ecently and even criminal cases such as beatings, personal injury, and thefts, even for a considerable amount, as long as a house was not broken into, were judged by the clan administration. Only from the year 1889, when an order came out to proceed against the trible authorities if they did not communicate such matters, have thefts begun to be referred to the Russian courts and judged according to Russian laws. For theft the Yakut usually punished wealthy people by a fine which was two or three times the value of the stolen article, depending on the circumstances. For beatings and personal injuries they sentenced the guilty party to support the injured party during his disablement or to pay him a lump sum. Now the guilty are put in prison, and to the great horror of their neighbors they usually leave out and out scoundrels. Such crimes as the violation of women, the breaking of agreements, fraud, and forgery were apparently unknown to the Yakut and went unpunished. But the violation of the wedding agreement was provided for by the kalym. At the present time most of the cases and statements of claim which come before the clan administrations concern the violation of boundary lines and various disputed lands.’ [3]

[1]: Kharuzin, Aleksai Nikolaevich 1898. “Juridicial Customs Of The Yakut”, 40p

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 797

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 798


Formal Legal Code:
absent

Sakha trials were based on prior agreements between the contending parties rather than codified law: ’Agreements and contracts, both written and oral, are taken as a basis for all trials and settlements; therefore, if there is no quarrel about the contents of an agreement, the decision is quick, but if anyone refuses to abide by an agreement, and it was oral, his opponent may prove it with witnesses, and, if there are no witnesses, the quarrel is decided by an oath.’ [1] ’“As a nation they are unsocial, litigious, and vindictive. An injury received by one of them is very rarely forgotten, and, if he cannot revenge it himself, he will leave the feud to his son. Their passion for litigation is excessive: they will frequently undertake difficult and expensive journeys, in a cause where perhaps the matter in dispute is not of the value of a rouble. Their unsocial dispo-sition, which leads them to prefer settling by single families at a distance from each other, is strikingly contrasted with the cheerful and ready hospitality which they show to strangers. They very seldom settle in communities, and it is only along the route from Jakuzk to the Aldan, where the country is more populous, that such settlements are now and then to be met with; but beyond the Werchojansk chain, the solitary jurti are often hundreds of wersts apart, so that the nearest neighbours may not see each other for years. Such distances are far greater than can be required on account of pasture, and are rather to be ascribed to the disposition which leads them to seek solitude, and to avoid all social intercourse.”’ [2] Criminal cases were transferred to courts applying Russian law only after 1889: ’Nevertheless until very r ecently and even criminal cases such as beatings, personal injury, and thefts, even for a considerable amount, as long as a house was not broken into, were judged by the clan administration. Only from the year 1889, when an order came out to proceed against the trible authorities if they did not communicate such matters, have thefts begun to be referred to the Russian courts and judged according to Russian laws. For theft the Yakut usually punished wealthy people by a fine which was two or three times the value of the stolen article, depending on the circumstances. For beatings and personal injuries they sentenced the guilty party to support the injured party during his disablement or to pay him a lump sum. Now the guilty are put in prison, and to the great horror of their neighbors they usually leave out and out scoundrels. Such crimes as the violation of women, the breaking of agreements, fraud, and forgery were apparently unknown to the Yakut nd went unpunished. But the violation of the wedding agreement was provided for by the kalym. At the present time most of the cases and statements of claim which come before the clan administrations concern the violation of boundary lines and various disputed lands.’ [3]

[1]: Samokvasov, D. I. A. 1876. “Collection Of Customary Law Of The Siberian Natives", 28

[2]: Wrangel, baron, Ferdinand Petrovich, and Edward Sabine Sir 1842. “Narrative Of An Expedition To The Polar Sea, In The Years 1820, 1821, 1822, & 1823”, 39

