The Altai is a mountain system that fills the southern half of the Tomsk province with its spurs; in the northwest it is bordered by the Aleya River, in the southwest by the Irtysh River, in the north-east by the crack in which Lake Teletskoye lies; in the south-east by the state border the Russian Altai is bordered by the state border. Within these limits it covers an area of 2,500 square miles, in other words, as many as three Swiss can be excavated from the Russian Altai. The ridges that make up this system go in different directions and bend in different ways, which makes the system much more complex; the frames of our essay do not allow us to enter into the details of this subject, and therefore we will try to capture the relief of the system only in general terms. The main body of the system is on the southern border of the province; here, at 50° north latitude, lies the high plateau of Ukek; it has 7,800 feet of altitude; its width from west to east is about 10 versts. It is the center of the elevation of the system, so to speak, the Altai Pamir; it is deserted all year round; in summer, in June, snow often falls here; the thermometer at night falls below 0° and rivers are sometimes covered by rather thick ice.
The ice crust always covers the granite roundabouts on the banks of rivers. The only tree on the plateau of the birch (Betula nana).
From the north-east and south the plateau is limited by high snowy mountains; it is open only in the west; the number of descents from the plateau to the neighbouring valleys is limited; there are only two, one in the west to the deep valley of the Bukhtarma River, and one in the east; the last path leads to the Kobdo River system, which is within the Chinese borders, with the Ulan Daba Range, which rises another 1,460 feet above the plateau. In the north, although there is an opening, it cannot be used for human communications – it is a narrow slot through which water from the plateau flows furiously to the lower terrace on which the Katun River flows. This river originates in the southwestern slope of Mount Belukha and, having rounded it from the west, flows to the north and out of the Altai to the Siberian lowland. The Chui Plateau lies northeast of the Ukek, and is separated from it by a chain of Chui proteins; it is larger than the Ukek, about 60 versts long, but lower because it only rises to 6,000 feet. It is surrounded from all sides by high snowy mountains; from the south and east it is surrounded by the Sailugem Range, from the southwest by the Chuiskie squirrels, from the north by the Aigulak and Kurai mountains; the plateau is irrigated by the Chuya river, which, like Argut, flows quietly along the plateau at the top, while at the bottom it rushes rapidly through the gully and flows into the Katun above Argut. The pack roads from the plateau to China through Sa-Lugem are convenient, there are flat mountain passes, the exit to Russia is difficult, because it passes through the gully along which Chuya flows. Chuya plateau looks more friendly than Ukek; human life is possible on it; telangitis roam here already, with herds and on the bank of Chui the orders of Russian merchants trading in Altai and Mongolia live in wooden huts. The Chuya River originates in the northwest corner of the steppe; here two snowy peaks rise in close proximity to each other: Muyletu and Vurul – Taiga; at the northeast part of the foothills of these mountains lies a high plateau, on which many lakes are scattered, including two large Kendykty-Kul and Djuvlu-Kul.
The plateau is up to 30 versts long, Lake Kendykty-Kul is 8,200 feet above sea level and Lake Djuwu-Kul is 7,920 feet above sea level. The nature of this plateau is even harsher than in the Ukek plateau. At 8 p.m., the thermometer already drops below 0°. Small lakes in this plateau are covered with ice all year round; the shores of large lakes are covered with ravines in the middle of summer; Lake Djuvla-Kul was found covered with more ice by a traveler Chihachev around 5 June; later, around 26th of the same month, another traveler found it open, but its shores were covered with ice needles, which produced a kind of rustle at every new wave raid.
The only inhabitant of this cold plateau was the marmot (Arctomis Vobas) and the red duck (Vulpanser rutila) on the waters. There is no forest on the plateau, only some of the slopes of the mountains are downy with bushy birch (Betula nana), whose reddish and leathery leaves are more like cowberries than our birch leaves. Above the northern shore of Lake Dzhuvlu-kul is the Shapshal Range; this is the western end of the Tanpu-Ola Range, which here adjoins the Russian Altai as well as the long chain of the Chinese Altai at Mount Kuytuk. Behind Shapshalom take the beginning of the Barlyk and Chuya rivers, tributaries of Kemchik; here starts the Yenisei system.
All these three plateaus: Ukek, Chui and Djuvla-Kul lie on one common axis, passing from northeast to southwest, and represent as if one whole, lying between the top of the river Burlyka, on one end, and the top of the river Burchuma, flowing from Kuitun and flowing into the Black Irtysh – on the other. This is the only place where the systems of Yenisei and Irtysh come close to one another. Three connected plateaus can be taken as the basis of the Altai system.
On the western side of the Katun valley lies the Abai Plateau, it reaches up to 3,588 feet above sea level; farming is already possible here. The Abai steppe is not great; but the plateau, adjoining the southern foot of the Korgon Range, continues on the northern side of the range called the Kan Steppe. From the eastern part of the water escape to the Urusula valley; from the western to the Charysh valley. In the Kansk steppe, a loan of a merchant Mokin with a church has recently appeared, but there is no peasant settlement yet. The Kansk steppe used to be a favorite place for nomads, and in the last century the most important of the Altai zaisans, Zaisan Ombo, was nomadic here; as a result, all the Altai people are known among the Russians under the name of Kansk zemlyatsy. From the north, the Kansk steppe is fenced by a row of proteins, which continues from here to the west and east; the western end of this row serves as the right side of the Charysh valley, and the eastern end serves as the left side of the Urusula valley, so both valleys are bounded from the north by the same ridge. The squirrels, which are part of this ridge, have different names – over Charysh they are called Talitsky, over Urusul they are called Seminsky; the latter rests on the east side of the valley Katun. This will be our fourth chain, the northernmost and the last; to the north of it stretches the Siberian lowland.
The Altai rivers are numerous, and the most remarkable of the named Katun; (Khatun is translated as female); it merges with Biya, and together with it forms a vast Ob, running to the Arctic Ocean: Katun is an Altai beauty.
The valley of Katun pours out in a wide spread of mountains between two rows of plateaus described above; the river originates on the western slope of Belukha Mountain and makes four tribes to Seminskiy squirrel; first it flows to the west-south-west, then to the north, to the east and finally again to the north; the two upper tribes are wild mountainous; the middle and lower tribes are larger, especially the middle between the mouths of Coxu and Chui; the middle height of this last part of the valley descends from 3,000 to 2,000 feet; both the valley of Kutuni itself and the numerous side valleys are convenient for farming; not only is rye successfully cultivated here, but wheat is also well matured; the settled population of this valley is negligible, but not due to physical reasons; the whole Altai is considered to belong to His Majesty’s Cabinet, and permission to settle there depends on the mountain management of the Altai factories, which until recently considered the settlement of this rich region harmful to the interests of the Cabinet.
From the description of the central Altai we now move on to the description of its western part. Of the four tributaries of the Ob originating in the Altai (Sand, Anui, Charysh and Alei), only Charysh originates within the Altai, near the Kansk Plateau; the other three originate in the northern foothills of the Altai. Therefore, the mountainous part of Charysh is long; it is bounded on the one hand by the Talitsky and Batalitsky proteins, and on the other by the Korgon and Tigerets proteins; it is one of the most beautiful and fertile valleys in the Altai, with a settled population of Russian peasants, who, unfortunately, for the same reason as in the Katuni valley, are rapidly thinning in the upper part. The Charysh Valley cuts the strip of the northern foothills of the Altai into two halves, different in character; to the east of Charysh the Altai ends with a steep slope, downy with dense niello, i.e. a mixture of larches and firs, to which cedar groves are mixed on the ridge.
This slope can be seen from the city of Biysk in the form of a series of mountains, whose bluish silhouettes rise sharply on the horizon above a plain far south of the city. To the west of Charysh, the northern edge of the Altai has a very different character, it is an area of granite and porphyry, covered with pine forest, the mountains that make up the remote spurs of Kholzun and Tigerets proteins; granite ridges cross the country in different directions and sometimes rise in the form of separate significant mountains, such as Sinyukha (4,500 feet). ) and Revenyukha (3,300 ft.): these are the highest points in this country, they stand, however, in the background, sending ahead of themselves in the plain of smaller numerous ridges, gradually flickering and passing into the granite steppe.
A traveler approaching to this part of the Altai from Barnaul, the blue of the foothills begins to distinguish already from the station White Eyes; from the next station (Kalmykian capes), 70 versts from the foothills, he clearly begins to distinguish three rows of mountains – the nearest row, consisting of mountains Vostrukha and Ignatiha, behind them rises a higher – Sinyuha, behind which even higher Tigeretsky proteins.
