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  Evenks (Tungus) belong to the Tungus-Manchurian group of the Great Altaic language family. The Evens, Negidals, Solons, Nanai, Ulchis, Oroks, Manchus, Udegeans, who live in the Republic of Sakha, Amur region, Khabarovsk Krai, Magadan region and China, are related to the Evenks by language group. The similarity of language and culture is evidence that in ancient times the ancestors of the peoples of the Altai language family lived closer to each other. According to ancient Chinese sources, in the I millennium BC in the territory of Primorye and North-Eastern China were inhabited by eastern foreigners called Susheni or Ilou. Very little information about these tribes in ancient chronicles has been preserved. And in the beginning of our era large ancient Tungus tribes of Mohe settled in tribal associations along the Amur, Zeya and in Primorye. They conducted trade with neighboring states. These ties were especially active with China.

    Self-name - “Evenkil”. The official name “Evenki” was adopted in the late 1930s. The population (according to the 2020 census) is 3,709 people.

  Geography of residence

     Evenks live in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Buryatia, Transbaikal Krai, Irkutsk and Tomsk Oblasts, Yakutia, Amur and Sakhalin Oblasts, Khabarovsk and Primorsky Krai.

 Language and division into ethnographic groups

      Evenki language belongs to the Tungus-Manchurian group of the Altaic language family.

      It consists three groups of dialects:

  • northern,
  • southern,
  • eastern.

       Each dialect is subdivided into subdialects. Anthropologically, Evenks belong mainly to the Baikal variant of the North Asian race. In the southern and some northern areas, a Central Asian component is added. In Russia, Evenks speak predominantly Russian. In addition to Russian and Evenki, Yakut and Buryat languages are also used.

  Brief historical background

     Evenks are a Tungus-Manchurian people in Russia, North-Eastern China and Mongolia. Before 1931, the Evenks were called “Tungus”.

       There are several hypotheses about the origin of the Evenks: southern, from the areas between the Huanghe and Yangtze rivers (by S. M. Shirokogorov); Baikal lake (by G. M. Vasilevich and A. P. Okladnikov); Transbaikal and Upper and Middle Amur river (by V. A. Tugolukov, M. G. Levin, A. P. Derevyanko).

    These hypotheses are based on the data of archaeological excavations, studies in the field of physical anthropology, linguistics and ethnographic, i.e. cultural features. G. M. Vasilevich and A. P. Okladnikov believed that the prototungus formation took place in the environment of Neolithic hunters of the Baikal culture, in the mountain-goltz areas of southern Pribaikalia.
        The impetus for their migrations was given by the arrival in Siberia from the south of the Turkic-speaking population, the ancestors of the Yakuts.
V. A. Tugolukov, M. G. Levin, and A. P. Derevyanko believed that the hypothetical ancestral homeland of the Tungus-Manchurians was either in Manchuria or in the upper and middle reaches of the Amur river.
    Vasilevich believed that the Tungus hunter-hunters settled in Siberia still at the pedestrian, pre-solent farming stage, as evidenced, for example, by the construction of their cradle.
     Others believe that the Evenks settled widely in Siberia after they managed to domesticate the reindeer and start riding it. The first to learn were those groups of Evenks who were already familiar with horse breeding and horse saddle construction.
     К XVII веку, ко времени прихода русских в Сибирь, эвенки освоили значительную часть тундры между Енисеем и Леной и тайгу бассейна всех трех Тунгусок, на восток от Лены занимали всю территорию до Охотского моря. Конные группы и скотоводы кочевали в степях Забайкалья, Верхнем Приамурье и по правым притокам Амура. В районе Лены, Алдана, Амги тунгусы контактировали с якутами, в степях Забайкалья – с бурятами и монголами, в долинах Зеи и Селемджи еще до прихода русских были соседями с земледельцами даурами и дючерами. На северо-востоке контактировали с юкагирами, на северо-западе – с нганасами, ненцами, энцами. В енисейской тайге – с кетами, на левых притоках Ангары – с коттами, асанами, тофаларами, в низовьях Амгуни – с гиляками.

       Traditionally, Evenks are engaged in hunting, reindeer herding and fishing.

       A small part of Evenks lived semi-sedentary and sedentary, practicing hunting, cattle breeding or farming. They exchanged fur animal pelts for tea, flour, salt, manufactory, and utensils.

Materials and photos provided by the portal “Many Faces of Khabarovsk Krai”, the compiler:
Kulesh Yelena Vasiliyevna, Candidate of Psychological Sciences, Associate Professor of the Department of Psychology,
Head of the Resource Center in Pacific State University.




Данилова Варвара Васильевна (29.08.1967) — эвенкийская поэтесса. Родилась в с. Булгунняхтах Хангаласского улуса в семье охотника...
Galina was born in the village of Kukushka of the Zeysky district of the Amur region in the family of a reindeer herder-hunter. She graduated from high school in the village of Bomnak.
Гантимуров Гамалилла Степанович (Муров) — первый эвенкийский писатель Первое художественное произведение, вышедшее из-под пера эвенка, было издано в Томске еще в 1896 году.

TV lessons on Even language

‘Yonchaedyae’ project (from the Yukaghir language it means ‘a bell’) took place thanks to the support of a grant from the head of the Rupublic of Sakha (Yakutia) among the media. A total of 200 releases have been prepared, with forty five-minute TV lessons in each language. The project is designed for people who do not speak or have poor command of their native language.

The author and leader of the project is Natalia Smetanina, the director is Nina Kornilova.

We would like to thank the Ministry of Innovation, Digital Development and Infocommunication Technologies of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), National Broadcast Company ‘Sakha’, Joint Stock Company ‘Almazy Anabara’ for support and assistance in the implementation of the ‘Йоҥчэдиэ’ project...

(To view the entire list of Yukaghir language lessons, click )


TV lessons on Evenk language. Olga Udygir

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