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 798


Clan elders fulfilled judicial, but also ceremonial and other duties: ’The oldest kinsman in the clan, or the [unknown]iye-[unknown]usa , is always heaped with honors, if he is both rich and has never been put on trial. To him pertains the jurisdiction in trifling quarrels between kinsfolk. The following ceremonies serve to recall the religious functions that he (Ysekh) formerly exercised a. At the time of the spring festival, which bears a strictly clan character, they bring to him, first of all, a large wooden vessel ( Choron ) containing kumiss; he pronounces a prayer of thanks to the gods and then pours the kumiss upon the fire. b. At the time of the arrival of the betrothed at the bridegroom’s yurt, they take from the sleigh of the betrothed, and place upon a table in front of the fire place the boiled head of a horse, whose eyes are covered with butter, to whose ears are attached intestines filled with horse’s blood, and a wooden cup filled with butter. After this the betrothed enters the yurt, and stands, having first untied her girdle, on the right side of the komelok [RCH: i. e., the fireplace] where she is met by the oldest kinsman, whose place is sometimes taken nowadays by the most honored guest, who, kneeling, throws into the fire pieces of meat, blood and butter, and blesses the bride. For the completion of this ceremony, whose obvious object is to unite the bride with the bridegroom’s home, the oldest kinsman secures for his use the head, blood and butter brought into the yurt, and in addition the sum of one ruble.’ [1] Clans also handled criminal cases and litigation in assemblies of elders: ’I shall end this survey of Yakut clan institutions and their self-government by a note about Yakut legal procedure. Strictly speaking the Yakut court is the assembly: the clan, nasleg, or ulus assembly, depending on the circumstances. These courts are under each other’s jurisdiction as courts of appeal. The Yakut enjoy waging law suits against each other and witnessing court proceedings. More important matters are always handed over to the assembly. At the assembly the wealthy people usually put in their comments, which areheard attentively, and although the final judgement is pronounced by the chairman of the assembly, he usually simply transmits a condensed form of the general opinion. The ligitants stand before the presiding clansmen with their heads bare, and, frequently nodding their heads and, while making the most important points, making deep bows from the waist, each in turn expound their case. Witnesses are called forth and interrogated on the spot, while unruly witnesses are brought by policemen. The judges always have to sit. In some localities it is customary for the judges to wear caps on their head.’ [2] Criminal cases were transferred to Russian courts only after 1889: ’Nevertheless until very recently and even criminal cases such as beatings, personal injury, and thefts, even for a considerable amount, as long as a house was not broken into, were judged by the clan administration. Only from the year 1889, when an order came out to proceed against the trible authorities if they did not communicate such matters, have thefts begun to be referred to the Russian courts and judged according to Russian laws. For theft the Yakut usually punished wealthy people by a fine which was two or three times the value of the stolen article, depending on the circumstances. For beatings and personal injuries they sentenced the guilty party to support the injured party during his disablement or to pay him a lump sum. Now the guilty are put in prison, and to the great horror of their neighbors they usually leave out and out scoundrels. Such crimes as the violation of women, the breaking of agreements, fraud, and forgery were apparently unknown to the Yakut and went unpunished. But the violation of the wedding agreement was provided for by the kalym. At the present time most of the cases and statements of claim which come before the clan administrations concern the violation of boundary lines and various disputed lands.’ [3]

[1]: Kharuzin, Aleksai Nikolaevich 1898. “Juridicial Customs Of The Yakut”, 40p

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 797

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 798


Specialized Buildings: polity owned

In the early Russian period, Sakha actively participated in trade relations with Russians: ’Yakut also engaged in the fur trade; by the twentieth century hunters for luxury furs had depleted the ermines, sables, and foxes, and they were relying on squirrels. Yakut merchants and transporters spread throughout the entire northeast, easing communications and trade for natives and Russians. They sold luxuries like silver and gold jewelry and carved bone, ivory, and wood crafts in addition to staples such as butter, meat, and hay. Barter, Russian money, and furs formed the media of exchange. Guns were imported, as was iron for local blacksmiths.’ [1] Outside of Russian settlements, Sakha relied on travelling merchants rather than markets: ’The system of tsarist administration was no different here from what existed in any other part of Northern Siberia. The Dolgans, Yakuts and Evenks had to pay the fur-tax as “natives” and formed “clans” headed by princelings, while the tundra peasants were forced to pay a poll tax, were formed into a “community” and headed by an elder. People living many hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest centers were economically dependent on the merchants who monopolized supplies to the region, bought up all the furs, and cruelly exploited the population.’ [2] This aspect combined with Sakha transhumanism suggests an absence of permanent markets.

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

[2]: Popov, A. A. 1964. “Dolgans”, 656


Irrigation System:
absent

In the pre-Russian period, the Sakha were transhumant pastoralists rather than farmers. Even in the early Russian period, settlements were built in close proximity to freshwater streams and lakes: ’It is watered [Page 327] from an ice-hole at the nearest river or lake. In spring it is often necessary to cut deep pathways in the ice, towards the old, exhausted ice-holes in order to secure the cattle access to the water. The cattle frequently kneel as they drink, while calves and horses drink out of buckets filled with water. The water in such old ice holes is nauseatingk putrid, and smells of hydrogen sulfide and of swamp. In order to diminish the freezing of the ice-holes during the night, the Yakut frequently cover them with straw covers and with snow. In this connection I may note that the ice on the lakes with ice-holes freezes apparently in a thicker layer than on the lakes on which no ice-holes are cut. In spring, [Page 328] when the nearest watering places are exhausted or have been frozen up, it becomes necessary on occasions to drive the cattle to a watering place about two viersts away, which is very inconvenient. That is why the selection of a place of settlement is strongly influenced by the nearness of the winter watering place. In hard frost, the watered cattle, shaking from cold, is driven into [Page 329] the warm cattle sheds where some feed is prepared for them in the mangers. In spring they have a little hay of a worse sort right in the enclosures. The calves, which all through the winter are kept in human dwellings, are fed and watered there, with the water on many occasions warmed up before the calves receive it. The cows that have just given birth to calves are also fed in the cattle sheds. Such cows are not taken 158 to water for 3-4 days and are instead given warm water to drink.’ [1] Tokarev’s material suggests that irrigation systems did not become common prior to the Soviet period: ’Many farms use water wheels and pumps to water their gardens. In 1952, more than 300,000 hectares of land, chiefly green meadows and pastureland, were irrigated by means of both permanent and temporary installations. The first specialized meadow-reclamation station had been set up in the Gorniy Rayon.’ [2]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 326pp