This part of the Altai, densely populated by peasants, is rich in romantic paintings. The area consists of broken granite rocks; nudity of capriciously piled up boulders decorated with thick green bushes of honeysuckle, roses and haulm trees; perennial pines, strengthening their roots in the grooves between the boulders, climb almost to the top of the rock, which is often covered with streams of white, precisely lime liquid running down – a sign that the rock serves as an observation point for a large bird of prey; the massiveness of the cliffs is further softened by the whips of the lomonosa gooseberry, hanging from the eaves and quietly shaking by the wind.
In this part of the Altai is the famous Kolyvan Lake, which was described by many travelers and the original appearance of which is often found in textbooks of geology and physical geography.
Three large western valleys irrigated by the Uba, Ulba and Bukhtarma rivers open to the large Siberian Irtyshu river; the Uba is the middle one, the northernmost of these valleys, its beginning lies quite deep inside the Altai, and the peaks converge partly with the Charysh peaks, part with the peaks of the Koksuna river flowing eastwards to Katun. The upper half of the stream runs in a wild gully, which is rarely visited by travelers; the lower half is spacious and is accompanied by rocky mountains almost until the Uba River flows into the Irtysh. Beautiful places in the lower part of the valley. comfortable for farming, long ago attracted the peasant population to this part of the valley; in the upper part of the valley, densely covered with vegetation, many apiaries are scattered.
The Valley of the Ulba River is known and described because it was more often visited by travellers who were attracted here by the scientific interest associated with the existence of a rich silver Ridder mine.
The mine lies in the upper part of the valley, which looks like a hollow surrounded by high mountains; from this hollow there is one convenient exit down the river, while other neighboring areas are accessible mountain trails climbing up to 3,000 feet of high passes. On the south side of the hollow, the Ivanovo squirrels (6,768 feet above sea level) rise above it, which Ridders love to visit in cavalcades, especially if an important traveler arrives at the mine.
The Ridder mine is the only large village in Altai that fits so close to squirrels that within a few hours of a mountain ride a cavalcade can reach the Altai Fields, where travelers enter the Altai, getting to know the Altai flora of the range for the first time.
Fields covering soft squirrel stingrays are dotted with flowers of blue gentians, and where the stingray is exposed from a turf cushion, its stone steps are covered with lacquered wide leaves of badan or small serrated leaves – Drias octopetata.
Below the Ridderskogo mine, the Ulba Valley narrows and becomes particularly picturesque under the village of Butachikhi; the steep rocks rest on the water; the road in some places artificially breaks through in the soles of the steep rocks, whose sides are painted with blooming giant herbs: Bright blue sultans are covered (Aconitum hicoctonum), purple, fleshy ashes flowers (Dictamnus Fraxinella), large azure adenophora liliifolia bells and pink chipped flowers overhanging the obliquely raised stems of fry bushes alternate here; the wild peony (Paeonia anomala) and its crimson flowers join this circle of flowers. The woody vegetation consists of poplars, birches, aspens, willows and cherries, which turn it into a nature park.
Under the village Tarkhanskaya mountain of Ulba valley begins to smooth out, but coastal rocks accompany the river from the left bank almost to the very end; near the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk the river flows into Irtysh.
Ust-Kamenogorsk is a small city with 3,400 inhabitants.
The third largest western valley of the Altai is the Bukhtarminskaya. It is about 300 versts long and is the second largest in the Altai after the Katun valley. Its beginning lies on the central Ukek Plateau, between the two giants Belukha and Kuntukum; the lower end of the valley opens into the Irtysh Valley above its break between the Altai and Kalba; the Chindagatuy Gorge, located in the eastern part of the valley and adjacent to the Ukek Plateau, lies at an absolute height of 6,195 feet; Bukhtarma Fortress, at the mouth of the river Bukhtarma, at 1,301 feet. The diversity of vegetation and landscape nature differs from this difference in height, so no valley in the Altai differs in such contrasts as Bukhtarma. In its eastern part, the traveler sees himself among the diverse, often majestic, mountainous species; mountain rays covered with deciduous forest, terraces with thick and tall grass where people hide, fast mountain rivers that dangerously pass into fords, waterfalls, picturesque lakes surrounded by mountains, and often above all the snowy peak of Belukha, sparkling in the sun – these are the features that make up the paintings in the upper part of the Bukhtarma Valley, rather than forestless mountains and terraces with steppe short and by mid-summer scorched grass that characterize the western part of the same valley.
The river Bukhtarma consists of three springs; the most significant southern of them is called White Bukhtarma and flows from Mount Kuitun, the middle one – Chindagatuy, the northern one – just Bukhtarma, the last two streams are from lakes surrounded by stone marshes.
White Bukhtarma, until it joins the other two rivers, flows rapidly in a deep valley covered with coniferous forest, increasing along the way many tributaries flowing into it from neighboring proteins; the bottom of the valley is covered with huge granite boulders, through which water breaks off as cascades and waterfalls; As the road along the Bukhtarma Valley to the Ukaek Plateau (and further on to Kobdo) passes on its southern side, White Bukhtarma, which crosses the valley from south to north, is a major obstacle to the development of trade relations along this road; recently a bridge was built on it, but it is said that the river managed to destroy it.
The areas surrounding the Chindagatui tract, where the three rivers merge, are deserted; only downstream of Chindagatui does the Kirghiz winter begin, while the Russians settle only at the mouth of the Bereli River, where a village has been established only recently (not more than a year). The Bereli Valley is the best route from the valley of Burhtarma to the Belukha Mountain and the Bereli glacier. If you look at Belukha from the south, i.e. from the valley of Bukhtarma, you can see it as two pointed spires or horns separated by a horizontal ridge.
Not only these two spires, but also the separating crest, above all the surrounding measured peaks of the Altai, so Rebrel, the only scientist who visited Belukha, believes that their height reaches 11,500 feet. After Gebler, in 1880, we visited this majestic mountain.
Two glaciers roll down from Belukha, one to the Bereli Valley, the other to the Katuni Valley.
Below Berel, the nature in the valley of Bukhtarma becomes more friendly: the harsh climate is replaced by warmth, rains and hail, which often fall on the high mountains, are rare, and the valley becomes convenient for bakery farming. However, the settlements near the river began to be founded only after 1869, when these places became part of the empire.
Previously, part of the Bukhtarma valley, from the top to Genghistai, belonged to China, and here passed only the line of Mongolian guards. When the region joined Russia, Russian Cossack and peasant villages were founded here. On the right bank of Bukhtarma, in numerous, strongly ramified valleys of the southern slope of Kholzun, there have long lived fugitive dissenters, called bricklayers. They lived in villages and were long unknown to the government. Joined under Catherine, they enjoyed special privileges on an equal footing with foreigners, bore the burden of recruitment and paid half the salary of taxes.
The character of wooded mountains and densely grassed terraces remains as far as Genghista; to the west of here the valley of Bukhtarma, bounded by two high ridges, one (Kholzun) coming from Belukha, the other from Kuitun, expands and becomes steppe.
The eastern part of the Altai seems to be completely terra incognita (on the last map of Asian Russia, published by the military headquarters in 1883, between Katun and Teletskoe lake is almost no mountain, although cross chains stretch here and in the south to Teletskoe lake adjoins a ridge with snow spots of 8,000 feet high). We know very little about it, because very few travelers have visited this inaccessible and wild region covered with dense niello
This inaccessibility is due to part of the dense forests, part of the steep mountains; the valleys are mostly squashed by steep rocks, from which often hang picturesque waterfalls, rivers crossed by rapids; on the mountain slopes, where the traveler turns to bypass the inaccessible part of the river valley, he is met by other obstacles – forest thickets clogged by a storm, or stone marsh.
The main ridge runs along the eastern edge of the country and separates the peaks of the Teletskoye Lake tributaries from the Kemchik system; high and difficult passes lead from one system to another; the southernmost Shapshal pass (10,564 feet above sea level) lies to the north of Lake Dzhuvlu-Kul; north of it lies the Koser pass, and even north of it lies the third pass, at the top of the Chulcha River; the last one is more convenient and it is used by Biysk merchants with their goods to the Kemchik valley; the first two passes are less accessible; here horsemen climb a steep mountain on frozen blocks; at the top of the Chulcha River the road goes through a mountainous area dotted with lakes: Iti-Kul, Jildys-Kul (Lake Zvezda). Terikol and Karakol.
In the whole space from Shapshal to Ita-Kul the terrain seems uncomfortable and cold; the way near the western slope of the ridge, of which only there are news, because on the eastern slope of the ridge has not yet been any traveler; passing, a traveler here presses to the ridge of the ridge, because at the sole of the swamp spreads and the surface is complicated by the boulders of granite and Sienite falling from the ridge; where these boulders are replaced by clay soil, it becomes smoother, but this is not for the traveller’s pleasure, because here he has to get into a swamp, which from afar is already recognizable by the bushy birch (Betula nana); the vegetation here is scarce; occasionally the traveller will be pleased only by the bushy Badana (Taxifraga crassifolia) or Potentilla anserina.
