Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Samoyed are indigenous peoples living in the tundra belt of Russia extending from the east coast of the White Sea (on the west) to the Taymyr Peninsula (on the east) along the coast of the Zara Sea and the Arctic Ocean. There are five major Samoyed groups, namely the Nenets (Yurak), Enets (Yenisey), Nganasan (Tavgi), Selkup (Ostyak), and Kamas. Each of these sub-groups is associated with particular regions of Samoyed territory. Traditional Samoyed subsistence combined hunting, fishing, and reindeer herding. Each group speaks a distinct language but all of them belonged to the Samoyed Branch of the Uralic language family.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Asia --North Asia



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication and eHRAF document number. In addition to this culture summary, the Samoyed collection (RU04) consists of documents providing a variety of cultural and historical information, circa 1096 to 2011).

The basic sources to consult are Igor Kopytoff (1955, no. 3) and Peter Hajdu (1963, no. 1). The first provides a broad survey of Samoyed culture covering topics from history, geography and demography to aspects of social organization, religion, health care and education. The latter focuses on discussing aspects of Samoyed language, although it also contains short sections on habitat, biological characteristics, material culture, subsistence activities, religious beliefs, folklore and history. The broad information in these books is supplemented by other documents which focus on a particular Samoyed group including the Nganasan (Gracheva 1994, no. 25), the Selkup (Golovnyov 1994, no. 26) and the Samoyed of Novaya Zemlya (Benard1921, no. 24).

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document. See also the Nenets collection in eHRAF World Cultures.

Overview by

Teferi Adem

Balok –house on a sledge use "DWELLINGS (342)" with– Use ANIMAL TRANSPORT ( 492)

Okrug –Russian term for “autonomous administrative region” of an indigenous “nationality”– Use TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY ( 631) with CULTURAL IDENTITY AND PRIDE ( 186)

Kolkoz –Russian term for Soviet collective farms– Use COOPERATIVE ORGANIZATION ( 474) with RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ( 654)

Kulaks –Soviet political label for Samoyed households owning large reindeer herds– Use CLASSES ( 565) with PROPERTY IN MOVABLES ( 422)

Num –Samoyed term for one of their most powerful spirits– Use SPIRITS AND GODS ( 776) with ANIMISM ( 774)

Parka –fur coat in Nenets– Use NORMAL GARB ( 291) with ANIMAL BY PRODUCTS ( 237)

Relations between Samoyed groups –use "INTER– Use COMMUNITY RELATIONS ( 628)

Russian imposed baptism Use MISSIONS ( 797) with INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS ( 648)

Samoyed Phratries Use PHRATRIES ( 615)

Samoyed relations with other non Russian peoples of the region –use "INTER– Use ETHNIC RELATIONS ( 629)

Samoyed –Soviet relations– Use TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY ( 631) with RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ( 654)

Siadai –Sacred figures– Use SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES ( 778)

Sovkhoz –Russian term for Soviet state farm– Use GOVERNMENT ENTERPRISES ( 655)

Varabts –Nenets short personal and lyric songs– Use MUSIC ( 533)

Indexing Notes by

Teferi Adem

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