Fersman's sketches

The Saami (the Lapps) did not live in the Khibiny on a regular basis, there were no big dwellings and pogosts. The “Capital” of the Lapps on Kola Peninsula is Lovozero. However, some Lappish families had been moving their herds of reindeer through the valleys of the Khibiny and had been fishing fron time to time in the lake Maly Vudyavr. A.E.Fersman noticed in his book “Our Apatite” that not more than 200 people had been living in the area of the Khibiny and Imandra.

A.E.Fersman described in his books several semi-forsaken Lappish lavvus in the Khibiny, two of them were located near the lakes Maly Vudyavr and Bolshoi Vudyavr.

“On the picturesque coast, at the foot of the pendent rocks of Poachvumchorr one may see a miserable Lappish lavvu; a tree with the hanged out fishing nets is not so far, near a small hut there are some signs of bonfires and some simple household articles, inside tapering building is the fireplace, dried meat and a simple bed to sleep. Not a thing to be seen anywhere, the deer trails overgrew with moss, birchbark flaked off the small hut, abandoned by the Saami”.

Day’s rest at Vudyavr, 2nd of September 1921.

“A fine sunny day. We talk with the Lapp Vasily Kobelev who brought venison and fish. Kobelev told about the best passes of the Khibiny tundras and noted that the Ramzay gorge is impassable for deers and that from Imandra the deers are driven to Kunjyavr (Goltsovoe Lake) along northern slopes down the river Kuniok, then to the south across Kukisvum which is very easy to pass in the summer; it is obvious because Kobelev brought a boat on sledge from Imandra on this way.
From Kukisvum the deer are driven to lower reaches of Tulya and Umpyavr or through the pass between Rischorr and Partomchorr (Umbozersky) or through the Loparsky pass.
He teached us the Lappish pronunciation, very hard and long r in words chorr (mountain), long o in word iok (river) and some other information.
He comes every autumn to Vudyavr (probably it is referred to Maly Vudyavr) to fish, he lives in the lavvu ashore, covering it with tarpaulins and nets daily on the average up to 10 chars, 2-2,5 pounds each …”

The Lappish lavvu at Maly Vudyavr lake. Photo: A.E. Fersman, 1921

Birth of a word

“In the cramped dining room of an old house at the mountain station in the Khibiny at Vudyavr was animatedly. At long tables the heroes of the multiannual expeditions to the Khibiny are drinking tea. Among them are the Saami Vasily Kobelev looking at us from under his eyebrows and the young Saami Nikolai …
… Today is name`s day.
First, it is necessary to give names to mountains and valleys of the Khibiny, which haven`t had names yet, and then the most important thing is to give names to new minerals ….
… – The herds of wild deer have grazed here in the early days. Haven`t they, Vasily? It means this mountain should have the name Poachvumchorr; in Lappish – the deer, the valley, the mountain.
Our Lappish experts like the proposed name very much. After that are accepted Votrukay (Gromottukha), the Saamka, the Gorge of Geographers; cheerful laughter isn’t appeased, one suggests to name also Annushka – an old woman of local places …”

Many stories about the Lapps of Kola Peninsula may be found in memoirs and books, and next time you will learn them.

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