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Ethnic history of the Nanai

Modern Nanai people genetically represent a complex historical community. A number of researchers (Shrenk, Lopatin) supposed that their homeland was in Manchuria, at the foot of the Chanbaishan ridge, from where they descended into the Ussuri valley and reached the Lower Amur. Another point of view about the origin of the Nanai was held by L. Sternberg, who considered the Nanai to be a conglomerate of genera of the most diverse origins. Small groups of Tungus, Turks, Mongols, Manchuri came to the Lower Amur, inhabited already in the Neolithic, in different historical periods, who, mixing with the local autochthonous population, formed into various ethnic communities. One of them is the modern Nanai. Undoubtedly, the Nanai clans Kile, Samar, Digor, Gayer, Khaitanin are of Evenk (Tungus) origin. As part of the Nanai clan Beldy, there are Ainu subdivisions, whose members, like the Ainu, call themselves Kuyi, and consider the islands as their original habitat, from where they moved to the mainland. Other Nanai clans included the Chinese, Manchurian, Solon and many other peoples. In turn, peripheral groups split off from the emerging Nanai ethnic community, assimilated by neighboring peoples - Ulchi, Nivkh and others.

Academician A.P. Okladnikov, who studied the famous petroglyphs of Sikachi-Alyan, dated them to the 12th millennium BC. Thus, the Nanai people living here have very ancient roots. The beginning of the Iron Age in the Amur region dates back to the 1st millennium BC. The development of agriculture, cattle breeding, and crafts led to the formation of the ancient Tungus state of Bohai (698-926) on the territory of the Amur Region and Northern Manchuria. The descendants of the Bohai people, the Jurchens (X-XIII centuries), formed the Aisin-Gurun state, known in Chinese historiography as Jin. However, the long war with the Mongols exhausted the Jurchens, their state disintegrated, and in the Amur region, in the 13th century, the taiga Jurchens broke up into the Nanai, Ulchi, Oroch, Udege and other tribes.

The ethnic history of the Amur region and the Nanais, in particular in the 18th century, is still a solid blank spot. After the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1680), the Russians were forced to leave the Amur region, direct contacts with the local population ceased for more than a century, and accordingly there is no reliable information about the peoples of the Amur. There is no doubt, however, that the resettlement by the Qing authorities in the second half of the 17th century from the Amur into the depths of Manchuria of the bulk of the Ducher population largely determined the direction of ethnic processes and the entire ethnic history of this region in the 18th century. According to reports of individual missionaries, travelers and even random persons, most of the lands on the Amur, and especially on the Ussuri, were empty. For example, the missionary Bruiner, who visited the Ussuri basin, wrote that "instead of people he saw everywhere only the dead silence of the desert." On the territory from Lake Khanka to the Amur, he counted only 80 families, or about 500 people.

It is obvious that the vast areas along the Amur, depopulated as a result of resettlement, could not remain so for a long time. From the north, west and east, a gradual advance to the south of numerous Tungus clans begins. This process began in the 17th century and continued throughout the next century. The story of the exiled Guriy Vasiliev, who visited the Amur in 1815, 1818 and 1822, can serve as a confirmation of the large ethnic movements that took place in the region in the 18th century. In particular, he reported that “from Ussuri to the northeast to the Dondon River ... along the right bank and partly on the left there are quite a few villages with 2-5 yards. This area is inhabited by Tungus called Yant. From Dondon down to the village of Tsindokhi... from time to time on the banks you can see villages in which the Tungus live, called Orlikh”.

The territory referred to in Vasiliev's story is currently the main settlement area for the Nanai. There is no doubt that their ancestors lived here at the beginning of the 19th century. At the same time, the ethnic face of the region had changed significantly by this time. The Tungus clans Donkan, Yukaminkan, who lived in the 17th-18th centuries in Transbaikalia and Amgun, settled in the basins of the Kur and Urmi rivers. The Gorin Valley was explored by the Dilkagirs and Chetelkogirs, previously known on Bureya and Amgun. In the area of Lake Bolon, there were Edzhen Tunguses, whom the Russians met in the 17th century in the area of Maisky and Butalsky dungeons. In the 19th century, these and some other Tungus clans came to the Amur itself. The Amur region, which after the Treaty of Nerchinsk remained free from Russian, and equally from Manchu colonization, seemed in this respect a very attractive territory, and it was here that the flow of migrants rushed from the north. At the same time, the reindeer Tungus settled, as a rule, on the left bank of the Amur, where there were conditions for keeping reindeer, the so-called foot Tungus penetrated beyond the Amur, on the coast of Sakhalin, the Tatar Strait and the Sea of Japan. This, in particular, is indicated not only by the presence of hydronyms in common with the Okhotsk coast on the right bank of the Amur, but also by the self-designation of some local peoples, which originate from orouoro, the self-designation of some groups of foot Tungus and Even reindeer herders.