[2]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 291


Food Storage Site:
absent

Family yurts where surrounded by storehouses: ’As horse and cattle breeders, the Yakut had a transhumant pattern of summer and winter settlements. Winter settlements comprised as few as twenty people, involving several closely related families who shared pasture land and lived in nearby yurts (BALAGAN) with surrounding storehouses and corrals. The yurts were oblong huts with slanted earth walls, low ceilings, sod roofs and dirt floors. Most had an adjoining room for cattle. They had substantial hearths, and fur-covered benches lining the walls demarcated sleeping arrangements according to social protocol. Yurts faced east, toward benevolent deities. In summer families moved to larger encampments with their animals. The most ancient summer homes, URASY, were elegant birch-bark conical tents. Some could hold one hundred people. Their ceilings soared at the center point, above a circular hearth. Around the sides were wide benches placed in compartments that served as ranked seating and sleeping areas. Every pole or eave was carved with symbolic designs of animals, fertility, and lineage identities.’ [1] The material suggests that Sakha food storage was household-level rather than ‘polity-owned’.

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


Drinking Water Supply System:
absent

In the pre-Russian period, the Sakha were transhumant pastoralists rather than farmers. Even in the early Russian period, settlements were built in close proximity to freshwater streams and lakes: ’It is watered [Page 327] from an ice-hole at the nearest river or lake. In spring it is often necessary to cut deep pathways in the ice, towards the old, exhausted ice-holes in order to secure the cattle access to the water. The cattle frequently kneel as they drink, while calves and horses drink out of buckets filled with water. The water in such old ice holes is nauseatingk putrid, and smells of hydrogen sulfide and of swamp. In order to diminish the freezing of the ice-holes during the night, the Yakut frequently cover them with straw covers and with snow. In this connection I may note that the ice on the lakes with ice-holes freezes apparently in a thicker layer than on the lakes on which no ice-holes are cut. In spring, [Page 328] when the nearest watering places are exhausted or have been frozen up, it becomes necessary on occasions to drive the cattle to a watering place about two viersts away, which is very inconvenient. That is why the selection of a place of settlement is strongly influenced by the nearness of the winter watering place. In hard frost, the watered cattle, shaking from cold, is driven into [Page 329] the warm cattle sheds where some feed is prepared for them in the mangers. In spring they have a little hay of a worse sort right in the enclosures. The calves, which all through the winter are kept in human dwellings, are fed and watered there, with the water on many occasions warmed up before the calves receive it. The cows that have just given birth to calves are also fed in the cattle sheds. Such cows are not taken 158 to water for 3-4 days and are instead given warm water to drink.’ [1] Tokarev’s material suggests that irrigation systems and water pumps did not become common prior to the Soviet period: ’Many farms use water wheels and pumps to water their gardens. In 1952, more than 300,000 hectares of land, chiefly green meadows and pastureland, were irrigated by means of both permanent and temporary installations. The first specialized meadow-reclamation station had been set up in the Gorniy Rayon.’ [2]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 326pp

[2]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 291


Transport Infrastructure

Built-up transport infrastructure was introduced in the early Russian period (see next sheet).


Built-up transport infrastructure was introduced in the early Russian period (see next sheet).


Built-up transport infrastructure was introduced in the early Russian period (see next sheet).


Built-up transport infrastructure was introduced in the early Russian period (see next sheet).


Special-purpose Sites

Information / Writing System

Distant ancestors of the Sakha may have been familiar with writing, but lost that knowledge during past migrations: ’Spindle whorls were made of a kind of hard stone coal (slate?). Of particular interest was one spindle, found in Kurumchinakh, which was covered with writing (letters). In comparing these characters with those of various alphabets, it may readily be observed that many of them are similar, as far as they can be deciphered, to the characters of the Orkhon alphabet. There were thirty-seven symbols of which twenty-one are letters and sixteen indistinct, effaced signs, including perhaps mere scratches. The twenty-one letters appear to be an exact reproduction of the Yenisei-Orkhon characters. There are eighteen consonants and three vowels. Some of the characters are repeated and in all there are ten different symbols. The discovery of these writings so far to the north is of great interest. The ancestors of the Yakut, who, in remote times, emigrated from northern Mongolia, undoubtedly knew the Orkhon alphabet and this may explain the Yakut traditions as to the loss of their writings on the way to Yakutsk Province.’ [1] The first recent script for the Yakut language was developed by 19th century Russian missionaries: ’The Yakut speak Yakut, a Northeast Turkic language of the Altaic Language Family. It is one of the most divergent of the Turkic languages, closely related to Dolgan (a mixture of Evenk and Yakut sometimes described as a Yakut dialect). The Yakut, over 90 percent of whom speak Yakut as their mother tongue, call their language "Sakha-tyla." Their current written language, developed in the 1930s, is a modified Cyrillic script. Before this, they had several written forms, including a Latin script developed in the 1920s and a Cyrillic script introduced by missionaries in the nineteenth century. Yakut lore includes legends of a written language lost after they traveled north to the Lena valley.’ [2]

