Gauchos

 

Nomadic and colourful horsemen and cowboys have wandered the prairies as early as the 1700s, when wild Cimarron cattle overpopulated the flatlands. In the 18th century, when leather was in high demand, Gauchos arose to clandestinely hunt the huge herds of horses and cattle.

“A Gaucho without a horse is only half a man”

The word ‘Gaucho’ was used to describe the free spirits, inseparable from their horse and knife. Over time, when extensive portions of prairies were settled and commercial cattle began, there was less room for the Gauchos to roam. As their way of living changed, the legend of the Gaucho grew.

ESTANCIA EL OMBU, SAN ANTONIO DE ARECO

November 2011

The Argentinian Pampas – rolling terrains of grasses, flowers and herbs – are the home of the Gauchos. The nomadic and colourful horsemen and cowboys have wandered the prairies since as early as the 1700s, when  the flatlands were overpopulated by wild Cimarron cattle, originally brought to South America by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza in 1538.

GAUCHOS

November 2011

Gauchos were loners who were hardy and uncompromising, but famed for their kindness to fellow travellers, always sharing their food or what little shelter they had. Sons of gauchos invariably became gauchos too.

The pastimes of the gauchos included gambling, drinking, playing the guitar and singing about their skills in hunting, fighting and love-making. The gaucho, his horse and his facon were inseparable. Knives could open cows and close discussions.

VAGABONDS

November 2011

Some presume that the name gaucho is derived from the Mapuche Cauchu, meaning ‘vagabond’. Others consider the Quechua word Huachu, meaning ‘orphan’, to be a better candidate.

Whatever its roots, the word ‘Gaucho’ came into existence for the first time in the late 1800s to describe a roguish individual that would ride alone, sometimes with a woman, whose only baggage was a facon (knife), Boleadoras (three iron or stone balls on leather cords thrown at the legs of an animal to immobilise it) and a reata (lasso), in order to capture running cattle or game.

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– Jimmy Nelson

LAGO ROCA

November 2011

Duels amongst gauchos were not intended to kill. They just wanted to mark the other, preferably on the face. That mark would make it obvious and forever to all that the bearer of the scar had lost a duel.

If one of the Gauchos unintentionally wounded his opponent fatally, sympathy was felt for the killer who would from then on be considered a man in disgrace in need of protection and help to escape. Little sympathy was felt for Gauchos known to be deliberate killers.

PATAGONIA

November 2011

The Gauchos spent their days caring for their herds and catching wild cattle. Being nomadic, the gauchos would spend little time at home, which was a mud hut covered with cowhides and containing a few horse skulls to sit on.

Gauchos usually did not marry the woman they lived with. She raised their children (with sons following in their father’s footsteps) and took care of housekeeping.

PARQUE NACIONAL LOS GLACIARES

November 2011

The gauchos were self-sufficient free spirits who were wedded to their horse and the open plain. Not only were the gauchos independent and tough, they knew the pampas intimately and were extremely skilled horsemen, which made them ideal cavalry during the wars of independence (1810-1816) and the civil wars that followed.

ASADO

November 2011

When on the range, the gaucho diet consisted almost entirely of beef, supplemented by yerba mate, a herbal tea-like drink rich in caffeine and nutrients. Cows were slaughtered for their hides, leaving the meat for the gauchos, who promptly roasted it on an open fire before it spoiled.
Argentina’s national dishes are derived from simple Gaucho cooking (Asado).

LAGO ROCA

November 2011

Gaucho beliefs consisted mainly of age- old superstitions varnished with Roman Catholicism. Setting themselves apart from society and being free spirited allowed gauchos to do whatever they thought necessary to survive, without being worried about fate, destination, sin, guilt, heaven or hell.

“All in the line of duty. Sometimes to get the best shots one has to end up with a mouth full of dust and hopefully not a horses’ hoof!”

