Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Foreword: The Unknown Arsenyev

Ivan Yegorchev

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pp. xi-xiv

Vladimir Arsenyev (1872–1930) is a well-known figure among Russians as a scientist, explorer, and writer. He was an officer in the Russian Imperial Army and advanced to the rank of lieutenant colonel by 1913. In his thirty years in the Russian Far East, Arsenyev took part in a dozen major (and innumerable minor) expeditions to study the forested corners of the Ussuri Kray. He is probably best known outside of Russia for Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation...

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Preface to the 1921 Edition

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pp. xv-xx

Here, I offer readers a popular account of an expedition I led to the Sikhote-Alin Mountains in 1906. It is both a field journal and a geographical description of the routes I followed.

In this book, the reader will find descriptions of the wilderness and inhabitants of this area, much of it now lost to history. The Ussuri Kray has changed dramatically in the past fifteen years. The primeval, virgin forests across many of these lands...

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Translator’s Acknowledgments

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pp. xxi-xxii

Thanks to reviewers Irina Goodrich and Amir Khisamutdinov, who provided invaluable advice, comments, and critique of this translation and its annotations. Dr. Khisamutdinov also contributed significantly to the biographical notes section. Rada Surmach and Violetta Avello provided insight on Chinese transliterations. Carol Kennedy carefully edited the text. Janice Frisch, Nancy Lightfoot, Robert Sloan, and Raina Polivka of Indiana University Press provided...

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Translator’s Introduction

Jonathan Slaght

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pp. xxiii-xxviii

In trying to recall when I first learned of Vladimir K. Arsenyev, I admit a hazy memory. Since 1995—when I was nineteen years old—I have been traveling to the region formerly called the Ussuri Kray (now Primorye, or Primorsky Kray), where Arsenyev is a constant like the Sikhote-Alin Mountains and familiar like the tiger on the Vladivostok city crest. The first time I was drawn to read Arsenyev’s books was more than a decade ago. I was with colleagues at the...

Title Page, Map

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pp. 1-2

Part I: The 1902 Expedition

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1 The Glass Valley

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pp. 5-13

During one of my assignments with a hunting team in 1902, I made my way up the Tsimukhe River, which flows into Ussuri Bay near the village of Shkotovo.1 My team consisted of six Siberian riflemen and four pack horses. The goal of this expedition was to militarily survey the area around Shkotovo and to learn what I could about the mountain passes of the Dadyanshan range, which is the source of four rivers: the Tsimukhe, Maykhe, Daubikhe, and Lefu. After which...

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2 Meeting Dersu

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pp. 14-20

After a break, the detachment set off again. We were in a section of forest with many wind-fallen trees, and this slowed our pace considerably. We reached a peak of some kind by about four o’clock. Leaving the men and horses behind, I ascended it alone to get my bearings.

It’s best to climb trees for yourself. This is not the kind of task that a rifleman can be charged with, as you need to assess the lay of the land with your own eyes. No matter how sensibly or accurately a rifleman can explain what he sees, it’s hard to navigate...

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3 The Boar Hunt

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pp. 21-30

The riflemen started to load up the horses after we had tea, and Dersu got his things together as well. He put on his backpack and picked up his shooting stick and rifle. After a few minutes our detachment set off, and Dersu went with us.

The ravine we walked down was long and winding. Other gorges, full of noisily rushing water, converged with ours. The gully widened and eventually turned into a valley. We found that some...

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4 The Incident at a Korean Village

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pp. 31-37

That morning I woke later than the others. The first thing I noticed was the absence of sun—the sky was overcast. Dersu saw that the riflemen were packing their things as though to prepare for rain, and said:

“No need to hurry. Good go our day, then evening will rain.”

I asked him why he thought so.

“Look for self,” answered the Gold, “You see little birds go here and there, play, eat. If rain soon, him...

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5 The Lower Reaches of the Lefu

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pp. 38-52

The next morning I decided that Olentyev and one of the riflemen, named Marchenko, would go with me, and I would send the others to the village of Chernigovka with orders to wait there for our return. With the help of a village elder in Lyalichi we quickly found a punt that was in quite decent condition, and we exchanged twelve rubles and two bottles of vodka for it.1 We spent the remainder of the day outfitting our boat. Dersu fashioned a paddle, used stakes...

