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  Songs, folk music and dances played an important role in the work and spiritual life of the Chukchi. The system of artistic and imaginative reflection of reality, which arose from the real life needs of society, eventually led to the identification and improvement of certain types of folk art, including music. Songs and dance tunes began to be performed not only during holidays and religious rituals, but also during leisure hours, for entertainment. ”The Chukchi have their own legends, legends of antiquity and folk poetry expressed in games and songs," wrote A. A. Argentov– At the games, songs are sung with the text; their motives are quite diverse… When singing, the Chukchi make expressive gestures, men beat tambourines, purr monotonously and observe the indispensable beat.

  At times, they imitate the roar and cry of various animals and birds, which they do with great skill" (Argentov, 1857, page 69). “The Chukchi love singing," notes V. G. Bogoraz"especially during holidays. Every family and even every person has several different tunes of their own. Some of them are hereditary, others of my own composition" (Bogoraz, 1934. Page 23).

  The highest organizational form of the existence of folk music as an art is the song and dance competitions that have arisen in the distant past and have survived to this day. They were held both between the artistically gifted people of one village, and between residents of different villages.


Performance of the head of the dance ensemble “Uelen” Vladimir Memylneun, who presented the legendary number "Flight of a seagull against the wind".

Chukchi folklore ensemble “Yarar".

  The winners were awarded with gifts. Sometimes these were specially created songs in honor of the winners. In 1938, for example, in honor of the Chukchi Atyk the winner of a song and dance competition in the city of Nome in Alaska , a gift song was created from the Alaska Eskimos.

  In the distant past, reindeer herders developed a peculiar technique of guttural (throat) singing, pili'ein'en. The singer draws in air, squeezes the throat ligaments, stretches his lips wide to the sides, and, inhaling the air, makes a kind of rustling sound. By changing the compression of the throat and the stretching of the lips, it changes the pitch. Experienced singers can combine guttural singing with the usual, called tip'ane'em, forming two independent voices-timbres. Pilgein'en possesses peculiar artistic possibilities in the depiction of various natural phenomena, pictures of everyday life. In some cases, this is a running herd of deer, chased by wolves, riding a reindeer or a spring tundra covered with flowers, the flight of birds, in others - various work processes, moods and human experiences. In some villages of Chukotka, competitions in the performance of guttural songs are still being organized. They are called Ain'arachvin – sound competition.

  Ancient Chukchi melodies are still heard today. Their preservation was facilitated by the tradition of passing from generation to generation of family, community songs with characteristic rhythms and intonations. Already at birth, each Chukchi, along with the name, receives from the parents a personalized song composed in the first days of the child's birth. It reflects certain features of the newborn, dreams of his future. Growing up, the child learns and memorizes the personal songs of parents, grandfathers, and other relatives; becoming an adult, he composes songs himself, including his own personal song. In it, he expresses his individuality, emotional mood.

  Chukchi folk music developed mainly as vocal. She had no musical instruments with a strictly fixed pitch of sounds. Only the percussion instrument drum-yarar was widely recognized and widely used. A.A. Argentov wrote that a drum “is certainly available to every householder. With a drum, the Chukcha complains, and rejoices, and shamanizes.” V.G. Bogoraz supplemented: “The integral element of the domestic shrine is the drum-yarar… Every family should have its own tambourine, the exercise on which during famous holidays is mandatory for all household members, men and women... In the long winter evenings, the Chukchi take up the drum just for fun” (Bogoraz, 19016. pp. 51-52).

  Usually the most experienced musician plays the drum, giving the singers and dancers the rhythm and dynamics of the performance. At festive celebrations, several musicians often play drums at once. There are dances and pantomimes, the musical accompaniment of which is built in such a way that at a certain place the singing is interrupted for several measures and the pantomime continues only to the accompaniment of drums. In other cases, pantomime is accompanied only by playing the drums. Often the soloist himself accompanies himself on a drum during the performance of a pantomime. It should be noted that at all the shows and festivals of amateur performances held in the Soviet years, none of the Chukchi amateur ensembles ever used any musical instrument, except for the yarar.

  The Chukchi also had other musical instruments. In the works of V.G. Bogoraz, are mentioned the simplest wind and noise (buzzers, howls) musical instruments . Describing, for example, the “loon festival”, he notes that “the Chukchi imitated the singing of these birds with whistles made of goose feathers or wood with tongues of whale bone.” Folk songs are performed on various occasions, in different settings. Some bring back vivid pictures of events that once took place in the memory of performers and listeners. These “memorable songs” are most often a family heirloom and are not intended for public performance. Currently created new improvisation songs (personal, signature, memorable) usually reflect joyful events in a person's life, but they are created based on the samples of ancestral songs, based on their intonations, characteristic rhythms. A new phenomenon in the song and music creativity of the Chukchi is the creation by original composers of songs based on the poems of professional Chukchi poets - A. Kymytval, V. Keulkut, M. Valgyrgin.

