The Evans Tribal Group, Yukagir peoples of Siberia by Sarah Corbett
The Yukaghir live in East Siberia in the basin of the Kolyma river. In 2002 a census recorded a population of 1509 people.
Traditionally there were 13 tribes within this population, However there are now just three surviving as extended family communities, whose main activities are deer hunting and fishing.
One of these extended family communities is the Evans tribal group.
The hides of the reindeer are a valuable resource for clothing materials. Traditionally the winter clothing was made from reindeer skin, and the summer clothes from tanned buckskin ( Known locally as Rovduga) Natural dyes were derived from the bark of Alder, and also from wood ash to colour the hides.
Men’s clothing differed little from that of women. The only difference being in the type and quantity of the decorative elements. Men’s clothing would be more modestly decorated, while women wore fringing and fur tassels, pendants of metal and bead work.
One of the primary methods used for adornment is intricate bead work. There is evidence of trades for small quantities of beads for whole reindeer in the times of Pre revolutionary Russia.
The art of decorative bead working has been passed from generation to generation. The designs and colours of the intricate designs created from seed beads and worked onto cloth or leather denote social , gender and age differences, and had ritual significance. The chequered black and white designs represent the trails of the deer, and patterns known as the sheep horn or the dear horn are very popular.
The ringing of small metal pendants was believed to drive away bad spirits and protect the wearer.
Women prize bright and colourful Russian floral fringed shawls which are Soviet textiles which have been traded and become as heirlooms along with the bead work.
The harsh climatic and economic landscape continue to challenge the survival of these Siberian nomadic tribal groups, and this culture may eventually be lost.