Delegation from Sakha Republic visits AMNH
On May 9, 2012, the American Museum of History, Division of Anthropology welcomed a delegation of master craftsmen and native experts from the Sakha Republic in the Russian Federation: Vera Solovyeva, founder of Sakha Diaspora, interpreted for the group of seven - Prokopii Bygynanov (ironsmith), Fedor Chiarin (woodworker), Izabella Eliakova (master clothing maker, old styles), Raisa Markova (poet and singer), Anna Nikiforova (master sewer of ornamental horse cloths cheprak] and hats), Mikhail Mikhailovich Postnikov (folk healer) and Galina Shadrina (prayer singer and folklorist).
The group had come to New York to attend and perform during the annual United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.
At the museum, the group asked especially to see objects made by members of the Orosin family, ancestors of Fedor Chiarin and Anna Nikiforova, who had made some of the magnificent objects collected by Waldemar Jochelson during the American Museum of Natural History’s Jesup North Pacific Expedition (1897-1902). A member of the Orosin family also assisted Jochelson in his collecting activities among the Sakha.
This encounter was particularly poignant for the two descendants of the Orosin family in the delegation. Regarded as prosperous and powerful, after the Soviet Revolution, all of their tents and belongings were gathered together and publicly burned. Objects in the AMNH collection are rare survivors of the Orosin legacy of Sakha handicraft.
Presenting Choron Goblet
The group presented the museum with a hand-carved choron goblet, made, using traditional tools and methods, by Fedor Chiarin’s cousin, Sofron Egorovich Orosin in the traditional Sakha style (a copy of an unknown master artist, 1871). The presentation included a small ritual with drumming, singing, and jaw harp (khomus) music. Before handing the choron to Curator Laurel Kendall, each member of the group rubbed some of their own energy into the wood.
This visit continues a relationship of scholarly exchange that began in 1992 when the Sakha native scholars Zinaida Ivanova-Unarova and the late Vladimir Ivanov-Unarov studied the collections at the American Museum of Natural History and shared images of the collection with local craftspeople in Sakha. The delegation brought with them copies of Zinaida Ivanova-Unarova’s recently published bilingual catalogue of the Jesup Collection, which includes a wealth of new information on the collection at AMNH.
Photographs taken during the visit by Craig Chesek, © AMNH Photo Studio