Saturday, May 14, 2011
Nomads of South Siberia: the pastoral economies of Tuva: HUNTING TECHNIQUES
By S. I. Vainshtein
"Marals were hunted with the aid of pipes (murgu in eastern Tuva, amyrga in the west), which imitated the call of the male. They were between 60 and 70 cm long and were made in the following way: a piece of cedar wood was carved into a conical shape; it was then cut in half, and the two halves were hewn out, fastened together, and wrapped up in birch bark; the pointed end was inserted into a horn mouthpiece with a hole in it."
"When hunting roe-deer or musk-deer, the Tuvinians used a special sqeaker called ediski, a piece of birch bark about 4.5 by 5 cm, which was folded double. It was used also by the Shors, who called it by the same name; by the Khakass, who called it symyskha or symysky; and by the Kirghiz and the Mongols."
"Hunting in Tuva was done not only on an individual basis, but also by the artel, a type of collective (worker's guild) with ancient traditions. The composition of artels in the nineteenth an early twentieth centuries was not fixed, since they came together usually towards the beginning of the hunting season and dissolved when it ended, re-forming into different groups for the subsequent year's hunting. Membership had nothing to do with kinship ties, rather it was based on roughly equal hunting ability, and this often brought representatives of different aals together. It was usual, of course, for a father and his son or the brothers of one aal to belong to the same artel, but this was not always so. The artel was headed by the most experienced and most senior hunter. All the members of the artel would, as far as possible, take with them equal amounts of food and ammunition, which were pooled and used collectively. The bag was shared out strictly equally, regardless of each man's contribution to the pool; equal shares were given to the young man who had joined his father in the hunt for the first time and to the old, experienced hunter. If anything was left over, it was given to the most successful hunter, which did not necessarily mean the leader."
"In Todja, according to the old men's tales, abattis in the mid-nineteenth century were built by the men of an entire clan. The right to use an abattis usually belonged only to those who had built them."
"The Todjins practised one other form of collective hunting for ungulates, called kedeer. In autumn and early winter the hunters noted from the animals' tracks which path the herd had followed when leaving the mountain taiga for the valley; in spring, with the advent of warmer weather, the animals returned to the mountains by the same route and the hunters ambushed them."
"In spring, usually at the end of March, many of the men formed into groups to go hunting across the frozen snow on skis (ydalaar). In eastern Tuva such groups, including beaters and gunmen, were known as tuspaar. Early in the morning, when the snow-crust was still hard, the gunmen would hide in the valley, while the beaters accompanied by two or three of their best dogs, which were trained to pursue an animal across the hard snow, went up into the mountains on their skis. The animal would head for the valley in the attempt to escape form its pursuers, and there it would run into the ambush. The ydalaar hunting method was used also to catch fur-bearing animals, including the sable."
"The commonest form of hunting in Tuva, especially in Todja, was the chase/hunt (turalaar, or in central Tuva, duralap angnaar, and in western Tuva, segirtip angnaar), in which between four and ten hunters took part, or sometimes as many as twenty. A group of seven, for example, would consist of two beaters, agjylar, and five gunmen, turajylar. The gunmen would climb up to the pass and, speading out in a broken line, they would lie in wait. Meanwhile, the beaters hit the tree-trunks with sticks and filled the forest with loud shouting while moving towards the ambush, either on foot or on horseback. The frightened prey would run through the undergrowth towards the pass, where the gunmen were waiting."
"When elks, roe-deer, saiga antelopes, and other ungulates were caught and killed, their meat was divided equally among all the beaters while the skins and horns went to the gunman who had made the kill."