The ethnographic camp Luk-Yaun: As of today, about 45% of Russian oil is produced in Yugra. Yugra takes the 3rd place in socio-economic ranking of Russian regions and is the 2nd-largest in terms of economy volumes (behind Moscow alone). Therefore, it is not surprising that modern folk image of a deer peacefully coexists with an oil rig.
A Khanty man in traditional outfit: The indigenous Khanty and Mansi live on the Yugra territory. More than 19,000 of Khanty and about 12,000 of Mansi (as of 2010) residing at this region. On June 1, the Khanty and Mansi celebrate the coming of summer with their traditional holiday - Day of the Wagtail. During the holiday, traditional outfits are supplemented with headdresses symbolising different birds. The man's hat on the picture represents a raven.
The ethnographic camp Luk-Yaun, Surgut district of the Khanty-Mansiysk region: In these simple huts the Khanty live during permanent campings. During the winter, the temperature often falls below -50C.
Interior of the Khanty house at Luk-Jaun campsite: "Talking" bear heads are common for many Khanty and Mansi families. If you cajole a head properly, it may tell you the future or give a good advice.
The museum of the Nature of Man in Russkinskaya village: A special holiday, bearish merrymaking is dedicated to the bear. Participants wear birchbark masks so that a bear will not recognise them and won't complain to his father, god Torumu. The locals believe that a bear is a cunning and rancorous creature, so you need to talk about it carefully or not mention it at all.
The ethnographic camp Luk-Yaun. A Labaz: These labazes (warehouse stores in Russia and Finland – Ed.) are used by Khanty and Mansi to store food stocks for six months or more. The pillars of the labaz are arranged in such a way that small rodents can't reach the supplies. A simple stairway cut from a log can be easily removed.
The ethnographic camp Luk-Yaun. A deer on a lasso: Reindeer herd, as in early days it still gives a significant part of income and determines the annual rhythm of life for Khanty and Mansi families. Each family owns certain territories on which their deer graze. If oil development begins on these territories families will receive cash payment compensation, new snowmobile and a boat, fuel and lubricants, iron, boards, communication and other assistance when required. In addition, many Khanty and Mansi are constantly engaged in the oil industry.
The ethnographic camp Luk-Yaun. A woman in a wagtail costume with a "box mouth on legs": Khanty woman wearing a wagtail headgear tells how the "jaw" (trap) is arranged: a bait is placed on the ground, a beast (e.g. a hare) draws bait making heavy logs fall on it.
There are many rivers, lakes and marshes in Yugra. Ob and Irtysh rivers merge in the Khanty-Mansiysk area. Needless to say that fishing is one of the favourite activities of local residents and a good bait for tourists.
A Khanty man on an oblas: Oblas is a very light, maneuverable, but unstable boat. It is chiseled from aspen or cedar and smeared with resin. Khanty start learning to keep a balance on oblases in early childhood. Various competitions between master rowers are very popular in the region.
A chum (tent): Khanty and Mansi are still erecting chums when roaming with their deer herds in the warm season. First, they install three poles connected at the top, and then other poles are placed above them (depending on the size of the chum). Previously, chums were traditionally covered with skins or birch bark, but now the locals prefer to use tarp.
A Khanty man Stepan Kechimov observing his camp: Stepan Kechimov's camp belongs to the Ult-Yagun village council of the Surgut district. Here, 45 kilometres away from Kogalym, he lives with his wife Zina, their two-year-old child and cat Marques. He welcomes guests and inquisitive travelers.
Kechimov's wife, Zina Kechimova, is a Khanty: an opposite wall to the entrance is occupied by wide bunks. On the plank beds there are clothes made of deer fur and skins, which Zina makes with her own hands. A reproduction of "The Last Supper" hangs on the wall.
Zina cooking a thick soup from deer meat: The house is heated by an iron stove. The oven gets warm very quickly, but practically does not keep the heat. Therefore, it is heated constantly during the cold season which last for 7-8 months. The same stoves are installed in most houses of the Khanty and Mansi. In summer, smaller stoves are put in chums.
A bear skin killed by Stepan: The bear is main enemy of the deer (since there are no wolves here). At the end of April, the bear killed and buried a pregnant deer in the snow. Stepan got a rifle, came back and shot the bear. The skin is now drying on the wall of his house.
Centre of National Culture in Russinskaya village: you can not only get acquainted with the traditional crafts of the Khanty and Mansi, but also try to make something yourself. Khanty Maya and Faina (pictured) will teach you how to cut a pattern on birchbark, make dolls, etc.
The founder and curator of the Museum of Nature and Man in the village of Russkinskaya Alexander Pavlovich Yadroshnikov: A significant part of exhibits are created by Alexander Pavlovich himself – hundreds of beautifully made models of different animals, despite the fact that he lacks finger phalanges on both hands (frostbitten at 14 years old). Yadroshnikov collected ethnographic part of the collection during his trips to Trom-Agan Khanty settlements.
The "Aquatica" oceanarium in Kogalym: Surprisingly enough, Russia's best oceanarium is located thousands of kilometres away from the sea, in the city of Kogalym.
Khanty-Mansiysk. Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ. Consecrated in 2005: Surgut, Kogalym, Nefteyugansk, Khanty-Mansiysk are not at all like shift camps-"hostels", which popped up everywhere in Soviet times in places of intensive extraction of "natural gifts". Most of the housing and infrastructure here was created in 2000's, when the price of oil was high and oil producers did not have to save on themselves. As a result - modern, cozy, clean and comfortable cities appeared, with excellent roads, shopping centres, stadiums, museums, theatres, water parks and much more.
Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous region, or Yugra, occupies an area equal to France. It stretches across the eastern slopes of Ural mountains to the watershed of Ob and Yenisei rivers. This land full of virgin beauty and richly striped with rivers and lakes is sparsely populated – just a population of 1,6 million inhabit several small towns. Khanty and Mansi - indigenous northerners whose unique tongues belong to Finno-Ugric language group can be met in these places. These peoples are calm, friendly and hospitable. Traditionally, they were breeding deer, hunting, fishing and gathering mushrooms, but now they’re also engaged in rapidly developing ethnotourism. Our photo gallery shows how the aboriginal tribes of Yugra live and what can they offer to curious travellers.