Dolgan Graves and Symbolism

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Dolgan Graves and Symbolism

By Yuri Klitsenko

At the end of the nineteenth century, the Dolgan and the Yakut were considered the most faithful Orthodox Christians on the Taimyr Peninsula.

[Ed. Note] Christianity, a love of Jesus Christ and His teachings, is supposed to bring about a soft, loving, and compassionate heart, and turn the believers into peacemaking children of God.  But because of the hardness of heart of the missionaries, even these people who are close to the nature of God's creation, have not made the connection that this love, compassion, and peace is to be extended to animals as well as humans.

The Eastern Dolgan bury the body with the feet to the east in a coffin within a wooden chamber deep in the earth. On the surface, the grave site is marked by a cross at the foot.

Some of the following are appended to the cross: a star, an icon, the head of a reindeer consumed at the funeral feast, a model of a bow, an arrow, oars (if the deceased was a man), scrapers for skin processing (for women), or little birds (for children).


Dolgan woman's grave with models of scrapers for reindeer skin processing.


Dolgan men's grave with models of a bow and spear.


A closer look at a Dolgan man's grave with models of a bow and spear.


Nenet's grave with a bell.


Enet's grave with narty sled turned over.