The Yamal-Nenets are a nomadic people and herders of reindeer in the vast northern reaches of Siberia. They live in Chums (pronounced chooms), which are large Tipi-like tents made from tall poles and reindeer hides.
“…The traditional chum consists of reindeer hides sewn together and wrapped around wooden poles that are organized in a circle…” Wikipedia – Chum
“…As has already been said, every choom has a moveable wood stove standing in the middle. On its right and left are wide wooden boards placed directly on the snow and then covered with mats made of young birch trunks, twigs and grass, which in turn are covered with reindeer skins. You feel strange sitting in the warm choom and seeing beneath you bits of snow peeking though chinks in the covering below. In fact, chooms have a very solid structure; they are set up according to an ancient method, tried and tested by generations of nomads. Standing amidst the open, wind-blown expanses, this type of dwelling can withstand even the strongest gusts of wind. Each choom is made of 30 solid poles which are covered by two layers of niuks – traditional coverings for nomad tents. In wintertime, chooms are covered with four huge niuks made of reindeer skins stitched together; in the summer, the covering is made of tarpaulin. (In the past, summer niuks were made of boiled birch bark.) The first layer is usually put with the fur on the inside, and the second layer with the fur on the outside. Altogether, it takes an average of 80 reindeer skins to make a winter covering for one choom…” Russian Geographical Society
These shelters are a perfect example of design meets function. They’re practical and perfect in every way. Snow drifts off the steep roof and doesn’t collect. It’s a very quick shelter to set up once the initial materials are gathered and made. It’s portable. It’s warm, and it protects from high winds.
It is truly one of the best possible designs geometrically speaking that one can build.
“…Survival capability in harsh arctic conditions is an ability of the indigenous peoples to live with nature in harmony…”
The indigenous Nenet people of Siberia are off grid living the ancient way. Though primitive by modern standards, they have a connection to the Earth that most people only dream of. They have a connection to, and live in harmony with, nature.
We all probably envy them in some ways. Perhaps now, this shows us that we can get back to our roots. This glimpse into their lives is a privilege and teaches us that happiness doesn’t have to come from money and big houses. You can live peacefully and quite happily with less.
Though, this kind of less, is arguably more than most of us have.