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(formerly Goldi), a people living mainly along the lower course of the Amur River (Khabarovsk Krai, RSFSR) and the right tributaries of the Ussuri River (Primor’e Krai, RSFSR). Their total population in the USSR is about 10,000 (1970 census). A small group of Nanai lives in China, between the Sungari and Ussuri rivers. They speak Nanai, and a considerable number also speak Russian. Until the early 20th century, shamanism was of chief importance in Nanai religious beliefs, despite the spread of the Russian Orthodox faith. Ethnically, the Nanai are the descendants of the ancient aboriginal population of the Amur River region, various Tungus-Manchu groups, and possibly the Mongols. In the USSR, most of the Nanai are employed in kolkhozes, where animal husbandry and agriculture are developed, along with fishing and hunting (the traditional forms of Nanai economy).
REFERENCENarody Sibiri. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
(Formerly Goldi), the language of the Nanai, who live in Khabarovsk and Primor’e krais of the RSFSR and between the Sungari and Ussuri rivers (People’s Republic of China). The Nanai language is spoken by approximately 7,000 persons in the USSR (1970 census). Nanai is related to the Tungus-Manchu languages. It is divided into three dialects: Amur and Kururmiiskii (in the USSR) and Sungari (mainly in China). The Nanai literary language is based on the Naikhin subdialect of the Amur dialect. A writing system based on the Latin alphabet was created in 1931; a Russian-based alphabet was introduced in 1963.
REFERENCESAvrorin, V. A. Grammatika nanaiskogo iazyka: Fonetika i morfologiia, vols. 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1959–61.
Iazyki narodov SSSR, vol. 5. Leningrad, 1968.
Onenko, S. N. Russko-nanaiskii slovar’. Leningrad, 1959.
Petrova, T. I. Nanaisko-russkii slovar’. Leningrad, 1960.