History of discovery


Ngnasans – the most northern people of the Arctic

Ngnasans – the most northern people of the Arctic

Arctic area of our country occupies thousands of kilometers from the Norwegian border near the Barents Sea to the Ratmanov Island (Big Diomede) in the east in the Bering Strait. 40 different small indigenous groups live in this area. Nganasans are the most northern ethnic group in Russia and the entire Eurasian continent, who live in the Taimyr District of Krasnoyarsk Territory.

According to the myth, the people Nganasans came from five ancestral shamans, who set their houses in the area of the river Avam and initiated five clans as a result of nomadism in the 17th century. The name "Nganasans" was introduced in the 30s of the 20th century, based on the concept of "nansan", which means "man". At the same time the self-given name of these people sounds like "nyaa" and literally translates as "copartner", "companion". This ethnic group is also named as Avam, Vadeyev or Tavgiysky samoyeds. Despite the terrifying name, Nganasans have nothing in common with cannibalism. Samoyeds are the common name of a number of kinship northern ethnic groups speaking Samoyed languages.

For many years the number of Nganasans is around a thousand people. According to the recent data, there are a little more 850 representatives of this genus.Despite the small number, Nganasans cherish their traditions. For example, Nganasan language is an essential part of the folklore and rituals. It is taught for schoolchildren from the first form.

A special place in the Nganasans culture takes folklore, which is divided into two parts: sitabi (heroic poems) and dyurume (the other prosaic genres). Music is also the essential part of Nganasans life. Shamanism brings a significant influence on their culture. The singers imitate the voices of animals and birds during rituals and ceremonies. Performance of shamanic songs takes place with the accompaniment of a tambourine or a stick with a bell. One of the most interesting genres of everyday art is personal songs or “balys”. Melodic, individual melodies with a personal motive are often given as a gift and inherited from parents. The music passes through the large part of Nganasans lives.