Libmonster ID: BY-1592
Author(s) of the publication: Larisa PAVLINSKAYA

by Larisa PAVLINSKAYA, Cand. Sc. (Hist.), Head of the Department of Ethnography of Siberia, RAS Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography named after Peter the Great

The Age of Enlightenment begun in Russia in the 18th century was a period of formation of science in the country, which reached the level of developed European states in the course of the century. Such rapid rise was mostly preconditioned by the policy implemented by the Emperor Peter I, who was eager to make Russia one of the advanced European countries. Establishment of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1724 was one of the most important achievements of Peter I: for several decades it headed scientific, cultural, educational, and even political development of the Russian Empire.

The Academy moved to a building on the bank of the Neva River in St. Petersburg constructed specially for this institution in 1728. The building also hosted the first State Museum of Natural Sciences and History Kunstkammer with a library and an observatory. Pursuing the objective of making our country a part of the European world as soon as possible, the emperor invited well-known scientists, architects, and artists from Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Italy with the intent to form basics of a new culture and make a new capital--St. Petersburg--its symbol. Speaking of exact and natural sciences, including profane art, the reforms implemented by Peter the Great played a key role. In terms of ethnography, not only the reforms, but also the nature of our country, uniting peoples of Slavonic, Finno-Ugric, Turkic, Tunguso-Manchurian, Paleoasian, and Mongolian linguistic communities in one territory, was of great importance.

This ethnic peculiarity was a reason of rapid development of ethnographic studies, which in the 18th century by its scale and methodology left behind in many ways the European countries. As centralized governing of the vast territory of the Empire, by that time already including a significant part of Eastern Europe and Northern Asia with such multinational make-up of population, was impossible without their profound understanding (it was not by chance that the first studies of the country aimed to collect and study ethnographic artifacts were

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organized by Peter I). As a result, ethnography as a science in Russia initially had a research nature and was promoted by the Academy of Sciences, while in Europe it developed exclusively as a part of missionary activities. To understand all this it is necessary to assess the volume of appropriate information collected by Russian ethnographers in the early 16th-17th centuries--the period of assimilation of the main geographical and cultural space of the future empire.

Russian chronicles describing the life of most peoples inhabiting the European part of Russia and peoples of Western Siberia were among the sources that played a direct or indirect role in the formation of national ethnography. Speaking of the resources that were of great use in studies of Siberia and are still rather valuable are so-called "Instruction Records" of voivodes and salesmen of Siberian stockaded towns, "Tsar's Deeds and Decrees", including "interviews" of service class, a majority of which survived till our days thanks to the members of academic expeditions of the 18th century.

The first works describing peoples, mainly of Siberia as one of the most mysterious part of the country, were published in the 17th century--On the Siberian Tsardom and Tsars of That Great Tsardom (the author is unknown, 1645), Journey Across Siberia from Tobolsk to Nerchinsk and Chinese Border (Nikolai Spafary, 1675), Description of New Lands, or Siberian Tsardom (Nikifor Venyukov, 1675-1698), etc. In general, in the 17th century there already existed a great amount of reliable data on the peoples inhabiting Russia and neighboring states. This is proved by a unique work by the Burgomaster of Amsterdam Nicolaas Witsen Northern and Eastern Tartaria (1692, published in Russian in 2010) that was to a large extent dedicated to the peoples of the Russian Empire.

As a man greatly interested in area studies and especially peoples and cultures of faraway countries, in 1664 Witsen visited Moscow as a member of the Netherlands Embassy headed by Jacob Borel. He stayed in Moscow for about a year and got acquainted with representatives of different social strata who provided him with information on the territory and population of the vast Russian Empire. Thus, the data collected by this author reflect, first of all, the knowledge of the 17th cent. Russians about different peoples of their own country. Witsen continued collecting information on our country after he returned to Holland: he received letters from Russia and information from Russians visiting Amsterdam. In terms of geography, the work by Nicolaas Witsen covers the territory of the Volga Region, Ural, Siberia, Mongolia, Central Asia, Caucasia, and the Crimea. It contains data on the nature and climate of these lands, maps of Siberia and Far East, and what is more important--description of local peoples, their customs, habits, beliefs, and legends. Moreover, he proposed the first rough linguistic classification of languages of the peoples inhabiting these regions. The work Northern and Eastern Tartaria was acquired by St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and played an important role in preparing large-scale expeditions to Siberia held in the first half of the 18th century.

