Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

swim up

couple of sledges, one of which was the bait is still untouched, or as a fish light enough to be drawn by dogs or pulling at it has freed a check put 10 reindeer. It was held advisable, also, the elasticity of the rod, and is thus, to take out a fresh passport, signed in consequence of its own efforts, by the governor of Tobolsk, in lieu of drawn nearer to the surface of the the one delivered at St. Petersburg, water.” The ingenuity of this confor, in places far removed from the trivance would avail little, however, great road across Siberia, people have were not means found of rousing the confused and indistinct notions of the sleepy sturgeon from their winter power which issues from the capital slumbers. They lie in muddy bollows of the empire. The larger sledge was in the bed of the river, quite motionprovided with ovodi or guides--two less, and clustered together for the strong bars placed lengthways on sake of warmth. To awaken them, either side the carriage to prevent an hard balls of clay, heated in the fire, upset. Towards the end of winter, are thrown from time to time into the the snow-ways, which are constantly water, below the line. Driven from travelled upon, have an undulating their resting-place, they surface, like that of a stormy sea, and stream according to their custom, and give the sledge a motion so like that come upon the bait. This mode of of a ship tossed on the waves, that fishing is very productive. Fishing, of travellers unused to it often grow sea one kind or other, is the principal ocsick on the road, and the use of otvodi cupation of the Ostyaks, in the heart is a very necessary precaution.” of whose country, after three or four Russian travelling, delightfully rapid, days' journey, Mr. Erman found himhas many drawbacks. Upon ihe log- seif. The rivers abound with excelroads, (formed of tree-trunks), the Jent fish-eels, especially, being very violent and incessant jolting is said 10 abundant, but not much eaten, although have even worse effects than the ex- their skins are in great request as cessive undulations of the sledge. window.panes. These

are rubbed After a few years it not only brings on with fat, to make them more transa complete paralysis of ihe mental parent, but there are small roundish faculties of the Russian postilions, swellings in the skin which refract and but also occasions spinal diseases, to confound the rays of light. A better such an extent as to have obtained for substitute for glass is a flake of ice, those roads the significant name of used by the Sosnovian Ostyaks, a spine-crushers.

tribe further north. The flakes are On the 22d November, when Mr. about a foot thick, and are propped Erman began his slide north wards, from without by a pole, whose lower traffic had not yet given the road that end bears obliquely against the ground. wavy configuration so uncomfortable The fire, kept burning in the hut, to the bilious traveller. The post thaws the inner surface of the ice, renfrom Tobolsk to Beresov had made dering it smooth as a mirror, A but one journey on the winter-track, whiter and brighter light penetrates and the sledges glided rapidly and through these windows than through smoothly on the almost virgin snow. the fish-skins, which the Sosnovians way. Beyo!id Tugalova, a village use for boots, and even for clothes. 110 miles from Tobolsk, they traveller Strong and air-tight, and well rubbed on the frozen Irtuish, and frequently with fat, they are almost as warm as passed the self-acting machinery used fur, and better against the wet. for the winter fishing. This consists The commencement of a fishing of a strong pole in an inclined position, season or expedition is celebrated by with its lower extremity frozen fast in the Ostyaks with all manner of the ice. “At the upper end of this queer saturnalia. Although nomi. pole was a continuation made of nally Christians, and accustomed to switches, which, bending down, reach- attend church once a year, they are ed to the surface of the ice; at that very heathenish in some of their point was a hole through which was rites and ceremonies, and make a let down the book and line. The strange jumble of their old superstiupper part of the apparatus is seen tions and their new faith. The priests bent down more or less according as do not invariably set them a good

