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(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - V. Nosónovski Pesok and the Samoyedes

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be inclined to take it for a Slav word. In that case it
means nothing but " self-eater," that is, one who
eats himself or his kind, in other words a cannibal.
It is not unlikely that the Russians may have applied
such a nåme to the savage-looking natives whom they
met with on the north-east ; nor is it impossible that
in time of famine these people may have eaten their
dead, as has happened in so many other parts of the
world. But it is nevertheless extremely doubtful
whether this is the origin of the nåme. Others have
tried to explain it by its resemblance to Suomi, and
held that it was of Finnish origin. In any case it
seems most probable that it is derived from some
misunderstood word or other that was foreign to the
Russians, and that it was then turned into the Russian
Samoyede according to the usual method of popular
The Samoyedes are usually divided into five main
stems. These are (1) the Tavgy or, as we might call
them, Taimyr-Samoyedes, who inhabit the Taimyr
peninsula, eastward from the Yenisei to Khåtanga
Bay. They are reindeer nomads, and live on the
tundra by their reindeer, though they may do some
fishing in the rivers and lakes and hunt wild reindeer
and furred animals besides. (2) The Yenisei-Samo
yedes live along the Yenisei. They also keep reindeer,
but on a smaller scale, and they live to a great extent
by fishing in the river and by hunting. (3) The
Yuraks extend from the Yenisei as far as the
White Sea. They are mainly reindeer nomads, but
do some hunting and fishing besides. (4) The Ostiak-
Samoyedes live in the north of the forest belt, south
of the tundra. Those farthest north keep some
reindeer ; but the more southerly ones are exclusively
fishermen and hunters, and their only domestic animals

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