Libmonster ID: U.S.-1300


Doctor of Historical Sciences

Far Eastern Federal University (Vladivostok)

Key words: Russian emigration in China, Old Believers of Manchuria, Russian life and economy in China

After the end of the Civil War in the Far East in 1922, more than half a million of our compatriots found themselves in China and other nearby countries, waiting for a favorable moment to return to their homeland. If the descendants of the usual so-called white emigration have now mostly assimilated with the local population, having lost ties with the Russian language and culture, the situation is completely different for the Old Believers: thanks to the traditional way of life, they still retain their Russian roots even after moving to North and South America.

The history of this diaspora began in the early 1930s, when as a result of dekulakization and religious persecution, about 500 Old Believers fled from Primorye and the Amur region to Northeastern China. Here the Old Believers were successful, settling the deserted Manchuria and other areas adjacent to the Soviet border. At that time, the land was allocated to them by the Chinese authorities, or they bought it from the local population. Apart from minor conflicts with the Hunghuz, the Russian Old Believers maintained very friendly relations with the Chinese.

The Japanese authorities, who occupied the north of China in the 1930s, became interested in the Russians: they wanted to use the Old Believers ' economic experience to resettle about one million Japanese here.

After the arrival of Soviet troops in Manchuria in August 1945, many male Old Believers were exiled to Siberia, and their farms were dekulakized. The Old Believers had to disperse all over Manchuria; some returned to their homeland (they now live in the Sunny district of the Khabarovsk Territory). And after the Communist victory in China in 1949, collectivization in the mid-1950s forced the remnants of Old Believer communities to once again set out on the road through Hong Kong to South and North America.

Now only in the US states of Oregon and Alaska live more than 5 thousand Old Believers, whose ancestors once fled from the Far East to China. In the United States, modern Old Believers, without deviating from religious traditions and without violating the original foundations, have also achieved great success in agricultural production and fishing.

Even today, they cherish their memories of life in China. Their memoirs are the most valuable source of information about the life of the Old Believers.


Dramatic events of forced resettlement in 1932

Hunghuz - members of organized gangs that operated in Manchuria (editor's note).

** The article is based on the results of the author's field research in 2011 in China (Harbin) and in the United States (California, Oregon, and Alaska).

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described by the Old Believer Anna Basargina, whose parents before moving to China lived well in the village of Kamenka in the South Ussuri Region1.

My father owned a mill, and my mother was a homemaker. During the dekulakization, the mill was taken away, and my father went on the run, only coming to visit his family at night. Mother Ksenia had the responsibility to save at least part of the farm. During dekulakization, all animals were first taken away, so she and the children killed all the chickens and geese, salted them and hid them under sauerkraut. Then it came to the "estate" - any acquired property. They held an auction where they sold everything they could, even the newly cut shirts.

There were betrayals when someone denounced fellow villagers to the police. Therefore, the moment came when the family was forced to abandon everything that they managed to save and leave their usual places. My father's brother, Uncle Joseph, offered to flee to China.

It was a dangerous journey. While crossing the river, a boat capsized, and everyone was in the water. The current carried the children and parents in different directions, and when the sisters Anna and Anisii, who managed to stay near the boat, managed to turn it over, it turned out that there was no one else to continue the journey. Desperate 12-year-old Anna even proposed to her sister: "Let's jump back into the river and drown. What should we do without our parents?"2. Fortunately, later the parents were found, but the three-year-old brother died during the crossing.

The family settled on the bank of the Xilinghe River, 10 versts north of Mudanjiang, on land that was given to them free of charge by a Chinese man. Brothers Dmitry and Login Gostevsky, Gerasim Yurkov, and Sazon Bodunov also lived there. This village, like the river, was called Silinghe.

In the village of Dajiquan, 12 versts from the railway station Valin, Ignatiy Basargin, his son Yefim and his four cousins, Kondraty's sons: Yefim, Anisim, Fedul and Stepan settled.


The largest and most characteristic Old Believer settlement in Manchuria was the village of Romanovka. It was founded in the summer of 1936 in a small valley in the vicinity of Handao-hezi.

The first settlers were Ivan Seledkov with two sons and Pavel Ponosov. At first they lived in a tent, and in November 1936 they put up a single-celled hut made of a tree cut down in the surrounding forest with the permission of the authorities. In February of the following year, 14 more men came to them from various places in Manchuria.

