A fur coat in the arctic region is not just outerwear; it is the whole philosophy of life, and sometimes home, at that, in the truest sense of the word.
If bad weather or darkness finds nomadic reindeer herders in tundra, and there is no way to put a choum (a tent made of reindeer hides, dwelling of nomads; similar to a tepee), in such fur coat it is possible safely to bury oneself in the snow and to spend the night. The national clothes of Nenets people helps to survive in frosts in 60C degrees below zero, which are not rare in the Arctic. This information was given to a journalist of “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” by a hereditary craftswoman from Yamal Yevgeniya Vanuito.
Frosts in 40C degrees below zero are standing now in the settlement of Yar-Sale, where she lives, at night lights of Aurora Borealis are frequent. This beauty, as Yevgeniya Vanuito says, is incredible. Perhaps, that is why clothes of northern craftswomen are similar to works of art.
“We want to add more bright colors, when we sew, because there is snow in the Arctic during eight months of the year, it is white all around, tundra is boundless. And the soul requires something bright, true, in order life would not seem grey and monotonous”, as she notes.
According to her, in each area skilled craftswomen use their own ornament. It was formed over the centuries; it helps unmistakably to define from what place and what family a person is. All these traditions are cherished by northerners, because frosts dictate the fashion in the Arctic. Here it is impossible to go out in mink, and more over, in artificial fur coats. In the Far North, on the coast of the Kara Sea, even heating in homes is turned off only in June. What to say about reindeer herders and their families, who travel around tundra the whole year round. Not a single fashion designer invented clothes for them warmer and more comfortable than their own national clothes. By the way, today 42 thousand representatives of indigenous ethnic minorities of the North live in Yamal, and 17 thousand of them still conduct traditional way of life, moving together with reindeer herds from pasture to pasture.
Mainly for them Yevgeniya Vanuito sews clothes. Once long ago her parents also traveled around tundra. The family had six children, and their mother sewed the whole set of winter clothes with her own hands for each one — a fur coat, a hat, reindeer fur boots, and in addition, clothes for herself and her husband. And this is in spite of the fact that a Nenets woman has many other concerns: to put up a choum, to cook food and others. Men have also enough work to do.
As Yevgeniya Vanuito says, one fur coat decorated with national ornaments takes up to several months. A good fur coat needs not less than eight hides (skins). A white yagushka (a fur coat) is the most valued in Yamal. A stylishly-dressed woman wears it. In the Arctic such fur coat is valued as a fur coat of sable in Central Russia. Winners in local beauty contests are awarded with the white yagushka. It costs not less than 100 thousand rubles. About 20 thousand rubles are paid for embroidered boots made of reindeer fur – they are called “burki”. When a Nenets girl puts on these clothes, she looks beautifully. And it is very warm even in fierce frosts!
Sometimes, a fur coat in the Arctic is necessary even in summer; therefore, women wear old yagushkas in July. And in tundra people usually have several coats for different weather. Ideally, men, for example, should have three malitsas (a malitsa is a fur coat for a man). It is interesting that they are designed so that it is possible to do some minor work under clothes without exposing hands to the cold. The malitsa for a man is also embroidered with ornaments, however, more restrained than for a woman. It turns out: winter clothes in the Arctic are home and reflection of philosophy of Nenets people’s life.
By the way, national traditions of indigenous peoples of the North are not just alive but also carefully passed further from generation to generation. As Yevgeniya Vanuito admits, her daughter, although studying in a college as a clerk, if necessary, will be able to sew excellent yagushkas for herself and her children.