The country between this ridge and the valley of the river Katun represents three large river valleys: Bashkausa, Chulyshmana and Chulcha; all these three rivers are connected in the north and flow into Lake Teletskoye by a common channel.
All three valleys are inaccessible. Chulyshman originates from Lake Juwla-Kul and flows first through the flat terrain, but its shores are inaccessible due to the surrounding marshes; soon it enters the cheeks, followed by the expansion of the valley; the river hides in the cheeks again, and only at the mouth of the valley opens again. The upper parts of Bashkaus are more accessible; they are surrounded by gentle slopes of mountains; the alluvial valley of the river is also wide here; that is why the valley of Bashkaus is a good place for Telenguta pastures and they spend winter there, passing here from summer nomads to Chuya; however, it is difficult to get into this area – with Chuya one has to pass through high mountains, with snowy peaks and lakes covered with ice all year round; even more impregnable is the area separating Bashkaus from the Katun valley, because of the steepness and rockiness of the mountains passing here, and the exit down the valley is completely unthinkable, because here the river, for 40 versts, flows between two steep walls, from which the picturesque staubakhs fall, one of such waterfalls saw Bunge.
The river Chulyshman, taking in itself Chulcha and Bashkaus, spills out to the southern end of Lake Teletskoe; the lake is 175 versts long, the width of the lake, in the widest place, reaches only 6 versts; the shores of the lake are picturesque and consist of rocks, then falling steeply above the water, then far into the lake long, up to a mile long, capes; the rocks are mainly made up of oil shale strata set up steeply; the western shore is steeper than the eastern shore, especially in the southern part of the lake where the oil shale is replaced by granite; small rivers flowing into the lake often fall down from the rock by waterfalls; on the eastern side of the lake the traveler Helmersen saw three waterfalls in 1834: Ista, Ayukechpes and Atanysh, on the western side there are two: Agachka and Ayukechpes (the name translation: bear will not cross).
The coniferous forest of firs and larches, covering the steep ridges of plumb lines with bristles, increases the gloomy character of the picture of the lake, especially in its northern, narrowed part; in the southern half, where the lake is wider, the view of the lake is more welcoming and the landscape is more spacious; in the background, the peak of the Altyn-Tau squirrel is shown; the dark color of the water is replaced by green; the water here, enclosed by rocks, heats up more; animals of life are more numerous, flocks of birds are more visible along the banks.
The shores of the lake are not inhabited at all; the western shore, due to its inaccessibility, is not inhabited at all; only the northern and southern shores, and in the southern part of the eastern shore, are inhabited by nomads; in the lower part of Chulipshan agriculture is carried out, not only barley, but also wheat and tobacco are cultivated; there are no settled settlements on the Teletskoe Lake.
This lake has been very rarely visited by travellers. Only geologist Helmersen and several spectacular Atkinson species left a description of the lake.
We didn’t find it as spectacular as Atkinson or as terrible as the missionaries describe it.
We sailed through it at a fine time, admiring the steep banks. The northern part of his gloom, dark forests descend from the mountains, but the middle and southern part is picturesque. You swim among the rocks, which give spectacular capes. In the distance, the mountains’ amphibiles and steep cliffs finally open up, at 5,000 and 6,000 feet high, from where you can see waterfalls curling down the steps and falling into the lake. Sopka Altyn-Tau is covered with snow spots and floating clouds.
When we climbed this hill, we saw the lake lying at the foot, like on a saucer, 100 versts away.
Such a variety of conditions, a huge space that stretches before us, whole valleys, mountain terraces, suppressing the view, always excited in us thoughts, how many thousands of people here can find shelter and a place to live: on each of the mountain terraces can be built St. Petersburg.
And with all this, to your surprise, you meet a struggle for land, for the valley, for a fifth of the land, a struggle fierce between a foreign and Russian element; moreover, often between the first colonist and an alien. That’s where you come in!
From this essay we can already see the diversity of valleys and mountains in the Altai mountain system. There are inaccessible high mountains, wild gorges, forests and fruit-bearing valleys.
In terms of accessibility and amenities, the most enviable place is the northern foothills of the Altai and the valleys of Katun, Peschanaya and Kamenka. The Middle Altai, with its low ridges covered with herbs and vegetation, is also very comfortable to live in. The valleys of the Alei, Cherish, and Ursula are charming; the Abai Plateau represents the steppe and the transverse Uymon Valley is the last area convenient for agriculture. Behind the huge Katun Range lies Bukhtarma with its beautiful climate and southern flora. All this couldn’t help attracting the Russian population here, and here the colonization gradually, having crossed the Biyskaya line from the north, behind it the western part of Altai, then its middle, began to branch along the rivers and, finally, encircled the mountains along Bukhtarma from the south, where peasant and Cossack villages alternated. The foreign district and the camp appeared in the middle.
Once nomads used all these places; their herds were scattered in fruit-bearing valleys. Back in the 30s, during Chikhachev’s voyage, Altai behind the Altai village was a desert, now it is not so – along the northern tributaries of Katun there are a lot of villages and villages, and even more of them are built by arriving migrants.
Siberian peasants spread their handicrafts in Altai, put apiaries, beehives, loans (farms), barns for nut storage; they hunt in the valleys. The merchants have started their shops and loans, where they keep the purchased cattle.
Missionaries have set up and mapped out up to 70 villages or camps for newly baptized people. It is clear that the nomadic foreigner and the local beasts were to be squeezed, moved away, and the foreign kingdom now represents a piece of cut-off possessions.
Of course, several thousand foreigners could not completely disappear from these places, but they have already given up some places and pastures to settled villages.
Passing through and 1878 the northern foothills of Altai, we stopped in the village of Topolnaya, the last one on Anui, and saw with what energy, persistence peasant pierces his way to the mountains, how he navigated here, managed to become a great mountain rider, never ceasing to be a farmer. Near this village we saw the huts of unhappy foreigners, so to speak, ariergard, which has not left yet favorite places. They were mostly beggars and had no livestock. Next to the peasant, it was difficult for the foreigner to exist; by right the strong first will occupy the foreign pastures, near the huts will build an apiary, a bee or a loan – the farm will finally use the nut and hunting, although these places are intended for foreigners. On these sides of the collision and along the border line, where the peasants encountered foreigners, we met a lot of complaints and misunderstandings, which are very difficult to deal with, especially since there was no proper demarcation here. Land tenure is still in a chaotic state.
Since the beginning of this century, the boundaries of the foreign district have been constantly changing, then the mining administration has always been reconciled with the established villages in the foreign district, and then began to allow the lease of land for loans and apiaries. But, besides that, there appeared a lot of peasant squatters.
This squattering is a curious phenomenon and gives an original character to Altai life. In different corners you will find landowners, peasants and merchants, people who have created farms, sometimes entire villages like Uymon, Katanda, and when you ask who allowed them to do that, on what basis they live here, you will be answered: – Came and settled “arbitrarily”, but the bosses could not do anything.
Once a peasant has sat down on the land and started using the neighboring lands, he immediately penetrates his right to this land and acts boldly and decisively. The foreigner, on the contrary, is passive and indecisive.
Apart from the colonization of entire villages, embodying the power kicking at them, where one could assume the suppression of numbers, something else plays a role here. During our journey, we have heard the following.
A foreigner complains that he and his cattle were forced out of the valley by a peasant beekeeper.
- Yes it could not take away from you all ground because it under the apiary, probably, has rented no more than 2 or 3 dessiatinas, and the rest it has no right to take! – answer him.
- What! he says that the land belongs to him by 7 versts around, and he chased us away by 7 versts around,” answers a naive foreigner.
When we consider the circumstances, it turns out that he who had driven us away not only had no right by 7 versts, but also used 3 tithing arbitrarily, secretly.
Another time, foreigners in the forests of the Altai complained that they, in their possession, enter peasants to collect nuts and take away their trade.
- But the forests are yours to use, and whoever enters for the fishing must get a ticket for this right,” they say.
- Yes, they enter without a ticket, and they hurt the nuts and the cedar.
- So why are you letting them in? You’ve got power, you’ve got county chiefs, you’ve got your own police, you can draw up an act, you can kick them out.
- Wherever they’re not allowed, they’re beating us up!
And now the whole parish can’t cope with an artel of peasants going to the field. There’s nothing you can do about it.
Except for the peasants, the land of the foreigners passes into other hands. The Altai mission, having settled in the eastern part of the Altai, demanded that the peasants not be allowed here, and then zealously guarded this area from unauthorized settlements. And indeed, when Altai was already occupied by peasant villages in different places, colonization behind Katunya to Teletskoe lake did not move a single step. For that, the mission began protesting the so-called newly baptized.
It tried to ensure that the newly baptized would immediately build huts, and by doing so it tried to start settling down.