  It is quite difficult to recreate the history of Chukchi folk choreography. Pre-revolutionary sources do not contain any significant descriptions of this aspect of the life of the people. We have only fragmentary, scattered material. According to the descriptions of ethnographers and travelers, the traditional dance art of the Chukchi was part of the rituals and holidays that played an important role in their social life.

  It should be noted that the term “dance” plastic rituals and holidays can only be called conditionally. These are rather pantomime dances, in which imitative elements occupy a leading place. Almost all the holidays of the annual cycle of deer Chukchi contain ancient ideas about the role of wild deer in the life of the people, accompanied by theatrical actions depicting the habits of deer, various moments of hunting. Some dances are performed to a kind of accompaniment – throat singing. This kind of dancing is called pichgainen (throat screaming). In the rituals and holidays of the settled Chukchi, who also had a commercial and magical character, marine animals were more often featured, but general patterns were also manifested here.

  Another type of dance was performed to the accompaniment of tambourines. If the pichgeinen did not have a stable form, then there is already a division into two groups in dances with tambourines, and places are defined for dancers and musicians accompanying on the tambourines. The accompanists should stand with their back to the entrance, opposite them-dancing women. V. G. Bogoraz noted that this method of dancing among the Chukchi was called vetchalyt (standing), since the performers danced almost without leaving their seats.

  The third type of dance, characteristic of thanksgiving ceremonies, was called tevlyargyn (shaking off). In the religious and cult tradition of the Chukchi, a great place was given to mystical methods of protection from evil spirits. One of them was tevlyargyn..

  The most ancient features of pantomime dances were preserved in the feast of the “resurrection” of animals, where men portrayed hunters, and women imitated the habits of animals. The dancers portrayed a successful hunt, “assured” the beast that he would be treated with due respect.

  Judging by the fact that the first researchers of the Chukchi emphasized the obligation of this section of rituals, it can be assumed that earlier these pantomimes were the center of the entire celebration. The dances “with grimaces” are peculiar, to which F.P. Wrangel drew attention, noting that the main advantage of the dance of Chukchi women is mimicry. In some pantomimes, she dominated all the elements. Unfortunately, according to the available data, it is difficult to form an idea of the semantic and target orientation of these dances.

  In addition to dances-pantomimes, which were mandatory elements in the plot of ceremonies and holidays, there were also those that were rather entertaining in nature. They were performed solo or in pairs to the accompaniment of a tambourine. These improvisations, without losing the traditional form and plot, acquired new shades, which made them more entertaining than magical. An indicator of the transition of dances-pantomimes from ritual to spectacular can be a humorous assessment of the depicted.

  Chukchi dances are a bright and original phenomenon, the roots of which have been lost in the mists of time. We can only say with certainty that the plasticity of the Chukchi dances is based on imitation, imitation of the behavior of animals, which were the main object of hunting. In the depiction of animals and birds, the Chukchi achieved true perfection, being able to convey an exact idea of the beast with one or two movements. Chukchi dances are not very mobile. The upper body is more active. The performers hardly leave their seats, swing from side to side, squat, stretch, move their shoulders and arms. Movement around the site is insignificant. If several people dance at the same time, their movements do not match. The dances were performed for quite a long time - 12-14 hours. The choreographic part of the ceremonies and holidays was usually started by their organizers, the owner and mistress of the yaranga.

  The modern dance art of the Chukchi, while preserving its national characteristics, has been enriched with new forms and content. At the same time, pantomime dance is still one of the most effective forms of displaying modernity. The most numerous dances of the fishing theme are: “Walrus Hunting“, “Arctic Fox Hunting“, “Duck Hunting” etc. Observation, excellent knowledge of the animal world, amazing accuracy in plastic reproduction of animal behavior mark these pantomime dances. New forms of collective dance performance have also appeared – national amateur dance ensembles “Reindeer Fawn”, “Sunny”, “White Sail”, “Chukchi Dawns”, “Shell", etc. The creation of folk groups helps to preserve the riches of traditional musical folklore. In 1968, the first professional Chukchi-Eskimo musical and choreographic ensemble “Ergyron" (“Dawn”).

E.P. Batyanova, I.S. Vdovin, S.F. Karabanova, N.V. Kocheshkov, V.A. Lytkin, V.A. Turaev
(from the book “Peoples of the North-East of Siberia”)

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