Home Region:  Siberia (Central and Northern Eurasia)

Sakha - Late

D G SC WF HS CC EQ 2020  ru_sakha_late / RuYakuL

Preceding:
[elite migration; Sakha Tribes] [elite migration]   Update here
Add one more here.

Succeeding:
No Polity found. Add one here.

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 forSakha. 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:
Yakutsk  
Alternative Name:
Urangkhai Sakha  
Yakut  
Yakutians  
Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
[1,850 CE ➜ 1,900 CE]  
Duration:
[1,632 CE ➜ 1,900 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
vassalage to [---]  
Supracultural Entity:
Siberia  
Succeeding Entity:
USSR  
Czarist Russia  
Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
13,100,000 km2  
Relationship to Preceding Entity:
elite migration  
Preceding Entity:
UNCLEAR:    [elite migration]  
Degree of Centralization:
loose  
Language
Linguistic Family:
Altaic  
Language:
Sakha (Yakut)  
Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
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:
present  
Merit Promotion:
inferred absent  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
inferred absent  
Examination System:
inferred absent  
Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent  
Judge:
absent 1632 CE 1889 CE
present 1890 CE 1900 CE
Formal Legal Code:
absent 1632 CE 1889 CE
present 1890 CE 1900 CE
Court:
absent 1632 CE 1889 CE
present 1890 CE 1900 CE
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
absent  
Irrigation System:
absent  
Food Storage Site:
absent  
Drinking Water Supply System:
absent  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
present  
Port:
absent  
Canal:
absent  
Bridge:
absent  
Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
absent  
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
absent 1632 CE 1800 CE
present 1801 CE 1900 CE
Script:
absent 1632 CE 1800 CE
present 1801 CE 1900 CE
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
absent 1632 CE 1800 CE
present 1801 CE 1900 CE
Nonwritten Record:
present  
Mnemonic Device:
present  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
absent  
Sacred Text:
absent 1632 CE 1800 CE
present 1801 CE 1900 CE
Religious Literature:
absent 1632 CE 1800 CE
present 1801 CE 1900 CE
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:
present  
Article:
present  
Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
present  
General Postal Service:
present  
Courier:
present  
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
absent  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
present 1632 CE 1642 CE
absent 1643 CE 1900 CE
  Stone Walls Mortared:
absent  
  Settlements in a Defensive Position:
absent  
  Modern Fortification:
absent  
  Moat:
present 1632 CE 1642 CE
absent 1643 CE 1900 CE
  Fortified Camp:
absent  
  Earth Rampart:
present 1632 CE 1642 CE
absent 1643 CE 1900 CE
  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:
present  
  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:
absent  
  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 - Late (ru_sakha_late) was in:
 (1643 CE 1900 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


Capital:
Yakutsk

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] Yakutsk was established by Russian invaders ’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


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

Alternative Name:
Yakutians

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
Peak Years:
[1,850 CE ➜ 1,900 CE]

During the Russian period, Czarist administrative and political control was established over Sakha territory: ’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] Given the importance of increasing ’modernization’ for the revolutionary developments of the early 20th century, the peak period should be identified with the latter half of the 19th century.

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


Duration:
[1,632 CE ➜ 1,900 CE]

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, 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. 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.’ [2]

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

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


Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
vassalage to [---]

In the 17th century, the Czar regime started to exact tribute from the Sakha population while gradually integrating Siberia into the general administration: ’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, 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. 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.’ [2]

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

[2]: 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] During the Czarist period, cross-cultural exchanges with Russian settlers and administrators were of primary importance: ’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.’ [2] ’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.’ [3] Wikipedia provides 13,100,000 km squared as the total extent of Siberia [4] . 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]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut", 220

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

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


Succeeding Entity:
USSR

’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. The consolidation of the 1917 Revolution was protracted until 1920, in part because of extensive opposition to Red forces by Whites under Kolchak. The Yakut Republic was not secure until 1923. After relative calm during Lenin’s New Economic Policy, a harsh collectivization and antinationalist campaign ensued. Intellectuals such as Oiunskii, founder of the Institute of Languages, Literature and History, and Kulakovskii, an ethnographer, were persecuted in the 1920s and 1930s. The turmoil of Stalinist policies and World War II left many Yakut without their traditional homesteads and unaccustomed to salaried industrial or urban work. Education both improved their chances of adaptation and stimulated interest in the Yakut past.’ [1]

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

Succeeding Entity:
Czarist Russia

’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. The consolidation of the 1917 Revolution was protracted until 1920, in part because of extensive opposition to Red forces by Whites under Kolchak. The Yakut Republic was not secure until 1923. After relative calm during Lenin’s New Economic Policy, a harsh collectivization and antinationalist campaign ensued. Intellectuals such as Oiunskii, founder of the Institute of Languages, Literature and History, and Kulakovskii, an ethnographer, were persecuted in the 1920s and 1930s. The turmoil of Stalinist policies and World War II left many Yakut without their traditional homesteads and unaccustomed to salaried industrial or urban work. Education both improved their chances of adaptation and stimulated interest in the Yakut past.’ [1]

[1]: 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] During the Czarist period, cross-cultural exchanges with Russian settlers and administrators were of primary importance: ’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.’ [2] ’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.’ [3] Wikipedia provides 13,100,000 km squared as the total extent of Siberia [4] . 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]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut", 220

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

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


Relationship to Preceding Entity:
elite migration

Sakha territory came under tribute to Czarist Russia after a series of successful military expeditions: ’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] ’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.’ [2]

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

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


Preceding Entity:
Sakha Tribes

(Relationship): Sakha territory came under tribute to Czarist Russia after a series of successful military expeditions: ’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] ’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.’ [2]
(Entity): Before the Russian invasions, the territory was governed by independent Sakha and other tribes: ’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]

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

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


Degree of Centralization:
loose

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. In 1783 the government was again reorganized into a vice-royalty composed of four provinces, one of which was Yakutsk Province. In 1797 the vice-royalty was abolished and the government restored. In [Page 225] 1805 under the Emperor Alexander I, the Yakut country was made a separate province dependent upon Irkutsk. In 1852 the Yakut country was given a separate governor. After the revolution in February, 1917, a commissar was appointed by the Provisional 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] Czarist administrators communicated in Russian.

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


Religion

Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
1

levels.
Settler Towns; Settler Villages; 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] When agriculture became more common, the Sakha living near Russian settlements adopted more permanent log houses: ’When living near cities or Russian settlements, the Yakut abandon their earth huts and live in log houses of the Russian type. Fig. 23 illustrates a log house of a rich Yakut elder on the Lena River not far from the City of Yakutsk.’ [2] Russian settlers established peasant villages: ’Being agriculturists exclusively, they could not follow their calling in the tundras of Turukhansk and they addressed a request to the government that they be transferred to Yakutsk Province. The request was granted. Beginning in 1860 groups of skoptzy were transferred to Yakutsk Province. By 1885, near the cities of Yakutsk, Olekminks, and Viliuisk, and on the Aldan River (near Ust-Maisk) they had ten villages with a population of 1181. This was a strange society which would have become extinct in fifty years had not additional convicted persons been exiled every year and thus replaced the departed. Industrious and with sufficient means, the skoptzy developed agriculture on a great scale and thus contributed to its success in the Yakut country. Early in the summer, they arranged hot beds which were protected during the cold nights; thus they grew the most delicate edible plants as early in the season as is possible only in a warm climate. Between 1885 and 1890 they had under cultivation 13,625 acres of land and were striving to seize the State lands. They employed Yakut laborers and thus the latter learned to cultivate the land.’ [3] Russian invaders also built fortresses and 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.’ [4] Proximity to towns became an important factor of social and economic stratification: ’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] ’These circumstances undoubtedly discourage the activity of the Yakut, who no longer endeavors to procure wealth, because it is the likeliest means of making him the object of persecution. Thus property, tranquillity, and population decrease. The princes or chiefs dwelling near towns acquire their luxuries, and oppress their dependant tribes to procure wine and brandy in addition to their koumis: this was never known among them till the year 1785. I will farther add, that in 1784 the district of Gigansk produced 4834 tributary natives; but in 1789 their number amounted only to 1938. Mr. Bonnar, the captain of the district of Zashiversk, told me, that the tributary nations in his circle amounted to only half the number that they were five years ago and that these were very poor indeed.”’ [6]

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

[2]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut”, 142

[3]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut”, 182

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

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

[6]: 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”, 112p


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] Contact with Russian Orthodox priests was irregular: ’The aborigines seldom have an opportunity to see a priest of the ancient faith. In view of the enormous extension of the parishes, of the scattered settlements, and of the extraordinary difficulties in securing communications, he is hardly in a position to see each member of his faith once a year; and if he visits him in one of the settling-places he may not stay longer than two or three days because he must be through with his travel as long as the paths and roads are practicable. One may safely estimate that eight [probably eighty rather than eight, given the context: comment by RA] per cent of the aborigines population has never seen a Christian church. His eminency, the former Yakut bishop Dionysius even told me that sometimes priests had died without having communicated, leaving a written confession of sins.’ [3] Accordingly, the material is coded for Sakha rather than Orthodox institutions.

[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, 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 lead 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] We need to confirm whether any Sakha warriors joined the Russian military at the time. Accordingly the code may be in need of re-evaluation.