According to the Japanese researcher Ye. Nakamura, by the summer of 1945, Romanovka had over 40 households and more than 200 inhabitants. In addition to the natural increase, according to the researcher, this was due to a significant influx of Old Believers from various places in Manchuria, the Primorsky Territory of the Soviet Union, and even from Japan.3

So, in the 1940s, a family of Old Believers of the chapel of Concord moved here from Verkh-Kuley* The Valikhovs. Sylvester Fyodorovich Valikhov said: "At first we lived in a house - "pletenushka" is called. Such stakes are hammered in, then they cut down the talc or wattle fence, such rods, and so they braid between these stakes: one tudy, the other on the other side, and then they . And this hut was a makeshift hut ... " 4

In the center of Romanovka there was a chapel, built in 1939, with old icons and books. The Old Believers were excellent carpenters and blacksmiths: they built huts themselves and made various household utensils. A great advantage of their homes was good protection from frost and winds. The interior of each hut was elegant: bright curtains embroidered with flowers, icons in the red corner, framed photos under glass, ficuses and geraniums in pots, painted chests, etc. caught the eye. Sometimes there were chairs in the house, but most often they were replaced by benches. There was no electricity, and the apartment was lit by beeswax candles.

The economy of Romanovka was mostly natural. The more forest cleared for arable land, the more agriculture prevailed over cattle breeding and hunting. According to data from 1940, each family had two tithes of arable land. They grew wheat, buckwheat, beans, potatoes, oats and barley (for livestock feed), corn (for poultry), etc. From livestock, the Romanovs kept horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens. In the summer, they were grazed in the pasture, and in the winter they were kept in a stable. Cabbage, cucumbers, pumpkins, beets, tomatoes, watermelons, melons, radishes, radishes, etc. were planted in the garden. They were also engaged in beekeeping. The Romanovites did not fully provide themselves with food and fodder and were forced to buy wheat, rice and onions from Koreans living near their village.

Mostly engaged in hunting (hunting wild boars, tigers)... In winter, there are no men at home - everything is in the mountains. In the spring, crops start - we are at home....We sowed a little, just for ourselves. The Chinese - it was good [the Chinese were good to the Russian Old Believers, while there were no Japanese]. From Japanese-

* Russian Old Orthodox Church, chapel and belokrinitskoe concord, popovny, bespopovtsy-currents (interpretations) of the Old Believers (editor's note).

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5[when Manchuria was occupied by the Japanese] some Chinese did not agree, they went to the mountains [Chinese nationalists].

The Romanovites lived an unusually close-knit life. Money from the sale of a captured animal, such as a live tiger, was distributed among all families. They helped each other not only with labor, but also with working cattle and agricultural implements. Moving to another village, the Russians had no right to sell the houses, and the Chinese moved in, so little by little the former Russian villages became mixed. According to the memoirs of S. F. Valikhov, the Old Believers lived amicably with their new neighbors. Children played together with Chinese children and learned Chinese very quickly 6.


Several communities of Old Believers-priests were formed in Trekhrechye, a region in western Manchuria. The administrative and commercial center was considered to be Zhyuzhka, where there was a power plant, a steam roller mill, an oil mill, a creamery, a leather and pimo-katny (deerskin boots) factories, saddlery workshops, a post office and a bank, as well as representative offices of a number of Russian and Japanese trading firms. Most of the Old Believers lived in the villages of Verkh-Kuli, Ust-Kuli and Pokrovka.

Since the main population of the Three Rivers region was the Cossacks, the villages were called stanitsas, they were ruled by elected village atamans. Orthodox Cossacks had a great influence on the Old Believers of the Three Rivers region, so, according to some researchers, they did not strictly observe their commandments. 7

Compared to the Old Believers in Romanovka, the local charter was milder. The Old Believers ' priests and laity were friends with settlers who did not belong to the Old Believers. Although the Old Believers did not shave or smoke, there were cases when they drank vodka and danced at parties on Fridays with other residents of the villages. Children in schools also studied together. There were also mixed marriages, including with Chinese people. Nevertheless, the Old Believers had separate places for burying the deceased, did not eat in the presence of strangers, and used only their own dishes. If a non-Old Believer used the dishes of an Old Believer family, they were then thrown away. The same went for the horse nursery.