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut”, 62

[2]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut



Nonwritten Record:
present

Sakha oral histories included sagas and other epic tales: ’Yakut oral histories begin well before first contact with Russians in the seventeenth century. For example, OLONKHO (epics) date at least to the tenth century, a period of interethnic mixing, tensions, and upheaval that may have been a formative period in defining Yakut tribal affiliations. Ethnographic and archaeological data suggest that the ancestors of the Yakut, identified in some theories with the Kuriakon people, lived in an area near Lake Baikal and may have been part of the Uighur state bordering China.’ [1] ’Tradition has preserved the names of some of them. They list the following as living contemporaneously with the coming of the Russians: Tygyn of the Kangalas Ulus, Chorbokha (of the clan of Chaky) of the Namsk Ulus, Bert-Khara of the Borogon Ulus, Bata batyra of the Bayagantaysk Ulus, and many others of secondary importance. The Yakut are glad to relate long sagas of their activities, of their warfare with each other, and of their resistance to the Russians. According to them all these leaders were noted for their unusual strength, cleverness, and military capacity.’ [2]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 738


Mnemonic Device:
absent

There exist descriptions of mnemonic devices meant to help keep track of Christian festivities in the period of Russian domination, but this does not seem sufficient to infer that similar practices were in use in earlier times. "On the wall of every Yakut dwelling is a calendar, usually consisting of a small board with holes corresponding to the number of days in the year. The immovable feasts are marked by crosses over the holes. A wooden peg is placed in the hole to indicate the current date, thus showing whether it is an ordinary day or a holiday. Fig. 1 shows a circular calendar; the inner circle has seven perforations, corresponding to the seven days of the week. A peg is shown in the hole for Sunday, over which there is a cross. The outer ring has thirty holes. When the month has thirty-one days, the peg is kept in the last hole for two days. If the month has twenty-nine or twenty-eight days, the peg must be transferred to the first day of the next month. The calendar is called kün ahar, it counts the days, or sibaska (Russian, svyatzy, calendar of saints), or nädiälä asarar mas, board which shows the week." [1]

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut”, 101


Information / Kinds of Written Documents





Lists Tables and Classification:
absent

Mnemonic devices may have played a role prior to Russian role, but the information is unclear (see above).




Calendar:
absent

The Sakha initially used a nonwritten lunar calender: ’The ancient Yakut divided the year into lunar months ( yi-syl ). According to Jonov, one year ( tögürüksyl ) in our calendar was regarded as two years: spring and summer were counted as one year and fall and winter as another. Consequently, the time count in old Yakut traditions is much confused. For example, after two years in our count had passed, the Yakut may have said that four years had elapsed. The month was divided into two sections. The first half, until full moon, was called “the new” ( sañata ); the second half, following the full moon, “the old” ( ärgätä ). The days in the first half of the month are enumerated regularly from one to fifteen; in the second half, they are counted in reverse order, from fifteen to one. Thus, there are two fifteenth days in the month, one at the end of the first half and another at the beginning of the second half. Some moments in the phases of the moon are poetically defined; for instance, of the first day of the first half of the month, the Yakut say: kys jaxtar kylamanbin kurduk kylbayan taxs[unknown]yta, it glistened like the eyelash of a young girl; of the twenty-eighth day (the Yakut second day of the second half of the month) they say: xotun jaxtar ytarhatyn iämähin saha ärgi[unknown]ciyä baranyta, it ends like the size of a woman’s earring.’ [1]

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut”, 100


Information / Money





Article:
present

The Sakha actively participated in barter trade with Russians: ’Yakut also engaged in the fur trade; by the twentieth century hunters for luxury furs had depleted the ermines, sables, and foxes, and they were relying on squirrels. Yakut merchants and transporters spread throughout the entire northeast, easing communications and trade for natives and Russians. They sold luxuries like silver and gold jewelry and carved bone, ivory, and wood crafts in addition to staples such as butter, meat, and hay. Barter, Russian money, and furs formed the media of exchange. Guns were imported, as was iron for local blacksmiths.’ [1] Fox and ermine skins doubled as units of exchange at that time. The same was true for butter (see next sheet on both). We have assumed here that barter was practiced prior to Russian rule as well.

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
absent

Postal stations and services were introduced under Russian rule. During the Russian period, Sakha leaders participated in the growing postal system: ’Yakut oral histories begin well before first contact with Russians in the seventeenth century. For example, OLONKHO (epics) date at least to the tenth century, a period of interethnic mixing, tensions, and upheaval that may have been a formative period in defining Yakut tribal affiliations. Ethnographic and archaeological data suggest that the ancestors of the Yakut, identified in some theories with the Kuriakon people, lived in an area near Lake Baikal and may have been part of the Uighur state bordering China. By the fourteenth century, Yakut ancestors migrated north, perhaps in small refugee groups, with herds of horses and cattle. After arrival in the Lena valley, they fought and intermarried with the native Evenk and Yukagir nomads. Thus, both peaceful and belligerent relations with northern Siberians, Chinese, Mongols, and Turkic peoples preceded Russian hegemony. When the first parties of Cossacks arrived at the Lena River in the 1620s, Yakut received them with hospitality and wariness. Several skirmishes and revolts followed, led at first by the legendary Yakut hero Tygyn. By 1642 the Lena valley was under tribute to the czar; peace was won only after a long siege of a formidable Yakut fortress. By 1700 the fort settlement of Yakutsk (founded 1632) was a bustling Russian administrative, commercial, and religious center and a launching point for further exploration into Kamchatka and Chukotka. Some Yakut moved northeast into territories they had previously not dominated, further assimilating the Evenk and Yukagir. Most Yakut, however, remained in the central meadowlands, sometimes assimilating Russians. Yakut leaders cooperated with Russian commanders and governors, becoming active in trade, fur-tax collection, transport, and the postal system. Fighting among Yakut communities decreased, although horse rustling and occasional anti-Russian violence continued. For example, a Yakut Robin Hood named Manchari led a band that stole from the rich (usually Russians) to give to the poor (usually Yakut) in the nineteenth century. Russian Orthodox priests spread through Yakutia, but their followers were mainly in the major towns. By 1900 a literate Yakut intelligentsia, influenced both by Russian merchants and political exiles, formed a party called the Yakut Union. Yakut revolutionaries such as Oiunskii and Ammosov led the Revolution and civil war in Yakutia, along with Bolsheviks such as the Georgian Ordzhonikidze.’ [1]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


