Uraankhai is the ancient name of the Sakha people, the native inhabitants of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), a federal region of Russia in the far east of Siberia. It’s the biggest region of the Russian Federation (3 084 000km²). The population of Yakutia, however, is less than one million.
Even though European culture has had a big influence on Sakha people, they try to preserve their traditions and native language.
One of the biggest national holidays is Ysyakh, a summer holiday that honors Sakha gods, “ayii”, and a holiday of nature’s rebirth. It is celebrated in the second half of June when the days are the longest. Ysyakh has political and spiritual significance and teaches the younger generation to love their home and to appreciate their traditions and culture.
Uraankhai usually gather in big family groups to celebrate Ysyakh outside along with other people. It’s the only time of the year where you can see all your relatives who live in different parts of the Republic. Every Sakha person also owns a traditional costume that is worn on this holiday.
This project represents portraits of the Sakha in traditional attire during the celebration of Ysyakh in the Amginskiy region of Yakutia this year. Some of the portraits might make you smile.
Through this project I’d like to show you who my people are. A small nation that is trying to preserve its traditional and cultural values during this era of globalization. This project helps me to understand my own people even better.