It is true that such settlements were built, but their huts, as we saw throughout our journey, represented squalor (only one Ulala was better settled). The new-baptized, for the most part, far from being a settled element; making different rabble, and not the best part of the tribe, they are not particularly hard-working and moral; their farming is insignificant or almost non-existent, but for each of their settlement the mission requires lands and uses measures to push pagans away from the neighborhood of the newly baptized.
By preventing peasants from acting as if they were harmful to all foreigners and offending them, the mission itself was not particularly friendly to foreigners.
After several cases of persecution of shamans, these foreigners began to move away from missionary villages. In addition, near the village of Ulaly, the missionaries needed land, and here we see a few versts of apiaries of the remote community, mowing, etc., which foreigners are afraid to approach from afar.
All the way to Teletskoe Lake in the best valleys foreigners meet new owners and masters of the surrounding land.
Near the inaccessible Teletskoye Lake, in the south, there is only one accessible and comfortable valley; this is the valley of Chulyshian: a verst at 30 to the mouth goes an attractive valley and pastures around, and then to the top stretches the terrible mountains. It’s clear how a man should cherish every inch of land here.
The valleys of these places are luxurious, but cliffs rise nearby, which are difficult to climb without risking your life. The trip to Altyn-Tau from Chulyshman valley convinced us of that. In such valleys, of course, places for pastures are very expensive. And here, having appeared in these places, first of all, near the mouth we learn that this area does not belong to foreigners any more, but is given to the monastery that has to be here.
Further, moving from Ustbashkaus, after a whole day’s passage we learned that we are still in the summer cottages and on the land supposed to be the possession of the monastery. It was at least 20 miles away from the monastery.
Then gorges stretched out, from which foreigners could choose for their needs and life tiny scraps. We were surrounded in Ustbashkaus by aborigines, descendants of famous calves (Uigurs, as V.V. Radlov suggests), but not by new converts of foreigners who complained that they could not now freely graze their herds here and from them sometimes demanded 10 rubles from the tithe.
This figure impressed us, and we could only explain it by a misunderstanding.
When we asked to find out where is the Ustbashkausky monastery, we could not specify, it is not yet arranged, and we can see only two huts, where two monks live, unfortunately, very unfriendly, as we were told, and almost not seen between themselves in this desert.
We have also seen several dilapidated buildings in this valley, created, they say, by the merchant Malkov, whose role and adventures have earned them sad fame in these places. As this merchant often appears in St. Petersburg to collect donations, it is worth saying two words about him.
A former dealer and almost a tavern, at least his brother kept him in the tavern in Barnaul, this town Malkov one morning felt a call to other activities. In a confession he published, he tells us that a Tomsk click of Dom Karpovna had predicted a new calling for him. Some senseless words of a half-mixed beggar  solved the calling of the Biysk merchant. He decided to help the conversion of foreigners, who had hitherto been attracted to the predatory eyes of local merchants, among whom were Malkov; he felt the desire, as if in addition to trade, to turn them to the true path. For this purpose, however, Malkov did not give away his own fortune, but decided to collect donations from others and with this intention went to St. Petersburg to look for benefactors.
Having appeared in Moscow and St. Petersburg, he brought with him pictures of wild TV spots and told all sorts of wonders about the places we are talking about now. Of course, in the eyes of the listeners it was the deserts, where people suffered and remained in the darkness precisely because the benefactor and enlightener, like the merchant Malkov had not yet appeared.
Excited by compassion and surprise, Malcov collected decent sums. His energy in this case was tireless, proof of this was the fact that he penetrated to Paris and Nice, looking for benefactors among the aristocrats.
After collecting considerable sums, he returned to the Altai. Of course, no one could verify him, and no one knew what he was doing on the shores of the deserted Lake Teletskoye. Only after it was discovered what kind of benefactor the town of Malkov was. The mission demanded a report from him in money. For his part, Mr. Malkov also began to discover something. In a word, a controversy started between Malkov and the mission, which reached the seal and revealed many hidden and compromising things that were hidden under the veil of the Altai Isis. During this dispute, to the surprise of his witnesses, he received the news that the monastery that had been built had burned down and there was no trace of any spending on it. Traveling along Chulyshman, we did not see any monastery on this river, but for that we saw huge lands, which were supposed to be asked from the Cabinet, which did not know the value of its lands and gave in to this request.
Foreigners complain about the lack of land and squeeze not in these places: on the Altai rivers, as on Ursula, Cherish, on Abai, in the Uymon valley you will meet the same song. The peasants, having set up the settlement, displace not only the nomadic foreigners, but also the newly baptized. Some transporter Kulikov on the river Chuya puts a hut and then takes the whole river Kupshigen with all wild places in its possession, despite the fact that in the south of Altai mountain rivers and valleys are of great importance due to the irrigation of arable land.
Recently, to pave the way, the administration in the Kalmykia region of the Middle Altai outlined several points, allowing the establishment of a station and peasant settlements here – determining the number of families for them; but the treasury system of colonization does not control the peasants anywhere, and therefore the peasants, firstly, settled in the wrong places where it was supposed to, secondly, took over the neighboring foreign lands unceremoniously, and the Altai-Kalmyks were put in a new difficulty.
It is known that in the middle of Altai there are 7 nomadic duchions, or parishes, of these Kalmyks. A significant part of them took their allegiance in the half of the last century and are the remnants of the tribes that were part of the great Oyrot union of Genghis Khan. The Chui twins were the last to accept their allegiance in the 1850s.
These Altai Kalmyks still retain traces of alienation and Chinese influence. Traveller Chikhachev saw more zaizans and their leaders in Chinese hats with balloons, but Russian power and authority also managed to subordinate and discipline these savages.
We are not talking about the panic and the thunderstorm, which was produced here by the name “Cossack”. Chikhachev says that when horses were needed, the Cossack rode and left a saber (an original reception) at the ancestral family, as an incentive to carry out the order, and the foreigners immediately drove the herd of horses under the wagon and solemnly carried the left saber. But, except for the Cossack, the same Kalmyks also experienced the power of the serviceman.
The official arbitrariness of our agents often gave the foreigners in the suburbs painful feelings. Not in vain even Russian peasants had a song about Altai assessors (the Stovykh):
How would they fall on Chuya…
He’s not afraid of anything…
The foreigners, seeing once the only Russian official sent to inspect their lives, who did not take gifts from them and treated them kindly, before that were amazed, so touched that they called him “god brother”.
When the rabbit and birthing men established a relationship with the authorities and the treasury through the yasak contribution, there was no reason to complain about their failure.
They were quietly conquered and could be considered quite reliable subjects. Not only were they bred, or clan chiefs, but their obedience to the foreigners was unconditional, and the authority to obey them was fully guaranteed. The duchies (parishes) properly paid for the yasak and significant fees imposed on them by the assessors and officers, but they always collected more.
These fees once made it possible for earthly officials who served here to make entire fortunes.
The small foreign daily allowance imposed by the treasury of 3 rubles per soul doubled and tripled. Yasak is contributed by ordinary furs: squirrel, fox and sable.
Of course, selected sable is rare, most of the middle class, but for yasak the highest class was required and its grade was always lower. But, despite the fact that foreigners supplied the best furs, and the worst they did not accept, despite the fact that these furs they bought from traders, valuable sable, however, often did not reach its destination and on this occasion was tied between the offices of correspondence, and the local authorities unsubscribed and dissuaded by the fact that the beast from the foreigners decreases and there was a catch on the beast.
Hunting grounds really narrowed with an influx of Russian hunters, the beast was beaten out and reduced. Russian industrialists beat it ruthlessly, often in spring, despite the fact that it is expected to breed game. Such extermination was purely predatory, to which the foreigner did not reach, knowing that the number of the beast depends on its wealth and existence.
Russian colonization, occupying forests and burning them, drove the beast away. The beast really diminished, but the foreign position and burdens did not change. They also paid, though their economic situation was worse.
And under these conditions, selling cattle to traders, borrowing money from usurers, these foreigners, after all, were good payers. Not only that, but at the beginning of this century, the officers imposed on the foreigners’ parishes and demanded a year’s advance payment. The foreigners did it, too. Such a measure of punishment was not necessary and illegal, but this fact was exhibited in the form of voluntary payment forward from abundance and excess, and the foreigner exhausted at this time the last funds and finally ruined. And then surrounded and took in the hands of the beastly beastly merchant fist, bondage, deception, vodka raging and completing their work.
Did anybody think that it was worth it for a hunter who was half hungry in the woods and fed on a handful of barley to pick up a sable or a fox! How much effort was spent here! Nobody knows how much this expensive soft skin, wrapped around the neck of the St. Petersburg beauty, absorbed the life and blood of a forest knight, whose name will never be known!
