Fieldwork amongst Yakut horse breeders and the other inhabitants of the extreme east of Siberia, whose existence shows a link with horses, will facilitate an understanding of the unusual features of horse breeding in the Arctic regions. The comparison of the results with the existing sources will enable us to highlight the importance of the horse figure in the various cultural domains of the Sakha people and the similarities and differences that have developed since written records began, i.e. as of the mid 17th century.
in 2003 : We will try to collect information related to what remains from culture and horse folklore in contemporary Iakoutia, especially in two traditional regions. The first is considered as the guardian of traditional horsebreeding – this is the region of Verkhoïansk. The second – the Taata region – has kept a rich heritage. Many Iakouts are coming from this region. Some are searchers or storytellers who have made these traditions popular in the scientific field. At last, the information collected will allow us to evaluate the adaptation and the adequation of horsebreeding in arctic conditions and to compare it to reindeer breeding. In order to answer to the question of the Iakout horse‘s origin and to the theory defended by some searchers arguing that Kolyma’s wild horses would have been domesticated by Iakouts, our work and further conclusions will constitute complementary clues to those scientists. In the first time, the information collected will be used for a PhD in religion sciences prepared at the EPHE whose subject will be the horse in Iakout culture. Some cultural objects could be brought to some French institutions if there is any interest from museums. We hope there will be a useful partnership on Iakout epics’ translations with the Olonkho’s conservation and propagation fund. All this information will constitute a corpus which will be used for comparisons in future studies conducted by students interested either in Siberian anthropology or in care and management of horses. in 2004 : The goal of the pluriannual programme is to study the herding of horses in northern conditions in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the beliefs and systems of thought that are linked to them. Subsequent to investigations conducted between May and October 2003 amongst Yakut horse herders in the north (Verkhoyansk) and the central regions of Yakutia (Nam and Taatta), the 2004 IPEV campaign will concentrate on the detailed study of types of herding in the Eveno-Bytantai region. This region, the centre of which is the village of Sakkyryr, once belonged to that of Verkhoyansk, the former home of the northern Yakuts. It was created fifteen years ago to the north of the Arctic Circle and named after the River Bytantai, which flows through it, and the Evens, the reindeer herders who live there. The most obvious unusual feature of the region lies in the fact that the reindeer, reared in herds of more than a thousand individuals, are watched over by herders on horseback during the summer and that the herds of horses, on the other hand, are watched over from the back of a reindeer during the winter. The population of the region breaks down roughly into 30% Evens, whose traditional activity is reindeer herding, and 70% Yakuts, horse and cattle herders. The Evens in this region are greatly influenced by Yakut culture and cannot speak their own language. It was doubtless on the arrival of the Yakuts a few centuries ago that they started to breed horses. This year’s research will consist in analysing this wholly original type of herding, putting the accent on breeding the horse that the inhabitants call the mountain horse to differentiate it from the Verkhoyansk horse, more used to marshy, stoneless ground. We will study the method of horse breeding in order to determine to what extent it is influenced by reindeer breeding. In addition, we will conduct an investigation into the systems of belief linked to the horse, on the one hand, and the reindeer, on the other, with both the Yakuts and the Evens of the region. To do this, it will be necessary to sort out who in the population is Even and who Yakut, as the question of national identity is complicated by the choice offered to children from the two nationalities when they have parents of different origin. In order to complete the overview of the types of herding in this region, we will also turn our attention to the native Yakut cow, the only one reared here, which appears marginal in comparison with the reindeer and the horse. This research is being carried out within the framework of our doctorate, which concerns the comparison of the horse figure in the Yakut culture in northern and central Yakutia.
Observation ant participation Inverstigation to the peaople in the village
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