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Traditional activities

On the territory of the settlement of the Nanai people, Amur, in its upper reaches, flows among the flat lowlands and breaks up into channels between the islands. Below the mouth of the Hungari, such areas alternate with stretches, where the mountains drop off on the right bank directly to the river bed; here the Amur carries its waters in one powerful and wide (about 2 km) stream. Then, within the Udyl-Kizinskaya depression, the river again splits into channels. The Amur and its main tributaries (left - Tunguska with Urmi and Kur, Gorin, Limuri; right - Anyui, Hungari) serve as the most important transport artery of the region and at the same time are rich in fish resources, especially anadromous salmon (chum salmon and pink salmon), sturgeon, etc.

Despite the southern position (48-51° N latitude – as same as the Kharkov latitude), winters are severe, with cold winds and heavy snow cover. Higher up the Amur summers are warmer, and cooler in the north. Fast and strong, sometimes devastating river floods occur in the second half of summer and early autumn (July-September), during the monsoon rains, when the bulk of annual precipitation falls.

The Amur valley in this area is bounded in the south by the uplands of the Sikhote Alin ridge, the slopes of which in places break off to the river bed, and are often separated from it by a wide valley lowland. On the left bank of the Amur, where the largest lake is located. Bolon-Ojal, the hills are almost everywhere remote from the Amur.

Vegetation of the region is variegated and rich in the southern part, more uniform in the Gorin basin, north of it and in the mountainous regions remote from the Amur. In many places – among lowlands, in mountain falls with gentle slopes, etc. – marshes are widely developed – swamps, open and with rare crooked larch. In the floodplain of the Amur and along its flooded islands, willow (talnik) thickets and tussock reed meadows are widespread. In general, along the rivers, up to the middle reaches of the Gorin, there are riverine forests with dense and high grass cover - various deciduous trees and shrubs entwined with lianas (poplars, bird cherry, ash, Amur lilac, maples, honeysuckle, spirea, etc.). On the mountain slopes there are mixed forests of cedar, larch, spruce, fir, yellow birch, aspen, linden, maples, oak, lilac, hazel, etc. Pine is already found in the Gorin basin, and to the north, in the lower belt of the mountains, prevail monotonous larch forests. At altitudes of about 1400 m and higher, there is developed alpine vegetation with cedar hazel and lichen cover on rocky areas.

The fauna is represented by Manchurian and Siberian forms. Squirrel, fox, otter, sable are widespread; up to the Gorin basin, there is a raccoon dog, hare, bear, wild boar, tiger, elk, musk deer. From birds - hazel grouse, black hazel grouse - grouse, black grouse, etc.

It was in this natural diversity that a traditional economy was formed, which was of a complex nature. Year-round fishing, combined with hunting, prevailed. Gathering was important. Mass fishing began with the spring opening of the rivers, when any (over 120 species) fish were caught. In August - September, fixed and flowing nets of various shapes, small seines (a large net with a sack) were placed on salmonids, and they were beaten with harpoons and prisoners (with a pitchfork tool). In the winter and summer, they erected stitches or ramps (hedges in the reservoir, often in the form of the letter "L", with a net trap). The period of salmon fishing for the family was the most intense: men caught fish, women cut it up, prepared for future use, children provided all possible help. Salmon was stocked in such quantity that it would last for a year. They prepared yukola, melted fish oil, collected skins, stored up all kinds of waste for feed for sled dogs and hunting dogs, which were kept up to ten per family.

Men hunted all year round elk, Manchurian elk, bear, wild boar and poultry. Fur animals were hunted in groups in winter, leaving for the taiga for 2-4 months. There are various ways and tools of hunting: with the help of a spear (guide), darts (sugbe); on the crust - with a spear and a bow (storms); during the rut, the ungulates were tempted with a decoy - a birch bark pipe; used trapping pits, hedges - notches, fences, crossbows (toygana) were placed on large animals, loops, nets on sables, and traps on other fur-bearing animals.

At the end of the XIX century. hunted with guns, but bows continued to be used. In the taiga, timber was harvested for construction and other needs, birch bark for utensils and boats, materials for weaving. They were engaged in the construction of dwellings and outbuildings, boats, bone processing, blacksmithing. They made spears, hooks, ruled knives, weaved nets and seines, and produced ginseng root for sale. The women collected wild plants, processed the skins and skins of animals and fish, sewed clothes, shoes, hats, weaved mats, baskets, and handbags. If necessary, they hunted and fished. In winter, when the men were not at home, they had to cut through the ice themselves, put shelters over the ice-hole, catch fish with bag-shaped nets or fishing rods.

They moved along the rivers on planks of heavy carrying capacity flat-bottomed boats with a sharp nose and blunt stern, as well as on pointed or spatulate-nosed dugout boats and birch bark boats (a local term). In winter - on skis-heads and fur-lined skis, as well as on Amur-type dog sleds, light, narrow, with runners bent on both sides. They sat astride them, putting their feet on small skis. The dogs were harnessed with a "snake" or "herringbone". Every family certainly had a hand sled, similar in shape to the traditional Amur sled. She was pulled by a team of two or three dogs. At the end of the XIX century. they borrowed from the Russians low, wide sledges with vertical and horizontal arcs and paired harnessed dogs. They were used to transport government cargo and mail. In the same period, they began to transport goods by horse.

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