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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2014 year, number 4

ON THE HISTORY OF STUDYING THE SAMOYEDIC PEOPLES OF THE NORTH-WESTERN SIBERIA IN THE XVIII CENTURY

A.Kh. Elert
Institute of History of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IH SB RAS), Russia, 630090, Novosibirsk, Akad. Nikolaev str., 8
Keywords: the Second Kamchatka expedition, G.F. Müller, the Samoyedic Peoples of the North-Western Siberia, ethnography, linguistics

Abstract

The paper analyzes expeditionary materials of a member of the Second Kamchatka expedition (1733-1743) G.F. Müller characterizing the ethnic structure of the Samoyedic peoples of the North-Western Siberia as well as some specific features of their material and spiritual culture. For the first time in historiography the author introduces into scientific use facts from the previously unstudied G.F. Müllers manuscripts written in German language and comprised of the scholars field book, draft materials and rough copies later used in his Description of the Siberian peoples. It is shown that these sources significantly contribute to the dictionaries compiled by G.F.Müller, especially in terms of ethnonymics of the Samoyedic peoples and their dialect clusters. It is proved that G.F.Müller (a century before M.A.Castren) was the first to determine that the Selkup language (Ostyaks of Narym language) belongs to the Samoyedic languages and not to the Finno-Ugric group. The author gives some unique data on ethnonymics of the peoples of Mangazeya uyezd revisiting the problem of autoethnonim of tavgi (Nganasans) and putting a question whether Yurak Samoyeds were a separate ethnos or just a dialect group of the Nenets. Wide array of data collected directly from the indigenous population of Mangazeya uyezd allowed the scientists to define the Yuraks as a separate ethnos speaking its own language. The paper considers G.F. Müllers materials on the ethnography of Samoyedic peoples that are of great importance for researchers. Unlike many previous authors who had compared Samoyeds and Finno-Ugric peoples with wild animals G.F. Müller argued that their anthropological parameters were very close to these of Europeans, that they were notable for kindness of heart, inability to hurt someone deliberately, mercifulness and sentimentality. These and other arguments of G.F. Müller demonstrate that he not merely stood at the origins of ethnographic studies on Samoyedic and Finno-Ugric peoples of the North, but also showed goodwill, impartiality and eagerness to see the best human qualities in the nomads of the tundra.