SAN ANTONIO DE ARECO

November 2011

The life of the gaucho got increasingly difficult during the 19th century, as anti-vagrancy and other laws forced the horsemen further inland. Extensive portions of the prairies were settled, leaving less room for the gauchos to roam with their ponies and the wild herds of cattle they lived on. By then, commercial cattle ranching had begun, and the pampas had been fenced into huge estancias. The ranch and landowners (estancieros) needed managers to control cattle breeding and herding, and none were better qualified for the job than the gauchos.

GLACIER PERITO MORENO

November 2011

In the 18th century, when leather was in high demand and hides fetched great prices, gauchos arose to clandestinely hunt the huge herds of horses and cattle that had escaped more than a century earlier.

Gauchos were usually of mixed European and indigenous ancestry, but sometimes were of largely African or part-African descent.

ESTANCIA NOBEPO AIKE, LAGO ROCA

November 2011

The typical gaucho outfit would include a poncho (which doubled as a saddle blanket and sleeping gear), a facon, a rebenque (leather whip)
and loose-fitting trousers called bombachas. Nowadays, working gauchos are as likely to be found in overalls and wellington boots as in their traditional dress, the latter usually worn in desfiles (parades) during festivities and celebrations.

CERRO PIETROBELLI

November 2011

Over time, the early gauchos gave up their solitary existence to work for the estancieros. They settled down, rounded up cattle, mended fences,
branded animals and tended sheep. As their way of living changed, the legend of the gaucho grew.

Tsaatan

Tsaatan (reindeer people) are the last reindeer herders who survived for thousands of years inhabiting the remotest subartic taiga, moving between 5 and 10 times a year. Presently, only 44 families remain, their existence threatened by the dwindling number of their domesticated reindeer.
“If there were no reindeer we would not exist”
The Tsaatan rely on the animal for most, if not all, of their basic needs: milk, which is also used to make cheese; antlers, which they use to make tools; and first and foremost, transport. They do not use the reindeer for meat. This makes the indigenous group  unique among reindeer-herding communities.

“The first few days the Tsaatan weren’t interested in posing for hours on end in the bitter cold for someone they didn’t know.”

HATGAL VILLAGE, LAKE KHOVSGOL NUUR

February 2011

The Tsaatan (reindeer people) of northern Mongolia are a nomadic tribe who depend on reindeer for nearly all aspects of their survival. Inhabiting the remotest subarctic taiga, where winter temperatures can drop to minus 50°C, the Tsaatan are Mongolia’s last surviving reindeer herders. Originally from Siberia, the Tuvan speaking Tsaatan are a Turkic people. For thousands of years, the Tsaatan have survived the harsh conditions of the forested mountains, moving their families, Ortz (tepees), animals and their few worldly possessions between five and ten times a year.

This tribe of ethnic people has developed a unique culture and tradition in which reindeer play a pivotal role.

RENCHINKHUMBE, KHOVSGOL

February 2011

Shamanism, the traditional spiritual belief system based on nature worship, is still practised among the Tsaatan. To influence and extract meaning from their environment, they perform many mystical holy rituals and use many different magic charms in their daily life, for hunting, calling, preventing the rain etc.

BAYAU BULANG

February 2011

The customs and traditions of the Tsaatan people are defined by migration, governed by the needs of their reindeer. The Tsaatan rely on the animal
for most, if not all, of their basic needs: the milk, which is also used to  make cheese; the antlers, which they use to make tools; and first and foremost, transport. Tsaatan ride their reindeer and use them as pack animals.

TSAATAN

February 2011

The Tsaatan’s daily life is perhaps best described as bordering on subsistence living, meaning they survive only by virtue of man’s basic needs: air, water, food, clothing and shelter.

The traditional dwelling of the Tsaatan is the Ortz, a conical tent made of animal skin and wooden poles, which is easy to set up and pack. They certainly cannot be said to lead a sedentary life. Reindeer play an integral role in the day-to-day life of the  Tsaatan. They use their milk as a staple in their diet and creatively use shed antlers for a myriad of different purposes.