In the late 18th - early 19th centuries, the re-emigration of former duchers (achans), resettled from the Amur in the middle of the 17th century by the Qing authorities to the Mudanjiang River in Manchuria for the same reasons, intensified c. Fleeing from extortions and harassment of the local administration, they, moving down the Sungari and the left tributaries of the Ussuri, eventually settled the entire basin of this river, as well as the coast of Lake Khanka. Thus, by the middle of the 19th century, a vast and rather integral area of settlement of the Nanais was formed, which included the lower reaches of the Sungari, both banks of the Ussuri and a significant part of the Amur - more than 500 km down from the mouth of the Ussuri.

The influx of a non-ethnic population to the Amur could not fail to cause significant shifts among its aboriginal inhabitants. Some genera of Oroch-Udege origin began to advance from the coast of the Sea of Japan along the Anyui and Hungari valleys to the right bank of the Amur. Significant progress has taken place in the Gorin basin and on the Amgun. The movements within the area of settlement of the Amur peoples were, of course, associated not only with the appearance in the Amur region of a significant mass of newcomers. Other reasons could be the reason for them: outbreaks of epidemic diseases in certain villages, search for better places for fishing and hunting for animals. With the development of steamship traffic and trade on the Amur, part of the Nanai began to move from its tributaries to the main channel.

Numerous examples of such movements are well known from the literature. So, in the first half of the 19th century, due to epidemics, several Ulchi families from the village of Yri moved up the Amur to the Nanai, forming here the villages of Doli and Dzhari. Natives of the Gorin River were residents of the Amur villages of Gavan, Shargol, Chirikan and others. Natives of the Hungari (Gur) River settled on the Amur in the villages of Boochan, Hungari, Senda-boochan. In an effort to avoid the attacks of the Khunkhuz, as well as fleeing from the smallpox epidemic, the Ussuri Nanai moved further to the northeast from the villages of Situhe, Nauto, Daldai and others to the Bikin, Iman (Bolshaya Ussurka) rivers and their tributaries. Significant displacements also took place within the Nanai villages. This process was especially intensive in the second half of the 19th century. The 1897 census recorded a significant number of Nanai among the Nivkhs, Ulchi, and Udege.

Large number of movements, relocations to a new ethnic environment were the reason for the formation of ethnoses of the Lower Amur complex in composition, reflected in the tribal composition of the Nanai, the nature of their culture. Once in the Amur basin, a significant part of the Tungus population was eventually assimilated by the Nanais and became part of them. In particular, there is no doubt about the Evenk origin of the Samogir clan known among the Nanai in the 19th century. Several Evenk tribes with this name (samagirs, shamagirs) are known in various regions of Eastern Siberia and the Far East. The Nanai-Samagirs lived in the Gorin basin, they were especially densely populated by its right tributary, the Khyi. One of the ancient Samagir villages - Kondon was located here. The Nanai lived at the very mouth of the Gorin. They were separated from the Samagir villages by a strip of no-man's land about 130 versts wide.

The 1897 census recorded the Samagirs separately from the Nanai, but in fact considered them one of the Nanai clans - Samara, of which there were 425 people, including 275 in Gorin. Here they lived in the villages of Kondon, Boktor, Naga, Sargol, Khagdu. There were samaras on the Amur in the Nizhne-Tambov volost - 133 people, as well as in the Udsk district - 17. In fact, there were much more of them. All Samaras, with the exception of the Ud district, spoke the Nanai language. Numerous descendants of this ethnic group in the modern Nanais are known under the surname Samar.

