BAIKAL - BURYATIA: tourism and recreation

official website of the Republic of Buryatia in the field of tourism development


The Buryats.

Buryads - the title nation of the Republic of Buryatia. According to the widespread version, the ethnonym "Buryat" is associated with the name of the ancestor of all the Mongols of Borte-Chino, which goes back to the wolf as a totemic animal. The Bulagats tribe is considered to be the main core of the Buryat people, the original bearer of the ethnonym "Buryat".

According to another version, the steppe-Mongols named the northern inhabitants of the Baikal region buraad - "forest inhabitants" from the word "buraa" – "forest".Russian documents of the XVII-XVIII centuries nameBuryatsas "fraternal people". The Russian first mention of Buryatsis found in the documents of the SibirskyPrikaz (the Tsar’s authority for Siberia). In the 6th-8th centuries, the Kurykans were numerous and strong people who lived in the Baikal region, leaving a rich "Kurumchin culture". Part of the Kurykan mixed with the aliens from the south - the Mongolian tribes and merged into the future Buryat people.

The main sub-ethnics of Buryats are ekhirits, bulagats, khori, khongodors, and tsongols. The Buryat language belongs to the northern subgroup of the Mongolian group of the Altaic language family. Until 1931, the Buryats used the Old Mongol alphabet based on Uighur letter, Latin graphics for Buryat language was implemented in 1931, and the Cyrillic version of the alphabet was implemented in 1939.

Buryat tribal settlements (uluus) were located along river valleys.The ethnographer A. V. Potanina wrote: "... around the yurt, barns were built, then, when family grows, yurts of sons, grandchildren were built next to the father's yurt ... In the uluus there was one forgefor all, one Russian oven for bread baking, etc. »

An important place in the economy of the Buryats was not only animal breeding (bred large and small cattle, horses, and camels), hunting and fishing, but also a primitive farming - sowing millet, buckwheat, and barley. Artificial irrigation was used to irrigate fields and hayfields. Surplus of cattle served as an object of barter trade with the Evenks and other forest tribes, who were engaged mainly in hunting. Buryats were making stockings, shawls and numdah from sheep wool, sheared in summer.

Buryatstreated the landvery carefullyfrom early childhood. Adults told the children not to scratch the ground with sharp things, tear the grass, causeit can bring pain to Mother Earth. Even the socks of Buryat boots-(gutuly) were bent upward, so as not to stumble on the ground and not offend it. When a child was born in a nomadic family, his circumcised umbilical cord was buried in the ground, this place was called toonto. When a person passes, before burial, the ritual of "praying for the land" is performed. Buryats believed that a man is born from the bosom of the Earth, and returns back to Earth after death. That is why the potter, before digging up the clay, had to ask the Earth for forgiveness that he was invading her womb.

The earth in the perception of Buryats was primarily a steppe. The nomad knew that life in the steppes is not as monotonous as it seems. People find food and shelter, animals and birds here. At all times Baikal has been feeding people. Even in the Neolithic era, fishing along its banks was equal with hunting for life.

Fish bones and scales, pebble-pebbles, hooks from wood and bones, stone fish-baits were found in the ancient Baikal settlements. Fishermen of that era organized collective fishing, used dinghies, pirogas, bone harpoons, horsehair nets, and, later, copper and bronze hooks.

Hunting is the oldest occupation of the Buryats. Hunting was not only a source of food, italso gave clothes, shoes, housing, raw materials for making weapons and various household items. Buryats hunted for sables, otters, foxes, goats, elks.

Hunting weapons of Buryats were: long bows, snares, traps. The hunt was systematically organized, so it became a sacred tradition. Buryats were also masters in the processing of iron – archeological works in early settlements discovered iron objects of everyday life, armor, weapons. Frequent military clashes of that time are testified by finding the graves of human with traces of military wounds. Throughout the Baikal regionone can find ancient "tile graves". Creators of the culture of "tile graves" left behind themselves the monuments of art, such as "reindeer stones", named after the images of deer carved on them.

Perhaps, even in the Stone Age, the sun was represented in the form of a living being, a deer with golden horns, which ran throughout the day the whole sky from east to west. The artists also depicted other motifs with his bronze incisor. One ofthem: a little men, holding hands, and above them a soaring eagle, occupying an honorable place in the mythology of the Buryats.


