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Collections on Ainu, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Mongolian Cultures

The largest collection on the Ainu culture (3000 items) occupies particular place in the museum fund. Formation of collection on the culture of this scarcely studied people dates from to the early XX century.

Mongolian Collection in Museum

The collection of ethnographic artifacts of the Mongolian culture is a bit less numerous (1065). The first 32 objects on the culture of this people including the festive clothes of lama were received from D.A. Klemetz in 1906. Similar clothes, Buddhist objects, silver jewelry and a complex headdress with hairdo (the pride of every married Mongol woman in that times) were handed over to museum by the Mrs. N.A. Lyuba, the spouse of the General Consul of Russia in Urga Ya. P. Shishmarev. Three collections (81 items) were received from him somewhat later. They include alongside Mongolian summer tent 76 wooden figurines depicting the characters of the Cham mystery play.

Important contribution to formation of the fund on the Mongolians' culture was made by the renowned scholar, traveler, academician P. K. Kozlov who dedicated his life to archeological researches of the Central Asia and discovered the ancient city of Khara-Khoto during the famous Mongol-Sichuan expedition. The funds of the Russian Museum of Ethnography contain only small part of his vast collection: clay and bronze Buddhist sculptures – the rarity in respect of their date and manufacture technique. The objects of the Lamaist cult: symbolics, sculptures, the bone icon with depiction of a circle sansal, the vessels for water sanctifying and altar decoration presented in three collections (77 items) gathered by A V. Vereshchagin are of significant interest.

They are supplemented by extremely valuable collection on the Lamaistic cult (prayer mills, incense burners, utensils, sculptures); ritual cup made of human skull, silver mandala, arms, festive horse saddle and complete set of harness belonged to the famous collector the Prince E. E.Ukhtomski were purchased by the Emperor Nicolas II in 1902 and handed to museum in 1912.

Today the collection on the culture of the peoples of neighboring countries including foreign Eskimo and Aleuts comprises about 9 000 exhibits.

Collections on the Ainu Culture

The largest collection on the Ainu culture (3000 items) occupies particular place in the museum fund. Formation of collection on the culture of this scarcely studied people dates from to the early XX century.

The first artifacts of the Ainu culture were received by the Ethnographic Department from the renowned ichthyologist and zoologist P. Yu. Schmidt. The forty two Ainu items of hunting, fishing, utensils and clothes collected by him in the western coast of the Sakhalin Island (the village of Mauka) served as a kind of push to organization of special expedition in the region of their living in 1912. It was the only but very fruitful expedition to the Ainu of the southern part of Sakhalin and Hokkaido which were under the rule of Japan in that time.

The famous explorer of Siberia, the research fellow of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography V.N. Vasil'ev was appointed the head of expedition. The Father Sergius, the bishop of the Orthodox Spiritual Mission in Japan provided him invaluable help by offering the Professor of the Spiritual Seminary Mr. Naito as an interpreter to the collector. Moreover, one should add cooperation of local authorities, significant aid of the Professor of Geology at the Tokyo University Jeembo Kotora and the English missionary and renowned explorer from Sapporo John Bachelor. Collection work in the Sakhalin and Hokkaido was successful. The cult objects; a small cage for rearing a bear cub destined for ritual killing at the Bear Feast, tombstones, bear belt, an entire set of the inau sacred sticks serving for communication with deities and a pole from the place of bear's ritual killing are of particular interest.

In total during the expedition about 2 500 objects were gathered. Significant replenishment of the collection on the Ainu culture are 235 objects handed to the Russian Museum of Ethnography from the State Museum of the Peoples of the USSR in 1948. The collectors of these funds were the Russian Consul from the city of Nagasaki A. E. Olorovsky, the mining engineer I. A. Lopatin, the famous researcher of Ainu culture, the political exile B. O. Pilsudski and the supervisor of a station in a district of the Sakhalin Island P. P. Verzhbinetz.

The Ethnography of the Japanese in the RME

The collection on the culture of the Japanese living in close proximity to the Ainu was comprised from different sources. Like the Ainu collection the first forty nine items (models of boats, fishing tools, instruments and clothes) were handed to museum by P. Yu. Shmidt.

The collection handed over to the Ethnographic Department in 1910 by the Russian Consul in Japan Grigory de Wollant who lived in Japan for six years and knew well the Country of Rising Sun is one of the largest (about 340 items). His collection has abundant samples of wood, carved handles of daggers, various kinds of paper and wallpaper used by Japanese for sliding walls of house and traditional footwear, musical instruments, models of agricultural instruments, silk and colored paper for making fans.

The interesting collection of 19 items of house decorative furnishing and rare bone figurines netsuke was received by the museum from the collector of the Japanese antics Mrs. de Tillot.

In 1910 the relatives of the Admiral E. Cherkas gave the museum 25 valuable exhibits on the Japanese culture, among them there are adornments, Buddhist objects and items of the decorative arts.

Extremely valuable replenishment of fund is protective armor of a Japanese samurai consisting of nine objects received from the Kiev University in exchange for doublets in 1909. The similar armor also forms part of the composite collection consisting of 200 objects. It also includes fans, children, men and women everyday clothes.

The collection of 55 objects which includes a women wedding garment, a wig with hairdo and a kimono of woman who accompanied the bride at wedding was presented to museum by Akiyama Fumi the owner of rental shop in the city of Shimizu in 1974.

In total the RME funds contain about 700 objects of the Japanese culture.

The Chinese culture in the RME collection

Many renowned people participated in formation of the collection fund on the Chinese culture. From the first days of museum's foundation D.A. Klementz in his letters repeatedly asked for help scholars, travelers and collectors. The major general A.I. Vershinin provided significant aid for organizing collection of the ethnographic artifacts of the Chinese culture directly in the city of Harbin and other places of China. He, who collected for the museum ten valuable incense burners, could establish contact between interpreter, the district inspector of the Civil Government of the city of Harbin B. G. Donat and D. A. Klementz.

In agreement with D. A. Klementz B. G.Donat not only personally gathered collection of rosewood indoor sculpture in 1906, but also engaged in collecting an influential Chinese merchant Fu Tanzhi. