лого цифровизация 5


Forest Yukaghirs (Oduls)

The Upper-Kolyma (unlike the Lower-Kolyma tundra reindeer herders) Yukaghirs call themselves унуŋ омни the "river people" and retain many archaic elements of aboriginal culture. The first systematization of vehicles of the Verkhnekolymsk Yukaghirs was undertaken by V.I. Jochelson [2005: 542-548]. His data were accepted as the main data on yukaghirs when compiling the classification of boats of the peoples of Siberia [Historical and Ethnographic ..., 1961].

For the upper Kolyma, within the modern territory of the north-east of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), swampiness and waterlogging are characteristic, there in the warm season water vehicles have always been of exceptional importance. In the past, this factor largely determined the nomadic nature of the Odul culture, Yukaghir families roamed in the summer along the large and small rivers of the region on rafts and boats.

Summer camp of Oduls. Photo by V. I. Jochlson.

The multifunctionality of water resources assumed the use of specialized watercraft in accordance with the needs of nomadic life: fishing shuttles that are easy to manage and carry, cargo boats for transportation during migrations of families with women, the elderly, and children. Means of transportation that could be used for military, barter and other purposes. The transport fleet assumed differences in size and design. The Verkhnekolymsky Yukaghirs in the late 19th – early 20th centuries roamed on triangular-shaped mino rafts, dugout and plank boats, single- and multi-seat. мино, лодках долбленых и дощатых, одно- и многоместных.


A raft is a primitive vessel adapted to travel only downstream of the river. The mino consisted of logs tied with willow ropes in the shape of a triangle, the top of which was the bow, and the base was its stern. The raft was moved with the help of one or two pairs of oars with rowlocks. A platform up to half a meter high was built on a raft of planks. Usually elder people, women and children sat on the raft. They were in charge as well. Young men were sailing ahead on shuttles. Midoche/midosyo (Мидочэ/мидосьо) is a women's train on rafts in summer and on a sleigh with dogs in winter.

The collection of V.I. Jochelson, kept at the American Museum of Natural History (New York), presents models of all types of Yukaghir boats. The boats anabushka (анабушка) and ekchil (экчил) are hollowed out of the trunks of poplar or aspen growing in the upper reaches of the Kolyma and its tributary of the Korkodon River.

 Экчил The ekchil was made from a single trunk of a poplar with an adze or a knife, its length is 5-6 m., width is 65 cm, the sides are thin, so it is light, up to 27 kg, can be easily carried on shoulders from one river to another.

They took the trunk of a straight-growing tree, and split it with wedges. The soft southern part of the trunk, called the "belly", was used, in contrast to the hard northern part – the "spine". The boat might be single or double-seated. To strengthen the sides in its central part there are two long round spacers in cross section, at the ends of the boat there are two short ones. The rower sits between two struts on a cushion of grass covered with leather. A passenger sits down with his back to him and closer to the stern. The use of a sail is considered an acquisition from the Russians.

The wooden shuttle Hodol, branch in russian, is more stable in the water. There have been changes in the spelling and names of boats in modern language materials.

The dugout boat retained only one name – anabuskaa (анабускаа) or spokeshave in russian. Now the ekchil is called a single-person boa – a branch of three boards. The name hodol falls out of use.

The sides of the shuttle were made into one board, sewn to the bottom with vein threads or ropes twisted from wood fibers. The cracks were covered with larch resin. In the profiling of dugout and plank single boats, there is a roundness of the bow in comparison with the elongated stern. The similarity is also observed in the presence of four struts-crossbars.

The Yukaghir chamdye (чамдьэ) paddle has two blades at the ends. Heading upstream and in shallow water, two jabuchil (йабучиль) poles were used. Mududjube (мудудьубэ) carries were used to overcome the short distance between water bodies, i.e. the shuttle sometimes acted as a travois. Researchers believe that from the forest Yukaghirs (oduls), the hollowed-out boats got to the tundra Yukaghirs, northern Yakuts, Chukchi and Koryaks, and the plank shuttles may have been borrowed by the Yukaghirs from neighboring peoples.

For transportation of family members during migrations, in addition to rafts, heavy-duty boats of the combined type were used. V.I. Jochelson considered them borrowed from russians: harbach (харбэч), rus. ‘karbass'. Many parts of the boat have Russian names. The lower part of the harbach is a hollowed-out shuttle, the sides are made up of two rows of boards (on boi) (бои) sewn with ropes from young birch trees, moss uo-labiye (уо-лэбийэ) is placed in the grooves and filled with gray larch. The length of the boats is 6 m, the sides are connected by 4-6 arc ribs, there are rowlocks for 2-4 oars. At the close of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries yukaghirs manufactured and supplied roomy boats to the markets of Verkhnekolymsk and Srednekolymsk.