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6 The Blizzard at Lake Khanka

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pp. 53-60

Lake Khanka (Kenka in Gold), located between 44°36' and 45°2' north latitude, is a somewhat egg-shaped body of water.1 It is situated such that the broad, round end of the “egg” is in the north, and the tapered end of the “egg” faces south. At its maximum the lake is 60 kilometers wide, and at its minimum is 30 kilometers wide. It is about 260 kilometers around, 85 kilometers long, and covers an area of about 2,400 square...

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7 Parting Ways with Dersu

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pp. 61-64

There was a cold snap the next morning. A ll the surrounding water had frozen, and there was frazil ice in the river.1 It took us a whole day just to negotiate the channels of the Lefu River as we frequently hit dead ends and had to backtrack. After about 2 kilometers following one channel, we turned up a neighboring one, which was narrow and winding. There was a solitary, conical, oak-covered hill where this waterway rejoined the main channel, and we spent...

Part II: The 1906 Expedition

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8 Expedition Preparations and Equipment

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pp. 67-73

“Staff Captain Arsenyev, of the 29th East Siberian Infantry Regiment, has been assigned leader of an expedition to explore the Sikhote-Alin Mountains and the coastal regions north of Saint Olga Bay, time allowing, and the upper reaches of the Ussuri and Iman Rivers, to be carried out summer and autumn of this year. Lieutenant Granatman of the same regiment, Ensign Anofryev of the Ussuri Cossack Division, and Lieutenant-Engineer Merzlyakov have been...

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9 At the Departure Site

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pp. 74-78

Leading an expedition necessitates the following skills: one must (1) be able to organize a team and be able to complete all preparatory work well before the expedition begins; (2) know how to collect samples; (3) be able to keep a journal; (4) know what to pay attention to by discriminating between valuable and useless information; (5) be able to properly store collected samples; and (6) be able to process materials in a...

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10 Up the Ussuri

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pp. 79-91

The duties assigned to expedition members were as follows: G. I. Granatman was charged with maintaining and feeding the horses, A. I. Merzlyakov was to conduct tangential assignments as needed (such as exploring side drainages), I was in charge of ethnographical studies and cartography, and N. A. Palchevsky would head straight for Olga Bay, where he would collect vegetation samples until the detachment arrived, and would then join us to travel further...

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11 From Chzhumtayza to the Village of Zagornaya

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pp. 92-98

We thought that by morning the rain might stop, but we were mistaken. In fact, by dawn it was raining even harder. In order to prevent the water from dousing the fire we had to continually throw wood on it, which burned poorly and smoked heavily. People huddled in their mosquito-net tents and didn’t venture out. Time passed tediously and slowly.

Rain falls simultaneously across a broad area in the Ussuri Kray, and does so with surprising regularity. Sometimes these rains...

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12 The Route across the Mountains to the Village of Koksharovka

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pp. 99-110

I rushed to the window at daybreak the following morning (May 31st). The rain had stopped but the weather remained gloomy and damp, and fog shrouded the mountains like a veil. Through it, I could just make out the valley, the forest, and structures of some kind on the river bank. If we were to head out that morning, we would have to move slowly, stopping often to orient ourselves before going further. But we were forced to linger in town any way...

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13 The Fudzin River Valley

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pp. 111-123

We left Koksharovka on June 6th. Our horses were rested and walked with greater energy, irrespective of the fact that there were just as many horseflies and blackflies as the day before. It was particularly difficult to walk at the rear of the detachment; this was where the bulk of the biting flies congregated. W hen the flies are bad it’s best to walk ahead of the horses. The road leaving Koksharovka followed the right bank of the Ulakhe River. The going was fairly...

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14 Through the Taiga

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pp. 124-133

After a short rest, I went to investigate some Tazy fanzas near Iolayza. The Udege are the indigenous peoples of the central Sikhote-Alin that live along the coast north to Cape Uspenka. Those living further south have become assimilated with the Chinese over time, and are now indistinguishable from the Manzas. The Chinese call these people da-tszy, which translates as “mixed breed” (that is, neither Russian, Chinese, nor Korean), which is where the Russians...

