A Disappearing World: The Herders of Kamchatka

Shamans are respected among the Koryaks. They continue to perform many household ceremonies to this day, without which the life of a Koryaks would be difficult to conceive.

Shamans are respected among the Koryaks. They continue to perform many household ceremonies to this day, without which the life of a Koryaks would be difficult to conceive.

Andrey Shapran
Koryaks are often confused with Chukcha: these two peoples live on bordering lands in Eastern Siberia, their cultures are rather strongly intertwined, and they have common historic roots.

Koryaks are often confused with Chukcha: these two peoples live on bordering lands in  Eastern Siberia, their cultures are rather strongly intertwined, and they have common historic roots.

Koryaks are mainly deer herders, hunters, and fishers that live self-sufficiently. They’ve rarely practiced agriculture; nature conditions are unfavourable for it.

Koryaks live in yurts made from large felt mats placed on a latticed wooden frame. Their interior décor is similar to the dwellings of neighboring peoples.

As mountain tundra dwellers, the Koryaks build cone-shaped huts called “yaranga” that resemble the tents (or chums) of the Even people. In the winter, these houses are covered with furs to keep them warm, while in the summer, they are covered with birch and bark.

But families that follow the old way of life are becoming ever fewer. People follow in the tracks of their deer. In the winter, they prefer to live closer to small-populated settlements. During the summer, they leave for mountain grazing lands.

The Koryaks main sustenance is deer milk and meat.

Deer are very sturdy animals. They can pass through places where a horse would break its leg. That’s why deer serve as the main means of transportation.

But it seems that soon these “roaming” tribes will disappear altogether. The last “aborigines” are either dying off or starting to live a sedentary lifestyle…

The Koryaks belief system is tied predominantly to ancestral and tribal hunting cults. Their official religion is shamanizm.

Shamans are respected among the Koryaks. They continue to perform many household ceremonies to this day, without which the life of a Koryaks would be difficult to conceive.

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