KHOVSGOL NUUR

February 2011

Khovsgol nuur is located in the northwest of Mongolia near the border to Russia, at the foot of the eastern Sayan Mountains. The town of Hatgal is at the southern end of the lake. The lake is surrounded by several mountain ranges. The surface of the lake freezes over completely in winter. The ice cover gets strong enough to carry heavy trucks, so that transport routes were installed on its surface as shortcuts to the normal roads.

URTYN DUU

February 2011

Urtyn duu (long song) is a means of chronicling local and family history, and is even considered to be a way of communicating with animals.
In an elaborate ritual of song, the Tsaatan compose pleasing melodies to reward individual animals or ‘tell’ the herd of the needs of the young
reindeer.

The yearly Tsaatan reindeer festival highlights the traditions of the tribe and its nomadic lifestyle. It features folk singing, shamanistic rituals, marching reindeer herds, reindeer riding and reindeer polo.

RENCHINKHUMBE, KHOVSGOL

February 2011

Shamanism, the traditional spiritual belief system based on nature worship, is still practised among the Tsaatan. To influence and extract meaning from their environment, they perform many mystical holy rituals and use many different magic charms in their daily life, for hunting, calling, preventing the rain etc.

TSAATAN

February 2011

The Tsaatan do not use the reindeer for meat, preferring instead to subsist on elk, moose or boars caught in the wilderness. This makes the tribe unique among reindeer-herding communities. Reindeer milk is a favourite beverage and is also used to make yoghurt,  cream, dried curds and cheeses. The milk is preserved in containers dunked into a stream or river: perfect natural refrigeration.

DARKHAD DEPRESSION, KHOVSGOL

February 2011

This fantastically beautiful place with some 200 lakes is the lake district of Mongolia at lower altitude than Lake Khovsgol. The lakes are surrounded by steppes, along with deep taiga forests bordering Siberia – Sayan Mountains – and Tuva.

TSAATAN DAILY LIFE

February 2011

Men leave early in the morning to lead their reindeer and forage for moss in the surrounding high mountains. The women go about their daily chores and milk the reindeer when they return, while the men chop wood for cooking and warmth in the brutally cold weather. The reindeer are highly domesticated. They roam freely and even enter the ortz without being chased out (except when their antlers are too large).

CHUKCHI

 

The ancient Arctic live on the peninsula of the Chukotka. Unlike other native groups of Siberia, they have never been conquered by Russian troops. Their environment and traditional culture endured destruction under Soviet rule, by weapon testing and pollution.
“The way you treat your dog in this life determines your place in heaven”
Due to the harsh climate and difficulty of life in the tundra, hospitality and generosity are highly prized among the Chukchi. They believe that all natural phenomena are considered to have their own spirits. Traditional lifestyle still survives but is increasingly supplemented.

‘When I saw the vastness of the white landscape, my mind was overwhelmed with clarity’

ARCTIC TUNDRA, VANKAREM, CHUKOTKA

February 2012

Ancient legends and archaeological evidence suggest that Chukchi takeover of Chukotka was anything but peaceful.

Unlike other native groups of Siberia, they were fiercely militant and have never been conquered by Russian troops. Under Soviet rule, the Chukchi people endured mass imprisonment and destruction of their traditional culture.

PEOPLE FROM THE SECOND BRIGADE

February 2012

The Chukchi are an ancient Arctic people who chiefly live on the peninsula of Chukotka. They are unusual among the Northern people in having two distinct cultures: The nomadic reindeer herders (Chauchu) who live in the interior of the peninsula,and the village-based marine  mammal hunters (Ankalyn) who live along the coasts of the Arctic Ocean, the Chukchi Sea and the Bering Sea.

VLADILEN KAVRI

February 2012

The staple foods eaten by the inland Chukchi are products of reindeer farming: boiled venison, reindeer brains and bone marrow, and reindeerblood soup.