Many Old Believers lived in Znamenka:

There were vegetable gardens and arable land in Znamenka. They plowed on oxen. They were waiting for us. As a result of hunting, there were fewer tigers. They're smart. They were leaving. And then around our village Znamenka went. Luka Malakhov's stallion was run over. The horses came running in from the pasture, all covered in soap. One (such was the handsome black stallion) is missing... The money was mostly from hunting. Well, for example, my father will get something there, bring it back, and my mother will do something. I was trained from a young age to handle meat. They sold meat to the Chinese. Bear bile was sold to the Chinese.

Znamenka Street. There is a feast of the Sign of the Most Holy Theotokos. It dates back to the 13th century. Kiev Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky went to war on Veliky Novgorod, and they prayed to the Most Holy Theotokos. We (in Znamenka) did not have a prayer house, but there was a church holiday. [...]

8We spoke Chinese. I spoke very well. I don't understand much Chinese right now. There were Chinese friends. We walked together, even wrestled. I personally have very good memories of China and my Chinese childhood.

By 1939, there were 1,300 farms and 6800 people living in the district. If in 1926 723 dessiatines were sown here, then in 1934 - already 4145, and in 1938 - 14,000 dessiatines of land9. Most of the farms were well - to-do. P. A. Morozov, for example, had more than 300 heads of cattle, up to 2 thousand sheep and about 100 thoroughbred horses, I. E. Vizyanov-up to 400 heads of cattle, up to 2 thousand sheep, and more than 70 horses. K. I. Chegodaev sowed up to 200 dessiatins of wheat.10 Despite the harsh climate, wheat produced very high yields. It was exported for sale to Hailar, and from there it was distributed throughout Manchuria.

If at first the cultivation of land was carried out in a primitive way, at best-with the use of draft power, then over time the technical arrangement of Russian peasants began to grow. Since the mid-1920s, agricultural machines began to arrive in the Three Rivers region from Harbin to facilitate the work of the farmer: tractors of the well-known brands "McCormick" and "Mosey Garis", tractor plows, seeders, mowers and sheaf binders, horse rakes, threshing machines. There are also new devices for processing products, in particular, windmills, separators. Thanks to the technology, residents of Trekhrechye were able to produce grain, oil and other products for sale 11.


In China, the Old Believers have completely preserved their culture. First of all, this was facilitated by living in isolated communities and settlements located in the depths of Manchuria, close in natural and climatic conditions to the Far Eastern region.

When moving to China, there were no major changes in the material culture of the Old Believers, in particular, the wearing of traditional undergarments and outerwear and shoes in everyday and everyday life.

page 54

public holidays, except for the fact that in China they borrowed from the local population, for example, fabric for clothing. Therefore, she became more elegant than before, when living in Russia.

There were no new design features in the construction of housing and its interior: the "red corner" with the iconostasis, photos of relatives on the walls, printed drawings on fabrics that decorated the room were preserved.

Traditions were also strictly observed in family and marriage relations, and the degree of blood and spiritual kinship was especially carefully considered. In rural areas, they married quite early: girls aged 14-16, boys aged 15-18. In urban areas, Old Believers-priests often had marriages with representatives of a different faith, but the age for marriage and marriage was higher than that of bespopovtsy.

There were no major changes in the traditional distribution of industrial and domestic work into men's, women's and children's jobs. Men were usually engaged in farming, hunting, and working in other areas. Women were the keepers of the hearth, doing all the household chores and raising children. The Old Believers ' families were large. This was especially noticeable in comparison with the "white" emigration, where the family most often had one, maximum two children. Families of Old Believers raised from five to ten children, and sometimes there were more.

The elders set norms of behavior, monitored the observance of traditional customs and rituals, defined religious and cultural rules for members of their community, controlled strict weekly and longer fasts, mandatory prayer hours, and so on. They also preserved traditional calendar and family (maternity, baptismal, wedding, funeral and memorial) rites.

Russian settlements in Manchuria, varying in size, had one or more straight and wide streets 12.

13Usually had one street, two-way buildings and small alleys to drive cattle to the river to drink. Three or four farmsteads - a lane to the river, and pastures in the other direction; the vegetable gardens were fenced, then the cattle were walking around, and there were no lanes. And there, to the river, there is no room left - only one street. The streets had no names... There was no prayer service in Sitahez... There was no school in Sitahez.

