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Виктор Балабанов Гантимур. Из книги «Строкой и памятью отмечено…». Перевод на английский Елены Букиной

Переводчик: Елена Букина


(из книги «Строкой и памятью отмечено…»)


        Перевод на английский Елены Букиной




          The ruling prince of the local Tungus tribe wandered along the Nercha, Shilka and Urulga rivers in the 17th–18th centuries.

          Russians met him and his tribesmen in the middle of the 17th century. The tribe numbered 300 people and was one of the largest native families at that time.

          When in 1653 a Russian squad led by Maxim Stepanov Urazov arrived at the Nercha and built a small fort near its estuary Prince Gantimur paid them the first tribute of valuable sables.

It was the time when the first dispute between them came about. Urazov made the Prince an offer to become an amanat (a hostage who could ensure allegiance of the tribe to the conqueror) but the Prince flatly refused the offer. A military unit commander Peter Beketov who arrived on the Nercha in 1654 to build Bolshoi Ostrog (Big Fort) made efforts, too, to persuade Gantimur to accept the proposal but they came to nothing as well. 

          Persistent demands to become an amanat took the opposite effect: Gantimur abandoned his camp and led his tribe to another river.

          Later, Prince Gantimur’s military tribesmen managed to force away the Russians from the Nercha without taking up open struggle with them. They trampled and burnt their harvest of ripe wheat so that Beketov and his people had to leave the Nercha, drift down the Shilka and the Amur to join Onufri Stepanov’s squard.

          Since that time up to the year of 1667, the Russians had not heard anything about Gantimur.

          It is known that while Gantimur wandered about the territory the Chinese emperor Khan-Si made an attempt to bring him into bondage. But the Prince who valued liberty most did not yield to the pressure and retreated to the native lands around the Nercha River. There, eventually, he swore his allegiance to Russia. Gantimur also summoned his relation Bokoi, a tribe patriarch, and the latter pledged his allegiance to Russia as well. 

          Ever since, whenever the Russians made contacts with the Chinese, the controversy about Gantimur came to light. The Chinese emperor demanded that Gantimur be placed under his rule. In answer to this demands the Russian envoy in China N. G. Spafari (1675–1678) argued: “The following protest lodged I to this claim: the code of rights of any people on the face of the earth has it that the man and his kin who happen to be born on the land which is the dominion of a certain ruler must be the subject to this ruler, him and his tribe as well. Gantimur and his forefathers came into the world on the Nercha River thence to this land and its ruler belong …” 

          Gantimur himself used to say that he would take his own life rather than give himself to Kansi (the name used by Russians to refer to Khan-Si).

          N. G. Spafari gave characteristic to Gantimur, the only one ever known. “This very Gantimur is the best of Your Grand Highness’ subject Tunguses, a great man of courage, a giant by the look of him who has nine wives and his children number more than thirty. They are well-armed all but his daughters and his troops count more than three hundred people, all in military outfit and with spears. He dwells on the borderline in the Nerchinsk fort”.

          The Nerchinsk voivode1 received the tsar decree which ran that Gantimur should be escorted to Moscow.

          In 1683, Ignati Milovanov, a boyar’s son, set about the task of conducting aging Peter Gantimur and his son Pavel to the capital so as to introduce them to the tsar but the Tungus prince did not bear the long way and died on the way there. The tsar was gracious to Pavel who had been safely accompanied to Moscow. Called Pavel Gantimurov since that time he and his son Chukulai (Vasili) were bestowed the titles of Russian princes. They were allotted the lands along the Shilka, the Ingoda and its tributary the Urulga. At the estuary of the latter the camping ground of the Prince was laid down.

          When the Nerchinsk treaty – the first treaty with China – was being negotiated in 1689 the Chinese stirred up the dispute about Gantimur again demanding that he be given into the hands of the Chinese emperor Khan-Si. To ensure safety of the Gantimurs family the Russians proposed that he should go back to his farther lands. The theory that Gantimur’s troops fought around Nerchinsk at that time is nothing else than a fancy tale. In “Stateiny List of F. A. Golovin’s Embassy” it is stated clearly enough that Gantimur and his tribe resided on his farthest camping-ground situated to the north of Nerchinsk.

          Researches have to gather information about Gantimur’s family literally bit by bit. To my knowledge, a complete and comprehensive essay about him is non-existent. Isolated facts of his biography are scattered over the reports of the Nerchinsk voivodes that date back to the 17th century and were published in “Historic Acts” and “Addendum to Historic Acts”.

          The details of Gantimur’s family tree can be traced in the registry of the Nerchinsk voivodes, which remains deposited in the State Archive of the Chita Region. There they are sitting intact waiting for their future researchers.


1 Slavic term meaninggarrison commander