The virtual exhibition "From Yakutsk to the Russkoe Ustye" - a visual diary of Vladimir Mikhailovich Zenzinov. The photos were first picked up with the text of the diary V.M. Zenzinov, thereby allowing to dive into his life in the Russkoe Ustye.
Russkoe Ustye consists of 6 "smoke". Not a single literate - except for the old criminal exile, who plays the role of clerk here. Village stands on the shores of the wide Indigirka among the boundless snowy desert. 120 miles rode here on dogs along the tundra - the first 60 miles still met small willow bushes, then everything disappeared, there was not a single twig. Exactly as on the table. And so to the sea - from the Russkoe Ustye of another sixty miles away. He took off a separate house with a barn - 20 rubles for half a year. While not afraid of the loneliness coming to me. I think that I will be able to find a lot of interesting things around and in people and in nature.
Here is my home. It consists of one single room - steps six squared. All four windows go to the east and south - it means the sun is from morning to evening - it sparkles with thousands of sparks in transparent ice floes that replace window glass. In one corner there is a small chamber, the thing turned out to be extremely imperfect: when it burns, it smokes, it goes out it is cold. Every now and then you have to run to the roof to close and open the pipe. With myself, I therefore brought from Ust-Yansk an iron stove, which, finally, I set up a stove instead. Now warm and neat. Just resurrected with her. In another corner I have three shelves with books - below them is a calendar, around which I pasted views of Florence, cut from an illustrated magazine.
It’s my house on the very bank of Indigirka - the only thing, they say, is a dry place here in summer. It has the comfort and convenience. Of course, there are dark sides in it: it’s difficult to warm it, as it should, and rarely does the temperature in it rise above 10 degrees. Nothing, I'm dressed warmly. But overnight, when the stove goes out, everything around freezes: ink in the inkpot is frozen, water in the kettle and the washbasin, and I dance in the morning until I melt the stove.
The arrival of the priest here is a great event. Since the Russkoe Ustye for the whole Verkhoyansk bourgeois society, which lives only along the course of the Indigirka River, is the main residence where the bourgeois government is located and the burgher elder and clerk live, and besides there is a chapel, everything is collected here "fasting" (i.e., willing to go to the beck), all in need of baptism, wedding and funeral, living on the Indigirka between Allaich and the sea. The congress is large, since by this time the assembly is also being adjusted, at which it is necessary to discuss the question of the starving. By March, they always happen: fish ends when there is a bad catch, the geese, which they managed to get in the summer near the sea, were eaten. The starving declare their need to society, and from the public "mangazei" (barn) they are given fish, which they must return to the society in the spring with a 10% surcharge.
When I sat down in the “vetka” for the first time, to tell the truth, it seemed scary to me, but soon I got used to it and, on the fourth day, swam across Indigirka. And the other day I went to pick goose eggs, made 20 miles on the "vetka" and came back along the big waves on the lake, on which my "vetka" jumped like a shell.
Empty the Russkoe Ustye. Of the 7 houses, only three remained, but only in my house did the population not decrease - everywhere a part of the fishermen migrated to the fishery. Tomorrow another one sticks, and in two weeks and the last smoke will stop smoking - I will be completely alone. However, I, if the weather permits, do not expect to live in one place for a long time - I will drive around on my “vetka” to all the nomads with my tent, farm and Fight, I now have friends everywhere.
The last dwelling remains 50 miles away - in the wild and harsh desert around and in, where deer and arctic fox run, seagull, white owl, duck and goose fly. The hard way, especially the sputum and dampness depress me. I have to go to bed in wet clothes, and when I fall asleep, I pray every evening to wake up healthy the next morning - to be sick in such conditions would be a certain death.
This is an agreed place - “Yarok”: here we meet “mermen” (set off by the water, like us) with “horsemen” who go by mountain. Today the conditional term expires, and tomorrow we can move further on the road and begin to "gusevat" if the weather permits. Difficult portages are coming: from the lake to the lake one has to drag a “vetka” along the ground.
There are many birds here: geese, seagulls, all sorts of ducks, little pearls - the water is teeming with them. Geese are visible from afar - like black islands among the waters. They gather in huge flocks. Having seen and heard them from afar, the gusniks hastily work out a strategic plan, the party divides itself into several detachments and tries to surround them with “vetkas”. The frightened goose seeks salvation necessarily on the water, and when the whole flock of several thousand heads rushes from the shore into the water, there is a noise like a waterfall. Geese are surrounded on the water - here they are kept for an hour and more to tire them.
In the summer, they roam the moors and the "stone", looking for the mammoth bone, chasing wild ("god’s", as they say here) reindeer, fish a little (but they are bad fishermen and do not know how to harbor fox).
But their main trade, which they live and breathe, is reindeer herding; herds have hundreds and thousands of heads — the deer feeds them, carries them, clothes them and shoes them. A deer can’t remain in place for a long time, it is necessary to change pasture - and the Yukagirs never and never heal in the same place for a long time.
Thanks to the proximity of the Russians, the local Yukagirs have become strongly Russified, they have sugar, stearin candles, some even wear Russian clothes (that is, more precisely Yakut-Russian), they know a few Russian words, although they don’t know how to tie them together. All this, of course, doesn’t prevent them from being the most perfect savages.
They greeted me very cordially: they came out with bows, held them up to tordokh - such was the “proforma” of the meeting of honored guests, put on a pile of deer skins, treated them to deer tongue, raw brain from leg bones, smoked meat, cut into small pieces, and melted deer fat. For the night they made it under a special canopy, like a canopy, in a place of honor, under an icon.
I got acquainted, considered, shot cards. The mistress of my tordokh was very stupid even from our point of view - she has a correct nose and thin, even elegant lips, but at another yukagirka in the next tordokh the nose and cheeks protrude on her face with three big cones, lips with two fingers thick, but blush brilliant. Perhaps, it seems to the Yukagirs beautiful.
Women have large copper plates on their breasts, a leather apron is embellished with beads, fashionable rings and glass beads - even the bell hangs, which melodiously rings with each movement. - When I saw you in the Russkoe Ustye, I was frightened - and now I am not afraid, - the beauty coyly explained to me through the interpreter and as a proof of her position she presented me a fox.
Candidate of Historical Sciences, Associate Professor, Director of the National Library of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
Honored Artist of Culture of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), author and curator of the project «Culture of Yakutia in the world place»( inclusion of regional cultures of institutions of Yakutia into the project Google Cultural Institute)
Neustroeva Valentina, librarian of Science and Research Center of Book Memorials, National library of Republic Sakha (Yakutia)