In Tungusic language, “Oron” not only means “reindeer”, but also implies “tundra highland”. Besides, many ethnic groups in the northeast region of the Arctic have the tradition of calling themselves “Oron”. That all the three meanings come from the same pronunciation indicates the three-in-one historical relation of the Tungus, reindeer and tundra highland.
That the human, the reindeer and the land are interwoven tightly forms the unique culture of the Artic region. As early as the Neolithic period, the hunters who inhabited the severe cold region of the Northern Hemisphere regarded reindeers as their main source of livelihood, thus producing the culture that centered on reindeers. This type of culture presents a simple and insightful ecological philosophy about the unity of life between humans and nature.
This exhibition is derived from the research program of the Chinese Museum of Ethnology, entitled “Comparative Cultural Studies of Cross-border Ethnic Groups in Northeast China and Russia”. Setting off from the last “reindeer culture island” in China, Aoluguya, the researchers have explored such reindeer-breeding Tungusic peoples in history, like the Oroqen and the Hezhe. The research then studies the villages of Evenks, Evens, Nanai, Koryak and Chukchee people in Russia. In this way the research draws a vivid picture about the changing history of reindeer-breeding peoples. With the development of modernization, global warming and the tundra moving north, the reindeer culture of Northeast Asia is gradually shrinking towards the north.
The track of “Oron” thus shows the historical movements of an ancient culture, in which deep connections of natural ecology, ethnic history, economic life and modern civilization were intertwined. This exhibition follows the track of “Oron”, presenting the unique history, culture and art of this traditional ethnic culture, and providing a subtle lens of reflection on ecology, ethnic groups and culture for the ongoing processes of modernization and globalization.