After Lake Baikal, Lake Khantayskoye is Russia’s second deepest freshwater lake. Its ancient name, Kutarama, means “Wing Lake” in the Evenk language. Or, according to another version, “Big Water.”
For most of history, this area was inhabited only by the Evenk people. They lived a nomadic life: reindeer herding, hunting, and fishing. But during the first half of the twentieth century, their lifestyle became a bit less nomadic. Several wooden homes started to appear on the western shore of Lake Khantayskoye, laying the foundation, in 1952, for a small, flourishing village also know as Lake Khantayskoye.
To this day, the village (population 226) is the only settlement within hundreds of kilometers.
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This sort of dried fish – usually whitefish, char, and, more rarely, pike – is preserved using a uniquely Evenk method. The fish are cleaned and the head lopped off before an incision is made along the back, leaving the two sides joined only at the tail. Shallow incisions are cut in the meat to make the fish dry more quickly. The fish is then salted and hung on a rope inside a chum, above a smoky fire, or simply outside in the wind.
A labaz is a wooden outbuilding, often on stilts, for storing things or produce. A chum is a traditional conical residence for nomads, which these days is often used for drying fish. A lednik is a pit or cellar that uses the below-ground temperature, often augmented with ice, to store produce.
A light, wooden boat with a two oars. It is generally 3-5 meters long, and can haul from 200-500 kilograms. It is rather unstable, can easily flip, and piloting it successfully requires significant experience. The boats were previously rather widespread among the Dolgan and Evenk peoples, but now are seen only rarely.
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