To the south of the capital of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude, there is a rare beauty of land: high mountains and ridges, age-old pine forests, sandy decay and flood meadows in river valleys. Tarbagatai district is located here. Through Tarbagatai, a beautiful Old Believers (Old Russian Orthodox) village, the Trans-Siberian motorway Moscow-Vladivostok passes. More than 17,000 people of so-called Semeiskie (Russian Old Believers) live in 22 villages and settlements of Buryatia.

Semeiskie is very bright and ancient branch of the Russian people, a particle of Moscow Rus’. Who are they, why they came to Baikal Region and why are they called so strange? In the second half of the 17th century, fundamental changes took place in the history of Russia. One of the most significant events of that period was the Schism. Russian Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich (the Calmest) and Patriarch Nikon decided to bias the peoples who profess Orthodoxy (Slavs, Georgians, Armenians, Greeks) to Russia. Tsar and Nikon decided to reform the Russian Orthodoxy and bring it closer the forms of worship and rituals of the Greek model, which have already been adopted ry other Orthodox centers (in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia etc.). The books have been corrected, the circulation of the syllables has been changed, i.e. walking by the sun-path while performing rituals, the number of bows decreased, the church hymn was greatly altered, because of what it actually deprived the "multi-voice" that shortened the service in the church. The new spelling of the name Jesus was introduced, the entire correction was made in accordance with the rituals of the Greek Church. For many believers it seemed that in fact a new faith was introduced in Russia. All supporters of the old ritualswere claimed as hereticsin 1656, excommunicated and condemned. The reform divided the Russian church into two camps of Orthodoxy: the Official and the Old Believers.

Old Believers is the part of the Russian population that refused the innovations in the religion, continuing to adhere to the old faith, rituals, everyday life. They were repressed; many were forced to free lands on Terek, Don, beyond the Urals, and many abroad, to Poland. In the second half of the 18th century, according to the decree of Catherine II, there was a violent pasture of schismatics from the borders of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. They were waiting for an unknown land, a harsh Siberia, untouched lands. The first Old Believers removed from the Vetka in 1765 were settled not far from Verkhneudinsk in the villages of Tarbagatai, Kuytun, Kunaley, Desyatnikovo, Burnashevo. They settled in families, so they were later called "semeiskie" (Families). They quickly got used to the harsh Siberian nature. Thanks to the exceptional diligence of the family, high-quality settlements have grownsoon. A permanent support in the difficult fate of the Old Believers, forever persecuted by the official church and state, was immaterial culture.

250 years have passed. Old Believers ofTransbaikalia firmly rooted in the Siberian land and found a new home here. Their huts - tall wooden buildings, they are painted inside and outside, washed twice a year. If you approach from the outside, with a little hand you will reach the window. Frames and cornices in many cottages are decorated with carvings and painted. Old Believers from the XVII-XVIII centuries to the present day preserved the old-fashioned cut of clothes unchanged.


Ethnography of the Semeiskie gives an indelible idea of the originality of their culture. We can find it in their way of life, in the culture of the Old Believers, in the strength of the moral foundations, in the majesty of their clothes, in the design of dwellings, in the painting of their utensils and houses. Until now they have preserved the golden fund of Russian folk culture.


Traditional folk culture of Semeiskie represents a unique, original ethno-cultural phenomenon. The value of Semeiskie, as a historical, cultural phenomenon of Russia, cannot be overestimated. They managed to preserve spiritual experience, which in fact was lost by other groups of the Russian people. Relic character is folk-singing traditions, which are a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage, taking their origins in the ancient Russian musical culture and in the depths of the Middle Ages. The highest appreciation is due to the skill and peculiar technique of polyphonic singing, which includes a number of special techniques.


Representing exceptional value for the modern civilization, the original spiritual culture of the Tarbagatay district of the Republic of Buryatia was proclaimed by UNESCO in May 2001 as a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" and included to the first list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).


In order to get reliable information about the life of the people living in the territory of Tarbagatay district, you need to drive through the villages of Tarbagatai, Kunaley, Desyatnikovo, Kuitun, and you will end up in the late 19th century on a typical Old Believers street. Visiting the museum, created at the church in the village of Tarbagatay by the priest Father Sergius, you will see ancient things, icons, household utensils, and touch the distant past of the Semeiskie.


