Khanty


General Information
The Khanty is the people of Western Siberia living in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomus Okrug (11.9 thousand. - 52.8 %), Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (7.2 thousand - 32.2 %) and the Tomsk Region (804 thousand - 3.6 %). (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1. The area of the distribution and economic activities of the Khanty.
According to the 1989 Census, the population is 22.5 thousand. The native names are Khanti, Khande, Kantek. The Khany fall into three ethnic groups (northern, southern and eastern), which differ in the dialects, native names, features of economy and culture, and also endogamy. In their turn, each of them divides into territorial subgroups, distinguished by the names of the rivers in whose basins they live. Before the early 20th century, the Russian called the Khanty Ostyaki. Jointly with the Mansi and Hungarians, the Khanty language comprises the Ugric groups of the Finno-Ugric languages. The Khanty language has three dialect groups: the northern, southern, and eastern. The Khanty vocabulary reflects its close links with the neighbors: the Nenets, Tatars and Komi-Zyran.


Ethnogenesis
Similar to that of the Ob Ugrians, the ethnogenesis of the Khanty is far from being understood. According to one view, their formation is based on the culture of ancient indigenous Uralic tribes, which were engaged in hunting and fishery. Subsequently, they were influenced by the Andronovo livestock-raising tribes with traditions of Scythian-Sarmatian culture. In the course of the merger of these ethnic elements, by the middle of the first millennium B. C., the Ob-Ugric tribes were established. By the end of the first millennium B. C., from the east and south-east, the northwestern Siberia was invaded by Samoyedic tribes. The subsequent stage of ethnic interactions, which resulted in some of the Ob Ugrians assumed some elements of the Samoyedic culture, continued as late as the first ages of the second millennium. Another view claims that the Andronovo culture is to be related to the Iranian ethnos rather than with the Ugric ethnic element, and the Kulai culture is thought to be the most ancient. By the end of the first millennium Â. C., the Kulai distributed to the north and to the west. The first migration flow led to the establishment of the Ust-Polui culture in the Lower Cis-Ob Region, and the second gave rise to the Potchevash culture in the northern Cis-Irtysh Region. Both these cultures are thought to be proto-Khanty. On the whole, archeological evidence indicates the complexity of the proto-Khanty cultures, containing different ethnic elements. Later, during the Middle Ages, they were substantially influenced by the Turkic ethnic component. In addition, some traces of the Tungus and Ket influence are found. Subsequently some of the western Khanty moved over to the East and North. In the North, the Khanty contacted the Nenets and partly were assimilated by the latter. In the southern region some intensive processes of Turkization, and, since the 18th century, Russification were underway. By the 20th century, the Khanty were almost completely assimilated by the Siberian Tatars and Russians.


Ethnic History
The Russian hunters and merchants were familiar with the “Yugra” as early as the 11th century. However, the annexation of this territory to the Russian state began as late as the defeat of the Siberian Khan Kuchum. In this case, some the southern (Irtysh) Khanty were eager to ensure their safety and turned to Ermak on their own to obtain the Moscow patronage. By the advent of the Russians, the Khanty had numerous tribes. Every tribe had a dialect of its own, its own center and its own chiefs. Every tribe had two exogamic phratries: mon’t’ and por. All the phratry members were considered blood relatives. Later, the phratry exogamy was replaced by the clan one. The Russian rules relied on the clan leaders (knyaztsy). Particularly great assistance was rendered to the authorities by the Kod knyaztsy Alachevs, who participated in numerous Russian campaigns. For their service, they were granted an unprecedented benefit – the right to collect yasak (tribute) from two Khanty volosts (districts) in their own favor. When the Alachevs were no longer needed, they were deprived of all the privileges. Striving to strengthen their influence on the Khanty, the government introduced Christianity. But it was exceptionally formal, and almost did not affect traditional religious beliefs. In the course of the 17th - 19th the Khanty lifestyle did not undergo any changes. For tactical reasons, the government did not strive to totally disrupt their social life. During the second half of the 19th century, the Khanty gradually obeyed the state legislation. By the year 1917, their main legal distinction from Russian peasants was exemption from conscription. In the course of the three centuries (17th-19th ) of their being part of the state, the Khanty number rose from 6.3 thousand to 16.2 thousand. The number increase continued as late as the 20th century. The Khanty is one of the few indigenous minorities of Siberia with an autonomy in the form of the autonomous okrug. This autonomy has played a considerable role in the consolidation of the ethnos (by the establishment of the Okrug, the eastern Khanty referred to their northern counterparts as “the other people” ). That process particularly intensified in the 1980s - 1990s due to the Khanty movement to protect their territory from the industrial expansion of various ministries and agencies. The autonomy also has a great role to play in the retaining of the traditional culture and language, which have been preserved in the Okrug to a much greater extent than in the Khanty of the Tomsk Region, where the traditional lifestyle has been lost.


Economy
The traditional occupations of the Khanty are fishery, taiga hunting and reindeer herding. In the southern regions and along the Ob River, the Khanty
Fig. 2. Equipment for under-ice fishing.
have been engaged in livestock husbandry and vegetable growing. Gathering is very important in the life of the people.