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15 The Great Forest

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pp. 134-143

In the morning I woke to the sound of voices. It was five o’clock. Judging by how the horses were snorting and loudly swishing their tails, and how the Cossacks were swearing, I could guess that the gnus were bad. I quickly dressed, slid out of my mosquito net, and was met by an interesting scene. A swirling cloud of countless blackflies hung over our camp. The poor horses, trembling and swatting their tails, had buried their faces right into...

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16 Across the Sikhote-Alin to the Sea

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pp. 144-156

The next day, June 16th, we left camp at five o’clock in the morning and immediately began ascending the Sikhote-Alin. The climb was slow and gradual. Our guide kept us on as straight a path as possible, but where it was very steep we ascended using switchbacks.

The streams ebbed the higher we went and eventually disappeared completely. The hollow sound of bubbling water under the rocks was evidence that there was still plenty of flow...

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17 The Villages of Fudin and Permskoye

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pp. 157-162

The Arzamasovka River is the largest left tributary of the Vay-Fudzin, and there is a small Russian village called Fudin (later renamed Vetkin) located just above their confluence. The original settlers were among the first immigrants to the Kray from European Russia, but by 1906 there were only four families remaining.1 There is something special about this place; the cozy-looking houses are weathered but clean, and the peasants are cheerful and...

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18 Saint Olga Bay

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pp. 163-171

Saint Olga Bay (43°42'50" north latitude, 135°14'18" east longitude) was discovered in 1787 by the French explorer Lapérouse, who called it Port Seymour. During the Crimean War, several British ships pursued a Russian warship, which took advantage of the fog and concealed itself in this bay unfamiliar to them.1 The British subsequently lost sight of their quarry and gave up chase. This event occurred on July 11th, which is Saint Olga’s Day, so the Russians decided...

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19 Trip to the Sydagou River

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pp. 172-183

On the 26th the sky darkened as a gusty wind blew the clouds into a thick fog. This was a bad sign. The rain and wind began that night and did not let up for three days. On the 28th there was a strong storm with torrential rains. Water flowed from the mountains in swift streams, rivers overflowed their banks, and all communication between Saint Olga Post and neighboring settlements...

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20 Adventure on the Arzamasovka River

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pp. 184-223

The weather began to deteriorate again starting July 7th, with constant wind and rain. I took advantage of the bad weather to plot future routes and went over my field journals, which took three days. Once I had finished with that I began planning another excursion, this time to the Arzamasovka River. A. I. Merzlyakov was tasked with surveying the Kasafunova and Kabanya [“boar”] River valleys, and G. I. Granatman decided to carry out reconnaissance...

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21 Saint Vladimir Bay

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pp. 224-232

While I had been on the Arzamasovka River, our long-awaited supplies arrived by ship from Vladivostok. The timing was perfect. We had explored the environs of Saint Olga Bay and were ready to move on. We spent July 24th and 25th preparing, after which time the horses were well rested and fully recovered. Our clothing and the horses’ gear were all repaired and ready, and our food supplies had been...

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22 The Tadusha River

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pp. 233-240

Sunrise found us on the road. There were two ways to reach the Tadusha from Saint Vladimir Bay. The first was to follow the Khuluay River to the Tapouza, and then to the Silyagou, which is a tributary of the Tadusha. The second route, which was closer to the sea, first went along the Tapouza then crossed the mountains to the Tadusha’s source. I chose to take the latter as it was a lesser known...

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23 Dersu Uzala

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pp. 241-247

The weather deteriorated noticeably that afternoon, and the sky filled with low-moving storm clouds that obscured the mountain tops. This gave the valley a grim appearance; the cliffs that had looked so striking in the sun were now somber, and the river water was dark. I knew what this meant and ordered that we set camp and collect an extra supply of firewood for the...

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24 Amba

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pp. 248-256

A thick, heavy fog enveloped us the following day. It was gray, overcast, cold, and damp.

