Abstract

This paper is devoted to the dynamics of taiga writing and their connections with local approaches to property relations. A letter, carved on a tree, an item, and body is the process of documentation of the fact of the use of taiga space by Evenkis and other local people. Writing this kind of signature, local taiga practitioners grant their loyalty to the Taiga and become a part of its “property”, a part of human-taiga alliance. “Property” here is a metaphor of relationships between humans and the Taiga, majorly, based on social memories. This paper examines Evenki forest writing is placed within social and political changes. This writing still exists; however it takes another avatar in comparison to the one known as traditional and belonging to the past. Today it takes the form of personal inscriptions. Archival data, local stories and my own observations of practical and symbolic use of personal inscriptions carved on trees serves as ethnographical sources for anthropological analysis. This type of carvings is locally known as kleimo or ‘signature’ confirming partnership and social relations with the Taiga. Personal inscriptions connect past and present testifying that Evenkis has always been related to the forest. The process of adaptation of Cyrillic letters in the taiga context is not a passive form of obedience to politics; yet, it is the form of “taiga passport” where local people use symbols that can be read by external audiences. Therefore, literacy lives its social life in the Taiga and is perfectly adapted to local meanings. Human-taiga alliance refabricates various interferences and changes.

Keywords: property, literacy, Evenkis, North Baikal, alliance