Mansification of the loggers (1)
This hypothesis of tourists killed by locals from District 41 stands only if the locals had fast, reliable and stealth mean of locomotion in the taiga, allowing them to quickly pass by the tourists sleeping at Northern 2 and head to the Pass to set up their ambush.
Yudin opened a door when writing:
they ride all kind of They gave us the only horse available here to take our backpacks tomorrow to 2nd Northern
We know that Mansi had a lot of reindeers:I have 1,200 heads of deer to take care of, and I have to shepherd
(Bahtiyarov Nikolay Yakimovich)
and that the locals who were fluent in Mansi were friends with some Mansi people.
We also know that Ognev, for example, was perfectly able to ride a reindeer-sledge:he drove limestone stones on a reindeer sled along the winter road from a lime quarry to the Yatriya River for firing to lime
This hypothesis stands on the deep Mansification of the loggers, of those ones who didn't "quit" like most of the workers ("many don't last" wrote Yudin) but were tough enough to stay and begin a process of acculturation. Speaking fluently the Mansi, having Mansi friends - "pashte/pache-rum - hello friend
", being invited to eat at Mansi houses and seat and drink vodka near the "chuval - open chimney in the corner
" (please open the link) and to hunt with their friends, knowing where were the "ushnik - Mansi hunting house for warming
" in the area. The word "chuval", the guys knew it because they were at a Mansi house. As Ryazhnev testified: "When the hikers came to 41st district there were no Mansi there and in general they don't come to us often
", the loggers became fluent in Mansi when socializing with the Mansi in other places than District 41, the had to spend time at their houses and in the taiga. So there was a core, at District 41, of loggers who stayed long enough to enjoy the life of the other side of the world (a side without CPSU, Pravda and KGB). This core had probably access to anything needed to set up a successful ambush against the tourists.
The locals were able to go fast on the snow with such teams:
3 reindeers + sledge or 2 reindeers + sledge:
Also with this one specially interesting in our case:
In this configuration, the team could be very fast:
But only trotting, a team reindeer-skier would easily outclass any tourist skier. The locals could easily make the 24 km at night and pass by the tourist before dawn of Jan. 28. The haste at the beginning offered a comfort to the locals because they knew the position of the tourists when they had to pass them by at Northern 2. If the locals missed this occasion, they would have been forced to go very carefully not to bump into the tourists. But once Northern 2 was passed by, it was clear and easy ride to the Pass.
When the tourists' diaries tell about following a Mansi trail, they were putting their skis in the tracks of their murderers:January 29Second day of our hike. We made our way from the Lozva river to the Auspiya river. We walked along a Mansi trail.
GDJanuary 29We go first to Lozva then we turn to Auspiya. Along the Auspiya Mansi have passed. A trail is visible, grooves, a path is visible. We often see Mansi signs on the trail. I wonder what they write about? Now the Mansi trail goes south
. ZKDJanuary 30We went on the bank on a sledge-deer trail.
GDJanuary 30Deer trail turns into а trodden path, and then ends.
I think the tourists were unable to make the difference between "trail", "trodden path" or "beaten trail". It was even difficult for the Mansi themselves to read the clear narrow tracks of the Russian hikers: And only saw tracks of hikers - on the road there were tracks of narrow skis. How many people could not be determined.
(Anyamov Andrey Aleekseevich) I think the tourists were completely unable to read the tracks of the wide and smooth Mansi skis, sleds and sledges. January 30 We go on Auspiya Mansi trail ended. Pine forest. All day long we walked along Auspiya. Will spend the night on a Mansi trail.
ZKDJanuary 30.Today as yesterday were are following the path of Mansi. Here the trail takes us to the shores of the river. We lose track. In the future, the trail follows the left bank of Auspii river, but the team of deer crossed the river and we are going through the woods.
That right turn, I marked it in red on my map:January 31Yesterday it seems we stumbled upon his resting stop. Deer didn't go any further. January 31Got back on the Mansi trail. (Up to now we are following a Mansi trail on which not so long passed a hunter with deer.)
The hunter took the beaten trail by himself, we are following in his steps.
On Jan. 31, the tourists were high in the Auspiya valley, just two days from their death, and there was still an unknown man just beyond them, opening the trail for them, who came here on a reindeer that died and was left behind... I think now that forerunner and opener of the trail was part of the ambush... his tracks should have climb to te Pass and go down straight to the Ravine.
So the realism of this aspect of the hypothesis depends on the depth of the Mansification at Ognev's barrack. And we have another clue with the difficulty for Mansi elders to understand the event.
Kurikov tried to think the ambiguous nature of the murderers:Kurikov said that near the holy mountain, where this mountain is located, he didn't say, there live five Ostyaks. They are like savages, they are not friends with Mansi or with Russian people. They never come to Ivdel. And these Ostyaks could kill the hikers because they wanted to ascend the holy mountain or because they thought that hikers could kill their deer and moose, which they feed on.
Gorbushin Artemiy Vladimirovich
Neither Russians, nor Mansi, of a different kind.
And then there is this full account of the murder made by a Mansi:I asked him: “How come you live your door open? The meat lies next to the tent. And you are not hiding anything.” He answered me: “We don’t need to hide anything. We are the owners here. And if someone takes something, we will find it. We had one case. Hikers in the mountains looted our sacred place. Shamans and hunters found out, tracked them down. And in the middle of the night, when they fell asleep, the shamans cut the tarp and launched some kind of dope inside. Hunters surrounded the tent. And when the hikers jumped out, we killed them all. They were 9 or 10.