After hastily drinking some tea and stuffing some sukhari into our pockets, Dersu and I went on ahead while the others packed up the equipment and loaded the horses. Since I was surveying our route, I usually left camp earlier than the rest. We walked so slowly that the detachment overtook us after only two hours. We did not catch up...

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25 The Li-Fudzin

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pp. 257-263

Sleeping late was out of the question as our camp was inundated by mosquitoes at first light. Everyone got up at the same time. The Cossacks hastily loaded the horses and set off without making tea. The fog dissipated once the sun came up, and there were patches of blue sky.

The Li-Fudzin River turns toward the northwest after the confluence with the Kvandagou River and has a meandering main channel, with steep banks and rocky shoals alternating...

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26 The Path along the Noto River

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pp. 264-274

We left the horrible place known as the Fudzin, where people are buried alive, on the morning of August 8th. We started out by backtracking toward the Syayenlaza Mountains from the Iolayza fanza, then headed due north along a small river called the Pougou. Translated into Russian this means “valley of roe deer.” An older Tazy gentleman volunteered to guide us a bit of the way. He walked with Dersu the whole time and spoke with him in a low...

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27 An Accursed Place

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pp. 275-283

Dersu woke me at dawn on August 12th. The Cossacks were still asleep. We took the hypsometer and headed back up the Sikhote-Alin; I was interested in measuring the altitude on the other side of the saddle. As far as I could tell, here the Sikhote-Alin mountain range stretched toward the southwest with gentle slopes facing inland (the Danantsa) and steep slopes facing the sea (the Tadusha). On one side was nothing more than moss and conifers, while the other...

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28 Return to the Sea

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pp. 284-292

After crossing the pass and following the flow of water east, we reached the Inzalazagou (or the “valley of the silver cliffs”), by three-hirty in the afternoon. Of all the Tyutikhe’s tributaries, this was the largest and closest to the coast. The upper reaches of the Inzalazagou are comprised of two small rivers, the Sitsa and the Tuntsa, and each of these is made up of several small creeks...

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29 Up the Tyutikhe River

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pp. 293-307

We took August 26th off, dedicated the 27th to getting our belongings together, and began moving again on the 28th. I went with Dersu and four Cossacks up the Tyutikhe River, Granatman headed toward the Iodzykhe River, and Merzlyakov was charged with surveying the coast up to Dzhigit Bay.1

At 80 kilometers in length, the Tyutikhe River (called the Nogule by the Udege) is probably the longest of all the coastal...

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30 The Red Deer Rut

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pp. 308-314

The Gorbusha River (or Dunmatsa in Chinese) is 8 kilometers long and generally flows along a curve from the east to the south. It takes on a nameless tributary on its right side, not far from its mouth, along which there are a number of expansive caves. They are arranged in two tiers and descend in a spiral. These caves are made very interesting by the diversity of deep shafts, passageways, and column-like stalactites. Inside, bas-relief mineral formations...

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31 The Bear Hunt

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pp. 315-322

The next day, which was September 7th, we continued our journey. We came to a Chinese hunter’s lean-to, and there were two trails leading from it. The first went down along the Sinantsa River while the second went to the right, along the Aokhobe River (called the Ekhe in Udege, meaning “demon”). Had I followed the Sinantsa, I would have ended up right at Dzhigit [“horseman”] Bay. 1 But then the coast between the Tyutikhe and the Iodzykhe Rivers would...

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32 From the Mutukhe River to Seokhobe

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pp. 323-333

Dersu was up at dawn, before anyone else. I got up next, and the rest followed. The sun had only just risen, with its rays barely gilding the mountain tops. Immediately across from camp, at a distance of about two hundred paces, there was another bear. It was digging in one spot and probably would have continued doing so for a while if not spooked off by Murzin. The Cossack shot his rifle in the air, causing the bear to spin around in our direction...

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33 An Encounter with the Khunkhuz

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pp. 334-342

Dersu came upon some human footprints on the trail that afternoon, and he began to pay close attention to them. In one place he picked up a papirosa butt and elsewhere a section of blue daba. In his opinion, there were two people: not Manza workers but likely do-nothings instead. No working man would discard new daba simply because it was stained; even an old rag was worn until it completely disintegrated. And workers smoked pipes—papirosas were too...

