1 The Glass Valley
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PART I The 19O2 Expedition This page intentionally left blank 5 1 The Glass Valley Maytun Bay. The Village of Shkotovo. The Beytsa River. An Encounter with a Leopard. Dadyanshan. Red Deer. 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 aroundShkotovoandtolearnwhatIcouldaboutthemountainpassesof the Dadyanshan range, which is the source of four rivers: the Tsimukhe, Maykhe, Daubikhe, and Lefu. After which, I was to examine all trails in the area of Lake Khanka, and those near the Ussuri Railway.2 The mountain ridge in question rises near the village of Iman in the north, then runs south parallel to the Ussuri River from the north- 1. “Hunting teams” were Russian military units used as training platforms for elite soldiers. In peacetime they were tasked with a variety of specialized assignments that required knowledge of wildlife and the outdoors, from capturing feral horses to protracted reconnaissance expeditions like the one described here (Lugansky 1997). 2. Russia and Japan both had eyes for expansion into Manchuria at the turn of the twentieth century, with Russia slowly gaining influence and Japan slowly losing it. Surveys such as this one led by Arsenyev were conducted to take stock of resources and local roads’ infrastructure in the off chance of war with Japan (which Russia thought unlikely). These competing expansionist interests would ultimately come to a head a few years later in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), a humiliating defeat for the Russians and one of the triggers that led to the Russian Revolution and fall of the Romanov Dynasty more than a decade later. See Jukes (2002) for a concise but compelling account of this conflict. 6 The 1902 Expedition northeast to the south-southwest, so that the Sungacha River and Lake Khanka lie to its west, and the Daubikhe River lies to its east. Then, the ridge splits into two branches: one going southwest to form the Bogataya Griva [“thick mane”; a ridge that extends along the entire MuravёvAmursky peninsula], and the other running south, where it merges with the high range that is the watershed between the Daubikhe and Suchan Rivers. The upper portion of Ussuri Bay is called Maytun Bay, which once cut somewhat further inland than it does now. This is evident from first glance, as there are coastal cliffs a good 5 kilometers inland. The mouth of the Tangouza River used to be where Sanpouza and Elpouza Lakes are now, and the mouth of the Maykhe River used to be a little further inland than that, where the railroad now crosses it. The whole area is now 22 square kilometers of wetland and filled with sediment from the Maykhe and Tangouza Rivers. There are still some small lakes among the wetlands; these represent areas where the ancient bay had been at its deepest. The slow process by which the sea cedes area to dry land continues in the present day, with the same fate befalling Maytun Bay, which is now quite shallow. Its western shores are composed of the igneous rock porphyry and the eastern side is made of Tertiary sediments: granite and syenite from the Maykhe River valley, and basalts from a little further east.3 We were starting out from Shkotovo, a village founded in 1864 on the right bank of the Tsimukhe River’s mouth. Shkotovo was burned by the Khunkhuz in 1868, but was later rebuilt.4 Przhevalsky was there in 1870 and described a village of six houses with thirty-four residents.5 I considered Shkotovo to now be a relatively large village.6 3. The information here comes from D. N. Mushketov’s (1910) book Geological Description of the Area around the Suchansky Railroad [VKA]. 4. Khunkhuz were Chinese bandits that raided Russian settlements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The term in Chinese (hong huzi) means “red beard,” the etymology of which may derive from Russians who attacked Chinese and natives in the Amur region in the seventeenth century. In an odd twist, the Russians appear to have adopted the term for Chinese bandits who were opposed to Russian colonization (Stephan 1994). 5. Przhevalsky’s description of Shkotovo is from his 1869 book Travels through the Ussuri Kray [VKA]. 6. In 1902 there were eighty-eight families living...


Subject Headings

  • Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China) -- Description and travel.
  • Natural history -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
  • Dersu Uzala.
  • Arsenʹev, V. K. (Vladimir Klavdievich), 1872-1930 -- Travel -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
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