The economic crisis in the lives of foreigners was approaching. For a long time the valleys were empty, there was no remembrance of the old herds. The famous Orientalist traveler V.V. Radlov still saw the Chui valleys full of herds of cattle, but a few years later, passing through the same valleys, he found them deserted. We saw the same area after him, and found only pitiful huts of foreigners and impoverished inhabitants.
A Russian merchant was already running a foreigner’s economic life. The savage used to dress himself and feed him. Now he has learned to acquire both iron and manufactory through the traders, which is delivered to him as a rarity. Behind the beads, behind the sink, behind the mirror, behind the copper ring are taken huge profits.
The trade, for the most part, is in exchange; each thing is valued in so much protein, and the price for the protein is set by the merchant, it is clear that the buyer loses.
Nut harvesting is not entirely owned by one foreigner, the peasants have taken over this right, they enter freely into the forests. All the middle foreign Altai is cut by wheeled roads; the roads go to Abai, Uyman, to the river Chuya to Avguday; officials, scribes, scribes of the land jump along these roads, the underwater duty is already familiar to foreigners.
In the Uymon valley there is a lively and energetic schismatic population, on Berel and Bukhtarma peasants pushed away foreigners, everywhere is the capture of pastures and mowing. Abakan, Bashkaus, Argut, Yasa-tora gorges remain a refuge for foreigners, but the huge Alps of 10000 feet high are pressed and squeezed here. The foreigner, previously careless and independent, feels that a critical moment in his life is coming. He sees his wealth, his fruit-bearing valleys, his beasts, his walnut slip away; he sees that he is not the master of his cattle, and the trader’s hands have powerfully squeezed him, and the ring of peasant colonization has firmly encircled his possession and the time is approaching when he will lose his last land.
Hopelessness, apathy and depression can be seen on the face of a foreigner, it is seized by the dying longing of an extinct race. The former proud look of the desert owner and the Altai king has disappeared.
Every summer, when the abundance of milk starts, foreigners used to make a number of religious and family festivals, at this time they smoked their vodka from milk (Arakee) in special boilers and cauldrons.
It is known that more or less fierce extermination of wine always corresponds to the mood of the people. The more angry the circumstances were, the more the Altaian and the foreigner began to be forgotten and intoxicated.
Previous memorials, weddings and amusements, full of moderation, have been replaced by drunkenness, and a great deal of homemade wine is consumed. Boredom and despondency manifested itself in a riot.
Besides, the deep melancholy mastering people, let  itself be known by suicides. No, no, and an altar boy hangs himself on a tree, often a woman hangs himself, sometimes a child.
In times of calamities, cattle losses, epidemics, the tambourine of the shaman tambourines, the sacrificial fire burns, the deities Erlik and Ulgen are called upon, the spells of the exalted shaman are heard with a tearful cry, but the old gods are more likely to save the foreigner. From these sacred acts there is fog and scarcity. The same wild nature, the same cliffs, native rocks surround the foreigner, but they already produce a pressing and severe hopeless impression. The blossoming valley, the one that caressed the eye, that nourished and undead, is gone and taken away from the foreigner forever.
Despair possesses him as the shaman who, on Argut, in one formidable night, rushed from a rock into a mountain river, crashing in the abyss.
Visiting these places and looking at the drama in the Altai, two years later, to our astonishment, we met the wild inhabitants of these mountains and valleys in St. Petersburg, among the peculiar furnishing of the capital. We saw here two rabbit-rodiches, who had come to intercede for their affairs. One was razisan 4th dyuchin Kaymash Buizuev, the other was an Altai 1st dyuchin Otaek Kusubaev, their third comrade died dear.
Arrival of these foreigners was remarkable that, having accepted Russian citizenship almost hundred years ago, nobody from Altai – Kalmyks was in European Russia and in Petersburg. Meanwhile, some of their ancestors had medals for their diligent service and letters of commendation from Catherine II.
Considering the foreigners savages, we think that they have no idea about their legal rights. That’s not entirely true.
When we visited their settlements, we found many documents that they kept as treasures in birch bark folders, or briefcases, in other words, in birch bark.
No scribe wanted to read them these papers because they date back to the old days. We did, however, read these documents. They were Catherine’s acts on the benefits of foreigners, documents and pedigrees of rabbits, many of which were probably lost already in archives.
These certificates are often silent, but also eloquent for foreigners asking about their legal rights.
Visiting deputies also sought to find out their rights especially to land, the last question they were most concerned about as fatal in their lives.
When I came across the deputies, I took care of the situation of foreigners in St. Petersburg before helping them in the legal field. I found them with an interpreter in an apartment on the corner of Nevsky and Pushkinskaya streets. The interpreter they had hired from the spot was a young, lively Tatar, a man who had taken a decent sum from them for this.
Mountain dwellers, accustomed to the free air, languished in a stuffy St. Petersburg apartment, in the 4th floor, at some Kasimovsky Tatar who kept apartments. In the bad air they had a headache, a stomachache; the lack of air was bad for them. I took them for a walk in St. Petersburg, but passers-by crowded around us, because my Altai people aroused curiosity with their Mongolian faces, in their suits, with braids and original hats; one paid attention to his obesity. The next day I took a four-seater sled, and we went on Nevsky and English quay, and I felt like an official of the diplomatic corps accompanying some Chinese or Egyptian embassy, attracting general attention. Fat Caymash, in a motley canvas fur coat, in a shallow hat tilted forward to the Scottish style and with ribbons at the back, really had the appearance of some envoy, he kept himself sanovito and with dignity.
In the evening I took the rabbit to the circus which he liked, and especially the trained horses.
On business, the deputies had the opportunity to introduce themselves to the governor of the Cabinet of His Majesty’s Court, Adjutant General Rebinder, who had been requested, were listened to attentively and received a silver watch with the Imperial Eagle in goodbye. These foreigners, it must be said, were related to the Cabinet, as they were traveling on his lands.
The reception they received in the capital was news to them. Treated and picked up by local officials who delayed their departure, they saw for the first time the attention from the dignitaries of the empire and the most polite attitude. It was clear that this could not fail to impress them.
For my part, I made an effort to make it easier for them to stay in St. Petersburg. It is clear that neither the noise of the capital, nor its majestic hillocks, nor its movement and glitter were clear to them. They remained almost indifferent to them, even they felt uncomfortable. The deserts were so insignificant to us. They missed us, languished and hurried home. I remember the sadly sad look of especially Junior Otoyok, who was very cute, nothing entertained him – neither photographic cards, nor the paintings that I borrowed them.
When I wanted to make them smile, I remembered the familiar places of Altai with them. I used to sit in their yurt like  and I had them. I was also a traveler looking for hospitality. I also remembered a bright fire in the middle of the yurt laid out for me, curious faces with braids in original hats, smoking kettles, a motley foreign picture of life. I remember the night that made me here. I saw a shaman wearing a fantastic costume, hung with snakes (represented by a mass of harnesses) and cellars wearing a helmet with feathers, with a mysterious tambourine, spinning first near the fire and then popping out of the shack under the open sky. I remember his stunning screams, appeals, wild mountain echoes that answered those spells, and a mysterious, beautiful night with thousands of bright stars spreading over majestic mountains full of wild charms. I saw these mountains, their setting has its charm and poetry, and, of course, I understood the attraction and longing of foreigners to them! These mountains have also left an indelible memory in me. Leaving Altai friends sent me once again greetings from their mountains and even a gift: several ancient arrowheads, like amulets of an ancient foreign kingdom that occupied my imagination. I imagined that on a dark evening in the same yurt foreigners would gather in front of a bright fire, in front of curious faces, stories of wanderers about the huge palaces, stone lions and wonders of the capital seen by them. They will be at home, the smell of smoky Arake (home-made wine) will spread through the yurt and caress their sense of smell. They will be as innocent as babies and give their tribesmen the impression of an unprecedented civilization. But who will give us their life, their culture, their mysterious world…? When we came out of the circus with my guests, to the question of a girl dressed up, “who are these people?” – the St. Petersburg socialite said: – “Sont des chinois, ma chere!” It’s a pity that our foreigners are really “chinois” for other Russians.
We will now touch upon the Altai ethnography. Considering foreign tribes from borders of China to the north, in valleys of Altai we see among foreign tribes: Kalmyks, Oyrots, Telengits, Teleuts, Teleses; besides close kinship by language and type, among them there are identical traces of Mongolian and Chinese influence. It is visible, that these tribes which were put forward from Mongolia, once experienced domination of Mongols, Jungars and were related to them.
After the fall of the Oirot Union, these tribes rushed north, and the Teleuts reached the Kuznetsky and Tomsk districts. But wherever there were teleuts, in Siberia they see still  closeness of a tribal kinship with Altai. This kinship is preserved, certainly, at many Tatars of average Siberia.
