Indigenous groups living in Arctic Russia include, besides the Saami, Nenets, Mansi, Khanty, Nganasan, Enets, Evenk, Dolgan, Even, Yukagir, Yakut, Chukchi, and Siberian Yupik. Several of these groups lived in close proximity to each other, had similar subsistence strategies and trading associations, and developed similar clothing traditions.
Nenets, occupying lands east of the Saami, herded reindeer and, after Soviet collectivization, fished on commercial fishing brigades. Traditional Nenets men's clothing consisted of hoodless reindeer skin parkas trimmed with sealskin. In winter, they wore an additional outer coat along with a tall fur hat with earflaps. Women's coats opened in the front and were double, with fur inside and out. Alternating strips of light and dark skin in lines and zigzags decorated women's parkas; their hats featured flat fabric tassels that were similar to those of the Saami. Nenets' reindeer skin boots reached the thighs and were decorated with welts of light and dark skin or colored fabrics.
In the past, these taiga dwelling groups lived semino-madic lifestyles, herding reindeer, and hunting and fishing. Although Khanty and Mansi generally used reindeer and moose skins for clothing, they also made garments from hare, squirrel, fish, and bird skins. Pullover reindeer skin parkas with hoods were worn as outer layers with hoodless parkas underneath. Some winter coats were lined with swan feathers; these types of garments are still worn by hunters. Hunters carried knives and other items on leather belts. Men and women wore skin pants under their parkas. Garments were embroidered, pieced, or beaded in elaborate geometric designs that identified their maker by their distinctive style. Khanty and Mansi women today wear fabric dresses decorated in traditional bead and appliqué patterns, demonstrating regional differences through variations in pleats and the height of the dropped waist.
Nganasan and Enets were reindeer herders, hunters, and fishermen. Men wore hooded reindeer skin parkas of two layers of skin sewn together: the outer ornamented with red and black strips of fabric or alder-dyed leather, and the inner with the fur side in, edged with Arctic fox or white dog fur. Women wore a one-piece inner garment with copper pendants applied to the front and with black or yellow suede tassels at the hem. Their outer garment was similar to the men's outer coats. Women wore white deerskin hats trimmed with black dog fur instead of hoods. Nganasan and Enets wore tall reindeer skin boots without a fitted ankle. Contemporary clothing preserves the older styles, but is constructed from cotton cloth as well as reindeer skin and is worn in combination with purchased clothing.
Evenk, Even, and Yukagir
Traditional Evenk, Even, and Yukagir clothing consisted of knee-length reindeer skin coats with gores in the back to allow for riding. These coats were open in front and were worn with a chest piece or apron that was tied at the back and reached just above the knees, along with reindeer skin pants and tall boots. Evenk men's chest pieces ended in a point while women's were straight across the bottom. Chest pieces and the backs of coats were decorated with fur strips. Even created intricate beadwork designs on the front of their chest pieces. Women's were decorated with leather fringes and metal trinkets. Men and women of all three groups wore tight-fitting caps decorated with beads and fur. In the 19th century, women adopted Russian unfitted gowns, adding flounces around the hem. Russian trade introduced shirts and trousers for men. More recently, Evenki, Even, and Yukagir living in tundra regions wear Chukchi-style pullover parkas.
The Dolgan, nomads who both herded and hunted reindeer, wore elaborately beaded, appliqued, and embroidered garments. Men's hooded winter coats were open in the front, fell below the knee, and had gores in the back for fullness. Women's coats were longer and hoodless. Winter coats were trimmed with fur at the hems and distinctive bands of embroidery and beadwork in chevrons, stripes, and other geometric designs. Men and women wore reindeer skin boots, also decorated with beads and embroidery.
Yakut clothing, along with their language, pastoral economy, and other elements of material culture, suggests an ancestral relationship with the tribes of the steppe to the south. Winter coats for both men and women were long, open, caftanlike garments of fur with wide sleeves that narrowed at the cuff. Headgear was a tall pointed fur cap with earpieces. Women's festive fur hats were decorated with cloth and a silver disk. Women wore a wide assortment of silver rings, necklaces, and bracelets. They decorated knee-high boots with embroidery in a heart and scroll pattern. Leg covering consisted of leather shorts with long leather leggings. By the 19th century, Yakut men adopted shorter reindeer skin jackets, pants, and chest pieces like those worn by the Even and Evenk; women retained the long fur coat. Currently, Yakut wear the old styles of fur clothing only for working outdoors.
Chukchi and Siberian Yupik clothing styles were similar to each other and to the Koryak to the south. Men's two-layer, hoodless winter parkas were pullover style and knee length. These parkas were wide, with square bibs that could be tied up to protect the face in cold weather. Openings were edged with dog or wolverine fur. Men wore two layers of ankle-length trousers and short boots. They covered their heads with hoodlike caps of reindeer skin. Chukchi and Yupik women wore one-piece combination suits of reindeer skin that were entered through wide, fur-edged, neck openings. The garment legs reached just below the knee and tucked into knee-high boots. Children also wore combination suits made of reindeer fawn skin, with the fur inside and with flaps that allowed the changing of diaper materials. Boots were made of reindeer leg skins and sealskin, insulated with grass insoles and skin stockings and decorated with reindeer hair embroidery. Some aspects of traditional clothing have been retained in modern times. Both men and women wear the men's style parka, covering it with colorful shells of cotton fabric that are often worn alone as well. Parkas are worn with commercially made trousers, shirts, and dresses and, in the summer, rubber boots.
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