At the turn of the 17th-18th centuries, another prominent figure Semyon Remizov appears in national Siberian studies. He was a service class representative by birth, but for his military merits he was introduced to the class of "boyar children". However, he became famous as a historian of Siberia and a cartographer. He is the author of the outstanding work of those times History of Siberia (Remizov chronicle), based on the data obtained during careful examination of a great volume of sources (chronicles, documents of Siberian offices, legends and stories, drawings and maps). The author, though from the Christian and educational standpoint, tried to carry out a comparative analysis of historical, ethnographic, and geographical data and assess the process of joining of Siberia to Russia and its significance for the state. Remizov made numerous maps of the Siberian region and drawings of Siberian stockaded towns, which enriched substantially national history, ethnography, and geography. His famous Drawing Map of Siberia incorporates 23 maps covering the whole region.

The monograph Brief Description of the Ostyak People (1715) by Grigory Novitsky is the earliest ethnographic work of the 18th century in the Russian language and one of the first ethnographic works in the history of world science (SPb., 1884). In 1712 Novitsky (who was exiled to Tobolsk on a charge of Hetman Mazepa's treason case) as a member of the "apostle expedition" headed by metropolitan of Filofei (Leshchinsky) arranged by order

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of Peter I to baptize Siberian peoples, took a trip along the Ob River in the settlement area of the Ostyak people (Khanty). The journey resulted in a detailed description of the traditional Ostyak culture not yet exposed to Russian influence. Novitsky described all aspects of life of this people: dwelling, clothes, food, rites, beliefs, customary law, etc. The author also presented his ethnographic observations on the general history of Siberia available at that time, described Ob and its tributaries, natural wealth and even trade relations between Russia and China. Moreover, Novitsky was the first enthusiast who made an attempt to elucidate ethnic history of the region by studying local legends on the Chud people who once had allegedly inhabited territories along the Ob River. In fact, this work contained the main principle of ethnographic description of peoples and their culture.

Systematic studies of the Siberian region commenced in 1719. From 1719 to 1727, on the instructions of Peter the Great, the German scientist Daniel Gottlieb Messerschmidt who was in service of the Russian tsar, worked in Siberia. In the 18th century ethnography was one of the branches of political and historical geography, and finally formed as an independent subject only in the 19th century. That's why the researcher was instructed, inter alia, to describe local flora and fauna, search for medicinal plants, ancient monuments and manuscripts, as well as to study culture and languages of the Siberian peoples. Messerschmidt examined the territory from the Ob River to Transbaikalia and collected an enormous material on almost all aspects of human and natural life, including notes, collections and maps made by him. All materials collected by Messerschmidt were donated to the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences established in 1724. Unfortunately, the best part of the collection burnt down in the fire of 1747.

Further development of national ethnography up to the mid-19th century was carried on by the Academy. It organized numerous expeditions, mainly to Siberia and the Volga Region, on a scale never repeated in the history of science. To be more precise, the Academy organized over 50 expeditions--both individual trips of scientists and complex multiyear studies carried out by

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large teams of specialists in different scientific spheres. Each expedition made its own contribution to the accumulation of information on different peoples and formation of methods and methodology of ethnographic science. The most important expeditions were the Great Northern Expedition (or the Second Kamchatka Expedition) held in 1733-1743 and the Physical Expedition (or the Academic Expedition) of 1768-1774. The land team of the Second Kamchatka Expedition arranged studies of the indigenous population of Siberia was headed by the German Professor of History Gerhard Friedrich Müller, member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. For 10 years the group collected a vast material on the history and ethnography covering almost all territories of Siberia from Ural to Kamchatka. Müller described Siberian archives, copied all documents and formed one of the most valuable funds on the history of Siberia.