[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. According to the Ethnographic Atlas’ variable 33 ’Jurisdictional Hierarchy Beyond Local Community’ was ’3’ ’Two levels (e.g., larger chiefdoms)’.
[(5) Russian Imperial Authorities; (4) Russian District Governors; (3) the Russian District Administration;] (2) Councils of Clan Unions and Tribal Units (Dzhon/Ulus) (1) 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] The Russian administration reinforced kin-based hierarchies and superimposed a supratribal structure onto the Sakha system: ’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.’ [4] ’If they have claims against their subordinate clansmen, the clan-chiefs bring complaints: 1. The headman--to the nasleg princelings and clan elders. If unsatisfied with their decision, or in case of noncompliance, they may complain to the authorities. 2. The princelings--first, to the clan elders in their jurisdiction, and in the case of noncompliance or dissatisfaction with their decision, to the ulus headmen, and finally, to the authorities. 3. The clansmen among themselves--to the clan elders and nasleg princelings, and in the case of noncompliance to the ulus headman; and finally to the authorities.’ [5] Sakha leaders cooperated with Russian imperial administrators, collecting taxes for them and contributing to the establishment of the emerging postal system in Siberia: ’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.’ [1]

[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]: Popov, A. A. 1964. “Dolgans”, 656

[5]: Samokvasov, D. I. A. 1876. “Collection Of Customary Law Of The Siberian Natives", 4p


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, 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 lead 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] We need to confirm whether any Sakha warriors joined the Russian military at the time. Accordingly the code may be in need of re-evaluation.

[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] Contact with Russian Orthodox priests was irregular: ’The aborigines seldom have an opportunity to see a priest of the ancient faith. In view of the enormous extension of the parishes, of the scattered settlements, and of the extraordinary difficulties in securing communications, he is hardly in a position to see each member of his faith once a year; and if he visits him in one of the settling-places he may not stay longer than two or three days because he must be through with his travel as long as the paths and roads are practicable. One may safely estimate that eight [probably eighty rather than eight, given the context: comment by RA] per cent of the aborigines population has never seen a Christian church. His eminency, the former Yakut bishop Dionysius even told me that sometimes priests had died without having communicated, leaving a written confession of sins.’ [3] Accordingly, the material is coded for Sakha rather than Orthodox institutions.

[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, exceptionall ymanly, 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 lead 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] We need to confirm whether any Sakha warriors joined the Russian military at the time. Accordingly the code may be in need of re-evaluation.

[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
Specialized Government Building:
present

During the Russian period, towns with council buildings were established. Sakhas accused of a crime were occasionally held there: ’In the Yakut settlements there are no special places set up for the maintenance of prisoners; consequently, they are kept until the final decision of their case in the houses where the trial is taking place. For thievery of any kind and similar big crimes, they are kept with wooden blocks on their legs, or with handcuffs on their arms, or, for petty misdemeanors, without anything special. if the trial takes place in town, the accused is kept in the town council building. The reasons for which the Sakha are arrested and imprisoned are as follows: 1) a discovered crime; 2) suspicion of any crime prior to the final investigation and decision of the case; 3) disobedience and insubordination to the clan-chiefs; 4) nonpayment of taxes and duties in the allotted time, and also just and proved debts to private individuals; 5) drunkenness, uproarious behavior, and playing with dice; and , finally, 6) according to the decision of the clan-chiefs or the authorities, as a punishment for any crime.’ [1]

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


Merit Promotion:
absent

Sieroszewski reports corruption and exploitation of the Sakha population by administrators: ’The government undertook to regulate the distribution of Yakut land, [Page 764] partly to cease the disorders which arose as a result of this and partly to assure and regulate the taking of yassak, which was being gathered with unbelievable arbitrariness and accompanied by terrible ill use, was stolen, substituted for, and hidden, and they stole from the Great Tsars by putting far too little in the treasury and by undervaluing the yassak greatly, and they impoverished the yassak-paying people and robbed the taxes and injured them.’ [1] This suggests that Czarist control of local administrators was not tight enough to allow for systematic examination and merit promotion on a more than de iure basis.

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research", 763


Full Time Bureaucrat:
absent

The early invaders imposed tribute on the Sakha population after successful military expeditions: ’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] ’We have previously noted (see p. 64) that the Yakut were subjugated by two different Cossack parties from Mangasey aand Yeniseisk. The Olekminsk fortress on the Lena River was erected in 1630 when only Tungus lived in the region. In 1637 a Cossack party, under the command of Busa, collected tribute in furs from the Yakut of the Yana River.’ [2] The czarist administration imposed taxes and established an administrative infrastructure: ’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.’ [3] ’The committee of Cherkashennikov which worked in the Yakutsk Oblast was only a branch of this All-Siberian commission. On December 14, 1766, an ukaz was issued which called for deputies from all of Russia to form a committee for establishing a better administration, discussing various problems of internal policy, and, incidentally, to establish a new code for the natives of Siberia. The Yakut, who were listed as nomads, were excluded from the list of electors, but they sent their deputy anyway and he was allowed to join the committee by a special order of the Empress.’ [4] ’The overall development of commodity relationships helped to speed up the development of agriculture and here and there ploughing was enforced by the administration.’ [5] ’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. In 1783 the government was again reorganized into a vice-royalty composed of four provinces, one of which was Yakutsk Province. In 1797 the vice-royalty was abolished and the government restored. In [Page 225] 1805 under the Emperor Alexander I, the Yakut country was made a separate province dependent upon Irkutsk. In 1852 the Yakut country was given a separate governor. After the revolution in February, 1917, a commissar was appointed by the Provisional Government.’ [6] Sieroszewski reports corruption and exploitation of the Sakha population by administrators: ’The government undertook to regulate the distribution of Yakut land, [Page 764] partly to cease the disorders which arose as a result of this a nd partly to as sure and regulate the taking of yassak, which was being gathered with unbelievable arbitrariness and accompanied by terrible ill use, was stolen, substituted for, and hidden, and they stole from the Great Tsars by putting far too little in the treasury and by undervaluing the yassak greatly, and they impoverished the yassak-paying people and robbed the taxes and injured them.’ [7] In addition to Russian officials, land-holding toyons also doubled as officials in their districts: ’The population was also divided into three or four classes: the toyon households belonged to the first class, and received a first-class plot, the middle households were usually assigned to the second class and the poorer people to the third and fourth classes, each receiving the corresponding clan plot. Thus, the system itself gave the toyons plots of land which were three or four times larger than those of the poorer people. It is true that in return for this the toyons had somewhat greater obligations, but the difference in their extent was extremely small. However, this inequality was by no means the only thing. The toyons actually possessed much more land, having seized it in a variety of different ways. For example, they had several plots, rather than just one, by registering them in the names of their children, workers and so on. It was also the custom to give officials (who were more often than not themselves toyons) additional plots of land, so-called [...] (from the Russian word “ukaz” [edict]), for which, incidentally, there was no payment. The influential toyons also obtained extra plots called ugayy (or kharyy). Furthermore, the toyons frequently enjoyed the right of possessing larger plots, sometimes through inheritance, cleared from the forest or formed at the site of a drained lake. The leasing of land was also common.’ [8]

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

[2]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut”, 220

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

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 784

[5]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 254

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

[7]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research", 763

[8]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts", 271


Examination System:
absent

Sieroszewski reports corruption and exploitation of the Sakha population by administrators: ’The government undertook to regulate the distribution of Yakut land, [Page 764] partly to cease the disorders which arose as a result of this a nd partly to as sure and regulate the taking of yassak, which was being gathered with unbelievable arbitrariness and accompanied by terrible ill use, was stolen, substituted for, and hidden, and they stole from the Great Tsars by putting far too little in the treasury and by undervaluing the yassak greatly, and they impoverished the yassak-paying people and robbed the taxes and injured them.’ [1] This suggests that Czarist control of local administrators was not tight enough to allow for systematic examination and merit promotion on a more than de iure basis.

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research", 763


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 the oaths of unconverted 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] No mention of advocates is made in relation to Russian courts.

