Yakutia through the Eyes of the Polish Artist Leopold Nemirovsky

By National Library of Republic Sakha (Yakutia)

In 1856, the album “Travel to Eastern Siberia” was published with drawings by Leopold Nemirovsky, which depicts various areas of Eastern Siberia, its people, their clothes and utensils. The artist was included in the expedition under the direction of I.D. Bulychova. As a result of the expedition, an extensive album with his drawings was released (but the authorship of L. Nemirovsky was not indicated). The exhibition presents a selection of drawings about Yakutia created by the artist during the expedition. The exhibition is dedicated to the 210th anniversary of the birth of Leopold Nemirovsky.

Travel to Eastern Siberia "Hanging rock on the Lena River" (1856) by Leopold NemirovskyNational Library of Republic Sakha (Yakutia)

The Lena River is the largest in Eastern Siberia. An improvement of the Lena coast by the Cossacks began in 1619, when explorers founded the Yenisei prison, which became a point for further sorties to Lena and Baikal. By that time, rumors about the "Big River", the banks of which are rich in fur-bearing animals, has been circulating among people. The discovery of Lena led to a rapid penetration into Yakutia.

In 2012, Lena Pillars were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. To date, four natural sites in the Far East have World Heritage status: Central Sikhote-Alin, Kamchatka Volcanoes, Wrangel Island and Lena Pillars.

Travel to Eastern Siberia "Old Yakut Ostrog" (1856) by Leopold NemirovskyNational Library of Republic Sakha (Yakutia)

Yakutsk is the capital of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), one of the oldest cities in Siberia. In 1643, the Lensky prison was moved to a new, more convenient place - in the Tuymaada valley, long mastered by the Yakuts, and then received the status of a city and the name Yakutsk. For many centuries it has been a support base for the study and development of Siberia. From here, Dezhnev, Atlasov, Poyarkov, Khabarov and others went on their way. At different times, Bering, the Laptev brothers, Chelyuskin visited Yakutsk.

In 1632, the centurion of the Yenisei Cossacks, Peter Beketov, founded the Yakut (Lena) prison, which became a strong point for campaigns to the East, to the Pacific ocean, and to the South, to the Aldan and Amur.

Travel to Eastern Siberia "Yakuts" (1856) by Leopold NemirovskyNational Library of Republic Sakha (Yakutia)

The Yakuts were divided into tribes and clans by the arrival of the Russians. The first mention of the ancestors of the Yakut people was found in the fourteenth century. In Transbaikalia lived a nomadic tribe of Kurykans. Scientists suggest that since the XII-XIV century, the Yakuts migrated from lake Baikal to the Lena, Aldan and vilyuya, where they settled and displaced the Tungus and oduls. The Yakut people from ancient times were considered excellent cattle breeders. The breeding of cows and horses. Yakuts are hunters by nature. They fished well, understood military matters, and were famous for blacksmithing. Archaeologists believe that the Yakut people appeared as a result of the addition of German-speaking settlers from local tribes of the Lena river basin to their settlement.

Yakuts (Sakha) - the Turkic people, the indigenous population of Yakutia. The Yakut language belongs to the Turkic group of languages. According to the results of the 2010 All-Russian Population Census, 478.1 thousand Yakuts lived in Russia.

Travel to Eastern Siberia "Yakut in a rich outfit" (1856) by Leopold NemirovskyNational Library of Republic Sakha (Yakutia)

From the middle of the 18th century to the 20th century, the national clothes of the Yakuts undergo great changes due to the development of contacts and trade with other peoples. Elements of European clothing appear: collar, pocket, falbora, puff and cuffs.
The main feature of the Yakut clothing was its jewelry. More decorated clothes of girls, brides and women. This is the worship of a woman as a mother. In the clothes there are various bells, plank ornaments, showing the purity of girls. The Yakuts believed that the ringing of copper and metal scares away evil spirits.

Women's breastplate jewelry, in summer it is worn over a chaladai dress, in winter - over a fur coat.

Travel to Eastern Siberia "Yakut" (1856) by Leopold NemirovskyNational Library of Republic Sakha (Yakutia)

Yakut cattle – one of the oldest breeds on earth, the breed takes its roots from the nomadic cattle of ancient Assyria and Babylonia. Yakutia is the northernmost border of cattle breeding. nowhere else in the world has cattle been bred that were adapted to such harsh climatic conditions of the Far North.

The horses were tended by men, and the cattle by women.

