April 3, 3018
After meeting with Oksana, we went to the Arctic Cultural and Business Center for a cultural presentation. The Nenets are not the only indigenous group in the area. The Komi are a Slavic people who moved to this area a few hundred years ago and started herding reindeer. They have retained a distinctive culture, but apparently there is a lot of intermarriage between the Komi and the Nenets.
They did some traditional dances that involved audience participation (ask Toby about it!) and also showed us some dolls and games. I temporarily misplaced my phone, so I don’t have very many pictures. Below is a Komi dress. Very ornate!
They also gave us these little dolls and some reindeer bones that you can play complicated reindeer racing games with. The bone in the back is the sled.
Later, we went to the House of Crafts and met the Craft Circle. These are some older Nenets and possible Komi women who make really nice craft items. They showed us a traditional fake braid headdress. Here is Kelly modeling it. Our interpreter, Irene, is watching. The headdress is very heavy.
The craft circle taught us to make a Nenets doll. The heads are a goose bill, if the doll is a boy, or a duck bill, if the doll is a girl. Here is my doll. Here is something interesting about the Nenets and in fact, all of Russia. Odd numbers are good luck and even numbers are bad luck. The doll dress must have an odd number of strips of cloth.
Here are Kelly and Toby working, and Yan getting ready to answer his phone.
Here we are with the Craft Circle, holding the finished dolls.