[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


Judge:
absent
1632 CE 1889 CE

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 are heard 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] Clerical courts occasionally prosecuted polygamy prior to that date: ’Such polygamy, which is tolerated for the above reasons, and which has existed since ancient times and does not do any harm, had not become bad in the judgement of the Yakut, and no regulations for the abolition of this custom have been set up by the Yakut. However, since the Yakut adopted the Christian faith, and as they have become enlightened by strict surveillance and sometimes by indulgent reprimands from the eparchial priests, it has been gradually dying out, but nevertheless denunciations on this subject are made concerning people who have lawfully wedded wives but keep the others, and people who had several wives before conversion and married one of them in church without leaving the others, who were left at home with their children; in the case of such a denunciation the local authorities, on the grounds of the repugnance of the Christian religion for this custom, pressed formal charges, and the guilty parties were handed over to the clerical court as fornicators, and the cases were decided according to general state laws, which constituted and still constitute and extreme burden for the Yakut.’ [4] Sieroszewski’s material on punishment seems to refer to Yakut assemblies rather than Russian courts: ’In 1867, according to official data, 1870 cases were judged in the upravas in the vicinity of Yakutsk: out of the total, 1855 concerned land disputes; in the Vilyuysk Okrug, out of 3786 cases, more than half had to do with land. Besides levying fines the Yakut also punish a guilty party by reprimanding him publicly, before the assembly, by sending him on some job, or putting him into solitary confinement. The latter is apparently a Russian innovation. Punishment with birch-rods was quite unknown to the Yakut in the past. Even now they have recourse to this very rarely and with great distaste. In the north they did not even know what this was like, and once, in the Kolymsk Ulus, when the assembly did not known what to do with one of its disobedient members and decided, on the advice of some Yakut who had come from the south, to flog him, they turned to me with questions: where should we beat him?, and do we have to lay him down and undress him or is that not permitted? (Kolymsk Ulus, Undzha, 1883). Usually the influence of the commune is quite sufficient to exert necessary compulsion. In the south, where the ties of the commune have weakened, we find disobedient people whose cattle are taken away as a punishment, or who are forced to obey. Many decisions of the clan assemblies astonished me by their strangeness, but once I looked closer into their life and made thorough inquiries into their motives I always found at the bottom a deep respect for the individual and a striving toward equality. Naturally I say nothing about those decisions which are demonstrably incorrect, and not in accord with custom and the conscience of the people, but which they have been forced to make because of the economic pressure of unscrupulous rich people or because of administrative arbitrariness.’ [5]

[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

[4]: Samokvasov, D. I. A. 1876. “Collection Of Customary Law Of The Siberian Natives”, 14

[5]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 799

Judge:
present
1890 CE 1900 CE

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 are heard 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] Clerical courts occasionally prosecuted polygamy prior to that date: ’Such polygamy, which is tolerated for the above reasons, and which has existed since ancient times and does not do any harm, had not become bad in the judgement of the Yakut, and no regulations for the abolition of this custom have been set up by the Yakut. However, since the Yakut adopted the Christian faith, and as they have become enlightened by strict surveillance and sometimes by indulgent reprimands from the eparchial priests, it has been gradually dying out, but nevertheless denunciations on this subject are made concerning people who have lawfully wedded wives but keep the others, and people who had several wives before conversion and married one of them in church without leaving the others, who were left at home with their children; in the case of such a denunciation the local authorities, on the grounds of the repugnance of the Christian religion for this custom, pressed formal charges, and the guilty parties were handed over to the clerical court as fornicators, and the cases were decided according to general state laws, which constituted and still constitute and extreme burden for the Yakut.’ [4] Sieroszewski’s material on punishment seems to refer to Yakut assemblies rather than Russian courts: ’In 1867, according to official data, 1870 cases were judged in the upravas in the vicinity of Yakutsk: out of the total, 1855 concerned land disputes; in the Vilyuysk Okrug, out of 3786 cases, more than half had to do with land. Besides levying fines the Yakut also punish a guilty party by reprimanding him publicly, before the assembly, by sending him on some job, or putting him into solitary confinement. The latter is apparently a Russian innovation. Punishment with birch-rods was quite unknown to the Yakut in the past. Even now they have recourse to this very rarely and with great distaste. In the north they did not even know what this was like, and once, in the Kolymsk Ulus, when the assembly did not known what to do with one of its disobedient members and decided, on the advice of some Yakut who had come from the south, to flog him, they turned to me with questions: where should we beat him?, and do we have to lay him down and undress him or is that not permitted? (Kolymsk Ulus, Undzha, 1883). Usually the influence of the commune is quite sufficient to exert necessary compulsion. In the south, where the ties of the commune have weakened, we find disobedient people whose cattle are taken away as a punishment, or who are forced to obey. Many decisions of the clan assemblies astonished me by their strangeness, but once I looked closer into their life and made thorough inquiries into their motives I always found at the bottom a deep respect for the individual and a striving toward equality. Naturally I say nothing about those decisions which are demonstrably incorrect, and not in accord with custom and the conscience of the people, but which they have been forced to make because of the economic pressure of unscrupulous rich people or because of administrative arbitrariness.’ [5]

[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

[4]: Samokvasov, D. I. A. 1876. “Collection Of Customary Law Of The Siberian Natives”, 14

[5]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 799


Formal Legal Code:
absent
1632 CE 1889 CE

During the Russian period, some Russian legal concepts were adopted by the Sakha: ’N. P. Pripuzov gathered his material among the Yakuts living in the Yakutsk district, i. e., in the midst of that part of the Yakut tribe among whom we may rightly expect to encounter some traces of the action of Russian customary and legislative norms upon the customary law of the Yakuts. All the more interest attaches to the norms of the Yakut customary law noted by the compiler, which, despite the long association of the Yakuts with the Russians, have survived as a valuable vestige of the ancient familial-clan foundations. But no less interest attaches to certain juridical customs, communicated by the compiler, which have been worked out by the Yakuts under the obvious influence of the Russians; the structure of Yakut life is changing its aspect; the new conditions of life which are coming to birth demand new norms for their satisfaction. The latter are sometimes borrowed from Russian neighbors, come into contradiction with the bases of the ancient life and undergo certain changes under the influence of the archaic views on legal relations.’ [1] But 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.’ [2] ’“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.”’ [3] 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 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.’ [4] Clerical courts occasionally prosecuted polygamy prior to that date: ’Such polygamy, which is tolerated for the above reasons, and which has existed since ancient times and does not do any harm, had not become bad in the judgement of the Yakut, and no regulations for the abolition of this custom have been set up by the Yakut. However, since the Yakut adopted the Christian faith, and as they have become enlightened by strict surveillance and sometimes by indulgent reprimands from the eparchial priests, it has been gradually dying out, but nevertheless denunciations on this subject are made concerning people who have lawfully wedded wives but keep the others, and people who had several wives before conversion and married one of them in church without leaving the others, who were left at home with their children; in the case of such a denunciation the local authorities, on the grounds of the repugnance of the Christian religion for this custom, pressed formal charges, and the guilty parties were handed over to the clerical court as fornicators, and the cases were decided according to general state laws, which constituted and still constitute and extreme burden for the Yakut.’ [5] Sieroszewski’s material on punishment seems to refer to Yakut assemblies rather than Russian courts: ’In 1867, according to official data, 1870 cases were judged in the upravas in the vicinity of Yakutsk: out of the total, 1855 concerned land disputes; in the Vilyuysk Okrug, out of 3786 cases, more than half had to do with land. Besides levying fines the Yakut also punish a guilty party by reprimanding him publicly, before the assembly, by sending him on some job, or putting him into solitary confinement. The latter is apparently a Russian innovation. Punishment with birch-rods was quite unknown to the Yakut in the past. Even now they have recourse to this very rarely and with great distaste. In the north they did not even know what this was like, and once, in the Kolymsk Ulus, when the assembly did not known what to do with one of its disobedient members and decided, on the advice of some Yakut who had come from the south, to flog him, they turned to me with questions: where should we beat him?, and do we have to lay him down and undress him or is that not permitted? (Kolymsk Ulus, Undzha, 1883). Usually the influence of the commune is quite sufficient to exert necessary compulsion. In the south, where the ties of the commune have weakened, we find disobedient people whose cattle are taken away as a punishment, or who are forced to obey. Many decisions of the clan assemblies astonished me by their strangeness, but once I looked closer into their life and made thorough inquiries into their motives I always found at the bottom a deep respect for the individual and a striving toward equality. Naturally I say nothing about those decisions which are demonstrably incorrect, and not in accord with custom and the conscience of the people, but which they have been forced to make because of the economic pressure of unscrupulous rich people or because of administrative arbitrariness.’ [6]

[1]: Kharuzin, Aleksai Nikolaevich 1898. “Juridicial Customs Of The Yakut”, 37

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

[3]: 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

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

[5]: Samokvasov, D. I. A. 1876. “Collection Of Customary Law Of The Siberian Natives”, 14

