Curiously Polar

The Arctic and the Antarctic are privileged locations for observers interested in understanding how our world is shaped by the forces of nature and the workings of history. These areas have inspired countless humans to undertake epic expeditions of discovery and have witnessed both great triumphs and miserable defeats. As a planetary litmus paper it is at the poles we can detect the effects of natural oscillations and human activities on the global ecosystems.

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103 Voices of the North, pt. V - The Sound of the Far East


Video version of this episode

The ‘shore of two oceans’ is home to an ancient, Paleo-Siberian group of Arctic natives. With roughly 16,000 people the Chukchi who live in the interior of the Chukchi peninsula have traditionally been herdsmen and hunters of reindeer, while those who live along the coasts of the Arctic Ocean, the Chukchi Sea, and the Bering Sea have customarily hunted sea mammals such as seals, whales, walruses, and sea lions. The Chukchi call themselves the Lygoravetlat, which means "genuine people." In their long, turbulent and changeable history, the Chukchi did not have many constants, and its cultural traditions, such as music and shamanism, have suffered particularly in recent history.

The Chukchi represent a kind of bridge between cultures and combine throat singing with drum dance, later also with classical singing. Their unbreakable link with the natural world is found over and over in Chukchi folklore. The rich tradition, nurtured by centuries of development, is made up of numerous tales of animals and people. What is unique for the Chukchi, however, is that only women practiced both the local form of throat singing and drum dancing in order to say goodbye to the men who set off on the hunt. But in addition to the state-organized ethnic folklore groups, there are also young, up-and-coming bands that integrate the traditional music of the Chukchi into contemporary music.


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 2020-06-30  33m