The Yakut (Sakha)
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The Yakut (Sakha)

Polar survivalists

Polar survivalists

Test your endurance against nature’s ceaseless flow. A community of survivors, with their spiritual practices, thrive against the odds.

Feed your soul with the Sakha people. Battered by the frosts of Yakutia, where temperatures can reach down to an astounding -40 °C, but never lacking in warmth.
Snapshot

Snapshot

  • Region is Northern Asia

  • Climate here is Polar

  • The challenge here is Intense

  • This trip has been rated 5 by other travelers

Life

Life

Generations of resilience and strength has enabled the Yakut to adapt to unforgiving climate and allowed their culture to thrive. Their survival skills helped the Yakut become merchants and transporters where others wouldn’t dare, selling luxuries like silver and gold jewelry, alongside their traditional arts and crafts.
Home

Home

The tribe’s traditional yurts became rare by 1900 and were replaced by Russian style housing, often log sheds with raised stoves. While some families still depend on outhouses and outdoor water pumps, many family homes have modern amenities.

Culture

Social Structure

They follow the patrilineal lineage that traces membership back to nine generations.

Religion

By the early nineteenth century, almost all the Sakha had converted to the Russian Orthodox Church. But the community has also maintained a number of shamanic practices.

Traditions

Retreat from the real as you hear Olonkho. This unique take on music features epic poems sung a cappella. Another sight to see is the delicate clothing that combines the tribe’s traditions along with the influence of the northern climate.

Traditional Yakut gastronomy includes kumis, the traditional milk ferment drink.

Language

The Yakut (Sakha) language belongs to the North Siberian of the Siberian Tartaric languages. Most of the population are fluent but also speak Russian.

Art

Silver and gold jewelry were considered talismanic, but today are used for aesthetic reasons in traditional jewellery making.

Ivory and wood carving, graphic art and sculpture are now an important part of the Sakha culture, too.

Celebrations

Sakha celebrations often focus on celebrating nature, with prayers sung to honor the spirits. Traditional dancing, Huokhai, is still performed and symbolizes the circle of life. This dance consists of a large
circle of people holding hands, while singing songs dedicated to the force of nature. They move
rhythmically in the direction of the sun in order to capture its energy. It is believed that anyone who joins the circle is charged with positive energy for the coming year.
Further knowledge

Further knowledge

Although they are mostly known as Yakut, they call themselves Sakha.



Photo credit: River Valley in Yakutia
iStock.com/Pro-ASB63

Photo credit: Yakut horses
iStock.com/Spiridon Sleptsov

Other photos credit: Baikal / Russia