Home    Number 5, 2021

Plant Hunting: “Evenki Medicines” in Northern Baikal

[Okhota za rasteniiami: “evenkiiskie lekarstva” na Severnom Baikale]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150017415-6

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 21.03.2021

Accepted: 26.07.2021

About author(s)

Vladimir N. Davydov | https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2738-4609 | davydov.kunstkamera@gmail.com | Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences (3 University Emb., St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia)


ethnomedicine, medicinal plants, Evenki, Northern Baikal, autonomy, mobility, hunting luck, Gentiana algida, Rhodiola rosea


The article discusses the attitudes of the Northern Baikal Evenkis toward the flora, formed by the situation of relative autonomy. The focus is on plants that are used in medical practice and are in great demand. The article examines the knowledge of the Northern Baikal Evenkis about the healing properties of two plants that are considered universal medicines – Gentiana algida and Rhodiola rosea, sometimes called “Evenki medicines”. It considers human interactions with these medicinal plants in the context of mobility, as well as human, animal and landscape relations, and describes the practice of their gathering by hunters and reindeer herders. The Evenki hunting ethos and ideas about hunting luck are part of the system of relations between humans and the environment and manifest themselves in the practice of searching for and collecting medicinal plants. Local knowledge about their beneficial properties was formed under the influence of observations of animals’ behaviour. The strategies for the use of medical devices and the practice of prevention and treatment of diseases by Evenkis were formed under conditions of constant resource shortages. Reindeer husbandry and hunting demanded that people in constant motion improve the skills of maintaining relative autonomy, that is a certain type of attitude towards resources as well as medicines, based on minimizing their consumption. In such conditions, medicines with a wide spectrum of action turned out to be especially in demand.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants:
Russian Science Foundation, https://doi.org/10.13039/501100006769 [grant no. 18-18-00309]


Davydov, V.N. 2021. Plant Hunting: “Evenki Medicines” in Northern Baikal [Okhota za rasteniiami: “evenkiiskie lekarstva” na Severnom Baikale]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 5: 70–83. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150017415-6

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