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электронный журнал "Новые исследования Тувы"

Photo-expedition "Trans-Sayany": from Tofalaria to Tuva

Photo-expedition "Trans-Sayany": from Tofalaria to TuvaOn 15 June, Photo-expedition "Trans-Sayany", organized by national photo-archive "Feofoto" (Leaders of the expedition: Mikhail Genis, Vadim Shtrik; scientific consultant Anastasia Veshchikova), is arriving to the Alygdzher village( Tofalar municipal unit, Nizhneudinsk district, Irkutsk region).

Alygdzher is the largest of three main settlements of Tofalaria, originating at the confluence of two rivers - Uda and Kara-Buren, in the location of former Cossack border garrison (according to Burinsk Treaty of 1727, the border between China and Russia stretched along the Udinsk mountain ridge).

Air connection with Nizhneudinsk happens no more often than three times a month, and there is no other way to the "great land".  On 18 June the members of the expedition are planning to leave Alygdzher on horseback over the main watershed  mountain chain of Central Sayan mountains to settlement Chazylary (Todzha district, Republic Tyva), located on the shore of  Khamsara river.

The horse-riding stage of the expedition itinerary will follow the ancient nomadic trails of the Tofalar (Karagas)  and Tuvans-Todzhans along rivers Kara-Buren, Khannyg-Kadyo-Os, Changys-Ama, Dedi-Khem, Bediy, and Khamsara. Depending on the level of river water, the precise line of travel may deflect or approach, but this way or another the horseback expedition headed by guide from Verkhnaya Gutara Ilya Antipov will visit reindeer-herding encampment of Svetlana Demkina (President of Association of communities of indigenous Siberian minorities Tuvan-Todzhans "Tos-Chadyr") on the upper reaches of Arga-Olut-Khem. There is a possibility that for a part of the trip from Alygdzher to the reindeer -herding encampment, the photo-expedition "Trans-Sayany"  will be joined by a party of Tofalar reindeer for exchange, led by the head of  Alygdzher, Vladimir Lobchenko. Right now the matter is being evaluated at the level of the administration of Tofalar municipal agency.  Guide of the expedition from Verkhnaya Gutara is also planning to look at reindeer to fill up his small herd.

Ilya Antipov is the first person in the settlement who began to learn everything about reindeer-herding anew. Earlier, exchanges of reindeer between Tofalar and Tuvan-Todzhan herders took place on a regular basis,  to avoid inbreeding and to improve the genetic reserve.  But because of  sudden decrease in the population in the '90's, and increasingly more settled lives of the reindeer-herders, this practice was forgotten. Now the neighbors are trying to bring back the lost nomadic skills and are starting the exchanges again.

From Chazylary, the expedition will travel more than 200 kilometers along the most beautiful Todzhan river -  Khamsara, to its confluence with Bii-Khem.  Members of the expedition are planning to reach the final point of the itinerary - Toora-Khem - on 5 August.

Help in organizing the logistics of  photo-expedition "Trans-Sayany"-2011 was shown by administration of Nizhneudinsk district, by guides and hunters of clan association "Madar" Ilya and Gleb Antipov, (from Verkhnaya Gutara, Nizhneudinsk district, Irkutsk region), reindeer-herders from association "Khamsara-Aldyn-Ivi" (Chazylary, Todzha district, Republic Tyva), and  Hunting and Fishing State Commission of Republic Tyva  in the person of the main specialist of Todzha district Yuri Nikitin (Toora-Khem, Todzha district, Republic Tuva).

The expedition was organized with the technical support of Nikon and with informational support of Russian Geographic Society.

Anastasia Veshchikova, rgo.ru, translated by Heda Jindrak
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