ncient treasure troves, a completely different system of seasons, a kind of knitting waterproof sock – the Selkup culture has a lot of unusual things in it.
Only very few people of the older generation remember the way to use some of these things.
The readers of this short text will probably find out more about the Selkup culture than the Selkups themselves.







Lyubov Borisova


Elk and Bear

The Selkups traditionally recognized two seasons – warm and cold ones. It was thought that during a warm season the Bear was in control of the Earth whereas
in a cold season the Elk ruled. The word “winter” didn’t exist in the Selkup language. They would say “Getting colder means that the Elk has arrived”. This was largely due to the Selkups being hunters. In the summer they used to hunt bears and in the winter they chased elks.


a needle

The Selkups had their own knitting technique. A ready item was about 1 cm thick and after some time in use the wool on
a sock became matted and it didn’t let water in, so long stockings of that type of knitting were quite convenient for fishermen. Having made
a mistake, one couldn’t unpick
a wrong part.


An important
treasure trove

A trove is not only a chest with gold coins inside. Archeologists call a trove some big findings with ancient household items. Such troves are found in Tomsk Oblast. One of them is Kulaiskiy trove found on the Kulai Hill in Chainskiy district of Tomsk Oblast in 1922. It contained a bronze pot and some small silver items. Later, archeologists found another trove around Narym village consisting of 57 items giving out the household style and religious beliefs of the Selkoups. After this discovery, some researchers claimed that the Selkups are descendants of the Kulais. However, other scientists state the Kulais disappeared for an unknown reason and the relation of the two cultures isn’t proved.

One plait, two plaits...

In the Selkup look there are quite a lot of symbolic things. Maiden’s hair has its own importance. If a girl has just one plait, she isn’t married. While two plaits signal a young woman having a husband. Female Selkups braided special coloured wires into hair to decorate it. Not married ones interlaced a tiny bell, each girl used to have her own. When young people would meet, a lad would always recognize his girlfriend by the sound of a bell. There were games in which a young man had to pick up his girlfriend by the sound of her bell while his eyes were blindfolded.

Ancient tools

During the trip to Ivankino village, one of the Selkups showed us a real museum exhibit – an ancient spinning wheel. That kind of spinning-wheels were made of a birdcherry root using a special technique without nails or glue. “I inherited my spinning wheel from my mother who got it from her mother. It might be some 300 years already”, says a Selkup woman Natal'ya Izhenbina.