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By James Forsyth

ISBN-10: 0521403111

ISBN-13: 9780521403115

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In a land where a heavy covering of snow persists for half of the year, skis were an essential means of movement in winter, while canoes - either dug-out or built of birch-bark - were important when the spring thaw transformed much of their territory into a vast network of rivers, lakes and marshes. Those of the Khanty who lived in the Far North, and some of the Mansi living close to the mountains, had adopted from their neighbours, the Nenets Samoyeds, the nomadic reindeer culture, keeping sIDall herds near their homes in the forest, and following them in their summer migration up P.

To a greater or lesser extent. The Siberian Tatar khanate was involved in the inter-tribal wars of the various khans of the Kipchak steppe. About 1400 AD the deposed khan of the Golden Horde Tokhtamysh, fleeing from the emir Edigii, found refuge in Siberia until his death. Twenty years later, one of the Shiban faction, Abu-'l-Khair, gathered much of the northern steppe into his hands to form the Uzbek confederation. He deposed and killed the reigning khan of Sibir after a battle on the Tobol. After Abu-'l-Khair's death in 1468 a rival Shibanid khan, Ibak, seized power in Chimgi-Tura with the help of the Nogai, who wanted to bring about a union between the khanates of Sibir and Kazan.

The prosaic necessity of killing animals for food was combined with an lIbtude of reverence for nature and a particular prohibition on killing one's IOItm animal. For the Khantys and Mansis, as for all Siberian (and North American) native peoples, the brown bear occupied a unique position among 1Dimals. It was considered to be the embodiment of justice on earth and, as 'master of the forest', was held in such awe that various nicknames and c:ircwnlocutions were used to avoid naming it, such as 'the old man with '.

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