Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Yakut, including the Dolgan, are the farthest north Turkic people. They live in Yakutia, the Sovereign Sakha Republic of the Russian Federation formed in 1992, but they do not constitute a majority of the population of Yakutia. Traditionally, the Yakut bred horses and cattle and lived in yurts in small winter camps and in large tents in their summer camps. Trade in furs was important. Many Yakut now work in industrial and professional jobs and dominate in the intellectual elite of Yakutia. The Yakut language, closely related to Dolgan, is in the Altaic 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 this eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and the eHRAF document number.

The eHRAF Yakut collection contains seventeen documents based primarily on fieldwork carried out in two periods: the late 1800s and the 1920s and 30s. The most comprehensive accounts of Yakut culture from each of these periods are Sieroszewski (1896, no. 1) and Jochelson (1933, no. 2). The earliest account on the Yakut is based on reports from a late-18th-century geographical expedition (Sauer 1802, no. 6). Topics covered by individual papers include history (Tokarev 1964, no. 53), material culture (Vrangel 1842, no. 24), shamanism and other religious ritual (Priklonski 1888, 1891, nos. 14 & 18; Popov 1933, no. 15; Balzer 1996, no. 56), clan system (Kharuzin 1898, no. 19), reindeer herding and transportation (Popov 1935, no. 54), making of kumiss and associated rites (Jochelson 1906, no. 34), and folk tales (Coxwell 1925, no. 27). There are two works are on the cultural history and family life of the closely related Dolgan people (Popov 1964, 1946, nos. 55 & 57).

For more detailed information on the content of individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

This culture summary is from the article, "Yakut," by Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer, in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 6. 1994. Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond, eds. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall & Co. The synopsis and indexing notes were prepared by Ian Skoggard, December 1996.

Overview by

Ian Skoggard

DZHON--localized kin group--631

ER (YOR)--soul, spirit--774, 775, 776

KALYM--bride price--583


KOUMISS (KUMYS)--fermented milk drink--234, 273

mow hay--314

KUT-SIUR--members of the Yakut intelligentsia who are teachers and popularizers of shamanism--875

NASLEG--settlement, commune, lineage, clan--614, 631

OLONGO (OLONKHO)--legend--173, 538


spirit helpers and doubles--776, 774

ULUS--district, clan--614, 631, 634

YASSAK--tribute--648, 651

Indexing Notes by

Ian Skoggard

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