- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
220

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
sit on the beach in groups round the tea-kettles. They
were still mostly women ; the men came tumbling out
of the boats one by one, and went off to the fires and
tea-kettles. They were sober now.
These boats are roofed over with boards covered with
birch-bark, forming a sort of cabin along the greater
part of the boat, and they seem to have a comfortable
sleeping-place for the whole family inside, much the same
as in a tent, but lower. They must be really snug
travelling-boats, and there is plenty of room inside the
little houses. They are perfectly flat-bottomed, these
boats, and have a curious long prow forward, which
stretches far over the beach when they put in. It is, of
course, intended to enable one to land more or less dry
shod along these shelving banks. They also have a
peculiar gangway with steps cut in it, to put out from
this prow on to the beach, so that they can reach far in,
even when the boat takes the ground a good way out.
The impression I had of the first Yenisei-Ostiak I
saw, that they reminded one of gipsies, held good here
also in some measure. I found several faces, both of
men and women, which might well have been gipsy
faces. But, for the most part, lam bound to say they
had a somewhat less European look. It appeared, how
ever, that there might be a strong admixture of Russian
blood in some of them. This might seem most visible
in many of the men, of whom some few had quite brown
hair, and two or three fair, or at any rate brownish beards.
But whether this was due to mixture with Russians,
or was original, cannot be said with certainty. If this
race was a fair one to begin with, then we should rather
suppose that the numerous dark people among them
were due to mixture with other native races, especially,
perhaps, Tunguses and Samoyedes ; but this may be uncer
tain—in any case the dark ones were in a great majority.
220

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