[6]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 799

Formal Legal Code:
present
1890 CE 1900 CE

During the Russian period, some Russian legal concepts were adopted by the Sakha: ’N. P. Pripuzov gathered his material among the Yakuts living in the Yakutsk district, i. e., in the midst of that part of the Yakut tribe among whom we may rightly expect to encounter some traces of the action of Russian customary and legislative norms upon the customary law of the Yakuts. All the more interest attaches to the norms of the Yakut customary law noted by the compiler, which, despite the long association of the Yakuts with the Russians, have survived as a valuable vestige of the ancient familial-clan foundations. But no less interest attaches to certain juridical customs, communicated by the compiler, which have been worked out by the Yakuts under the obvious influence of the Russians; the structure of Yakut life is changing its aspect; the new conditions of life which are coming to birth demand new norms for their satisfaction. The latter are sometimes borrowed from Russian neighbors, come into contradiction with the bases of the ancient life and undergo certain changes under the influence of the archaic views on legal relations.’ [1] But 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.’ [2] ’“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.”’ [3] 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 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.’ [4] Clerical courts occasionally prosecuted polygamy prior to that date: ’Such polygamy, which is tolerated for the above reasons, and which has existed since ancient times and does not do any harm, had not become bad in the judgement of the Yakut, and no regulations for the abolition of this custom have been set up by the Yakut. However, since the Yakut adopted the Christian faith, and as they have become enlightened by strict surveillance and sometimes by indulgent reprimands from the eparchial priests, it has been gradually dying out, but nevertheless denunciations on this subject are made concerning people who have lawfully wedded wives but keep the others, and people who had several wives before conversion and married one of them in church without leaving the others, who were left at home with their children; in the case of such a denunciation the local authorities, on the grounds of the repugnance of the Christian religion for this custom, pressed formal charges, and the guilty parties were handed over to the clerical court as fornicators, and the cases were decided according to general state laws, which constituted and still constitute and extreme burden for the Yakut.’ [5] Sieroszewski’s material on punishment seems to refer to Yakut assemblies rather than Russian courts: ’In 1867, according to official data, 1870 cases were judged in the upravas in the vicinity of Yakutsk: out of the total, 1855 concerned land disputes; in the Vilyuysk Okrug, out of 3786 cases, more than half had to do with land. Besides levying fines the Yakut also punish a guilty party by reprimanding him publicly, before the assembly, by sending him on some job, or putting him into solitary confinement. The latter is apparently a Russian innovation. Punishment with birch-rods was quite unknown to the Yakut in the past. Even now they have recourse to this very rarely and with great distaste. In the north they did not even know what this was like, and once, in the Kolymsk Ulus, when the assembly did not known what to do with one of its disobedient members and decided, on the advice of some Yakut who had come from the south, to flog him, they turned to me with questions: where should we beat him?, and do we have to lay him down and undress him or is that not permitted? (Kolymsk Ulus, Undzha, 1883). Usually the influence of the commune is quite sufficient to exert necessary compulsion. In the south, where the ties of the commune have weakened, we find disobedient people whose cattle are taken away as a punishment, or who are forced to obey. Many decisions of the clan assemblies astonished me by their strangeness, but once I looked closer into their life and made thorough inquiries into their motives I always found at the bottom a deep respect for the individual and a striving toward equality. Naturally I say nothing about those decisions which are demonstrably incorrect, and not in accord with custom and the conscience of the people, but which they have been forced to make because of the economic pressure of unscrupulous rich people or because of administrative arbitrariness.’ [6]

[1]: Kharuzin, Aleksai Nikolaevich 1898. “Juridicial Customs Of The Yakut”, 37

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

[3]: 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

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

[5]: Samokvasov, D. I. A. 1876. “Collection Of Customary Law Of The Siberian Natives”, 14

[6]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 799


Court:
absent
1632 CE 1889 CE

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] Sieroszewski’s material on punishment seems to refer to Yakut assemblies rather than Russian courts: ’In 1867, according to official data, 1870 cases were judged in the upravas in the vicinity of Yakutsk: out of the total, 1855 concerned land disputes; in the Vilyuysk Okrug, out of 3786 cases, more than half had to do with land. Besides levying fines the Yakut also punish a guilty party by reprimanding him publicly, before the assembly, by sending him on some job, or putting him into solitary confinement. The latter is apparently a Russian innovation. Punishment with birch-rods was quite unknown to the Yakut in the past. Even now they have recourse to this very rarely and with great distaste. In the north they did not even know what this was like, and once, in the Kolymsk Ulus, when the assembly did not known what to do with one of its disobedient members and decided, on the advice of some Yakut who had come from the south, to flog him, they turned to me with questions: where should we beat him?, and do we have to lay him down and undress him or is that not permitted? (Kolymsk Ulus, Undzha, 1883). Usually the influence of the commune is quite sufficient to exert necessary compulsion. In the south, where the ties of the commune have weakened, we find disobedient people whose cattle are taken away as a punishment, or who are forced to obey. Many decisions of the clan assemblies astonished me by their strangeness, but once I looked closer into their life and made thorough inquiries into their motives I always found at the bottom a deep respect for the individual and a striving toward equality. Naturally I say nothing about those decisions which are demonstrably incorrect, and not in accord with custom and the conscience of the people, but which they have been forced to make because of the economic pressure of unscrupulous rich people or because of administrative arbitrariness.’ [4] Clerical courts occasionally prosecuted polygamy prior to that date: ’Such polygamy, which is tolerated for the above reasons, and which has existed since ancient times and does not do any harm, had not become bad in the judgement of the Yakut, and no regulations for the abolition of this custom have been set up by the Yakut. However, since the Yakut adopted the Christian faith, and as they have become enlightened by strict surveillance and sometimes by indulgent reprimands from the eparchial priests, it has been gradually dying out, but nevertheless denunciations on this subject are made concerning people who have lawfully wedded wives but keep the others, and people who had several wives before conversion and married one of them in church without leaving the others, who were left at home with their children; in the case of such a denunciation the local authorities, on the grounds of the repugnance of the Christian religion for this custom, pressed formal charges, and the guilty parties were handed over to the clerical court as fornicators, and the cases were decided according to general state laws, which constituted and still constitute and extreme burden for the Yakut.’ [5]

[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

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 799

[5]: Samokvasov, D. I. A. 1876. “Collection Of Customary Law Of The Siberian Natives”, 14

Court:
present
1890 CE 1900 CE

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] Sieroszewski’s material on punishment seems to refer to Yakut assemblies rather than Russian courts: ’In 1867, according to official data, 1870 cases were judged in the upravas in the vicinity of Yakutsk: out of the total, 1855 concerned land disputes; in the Vilyuysk Okrug, out of 3786 cases, more than half had to do with land. Besides levying fines the Yakut also punish a guilty party by reprimanding him publicly, before the assembly, by sending him on some job, or putting him into solitary confinement. The latter is apparently a Russian innovation. Punishment with birch-rods was quite unknown to the Yakut in the past. Even now they have recourse to this very rarely and with great distaste. In the north they did not even know what this was like, and once, in the Kolymsk Ulus, when the assembly did not known what to do with one of its disobedient members and decided, on the advice of some Yakut who had come from the south, to flog him, they turned to me with questions: where should we beat him?, and do we have to lay him down and undress him or is that not permitted? (Kolymsk Ulus, Undzha, 1883). Usually the influence of the commune is quite sufficient to exert necessary compulsion. In the south, where the ties of the commune have weakened, we find disobedient people whose cattle are taken away as a punishment, or who are forced to obey. Many decisions of the clan assemblies astonished me by their strangeness, but once I looked closer into their life and made thorough inquiries into their motives I always found at the bottom a deep respect for the individual and a striving toward equality. Naturally I say nothing about those decisions which are demonstrably incorrect, and not in accord with custom and the conscience of the people, but which they have been forced to make because of the economic pressure of unscrupulous rich people or because of administrative arbitrariness.’ [4] Clerical courts occasionally prosecuted polygamy prior to that date: ’Such polygamy, which is tolerated for the above reasons, and which has existed since ancient times and does not do any harm, had not become bad in the judgement of the Yakut, and no regulations for the abolition of this custom have been set up by the Yakut. However, since the Yakut adopted the Christian faith, and as they have become enlightened by strict surveillance and sometimes by indulgent reprimands from the eparchial priests, it has been gradually dying out, but nevertheless denunciations on this subject are made concerning people who have lawfully wedded wives but keep the others, and people who had several wives before conversion and married one of them in church without leaving the others, who were left at home with their children; in the case of such a denunciation the local authorities, on the grounds of the repugnance of the Christian religion for this custom, pressed formal charges, and the guilty parties were handed over to the clerical court as fornicators, and the cases were decided according to general state laws, which constituted and still constitute and extreme burden for the Yakut.’ [5]

[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

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 799

[5]: Samokvasov, D. I. A. 1876. “Collection Of Customary Law Of The Siberian Natives”, 14


Specialized Buildings: polity owned

The 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, the 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]

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

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


Irrigation System:
absent

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] Russian and Sakha farmers constructed grain warehouses, but the Sakha were generally unfamiliar with effective methods of grain preservation: ’The seeds always cost more than three rubles. Even in harvest years, when in winter one can buy four for one ruble eighty kopecks a pood, a pood of seeds costs two rubles. This i s due to the fact that in the first place, they use selected grain for seeds, so that not every homeowner is willing to sow with his own seeds, and secondly, because most Yakut sow less grain than they use. Rich Yakut naturally take advantage of this, and encouraged by the spring season of bad roads and the constant pecuniary embarrassment of the Yakut they loan seeds and make profits of one hundred percent on them. I must remark that in general the Yakut still have not learned how to store grain. Their grain warehouses and , even the public warehouses, are in almost all cases so poorly constructed that grain which has lain there for two or three years is no longer good f or seeds. Sometimes it becomes so moldy that it is hard to eat flour prepared from it. This inability to keep grain in storage supports the custom of handing out public seeds as a loan, pood for pood, to well-to-do clan heads, even in harvest years. Because of this many warehouses are found to be empty in poor crop years, and this factor is just about the strongest hindrance to the success of agriculture. At such times there are exceedingly few seeds in the okrug. A poor crop of grain usually concides with a small harvest of grass, and therefore a lack of milk. The grain is consumed. It is remarkable that the raising of grain has been strengthened even in the more northern regions, but only where there are large permanent stores of seeds, either in the form of Russian agricultural settlements or Yakut homesteads operating on a large scale. There are very few Yakut carrying on the raising of grain on a large scale for commercial purposes. Even such rich Yakut as, for example, Syrom yatnikov, of the Bayagantaysk Ulus sowed only for themselves, something like one desiatin per household; there were four household in all. [...] In the Olekminsk Okrug I saw splendid farmsteads, well cultivated, with large areas sowed with the same kind of grain, with judicious household arrangeme nts, warehouses, threshing barns, and flour mills. I was told that these farmsteads belong to rich Yakut.’ [2] Sieroszewski’s material suggests that Sakha food storage was household-level only in most cases.