The historical and ethnographical team of the expedition carried out a number of studies that have scientific value even today. Müller's main work Description of the Siberian Tsardom and All Events Taking Place There, from the beginning and especially from the time of its Conquering by the Russian Empire till Our Days (SPb, 1750-1764), based on numerous documents, stories and personal observations of the author, is not only the first general history of Siberia, but also a unique ethnographic material on the origin of certain peoples, their ethnic and cultural relations and interaction. Unfortunately, some of Müller's ethnographic works, dealing with the methodology of description of traditional culture and vocabularies of languages and dialects of Siberian peoples remain still unpublished. Müller and his colleagues brought from the expedition numerous collections dedicated mostly to the culture of aboriginal peoples of Siberia, and archeological artifacts of the Scythian-Sarmatian period found in the course of excavations. The materials were donated to the Kunstkammer, where all collections made by the scientists in the course of expeditions were kept, which made it one of the biggest museums of the world and the collection--the most important source for scientific studies.

The monograph by Müller's disciple and assistant Stepan Krasheninnikov Description of the Land of Kamchatka (SPb, 1755), a result of four-year independent studies in the eastern part of the Siberian region, was highly appreciated by coevals and scientists of subsequent generations. The ethnographic part of the monograph includes data on the origin of aboriginal peoples, their historical development and ethnicons, characteristics of the ethnic composition of population, housekeeping, material culture, beliefs, rites, and holidays. Krasheninnikov carried out a detailed and profound analysis of the traditional culture of the Itelmen, Koryaks, and partially Aleutians, and made valuable observations in the field of ethnopsychological peculiarities of the studied peoples; it is worth mentioning that the studies reflect a high level of tolerance and true humanism of the scientist. In 1740, in parallel with Krasheninnikov, another German scientist Georg Wilhelm Steller worked in Kamchatka. His principal work Description of the Land of Kamchatka (Frankfurt, 1774) also contains a vivid description of the traditional culture of the indigenous population; however, some pieces were taken from the materials collected by Krasheninnikov.

Jakob Lindenau, Müller's assistant and interpreter, who in 1741-1745 made a number of trips to the northern and eastern parts of Siberia--along the Anadyr, Kolyma, Alazeya, Indigirka rivers and the Okhotsk seaboard--revealed himself as a gifted ethnographer. His ethnographic essays on Yakuts, Tunguses (Evenks), Lamuts (Evens), Yukhagirs, Buryats, and some other peoples, are a sort of monograph depicting all main aspects of traditional culture--from housekeeping and economic activities to religious beliefs, including also vast linguistic materials.

Alongside with the ethnographic studies of Siberian peoples, scientists actively worked in the Volga Region and Southern Ural, which was preconditioned by expansion of the empire southwards and to the south east within the bounds of the Great Steppe due to taking of Russian citizenship by the "Junior Horde" of Kazakhs. These works were headed by two prominent state figures--from 1734 by Ivan Kirillov, compiler of the Atlas of the Russian Empire, and from 1737 by Vasily Tatishchev, author of the History of Russia, who arranged a special "Orenburg Expedition". The latter played an especially important role in the development of methodology of ethnographical science. It was Tatishchev who formulated the concept of "political and historical geography", which clearly determined tasks of ethnography as a science (1739), which included studies of the origin of peoples on the basis of a comparative analysis of languages and working out of historical and linguistic classification of peoples. He also compiled a questionnaire including 198 questions to collect geographical, historical and ethnographic, archeological and anthropological data, which was widely used by scientists during the 18th century.

Pyotr Rychkov who took part in the Orenburg Expedition greatly promoted ethnographic studies in the Volga Region, Southern Transurals, and Central Asia. His main works are History of the Orenburg Territory (SPb., 1759)

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and Topology of the Orenburg Province (SPb.,1762). The first one represented description of peoples inhabiting the Orenburg Province--Tatars, Bashkirs, Kalmyks, Mordovians, Cheremises (the Mari), and Chuvashes, and the population of neighboring territories--the Turkmen, Uzbeks, Karakalpaks, Kirghiz-Kaisaks, residents of Khiva and Tashkent. The research led by Rychkov was highly estimated by the Academy of Sciences--he was awarded title of the Corresponding Member.