One traditional dish, rilkeil, is made from semi-digested moss from a  slaughtered reindeer’s stomach mixed with blood, fat, and pieces of boiled
reindeer intestine. Coastal Chukchi cuisine is based on boiled walrus, seal,  whale meat/fat and seaweed. Both groups eat frozen fish and edible leaves and roots.
Traditional Chukchi cuisine is now supplemented with canned vegetables and other foodstuffs purchased in stores.

FOLK ART

February 2012

Sculpture and carving on bone and walrus tusk are the most highly developed forms of folk art among the Chukchi. Common traditional themes are landscapes and scenes from everyday life: hunting parties, reindeer herding and animals native to Chukotka. In traditional Chukchi society, only men engage in these arts. Chukchi women are skilled at sewing and embroidering.

‘It is considered unseemly for a man to perform work usually done by women’

– Jimmy Nelson

REINDEER SECOND BRIGADE

February 2012

Although both sexes share responsibility for running the household, they have different tasks. Chukchi men drive their reindeer in search of  vegetation and travel to the edge of the taiga to hunt sea mammals and gather firewood and fish. The women’s work includes cleaning and repairing the yaranga, cooking food, sewing and repairing clothing and preparing reindeer or walrus hides.

CHUKOTKA

February 2012

The coastal Chukchi, like the neighbouring Eskimo, enjoy tossing each other high into the air on walrusskin blankets. Chukchi of all ages traditionally enjoy singing, dancing, listening to folk tales and reciting tongue twisters.

CHUKCHI TRADITIONS

February 2012

The traditional dress for Chukchi women is a kerker, a knee-length coverall made from reindeer or seal hide and trimmed with fox, wolverine, wolf
or dog fur. On holidays and special occasions, women can be seen wearing robe-like dresses of fawn skins beautifully decorated with beads, embroidery and fur trimmings.

At important traditional events, we see men wearing loose shirts and trousers made of the same material.

VYACHESLAV & OLESYA

February 2012

Pollution, weapons testing, strip mining and overuse of industrial equipment and vehicles have greatly damaged Chukotka’s environment and endangered its ability to support traditional Chukchi activities.

YARANGA SECOND BRIGADE

February 2012

For at least a few hundred years, the coneshaped yaranga has been the traditional home of Chukchi reindeer herders. It takes about 80 reindeer skins to build a yaranga. Nowadays, fewer and fewer Chukchi live in yarangas. The coastal Chukchi traditionally used dogsleds and skin
boats for transportation, while inland Chukchi rode in sledges pulled by reindeer. These traditional methods of transportation still survive, but are increasingly supplemented by air travel, motorboats, and snowmobiles.

SECOND BRIGADE, CHUKOTKA

February 2012

The Chukchi, who call themselves the Lygoravetlat – meaning ‘genuine people’ – presently number slightly over 15,000. Their territory is mostly treeless tundra. The climate is harsh, with winter temperatures sometimes dropping as low as minus 54°C.  The cool summers average around 10°C.

CHUKCHI

February 2012

Traditional Chukchi sports are reindeer and dog-sled races, wrestling, and foot races. Competitions of these types are often performed following the reindeer sacrifices of the inland Chukchi and the sea-spirit sacrifices of the coastal Chukchi.

MYSTERY

February 2012

Chukchi beliefs and practices are best described as a form of shamanism. Animals, plants, heavenly bodies, rivers, forests and other natural phenomena are all considered to have their own spirits. During their rituals, Chukchi shamans fall into trances (sometimes with the aid of
hallucinogenic mushrooms), communicate with the spirits, allow the spirits to speak through them, predict the future, and cast spells of various kinds.

The most important traditional Chukchi holidays were festivals in which sacrifices were made to the spirits that the Chukchi depended upon for their survival.

CHUKCHI TRADITIONS

February 2012

Due to the harsh climate and difficulty of life in the tundra, hospitality and generosity are highly prized among the Chukchi. It is forbidden to refuse anyone, even a stranger, shelter and food.

The community is expected to provide for orphans, widows and the poor. Miserliness is considered the worst character defect a person can have.