The agricultural practices of the Old Believers were the same as in Russia, although the tools and equipment were different for the better. P. G. Martyushev noted: " We had the best Swiss braids of fine linen. So you need to be able to find them. Yes, it is necessary to recapture it. You hit it with a hammer or butt. They tempered it themselves, this steel. When the head is beaten off, the beard can be shaved off. Touchstone - to correct the sharpness only "14.

In China, the Old Believers wore the same clothes as in Russia. Harem pants and colored shirts were especially popular. On holidays, they wore formal clothes. Khaki tunics were intended for hunting. In winter, they wore sheepskin coats or merlushki, belted with sashes made of cotton fabric. Mittens were knitted from camel or sheep wool. Women wore sundresses that they sewed themselves from Chinese multicolored fabric. After the Japanese occupation, men began to wear Japanese military caps. Shoes were usually black high leather boots, and for work there were ichigi made of bull skin. They also wore polunts, which they sewed themselves. In winter, women and men wore black wire rods made in Khaylar, Zhyuzhka or Verkhkuli. There were sandals for hot summers.


Hunting was one of the most popular activities of the Old Believers, especially since the Manchurian taiga was rich and varied in game. Most hunted birds or fur-bearing animals, and only a small part of the fishermen hunted the tiger, which was found mainly in the mountain forests of Jilin province and the mountains of Little Khingan.

15 Tiger cubs were caught. We had only Kulikovo tiger hunters. Misha Martyushev was in Timbohu... Kulikov Avtonom Semyonovich-Onet's company was made with other senior, already experienced hunters. Live tiger cubs were caught for the Japanese, the order was made. Here Yefim Martyushev (he died here already), his brother Antip-they went without their father, then they made a mistake: they thought it was a tiger cub, but she was a young tigress of pale color. The cubs were caught, and she dropped by the birch tree from the dogs. They thought it was a tiger cub, they came up, the dogs were barking. Yefim Martyushev came up close with rogulya. She jumped down, clucking behind Evo's shoulder blade and under herself. While they were there, they killed her. He was ill for a long time, and still he was dumb, dumb, dumb, and he died.

About 50 tigers were hunted per year. Bones, blood, brain, eyes, claws, liver, heart, genitals and, of course, skin were especially valued.16 Usually, one tiger killed could yield more profit than the most successful hunting season 17. The Chinese believed that the tiger heart drug gives a person extraordinary courage and perseverance, and amulets made of tiger claws and whiskers return lost love. The Old Believers were also engaged in trapping live tigers for sale to zoos. The most

page 55

Semyon Kalugin, a resident of Handaohezi, was considered lucky, having captured seven tigers in the winter season of 1936. Other famous and successful professional hunters were Luka Malakhov, Fyodor Martyushev and Pyotr Kalugin18.

The extraction of antlers, which were used to prepare traditional Chinese medicine, was also popular. Hunting for antler deer began in Manchuria in early summer and lasted almost until August. This kind of hunting wasn't as dangerous to the hunter as tiger hunting, but it required a lot of experience, skill, and agility. The main difficulty was that during the growth of antlers, the deer becomes especially nervous and sensitive. Hunting was based on a deep knowledge of the beast's habits and the hunter's solid skills. After tracking down the deer, the hunter had to sit in ambush for several hours. In addition, the deer should be killed in one shot, so that it could not damage its horns.

Imanov [yamanov](kozlov) were killed in the mountains. Their skins are valuable and their blood is precious, especially their blood. You dry imanyu blood, so with a kilogram, then it's good, and you go to sell... You will come to the village, there is a collective farm working there, or you will come to a concession somewhere and say: "Iman shanse" - Iman dried blood. Everyone is happy to buy it, who has the money. Here, for example, a twelve-gauge [caliber] shotgun shell case so cut off, it fit almost with a spoon (or it will not be [less/) - you will make it, such a measure, on a wire or in a bag. You come (we were boys, I was 16 years old) and say that here is Shanxi. Well, they are happy to buy everything who has the money. One: "I'll buy it", the other: "I'll buy it", but no one buys it, just like this: they're afraid, suddenly there's a horse mound, you need to check. They'll find medicine men there - the Chinese are so senior. Two or three old Chinese people will come. The glasses were not easy to find at that time, they would find a tall pot, pour warm water at room temperature, throw three or four dried blood powders into it,and sit there, quietly, in silence. They sit for 5 minutes or more. The powder lies, lies and begins to go to soak. It gets wet and goes to the bottom with a thin, thin thread and spreads out on the bottom. They get up: "Oh! Tin same ho! " - very good. Well, that's it. They get up and push money. They collect money there, and you draw three, one, two. Sell it out quickly. Our hunters, who dared, ate it fresh in the Meat Eater. They said that my back hurts, but if the blood helps. It was for these purposes that the Chinese bought it... One measure of dried iman blood cost tu liang (2 rubles).

