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Festive dress of an Evenki man
VK435-1,2,3,4
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Castrén clearly considered the Evenki costumes to be more beautiful than others and called them flatteringly the "Siberian nobility". The man's costume with its breast-piece was easily obtained at the junction of the Yenisei and Sym rivers where Castrén spent two days taking part in the fur market. Large glass beads have been one of the emblems of the Evenki since the 17th century. Merchants brought them from China. These Evenki artefacts demonstrate the aesthetic preferances of the period.

History of the Object
This costume was acquired by Matthias Alexander Castrén (1813-1852), the first professor of Finnish language in the Imperial Alexander University of Helsinki. He was interested in the Finnish language and its origins. In 1842 Castrén travelled along the Arctic Coast and across the Kanin Peninsula to Siberia. He crossed the Urals, arriving in the town of Salekhard (former Obdorsk), where he worked for three months. On this journey, he became convinced of the kinship of the Finno-Ugrian and Samoyed languages. The Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg funded Castrén's next expedition in the company of Johan Reinhold Bergstadi (1820-1850). It began in 1845 and lasted four years. Castrén wrote a grammar of the Khanty language. He also studied the Samoyed languages, Nenets, Enets, Nganasan, Selkup and Kamass, and Turkic languages such as Koibal and Karagass, as well the Evenki (Tungus), Ket and Kott languages. Upon the initiative of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and the Russian Geographic Society, Castrén obtained an ethnographic collection of objects for the Peter the Great Museum in St. Petersburg. In 1852, the Ethnographic Museum of the Imperial Alexander University of Helsinki purchased the objects which Castrén apparently obtained as mementoes for himself.

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Type
Costume and Jewelry 
Materials
Reindeer skin; chamois leather; horsehair; glass beads; cowrie shells 
Measurements
 
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Russia; Siberia, Sym river 
Geography
Russia; Siberia 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
Before 1845 
Function
The costume included a fur coat, a breast-piece, boots and a powder pouch. The Evenki (Tungus) living in the region between the Yenisei and Lena rivers were reindeer herders, and the body-shaped fur-coat was very well suited for long sledge trips. 
Acquisition
Acquired by the Ethnographic Museum of the Imperial Alexander University in 1852 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
Text by Ildikó Lehtinen Photos Markku Haverinen 2001, 2006 Aalto, Pentti. Oriental Studies in Finland 1828-1928. Societas Scientiarum Fennica. Helsinki 1971. Castrén, M. A. Nordische Reisen und Forschungen von Dr. M. A. Castrén. Ed. by Franz Anton von Schiefner. St.Petersburg 1853-1862. Lehtinen, Ildikó. Costumes of the Siberian peoples - practicality and luxury. Siberia. Life on the Taiga and Tundra. Ed. by Ildikó Lehtinen. National Board of Antiquities 2002. Lehtinen, Ildikó. A la mémoire de Mathias Alexandre Castrén. Studia Orientalia 97. Helsinki 2003. Shikogoroff, S. M. Social Organization of the Northern Tungus with introduction chapters concerning geographical distribution and history of these groups. Shanghai, China 1929. Vasilevich, G. M. Tungusskiy kaftan.(K istorii ego razvitiya i rasprostraneniya). Sbornik Muzeya antropologii i etnografii XVIII. Moskva-Leningrad 1958. 
Owner
State property, National Board of Antiquities, Finland 
Museum
Museum of Cultures, National Museum of Finland 
Credit line
 

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