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

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research", 517


Drinking Water Supply System:
absent

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

The Russian administration constructed some roads that were reliable year-round: ’Outside the City of Yakutsk, the use of the wheeled cart, adopted from the Russians, is very limited throughout the Province. Roads suitable for wheeled transport are rare. They extend only 1036 kilometers: from Yakutsk to Viliuisk (600 km.) and from Viliuisk to Suntar (436 km.). I myself had the opportunity to use a wheeled cart when traveling from Yakutsk about sixty miles to the east to the Churupcha settlement.’ [1] Russians and Sakha relied on sledges and waterways where roads were absent or not passable: ’All the other roads are swampy and in summer were passable only on horseback; even this means of transportation is very difficult, particularly in the northern districts. In winter sledges are everywhere drawn by horses; in the northern districts reindeer and dogs are also used. Many Tungus, Lamut, and Yukaghir use the reindeer for riding, particularly in the mountainous districts between the great rivers. In summer small steamers ply the Lena and Viliui rivers. On the Yana, Indighirka, and Kolyma rivers and their tributaries large boats are used for carrying freight as well as for passengers. During the winter freight carried on pack-horses or by reindeer sledges from the shores of the Okhotsk Sea (Okhotsk, Yamsk, Ayan or Ola) over the mountains to the upper course of the Kolyma River, is floated down on pontoon-like rafts consisting of two large boats covered with a bridge. Such rafts are provided with a rudder and are propelled with long poles. As they cannot be poled up the river they are sold to the inhabitants of Nishne Kolymsk, who make boats of different sizes from them. Recently I learned that a steamer coming through Bering Strait now visits Nishne Kolymsk every summer, bringing flour and other commodities for sale or exchange for furs.’ [1] ’Of the large wooden objects used, the Yakut boat, sleigh, and wagon carry so many traces of various later influences in their shape and workmanship that it is extremely difficult to determine their original forms and trace the extent of each outside influence. All these are recent Yakut acquisitions. In many places the wagon is unknown to the present day. It was only with difficulty that I could explain the idea of the wheel to the Kolymsk Yakut, and they could not discern any difference in transportation along the ground between a wagon and a sleigh, on which they carry loads even in summer. Even sleighs are little used by the Yakut in these remote northern regions, and then only with dogs and reindeer. The use of the yoke and the shaft-bow is unknown to the Yakut, and when they infrequently have to harness horses for some traveling government officials, they harness them to those same reindeer narty - using the same reindeer straps which are thrown over the saddle. Then the coachman gets on this horse, or on the one in front of it. It is understandable that both the horse and those riding in the sleigh become extremely fatigued from the constant jerking and shaking.’ [2] The use of harness dogs was also common: ’In West Siberia the harness is very strange: the breech-band is put on the body in front of the breast bone, and a belt issuing from the breech-band is placed between the legs of the animal, so that it pulls with its pelvis. The east-siberian harness is of the breast variety: the breechband is placed on the breast of the dog and belts from it cover the sides of the animal towards the alik (the hauling belt which takes the place of theconnecting pole). On the road each dog carries between 2 and 2 1/2 pouds. The full team consists of twelve dogs with the thirteenth acting as leader. In travel the dogs are fed with raw, frozen and dried fish. At home special dog food is made for them. No matter how hungry they may be the Yakut dogs will not eat bread: on smelling it they will move away as if it were a stone. At the same time they eat cowberry, golubitsu, and currant, picking them directly from the bushes,--and some varieties of grass and roots. However, it is not difficult to get them used to eating bread by mixing flour in small quantities with the fish soup. Between 50 and 70 herrings are to be provided for a harness team of 12 dogs, the number depending on how well-fed the animals are. In autumn, before the beginning of the travel, the Yakuts always train and put into shape th n the beginning, the dogs are given a rest every 5 viersts. The young dogs are trained by harnessing them up with the experienced ones: the most intelligent and best trained dog must be selected as leader. Trips of several thousand viersts can be made with good dogs but travelling in such cases is not fast. Using twelve dogs with a burden of 20 pouds one may in spring, travelling over a short distance and on a compact, smooth road--cover between 150 and 200 viersts a day. The usual ride does not exceed 60-70 viersts, and on a bad road the travelled distance does not exceed 30 or 40 viersts a day.’ [3]

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut”, 187

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 606

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 296


The Sakha relied on recently introduced boats and rafts rather than ships and ports: ’Besides these above mentioned indirect proofs, direct traditions have been preserved among the Yakut which testify to the fact that the Yakut became acquainted with boats, nets, and fishing in general only comparatively recently.’ [1] ’Last of all, the Yakut do not have a single name of their own for fishing boats and vessels. Rafts are given the Russian name puluot, or bulot; in general they call boats by the Tungus name ogongcho. Karbas sewn out of boards are called, as in Russian, karbas. They fr ankly ackn owledge that the birch-bark boat is of Tungus origin, calling it tongus or omuk ogongcho. The round-bottomed Russian barge, the dug-out, is called ustrus, while the flat-bottomed vetka is given the most varied names, depending on the locality; in the neighborhood of Olekminsk, in the Yakutsk Okrug, and on the Aldan the Yakut have the same name for it as the Buryat - bat, or they give it the Russian name - betky; on the Boganida it is called toy, on the Vilyuy, Kolyma, and Yana, it is sometimes called tyy, sometimes ty. The Yenisey Ostyak use just this same word ti (ti) with a drawn out i on the end for a boat of medium size, which has the same relation as the Yakut ty on the one side to the birch-bark boat, and on the other side to the karbas (see fig. 34).’ [2] The Russian invaders established riverside fortresses: ’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.’ [3] During the Russian period, steamers and freight ships were introduced: ’All the other roads are swampy and in summer were passable only on horseback; even this means of transportation is very difficult, particularly in the northern districts. In winter sledges are everywhere drawn by horses; in the northern districts reindeer and dogs are also used. Many Tungus, Lamut, and Yukaghir use the reindeer for riding, particularly in the mountainous districts between the great rivers. In summer small steamers ply the Lena and Viliui rivers. On the Yana, Indighirka, and Kolyma rivers and their tributaries large boats are used for carrying freight as well as for passengers. During the winter freight carried on pack-horses or by reindeer sledges from the shores of the Okhotsk Sea (Okhotsk, Yamsk, Ayan or Ola) over the mountains to the upper course of the Kolyma River, is floated down on pontoon-like rafts consisting of two large boats covered with a bridge. Such rafts are provided with a rudder and are propelled with long poles. As they cannot be poled up the river they are sold to the inhabitants of Nishne Kolymsk, who make boats of different sizes from them. Recently I learned that a steamer coming through Bering Strait now visits Nishne Kolymsk every summer, bringing flour and other commodities for sale or exchange for furs.’ [4] The Sakha did not construct ports of their own. It remains unclear to which extent they made use of Russian ports.

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 528

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 525

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

[4]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut”, 187



The Sakha relied on recently introduced boats and rafts rather than bridges: ’Besides these above mentioned indirect proofs, direct traditions have been preserved among the Yakut which testify to the fact that the Yakut became acquainted with boats, nets, and fishing in general only comparatively recently.’ [1] ’Last of all, the Yakut do not have a single name of their own for fishing boats and vessels. Rafts are given the Russian name puluot, or bulot; in general they call boats by the Tungus name ogongcho. Karbas sewn out of boards are called, as in Russian, karbas. They fr ankly ackn owledge that the birch-bark boat is of Tungus origin, calling it tongus or omuk ogongcho. The round-bottomed Russian barge, the dug-out, is called ustrus, while the flat-bottomed vetka is given the most varied names, depending on the locality; in the neighborhood of Olekminsk, in the Yakutsk Okrug, and on the Aldan the Yakut have the same name for it as the Buryat - bat, or they give it the Russian name - betky; on the Boganida it is called toy, on the Vilyuy, Kolyma, and Yana, it is sometimes called tyy, sometimes ty. The Yenisey Ostyak use just this same word ti (ti) with a drawn out i on the end for a boat of medium size, which has the same relation as the Yakut ty on the one side to the birch-bark boat, and on the other side to the karbas (see fig. 34).’ [2]

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 528

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 525


Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
absent

During the Russian period, mining companies entered Sakha territory and traded with the natives: ’The tribe as a whole, while engaged in horse and cattle breeding as their chief occupation, began to increase the number of their horned cattle at the expense of their number of horses. Of cow’s milk they could make, for use during the long winter, butter, a kind of cheese, and some other milk products which cannot, as we shall see later, be made from mare’s milk. The Russian gold-mining companies on the rivers Olekma and Vitim proved profitable buyers of these cattle, and this gave an impetus to the raising of them. Finally, the cultivation of cereal plants, borrowed from the Russians in the southern parts of the Yakut Province, where the climate allows of it, has made such progress in the last twenty years, that at present agriculture is the chief occupation, and bread the staple food, of many Yakut families of the District of Yakutsk, and particularly of that of Olekminsk. Nowadays large droves of horses, and [Page 260] mares for milking, can be found only in those districts far removed from the centres of influence of Russian culture, and they belong to a few very rich families.’ [1] It is unclear from this description whether the Sakha were employed in the mining industries, or whether their connection to miners was confined to trade. We have assumed the latter, but this is open to re-evaluation.