example. “Our Russian informant sign of the cross to such an extent, so complained bitterly of the priest in his slowly, and with such deep bowing of neighbourhood, who came into the vil- the body, as would be required by the lage on holidays so drunk, that the con church only on the most solemn occagregation assembled to no purpose.” sions.” With such pastors, no wonder if the Although much engrossed by fish. sheep cleave to some of their ancient ing, the Ostyaks do not neglect the usages. Those who are departing on chase. Their thick woods abound in an expedition, slaughter a tame animal, the better kinds of fur animals, and and smear their faces with its blood, ac the annual tribute of two sable skins, companying the sacrifice with a carou. payable by each family to the Russian sal." In one village Mr. Erman found government, is not very difficult to the buts remarkably empty, and was obtain. It is seldom found necessary told that the men had just gone a• to pay an equivalent in other skins. fishing, and that their wives were Although quite the beginning of drinking brandy in the kabak or winter, Mr. Erman's host, in an public house. The sale of spirits in Osiyak village, showed him a fine Siberia, as in all the Russian do. sable skin, which he kept in a strong minions is a government mon poly, box, like a treasure, concealed in a and brandy is only to be had in cer. corner of his dwelling. Its value tain houses, to whose keepers the was diminished by a yellowish linge, privilege is farmed. In a small dark ascribed to the animal's having lived room, scarcely ten paces wide, Mr. in a wood where there was too much Erman found ten or twelve Ostyak light. Besides sable and squirrel, the dames clustered round the bottle, and reindeer, the fox, the glutton, and the benevolently drunk. His account of elk, are objects of chase. Mr. Erman their maudlin state is amusingly grave tried to get at the fact of the enmity and sentimental. “A number of short said to exist between the two latter ani. corpulent figures, with black sparkling mals. The reply to his inquiries was eyes, could be just seen, moving and the old story current in Europe—how mingling together, in the

narrow the glutton leaps from a branch on the space. They all talked with anima. elk's neck, and keeps his seat till the tion, and with remarkably delicate death of his steed. No one, however, voices, which now gave expression had seen any thing of the kind : it was only to soft and joyous emotions. matter of tradition, handed down from They embraced, one after the other, their dead fathers. The ermine is the Yamschik, who entered with us; taken in traps. The fox is in great and their soft voices, now almost variety, the most esteemed being the whining, seemed attuned, not so much crossed stone fox, whose colour is to words of old acquaintance, as to the partly a grayish yellow, partly white, endearments of young and growing so distributed that the grayish parts love." The ladies having emptied unite prettily to form a cross, one bar their purses without quenching their of which extends along the back, thirst, the good-natured German who whilst the other stretches obliquely observed that "the pleasure of drink down the middle ribs to the belly. ing had but just risen to its highest The fur of this animal is greatly prizpitch,” opened them a credit with the ed by the Russian clergy, for whoin kabak-keeper. • They look pelisses, covered with natural crosses, especial pains to show themselves de- are made from it. The latitude of the serving of the European treat, by town of Beresov is the headquarters good Christian observance. Devout of the Siberian beaver, hunted not Russians are in the habit of neutraliz. for the fur but for the precious castoing the Satanic operation of spi: reum or beaver stone, to which such rituous liquors by a rapid movement of great medical virites are ascribed. the right hand, intended 10 describe Attempts have been made in Gerthe cross, or by a softly ejaculated many to obtain from the beavers of prayer, or merely by blowing the that country a product which might breath upon the glass. But the good- replace that of Siberia; but all in humoured Ostyaks, novices in Christ- vain. The fine quality is only to be ian prayer as in drinking, made the had in the far north, where, as Mr.

now

our

were

men

Erman fancifully observes, nature The most northern tribe of Ostyaks, scatters animal perfumes in place of who dwell between the rivers Obi and fragrant flowers. The Kosaks and Yenisei, surpass their southern neighRussian traders have exalted the bea- bors in venatorial skill, as they, in ver-stone into a panacea.

their turn, are surpassed by the To the sentence, “God arose, and Samoyedes, who live in the northern

enemies scaitered, the most regions of Siberia. The men of Siberians add, very characteristically, the Yenisei kill wolves, which, on acthe apocryphal interpolation, and count of their long soft hair, are we are free from headache.' To en- reckoned greatly superior to the forest sure this most desirable condition, and steppe wolves of middle Siberia. every one has recourse, at home or on They are also famed for their dextehis iravels, and with the firmest faith, rity in killing and capturing reindeer. to two medicines, and only two, viz., Tying leathern cords beiween the beaver-stone, or beaver-efflux, as it is tops of the antlers of their tame deer, here called, and sal-ammoniac.” From they turn the animals loose, one by the strength of the castoreum, the one, in the neighborhood of a wild Siberians infer that other parts of the herd: these do not fail to attack the animal must possess peculiar virtues. strangers, and their antlers becoming Gouty swellings are said to subside ra- entangled in the cords during the conpidly when rubbed with the fat, and test, they are held fast by the tame the beaver's teeth are popularly believed deer till the arrive. These to cure toothache.

