Ivory model of a summer festival (Ysykh)


British Museum

British Museum

This ivory model represents the Ysykh, the summer festival of the Yakut people of Sakha (Yakutia), a republic in north-eastern Siberia. The festival is celebrated for several days in June, including the 21st, the summer solstice, and welcomes the new economic year and honours various deities and spirits.The model contains twenty-one human figures carved from mammoth ivory. The scenes of sporting competitions reflect the importance of games of strength among the Yakut, who used to honour their athletes as heroes.The Yakut's national form of wrestling (khapsagai) was a favourite spectacle at the Ysyakh. The rules were very strict: if any part of the body (apart from the feet) touched the ground it would count as a defeat. Formerly, the men used to wrestle barefoot. Other games included running, high-jump and long-jump. All the competitions and games of strength ended with singing, and glorifying the winner with the presentation of pieces of horse or oxen meat (miuse).

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  • Title: Ivory model of a summer festival (Ysykh)
  • Date Created: 1825/1875
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 23.00cm; Width: 74.00cm; Depth: 35.90cm; Weight: 3.50kg
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: carved
  • Registration number: As.5068.a
  • Production place: Made in Yakutia
  • Place: Found/Acquired Siberia
  • Peoples: Made by Yakut
  • Other information: Cultural rights may apply.
  • Material: ivory; pine
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum


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