The clan Kilens (Kili), widely known among the Nanai, is of Evenk origin. This is one of the many Evenk clans. In the 17th – 18th centuries, Kili lived in the region of the Okhota River. According to the testimony of the explorer Perfiliev, in the 17th century the “Kilorians” also lived at the mouth of the Amur. The Lower Amur Evenks, Orochi, Oroks, Ulchi and Amur Gilyaks (Nivkhs), were called Kils. In the 50s of the XIX century, the Kilens went along the Kur River (the right tributary of the Tunguska) into the Amur basin. Once the Kili were a very numerous Tungus tribe, which, having come out to the Amur, became part of the Nanai, Oroch, Oroks, Ulchi and Nivkhs. Among the Nanai, the Kili at the end of the 19th century formed a special group. L. Shrenk considered them even a special people (tribe), since their language was significantly different from other Tungus-speaking peoples. The 1897 census recorded Kili among the Nanais in Nizhne-Tambov and Trinity volosts, as well as in the Sungari. At present, the descendants of the Amur Kilens are part of the Nanais with the surnames Kile, Kilya, Kili.

A. Smolyak gives a vivid example of the continuity of assimilative processes within the Nanai ethnos. According to a 1958 report, Ch. Oninka from the village of Syra on Anyue, in the distant past, the ancestors of the Oninka clan lived in the upper reaches of the Amur. Later they moved to Ussuri, then to the coast of the Tatar Strait, to the Kukchi River. Here they entered into kinship with the local Udege, forming the Udege clan of Kukchinka. Then several families of this clan moved to the Anyui tributary of the Amur. Surrounded by the Nanai, they began to be called the Nanai Oninka. Part of Oninka, after an intra-family quarrel, went down the Amur to Lake Udyl and soon became known as the Ulchi Dyatala. Similar ethnic metamorphoses are characteristic of other Nanai clans. It is known, for example, that part of the Nanai clans of Tumali, Gail, Zaksor, Khodzher, some subdivisions of the Beldy clan came from the lower reaches of the Amur; a significant part of the Nanai clans come from the tributaries of the Amur and its upper reaches.

The Russians met the ancestors of the modern Nanais (natki, achans, goldiks) in the middle of the 17th century during the campaigns of V. Poyarkov and E. Khabarov, but direct contacts with them were resumed only in the middle of the 19th century, when the Amur region again became part of the Russian state. By the time the Russian settlers arrived at the Amur, the disintegration of the patriarchal clan among the Nanais was accompanied by the formation of a territorial community. The new type of association was based not on kinship, but on neighborly ties. As part of the territorial communities, all the villagers now had the common name of Nankan, those who live in the same village. Only exogamy, the custom of tribal revenge, and the sphere of religious relations reminded of the existence of a tribal organization. Within the community there was a process of property stratification. The close proximity to the Russians led to a significant transformation of traditional culture. The process of decomposition of the natural economy has accelerated. Administratively, the Nanai were ruled by their own foremen, subordinate to the district police officers. Like other peoples of the Amur, they were exempted from paying yasak, but they bore various duties along with the Russian population.

Interrelation of the indigenous people with the Russians varied. They sold the products of their crafts to the settlers; Russian merchants began to supply the Nanais with imported goods. The common occupation - fishing - especially contributed to the rapprochement of the Russians with the Nanais. At first, they adopted from local residents their methods of catching fish, acquired boats and fishing gear.

Fishing became the most important motive for the peasant colonization of the Amur at the beginning of the 20th century. Fishing by Russian entrepreneurs has been widely developed. A gradual ousting of the traditional trade began.

Collective-farm and cooperative construction during the Soviet era largely contributed to the consolidation of the Nanai ethnos. At the beginning, fishing artels were created in almost every Amur village. With the development of the public economy and commercial industry, they began to enlarge and concentrate the population in large settlements. This process became especially widespread in the late 1950s - 1960s. The unification was accompanied by the liquidation of small settlements and the resettlement of collective farmers to the central estates of the united collective farms. If in 1926 the Nanais had 1 5 villages, then in 1957 only 30.

The process of consolidation of the Nanai ethnic group was completed mainly in the late 1960s. At the same time, other tendencies in the ethnic development of the Nanai, acculturation and assimilation, were gaining strength. The first of these was predominant until the mid-1950s. During this period, the Nanai were actively involved in Russian and general Soviet culture through a network of schools, the media, and a system of political propaganda. And yet, traditional elements predominated in the cultural complex of the Nanai. This was facilitated by two main factors: the persisting area of settlement and the prevailing employment in traditional sectors of the economy. Industrial construction that unfolded on the Amur in the 1960s and 70s, and the associated influx of newcomers, the resettlement of the Nanais due to the reorganization and enlargement of collective farms, the transformation of settlements into multinational settlements changed the socio-cultural environment in the traditional settlement areas. The number of cross marriages is growing, the native language is losing its position.

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