The name of the Tatars, used by Russians, however, to infinity is stretchable and often converges with the concept of foreigners, so that under a name of Tatars the most various tribes are understood. Though the Tatars of Tobolsk and Tomsk provinces belong equally to a Türkic tribe in terms of language, but one cannot fail to see a difference in the Middle Siberian types. The Mongols prevailing in the south of Siberia, in the Altai, in the Sayans and in the Kyrgyz steppes gradually disappear in the Middle Siberia, and the Siberian Tatars in Tomsk, Tara and Tyumen, like the Barabinsk tribes, represent a purer European type, showing that another ethnological element was included here.
In their own sense, the Altai, or tribes inhabiting the Kuznetsky and Biysky districts, have different local names given by Russians, namely: 1) Black Tatars, 2) Kumandins, 3) Teleuts, 4) Teleses, 5) Altai Oirot, or Altai Kalmyks, and 6) Chui Telengits. It should be noted that the name of the Kalmyks is given to the Altai by the Russians, and they themselves do not know this name; the same name is given to the Niello Tatars, who mostly call themselves Tuba, Tubalor or Yish-Kizhi. The location of this population and its name are blended together in ethnography. So on the ethnographic map of the Asian Russia, made according to Venyukov, the teleouttes are meant to occupy all the space between Katun and Teletskoe lake, and even the Altaice-Ourot area. In fact, the teleuts and teleut parishes are located in the Kuznetsky district near Bochat, in the Tomsk district, and only part of the teleuts moved to Naima and Ulala, missionary villages. There are no tele-outs in the Biya at all, and what Helmersen took for them (see his journey “Teletskoye lake and Teleutsy”) turned out to be Kumandians both in costume and lifestyle. The inhabitants of Lake Teletskoe, Bashkaus and Chulishman still call themselves bodies, but the name of the bodies disappears on Chuya. That teleuts and telescopes were not the same, it is visible from the fact that in 1652, according to Fisher, the latter were subordinated and conquered by teleuts. Chui televisions are two duchions, they are sometimes called Uryanhai. The Kumandinas are located along the Biya from Yenisei parish, Chepsha and Ish. From Ulala to Teletskoye Lake there are 7 Black Tatar Tuba parishes, with a special generic name for each parish. Their area ends in the north of Lake Teletskoye, where we found an aul of the Kergezha parish of the Black Tatars. The teleses are now located in the Bele tract, on the southeast side of the lake and on the Chulyshman river. On the right bank of Katun and its tributaries is the 1st Altai duchy or parish, the other 6 duchyns are located on the left side of Katun, along Ursula, Kanu, from the north bounded by the Russian parishes, to the south by the Uymonskaya government and Katunsky ridge. Two Chui duchies live along the Chui, Argut, Chegan Uzun, Karakem and Topolevka.
Among Altai tribes actually we see two merged elements, completely different. It is very important for the ethnographer to distinguish them. Curious conclusions can flow from the root connection of the Finnish and Altai tribes.
Our attention was drawn to the so-called black Tatars and the Kumandins next to them by their type and outstanding way of life. From the town of Biysk we met a number of auls, or villages belonging to these Tatars, and above all two Kumandinas parishes. At first, having entered these villages from Russian villages, we were under that impression, under what usually there is an unprepared traveler among alien tribes. I remember that after sunset, when the picturesque Biya, this beauty of the river, like Katun, presented us two paintings, put in front of each other, namely, the bank of the river, plunging into the evening blue, with the shining moon in the sky, and the other, with the shining dawn at the opposite end, we entered Eleyskiy village.
We met here fantastic houses on racks, log stairs; fires in the yards flashed and we were surrounded by swarthy, tanned, disheveled heads and faces of foreigners, with white as mother of pearl teeth shining in the twilight. We felt that we were among savages, and gave this impression. But we couldn’t give in to that illusion for long. That same evening we found ourselves in a rather comfortable room, with a Russian atmosphere, and the owner struck us with his delicate skin and his delicate warehouse. It was already baptized and led a quite sedentary life. In the morning we found that the surrounding population was far from like Mongols, Kirghiz, Buryats, Ostyaks and Samoyeds, the types of which we knew. The closest foreigners to us were brunettes of the Semitic or Gypsy type, but there were many of them with chestnut hair and blond hair. Even the shaman (priest) we saw was blond. Eyes were also blue and gray. In a detailed study of the color of the skin, we saw it was no different from ours, except tan. From our hair we got the hair of a child, which we kept in our locket, it was real flax. Clearly, it had nothing to do with the Mongols. The geographical location of these villages and villages was particularly favorable for tribal studies. Among the numerous  foreign population it was very important to capture the pure, main type. Here the type was highly original. We see that in this place there was very little mixing with other tribes, and indeed the Kumandians were separated and, so to speak, fenced off from the Altai from the south by their neighbours, the Black Tatars, other parishes, and from the north by contact with the Kuznetsky relatives, where the same type has been preserved. Already the former travelers noticed among the Altai northern peoples types, which gave them a reason to conclude about the mixing of Türks and Altai with Finnish tribes. The outward signs, according to the first impression, gave Helmersen a reason to compare the niellow-looking Tatars of the Biysk region with the Finns. As we have seen for ourselves, these foreigners can leave a similar impression. The beardless faces of the blackered Tatars and Kumandians, with straight hair, hanging braids, and half-open eyes, indeed, are quite similar to Finns; near Kuznetsk we met baptized Tatars, wearing felt coats, with tubes in their teeth, and in cartouches, which were even more eager to get closer to the chukhs.
The most typical population was the Kumandinas, separated from the south by the mix of the Biysk black Tatars with the Altai, and from the teleuths by the black Tatars with the Kuznets. In these parishes we meet types closer to Caucasian than Finnish ones. Cheekbones disappear, eyes are half-open, blue, hair is chestnut and blonde. We were sometimes amazed by the remarkable similarity with Russian faces; blondness of children is even sharper. It’s true that the Kumandians are already sedentary, so it’s curious to see how other living conditions influence the change of the same type.
From the drawings we give to judge, on how these faces are peculiar. Without making definitive conclusions, we cannot help but notice a striking fact. That it is not an accident, the proof is that in the ink and woods along the Swan and the Brass, in Kondomsk and other parishes, completely isolated from Russians, there are also a significant number of blond foreigners.
Observation of sedentary Tatars in this area could not fail to compare with their relatives living in the forests, and especially with Altai nomads. Sedentary, other way of life and food could not help but put their stamp, and indeed sedentary people differ with less swarthiness, less presence of tan (tanning in some Altai people reaches the waist, due to field work without shirts), more soft skin, soft hair, fat accumulation under the skin and softness or loose muscles. In our measurements, we found that the muscles of St. John’s wort were stiffer, less elastic, as if merged, reminiscent of the muscles of the boa. We do not know if anthropologists made observations of changes in the body under the influence of changes in the environment and food, and these observations could shed light on the rebirth of races and provide the key to many anthropological riddles.
The sedentarization of the Commandines and the semi-nomadic life of the Tatars in this area are also original. At Kumandintsev among similarity of Russian Ebes we have found the original transitive form of wintering; it is a sort of a shalash with a roof, the thrown earth, with an earthen furnace – transition to the present rabbit, but original construction; here it is visible still kinship with a shalash. (The type of this dwelling is shown in the picture). In the forests near Kuznetsk Tatars there are quadrangular huts. Having traced the transitions of these dwellings, we have made a whole picture of transitional cultures and the origin of the sedentary.
In ethnography hitherto only some degrees of a life sharply meet: hunters, pastoralists and settled down farmers, but transitional degrees are not studied. Not only that, we mixed forms of a life and because of such mistake we considered the same niello Tatars as nomadic hunters, whereas their life represents a stage of development much higher, than at nomads.
As for the nomads, this notion, we dare say, has received too wide interpretation in Siberia. From wandering in the forests, from the life of people migrating with herds to settled life, mankind has passed a number of endless degrees. Physical and topographic conditions of the nature conditioned human movement and the ways of life. It is easy to see on Altai nationalities.
In the Altai Mountains we see that the Altai herdsman is far from being the same as the nomad Kirghiz or Mongol; the mountains and mountain valleys have closed and limited his movement, and narrowed them down to a few versts; the way of migration is different for them, only the Altai plateaus can see the habits of the Mongolian nomad who came from the wild steppe.
Forests of the same mountainous area further closed and narrowed the population passages, they created a special form of life of sedentary nomads or hunters. In these forests there are as if the first embryos of sedentary life, so we can judge that forests were of great importance in attaching man to the ground. In our Altai we meet an original form of life of forest nomads – this is the population of Biyskaya and Kuznetskaya niello. Their dwellings, except shacks, are wooden, quadrangular. These dwellings are not tolerated, though a forest nomad has a flying season  and a winter for cattle, but the forest allows him to move only on two, three versts. He is already an almost sedentary inhabitant.