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34 Fire in the Forest

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pp. 343-354

The 27th was devoted to exploring Terney Bay (at Cape Strashny [“fearsome”], 45°01'44" north latitude and 136°38'44" east longitude), which was discovered by Lapérouse on June 23rd, 1767, and given this name at that time.1 Here, as with other bays along the coast, it was clear that at one time Terney Bay went much further inland than it does today. The river is extremely deep at its mouth, the bay protrudes to the side, and there are several lakes among...

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35 The Winter Expedition

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pp. 355-365

We did not set off on the 16th as planned. We were delayed by our Chinese escorts, who did not show up until about noon. Then the Tazy took us from one fanza to the next, where the inhabitants of each one asked us to come in, even if only for a minute. Every where we went Dersu was greeted boisterously. The women and children waved at him, and he responded in kind. This was how it went, from one fanza to the next, resulting in constant...

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36 To the Iman

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pp. 366-375

The descent from the Sikhote-Alin toward the west was gentle, strewn with boulders, and passed through dense forest. The small creek we followed took us to the Nantsa River, which flows from the northeast along the Sikhote-Alin, then gradually inclines to the northwest.

The Nantsa River valley is wide, swampy, and covered by dense coniferous and mixed forest.

The hunting trail at times followed the valley edge and at times...

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37 A Dangerous River Voyage

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pp. 376-384

On the old maps, the ones drawn up in 1854 and used under Tikhmenev’s tenure as governor-general of the Primorskaya Oblast, this river was called the Niman.1 The word is Manchurian and means “mountain goat.” It is easy to derive another word from this: Iman. The Udege use an abbreviated name, Ima, and the Chinese add their own ending to this, khe (meaning “river”), resulting in Imakhe....

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38 Plight

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pp. 385-393

We reached the Khugado R iver by noon the next day, which was November 2nd. This river flows along a curve from the west toward the south. We were to follow it up to a pass of a mountain range that was the reason for the Iman’s meander there. This small river was 3.5 kilometers long. Both the ascent and descent were equally steep, about thirty degrees, and the pass itself was 350 meters above the...

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39 From Vagunbe to Parovoza

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pp. 394-400

We continued on our way the next morning, which was November 8th.

A ll the Udege saw us off. This motley throng made for a strange sight with their sun-darkened faces and squirrel-tail hats.1 There was something wild and naïve in each movement the crowd made.

We walked in the middle of this group, next to the elders, while the younger Udege ran about distracted by tracks of Eurasian otter, red fox, and mountain hare. W hen we reached the edge of the clearing...

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40 The Final Trip

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pp. 401-408

We got up late the next day, ate some fish, and continued on our way. Sarl Kimunka took us to some Koreans who had recently settled near Parovoza. We needed to find a boat to cross the Iman as its lower reaches were not yet frozen. We went from fanza to fanza but found only women, who hid their children and observed us in silent fear. This approach was not getting us any where, so I gave up and ordered the men down to the river. Our Udege guide found a punt hidden...

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Appendix 1: Historical and Current Names of Landmarks and Settlements

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pp. 409-424

Deteriorating Sino-Russian relations climaxed with a 1969 border dispute at Damansky Island (near the Russian city of Khabarovsk) that left hundreds of Soviet and Chinese troops dead. To cement Russian dominion over the southern Russian Far East, the original Chinese names of thousands of rivers, mountains, and towns were hastily changed between 1972 and 1973 (Stephan 1994). Here, original names and their meanings (where known) are compared to contemporary names and their meanings. Most original...

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Appendix 2: Biographical Information of Characters

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pp. 425-430

Anuchin, Dmitry (1833–1900) was appointed governor-general of East Siberia in 1879. One of the hallmarks of his legacy was the passing of the South Ussuri Settlement Law of 1882, which offered prospective settlers from overpopulated southwestern Russia fifteen desyatinas of land (16.35 hectares) per person, five years of tax exemption, food provisions for eighteen months, tools, construction materials, agricultural equipment, and transport from Odessa to V ladivostok. This heralded the second major wave...

Bibliography

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pp. 431-438

Index

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pp. 439-454

Contributors

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p. 455