Khatanga. Big water, big people ...

Khatanga is one of the northernmost settlements of Taimyr (grown on the 72nd parallel of northern latitude). Even at the zenith of "hot" July, the temperature here rises to plus 14 degrees, and in December - January, the air sometimes cools to minus 50. Water in water bodies freezes through two meters, in some places and to the very bottom. And when the side wind blows and a blizzard begins, it is better not to go outside - nothing is visible at arm's length.

SONG deer

The polar sky of the night is darker.
Ripples of deer nostrils.
Hehe hey Oh hey

Ogdo Aksenova (translated from Dolgan)

Living in Khatanga is not easy. And not just because of the climate. The most serious problem is the remoteness of the village from the rest of the world, from big cities. Therefore, the delivery of food and essential goods costs Khatanga people more expensive than the goods themselves, and their cost can be compared to prices somewhere in Monaco. Here are just salaries and social benefits from local residents do not match the European. But a person adapts to all conditions, and the Khatangs have been living on their land for almost 400 years and love their harsh land. Even leaving for the Big land - to study or in search of work - those who were born here never forget their homeland. Having accidentally heard the word “Khatanga” in the Krasnoyarsk minibus or from the St. Petersburg electric train, people happily look around, get acquainted, sometimes exchange addresses, find each other in social networks. It turns out that in fact Khatanga is much larger than a small geographical point on the map, and the history of the village also grows if you put together all the fates of its settlers.


The first information about the Khatanga River, on which the village grew, was received by the Russian pioneers from the Tungus around 1605. The Dutch merchant Isaac Massa, who lived in Moscow in the 17th century, mentions her in her book: “Beyond the Yenisei River, there is a river to the east, called Pyasid, and another, called Katanga [Khatanga] ... Travelers found many different islands, rivers, birds and wild beasts. "

The village of Khatanga owes its birth to the pomors and the Mangazeya sea course, which was not fully sea. In some areas he passed along rivers and lakes, and in some places along dry willows. Used for trade, transportation of furs and collection of yasaka. Yasak - from the Turkic "yas" - the law: the obligatory tribute that the Siberian and northern peoples had to pay to the "Great White King". Usually, tribute is charged with “flesh of junk”, that is, with expensive furs: two sable pelts per person per year.

The local population was engaged here in hunting and fishing, led a nomadic way of life, so he had no permanent settlements. Well, in order to collect a tribute, to make a bargain, it required pomors reliable parking, but such, where you can sit for a long time and wait, “while the midday wind will carry the ice”. Thus, new “yasak winter quarters” appeared on the Mangazeya route: Pustozersk, Nadyma, Turukhansk, Khatanga. And they appeared in the most convenient places. Khatanga - on a high river bed, from where a good view of the high water was opened and where no flood reached.

The first wintering on Khatanga belongs to the year 1626, and in the documents it is listed as Sock. Such high steep peninsulas (or capes) on rivers and seas were called explorers by “noses” or “toes”. The local population of Dolgans and now calls him Nasko.


From the first years of its existence, Nasko became the most important center for the advancement of Russian explorers in Northern Siberia.

The first travelers swam to yasach wintering on the cochs - wooden single deck ships that were built without the use of metals. Often they had to be dragged over land to shorten the path. The hull of the ship was like an egg, which contributed to squeezing the ship to the surface during compression by heavy ice. Later, the secret of the construction of kochi was lost, no matter how much our contemporaries tried to reproduce a similar construction, they could not achieve the former lightness and stability of the vessel: the ancient coast-dwellers carried their secrets with them to eternity.

The paths to Khatanga along rivers with portages were mastered by detachments of Vasily Sychev, Yakov Semenov and the famous Erofei Khabarov. An outstanding Russian navigator Cossack ataman Semyon Dezhnev visited this land. Khariton Laptev wintered here with his team, which he described in detail in his notes. As a result of these trips, new geographical names of rivers, lakes, islands, and ostaries began to appear on the drawings and maps of Russia.

