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Pack sacks and nomadization
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The Evenk have several types of pack sacks.

The inmek is constructed of pieces of birch bark sewn together and given shape by an oval ring of Salix viminalus L. (stlanik in Russian, bolgikta in Evenk). The structure is covered with skins taken from the legs of the moose or red deer, chosen for their solidity, or when these cannot be obtained, from skins taken from the legs of wild reindeer. The skins are tanned, sewn together while wet, and then stretched over the structure. When the envelop has dried in place, pieces of reindeer leather with holes for a lace to be passed through are added to make an airtight fit
Making inmek is a manís as well as a womanís work, but tanning and sewing the skins are womanís work. The inmek are used to hold flour, sugar, berries or meat, etc. as well as dishes or valuables. Most are placed directly in the tent without emptying them, the others are lined up around the outside. Some particularly elaborate sacks are used to carry ritual objects, which also demand a sacred reindeer with a special harness.

The chempulje and the ikevje are sacks that do not have a rigid structure; they are shaped like a rectangular pocket with a decorated flap. The lamba is a saddlebag. These three types of bags used to be made of the skin or leather of preferably wild moose or reindeer, but during the Soviet period, canvas replaced the leather. Today, in view of the economic crisis, some nomads are once more making these bags out of reindeer skin. The chempulje and the ikevje are used to transport clothing, bedding, food and kitchenware. Children over four travel sitting on top of the bedding. The lamba carry flour and sugar, as well as game. These sacks are usually left outside the tent.

The muruchun is a rigid sack in the shape of a thick disk, made of birch bark and covered with leather and fur. It is made on the pattern of the inmek. Tied on top of the load, it holds the ritual objects, like those made by the shaman, the medicinal plants and the matches.

These bags and sacks are used to hold and transport belongings all year round, in winter as in summer. In winter they are set on the sled, covered with a skin or a tarp and lashed down. In summer, they are slung two by two over the backs of the reindeer. Ideally each reindeer has its own pack sacks according to its size. The first thing that goes on the pack reindeer is the pack saddle (emegen), then a pad of reindeer hide to keep the animalís sides from being rubbed raw by the sacks; then the sacks are tied together and placed on the packsaddle and everything is firmly attached with a strap (tynyptun) around the animalís belly which is held by a knot that can be easily undone with one hand in case the caravan should get caught between the trees.
Saddling the riding deer is done in reverse order: the first thing to go on is the saddle-pad, then the saddle (nama) which is attached under the animalís belly with a buckled strap (gorgi). It is to the top of these loads that the stoves, bulky recipients and the gun are tied. The nomadic Evenk also have many small sacks and bags (avsa, utakan for holding hunting equipment, tobacco, sewing things, tools for working wood and iron, the salt to be given the corralled reindeer, etc.

Author(s): A. Lavrillier
Date created: 2004-03-02 - Date modified: 2004-04-14

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Nomadic technology : Packs

The herd and packer

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