Traditional crafts and arts of the indigenous small in number people of North
The traditional art of the Ugra indigenous people is tightly related to the economic activity, social structure and traditional ideology. In the separate parts of the folk art you can see the beliefs, particular qualities of the labour and living, dated back to the Neolithic age and the Bronze age.
The Ob Ugrians' culture was formed approximately by the XIV—XVI centuries. Until then the Russians referred to the territory of traditional settlement of the Ugrians and its people as "Ugra".
The Ugric languages speaking tribes formed a basis for the evolution of the Khanty and Mansi peoples. One of the ancient crafts of the indigenous peoples of the North was embroidery - decoration or ornamentation using linen, cotton, wool, silk or metal thread, hair, beads, coins, etc. on various types of fabric, leather or felt. Wedding headdress, frontlets, braid decorations, costume details (collar, cut brims, elbow part of sleeves, cuffs) were decorated with colored beads. It was not a native material for the Ob Ugrians. Beads were imported to Ugra in large quantities in exchange for furs, fish, and cedar nuts from the Volga Bulgaria. Indigenous winter dress was decorated by mosaic fur ornaments. Decorated bands were rolled in tubes and often kept in storage for several years before they became parts of a costume.
The eastern and the northern Ugrians were skilled bone carvers. They used deer and elk antlers, less often - mammoth bones which they found buried in the ground, or exchanged for other goods. Most common carved bone items were tendon thread fasteners ornamented with dots, rings, and locked triangles lines.
Another popular material for making household items was birchbark. It was used for making scoops, buckets, boxes for dry stuff and needlework items storage (they were either round or rectangular), small trunks, rectangular bowls-chumans and large over-the-shoulder baskets. Wood was used for making hollowed out buckets for fish and meat, spoons, sleds, deer driver's rods, snow and dust beaters, children's toys, musical instruments, oars, dugout boats and caiques decorated with images of birds and animals. Some of the boats had birchbark roofs. There were also canoes made wholly of birchbark.
Main forest related occupations were elk and deer hunting. The Khanty and the Mansi put up "fences" and drove the animals into "pit-traps". They also hunted forest birds and waterfowl. Gathering was common throughout the territory. In the lower Ob regions the northern Khanty practiced reindeer husbandry.
Characteristic features of the Ugrians' religion were animism and fetishism. The popular cult was associated with "sacrificial" trees the branches of which were decorated with silver, gold and silk. When a bear was killed a special ritual was celebrated, and an oath made on a bear hide was considered particularly holy. In every "yurt" (family) there were their own "special idols" - household deities and idols. There were also common deities worshiped by the whole clan, or even several clans. Their images were kept in special religious centers - in Belogorje, in Sosva area and in other places.
In recent years there was a significant growth of popular interest to the decorative craftsmanship, the study of the techniques of making the traditional clothes of the Ob Ugrians: beadwork, knitting, traditional clothes making, wood- and birchbark working. Growing interest towards the traditional craftsmanship of the indigenous peoples of the North is closely related to their popularization at the government level. Ugra sponsors various topical events focusing on indigenous crafts. For instance, the VIII International Arts and Crafts Festival of Indigenous Peoples of the World "Ugra-2014" in June 2014 in the territory of historical and cultural center "Old Surgut". 416 people participated in the festival, its events were visited by over 19,000 people from 17 regions of Russia and 7 foreign countries including researchers, ethnographers, art critics, specialists in culture studies, historians, and craftsmen.
Arts and crafts of the Ugric helped to preserve the elements of the ancient indigenous culture, emphasizing close relations of the indigenous peoples with nature which is maintained to this day.