In the niellows and in the forests we find several types of dwellings serving transitional degrees, starting with a simple hut made of spruce trees, a suyulta, and an alanchek covered with birch bark – the genus of a Finnish cat. At the further development at steppe nomads this shawl passes to a yurt, at foresters in a tetragonal boarded hut a egg having the form of a tent which meets on Biya and on Teletskoe lake, representing a tetragonal shawl without windows. The log hut, covered with earth, represents a winter hut, here is already a window (cousin); originally it is on top, tightened with peritoneum and intertwined with rods – the beginning of the frame. Finally, in the same hibernation there is an earthenware stove – chuval. The hibernation then begins to be built of logs in 6 rows, the roof is sloped, covered with earth, the window appears on its side. In front of the hibernation is made of hay and a board fence from the snow. The interior of such a dwelling is also improved, it is a circle of a bench covered with birch bark, instead of a hearth, a stove, and the door is attached to a primitive slate with a strap. The summer and winter stand next to each other and the first can be turned into the second.
On the other hand, a shawl consisting of poles and connected by two hoops is wrapped with a nightmare at the Altai cattleman – this is the beginning of the yurt. Then a mobile yurt appears, similar to a Kyrgyz yurt, but without a circle, though with a smoke hole. A movable yurt has one of the most perfect dwellings with wonderful devices. Its form is the most convenient for resistance to wind – spherical; dwelling shrouded in a nightmare – heat, all parts of it are foldable and convenient for moving. But the nomadic Altai and Blacksmith have a transitional form, it is six and octagonal log yurt, with a cone at the top; such is the wintering of the cattle breeder. The man who is used to a round room, it is inconceivable to pass to a quadrangle room and he has invented a polygonal log cabin replacing to it an old yurt with a hearth in the middle.
These are the gradual transition to a hut and a quadrangle log cabin. The hut is already the beginning of the hut. One more step, and you notice a completely settled population of Kumandians with a settled in the most primitive form, with dwellings, which have already created the original image of the stove – chuval and hut called “uy”.
Despite the fact that the Kumandinas have learned to settle down, a call to move from one village to another after a few years, fires in the yards and cooking in the air resemble their old habits.
In the row of these dwellings we find precious clues to all the transitions to sedentarization. Half-nomadic or transitional life meets representatives of many foreigners.
These gradual transitions and changes in life form under the influence of quite natural motives, caused by the environment of nature, reveal to us much in the history of culture and illuminate the gradual transitions. With regard to handicrafts and occupations, it is still customary to divide peoples into beasts, pastoralists and farmers, thereby determining the height of their culture and degree of development. This division, which is true historically and schematically, brought down a lot of people who represented the life of foreigners and their trades in absentia; in fact, how difficult it is to draw a line between semi-settled and sedentary, so difficult to say that a famous tribe is characterized by one occupation.
Farming exists both for nomadic Altai herders and forest savages, by half of hunters, only this primitive farming. Altai and niello Tatars mainly sow barley. They cultivate the land with a custom – a kind of hoe, or blades, attached to a bent handle; this custom, as you can see, belongs to the most ancient agricultural tools; in the same niello or forest there is even more simple tool – it is ozype, with which the roots of kandyk are dug out. A man does not pass from the commonplace to the plough more than once, the Altai people have the first image of plough, it is an andazyn, a coulter with a simple drawbar, which is attached to the saddles of two horses; the harrow is replaced by a knotted tree. The bread, sown by primitive farmers, is barley. The most primitive way to gather bread is to tear ears with your hands, we met on Chuya; in other places, like on Argut, a knife with a slanting handle is used, and finally – like a pink pinkie. In return, the bread is dried in the sun, hanging in bundles. Instead of threshing, there is still a way of burning straw. Taylor mentions this method, which existed for 2-3 centuries in Ireland, as the oldest method, it was also inherent to the Celts. In the same ink we find the original image of the chain, tokbok, a simple stick with a thickened end. Instead of millstones, we find barley rubbing in the Altai on a special plate called overcast. No matter how hard we tried to find the original millstone in the Southern Altai, we didn’t find it. Gernova represents the highest degree of culture and is found only in the niello Tatars. Similarly, the stupa has a very ancient origin, plough, found in all Altai; this stupa represents various improvements. When processing fields in the Altai mountainous areas, we find additional irrigation of the fields. This consists in the fact that the water of a mountain stream or river is diverted through ditches in a sloping field; these ditches are laid with stone sluices, which, as necessary, rise. These loams, or ditches, are carried out in each arable land, but if there is little water, the arable land of the owners is irrigated alternately. Similar irrigation exists in the Kyrgyz steppe, especially in the Semipalatinsk region and Turkestan. In the same places we find the beginning of fertilization and open the way, which nature has led to it: passing through the desert river Ebeli, flowing into Chui, we came across a left over winter, where in place of a hut has grown a whole bed of bread from scattered grains during the habitat of people. On the Kupshen river, flowing into Elaman, Kalmyks, when asked what fields they preferred under the arable land, told us that the bread would be born better in the place from which they moved their dwelling. In Kuznetskaya niello, we learned that the black Tatars sow hemp in the places where the cattle had stood for a long time. From different plants, the making of works begins. An Altaian uses fur coats more often, but a black Tatar can weave. Dressing is already a remarkable progress among savages, it begins with nettles and kendyr, or wild hemp. From nettles, the Tatars knit nets. The white zipun made by the Kumandians is called kendyr. As agriculture, cattle breeding and hunting of the savage have known degrees of development. The Altai people have ways of preparing hay for winter, and when they gather it, they weave ropes.
Stogs are prepared at the nigger Tatars, to which cattle are brought for winter. Passing through the Altai in the middle of summer, we noticed everywhere bubbly agricultural work and haymaking: half-naked savages worked not less than our farmer. As for animal husbandry, here too, the savage showed progressive movement: an ancient trap and onion were replaced by a rifle, which was brought from China. The Altai shotgun is a wicked, Chinese-made shotgun. The wicker uses a melting plant’s onion, which is wetted in powder solution and burns like a trumpet. Gunpowder is produced by the Altai people in Bashkaus and Chuya themselves, it is quite large. The bullet on the big beast is made of iron. This bullet is easily rolled out of the barrel if you need to discharge the gun. The peculiarity of this gun is that there is no treasurer, it is directly sealed. You would think that this weapon does not achieve either integrity or speed of fire. In fact, despite the clumsiness of the Altai Turk gun, a foreigner is used to owning it with remarkable art, agility and foresight, which one should not be surprised. The wick is not just applied, but it is on the trigger, which also goes down quickly and the fire ignites the powder on the shelf. In order to light the wick of the gun, another wick is smoked by the hunter. There is a special gunpowder for filling it with powder. In case of miss, there are ready-made charge measures in special cartridges like Circassian ones in stock, and a bullet in the mouth. Gunpowder is poured in one minute and the bullet goes down. Possessing coolness, knowledge of the animal’s habits, the black Tatar kills a significant number of bears in life. We’ve seen hunters kill 150 and 200 bears each. Some inhabitants of the niello are called “Bear Death”.
Both Altai and Tatar niggers have developed blacksmithing skills before making steel. Once blacksmithing Tatars were famous for producing iron things, Taganas, utensils, and paid, until the arrival of the Russians, these works were a tribute to China. In Chulyshman and Bashkaus they still mined ore, melted iron, and then made iron.
The rest of the blacksmithing skills in the Altai hints at much. In the same places there are graves with abundance of metal objects: knives, daggers, bowls, boilers, spears, arrows and even rings. The natives of the Altai knew how to make metal. Their art was high. Their works, as can be seen from the comparison of findings, are common before the Don. We see the same boilers, as in the Altai, in the drawings of the Don antiquities. Altai was once the place from where metal and its products were distributed.
When we look at the costumes and fashions of the various Altai tribes, we see that they represent a known variety. We found the oldest costume of the Black Tatars from the Kumandians: it’s the same as described by Helmersen. Men have white Azyams made of linen and in summer they have the same hats, hats covered with dyed wool, winter coats made of grey felt, women have shirts with embroidered gates and woolen shushuns dyed with made-up, also dyed stockings. The gate, neck and braids are lavishly decorated with beads and jalanbashed, cauri sink (Cyprea moneta); finally, the collars are covered with pearl with buttons called pearls.
This led Helmersen to conclude that women’s Biya clothing is similar to Mordovian and Cheremisian. In the interest of comparison, we removed the details of this costume. The costume of the Kuznetsky blacksmith inhabitants is closer to the Kumandians, but it is already changing under the influence of Russian fashion. For that the Biysk blacksmith Tatars borrow fashion from the Altai, it is a tall hat of feathers and a woman’s chegedek – a very beautiful women’s suit, covered with lace and brocade with huge Chinese red buttons. Kos, belonging to the Altai, has also penetrated the Biysk black Tatars, but it is no longer in the Kuznetsky district, where foreigners cut their hair in a bracket. In general, from the south the Chinese influence penetrated to the Altai and Black Tatars, from the north, on the contrary, Russian influence.
