Working wood, antlers and birch bark is a manís job, but women must know how to do it too. Among the techniques required are: engraving, planing, filing, piercing with a red-hot awl or other pointed metal object. But beforehand the object is roughed out using an axe (suke, sukechan), which is held like an adze, and a knife (koto, kaljaj).Author(s): A. Lavrillier
The axe and the knife, depending on how they are held and handled, can be used to cut wood as well as to plane or pierce. There are other tools as well, such as those pictured in the photo taken by Vasilevich in 19??: various kinds of chisels, saw, bow-operated drill and a plane (photo Vasilevich 1969: 93). Such tools still exist today; some are manufactured industrially like the manual hand drill or brace and bit. The Evenk use a long-handled knife, upkan in Evenk, palma in Russian, to hack their way through the thick forest; this knife was formerly used in place of the axe.
Larch and pine are cut into planks for making many objects: skis, cradles, riding and pack saddles, backpacks for hunting, sleds, certain pieces of furniture such as the 4-legged dining tables, boxes for the kitchenware (chongal) and a variety of containers.
Roots of the larch, known for their solidity, are boiled and used to make the V-shaped fasteners for the packsaddle. These fasteners can also be made of dried antlers from the reindeer or the red deer.
The birch is cut in the spring before the snow melts, but it is worked only after being allowed to dry for several months, in the summer or the fall. It is used in particular to make the rigid parts of the riding sled (sjurdu, ollok) and the carrying sled (syrga): runners (syngak), legs (algan), sides (battyk). The flexible parts and the ties (ilak, aves) between the rigid parts and the semi-circular traction bar (kamurgan) are made from Siberian willow (talnik in Russian).
Flexible woods ñ Pinus Pumila Rgl. (stlannik in Russian, bolgikta in Evenk) and the willow, Salix viminalus L. (?) (talnik in Russian, siekte in Evenk) ñ provide the raw materials for everything used to tie things together, in general. Immediately after being cut they are heated in the fire to make them more flexible and bent into the desired shape. The talnik is used to make the cradle bed, the framework for birch-bark objects, or the pack sacks inmek; the scoops for gathering cranberries in the marshes (gujevun), all manner of containers, ski poles and, in former times, bows and birch-bark canoes.
The antlers of reindeer (preferably wild ones because they are harder), moose and red deer are used after having been dried for a long time. Generally Evenk go into the forest to collect the fallen antlers whose shape interests them. These are used to make the V-shaped framework of the riding and pack saddles, knife handles and other tools, buttons and fastenings, as well as cinch buckles and hooks, and rings or fastenings used for the winter draft harnesses.
The yearís supply of birch bark is harvested at the end of the snowmelt when the sap begins to rise. It is boiled for a long time before use, which makes it both flexible and resistant. It is used in making the pack sacks inmek, all manner of recipients and marsh-cranberry scoops. The recipients are held in shape by a hoop made of Pinus Pumils Rgl, sewn onto the bark. On the ski, where the foot rests, a layer of birch bark is glued to keep the foot in place. The number of layers of bark used depends on the object being made. Decorations are made on the birch bark by engraving or incising designs into the upper layer of bark.
Date created: 2004-03-02 - Date modified: 2004-04-14
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