Travel to Eastern Siberia "Vessels for koumiss near the Yakuts" (1856) by Leopold NemirovskyNational Library of Republic Sakha (Yakutia)

The wealth of the Yakuts consisted of herds of horse cattle, and therefore the food was mare's milk and mare's meat. Mare's milk went mainly to the preparation of koumiss. It becomes not only the daily food of the Yakuts, but also the traditional treat of the guests.
Traditionally and in our time, koumiss in сhoron is a permanent attribute at the official meeting of guests from near and far countries.

Koumiss and patterned choron cup are traditional objects of ritual treats not only for guests, but also become the main attributes that accompany the ceremony of propitiation of spirits and deities.

Travel to Eastern Siberia (1856) by Leopold NemirovskyNational Library of Republic Sakha (Yakutia)

The climate of Yakutia is sharply continental, the winters are long and cold. Since 2012, a traditional winter festival " Winter begins from Yakutia" has been held in Yakutsk since 2012. The uniqueness of this event lies in the fact that the first Christmas tree in Russia is lit precisely in Yakutia, and from there the relay "New Year's Capital of Russia" begins. By tradition, the Yakut lord of the cold Chyskhaan gives the All-Russian Santa Claus the symbol of the cold, brought from the coldest place of the northern hemisphere “Pole of Cold” - Oymyakon.

Balagan-winter home of the Yakuts. It is a low, elongated quadrangular structure of standing, somewhat sloping logs, with a flat earthen roof.

Travel to Eastern Siberia "City Olekminsk" (1856) by Leopold NemirovskyNational Library of Republic Sakha (Yakutia)

In the early summer of 1633, on the territory of the Olekma Tunguska land, at the mouth of the Olekna River (the Tunguska name of the Olekma River), the Yenisei clerk, son of the boyar I. B. Kuzmin founded the first Yasak winter hut - Ust-Olekminskoe. July 17 (27), 1635 the son of the boyar P.I. Beketov, 14 km from the hibernation, on the Lena River, founded the Olekminsky prison, which became the center for managing the surrounding territories and collecting yasak. Until 1640, it was subordinate to the Yenisei governors, in 1640-1775 - to the Lena (Yakut) governors. The settled population appeared there after 1738, when the Irkutsk-Yakutsk postal tract was opened with the organization of postal stations on the site from Vitimskaya Sloboda to Yakutsk. Olekma Ostrog became a large postal station and a distance center on the highway. In 1775-1783, the center of the commissar of the Yakut province of the Irkutsk province. Then Olekminsk - the county town of the Yakutsk region of the Irkutsk governorate (1783-1796), in 1796-1803 as part of the Yakutsk district of the Irkutsk province. The center of the commissioner of the Yakut district of the Irkutsk province (1803-1805) and the Yakutsk region (1805-1822), the district city of the Yakutsk region (1822-1920).

In the 1820s and the beginning of the 20th century, Olekminsk and its districts were used as a place of exile; here the Decembrists, Narodniks, and Social Democrats (including M.S. Uritsky, M.S. Olminsky) served it. In 1852, the industrial development of gold deposits began (in 1898, the Olekminsky gold mining region occupied the first place in Russia in gold mining). In 1897, a pier was built in Olekminsk. Olekminsky prison was a collection point of Cossack units heading for the Amur River. Later, the prison became a trading and administrative point, located on the way to Yakutsk. The city status was assigned to Olekminsk in 1783.

Travel to Eastern Siberia (1856) by Leopold NemirovskyNational Library of Republic Sakha (Yakutia)

The Amga river is the purest relic of Yakutia with pristine unspoilt nature and protected areas. The indigenous people take care and carefully protect their breadwinner. In its upper reaches is the state nature reserve "Olekminsky" - the fourth largest in Russia, with a total area of 8479 square km. The name of the river comes from the evenk word "amnga" — "canyon".

Yakutia is one of those rare places on the planet where the pristine purity of nature and the amazing diversity of flora and fauna have been preserved.

Credits: Story

Alexey Ivanov,
author and curator of the project «Culture of Yakutia in the world space» (inclusion of regional cultural of institutions of Yakutia into the project Google Cultural Institute), initiator of support for the Yakut language and languages of indigenous peoples in machine translators, research fellow of the National Library of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)

Lyudmila Khandy-Struchkova,
chief librarian of the Scientific Research Center for Book Monuments of the National Library of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)


The text of the exhibition was prepared on published materials from the Internet.

Exhibition of 2020

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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