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Habitat, dju
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The customary habitat is the cone-shaped tent. The frame is made of twenty or so larch poles. These are covered with panels of reindeer hide in winter, birch bark or bark from the larch in the in-between seasons. The poles are never transported but are instead left at each campsite so as to be re-utilized. In the depth of winter, the lower part of the tent is covered with a thick layer of snow for better insulation.
Although the conical tent is still used in some regions, in others it has been replaced by the canvas army tent shaped like a house, but the logic of seasonal installations is still the same. In either case, the ideal orientation demands that the door open to the east, but practice takes other imperatives into account: topography, the course of the river, the position of the other tents, the rule that the elder should always be higher up the slope than the younger.
Whether it is a conical or a military tent, it is pitched directly on the ground, even in winter, which makes it necessary to dig through the snow to plant the tent. When camp is pitched for a few nights only, the tent is set directly on top of the snow, but care is taken to place logs under the stove, otherwise the heat would melt the snow. In summer, the tent flaps are raised to create a breeze so as to drive away the mosquitoes, sometimes with the help of a fire in a little pail. For Turov (1990), this is a very ancient technique: in former times little clay smoke pots were lit and hung from the top of the reindeer packsaddles to keep the mosquitoes away.
For purposes of insulation and hygiene, the floor of the tent is covered with a thick layer of freshly cut branches of larch and fir, as among the Evens and some North American Indian groups. It is the job of the women and children to go into the forest and cut these branches. The layer is added to or changed every week. In this way, the ground, which is naturally frozen all year round, is kept in good condition. These plants also have antiseptic properties. (film AL18 laying branches over the ground).
The back of the tent, malu, opposite the door is the place of honor, reserved for guests and figurations of spirits. There is little furniture, what there is includes a large number of rugs, kumalan, made of a patchwork of skins, notably large ones to put under the bedding and small ones to sit on; others are hung on the walls as an additional windbreak. There are also lightly tanned reindeer hides to put under the kumalan and the pack sacks. The bedding (mattress, pillow, cover and sleeping bags) be is folded to the side of the tent in the daytime. The stove stands in the center and no one must circle it: one must always retrace oneĆ­s steps when leaving a tent. The kitchen space is at the foot of the bed of the head of house and his wife. It is comprised of a box and a low chest for storing the kitchenware and a little food. The larder is kept outside, in pack sacks or in raised larders at a short distance from the camp. The organization of the space and movement inside the tent are subjected to numerous prohibitions.
Two forms of temporary habitat allow the hunter to shelter for the night: a lean-to made of logs or a semi-circular tent. These structures enable him to withstand temperatures of -50?, even without a fire. People also used to built small rectangular log-houses ugdan, with a sloping roof covered with larch bark. These houses, considered to be neither too cool nor too hot, were much appreciated in the intermediate seasons.

Author(s): A. Lavrillier
Date created: 2003-09-09 - Date modified: 2004-05-18

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Covering the floor of the tent (0MB)

Evenk camp in summer

The tent's entry

Around the stove

A child's <i>ikenipke</i>

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Brigitte Balmes, 16/04/2004
I thought your website very interesting. I am currently studying the sleeping techniques among the Nigerian Touareg. I was wondering what kind of craddles the Evenk are using? Are they rocking or fix ?
Dr.Oleg Kuznetsov, State University of Chita, Russia, 02/09/2005
Traditionally, Evenk use fix craddles, not rocking. When they move from one site to another they attach cradle to domesticated reindeer saddle.

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