- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
29

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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VISITS FROM SAMOYEDES
29
But after that they were tåken to the chart-room to
hear the whining and humming of the wireless, while the
operator worked his keys. They stared open-mouthed,
one over the head of another, and their faces showed
unconcealed astonishment and wonder. Whether they
had any idea that all this extraordinary mechanism
could send messages through the air to places far
distant, is rather doubtful ; but at any rate they under
stood that they were here in the presence of a new and
marvellous force.
Their clothes are for the most part nothing but
reindeer skin, which they wear next their bodies, and
if there was a hole anywhere, wc saw their yellowish
brown skin through it. On the upper part of their
bodies they all wear skin tunics (like a Lapp "pesk")
with hoods, men and women alike, and it is not so
easy for a stranger to see the difference between them.
I now think they were six men who came aboard our
ship, but several of the crew swore that two of them
were women ; indeed, the wireless operator afterwards
declared he was certain one was a woman ; he could
tell by her hind quarters, he said.
Through Vostrotin as interpreter I found out that
their boat was built by themselves, of planks they had
brought with them all the way from Obdorsk, on three
sledges fastened together lengthways and drawn by
six reindeer oxen. One can understand from this that
it is not so easy for them to procure boats, and there
are only a few who possess them along this coast.
Without them they can only hunt marine animals on
the ice near land.
It is estimated that Yamal contains about 350
Samoyede men between the ages of fifteen and fifty or
fifty-five, who are liable to pay yasak (tax) to the
Russian Government. According to this, one might

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