In the pictographs of the Oduls and in the photo taken by V.I. Jochelson, the Odul families wander upstream on such vessels. The harbach was pulled up the river by an igaye (игэйэ) rope using the pulling power of people and dogs; the harbach and the mino raft had a lahushi (лахуши) stern paddle. In some cases, several boats were connected, getting a kind of piorimni catamaran ‘ferry, fastening several boats together'.

Kolyma River (5), its tributary r. Yasachnaya (4) with a tributary of the Nelemnaya River (1). There are three conical yurts on the Nelemnaya River, the river is blocked by a dam with nets. From here two large boats went to Kolyma. One floated downstream (3). On the way, the hunter of this group got a deer (4), next to his boat and gun. Two men are pulling another boat upstream (2), two dogs are running nearby. Ahead is a shuttle with a hunter, he pushes off with a pole, an oar with blades lies across the shuttle. (The description is given in the abbreviation)

V.I. Jochelson wrote about the absence of leather frame boats from the Yukaghirs, contrasting them with the inhabitants of the seashore who had kayaks and canoe. In the second half of the 20th century, Y. B. Simchenko revealed traces of the existence of a wood-framed boat among the Nizhnekolymsk Yukaghirs: "The term "leather boat" amgyngolde (амгынгольде) was preserved in the tundra dialect of the Yukaghir language (message by Yukaghir T.T. Trophonov, Kolyma watercourse, October 28, 1864 (1964?)". In modern language materials of tundra Yukaghirs, this term is absent, perhaps the word is not written down by the author quite accurately and has a composite origin: amal’viyi (амальвийи)– ‘to be well dressed' (about the skin) + oldje (олдьэ) ‘branch, shuttle' [Kurilov, 2001].

The mino raft and the anabuskaa dugout in the traditional Odul culture are always marked negatively because of their movement only downstream of the river, as well as as signs of archaic.

In folklore texts, they usually have semantic connections with the world of the dead, death. In one of the fairy tales, a mythical old cannibal used a raft as a specific transport.

The dead were sometimes buried in boats in the summer. Sending aybii (айбии) ‘shadow, soul’ of the deceased to the ancestral land of Yukaghirs, like many peoples, believed that the soul would continue to engage in the same types of crafts as during his lifetime. The deceased Yukaghirs of the Korkodon River (a tributary of the Upper Kolyma) were transported by water transport. "If a relative died in the summer, we take him to the stone island of Tolba, where our many ancestors lie. They are fighting there with a petrified bearded giant who exterminated our people for profit" [Teki Odulok, 1987].

The stone remains of the island are associated with the mythopoetic consciousness with the giant's family: "On the very top of the island, with his head held high, sits the petrified giant Chuldi-Pulut (Чульди-пулут) – the demon man. His wife was sitting next to him, and next to him was a dog with ears raised up and tail down. It's like she's listening to something. Not far away there is a Chomol-Choduya (Чомол-Чодуя) (correctly: Чомол- Чоҕойо) stuck into the ground with the tip up – a large knife-sword, near which a huge purse with money is lying on the ground."

In the first half of the 20th century, due to the consolidation of Soviet power, settlement, organization of collective farms, Dalstroy and Kolymtorg systems, the economic living conditions of the Kolyma River and its tributaries changed.


The delivery of food, goods and equipment by various modes of transport has intensified, many vital issues have been resolved. Vehicles have also been transformed. Traditional rafts for family rafting, carbases and dugout boats have become anachronisms, they have been replaced by factory-made duralumin boats, power boats and barges. In the second half of the 1980s oduls used duralumin boats "Kazanka" with outboard motors "Whirlwind", "Moscow" for trips over considerable distances.


On the lakes there were more often plank branches partially filled with water to prevent drying out.


Due to the economic crisis of the late XX – early XXI century, the reduction in the import of combustible materials and their high cost, many fishermen returned back to the ekchils. The signs of innovations were shuttles made of sheet iron. The negative quality of the latter, according to residents, is their rapid flooding.


Oduls of the Yasachnaya river functionally preserved the traditional fishing shuttle of three boards. To introduce children to traditional types of fishing, boat models are made from wood and bark.


L. N. Zhukova, Cand. Sc. History


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  2. Историко-этнографический атлас Сибири / под ред. М.Г. Левина и Л.П. Потапова. М.; Л.: Изд-во АН СССР, 1961.
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  6. Тэки Одулок. На Крайнем Севере. Якутск: Кн. изд-во, 1987. – С. 96–236.
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