Leisure Recreation and the Arts

Sakha have always maintained a diverse ability in recreation and the arts. Historically, they competed amongst their clan groups in a wide variety of ethnic games, include khapsagai (Sakha wrestling), mas tardihii (stick-pulling), kyllyy, ystanga, and kuobakh (three forms of hopping), and myriad games, including khaamiska, a game of dexterity with small wooden blocks played something like jax, and oybonton yylahin, a game of individual balance. These games and competitions were a means of maintaining individual strength and endurance during the non-labor-intensive time of year so that they could perform well during the seasonal labor bottlenecks. Most of these activities were dominated by men, although women began participating in these sports during the Soviet period.

Sakha are well known as fine artisans (see the section as economic activities for more on this). Leisure was essentially unknown to Sakha (except the elite who did not have to work daily to make their living) until the Soviet period, when all who were part of the working class could obtain vouchers to vacation on the Black Sea or other Soviet resorts. It should be noted that most inhabitants did not enjoy these leisure activities because vouchers were only dispersed to high-ranking members of the Communist Party. In the contemporary context, the cost of travel to such places has skyrocketed and vouchers are a thing of the past. It still holds true that only the elite sector can afford the cost and the time away from a daily subsistence regime to enjoy leisure activities.

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