General Postal Service:
absent

Postal stations and services were introduced under Russian rule. During the Russian period, Sakha leaders participated in the growing postal system: ’Yakut oral histories begin well before first contact with Russians in the seventeenth century. For example, OLONKHO (epics) date at least to the tenth century, a period of interethnic mixing, tensions, and upheaval that may have been a formative period in defining Yakut tribal affiliations. Ethnographic and archaeological data suggest that the ancestors of the Yakut, identified in some theories with the Kuriakon people, lived in an area near Lake Baikal and may have been part of the Uighur state bordering China. By the fourteenth century, Yakut ancestors migrated north, perhaps in small refugee groups, with herds of horses and cattle. After arrival in the Lena valley, they fought and intermarried with the native Evenk and Yukagir nomads. Thus, both peaceful and belligerent relations with northern Siberians, Chinese, Mongols, and Turkic peoples preceded Russian hegemony. When the first parties of Cossacks arrived at the Lena River in the 1620s, Yakut received them with hospitality and wariness. Several skirmishes and revolts followed, led at first by the legendary Yakut hero Tygyn. By 1642 the Lena valley was under tribute to the czar; peace was won only after a long siege of a formidable Yakut fortress. By 1700 the fort settlement of Yakutsk (founded 1632) was a bustling Russian administrative, commercial, and religious center and a launching point for further exploration into Kamchatka and Chukotka. Some Yakut moved northeast into territories they had previously not dominated, further assimilating the Evenk and Yukagir. Most Yakut, however, remained in the central meadowlands, sometimes assimilating Russians. Yakut leaders cooperated with Russian commanders and governors, becoming active in trade, fur-tax collection, transport, and the postal system. Fighting among Yakut communities decreased, although horse rustling and occasional anti-Russian violence continued. For example, a Yakut Robin Hood named Manchari led a band that stole from the rich (usually Russians) to give to the poor (usually Yakut) in the nineteenth century. Russian Orthodox priests spread through Yakutia, but their followers were mainly in the major towns. By 1900 a literate Yakut intelligentsia, influenced both by Russian merchants and political exiles, formed a party called the Yakut Union. Yakut revolutionaries such as Oiunskii and Ammosov led the Revolution and civil war in Yakutia, along with Bolsheviks such as the Georgian Ordzhonikidze.’ [1]

[1]: Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam and Skoggard, Ian: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Yakut


Courier:
absent

Sieroszewski -writing in the Russian period- mentions couriers, but their status as professionals is unclear: ’I spent the autumn of 1884 in the Kolymsk Ulus, at Engzha, in the home of the old man Ivan Sleptsov, who had just been chosen prince of the Second Kangalas Nasleg. Once, in the middle of October, a courier was sent to us from the valley of Ungdzha, with an invitation to a wedding. The clansmen invited their prince, and I was invited to come along. We had to travel approximately seventy versts on horse-back; we spent one night on the road and arrived at the home of the Yakut Dmitrii, who was holding the wedding, at daybreak on the next day. He was giving away his daughter in marriage, and the forthcoming festivity was the first and most important of the marriage ceremonies. Approaching the homestead we constantly outrode groups of mounted Yakut, while near the house we encountered a group of women leading a cow. These all were people belonging to the clan of the bride: they were hurrying to the wedding. The bridal train of the bridegroom, it turned out, was riding behind us. It consisted of the father of the bridegroom, his uncle, the match-maker - some distant relative, and an elder cousin of the bridegroom. All of them were dressed in their best costumes, and rode on their best horses along the road in single file, one behind the other. At the very end of the procession rode the young bridegroom and led behind him a pair of horses, loaded with meat. The match-maker also led a pair of pack horses.’ [1] We have assumed that prior to Russian rule, messengers were community members rather than professionals.

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 842


Information / Measurement System

Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
Wooden Palisade:
absent

Walls are mentioned (only) in the following source, but the building material used is not: "When speaking of structures, we should also mention the fact that in the old days the Yakuts knew how to make fortifications or ostrozhki, as they were called in the Russian texts of the 17th century. For example, in 1636-1637, during the campaign against the Kangalastsy, the Russian Cossacks found that “they had built strong forts with two walls covered with gravel, and surrounded by snow and water;” it was only after a two-day assault that the Cossacks managed to take one of these forts. In 1642 the Russians also took a Yakut fortress after great difficulty: “. . . the fort was made with two walls, the space between the walls was filled with earth, and there were log towers.” At a later stage these fortifications disappeared, and no one has described them since in detail. But even in the 19th century it was possible to find special tower-like barns here and there, which belonged to the Toyons." [1] We have assumed earth ramparts rather than wooden palisades in congruence with the evidence presented below.