[1]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1906. “Kumiss Festivals Of The Yakut And The Decoration Of Kumiss Vessels”, 259p


Information / Writing System
Written Record:
absent
1632 CE 1800 CE

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] ’Such was the culture of the Yakut people up to the October Revolution. Particularly important was the cultural assistance which the Yakuts obtained from the fraternal Russian people during the prerevolutionary years. In the 19th century it was mainly the political exiles, beginning with the Decembrists, who spread culture through Yakutiya. There were also other progressive Russian people who diffused the beginnings of a cultivated way of life among the Yakuts. In particular, they laid the foundations of the Yakut written language.’ [3] Russian administrators communicated in writing and composed clerical documents: ’The people became rapidly impoverished, and the order of the voivode to the clerk Evdokim Kurdiukov in 1685 already mentions the arrears in the treasury and orders the yassak gatherers to treat the people in arrears in the following way: from them who have no cattle take, because of their povetry and extreme need one cherno-cherevyya and one sivodushatyya fox from each, and for a sable, two red foxes from each. This same document orders him to make a census of the people, and their goods and cattle: collect the taxes for the current year, 193 (1685) in full, and collect the arrears for the past years, from each as much as possible. Similar censuses were taken earlier also, and their character may be judged by the census of Grishka Krivogornitsyn in 170 (1671) “for the Meginsk volosts” There we find mentioned not only the taxes and the amounts in arrears, but also the houses, wives, number of workers in the family. There is information about those who have died and those who have run away. Moreover the name and clan of every person is given. The personal and clan nicknames, of course are very much corrupted in these notes, and changed to conform with the Russian style, but it is not hard to determine what they actually are. The yassak books and these censuses were the materials out of which was later created the present system of Yakut self-government.’ [4] But Yakuts probably had little to no access to these. Illiteracy was widespread: ’In 1942 Yakutiya celebrated the end of illiteracy among the adult population. Over the years of the Soviet regime more than 155,000 illiterate people have been taught to read and write. Work continues with those who are only partially literate in the network of adult schools.’ [5] We have selected 1800 as a provisional date of transition.

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

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

[3]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 283

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 780

[5]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 298

Written Record:
present
1801 CE 1900 CE

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] ’Such was the culture of the Yakut people up to the October Revolution. Particularly important was the cultural assistance which the Yakuts obtained from the fraternal Russian people during the prerevolutionary years. In the 19th century it was mainly the political exiles, beginning with the Decembrists, who spread culture through Yakutiya. There were also other progressive Russian people who diffused the beginnings of a cultivated way of life among the Yakuts. In particular, they laid the foundations of the Yakut written language.’ [3] Russian administrators communicated in writing and composed clerical documents: ’The people became rapidly impoverished, and the order of the voivode to the clerk Evdokim Kurdiukov in 1685 already mentions the arrears in the treasury and orders the yassak gatherers to treat the people in arrears in the following way: from them who have no cattle take, because of their povetry and extreme need one cherno-cherevyya and one sivodushatyya fox from each, and for a sable, two red foxes from each. This same document orders him to make a census of the people, and their goods and cattle: collect the taxes for the current year, 193 (1685) in full, and collect the arrears for the past years, from each as much as possible. Similar censuses were taken earlier also, and their character may be judged by the census of Grishka Krivogornitsyn in 170 (1671) “for the Meginsk volosts” There we find mentioned not only the taxes and the amounts in arrears, but also the houses, wives, number of workers in the family. There is information about those who have died and those who have run away. Moreover the name and clan of every person is given. The personal and clan nicknames, of course are very much corrupted in these notes, and changed to conform with the Russian style, but it is not hard to determine what they actually are. The yassak books and these censuses were the materials out of which was later created the present system of Yakut self-government.’ [4] But Yakuts probably had little to no access to these. Illiteracy was widespread: ’In 1942 Yakutiya celebrated the end of illiteracy among the adult population. Over the years of the Soviet regime more than 155,000 illiterate people have been taught to read and write. Work continues with those who are only partially literate in the network of adult schools.’ [5] We have selected 1800 as a provisional date of transition.

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

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

[3]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 283

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 780

[5]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 298


Script:
absent
1632 CE 1800 CE

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 Sakha 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] ’Such was the culture of the Yakut people up to the October Revolution. Particularly important was the cultural assistance which the Yakuts obtained from the fraternal Russian people during the prerevolutionary years. In the 19th century it was mainly the political exiles, beginning with the Decembrists, who spread culture through Yakutiya. There were also other progressive Russian people who diffused the beginnings of a cultivated way of life among the Yakuts. In particular, they laid the foundations of the Yakut written language.’ [3] Russian administrators communicated in writing and composed clerical documents: ’The people became rapidly impoverished, and the order of the voivode to the clerk Evdokim Kurdiukov in 1685 already mentions the arrears in the treasury and orders the yassak gatherers to treat the people in arrears in the following way: from them who have no cattle take, because of their povetry and extreme need one cherno-cherevyya and one sivodushatyya fox from each, and for a sable, two red foxes from each. This same document orders him to make a census of the people, and their goods and cattle: collect the taxes for the current year, 193 (1685) in full, and collect the arrears for the past years, from each as much as possible. Similar censuses were taken earlier also, and their character may be judged by the census of Grishka Krivogornitsyn in 170 (1671) “for the Meginsk volosts” There we find mentioned not only the taxes and the amounts in arrears, but also the houses, wives, number of workers in the family. There is information about those who have died and those who have run away. Moreover the name and clan of every person is given. The personal and clan nicknames, of course are very much corrupted in these notes, and changed to conform with the Russian style, but it is not hard to determine what they actually are. The yassak books and these censuses were the materials out of which was later created the present system of Yakut self-government.’ [4] But the Sakha probably had little to no access to these and most of the Yakut population remained illiterate until the 20th century: ’In 1942 Yakutiya celebrated the end of illiteracy among the adult population. Over the years of the Soviet regime more than 155,000 illiterate people have been taught to read and write. Work continues with those who are only partially literate in the network of adult schools.’ [5] We have selected 1800 as a provisional date of transition.

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

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

[3]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 283

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 780

[5]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 298

Script:
present
1801 CE 1900 CE

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 Sakha 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] ’Such was the culture of the Yakut people up to the October Revolution. Particularly important was the cultural assistance which the Yakuts obtained from the fraternal Russian people during the prerevolutionary years. In the 19th century it was mainly the political exiles, beginning with the Decembrists, who spread culture through Yakutiya. There were also other progressive Russian people who diffused the beginnings of a cultivated way of life among the Yakuts. In particular, they laid the foundations of the Yakut written language.’ [3] Russian administrators communicated in writing and composed clerical documents: ’The people became rapidly impoverished, and the order of the voivode to the clerk Evdokim Kurdiukov in 1685 already mentions the arrears in the treasury and orders the yassak gatherers to treat the people in arrears in the following way: from them who have no cattle take, because of their povetry and extreme need one cherno-cherevyya and one sivodushatyya fox from each, and for a sable, two red foxes from each. This same document orders him to make a census of the people, and their goods and cattle: collect the taxes for the current year, 193 (1685) in full, and collect the arrears for the past years, from each as much as possible. Similar censuses were taken earlier also, and their character may be judged by the census of Grishka Krivogornitsyn in 170 (1671) “for the Meginsk volosts” There we find mentioned not only the taxes and the amounts in arrears, but also the houses, wives, number of workers in the family. There is information about those who have died and those who have run away. Moreover the name and clan of every person is given. The personal and clan nicknames, of course are very much corrupted in these notes, and changed to conform with the Russian style, but it is not hard to determine what they actually are. The yassak books and these censuses were the materials out of which was later created the present system of Yakut self-government.’ [4] But the Sakha probably had little to no access to these and most of the Yakut population remained illiterate until the 20th century: ’In 1942 Yakutiya celebrated the end of illiteracy among the adult population. Over the years of the Soviet regime more than 155,000 illiterate people have been taught to read and write. Work continues with those who are only partially literate in the network of adult schools.’ [5] We have selected 1800 as a provisional date of transition.

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

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

[3]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 283

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 780

[5]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 298


Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
absent
1632 CE 1800 CE

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 Sakha 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] ’Such was the culture of the Yakut people up to the October Revolution. Particularly important was the cultural assistance which the Yakuts obtained from the fraternal Russian people during the prerevolutionary years. In the 19th century it was mainly the political exiles, beginning with the Decembrists, who spread culture through Yakutiya. There were also other progressive Russian people who diffused the beginnings of a cultivated way of life among the Yakuts. In particular, they laid the foundations of the Yakut written language.’ [3] Russian administrators communicated in writing and composed clerical documents: ’The people became rapidly impoverished, and the order of the voivode to the clerk Evdokim Kurdiukov in 1685 already mentions the arrears in the treasury and orders the yassak gatherers to treat the people in arrears in the following way: from them who have no cattle take, because of their povetry and extreme need one cherno-cherevyya and one sivodushatyya fox from each, and for a sable, two red foxes from each. This same document orders him to make a census of the people, and their goods and cattle: collect the taxes for the current year, 193 (1685) in full, and collect the arrears for the past years, from each as much as possible. Similar censuses were taken earlier also, and their character may be judged by the census of Grishka Krivogornitsyn in 170 (1671) “for the Meginsk volosts” There we find mentioned not only the taxes and the amounts in arrears, but also the houses, wives, number of workers in the family. There is information about those who have died and those who have run away. Moreover the name and clan of every person is given. The personal and clan nicknames, of course are very much corrupted in these notes, and changed to conform with the Russian style, but it is not hard to determine what they actually are. The yassak books and these censuses were the materials out of which was later created the present system of Yakut self-government.’ [4] But most of the Sakha population remained illiterate until the 20th century: ’In 1942 Yakutiya celebrated the end of illiteracy among the adult population. Over the years of the Soviet regime more than 155,000 illiterate people have been taught to read and write. Work continues with those who are only partially literate in the network of adult schools.’ [5] We have selected 1800 as a provisional date of transition.