The ethnographic studies of the first half of the 18th century were continued in the form of five Academic Expeditions of 1768-1774 led by prominent scientists of that time, professors and adjuncts of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in natural history: Pyotr Simon Pallas, Ivan Lepekhin, Samuil Gottlieb Gmelin, Johann Güldenstädt, Johan Falk, and Johann Gottlieb Georgi; as for the main enthusiasts, there were captain Nikolai Rychkov (Pyotr Rychkov's son), students Vasily Zuev, Nikita Sokolov, and Nikolai Ozertskovsky who later on became academicians. For six years participants of the expeditions explored a vast territory of the expanding Russian Empire from Caucasia to the White Sea and from Moscow to Transbaikalia. As a result, they collected an enormous volume of information on the cultural traditions of a majority of peoples inhabiting these lands, that later formed a basis for numerous scientific works. Thus, the

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five-volume book by Pallas Journey Across Various Provinces of the Russian Empire (SPb., 1773-1788) contains detailed data on the peoples of the Volga Region and Siberia, partially collected by his assistants Zuev and Sokolov. Pallas was especially interested in Mongols and Kalmyks. The materials he collected incorporated not only personal observations, but also Mongolian historical chronicles, were generalized in the fundamental work Collection of Historical Data on the Mongolian Peoples-- a forerunner of historical ethnography. Pallas laid fundamentals of comparative linguistics in his 4-volume Comparative Vocabulary of All Languages and Dialects in the Alphabetical Order comprising European, American, African languages and languages of the South-Eastern Asia (1790-1791).

The first truly scientific study of the Nenetz people and Khanty was the monograph by Vasily Zuev Description of the Ostyaks and Samoyeds Inhabiting the Berezovsky District of the Siberian Region (M.-L., 1947), in which traditional culture of two peoples is presented in the context of a profound and comprehensive comparative analysis, including such indepth layers of social relations as exogamy, large family community, and property stratification of the society. The most socially oriented work by Ivan Lepekhin Diary of the Journey Across Provinces of the Russian State (SPb., 1795) combines delicate obser-

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vations over the life of Russian peasants, workers, the clergy, the Chuvash people and Zyryans, with an in-depth analysis of social structure.

However, the book by Johann Georgi Description of All Peoples of the Russian State, Their Rites, Beliefs, Customs, Dwellings, Clothes, and Other Memorable Things (SPb., 1776-1777) is considered a true apotheosis of the 18th century ethnographic science. This first consolidated monograph dedicated to the peoples of Russia is based on personal field observations made by the author and carefully selected data collected by other scientists. The vast work covers not only peoples of the Russian Empire but also inhabitants of some neighboring territories--Transcaucasia, Khanate of Bukhara, and Khiva. The monograph is composed of a series of essays, each dedicated to a separate people. In terms of composition, the essays have a single structure worked out by the 18th century science that has been preserved in ethnography till our days. The description includes the following: name of the people (ethnicon), inhabited area, number, physical type and psychological peculiarities, language, management system and common law rules, housekeeping, type of settlement and dwelling, clothes, food, family life-style, beliefs and rites. The author went beyond the limits of traditional ethnographic description: he also made a comparative historical analysis of the origin of peoples, identified main linguistic communities and classified them. All this makes it possible to consider Georgi's monograph as the final ethnographic study of the 18th century concentrating all scientific achievements of the past century and being a kind of model for scientists of future generations. Clearly, not all essays are equal by their content. The most detailed and accurate essay is dedicated to the culture of peoples inhabiting the European part of Russia, Western and Central Siberia; peoples of Caucasia, Central Asia and Far East are presented in less detail and even with a number of inaccuracies. However, this does not belittle this work in the history of both Russian and global ethnographical science.

Thus, by the late 18th century national ethnography was finally formed. Scientists and enthusiasts worked out principles of description of peoples and their culture, which laid foundations for future anthropological and ethnopsychological studies. There was developed a linguistic classification incorporating nearly all peoples of the Russian Empire. The methodology and procedure of studies of ethnic history applicable to a separate people or big ethic communities were elaborated. And, finally, a constellation of gifted Russian scientists who promoted future development of ethnographic studies in the next century was brought up.

In the late 18th-early 19th centuries, two lines of research--Slavonic and American studies--originated within Russian ethnography, which was the first step of national science in studying cultures of other states and continents of the Earth.


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