[1]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts.” Peoples Of Siberia, 265


Stone Walls Non Mortared:
present

Only gravel is mentioned: "When speaking of structures, we should also mention the fact that in the old days the Yakuts knew how to make fortifications or ostrozhki, as they were called in the Russian texts of the 17th century. For example, in 1636-1637, during the campaign against the Kangalastsy, the Russian Cossacks found that “they had built strong forts with two walls covered with gravel, and surrounded by snow and water;” it was only after a two-day assault that the Cossacks managed to take one of these forts. In 1642 the Russians also took a Sakha fortress after great difficulty: “. . . the fort was made with two walls, the space between the walls was filled with earth, and there were log towers.” At a later stage these fortifications disappeared, and no one has described them since in detail. But even in the 19th century it was possible to find special tower-like barns here and there, which belonged to the Toyons." [1] We have assumed that these gravel coverings can be considered non-mortared stone walls. This remains in need of confirmation.

[1]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts.” Peoples Of Siberia, 265


Stone Walls Mortared:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with warfare


Settlements in a Defensive Position:
absent

Most housing was temporary, given the practice of nomadic pastoralism (see above).


Modern Fortification:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with warfare


Tokarev and Gurvich mention fortifications surrounded by water and snow: "When speaking of structures, we should also mention the fact that in the old days the Yakuts knew how to make fortifications or ostrozhki, as they were called in the Russian texts of the 17th century. For example, in 1636-1637, during the campaign against the Kangalastsy, the Russian Cossacks found that “they had built strong forts with two walls covered with gravel, and surrounded by snow and water;” it was only after a two-day assault that the Cossacks managed to take one of these forts. In 1642 the Russians also took a Sakha fortress after great difficulty: “. . . the fort was made with two walls, the space between the walls was filled with earth, and there were log towers.” At a later stage these fortifications disappeared, and no one has described them since in detail. But even in the 19th century it was possible to find special tower-like barns here and there, which belonged to the Toyons." [1]

[1]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts.” Peoples Of Siberia, 265


Fortified Camp:
absent

The description seems to suggest that Sakha fortification were permanent structures rather than being constructed on the move: "When speaking of structures, we should also mention the fact that in the old days the Yakuts knew how to make fortifications or ostrozhki, as they were called in the Russian texts of the 17th century. For example, in 1636-1637, during the campaign against the Kangalastsy, the Russian Cossacks found that “they had built strong forts with two walls covered with gravel, and surrounded by snow and water;” it was only after a two-day assault that the Cossacks managed to take one of these forts. In 1642 the Russians also took a Yakut fortress after great difficulty: “. . . the fort was made with two walls, the space between the walls was filled with earth, and there were log towers.” At a later stage these fortifications disappeared, and no one has described them since in detail. But even in the 19th century it was possible to find special tower-like barns here and there, which belonged to the Toyons." [1]

[1]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts.” Peoples Of Siberia, 265


Earth Rampart:
present

"When speaking of structures, we should also mention the fact that in the old days the Yakuts knew how to make fortifications or ostrozhki, as they were called in the Russian texts of the 17th century. For example, in 1636-1637, during the campaign against the Kangalastsy, the Russian Cossacks found that “they had built strong forts with two walls covered with gravel, and surrounded by snow and water;” it was only after a two-day assault that the Cossacks managed to take one of these forts. In 1642 the Russians also took a Yakut fortress after great difficulty: “. . . the fort was made with two walls, the space between the walls was filled with earth, and there were log towers.” At a later stage these fortifications disappeared, and no one has described them since in detail. But even in the 19th century it was possible to find special tower-like barns here and there, which belonged to the Toyons." [1]

[1]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts.” Peoples Of Siberia, 265


Tokarev and Gurvich mention fortifications surrounded by water and snow, but no additional ditches dug out around the forts: "When speaking of structures, we should also mention the fact that in the old days the Yakuts knew how to make fortifications or ostrozhki, as they were called in the Russian texts of the 17th century. For example, in 1636-1637, during the campaign against the Kangalastsy, the Russian Cossacks found that “they had built strong forts with two walls covered with gravel, and surrounded by snow and water;” it was only after a two-day assault that the Cossacks managed to take one of these forts. In 1642 the Russians also took a Sakha fortress after great difficulty: “. . . the fort was made with two walls, the space between the walls was filled with earth, and there were log towers.” At a later stage these fortifications disappeared, and no one has described them since in detail. But even in the 19th century it was possible to find special tower-like barns here and there, which belonged to the Toyons." [1]

[1]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts.” Peoples Of Siberia, 265


Complex Fortification:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with warfare



Military use of Metals

text passages that we reviewed so far don’t provide much detail on this and that we need expert input


The Sakha had a long tradition of iron weaponry: "Were the Yakut acquainted with all these metals before the coming of the Russians? One can give some kind of an answer only as concerns iron, copper, and silver. The antiquity of their acquaintance with these metals is not open to doubt. Legends which I wrote down on every conceivable subject constantly point to this. The heroes of their folk-lore constantly use iron weapons in fighting." [1] "The bifurcated iron arrow point ( c[unknown]yra ) and the bifurcated bone arrow point ( muos c[unknown]yra ) are characteristic of the Yakut. The following are the iron weapons formerly used in war and hunting though at present they are restricted to hunting..." [2]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 635

