German School
A Male ‘Samoyedic’ Figure in National Costume, wearing a Fur, carrying a Rifle and Bow, wearing Ski Shoes

Inscribed in pen and brown ink Samojedus., graphite, watercolour, pen and black ink and watercolour framing lines.

The condition of the drawing is: very minor traces of surface dirt with some paper creasing and a minor water stain to the upper right. However, the watercolour is fresh and the paper is in otherwise very good condition. Drawing is not laid down, with the upper margins of the drawing hinged with conservation tape to a bespoke hand coloured blue wash conservation mount. Drawing is framed in a gold beaded antique style frame.

312 x 226 mm. (12 1/4 x 8 7/8 in.)

The term Samoyedic is used to describe peoples speaking Samoyedic languages which are part of the Uralic family. The north European tundra is populated by several related peoples speaking Samoyedic languages. These include the Nenets (formerly known as the Samoyeds), the Enets, and the Nganasan. The Samoyedic language group is distantly related to Finnish and Hungarian.

Samoyeds are often given credit for settling the Arctic wilderness, the treeless region of permafrost and sunless winter days. The Nenets are the most numerous of the “Small Peoples of the North.” The word “nenets,” which means “human being” was adopted as the group’s official ethnic name only after the 1917 Revolution. Previously, they were known as “Samoyeds,” a name whose origin no one can explain (most likely, it derives from the Nenets clan name “Samadi”). The word “Samoyed” had taken on a negative connotation in Russian and was thus replaced, although it remained as a linguistic term–like the survival of such words as “Siouan” and “Eskimo” as linguistic terms.

The Tundra Nenets traditionally engaged in Arctic-style hunting and fishing–the techniques for which were borrowed from the land’s previous occupants. They also engaged in reindeer breeding of a type brought north from the steppe region of Central Asia (except that they neither rode nor milked their animals). The Tundra Nenets often acquired their reindeer from their neighbours in the taiga to the southeast, the Forest Nenets, who spoke a very different dialect (only a small minority of Nenets today are Forest Nenets). Reindeer were pastured on moss during the warmer months; when the moss had been used up in one locale, the Nenets moved their tents to a new area.