- And did that Mansi said in what year it happened?
- He didn't say and I didn’t ask. I then said: so you should have been punished for the murder? And he answered: "The hunters were catching the hikers and passing them to the shamans. We own this place and we do what we want. We will never offend people, we will always help, but there is no need to violate our sacred places.
Aleksandr Koshkin in defence of the Mansi they wouldn't leave the alcohol. Then he start going on about a red shirt that was found at the cedar that belonged to one of the victims with fractured skull (Thibeaux-Brignolles) who had his jacket on and why would he take off his shirt and put back the jacket on. In short - the shamans would not re-dress the bodies.
The story is a reconstruction from at least two sources. The contemporary part being: The hunters were catching the hikers and passing them to the shamans.
They could not invent this part of the story. And therefore, some Mansi were close to the murderers. There was a link. The scene did happen in reality, the Mansi just transcribed the event in Mansi schemes. They would tell the same story about the massacre of Katyn where the NKVD killed Polish officers one by one, hands tied in the back with a lace and with a bullet in the neck: the hunters were catching the Poles at the trucks and passing them to the shamans at the trench.
- Five Ostyaks. They are like savages, they are not friends with Mansi or with Russian people. The hunters were catching the hikers and passing them to the shamans
is the correct account, according to Mansi culture, of:
- A Kentovka of young outcasts, they are like savages, they are not friends neither with the Mansi elders nor with the Soviet regime. The Boyeviks were catching the tourists and passing them to the Brigadier and his Lieutenant who killed them one by one.
The bodies at the Ravine fit with The hunters were catching the hikers and passing them to the shamans
but the Mansi have no knowledge about how the tourists were killed: when the hikers jumped out, we killed them all
does not fit the crime scene. The storyteller is mixing two contradictory accounts. The hunters were catching the hikers and passing them to the shamans
corresponds to the walk from the Cedar to the Ravine, and when the hikers jumped out, we killed them all
does not correspond to any material evidence. One of these two contradictory versions has to be omitted - the second one obviously.
And there is a second source, a mythological one. Maybe the story with the loot, the dope and the cut is related to a completely different event. Maybe not with hikers, but with soldiers, pilgrims, Ostyaks, who knows ? One century before 1959, two or three centuries centuries before ? The description Hunters surrounded the tent. And when the hikers jumped out, we killed them all
corresponds to the most effective tactic used in wars between primitive tribes around the globe (see Lawrence H. Keeley: War before civilization
, Oxford University Press, 1996). And the accusation of looting a sacred place is an extremely old excuse to launch an attack on an individual or a group. In the Bible, Benjamin and Akran were accused of looting precious and sacred objects and the accusation was a set up: they set up a precious vase in Benjamin’s bag, they set up sacred objets in Akran’s tent. In this Mansi story, there is this kind of extremely old mythological material and it allows us to suppose that the account was the adaptation of old literary material to a much contemporary event.
At the beginning, only a few Mansi, the few ones who were related to District 41 and the group of loggers, knew the truth. Then, there was the elaboration of a Mansi version. Kurikov’s version, the one of the Five Ostyaks, neither Russian nor Mansi, was the closest to the unthinkable reality. It was difficult for Kurikov to understand why young Soviet loggers would slaughter young Soviet hikers, but his poetic attempt to think the unthikable was the best hypothesis. He created a myth corresponding precisely to the reality, just as Plato did with his Timaeus
, using poetry to design a theory, a theoretical model. In Kurikov’s model, the murderers were intermediate between Russian and Mansi, something else… and he found that "Ostyaks" was the best word. The number five, though, might have been absolutely correct. In the second and longest Mansi account, the only realistic part is The hunters were catching the hikers and passing them to the shamans
and the rest is a mythological context. Mansi did not kill the tourists, but it was impossible for them not to assume the killing as it implied so many Mansi cultural aspects. They could not accept the ambiguity of Mansified Russians
of which Kurikov had the intuition and made a purely Mansi account of the event.
The elementary Mansi dictionaries written by the tourists in their diaries tell us a lot about their logger teachers. For example, in Slobodin's list, the word "hul" or "ul" (meaning "fish") appeared twice. First in a conceptual group of words about food:nyan - bread
emas - good
saka emas - very good
mol – bad
sol - true
solval - salt
at - negation
at-sol - not true
pud - pot
vat - water
hul - fish (ХУЛ - Also in Zina's list: "ХУЛ")
neul - meat
sali – deer
second in a conceptual group about outdoors derived from a previous group about commercial exchanges:neks – sable
kutya - dog
suevat - pinery
suy - pine
vor - forest
vorhum - bear forest man
ul - fish (УЛ)
That is to say, the Mansi speaker knew about fish either in context of fishing in the river (УЛ) and in the context of cooking and eating at home (ХУЛ).There is an akin distinction in English caused by the use of French words after William's conquest and the establishment of French elite over England with sheep/mutton (from French "mouton"), ox/beef (from French "boeuf"), chicken/poultry (from French "poule"), pig/pork (from French "porc") : the old anglo-saxon word remained in use at the farm, but at the table of the elite, a second French word was introduced. When Lyuda wrote We learn some Mansi words from the guys
she tells us that these "guys" at the barrack had very close relationship with the Mansi.
I have read that a few pages of Dubinina's diary containing lists of Mansi words have not been translated: it is a pity because these lists give us the depth of the guys' Mansification. And the more they were Mansified, the higher the probability that loggers of District 41 could have murdered the tourists. Because the more Mansified they were, the easier they had access to reindeers.