The Church of Theology

Together with the Russian explorers Christianity came to this region. The first church of the Epiphany was built in Khatanga at the beginning of the 18th century.

Priest Konstantin Repyev, who visited here a century later, said:

“There is a church house for temporary residence. There is no roof in the house, it is covered with turf, very old. At the house barnchik and bath. There is a bread store, in which bread almost never happens ... There are 6 houses of local residents, everything is arranged like a chicken: when the stove is flooded, you will certainly open the doors, otherwise you can suffocate in the smoke. ”

The authorities of the Yenisei province, concerned about the absence of a permanent priest in Khatanga, allocated six thousand rubles to repair the church and build houses for the priest and deacon. Mikhail Suslov volunteered to serve there, having worked for nearly a quarter of a century as a dean (inspector) of the churches of Turukhansk district. Suslov was different from other educations, was a cultural man, was fond of history, published many articles in Siberian journals about his travels through Taimyr. The local people respected him and tried to understand the Christian faith from the bottom of their hearts.

Due to fires and bad weather conditions, the Khatanga church was destroyed and rebuilt many times. The last time it was restored in 2001, and today it remains the northernmost Orthodox church in the world.

And on the outskirts of the village stands the Khatanga northern cross - one of the similar four crosses installed in different parts of the world in Russia. The second, third and fourth crosses rise in southern Budyonnovsk, on eastern Kamchatka and in western Kaliningrad. The unity of the four symbolizes the Orthodox statehood of Russia.


The rumor about the overthrow of the king reached the Khatanga tundra only in the winter of 1918. The polar traveler Nikifor Begichev became the first Soviet leader for the inhabitants. The revolution for the local turned into the fact that the Siberian merchants did not send them the usual argish with the goods for grain stores. People were threatened with hunger. Having learned about the plight of the inhabitants of Zatundra, the Turukhansk Council decided to distribute to the starving population 15,000 pounds of bread from storerooms in the form of a long-term loan. There was a small grain supply in the Khatanga store, but people did not dare to take it without permission from the authorities. Begichev tore off the wax seals from the doors and distributed the grain to the needy, declaring that the new Soviet authorities had allowed the borrowing of bread.

In the spring of 1922 the Khatanga trading station was established, which launched barter trade in the village. For flour and manufactured goods, the co-operators took an arbitrary price, but the traffickers were satisfied: for the first time in many years, they had the opportunity to change the furs for essential goods.
And near the trading post they put up their winter beams for the Dolgans and Yakuts, who were still harassed. The settlement grew.

According to the census of 1927, there were 508 households in Khatanga, 730 dogs, of which only 17 were used as riding ones, and the rest were used for grazing deer, and 48,430 heads of domestic deer.

In the autumn of 1928, bread was baked in the village. The first full-time baker was a young girl, Valentina Mashikhina, who came to work in a factory from Turukhansk that year.

During this period the former red cavalryman I. Vakhmistrov was in charge of the Gostorg trading post. According to the memoirs of old-timers, in his room a warblock hung above his bed - dear to him in wartime, and there was also a sewing machine, a small loom and a cello not seen here before. In the winter evenings, fellow villagers often came to the Vakhmistrovs - to listen to the strange sounds of the cello, on which the head of the family skillfully played.

V. Vasilyev worked as the accountant of the Integral Union, and his wife Alexandra Afanasyevna became the first full-time teacher. In 1929, she opened a four-grade primary school in Khatanga, where Russian children and Dolgan and Nganasan children went. Curious northerners came to look at the teacher in a skirt from all over the tundra - for them the participation of women in public life was an amazing event.


Good changes continued in Khatanga’s life, and the visiting team of doctors began to work. Until 1917 there were no permanent medical institutions in Taimyr. In the vast territory of Turukhansk region there was only one hospital for five beds. She was in Turukhansk itself, and in its staff with nurses and cleaners were listed 15 people.

