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People of the Earth

The Khabarovsk Territory is home to the majority of the Nanoys of Russia

People of the Earth

The Far East, the Amur coast is the native land of the Nanais. Their villages have long been located along the banks of the Amur and the right tributaries of the Ussuri River. The very name “Nanai” is translated from the language of this small nation as “people of the earth”.

Original and unauthorized

It is believed that the ancestors of the Nanais lived on the banks of the Amur River even in the Stone Age. Hunting and fishing - these are the professions that the Russian Nanais only recently mastered in perfection. The total number of Nanais is about 20 thousand people, most of them are registered in Russia.

In genetic terms, modern Nanais represent a complex historical community. A number of researchers believe that their homeland is in Manchuria, from where they descended into the valley of Ussuri and reached the Lower Amur. The Russians got acquainted with the ancestors of modern Nanais (natki, achani, gold) in the middle of the XVII century during the campaigns of Poyarkov and Khabarov, however, direct contacts with them were resumed only in the middle of the XIX century, when the Amur River re-entered the Russian state.

It is curious that before the formation of the USSR, the Nanai had no surnames or patronymic names. However, during the first All-Russian population census in 1897, each Nanai as a surname was given his family identity (for a man - by his father, a woman - by his husband). However, this did not matter for the Nanai themselves: the lack of writing, the illiteracy of the Nanai led to the fact that after the census only names continued to exist.

By the way, the Russian names of the Nanaians began to appear in connection with the activities of the Russian Orthodox mission in these places, which was especially active in the 70 – 80s of the 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century, most Nanais had two names, Russian and Nanai, but only traditional ones were used in everyday life. The boys were called names that go back to the names of tools, hunting (Guide - “spear”, Sure - “ax”), fish (Eye - “chebak”), household items (Ganga - “wooden circle for hanging the boiler”, Otho - “ trough ", Sike -" robe "). Some names reflected human qualities (Gokchoa - “curve”, Siantoli - “fighter”).

Today, Nanai 27 genera and surnames reflecting the main occupation or feature of the genus. Thus, the surname Samar belongs to the descendants of shamans, Uzala to people from the lake or the trackers (for no reason the traveler Dersu Uzala belonged to this genus), and the most romantic surname - Kilen - means "green-eyed Tungus from the sea".

Often, representatives of the Nanai people live in big cities. Many are engaged in industry, services, they have their own intelligentsia. And there is also a language - it is even taught in schools using textbooks and dictionaries. True, almost no one speaks it in everyday life.

At the same time, Nanais support and develop ritual traditions (they are still not strangers dances, songs, ancient festive ceremonies) and conceptual fine arts - embroider traditional patterns on the fabric, cut out wood, make appliqués. Pictorial traditions of the Nanais date back to the ancient art of rock paintings - petroglyphs.

What did the ancient people want to say

About 100 years ago, stone boulders with carved images were found on the bank of the Amur River, near the village of Sikachi-Alyan. Sheremetyevo stones, as they are called, according to scientists, have been around for more than 12 thousand years. 147 stones, from afar - ordinary boulders, written from and to, you can consider them for hours. But what exactly the ancient masters wanted to say with their inscriptions and drawings, still remains a mystery.

These petroglyphs have been preserved very well, which is explained by the proximity of the historical monument to the frontier post: access to "strangers" was always limited not only by natural conditions, which in Khabarovsk Krai is rather a norm, but also by the guarding activity of the authorities.

The first Petroglyphs of the Lower Cupid was scientifically described by Richard Karlovich Maak, who studied the valley of the Ussuri River in 1859. For the sake of science, the scientist had to overcome considerable difficulties: the way from Petersburg to the Far East was then occupied for about six months.

The main subjects of Sikachi-Alyan's "paintings" are hunting and fishing. Among the concentric circles and points one can clearly see the images of animals, snakes, birds, masks, boats ... The oldest of the discovered stones depicts a horse. According to archaeologists, this animal existed in reality during the ice age. Today we can see her full-length portrait.