Ostyaks know also how to plant The beaver is the only fur animal spring-bows, which send the arrow in these latitudes that does not change against the animais breast.” But its color in the course of the year, the Samoyedes, besides these ordinary. This is probably owing to the circum- artifices, have other and ingenious stance, that in winter it dwells wholly ways, peculiar to themselves, of en. in the water, thus enjoying a compara- snaring and slaying the brute creation, tively equable temperature. In the by putting themselves as much as river Obi, at Beresov, the water does possible on an equality with the ani, pot ysually freeze below the depth of mals pursued, going on all-fours, and four feet eight inches, and the beaver imitating them in voice and clothing. always has two entrances to his dwell. The Polar bear is a common victim to ing, one high on the bank above the their cunning devices, and even to stream, the other below the freezing their open attacks; for their intimate limit, The architectural and wood- acquaintance with the formidable cutting habits of the animal are the beast makes them regard him as an same here as in America ; but two easy prey. “ The Samoyedes assert assertions, new to Mr. Erman, were that the white bear far exceeds the made respecting it by the Beresoy black bear in ferocity and strength, hunters. He

assured that whilst fully equal to it in cunning; yet, “among beavers, as with bees and owing to his unwieldiness, they enmen, there are distinctions of ranks; counter it without fear, and always each chief keeping a number of la. reckon on victory as certain. A man borers, the toils of which he oversees will often go singly against a Polar and directs without taking part in bear, eight feet long, without any other them ; and, again, it was stated that weapon than his knife, which he fastthe contents of the castoreum bags de- ens to the end of a pole. In spring and pend on the moon.” It was impos. autumn these animals are found upon sible to verify the veracity of these the ice, near the hole whence the seals two statements. As regards the come forth to breathe. There the moon's influence, however, there is bear covers himself up with snow, ground for a suspicion that its advan- facing the hole, and with one paw läges are rather felt by the hunter, stretched into the water.” The Sa than essential to the virtues of the moyede seal.hunters imitate the bears, drug. Full moon is maintained, both and when the seal walks out upon the by Ostyaks and Russians, to be the pro- ice, they shove a board over the hole pilious time.

and capture the phoca. Concerning

was

the bear the Ostyaks entertain pecu- set up a hideous howling, by way of liar notions, viewing it with a sort of claiming their daily meal, consisting superstitious respect. “A member of invariably of fish, which, for them as the court of justice told me that, in well as for their owners' consumption, suits between Russians and Ostyaks, is first dried in the sun and then it is still the custom here (at Beresov) pounded, bones and all. Except this to bring into court the head of a bear, evening concert, a bark or a cry is and that this animal, which is sup- rarely uttered by these dogs, unless at posed to be omniscient, is there ap- first starting when yoked to the sledge, pealed to as a witness by the Ostyaks. or on coming across a reindeer team În swearing they make the gesture of upon the road. Hydrophobia would eating, and call upon the bear to devour be a terrible scourge in this dog.disthem in like manner if they do not tell trict, but the disease is fortunately the truth. Some similar reverence unknown there. Steller has stated for Bruin exists, we believe, amongst the same thing of the dogs of Kamscertain North American tribes.

chatka, and Mr. Erman concludes that The draught-dogs, so faithful and the malady is a result of the European useful to the northern Siberians, often system of living in towns. And as the receive but scurvy treatment at their Siberian dogs are so very moderately masters' hands. The Ostyaks, who fed, he infers that excess, not want, are honesty personified, and who generates the morbid habit. We are laugh at the common European pre. inclined to attribute more importance cautions of locking up valuables and to the quality than to the quantity of bolting doors, cannot endure the pre- the food. A fish diet may be more datory propensities of their canine conducive to a wbolesome state of the allies, and fly into a passion whenever animals” blood than the masses of an unlucky dng sneaks into their horse flesh, paunch, and other rank dwelling in search of warmth or food. and unclean offal commonly given to The poor brute is immediately a mark dogs in Europe, and especially in for the blows and kicks of every body England, where the carnivorous addicpresent, the storm of abuse being tions of the bipeds induce a belief in justified by the cunning and greedi- the propriety of unlimited flesh-feedness of its object, who, if allowed to ing for quadrupeds. abide in the house, would soon reduce The large annual importation of its inmates to short commons. There exiles, the system of conscription, is some excuse for the dogs' voracity, and the advantages offered to public however; for, according to Mr. Erman's officers volunteering for Siberian seraccount, they are considerably more vice, are the most important and than half-starved, and are rarely ad- efficacious measures by which Russia mitted to the fire to be fed, save when proceeds gradually but steadily with they return weary and distressed from the colonization and civilization of a long journey. Severe as is the cold her Asiatic dominions. The conin those regions, protection from it is scripts are sometimes drawn, not not essential to the existence, or even only from Tobolsk, but from the reto the health of these hardy dogs. motest parts of Siberia, and the term They sleep outside the houses, in holes of military service being twenty-eight which they thaw in the snow by their years, it is probable that only a small own warmth. At Obdorsk, where proportion return to their native vil. there are no pastures, and conse- Jages. Those who do are looked up quently no horses, four hundred dogs to as oracles by their countrymen. are kept by sixty inhabitants, and each They are objects of pride to their of them is estimated 10 draw five poods' families and of respect to every body (two hundred pounds) weight in the else; the place of honor is theirs by loaded sledge. About eight o'clock in right, and they are addressed by the the evening these four hundred brutes title of Master Soldier. * The ferry

Gospodin Slujivui. Gospodin is equivalent to the French Monsieur or Siegneur, and Slujivui means literally one who has served in the army.

nearer

of the Intuish, by Tobolsk, whose tent, and began devouring it immepassage is considered the symbol of diately, quite raw, with the heartiest political death to the numerous exiles appetite. The old man was satisfied who each year cross it-bestows a with sucking the brain from the head, step of rank on all public servants whilst each of our younger comrades offering themselves for duty in Sibe- gnawed away at a limb of the animal, ria Proper. The passion for rank, even to the bone. They laughed at stronger in Russia than in any other the amazement which my goodcountry, drives hosts of officers across humored Esthonian attendant - exthis important boundary ; but as they pressed at their blood-stained faces; are not obliged to remain more than and when he gave them to underthree years, most of them return stand, through the interpreter, that home at the end of that time. Far they were no better than wolves, they

to St. Petersburg than the seemed quite unprepared for such Asiatic frontier, civilization is still at reproof ; replying, gravely, that they avery low ebb amongst the aboriginal were at the same time no worse than tribes. Close to Nijni Novgorod, the wolves, since they shared hoand within a very short distance of nestly with them, and left the bones Moscow, the prevailing population and some scraps of flesh merely for consists of Cheremisses and Chu- their sake.” In this same tent there vashes, two tribes, many of whose was a little monster of a boy named customs are nearly as barbarous as Peina, whom one reads of with a sort their names. These people are shy of shudder, and with a strong suspiand timid, very slow in acquiring cion that the creature was not canny, industrious habits, and addicted to Mr. Erman himself seems to write of sundry practices stamping them as him with peculiar reserve, stating semi-savages. In some places they facts, but evidently unwilling to give cling to paganism, and offer up an opinion as to the exact nature of horned beasts, fruit, and vege- the beast. Peina, who had first-rate tables to their various deities. The masticators, got his share of the raw Chuvash ladies wear a sort of bustle meat, which did not prevent his of sheet copper, hanging from the drawing on his mother's lacteal regirdle backwards over the hips, and sources, and thumping her brutally having appended to it all manner of till she honoured the draft, or handed metal ornaments, making a perpetual him the pot-ladle, with which he clatter in walking. But these tribes supped scaling porridge to his great are the pink of refinement by com- internal contentment, The travelparison with those in the northern ler's bread, although frozen hard portion of the Muscovite empire,– and not easy eating for adult jaws, with the Ostyaks, who eat out of the disappeared by wholesale within same trough with their dogs, or with those of Peina. At night the anothe Samoyedes who tear with their malous urchin was laid naked in a teeth, and swallow with infinite relish, canoe-shaped basket, and covered huge lumps of raw and reeking flesh. up so thickly with furs that his cries The women of the latter people wear, seemed to come from the depths of as their favorite decoration (certainly the earth. In the morning his mono inappropriate one) a glutton's tail, ther took him from his bed and hanging down the back of their pe- set him up, still naked, before the fire lisse. Their hair is plaited in tails, to to warm himself. Sugar, when first which all manner of lumber, brass presented to him, he called snow, and and iron rings, and rusty musket- ihrew away, but when once he had locks, are attached. Mr. Erman's ac- tasted the dainty, his demands for it count of “ Life in the Chum(the were unceasing and peremptory. skin tent of the Samoyedes) is quaint Taking into consideration the uncom. and graphic.

fortable and uncleanly peculiarities of " The reindeer calf, which we had the Samoyedes, both young and old, got on the way, was killed and cut up we cannot feel surprised that Mr. in front of the tent a few minutes Erman's interpreter conceived an inafter our arrival. The men tense dislike to their society, and so brought the bleeding flesh into the managed matters that one morning,

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »