Literary map

History of Yamal literature

Beginning: National literature origins (mythology, folklore)

The culture of the indigenous groups of Yamal of this period can be described as mythological-folklore. Until the beginning of the XVIII century, it has been developed without any external influence. Even the decree of Peter I on the Christianization of Russian border districts has not seriously changed the culture of the northern peoples for a variety of reasons (large distances, nomadic lifestyle of Nenets and a large part of the Khanty, the ignorance of the Russian language, and the main reason - a stable attachment of their traditional heathenry beliefs).

The cultural heritage of the indigenous people of Yamal used to pass on by word of mouth. Among the inhabitants of a large camp there was always a young storyteller or a wise old man who masterfully performed legends: Yarabts - lament, Syubnabts - heroic poems, Lakhanako - fairy tales, and sho – individual heroes songs (among the Nenets) . During the narration of these legends, the listeners were taken into the wonderful world of the country of giants - ngyleka , a snow man - ngayadar . The Nenets and Khanty used to express perhaps the most important feature of their perception of the world in their myths - a sacred, reverential and very responsible attitude to nature.

Due to the geographical climatic conditions of the Northern peoples, none of writing monuments have been preserved. Here is what the one of the first scientists who study the life indigenous peoples of the North Susoy E. G writes on this point.: " in the North, in the tundra, there are no mountains, rocks, petrified steep slopes, where the notes – the conversations of the travelers could be created and saved, as in rock painting. Maybe something similar has been done on snow, on the snow banks, on ice... But the sun and spring water used to completely clear it out... Therefore, I am more and more convinced that the paintings-drawings done by Nenets women on clothes and shoes are the unique, peculiar writing - patterned, polyphonic, telling about the past and present of our region."

With the beginning of missionary activity at the beginning of the XVIII century a wide geographical study of the North has begun. Expeditions directed by G. Messerschmidt and P. Pallas made an inestimable contribution to the scientific description of the region and the peoples living there . At the end of XVIII century, in 1787, the first research work about the Yamal peoples and the first Nenets folklore publication – a Nenets tale "Vada khasovo" has been printed in Tobolsk.

The end of XIX – beginning of XX century

In the end of XIX – beginning of XX century, Russian orthodox missionaries have made first attempts to acquaint indigenous peoples with reading and writing and Holy Writ. Efforts to develop national languages and alphabets for the indigenous peoples of the North have been carried out. A translation of certain parts of the Bible in Ostyak and Samoyed languages have been done by P.A. Popov. He also composed the first Ostyak-Samoyed-Russian dictionary.

In 1890s, I.Egorov, the author of the first spelling-book in Nenets and Khanty languages, used to actively work in Obdorsk mission. In 1898, In 1898 the leadership of the mission has been taken by father Irinarkh (secular name - Ivan Semyonovich Shemanovsky), which is rightfully considered as an outstanding enlightener of Obdorsk region. I. S. Shemanovsky has laid the foundation of cultural development in Yamal, his name is associated with the foundation of boarding house for indigenous peoples of the North, missionary school, library, local lore museum and archive in Obdorsk.

In the end of XIX – beginning of XX century, serious studies of the culture of the indigenous peoples of Yamal, mainly in linguistic, folklore and ethnographic areas have also begun. A huge contribution to this research has been made by the Finnish linguist A. Kastren, the Hungarian researcher A. Reguli, the Russian scientist A. A. Dunin-Gorkavich, the Russian topographer, ethnographer-economist V. P. Evladov.

With the arrival of the "red king" (in the 1920s), the development of cultural inclusion of indigenous peoples continues. The Soviet government announces a systematic, sequential stage to eliminate the "backwardness" of small peoples, including the Nenets and Khanty. Stationary health centres, reading rooms, schools, illiteracy liquidation points are created in the places where they live, in fairs, on crossing paths of nomadic deer herders. By 1929, Ob’North had a network of cultural-enlightenment institutions: 15 huts-reading rooms, 6 red corners, 6 loudspeakers, 2 indigene houses. In the 1920s, active work on the development of the Northern peoples alphabet is also carried out. The leading role in this was played by scientists and teachers of Leningrad University: V.G. Bogoraz-tan, I.S. Vdovin and others.

In the tundra, the "red plagues" and illiteracy liquidation points have begun to be created. After the work, all adults who could not read and write, had to come and learn to read and write. At the same time, national schools have begun to be created.

1930s-40s of XX century

1930-1940s are referred to the period of origin and writing formalization of the Yamal national literature. Nenets literature begins with a dramatic stem. Agitation plays in Nenets language by Ivan Fedorovich Nogo: "Tadebya" (1937) and "Vavle Nenyang" are first to come out (1940). Both plays carry a clearly defined ideological concept: the exposure of shamanism and the glorification of the national hero who opposed the czarist regime.

In the 1930s, teachers and students of Salekhard pedagogical college have organized a literary circle, which published a handwritten magazine "Sparks of Yamal". Here was a literary debut of young authors, among whom Ivan Istomin stood out. His first poem "Deer" has been published in the district newspaper "Naryana Ngerm" in 1936.

Educational activities are continued In the institute of peoples of the North, founded in the 30s of XX century, it is led by the noted scholars of culture, language and folklore of the indigenous peoples of Yamal, the creators of the first textbooks and dictionaries of languages of indigenous peoples of Yamal: G. Prokopiev, G. Verbov, V. Chernetsov, the N. Tereshkin – the first Khanty scientist and others. Here almost all the founders of the national literatures of the Far North peoples trained and cultivated their talent, among them the Yamal writers and poets - a Nenets L.V. Laptsui, a Khanty R. P. Rogin and others.


1950s are marked with the professional development of one of the Yamal national literature founders – Ivan Grigorievich Istomin. In 1953, he published his first poetry collection in Nenets called "Our North". Here the author describes the beauty of his native land, the contribution of the Yamal people to the Great Victory, gives guidance to the Yamal people and, of course, glorifies the Soviet Union rulers: V.I. Lenin and I.V.Stalin.

Already in 1955, I. G. Istomin was the first of the Yamal authors to be taken in the Soviet writers union. As the editor of the district newspaper "Naryana Ngerm", Ivan Grigorievich discovers an authentic literary talent of the future poet and writer Leonid Vasilyevich Laptsui and invites him as a string correspondent for a Nenets language newspaper.

50s of the XX century are associated with the name of another person who made a huge contribution to the study of the Nenets people culture. In 1953, the first time, a candidate of historical Sciences, an ethnographer Lyudmila Vasilyevna Khomich comes to the expedition to Yamal. Its purpose was to study the Yamal and Taz dialects of the Nenets peoples. According to the results of this trip, L.V. Khomich published an article "adjective in Nenets language". In the future, during the expeditions, including the Yamal, Lyudmila Vasilyevna will publish many articles and monographs about the culture and life of the Nenets.


In the 1960s, poetry collections in national languages have been published. In 1960, in Nenets language – by Ivan Antonovich Yuganpelika ("I sing"), Leonid Vasilyevich Laptsui ("Man’ Yamalmi, wadyod", "bloom, my Yamal"), and in 1963, in Khanty language – by Roman Prokopevich Rugin ("Lylang ik" – " The water of life").

The works of these poets represent the birth of national Nenets and Khanty literature. " The free soviet Yamal, restored to a new life by a fluke of party and the people, the ordinary Soviet people transforming the tundra, the great Lenin, who brought the free life on the Yamal peninsula and liberated the Nenets, Khanty and Selkup from the eternal darkness" are glorified in the poetry of this period.

In March 1961, the Creative House in Komarovo, which is near Leningrad, held a significant event for young national literature – the first all-Russian conference of writers of the peoples of the North and the Far East. It has been attended by representatives of the indigenous peoples of Yamal - Ivan Grigorievich Istomin, Leonid Vasilievich Laptsui and Prokopiy Ermolaevich Saltykov, who shown himself to be a poet for the first time. Young writers have been reading poems in their native language, exchanging their experience. The result of the conference was the release of the "North sings" collection. There was the main meeting of L.V. Laptsui with a translator Lydia Iosifovna Grudinina; he called used to call her his literary mother.

In 1962, inspired and ready for new creative victories, Yamal poets take part in the first regional meeting of young poets and novelists of the Ob North in Salekhard. The result was a collection of "Northern specklings" and acknowledgment of the creativity of young authors.

In 1963, six professional writers of Tyumen region, including the Nenets poets and prose writers Ivan Istomin and Leonid Laptsui, have organized a professional organization called "Tyumen writers commonwealth."


1970-1980s may be called the decades of "exploratory" analytical reviews and journalism, enthusiastic poems, stories born on the heels of events that were usually published in the newspapers and multi-authored works.

The covered events are related to the era of discovery of oil and gas fields. Tazovskoye field was the first to be discovered in 1962, after it, the world's largest Urengoy field, world size giant Medvezhie field and others have been discovered.

Before the 1970s, there was only one city on the Yamal – Salekhard, and during the 70-80s of the XX century, modern, well-maintained young oil and gas cities - Nadym, Novy Urengoy, Noyabrsk, Muravlenko, Gubkin are being founded. They are inhabited not only by employees of special enterprises, but also by teachers, doctors, specialists of cultural institutions, journalists. Herefrom are the new names in the literary world of Yamal: Bogdan Fedoriv (Gubkinskiy), Mikhail Poryadin (Muravlenko), Vitaly Kotov (Noyabrsk), and others.

A lot of poems dedicated to prospectors of Yamal virgin soil and its sub-soil assets have been writted by Leonid Vasilievich Laptsui. He felt a deep respect for them and, as a true master of the tundra, invites friends to come to live and work under the Northern sky dome. In his works, he admires the labor feat of a working man, here are just some of them: "Geologists", "Round dance of stars", "New legend", "On the string of time" and others.

Later, witnessing the changes in the fragile tundra ecosystem, which occurred after the arrival of geologists and oil and gas field workers, a quill of L.V. Laptsui becomes more sharp – he calls everyone for a careful attitude to the nature and life of indigenous peoples of Yamal. Contemplations on the fatal consequences of technological progress, the barbaric destruction of the tundra has been reflected in the story by Roman Prokopovich Rugina "The hum of distant drillsite".

The creative discovery of this period has been a release of the prose works of Anna Pavlovna Nerkaga. Her early stories "Ilir" and "Aniko from the Nogo people" struck with their truthfulness and sincerity in the description of the Nenets life. The fate of a little Nenets boy separated from parents is presented in an autobiographical poem of Leonid Vasilyevich Laptsui "Edeica".

A novel by Ivan Istomin called "Zhivun", published in 1970, can be considered the first work of the great epic form written by Yamal inhabitant about the Yamal Peninsula. It reflects the utopian idea of the eternal Soviet dream, a happy and equitable structure of society, a possibility of building a paradise on earth. With essays and fairy tales, Yuri Nikolaevich Afanasyev also comes into the literature of this time.

This period is an awareness of the first generation of the national clerisy of its ethnic identity and an attempt to embody the idea of the world social reconstruction. The works of this period of time are idealized and full of utopianism, there is a romantic desire to create a new, better world, a belief in the idea of human alteration and the possibility of building a more equitable society.


A fundamentally new stage in the development of the literature of the Yamal district begins in the 1990s. This period is characterized by a critical attitude to Soviet values and the Russian world in general, which is often seen as alien to the indigenous peoples of the North. This is the beginning of the age of Yamal literature maturity, getting rid of the complex of discipleship.

The decade is opens with the publication of the main novel of the Nenets writer Anna Pavlovna Nerkaga “Whist”, where she introduces the tragedy of her people in a global and even universal context. The story called “Rhythms of the Tundra” written by Y.N. Afanasiev, published in 1994, can be brought closer to “Whist” by the way of comprehension of the reality. Both stories do not contain a description of everyday details, but a search for the deep living bases, an attempt to discover patterns of northern civilization development.

The one of the most original artistic phenomenons of the late 20th century is a work of Nina Yadne called "I come from the tundra", which unassumingly and lovingly introduces the unique nature of the tundra, the culture and life of the Nenets peoples. Nina Yadne seeks and finds those moral and spiritual values that are passed down for generations.

The other important events of this period are the organization of the Union of Yamal writers on April 17, 1997 and the publication of the first publication of the literary and artistic almanac of Yamal writers "Ob rainbow" (1998). The almanac, headed by Y.N. Afanasiev, brings together creative like-minded people, opens a new literary names which re destined to become true professionals.

Reading the pages of the almanac, we can get an impression of what is the Yamal Peninsula literature in end of the XX century, of how diverse the genre and stylistically artistic world of Yamal writers is, such as Vladimir Martynov, N. Danilov, L. Netreba, J. Kucewicz, Y. Mitin, etc.

The theme of living in the North is waiting for a new look. As well as the theme of perplexity, when the Northern romance has ended, and real people – and therefore the heroes of the works - need to comprehend their place and purpose in a new way. For literature, this task is fascinating but difficult.

Around the turn of the millennium Yamal writers ask a Person to stop, to look around and reasess what happened to him, to find out what we can become tomorrow and how the world around us will be.


The beginning of the XXI century is a quite difficult period in the history of Yamal literature. Yamal modern literature is on the border between the ultra-experiment and traditionalism.

Yamal writers turn to the previously forbidden topic of political repressions of the XX century, they comprehend the historical events of the great Patriotic war in a new way and the most important this is the turn to the cultural origins of the two main indigenous peoples of Yamal – Nenets and Khanty.

Readers open little-known pages of the infamous 501-th construction written by Yamal journalist and writer Nikolai Dudnikov in his novel "Komarinyi concentration camp" (2001). Its history is revealed, with the help of the scientific research results, supported by archival materials, by Vadim Gritsenko in the publications called "History of the Yamal North in analytical reviews and documents" and "History of the dead road". The topic of the 501-th construction is also revealed by ethnographer Lyudmila Lipatova.

It seemed impossible to surprise with something new about the Great Patriotic war. Salekhard ethnographer Sergei Shulenin tells the little-known events of military operations in the Kara sea. In 2017, a unique two-volume book "Yamal memorial of the Arctic Chronicles" has been published, telling about the tragedy of the BD-5 convoy, which occurred during the war near the Yamal coast. Zinaida Longortova also refers to the difficult time for the history of Russia. In the story "Hon Ush" (2019), on the example of her family, she demonstrates the feat of the Khanty people, which warmed hundreds of children of different nationalities, their contribution to the Great Victory.

The beginning of the XXI century has been characterized by the acsess of the Yamal writers to the folklore sources of indigenous peoples. Nenets author Nadezhda Salinder publishes folklore works of her peoplehood in the collections called “Luybushka’s stars” (2003), “Legends and myths of the ancient land” (2015). Roman Rugin publishes folklore tales in the collection called "Legends and myths of the Khanty people." Zinaida Longortova collects the folklore of her peoplehood with love; at the beginning of the 21st century, she publishes the collections called “Land of fairy tales” (“Monsyan mouv”, 2008), “At the fish river, on the deer land” (2016), “Imi Khily” (2017) and others.

Yamal literature has passed a long way of its formation and development in a very short time and nowadays it continues to develop. Here are the literary victories of notable contemporary writers and poets: A. Nerkaga, Y. Kukevich, N. Yadne, V. Barylchenko, A. Drobot, V. Bogdanova, L. Efremova, I. Krisanova and others. Also the Yamal people get acquainted with the work of young novice writers: A. Okotetto, S. Nyach, A. Morozova.