[2]: Jochelson, Waldemar. 1933. “Yakut.” Anthropological Papers, 167


Copper:
absent

Copper was worked but no mention was found of its use for military purposes: "On the other hand, the majority of Yakut smiths are excellent copper and silver-workers. Besides small objects, like buckles, rings, earrings, crosses, seals, chains, pendants, and all the complicated decorations which they cleanly and delicately cast from both these metals, many cast and forge from copper fragments large kettles holding from ten to twelve vedros, and pot-belliedtea kettles weighing several pounds. I even wrote down a legend in the Namsk Ulus which mentions that one of the bells of the Namsk Uprava church was cast by a Yakut (Namsk Ulus, 1891). Yakut skill in casting is certainly equal to and, I think, even surpasses their knowledge of the smith’s art.’ [1]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 624


Bronze:
unknown

text passages that we reviewed so far don’t provide much detail on this and that we need expert input


Projectiles
Tension Siege Engine:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


Sling Siege Engine:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


Self Bow:
present

"Yakut warriors ( säpi, säpi kisita ) were usually mounted horsemen ( minjär ), but there were also foot soldiers ( sat[unknown]ykisita ). Their weapons ( säp ) consisted of a light bent bow ( s[unknown]a ), a quiver ( käsäx, s[unknown]adax ), and arrows ( aya ) ." [1] "The bifurcated iron arrow point ( c[unknown]yra ) and the bifurcated bone arrow point ( muos c[unknown]yra ) are characteristic of the Yakut." [2] "They are very expert archers, and have a plentiful supply of arrows in their quivers." [3]

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar. 1933. “Yakut.” Anthropological Papers, 172

[2]: Jochelson, Waldemar. 1933. “Yakut.” Anthropological Papers, 167

[3]: Sauer, Martin. 1802. “Account Of A Geographical And Astronomical Expedition To The Northern Parts Of Russia By Commodore Joseph Billings, In The Years 1785-1794.”, 130[2]


Javelin:
present

"In the report of the soldier Semen Epishev (1652) to the Yakutsk voivode Dmitrii Frantsebekov it says, incidentally: we came by seam to the mouth of the Okhta River and at that time at the mouth there were many clans of foreigner Tungus, a thousand and more, and they shot at us; they had harnesses and weapons, and shot at us with arrows and cast spears, wearing caps and helmets of iron and of bone, and did not want to let us to the Okhta--they wanted to kill us." [1]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 635


Handheld Firearm:
absent

Russian-era ethnographers report the manufacture of rifles: "I know of a case when a Verkhoyansk silversmith, Rumiantsev , made on a bet a silver engraved goblet just like one which a visiting merchant had brought from Moscow. This same Rumiantsev made rifles whose fame was known throughout the whole region. I saw one of these for which one hundred rubles had been paid and which was extremely accurate at a distance of two hundred paces." [1] "The methods and instruments of the Yakut smiths are very primitive; nevertheless they operate their crude tools very well, and using them even weld rifle barrels rather successfully." [2] We have assumed here that the technology itself was introduced in the Russian period.

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 629

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 624


Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


Crossbow:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


Composite Bow:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


Handheld weapons
War Club:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


Some authors describe the bolat as a sword: "Among them the older and more skillful ones were called batyr -- knight, khosun -- warrior, and bargan (byargyan’) -- good shot, and roamed through the taiga not far from the settlements, hunting and fishing. Many of them had coats of mail (kuyakh) made from plates of iron and bone sewn over a leather caftan. In most cases these wanderers were mounted, but there were some who went on foot. Their weapons consisted of a light, bent, birch bow (okh), 5. a quiver (kikhek) filled with arrows (aya), a knife, and a war spear (batyya). Near the home they often used a light hunger’s spear (batas), while many also used short swords (bolat) and small bone shields in the shape of a shovel, used for warding off arrows." [1] But given the short length of its blade, it was coded as a dagger (see above).

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.", 716


"Besides the points of arrows which apparently are identical among all the natives of Siberia, the Yakut also have other iron weapons which have retained to the present day their ancient and original shapes. To such weapons belongs the Yakut war spear, (fig. 126). Its blade is more than three-quarters of one arshin long, with a straight, dull back and a sharp point; in the middle the point becomes slightly wider so that it forms a broken line. At the handle it is one and one-quarter inches wide, and at the widest place, one and one-half inches. It is one-eighth of an inch thick. Its birchwood handle becomes narrower toward the end. At the blade it is no more than one inch in diameter. Frequently it is bound with the sinews of cattle, covered with nielloed hideand decorated on both sides with two narrow longtitudinal strips of white birch. In general the batas is a good-looking, light war weapon, once greatly loved by the Yakut. It can be used both as a bayonet and a battle axe." [1]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 637


Polearm:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


Dagger:
present

"The bolat, an ancient iron sword, has a blade 14 cms. long, sharpened on one edge and curved in the direction of the point. The back is straight and thick, though somewhat thinner near the point. The sides are ornamented with engravings, inlaid with copper and brass. The name bolat, however, seems to be the ancient Russian word, bulat, for sword. The bolat has a short iron or bone handle." [1]