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

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

[3]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 283

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 780

[5]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 298

Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
present
1801 CE 1900 CE

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 Sakha 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] ’Such was the culture of the Yakut people up to the October Revolution. Particularly important was the cultural assistance which the Yakuts obtained from the fraternal Russian people during the prerevolutionary years. In the 19th century it was mainly the political exiles, beginning with the Decembrists, who spread culture through Yakutiya. There were also other progressive Russian people who diffused the beginnings of a cultivated way of life among the Yakuts. In particular, they laid the foundations of the Yakut written language.’ [3] Russian administrators communicated in writing and composed clerical documents: ’The people became rapidly impoverished, and the order of the voivode to the clerk Evdokim Kurdiukov in 1685 already mentions the arrears in the treasury and orders the yassak gatherers to treat the people in arrears in the following way: from them who have no cattle take, because of their povetry and extreme need one cherno-cherevyya and one sivodushatyya fox from each, and for a sable, two red foxes from each. This same document orders him to make a census of the people, and their goods and cattle: collect the taxes for the current year, 193 (1685) in full, and collect the arrears for the past years, from each as much as possible. Similar censuses were taken earlier also, and their character may be judged by the census of Grishka Krivogornitsyn in 170 (1671) “for the Meginsk volosts” There we find mentioned not only the taxes and the amounts in arrears, but also the houses, wives, number of workers in the family. There is information about those who have died and those who have run away. Moreover the name and clan of every person is given. The personal and clan nicknames, of course are very much corrupted in these notes, and changed to conform with the Russian style, but it is not hard to determine what they actually are. The yassak books and these censuses were the materials out of which was later created the present system of Yakut self-government.’ [4] But most of the Sakha population remained illiterate until the 20th century: ’In 1942 Yakutiya celebrated the end of illiteracy among the adult population. Over the years of the Soviet regime more than 155,000 illiterate people have been taught to read and write. Work continues with those who are only partially literate in the network of adult schools.’ [5] We have selected 1800 as a provisional date of transition.

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

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

[3]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 283

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 780

[5]: Tokarev, S. A., and Gurvich I. S. 1964. “Yakuts”, 298


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:
present

Balzer only mentions memorial hitching posts: ’The most important ceremony, associated with a founding Yakut ancestor named Ellei, is the annual summer YHYAK festival, a celebration of seasonal change, of KUMYS (fermented mare’s milk), and of kin solidarity. Once a religious celebration led by a shaman, the ceremony has been adapted since World War I into a secular commemoration of Yakut traditions. Practiced in villages and towns, it features opening prayers (ALGYS) and libations of KUMYS to the earth. Although some Yakut debate its "authenticity," the festival still includes feasting, horse racing, wrestling, and all-night line dancing to improvised chants. It lasts three joyous days in Suntar, where it is especially famed. Wedding rituals, pared down from previous eras, center around memorial hitching posts (SERQE), carved for the occasion, with couples honored by prayers, special food, and dancing. New rituals marking wedding anniversaries and graduations at all educational levels include the placement of SERQE, on which names of those honored are carved. But traditional rituals of birth, supplicating the goddess of fertility, Aiyycyt, have become less popular, with some Yakut women even mocking the restrictions that were once associated with beliefs about female impurity. Russian Orthodox holidays are rarely celebrated.’ [1] The use of calenders as described by Jochelson more closely resembles mnemonic devices than written records: ’After becoming Christians the Yakut no longer followed this method of reckoning time, but oriented themselves by the Christian holidays, for instance: kirisiäniye (Russian, krestcheniye ), baptism, January sixth; Kiristiäp (Russian, Kristov ). Easter: Orosuospa (Russian Rozhdestvo ), Christmas; bul[unknown]astar (Russian, Vlasii ), or ynax tañarata (cow’s holiday), February eleventh. Russians regard Saint Vlasii as the protector of domestic cattle and among the Yakut this saint replaced the female deity, Ayisit, of their old mythology. Among the Yakut are experienced individuals who know the number of days between holidays since it is easier to deal with immovable feasts. For movable festivals, they must often consult their priest. 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.’ [2]

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

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


Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
absent

Sacred Text:
absent
1632 CE 1800 CE

The first recent script for the Sakha 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.’ [1] It therefore seems likely that Biblical texts and Christian literature were spread first among the Sakha, although this remains to be confirmed. We have selected 1800 as a potential date of transition.

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

Sacred Text:
present
1801 CE 1900 CE

The first recent script for the Sakha 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.’ [1] It therefore seems likely that Biblical texts and Christian literature were spread first among the Sakha, although this remains to be confirmed. We have selected 1800 as a potential date of transition.

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


Religious Literature:
absent
1632 CE 1800 CE

The first recent script for the Sakha 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.’ [1] It therefore seems likely that Biblical texts and Christian literature were spread first among the Sakha, although this remains to be confirmed. We have selected 1800 as a potential date of transition.

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

Religious Literature:
present
1801 CE 1900 CE

The first recent script for the Sakha 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.’ [1] It therefore seems likely that Biblical texts and Christian literature were spread first among the Sakha, although this remains to be confirmed. We have selected 1800 as a potential date of transition.

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


Practical Literature:
absent


Lists Tables and Classification:
absent

Russian administrators composed clerical documents: ’The people became rapidly impoverished, and the order of the voivode to the clerk Evdokim Kurdiukov in 1685 already mentions the arrears in the treasury and orders the yassak gatherers to treat the people in arrears in the following way: from them who have no cattle take, because of their povetry and extreme need one cherno-cherevyya and one sivodushatyya fox from each, and for a sable, two red foxes from each. This same document orders him to make a census of the people, and their goods and cattle: collect the taxes for the current year, 193 (1685) in full, and collect the arrears for the past years, from each as much as possible. Similar censuses were taken earlier also, and their character may be judged by the census of Grishka Krivogornitsyn in 170 (1671) “for the Meginsk volosts” There we find mentioned not only the taxes and the amounts in arrears, but also the houses, wives, number of workers in the family. There is information about those who have died and those who have run away. Moreover the name and clan of every person is given. The personal and clan nicknames, of course are very much corrupted in these notes, and changed to conform with the Russian style, but it is not hard to determine what they actually are. The yassak books and these censuses were the materials out of which was later created the present system of Yakut self-government.’ [1] But the Sakha probably had little to no access to these.

[1]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 780




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] The use of calenders by Christian Sakha resembles mnemonic devices more closely than written documents: ’After becoming Christians the Yakut no longer followed this method of reckoning time, but oriented themselves by the Christian holidays, for instance: kirisiäniye (Russian, krestcheniye ), baptism, January sixth; Kiristiäp (Russian, Kristov ). Easter: Orosuospa (Russian Rozhdestvo ), Christmas; bul[unknown]astar (Russian, Vlasii ), or ynax tañarata (cow’s holiday), February eleventh. Russians regard Saint Vlasii as the protector of domestic cattle and among the Yakut this saint replaced the female deity, Ayisit, of their old mythology. Among the Yakut are experienced individuals who know the number of days between holidays since it is easier to deal with immovable feasts. For movable festivals, they must often consult their priest. 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.’ [2] ’The Yakut began to count the month by weeks only after Russianization. Thus, for week, they use the Russian word nädiälä ( nedielya ). The days of the week are also known by Russian names’ [3]

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

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

[3]: Jochelson, Waldemar 1933. “Yakut”, 102


Information / Money


Paper Currency:
absent

No indigenously produced paper currency. Russian money also became an important medium of exchange: ’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, ermine, and deer skins were also sold for money: ’The Yakuts hunt foxes only in autumn and winter by setting up traps and self-released bows. Sometimes foxes get caught in the nooses set up to hares, but rarely perish in the noose trap, since the beam is not sufficiently quick to lift their weight. The fox eats everything: fish, meat, berries, roots, even the carrions of other foxes that got caught in the trap. The fox is far from being a rare animal in the north of the region: I saw one on several occasions near people’s houses and once witnessed a fox running across the yard of the yurta. A fox, especially the darker varieties which are larger, can be easily mistaken for a Yakut dog. The skin of the red fox serves in the north as a unit of exchange. It is priced between 2 and 5 rubles; sivodushka-between 6 & 15 rubles; and the black-brown variety between 25 and 50 rubles. I was shown very beautiful, perfectly black skins with a slight grizzle, for which 120 rubles was paid on the spot.’ [2] ’ERMINE (mustela erminea), kyrnas, belelyakh, is the animal most hunted for the purposes of trade. It is found in all parts of the country, on the tableland and in the tundra. Increase and decrease in the numbers of this animal depend probably on the amount of available food. In winter it comes near human dwellings, gets into the granaries, and eats and carriesaway meat and fish. It is caught by special traps called hlopushi (chirkan - a mouse trap). The ermine is a predatory, bold, and curious animal. When irritated it will attack even human beings. Cases are known of the ermine inflicting serious wounds on people, for it attempts to cut through the blood vessels on the neck, where it ascends with exceptional speed and agility. The ermine skin is priced between 2 and 5 cents and is used as the smallest exchange unit.’ [3] ’Deer meat is most delicious in September and October, and during this period the deer’s fur is regarded as at its best. The northern deer’s fur is considered warmer than that of the domesticated deer. On the spot the skin of the wild deer brings between 1 ruble and 2 rubles and 50 cents. The Yakuts hunt the deer with guns, or by setting up self-releasing bows. Pit-traps are not used by the Yakuts in hunting this or any other animal.’ [4] Russian money was also at least occasionally used in dealings among the Sakha themselves: ’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.’ [5]

