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18:00 | May 16 | 2012

A little body often harbours a great soul

More than half of the Evens live in Yakutia.

This article is devoted to one of the peoples of the North, namely the Evens. This people which used to be numerous and powerful fell victim to diseases of the civilized world. At present, their number in Russia is not more than 20 thousand. The utmost number of Evens live in Yakutia, according to the census of 2002 there were 12000 people.

Russians, who had come to Kamchatka, called the Evens roaming the Okhotsk coast Lamuts, i.e. “those living by the sea” (The Sea of Okhotsk was called Lamskoye in ancient times), and the shepherds were called orochs, i.e. “reindeer people”. In addition to herding and hunting, coastal Evens pursued fishing and sea mammal hunting. Blacksmithing was the prevailing craft of the Evens. A cylindrical-conical tent served as lodging for Kamchatka Evens, its structure being similar to the Koryak yaranga. A tunnel-like doorway was built out to the tent to keep the heat in the house in the winter time.
Unlike other peoples of Kamchatka the Evens did not practice sledge-dog breeding widely. They bred small herds of deer, which are mainly used as transport. Evens’ deer were big and strong. In an exchange with the Koryaks reindeer were traded in the proportion of one to two. When riding reindeer, the Evens used saddles. As a rule, deer were not slaughtered for meat but rather used as transportation during the hunt for wild deer, fox and bighorn sheep. The Evens also had hunting dogs. The Evens did not fish substantially as it didn’t go well with the nomadic way of life.

An Even fairy tale
Once upon a time there lived a man who built his house out of dried grass, built a little fire in it and went for a walk in the field. Then the wind rose, intensified the fire and burned down the house. The man began to weep over the losses and wail:
Oh, how I regret losing my property,
Oh, how I regret losing my stairs of metal,
Oh, how I regret losing my copper stick,
Oh, how I regret losing gold pendants embroidered by my mother,
Oh, how I regret losing my lynx fur-coat,
Oh, how I regret losing my silver pectoral, which my mother gave me,
Oh, how I regret losing my bow, which my mother gave me.
(Translation by J. Lindenau)
At the lake, he met many people with bows and arrows, who were shooting at a tree trunk, but could not hit it. He told them: “Step by to the side, so I do not afflict you trouble, I want to split the trunk with a single shot.”
For such speech he was mocked and then told to take a bow and arrow and shoot, and they would look what a braggart he was. Thereat he took a bow, drew an arrow and split the trunk with the arrow right away. It happened that there was a beautiful girl in the tree trunk. He immediately took her hand and led her to the place where he used to live, and found a new home, the one he could only dream of. In his joy he married the girl, brought into life many children and became very rich.

When the Evens sworn in, they do it by a canon: they kneel facing the sun, and say that just like the sun has no spots and is shining brightly, so they want to remain loyal to the imperial majesty. After that, they kiss the canon’s barrel.

The Evens (Ewen, outdated - Lamuts) – a Siberian people, akin to Evenki (Tungus).
The Evens is one of the oldest ethnic groups of the world and is one of the ten Tungusic peoples with their own ancient culture and history.
In the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries the Evens were called Lamuts. The Evens and the Evenks both under the name “Tungus” were the main population of the ancient state of Bohai (from the beginning of the seventh century to the year of 926).