Averina, Arina

Arina Averina

Arina Averina responds to the question: Does some knowledge belong only to particular communities of knowers?

Object One: Sakha Traditional Headset called “Bastynga”


Sakha Traditional Headset called “Bastynga”, sold in a storeIn Sakha culture, this headset,“Bastynga”, is an accessory that is a part of the traditional women’s outfit, made from either leather or metal. In their community, it represents the social status of women, showing that a woman is engaged/married. The Sakha community believes that this headset has a magical-protective nature. This jewellery accessory is encouraged to be worn by women during traditional holidays, rituals and depending on Sakha family’s beliefs –sometimes daily.This object is interesting because there is much knowledge and history behind it that came from the Sakha community, making people question whether knowledge about this object only belongs to Sakha community as they created it. For example, this headset is believed to divinely protect the person wearing it. It is used in the traditional Sakharituals so the
wearer can be protected from the evil energies or entities that Sakhacommunity believes in. People outside of this community may be sceptical about their beliefs which is why this particular knowledge can only be attributed to this group of people, because it originated from them. Furthermore, many people use this cultural accessory for theatrical purposes. The majority of those people don’tknow the history of this object. Sakha people also use the headset on stage during their traditional performances, however, this use of the accessory is different to the use of it by other communities. Sakha people have the background knowledge about it, know how to use it and how torespect it. Other people outside their community don’t have that kind of knowledge, as they were not raised with it. This means that that full knowledge about that headset is only available to Sakha community. The knowledge about the “Bastynga” headset is limited and cannot be fully accessed by people outside of Sakha community, therefore, the full knowledge about it only belongs to the Sakha community.
Object Two: A traditional Sámi Drum with an illustration of the spirit of the Artic Fox, from Northern Lights Folklore


In Sámi community, this traditional Sámi drum is used as a ceremonial instrument in their traditional rituals. The drum is customised for the owner and each owner’s drum usually has different symbols, decorations and drawings on them, significant to each owner and the whole community.This particular drum has a drawing of the artic fox and the landscape behind it which symbolises the Norse myths about the Artic Fox, Northern lights and the Sun. This object contributes to this exhibition by demonstrating the importance of individualism in the Sámi community and how their differences bring the whole community together during rituals with Sámi drums. These drums are important to the Sámi people as there is a lot of ancestral history behind the drums and they are used to show their unique stories and personalities to their community. People outside this community may not understand the Sámi rituals as a way of sharing stories and personal information. The majority of cultural groups talk with each other to communicate their stories and personalities. However, there are many ways of communicating and the Sámi community has been historically using different forms of communication.This illustrates that the way knowledge can be shared by individuals within the community is not limited to talking. This object enriches this exhibition because many people misuse the Sámi drums for entrainment, without acknowledging how important they are to a variety of indigenous groups. Many have their own use for these drums, because they think that all drums are meant for entertainment purposes. This approach to traditional drums is ignorant and Sámi people would see it as disrespectful towards their community. However, other people view Sámi drums as sacred and historical and use those drums with respect to the ancestors. There will be some people outside of the Sámi community who would want to use those drums and know everything about them, however, because they never grew up in the same environment and around the same Sámi traditions, they won’t be able to access the same knowledge as Sámi people can about their traditional drums.
Object 3: Colored ribbons used in traditional Altai ritual, “Kyira Buulary”


In the Altai community, there is a traditional ritual called “Kyira Buulary”. The coloured ribbons in the picture above are used in this ritual. This ritual is sacred to them, as it is a way of honouring one of the Altai gods of nature, Altai Ezi. Since childhood, the community participates in this ritual. It consists of multiple stages, but the main stage involves the Altai people hanging coloured ribbons on one branch of a tree in the valley between the Altai mountains. The ritual is performed in this way because the Altai people believe that they are closer to Altai Ezi, who is believed to live in these mountains. This object is interesting because it represents this ritual and provides information about it. Many Altai people see this ritual sacred and divine. This practice can also be seen in other cultures with a different meaning. Some may think that Altai people might not understand the other cultures’ similar traditions, thinking the rituals were stolen with the meaning changed and reduced. The lack of knowledge about each other’s’ cultures and related rituals and traditions can change the way people interpret each other and each other’s cultures.Additionally, the outsider’s perspective can vary based on their knowledge of each community. It is important to consider that every community where this tradition is present, the ritual will have many differences and meanings. It can be said by-some people that this ritual only belongs to the Altai people, but some say it is not restricted to one group. Everyone has their own opinion about whether this ritual belongs to one particular community or not. It’s important to acknowledge that each ritual is different, despite the similarities. Each community has the full knowledge of their individual traditions.
1.Minority Rights Group International, “Sakha (Yakuts)”, by Minority Rights Group Internationaleditors, December 2020. Accessed on 27thof February 2022. https://minorityrights.org/minorities/sakha/
2.Individual authors, “Typological Classification of Yakut Head Rest –Bastynga”, by Argunov V.G., Pestereva K.A, Prokopeva A.N., 2016. Accessed on 27thof February 2022.https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/tipologicheskaya-klassifikatsiya-yakutskogo-nachelnika-bastynga/viewer
3.MDPI, “The Importance of the Sun Symbol in the Restoration of Sámi Spiritual Traditions and Healing Practice”, by Francis Joy, 28th of May 2020. Accessed on 27thof February 2022.https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/11/6/270/htm
4.Gorny Altai, “Tying Ribbons (Kyira Buulary)”, by Gorny Altai authors, 2020. Accessed on 27thof February 2022.https://visit-altairepublic.ru/putevoditel/nasledie-gornogo-altaya/obryady/povyazyvanie-lentochek-kyyra-buulary/