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The tundra yukaghirs

Despite the fact that the Yukaghirs were originally sedentary hunters and fishermen, their fishing, apparently, was not accompanied by sacred piety, expressed in the ceremonial side of fishing and the use of substitute words (Kreinovich, 1972, p.65). At the same time, in the 20th century, if not earlier, it was the fish that saved them from starvation, and compared to hunting it was a more stable industry.
The Upper Kolyma Yukaghirs started fishing in the spring. The fish was caught with rods with a lead sinker and an iron hook. For bait, the hooks were wrapped with red thread. An older tool was a bone spoke with sharply sharpened ends. Its length did not exceed 8 cm.
The vein line was tied closer to one of its ends. The needle was stuck into a small freshly caught fish so that one end of it protruded slightly outward. When a pike or nelma swallowed a fish, the end of the needle, when pulled, became across the esophagus, and the prey was caught. In this way, fish was caught only "for the boiler", that is, for everyday needs. In summer, thread and hair nets were set up along rivers and lakes.

In the past, bone needles were used. Part of the summer fish was dried, but most of it went into the cauldron, since the main course of fish began only in autumn – in August and September. Then large accumulations of chir and omul appeared, which had to be found and surrounded by a seine. This method was called "scooping". In the past, the Yukaghirs made a fence of willow twigs in the manner of a seine. One end of it was fixed on the shore, and the free end was pulled up to the shore when fish accumulated inside.

The harvested fish was dried and dried if it was large, and the small one was fermented in pits for dog food. However, in times of famine, fermented fish helped out people. The caviar was dried separately. In late autumn, before the freezing of the rivers, the Yukaghirs set up rides with willow snouts or thread heels on the rivers. In October-November, fish were caught under the ice with hair nets, dragging them through the ice holes. The catch was frozen.


N. V. Pluzhnikov
(from the book “Peoples of the North-East of Russia”).
based on the materials of the Encyclopedia "The Arctic is my home: the peoples of the North", M. 2001

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