June 23, 2013

0694, 0695 RUSSIA (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug) - A Nenet reindeer herder and Nenets' chooms


For those who don't know Russian, these postcards are part of a series called Nadym - Seasons, and shows two images of spring: a Nenet reindeer herder with his herd, and Nenets' chooms at the outskirts of Nadym. Nadym is a town located on the river with the same name, at 100km south of the Arctic Circle, mentioned in Russian chronicles for the first time in 1598. In the second half of the 19th century the settlement was deserted, and was reestablished only in 1968, after that the gas deposit Medvezhye was discovered nearby.

The Nenets are the most numerous branch of the Samoyedic peoples, which forms a linguistic group, not an ethnic or cultural one. There are almost 42.000 Nenets in the Russian Federation (most of them living in two autonomous okrugs: Yamalo-Nenets, and Nenets), and are divided into two distinct groups based on their economy: the Tundra Nenets (living far to the north) and the Khandeyar or Forest Nenets.

They are the guardians of a style of reindeer herding that is the last of its kind. Through a yearly migration of over a 1.000km, these people move gigantic herds of reindeer from summer pastures in the north to winter pastures just south of the Arctic Circle. No-one knows for certain whether it is the reindeer that lead the people or vice versa. What is certain is that fewer places on earth are home to a more challenging environment, with temperatures of -50C. Such a environment unites the people physically through a regimented work ethic, but they are also united by a robust and vibrant culture, which survived to a turbulent history, from early Russian colonisation, to Stalin’s terror regime, and to the modern day dangers of a rapacious oil and gas development programme.

The Nenets still rely on traditional clothing sewn by the women. A Nenets man wears a Malitsa which is a coat made of around 4 reindeer skins, the fur being closest to the skin on the inside and the leather on the outside. The Malitsa has an integrated hood and gloves and is similar to a poncho with no zips or buttons. In extreme cold conditions men wear yet another layer of reindeer fur, known as a Gus, which has leather on the inside and fur on the outside. The women wear a Yagushka which has a double layer of around 8 reindeer skins and which is buttoned at the front. Both men and women wear hip-high reindeer skin boots which consist of an inner (tobaki) and outer boot (kisy) that are worn together and tied up with a belt.

They live in chums, which are tents with a design similar to the Native American tipi, but less vertical, made of reindeer skins laid over a skeleton of long wooden poles. During migrations chums are moved every day. After checking the vegetation on a site, the Brigadier thrusts his reindeer driving stick (called khorei) into the ground exactly where he wants the centre of the chum to be. Sledges and caravans are arranged in half-circles around the chum, with the sledges for supply and women’s belongings more in front of the chum and male belongings more behind it. The Nenets traditional religious beliefs are animistic, and shamanism is still practised in parts of the tundra but only in very small groups.

About the stamps

The stamp on the first postcard and the first three on the second one are part of a series dedicated to Russian Kremlins, issued on October 1st, 2009. A kremlin is a fortified central complex found in historic Russian cities. This word is often used to refer to the most famous one, the Moscow Kremlin, or metonymically to the government that is based there. The series comprising 12 stamps:

• Astrakhan Kremlin (1.00 RUB) - It's on the postcard 1053
• Zaraisk Kremlin (1.50 RUB) - It’s on the postcard 0940
• Kazan' Kremlin (2.00 RUB) - It's on the postcard 0695
• Kolomna Kremlin (2.50 RUB) - It's on the postcard 0695
• Rostov Kremlin (3.00 RUB) - It's on the postcard 2998
• Nizhniy Novgorod Kremlin (4.00 RUB) - It's on the postcard 0060
• Novgorod Kremlin (5.00 RUB) - It’s on the postcard 0940
• Pskov Kremlin (6.00 RUB) - It's on the postcard 0695
• Moscow Kremlin (10 RUB) - It's on the postcard 1319
• Ryazan Kremlin (25 RUB) - It's on the postcard 0694
• Tobolsk Kremlin (50 RUB)
• Tula Kremlin (100 RUB)

The last stamp, depicting Mammoths, the sculptural composition by Andrey Kovalchuk - 2007, is part of the set The contemporary art of Russia, about which I wrote here.

This is a post for Sunday Stamps #126, run by Viridian from Viridian’s Postcard Blog. The theme of this week is Churches, castles, and fortifications. Click on the button to visit Viridian’s blog and all the other participants.

Nadym - Wikipedia
Nenets people - Wikipedia 
Tribe - BBC Home
Tundra Nenets - Arctic Photo

sender: Korolkova Natalya (direct swap)
sent from Nadym (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug / Russia), on 30.01.2013


  1. A very interesting post. We need to learn about other people's lives. I like all the stamps from Russia we have seen today; but the mammoth tops them all for me.

  2. I am great fan of these Russian stamps. Though after seeing so many small sized stamps, it is a shock to be getting the oversized ones now!

  3. So I learnt about the stmaps I posted thanks to your post :)
    Thanks for such an interesting post!
    The postcards are stunning.

  4. Thank you for explaining about this group of people, it was very interesting! And great stamps too - I have seen some of th em. Sorry I am late commenting.

  5. You choose those stamps and I'm glad you did because it's all beautiful!Also,thanks for the info,I learned something new today. :)

    Willa @ Postage Journal:My Sunday Stamp