Semeiskie are hospitable people, who like bright cheerful colors. Colored cornices, shutters, platbands please the eye with a cheerful multicolors. This shows the love of the people, their cheerful disposition and prosperity. The Semeiskie cuisine offers a large selection of meat, dairy and bakery products. Having visited Semeiskie farmhouses, having tasted pies, fritters, cabbage soup, porridge, everyone wants to return again.



Evenks from ancient times lived at Baikal and constantly wandered, there is a saying about them: "Evenks are everywhere and nowhere". In the Evenk culture, many elements of the past have been preserved in their original form. According to scientists, the Evenks are direct heirs of the Stone Age culture in Baikal. By the arrival of the Russians, they had three main cultural types, which differed according to occupation: hunters, reindeer breeders and equestrian.

At present, there are 1.7 thousand Evenks in Buryatia. Evenks are recognized as one of the small peoples of the North. The Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North of Buryatiaand national cultural centers operate to keep the native culture of Evenks. At present, Evenks live compactly in Kurumkan, Barguzin, Baunt, Muya and Severobaikalsk districts of Buryatia.

The Evenks have partially preserved the patriarchal-tribal traditions of the past: the custom of donating their production to relatives; the most convenient place in the plague on the opposite side of the door was intended only for guests. Everyone who crossed the threshold of the plague was considered a guest. The guests were treated to the best food, even the last piece of meat should be shared with the guest.

The Evenk Festival celebrates the most solemn holiday with the Evenks, dedicated to the coming of the summer - "the emergence of a new life" or "the renewal of life".

Evenk food is meat of wild animals, fish: boiled meat with broth, roasted meat and fish, crushed meat boiled with water and mixed with blueberries, smoked with cowberry, fat meat soup, sausage with fat, blood sausage, frozen and boiled fish.

One of the important types of food for BarguzinEvenksuntil the late autumn is dairy food. Milk, whether raw or boiled, is served only with tea. The main dairy products are sour cream and butter obtained from it. An important and caloric food is cottage cheese, served on a table with sour cream. Delicacy is a foam (Uruma), which is eaten hot after boiling milk.

Unlike the Buryats and Mongols, the Evenksdo not dry and do not freeze the Uruma. Traditionally, each season of the year is a time for eating meat of a certain type of animal. A different food ration is available for Baunt and Northern Baikal Evenks engaged in hunting and reindeer herding. Meat and fat of wild animals and domesticated deer are their main food. For preservation, half-smoked meat is prepared, cut into small strips, slightly salted and smoked over the fire until a fine crust is formed. After this, the strips are hung on the crossbar on the leeward and sunny side for further drying in the sun. After the meat is removed and placed in birchbark bags or hung in a cool place.

For cooking, it is enough to remove a protective crust from the meat, which is resistant to the effects of microbes and insect larvae. After that, it is cooked as a fresh meat, because this way of preserving preserves the juice. Butter is made from deer milk, which is also used for cooking Moty (milk mixed with berries).

A dish of milk and sarana (wild flower) was considered the best light food in the summer. In order to replenish the fat reserves, in autumn the Evenks went out to hunt for the mountain marmot (tarbagan), and for the bear in the beginning of the winter.


The outer clothing ofSoyots –the reindeer-breeders, - was sewed from the skins of wild animals: the elk skin was used for sewing demi-season clothing. The shoes were made of deer skin - kamus. Reindeer skinnystrips, sewn to the hemline and sleeves of clothing, served as an ornament. Some elements of the Soyot garment are still preserved in hunting clothes.

Evenks and Soyots of Buryatia became laureates of the 6th International Fair of Indigenous Peoples of Russia "Treasures of the North-2011". Healing herbs, insoles and socks of sheep wool from the Mountain Oka are very popular.

The children's choreographic ensemble "UulynSuuryan" became a laureate of "the Best national dance" nomination. The Soyot cuisine was estimated as the best ethnic cuisine, the Soyots were awarded a special prize "For fidelity to the traditions of their ancestors".

Soyots are an indigenous small people, one of the small peoples of the North, compactly residing in the Okinsky region in the west of Buryatia. About one thousand Soyots live on the territory of the Oka. The nations closest toSoyots are Tuvans, Tofalars and Tsaatans (Mongolia).

Traditional types of Soyotshousehold are reindeer breeding, yak breeding. Since ancient times, deer served as a source of food, clothes, use of deer as transport allowed to master large territories. Even nowadays reindeer herding requires nomadic way of life: in the winter reindeer herders live in river valleys, in the autumn they herd in the taiga, in summer they climb to the loaches.

The most ancient activity of Soyots of the Okinsky district was hunting, this was facilitated by the abundance of wild animals. The hunting kit included: powder flask, gunpowder measure, a bag for bullets, as well as a large knife for carcass cutting, a small knife for skinning. In ancient times, fishing was a rare phenomenon amongOkinskyBuryats, and it started at the end of the XIX century, with the appearance of Russian servicemen, from which local people adopted methods and means of fishing.

Hunters and reindeer breeders lived in wooden plague "Ursa, uurs", which resembled the dwellings of the northern reindeer herders-the Yakuts, the Chukchi, the Nenets, and so on. The height of the plague is 2.5-3 m. In winter, the poles were covered with skins. Under the top of the plague, a hearth with a trivet for boilers and kettles was installed. Soyots lived in a dense fir or cedar forest because it was warmer and less snowy. The way out of the plague was directed to the east, in order to meet the sunrise earlier.

In the plague, there was a division into the left - the male and the right – female parts. The seats opposite the entrance were considered honorable, the host and guests were sat here. Dishes, food, and a low table for eating were on the female half. Reindeer harness, weapons, personal belongings of the man were on his half. The door was a part of the lower tire or burlap sutured to its edge. In the plague there was no furniture, all the property was transported and stored in packs of sacks.

The main food of the Soyots is deer meat and wildfowl. Meat of deer is mainly boiled, fat meat of autumn slaughter is very precious. A special treat is boiled or fried deer tongue, deer lips. All deer's entrails are used for food, they all have Buryat names. Deer meat is also consumed in dried form.


The Russian population of Buryatia appears in the middle of the 17th century, the time of arrival of the first Cossack detachments and free people. They brought new forms of economy and life to the region and adapted them to local natural and climatic conditions. From XVII to XX centuries, Cossacks were the main military force; they served in Ostrogs (burgs) and along the border lines of Transbaikalia. The increase of Cossacks number caused the growth of the agricultural population. Until the end of the XVII century, on the territory of Buryatia, the following burgs were built: Verkhneangarsky (1647), Barguzinsky (1648), Bauntovsky (1652), Irgensky (1653), Telembinsky (1658), Kuchidsky (1662), Selenginskiy (1665), Udinsky (1665), Eravninsky (1675 ), Il’yinsky (1675), Kabansky (1675), Itantsinsky (1679), where the Russian population was concentrated.

In the XVIII century, the number of Russian peasants in the Transbaikalia increased, they settled along the more advantageous places for agriculture and industry: along large rivers and their affluents. Cossack villages of Kiranskaya and Kudarinskaya, whose inhabitants were engaged in farming, are known since the first quarter of the XVIII century. Russian border-watch villagesgrew in the valley of the Dzhidariver, among the nomadic Buryats and Evenks. A long chain of such settlements stretched from Kyakhta to the west towards Tunka, which later turned into large agricultural villages: Tsagan-Usun, Botsiy, Zheltura, Khuldat, Kharatsai, Tsezhey, Hamney, Tsakir, Modonkul’, Sharazarga, Klyuchovka. In the 1760s, the first settlers-Old Believers from the Starodub and Vetkovsky settlements of the Mogilev and Chernigov districts ofthe Kingdom of Poland (the Russian Empire), appeared on the territory of Buryatia. They were called "Poles", "Polish evicts" while first years of living in Buryatia. Subsequently, they became known as "Semeiskie". The Old Believers settled on habitable, convenient for farming land - alongside river valleys of Selenga and its affluents - Uda, Khilok, Chikoy, at the places where other Russians, who called themselves Siberian old-timers, lived.

Semeiskie of Buryatia is a bright and original branch of Russian people. On May 18, 2001, by the decision of UNESCO, the culture of TransbaikaliaSemeiskie was recognized as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage. New elements appeared in Russian culture, when interacting with the culture and traditions of the local population - the Buryats and Evenks, under the influence of special natural conditions. The Russian population of Buryatia began to prevail in the XIX century. The share of the Russian population in the republic increased from 61% in 1926 to 74.6% in 1959, but decreased to 69.9% by 1989. According to the 2002 census, Russians accounted for 68%, there is 665.4 thousand Russians in Buryatia nowadays.