In the fall of 1928, a medical detachment headed by Dr. Simon Izrailevich Rivvo arrived in Khatanga tundra. A medical assistant he had Claudia Ananievna Volosnykh-Dove, this is what she recalled: “Finally, we arrived at the Uryadnik machine, where our squad was supposed to be. It was probably somewhere in the middle of the Khatanga tundra. We registered all babies up to seven years old, pregnant women, identified the diseased. Dr. Rivvo took himself, wrote prescriptions, prescribed procedures, I prepared the medicine, explained how to take it. There were few patients who turned to us themselves. There was still strong faith in sorcerers and shamans, they believed more than us. Dr. Rivvo was short-sighted. He wore thick black-rimmed glasses with double convex lenses. Locals called him "four-eyed doctors". And they just laughed at me: “The girl is a doctor, laughter to the whole tundra.”

But during the year of work, the medical detachment Rivvo helped hundreds of patients, opened a hospital in two beds in Khatanga, and often traveled to the patients in distant places. And gradually the attitude of the Taimyr residents towards medicine began to change, people finally believed the “four-eyed dokhtur” and the ridiculous girl.


In the 1920s, Khatanga was often visited by scientific expeditions, which were sent by the Committee of the North to study the then little-known Taimyr.

At the beginning of the winter of 1929, a radio station, still sparked, was brought here from the Dudinka by deer, which was placed in the Court House. The first Khatanga radio operator Mirgunov maintained radio communication with the nearest station in Volochanka. In 1931, at the radio station, the post office of the People's Commissariat of Communications was opened. And in 1934 established a permanent meteorological station.

Communication with the mainland was improving in all directions. In 1936, the first steamer, the Igarets, arrived in the village. This flight was the beginning of shipping and supply of Khatanga region with cargo from the sea. Three years later, the Soviet government decided to organize a river agency here, to the disposal of which that same Igarets, Pilot Babushkin wheeled steamer and four barges were sent.

During the Great Patriotic War, thanks to the Khatanga courts, the northern provinces were supplied with products of the Kotui coal mine and the Khatanga fish factory.

But the first icebreaking vessels came here after the end of the war. And on December 25, 1954, by order No. 154 of the Minister of the Navy, the Khatanga Arctic seaport was established on the basis of the Khatanga River Office and the Nordvik Sea Port.


The heyday of the village came in the second half of the twentieth century, when many experts predicted Khatanga a great future. By the end of the century, an increase of 10 to 12 thousand people was expected here. The Institute Krasnoyarskgrazhdanproekt then proposed its own plan for the construction of future streets and blocks of five- and seven-story stone houses. Khatanga was called the natural pantry of the Arctic. In its vicinity, geologists found copper, iron, gold, salt, mercury, antimony, oil, gas, coal, apatite. However, as soon as they calculated the cost of transportation, for example of the same oil, they came to the conclusion that it is unprofitable and its production in Western Siberia will be cheaper. Therefore, the prophecies of optimists did not come true.

Now there are 2645 people in Khatanga. Dolgans, Nganasans, Nenets, Evenks, Enets, Evens live here. As in the old days, hunting and fishing remain traditional local practices. Small sheds on the streets — natural freezers — are in the autumn just as regularly slaughtered venison and fish, as are the cellars of the inhabitants of more temperate latitudes of Russia with potatoes and carrots. And if you hear from someone: “We have a deer gone” - this means that in the near future in the village you will not meet a single man over 13 years old.

There are cases when solo horned swim across the very wide river Khatanga and pass right through the streets of the village. People are surprised to meet a deer on the street. And the deer is surprised to see a huge roaring bird overhead that people call an airplane (there is also its own airport, from where flights to Norilsk and Krasnoyarsk are made). So they live side by side in constant surprise with each other - a deer and a man, and everyone considers himself the owner of this land.

