Journey in Evenki Cosmology


Wandering in Other Worlds is a multi-year project with artists Anya Gleizier, Galina Veretnova, and the Pitt Rivers Museum. The museum  display Wandering in Other Worlds: Evenki Cosmology and Shamanic Traditions was developed as part of the project, co-curated by Galina Veretnova, Alexander Varlamov, and Anya Gleizer. 

A 360 film VR experience has also been created by Anya Gleizer, which has featured as part of the display and at museum events. 




As part of the project, Galina Veretnova - master of traditional song and Evenki cultural knowledge holder - travelled to the UK to undertake an artist residency at the museum in October 2022. Galina performed with Anya Gleizer at the Museum Late Night: Wandering in Other Worlds on Thursday 20 October. During the artist residency, museum staff were honoured to take part in and witness a ceremony to reconcile and heal the relationship between the museum as a holder of Evenki material culture and the Evenki people. Choreographed by Anya Gleizer working with Galina Veretnova, the ceremony was basked on the Evenki Bear Hunt rites and was the first time non-Evenki people have been asked to take part in a reconciliation ceremony. For the ceremony, Anya Gleizer created wolf and bear outfits for herself and Galina, and crow outfits that were worn by museum staff. 


a group of people stand around a table covered with a faux bearskin, some dressed as crow birds, and one as a wolf.


The central image in this display, onto which the the objects are arranged, is a visual representation of an Evenki worldview in which the relationship between people and the natural world is paramount. In this drawing three different worlds are illustrated vertically from top to bottom. At the top of the display is the upper world, Ugu Buga, the sky. The central section is the middle world, Dulin Buga, the earth, and below is the lower world, Hargu Buga, the water.  

Evenki culture-holder Professor Alexander Varlamov guided artist Anya Gleizer to ink this design traditionally onto reindeer hide to honour the centrality of reindeer in Evenki cosmology. In the Evenki universe, the sky above our heads was imagined as a huge reindeer skin stretched dome-like over the middle world, the earth. The stars were holes through which celestial light poured through onto our world.

The objects have been carefully positioned to illustrate against this backdrop to help show their relationships to the different realms.

Detail of an illustrated map illustrating the sky with Ursa Major star formation depicted near the centre