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar. 1933. “Yakut.” Anthropological Papers, 167


Battle Axe:
present

"The Yakut axe (), is no less ancient in shape. Despite the fact that the Yakut name for it is exactly the same as its Mongol name - suge, it differs greatly from the Mongol axe. It is narrow, about two and one-half or three inches wide, even, with a narrow butt, lacks a puncher or a butt edge, and has a straight, thin cutting edge. These features, and also the size of the axe, bring it very close to the Siberian axes of the late Bronze Age. Punchers, butt edges, rounded points, and great width around the butt are now found increasingly oftener, and the Yakut themselves are conscious that this is a very recent Russian innovation." [1]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 637


Animals used in warfare

"Yakut warriors ( säpi, säpi kisita ) were usually mounted horsemen ( minjär ), but there were also foot soldiers ( sat[unknown]ykisita ). Their weapons ( säp ) consisted of a light bent bow ( s[unknown]a ), a quiver ( käsäx, s[unknown]adax ), and arrows ( aya ) ." [1]

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar. 1933. “Yakut.” Anthropological Papers, 172


Elephant:
absent

Some of the sources mentioned horses, but not any other animals used in warfare. Elephants are extremely unlikely to have been in use


Donkey:
absent

Some of the sources mentioned horses, but not any other animals used in warfare


Some of the sources mentioned horses, but not any other animals used in warfare


Some of the sources mentioned horses, but not any other animals used in warfare. Camels are extremely unlikely to have been in use


Armor
Wood Bark Etc:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


Shield:
present

"Among them the older and more skillful ones were called batyr -- knight, khosun -- warrior, and bargan (byargyan’) -- good shot, and roamed through the taiga not far from the settlements, hunting and fishing. Many of them had coats of mail (kuyakh) made from plates of iron and bone sewn over a leather caftan. In most cases these wanderers were mounted, but there were some who went on foot. Their weapons consisted of a light, bent, birch bow (okh), 5. a quiver (kikhek) filled with arrows (aya), a knife, and a war spear (batyya). Near the home they often used a light hunger’s spear (batas), while many also used short swords (bolat) and small bone shields in the shape of a shovel, used for warding off arrows." [1]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.", 716


Scaled Armor:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


Plate Armor:
present

This seems to fit the evidence most closely: "Young people up to a certain age looked after the herds, drove them from one place to another, caught, saddled, and loaded horses. They were called uollar, which means fellows. Among them the older and more skillful ones were called batyr -- knight, khosun -- warrior, and bargan (byargyan’) -- good shot, and roamed through the taiga not far from the settlements, hunting and fishing. Many of them had coats of mail (kuyakh) made from plates of iron and bone sewn over a leather caftan." [1] "Warriors used armor which consisted of small iron plates fastened to a leather coat and was called kuyax . The Chukchee and Koryak iron armor described by Bogoras and myself was undoubtedly adopted from Yakut sources, perhaps through Tungus intermediaries." [2]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 716

[2]: Jochelson, Waldemar. 1933. “Yakut.” Anthropological Papers, 171


Limb Protection:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


Leather Cloth:
present

"Young people up to a certain age looked after the herds, drove them from one place to another, caught, saddled, and loaded horses. They were called uollar, which means fellows. Among them the older and more skillful ones were called batyr -- knight, khosun -- warrior, and bargan (byargyan’) -- good shot, and roamed through the taiga not far from the settlements, hunting and fishing. Many of them had coats of mail (kuyakh) made from plates of iron and bone sewn over a leather caftan." [1]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 716


Laminar Armor:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with weapons and armor


Helmet:
present

"In the report of the soldier Semen Epishev (1652) to the Yakutsk voivode Dmitrii Frantsebekov it says, incidentally: we came by seam to the mouth of the Okhta River and at that time at the mouth there were many clans of foreigner Tungus, a thousand and more, and they shot at us; they had harnesses and weapons, and shot at us with arrows and cast spears, wearing caps and helmets of iron and of bone, and did not want to let us to the Okhta--they wanted to kill us." [1]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 635


Chainmail:
present

Many of them had coats of mail (kuyakh) made from plates of iron and bone sewn over a leather caftan." [1]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 716


Breastplate:
present

"Young people up to a certain age looked after the herds, drove them from one place to another, caught, saddled, and loaded horses. They were called uollar, which means fellows. Among them the older and more skillful ones were called batyr -- knight, khosun -- warrior, and bargan (byargyan’) -- good shot, and roamed through the taiga not far from the settlements, hunting and fishing. Many of them had coats of mail (kuyakh) made from plates of iron and bone sewn over a leather caftan." [1]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław. 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research.”, 716


Naval technology
Specialized Military Vessel:
absent

Given the importance of nomadism, it seems unlikely that naval technology was used in warfare.


Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
absent

Given the importance of nomadism, it seems unlikely that naval technology was used in warfare.


Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
absent

Given the importance of nomadism, it seems unlikely that naval technology was used in warfare.



Human Sacrifice Data
Human Sacrifice is the deliberate and ritualized killing of a person to please or placate supernatural entities (including gods, spirits, and ancestors) or gain other supernatural benefits.
- Nothing coded yet.
- Nothing coded yet.
- Nothing coded yet.