Some of the petroglyphs are carved out with a stone, and some are carved with an iron tool. Hence the modern name of these ancient drawings. After all, petra in Greek means "stone", and glypho - "cut out".

In total, several thousand petroglyphs are scattered along the banks of the Amur, the Sikachi-Alyan region is far from being the only one. Many drawings are irrevocably carried away to the bottom of the river by flood waters. It is also likely that part of the boulders with letters is turned upside down by ice floes during ice drift - how can one recognize a boulder hiding a drawing ...

Stones remember everything

Since ancient times, the legend of the mountain on the bank of the Amur, whose outlines, if you look closely, are so much like a woman who is looking into the distance, has been leading its history. According to the Nanai legend, this mountain is a shaman, frozen in witch ecstasy.

To get to Shamanka Mountain (not to be confused with the mountain of the same name on Baikal) is not easy - you need to move from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, about 20 km by car or bus, and then walk a little more along the coastline. In ancient times, the Shamanka stood “knee-deep” in the water, now the relief has changed, and the witch has gone up a few steps to the shore. Nanai people came to this mountain - then they called it Kaluga cliff - to heal, the fishermen brought gifts to make fishing. And if a couple of centuries ago, fishermen could ask the rock about a successful catch, only having approached it by boat with generous gifts, now tourists walk to the Shaman woman on foot, on the ground. And photographed for memory.

Until now, there is a perception that the Shamanka, the stone smooth surface of which even remains warm in winter, has healing properties - even handroz heals.

There is another statue in Khabarovsk Krai, about which scientists still can not come to a common opinion. These Amur pillars are granite idols with height from 12 to 70 m, located on the top and slopes of the hill at 134 km from Komsomolsk-on-Amur (the nearest village is the village of Nizhnetambovskoe). Far Easterners are lost in conjecture: whether the majestic figures are the work of man and the subject of the cult of tribes that lived here hundreds, thousands or even millions of years ago, whether they are the result of seismic processes and arose after an instantaneous eruption or displacement of rocks.

The ancient Nanai had their own explanation for the origin of the unusual mountains. According to legend, the daughter of a local shaman - beautiful Aji - fell in love with a simple hunter. The father did not consent to the marriage, and the lovers attempted to escape. But an angry shaman rushed in pursuit, turning into a bear. A shaman and a hunter grabbed to death, not to life, but the girl, equally valuing both men, turned to ardent prayers with kindly spirits, and they stopped the time to prevent murder. So the shaman, the girl and the hunter froze with stone boulders ...

A beautiful legend is contradicted only by the fact that in the valley there are actually more pillars: they would be enough for a small internecine battle. But the epic is an epic - in every culture there must be a place for your Romeo and Juliet.

Reserved places

Today, the life of the Nanaians can be found in a relatively new ethnographic complex in the village of Juen, established in 2006 year. This can be done if you book a tour of the Bolonsky Reserve - it is located between the rivers Symi and Harpi, in the Middle Amur Lowland, on the shore of Lake Bolon. The excursion program called “Bird Crossing” works only in spring and autumn, during the period of special revival of the local animal world.

"In the depths there is a cape" - so the old people translate the name of the village of Juen, whose history began in 1928, when the Nanai people, who took a fancy to the shore of Lake Bologna, built here the first two houses. Over time, along the banks of the Harpy River, they founded the settlements of Khutuen, Saparoune, Susuen, Gogda, Hurechen, Mungali. Lived local Nanai in fanzah, smeared with clay, stoked the stones in black, slept on the skins of animals. All the year round they were fishing, hunting different animals. And in the winter merchants came and bought expensive skins of animals for a song.

Today’s complex is a settlement of the Nanai family of the late 19th – early 20th century. It is located directly on the territory of the village and includes a winter dwelling, barn, and hanging. In the buildings there are items of clothing, everyday life and religious accessories, tools for hunting and fishing, vehicles. 

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