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Dolgan crafts and musical art

The Dolgans have a well-developed arts and crafts: making jewelry from beads, ornamentation of clothes and shoes with deer fur and beads.

Carving on reindeer and mammoth bones is widespread (decoration of reindeer harness plates, knife handles, etc.).

Currently, there are traveling exhibitions in Taimyr "Contemporary Art of Dolgans", "Products from mammoth ivory and fur" in the Khatanga and Dudinsky regions. A manual on making traditional Dolgan souvenirs "Ardai" was published. The works of the master of crafts and applied art M.G. Bettu are presented at various exhibitions.


One of the founders of the development of professional art in Taimyr is the Dolgan graphic artist and artist B.N. Molchanov (1938-1993). His personal exhibitions were held in Dudinka, Krasnoyarsk, Abakan, Kyzyl, Moscow, St. Petersburg. A memorial museum of B.N. Molchanov was created at the Taimyr District Center of National Cultures, and in 1995 an art album "The Star of the Polar Region" was released, dedicated to his work.




The B.N. Molchanov annual prize was established for the winners of the regional competition of decorative and applied arts.

«Талантливость детей Севера – особый феномен. На мой взгляд, дело здесь не в психологических или физиологических особенностях организма северного ребенка. Все заключается в географической, физической стороне дела: условия жизни Севера заставляют человека проявлять внутреннюю активность в чем-либо…» – писал Б.Н.Молчанов.

Суровый быт северян, замкнутость в ограниченном пространстве жилища перед лицом могучей природной стихии, недостаток человеческого общения, когда соседние стойбища разделяют десятки и сотни километров, – все это способствует мощному развитию воображения, художественного творчества, концентрации духовных сил. Не случайно предметы одежды и домашней утвари северян зачастую превращаются в настоящие произведения искусства. В национальных орнаментах отразились каноны красоты, принципы мировоззрения. «Я не считаю себя более талантливым, чем мои друзья и земляки», – не раз говорил Молчанов.

The Dolgan embroidery pattern and the its technique are the result of creativity of many generations. For creating new patterns, the craftswomen did not deviate from folk traditions, did not destroy the artistic style.

Beads of the highest quality, of various colors and shades were delivered by merchants throughout Europe and to Taimyr as well. Craftswomen exchanged beads for furs, decorated their products with them. By the ornament or the form of jewelry, they judged a person's wealth, his place of residence, status, family, and lifestyle. To protect the child from the evil eye, a bracelet or beads were put on his hand, and some beaded amulet was hung near the head of the cradle. Some parts of the shaman's costume were also decorated with beads.

Beaded products can tell how people lived in ancient times, what their tastes and habits were.

Dolgans prefer beads of bright and rich colors, they select them according to the principle of contrast. The palette of the Dolgan ornament is based on a combination of six colors: black, white, blue, red, yellow and green. Red and blue are preferred. Red is the personification of the popular idea of the sun, blue is about the infinity of being.

The range of colors of artistic embroidery is also interesting. It uses the same colors, but the most attractive is pink {haza - seagull).

In their configuration, Dolgan ornaments resemble stylized images of objects and animals.

Dolgan music


Dolgan music in genre and style is a local version of the culture of the northern Yakuts and has ties with the music of the Evenks, Evens, Nganasans, Enets, Nenets and North Siberian Russian old-timers.

In the genre system of Dolgan music, 5 spheres are distinguished: epic music, songs, ceremonial music, phono-signal and instrumental. Epic music is represented by individual song characteristics of individual characters in the Olonkho legends.

The song sections appear in the most important (ritual) moments of the characters' behavior; they are an epic form of fixing the Dolgans' behavior in a traditional environment. The tunes not only reflect the ritual nature of the plot links in which they appeared, but also serve as a melodic characteristic of the characters - the main character, the messenger, the horse, the bride of the main character, the heroes of the lower world, etc.

Песни долган связаны с персональной певческой традицией (как у тунгусских и самодийских этносов). В системе песенной культуры долган  широкий  пласт составляют туойсуу ырыата – песни-обращения юношей и девушек друг к другу, имеющие немаловажное значение в формировании семейно-брачных отношений в традиционной этнической  среде. Среди людей пожилого возраста широко распространены  песни-размышления о прожитой жизни, людях, окружающей природе и т.п. Традиция персональных песен определяет богатый и разнообразный мелодичный спектр музыки долган.  Колыбельные песни сохранились в виде баюканья – бээйдээхин.

Song of Sevostyan
Brother Ilya
Algys (Blessing)

Ritual genres are differentiated into common tribal and shamanic. The first include circular dance songs of heiro, ohuokai. Heiro is usually started by men with slow swaying and drawn-out singing with a gradual dynamic build-up. Okhuokai is a common tribal dance and song performance with a solo and choral repeat (differs from a similar Yakut genre in a slower movement).

Dolgan phonoinstruments reflect the peculiarities of the economic structure, ritual traditions and the specifics of musical and artistic thinking.

There are numerous household and ritual instruments: kaangalda - a botalo pendant on deer horns (made of a wooden plate or a tin can); kupuleen - botalo (bell) on the neck of a harness deer to scare away a wolf; kobo - rattles-bells on the festive clothes of children, women and in shaman's suit (uostaak kobo - pendants), in reindeer husbandry (kaagyr kobo - metal balls on reindeer); chuoraan - bells on the baby's cradle and clothes; tingkines - tinkling jewelry-pendants on clothes; kyraan - shamanic pendant-rattles, symbolizing the bones and feathers of the shaman; sitim - shaman's belt with 3 bells, which the shaman holds during the ritual; dungur - a shaman's tambourine of the Yakut type.



танцевальная группа “Анаабыр алмаазтара”
танец “Муус аннынан балыктааhын”


танец “Балыксыттар”

Musical instruments and sound toys form a single, poorly differentiated group: bargaan - arc jew's harp; unguokhbargaan - lamellar bone jew's harp; irirer - willow whistle and goose feather squeak (both are used as hunting decoys); alanga, alynga - a bow that can be used as a musical toy, timek - a "button" that gives the effect of a vortex aerophone.

Among experts and performers of Dolgan music are I.A. Eremin, I.A. Antonov, N. D. Bolshakov, F.S. Sakhatin, N.P. Khristoforov, A.A. Aksenov, I.A. Chuprin, E.A. Zharkova, A.S. Kirgizova and O.E. Aksenova.

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