In the majority of Khanty, the most reliable means of subsistence was dam fishery. Over 200 techniques of fishery, using various dams is known (Fig. 2). Other fishery techniques were widespread. The Khanty hunted for the reindeer, moose, squirrel, fox, sable and other furbearers, and also for ducks and geese. Active methods were used (chasing the prey with dogs) and passive methods (various traps, shooting sets (Fig. 3). In spring, geese and ducks were captured with pereves, i. e., by nets stretched in a clearing specially cut between water bodies. Flying from one water body to another, the birds got entangled in the nets (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4. Bird net

Reindeer herding is widespread in the bulk
of the Khanty territory. On the tundra and
Fig. 3. Shooting set for the bear, the Khanty.
forest-tundra, the types of harness, the techniques of harnessing, and type of sleds give grounds to attribute the reindeer herding to the Samoyedic type. In the forest zone, reindeer herding is local, used mostly transportation. Free or semi-free grazing is practiced. When natural forage is lacking, the deer are provided supplemental forage.


Material Culture
The majority of Khanty led a semi-sedentary mode of life, migrating from constant winter settlements to seasonal, located on their hunting grounds
Fig. 5. Board pile pile barn, Khanty grounds.
Traditional winter houses are frame pole subterranean and semi-subterranean dwellings
Fig. 6. Female fur coat, Khanty
with entry by way of roof hole. In the 18the - early 19th century, log semi-subterranean houses and primitive ground log houses appeared. The log house was located in a hole, with only 2-3 rows with flattened roof. Reindeer-herding Khanty lived in Samoyedic type tents (chums) covered with reindeer skin (in winter), or birch bark. The chum was also widely used as a seasonal dwelling on hunting grounds. The Khanty built pile board barns (Fig. 5) and log barns with double-pitch or flat roofs and also shed platforms. A special feature of the Khanty settlements were some special poles installed in front of each house to tie up horses and reindeer. Occasionally, they were adorned with dents bearing human, animal, or bird designs. The Khanty reindeer herders use for outerwear a shirt-like (without a slit on the front) garment with a hood, which they derived from the Nenets. In other groups, such clothes (malitsa, gus) were used for traveling. A common outerwear was a fur coat of reindeer fur, squirrel or fox feet (Fig. 6). Serving as winter footwear were the Nenets pimy of kamus (reindeer leg skin) and socks. The male and female garments were decorated..
Fig. 7. Drying bread for the winter. Khanty.
Formerly, the main staple food of the Khanty was fish, meat of wild reindeer and other mammals, including fur-bearing (squirrel, (otter).
Fig. 8. Making a dugout boat, Khanty.
In autumn, the meat of wild reindeer was stored. Regarded as a delicacy was the smoke-cured reindeer fat. The meat was eaten fresh, sun-dried or frozen. From the entrails, the fish oil was extracted to cook cakes or varka (minced fish boiled in fish oil), which was consumed by travelers and hunters. Fish heads and fragments were used to produce meal, or boil batter. Baked bread was known as early as the 17th century, but it became to be widely used fairly recently (Fig. 7). In summer, the Khanty used various types of boats. In tributaries, they used dugout canoes (Fig. 8). In the Ob River, some more sophisticated boats were used with a bottom of the Siberian pine wood, and spruce boards. For long trips, they used birch bark covered ilimka boats with a straight seal mast. In winter, the main means of transportation were skis, and also reindeer and dog sleds. The northern Khnaty used the reindeer-driven sled throughout the year. The Khanty who kept horses, used Russian sleds or some special horse sled.


Spiritual culture
In the spiritual culture of the Khanty, of great importance is the bear cult and associated set of rites.
Fig. 9. The bear festival in a Khanty village
Fig. 10. Traditional burial.
Originally, the bear festival was conducted only by the phratry members: it was thought that the phratry originated from the bear. With time the festival became national (Fig. 9). In addition to the phratry totems, clan totems are also worshipped. Before the beginning of the hunting and fishing season, these totems are offered sacrifices. Shamanism was mostly a family business. The shamans wore no special clothes except a cap. The older Khanty people have retained numerous beliefs and cults (Fig. 10). The Khanty have various myths, epics, folk tales, riddles, historical legends. They tell about the origin of phratries, totem ancestors, inter-clan battles and other historical events. In applied art, of particular interest is
embroidery in beads, metal plaques and applique. (Fig. 11).


Fig. 11. Applied art of the Khanty. Dress collar. Beads. Embroidery
The musical culture has been poorly studied. String instruments were very common: five-string zither (Fig. 12),
Fig. 12. Zither, a string instrument of the Khanty.
9- or 13-string harp, and also a single- or double-string instrument. The strings for all the instruments were produced from moose tendons. During the recent decades the Khanty have developed professional painting and literature. Among popular Khanty authors are A. Tarkhanov. E. Aipin (Fig. 13), R. Rugin, the artists G. Raishev, V. Igoshev and others.
Fig. 13. The Khanty writer Y. Aipin