Khatanga is still popular with travelers. From here start the group of extreme tourism in the Far North. People arrive from the Big Land to visit the Taimyr Reserve. True, there are no specially equipped tourist routes, and to get to its territory, you need a special pass, but this does not stop those who want to admire the Arctic sky over Maria Pronchishcheva Bay, to see the world's most northern forests, wild deer, walrus rookeries, the ruins of the wintering expedition of Khariton Laptev, a meteor crater - the Popigai astrobleme.

Of particular interest to visitors is the Khatanga Museum of Ethnography, the expositions of which tell how indigenous peoples lived in the old days.

There is also a museum of the famous writer Ogdo Aksenova - the ancestor of Dolgan writing. The museum carefully keeps its typewriter with Dolgan font, photos from the family archive, manuscripts. In her youth, Aksyonov was in correspondence with Agnia Barto, Samuel Marshak, Sergey Mikhalkov. She graduated from the Higher Literary Courses in Moscow, wrote poems for children in the Dolgan language. In 1981, Ogdo compiled the first Dolgan primer, which children now attend primary school.


In the late nineties of the last century, Khatanga unexpectedly attracted the attention of scholars and historians of the whole world. In the spring of 1996, the reindeer herder Gennady Zharkov found a pair of huge mammoth tusks on the banks of the river Kirsa-Yuryakh. A year later, a block of permafrost with a helicopter resting inside the carcass of a mammoth was taken to the village. Mammoth Zharkov became the first exhibit of the Khatanga Mammoth Museum. It is located under the village in a natural refrigerator - in the cellars, where even in summer the temperature is below zero. The idea of ​​creation was supported and financed by a millionaire - the head of the French travel company "Parallel-90" Bernard Byuig.

Scientists are seriously thinking about the possibility of cloning mammoths, and for this they need animal cells that have not been destroyed, retain the integrity of genetic material. This opportunity provides permafrost. Therefore, applications came from the laboratories of Europe and America, and specialists arrived who carefully examined the remains of the ice captive. They were looking for an answer to the question of what caused the mass death of these animals.

According to radiocarbon analysis conducted in Holland, the mammoth Zharkov lived 20,380 years ago. It was a male, who died at the age of 47 years. His tusks 294 centimeters long weighed 60 kilograms, and he himself was about five tons. Professor Nikolai Kuzmich Vereshchagin, on the basis of the chewing surfaces of the teeth, concluded that the animal had died of hunger.

In 2001, the Discovery film company shot a two-part popular science film “The Land of Mammoths”, which told the story of Zharkov and hairy giants who came to Taimyr at a time when it was warm. And in 2002, an entry in the Guinness Book of Records appeared: “The oldest of the found mammoths is Zharkov, dug by a group of French scientists in Siberia, Russia. Since the 9-year-old shepherd Gennady Zharkov was the first to find remains, the mammoth was subsequently named after his surname. ”


Сегодня трудно представить, что когда-то в Сибири был мягкий субтропический климат и на ее территории жили мохнатые мамонты, гигантские олени, могучие овцебыки, и что паслись они на богатых зеленых пастбищах. Теперь это зона вечной мерзлоты. Лето в Хатанге очень короткое, длится всего лишь несколько недель. Ему очень радуются дети, они торопятся накататься на роликах и велосипедах на весь год вперед. Уже в конце августа начинаются заморозки, и зима растягивается на восемь - десять месяцев. С ноября по март солнце совсем не поднимается над линией горизонта. But from May to August it does not go at all, and sometimes you can see three suns at the same time over Khatanga! Eyewitnesses say that this is a very beautiful sight, in no way inferior to the northern lights. Due to the optical effect, two twin reflections appear to the right and left of the present luminary. This phenomenon does not last long, but the most successful photographers managed to shoot it on digital cameras. According to the beliefs of the northerners, the three suns in the sky are a good sign that promises to the person who saw it personally, the help of powerful heavenly shamans.

Cover photo: Sergey Gorshkov
Text: Zoya Yashchenko
Photos: from the archive of the press service of "Norilsk Nickel"
Drawings: Natalia Oltarzhevskaya

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