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

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 275

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 280

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 290

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



Foreign Coin:
present

Russian money also became an important medium of exchange: ’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, ermine, and deer skins were also sold for money: ’The Yakuts hunt foxes only in autumn and winter by setting up traps and self-released bows. Sometimes foxes get caught in the nooses set up to hares, but rarely perish in the noose trap, since the beam is not sufficiently quick to lift their weight. The fox eats everything: fish, meat, berries, roots, even the carrions of other foxes that got caught in the trap. The fox is far from being a rare animal in the north of the region: I saw one on several occasions near people’s houses and once witnessed a fox running across the yard of the yurta. A fox, especially the darker varieties which are larger, can be easily mistaken for a Yakut dog. The skin of the red fox serves in the north as a unit of exchange. It is priced between 2 and 5 rubles; sivodushka-between 6 & 15 rubles; and the black-brown variety between 25 and 50 rubles. I was shown very beautiful, perfectly black skins with a slight grizzle, for which 120 rubles was paid on the spot.’ [2] ’ERMINE (mustela erminea), kyrnas, belelyakh, is the animal most hunted for the purposes of trade. It is found in all parts of the country, on the tableland and in the tundra. Increase and decrease in the numbers of this animal depend probably on the amount of available food. In winter it comes near human dwellings, gets into the granaries, and eats and carriesaway meat and fish. It is caught by special traps called hlopushi (chirkan - a mouse trap). The ermine is a predatory, bold, and curious animal. When irritated it will attack even human beings. Cases are known of the ermine inflicting serious wounds on people, for it attempts to cut through the blood vessels on the neck, where it ascends with exceptional speed and agility. The ermine skin is priced between 2 and 5 cents and is used as the smallest exchange unit.’ [3] ’Deer meat is most delicious in September and October, and during this period the deer’s fur is regarded as at its best. The northern deer’s fur is considered warmer than that of the domesticated deer. On the spot the skin of the wild deer brings between 1 ruble and 2 rubles and 50 cents. The Yakuts hunt the deer with guns, or by setting up self-releasing bows. Pit-traps are not used by the Yakuts in hunting this or any other animal.’ [4] Russian money was also at least occasionally used in dealings among the Yakut themselves: ’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.’ [5]

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

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 275

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 280

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 290

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


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: ’The Yakuts hunt foxes only in autumn and winter by setting up traps and self-released bows. Sometimes foxes get caught in the nooses set up to hares, but rarely perish in the noose trap, since the beam is not sufficiently quick to lift their weight. The fox eats everything: fish, meat, berries, roots, even the carrions of other foxes that got caught in the trap. The fox is far from being a rare animal in the north of the region: I saw one on several occasions near people’s houses and once witnessed a fox running across the yard of the yurta. A fox, especially the darker varieties which are larger, can be easily mistaken for a Yakut dog. The skin of the red fox serves in the north as a unit of exchange. It is priced between 2 and 5 rubles; sivodushka-between 6 & 15 rubles; and the black-brown variety between 25 and 50 rubles. I was shown very beautiful, perfectly black skins with a slight grizzle, for which 120 rubles was paid on the spot.’ [2] ’ERMINE (mustela erminea), kyrnas, belelyakh, is the animal most hunted for the purposes of trade. It is found in all parts of the country, on the tableland and in the tundra. Increase and decrease in the numbers of this animal depend probably on the amount of available food. In winter it comes near human dwellings, gets into the granaries, and eats and carriesaway meat and fish. It is caught by special traps called hlopushi (chirkan - a mouse trap). The ermine is a predatory, bold, and curious animal. When irritated it will attack even human beings. Cases are known of the ermine inflicting serious wounds on people, for it attempts to cut through the blood vessels on the neck, where it ascends with exceptional speed and agility. The ermine skin is priced between 2 and 5 cents and is used as the smallest exchange unit.’ [3] The same was true for butter: ’Butter naturally acquired particular value with the coming of the Russians. Butter began to go into circulation only when the Russians came and built a city, and particularly when they began to buy it for the mines, maintained the Namsk Yakut (1891). The Yakut monetary unit ary, which means one bezem of heated butter of two and one-half funts testifies to the trading significance of butter. In remote corners the Yakut often convert the price of goods from a monetary basis to a butter basis, and express hiring prices and selling prices of objects offered in terms of butter. The majority of women are only familiar with this system, and get confused in trying to count with money. Butter comprises one of the most important food products of the Yakut. The poorest Yakut tries to have it on his table on feast days, and even the stingiest master must feed his workers butter at least once a week. The Yakut consume butter in various ways: they eat it in hard pieces, they drink it crumbled with kumiss, they drink it in tea, and they drink warm heated butter in its pure form. In their climate this beverage is far from distasteful, and when coming back chilled from hunting, or frozen through during a long winter journey I would willingly drink a full dish of it myself. It warms one quickly, and restore’s one’s strength and vigor, just like grape wine. A Yakut is able to drink not more than one-half a funt at a gulp, but can drink up to two and one-half funts over a certain period of time, stopping to rest. Sturdy fellows who are able to drink five to ten funts at one time are known in every section , but I do not think that there are more than two or three in the oblast capable of drink one-half a pood; I do not know a their ability to drink a large quantity of melted butter just as Russians boast of their ability to drink large quantities of vodka.’ [4]

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

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 275

[3]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 280

[4]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 545


Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
present

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] Sieroszewski mentions post horses and post roads: ’The most ancient of the yassak are apparently the post-horses. Even in the order given to the clerk Kurdiukov in 1685 we find a mention that the yassak gatherers should not misuse this obligation: do not take away the good horses from the Yakut too much, and give them, the natives, your own poor horses in return for their good ones. This was apparently done often and the news of it even reached Moscow. In view of this it was ordered to take in the service of the Great Sovereigns... bulls and horses; whatever kind they give you, to ride on it. Besides this guides and coachmen were needed. Gmelin used Yakut oarsmen during his entire journey of 1732, from the boundary of the Yakutsk Oblast. Some Yakut families were transplanted to the Olekminsk, Okhotsk, Ayan, Verkhoyansk, and Kolymsk post roads to maintain the post-horses.’ [2]

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

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 795


General Postal Service:
present

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] Sieroszewski mentions post horses and post roads: ’The most ancient of the yassak are apparently the post-horses. Even in the order given to the clerk Kurdiukov in 1685 we find a mention that the yassak gatherers should not misuse this obligation: do not take away the good horses from the Yakut too much, and give them, the natives, your own poor horses in return for their good ones. This was apparently done often and the news of it even reached Moscow. In view of this it was ordered to take in the service of the Great Sovereigns... bulls and horses; whatever kind they give you, to ride on it. Besides this guides and coachmen were needed. Gmelin used Yakut oarsmen during his entire journey of 1732, from the boundary of the Yakutsk Oblast. Some Yakut families were transplanted to the Olekminsk, Okhotsk, Ayan, Verkhoyansk, and Kolymsk post roads to maintain the post-horses.’ [2]

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

[2]: Sieroszewski, Wacław 1993. “Yakut: An Experiment In Ethnographic Research”, 795


Courier:
present

Sieroszewski 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 trainof 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] On the other hand, the material on the growing postal system (see below) seems to support this.

[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
1632 CE 1642 CE

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 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 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 Non Mortared:
absent
1643 CE 1900 CE

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 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 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

Note: The sources suggest that many of these defensive structures may have ceased to be built after subjugation by the Russians in 1642. They were initially coded as inferred present. The data sheets for the Lena River valley were re-periodized after the initial coding of this section. The codes were changed accordingly, but remain in need of review, as indicated above.


Modern Fortification:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with warfare


Moat:
present
1632 CE 1642 CE

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 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

Moat:
absent
1643 CE 1900 CE

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 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


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
1632 CE 1642 CE

"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:
absent
1643 CE 1900 CE

"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 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


Complex Fortification:
absent

not mentioned in any of the sources that deal with warfare



Military use of Metals

Steel weapons may have been introduced by Russian military, but more detail on this is needed.


Iron weaponry has a long tradition among the Sakha: "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 was worked but no mention was found of its use in for military purposes, e.g.: "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


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


"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]


"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:
present

We have assumed that rifles were introduced by Russian troops: "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]

[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


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

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


Some authors describe the bolat (above) as a sword. But given its short blade, we have decided to code for daggers instead.


"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


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


"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


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


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


"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


"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


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


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.
Power Transitions
- Nothing coded yet.