... Everyone was silent. As the word, for example, understands: in what direction you go in the forest, how to get out, elif [if] you got into the night, in what direction, so as not to get lost. At the age of 12 or 14, they didn't hunt on their own - bears will eat this quickly. Even at the age of 16-17, we went with our elders not far from home. And then, when they learn a little more, they can do it on their own at the age of 17-18...

19Hunted bison (izyubrov). Floggings were obtained by [a premature cub flogged from the female's belly]. Flogging was very expensive - 30-40 dollars a pound (pound), there are floggings of 40 pounds and more. The female was killed in February. Money came from hunting. Sowing begins in the spring, and later they go to pantovka-approximately when the grass is already large. The Japanese allowed hunting. They started hunting tigers and antlers at the age of 17 or 18, and they already went out to shoot goats. Rifles, weapons left over from the war of 41 years, with Japan - royal.

* * *

The memoirs of Old Believers are a very valuable source for modern research of one of the dramatic stories of the Russian diaspora of the XX century and its communication with the local population in China. It is noteworthy that the younger generation of Old Believers knows very well about the affairs of the old days.


1 How we escaped from Russia. How we escaped from Russia. As told to O.Basargin by Anna Basargin. As Anna Basargina (English, Russian) told her Aunt Basagina. Nikolaevsk Publishing Co., 1989, p. 15, с. 16 - 17.

2 Ibid., p. 6.

Nakamura E. 3 (Tokyo). Text provided by Richard Morris / / Staroobryadets, 2005, N 34 -

Russkie staroobryadtsy: yazyk, kul'tura, istoriya: Sb. statey k XIV Mezhdunarod [Russian Old Believers: language, Culture ]. to the Congress of Slavists / / V. V. Vinogradov Institute of Russian Languages of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Moscow, Languages of Slavic Cultures, 2008, p. 372.

5 Field materials of the author (PMA). The informant is Anisim Kalugin.

Valikhov S. F. 6 Decree. soch., p. 373.

Fukuda S. 7 Russian villages in Northern Manchuria. Tokyo, Tama Sebo, 1942, p. 86.

8 PMA. Inf. - Yakunin Viktor Pimenovich.

9 Russians in Manchuria (In Japanese) statistics) / / Novaya Zarya. 18.07.1939.

10 V russkom Trekhrechye [In the Russian Three Rivers]. 7.06.1938.

11 Russian village in Manchu-di-guo. Trekhrechye - place of Russian settlements // Universal Calendar for 1935 Harbin, Ed. by A. F. Lubavin, 1.12.1934.

Zhernakov V. N. 12 Trekhrechye: Rukopis ' (Oakland, 1975) / / HILA. Collection of V. N. Zhernakov, l. 317-318.

13 PMA. Inf. - Valikhov Sylvester Fedorovich.

Martyushev P. G. 14 Kopny, pomochi i vecherki [Headdresses, pomochi and vecherki]. From short stories. Woodbourne, Oregon, USA, 1991, p. 3.

15 PMA. Inf. - Valikhov Sylvester Fedorovich.

Boikov N. A. 16 Zverovoy promysel i fur trade Manzhurii [16 Zverovyi promysel i fur trade of Manchuria]. 1931, N 10.

17 Three tigers for two! (About hunting Nazarenko and Sukhoveyev / / Rubezh, 1937, N 4.

Gomboev N. N. 18 Okhotskoe schastye [Hunting happiness] / / Gomboev N. N. Manchuria through the eyes of a hunter. pp. 22-29.

19 PMA. Inf. - Valikhov Sylvester Fedorovich.



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