But in this case we care about the oldest costumes, and it is very important to classify the costumes in connection with the economy and crafts. We saw the costume for hunting the beast-breeder and immediately the costume of the farmer. Interestingly, the white hoodie – kendyr (kendyr – the name of the wild hemp from which foreigners make fabric.) and shoes, with sewn canvas naked, completely resembled the Russian agricultural costume.
Finnish women’s fashion is very instructive for comparison. The Teleut women’s hat is reminiscent of our quadrangle peasant hat. The same forms of everyday life and life should give the same costume. The embroidered round hat, typical of our Central Asian nomads, is similar to the felt hat found in Swiss lake buildings. The comfortable shape of the suit and shoes is transferred from tribe to tribe, passing through huge lengths. The Chinese round, soft felt cap is worn by nomadic Altai and Kazan Tatar traders with their trump card bent to the face. We do not talk about jewelry. The Kauri sink is spread from the South Asian shores of the Eastern Ocean to the north of Asia, it passed through the deserts and steppes of Central Asia from India, it was known to the ancient inhabitant of Europe as our Cheremisu, and is in the ancient graves of Saxony. It is in vain that a European will be proud of his fashion, its origin lies in ancient times. The original form only varies and is being perfected. Even a tailcoat costume was found in an ancient Altai tomb by V.V. Radlov; it is true that it was a leather tailcoat, but, nevertheless, the loin in front of the clothes and the coattail in the back do not constitute an invention of European fashion only. We will not talk about copper, gold and silver metal jewellery, wrists, earrings, rings, metal mirrors and razors, even bronze ones. You can find enough of them in archeological museums. They are found in abundance in the Altai and Minusinsk districts (see by the way Hermitage collections). We can see that some customs and toilets are familiar to the most ancient peoples; suffice it to say that all South and Middle Asia and Mongolia have been shaving for a long time, even too much. Disappeared peoples many centuries ago used razor blades, and the physiognomy on stone babas is undoubtedly of Mongolian origin, all shaved, with one mustache, like European gentlemen. We are not talking here about the many customs and beliefs that passed from people to people, which are preserved in the purity of the Altai foreigners as a legacy of ancient times. Shamanism, until now little studied, represents an ancient, very widespread religion, which preceded Buddhism, Mohammedanism, and so on. It was a kind of polytheism from which the whole mythology, heroic epic, ancestor worship and so on were born. To what extent this mythology is rich and diverse, one can see from the collection of myths of G. N. Potanin during his wanderings in northwestern Mongolia and comparative study of them. Here the primitive myths of mankind in all its nudity are revealed. Here one can often see kinship and similarity with Aryan and Greek myths. Tales about Theseus, Sisyphus play the same role, but they are intertwined whimsically with even more ancient myths of the zoological cycle, and then cosmic and astrological world. In the notes of the missionary father Verbitsky (now the head of the Altai spiritual mission) we find many purely biblical myths in the Altai. We can see that the Semitic in his original image was spread by all Turkic and Mongolian tribes across Asia. G. Potanin in a lot of notes to his book, concerning the comparison of myths of different peoples and hugging half of this honorable work, undoubtedly gave proof of the common European and Asian myths and its prevalence. We do not have enough evaluation of this material in the literature, but it will undoubtedly draw the attention of European literature. Some tried to belittle the significance of these myths and explanations of Potanin, pointing out philological errors, but we believe that the significance of this material is not philological and ethnographic, but historical, cultural and anthropological. Until now on a subject of beliefs of the Altai and Mongolian tribes such material has not been collected yet. The independence and antiquity of the pagan Altai myth are beyond doubt. Let us point out, by the way, that the venerable Sanskritologist I. P. Minaev, in his review of the book by Potanin, notices that the Altai myth shows the influence of Buddhism, and refers to our testimony about the influence of Buddhism on Siberian foreigners. Buddhism really penetrated into Transbaikalia and reached the Altai, but we can say that it only formally, like Mohammedanism, barely touched the pagan world of Siberian foreigners (Buddhist chapels were once on Bukhtarma, and the Buddhist monastery Giliz of Ust-Kamenogorsk. But all this disappeared long ago. Now the Altai people have forgotten Buddhism and its influence was the weakest. Buddhists were actually Jungars and Mongols, not Altai Türks), who lived here in fullness. To explain the pagan mythology with Buddhist legends is even impossible because shamanism contains the most ancient beliefs, which most likely served as a lining for Buddhism. Finally, Buddhism can’t explain everything. The history of spreading myth among mankind and its transfer from Asia to Europe is still controversial. Dosele, of course, all this is explained by the migration of Aryan tribes to Europe, but the Asian one could penetrate me in many other ways. The kinship of the ancient aborigines of Europe with the Asian tribes is still little clarified, and here, maybe, to open whole layers. Thus, the beliefs of Asian tribes will gain world importance, and an inexhaustible source lurks in this closed world for the future science. To look into the ethnographic warehouse and life of Siberian foreigners is therefore highly instructive. We are used to disrespecting the savage, but we forget that this is the stage of human development, where our ancestors once stood. Only here will we reveal the secrets of the many habits, beliefs, and ways of thinking that govern us. Not only that, we will see cultural progress, history, how humanity went through the school of life, how its inventions were gradually made. The study of these tribes will reveal to us much of the history of the past, mysterious that has hitherto disappeared from the chronicles and has not got into them. The Altai tribes are already interesting because there is a center here, from which there was a spread of nationalities in the north of Asia. We see here tribes of Mongolian type and a warehouse with the Turkic language, undoubtedly, that they are the Türks subjugated by Mongols. But even before the Türks there were some aborigines, whose traces are in the south of Siberia, in Altai and Yenisei province. These are the remains of mysterious tribes with mixed language and type. Kaibals, Tubans, Minusinsk Tatars, and Biysk black Tatars are all a kind of ethnographic specimen that does not resemble either Türks or Mongols. Radlov suggests that before the influx of Türks and Mongols to the Altai, there was a threat-Samoedic people here. Indeed, the Samoedians, as scientists have already recognized, are the Altai people, their language is close to the Kaybalas; the type has a southern origin, the fate of them therefore may seem tragic. Imagine the tribes that lived in the south, accustomed to a different climate and the strength of historical circumstances thrown into the icy tundra. What should this people have experienced! After all, it is worse than many historical metamorphoses, worse than the martyrology of the poor Jewish tribe!
All scientists who visited the Altai, also find here the remains and signs of the Finnish tribes. This says Klaproth, Kastren and others. But it is not exactly proved, while the Finns’ stay in the Altai and southern Siberia can shed a completely different light on the very spread and origin of the Finnish tribes. But if there were Finnish tribes here, why not come to guess that there could have been Aryan tribes.
Chinese sources and chronicles have preserved the most curious historical testimony about the people of “Khakases”, which in the IX century occupied the south of Siberia and spread to Irtysh and Tibet. This people, according to Chinese legends, was “blond, with blue eyes”; as can be seen from the description, it was a cultural people engaged in agriculture and had written language. On rocks and stones of Minusinsk district there are still runic inscriptions, not yet dismantled by anyone. Graves and excavations, abundant metal mirrors, fine silver and gold products, weapons of all kinds, the remnants of agricultural tools show that in Minusinskiy district and Altai, indeed, there was some cultural center. Later, on the basis of Chinese names, guesses were made that Khakas were Kirghiz, “kilikidze” as they were called by the Chinese. Indeed, once the Kirghiz were in Yenisei province, but then disappeared. However, the assumption that the Khakasses were identical to the Kirghiz requires further confirmation. The Kirghiz consist, for the most part, of a mixture of Mongolian tribes, although among them one can find types of light Russians (see Kirghiz or Khakassians, “Geographical Dictionary”, I. P. Semenov). In any case, according to the descriptions, the ancient Kirghiz, like the Khakases, did not resemble the present-day Kirghiz and Altaic-Kalmyk with the Mongol type. These ancient nationalities, however, could not disappear without a trace, even at conquests, a part of the captives, usually, enters a family of winners. Finally, the defeated went somewhere. It’s important to define both. To solve this problem and with the current information, we can make sure that there was some assimilation and mixing of Aboriginal and alien races in the Altai, the traces of which should remain until now. Then Altai was the place from which the Türkic and other tribes spread throughout Siberia, it was the way of various Mongolian tribes from Asia to Europe; it is clear what curious material is untouched here. This subject has just begun to attract the attention of scientists, and who knows what a revolution it will produce later in the field of old science.
The text is reproduced from the edition: Altai and its foreign kingdom (Essays of traveling through Altai) // Historical herald. 6, 1885.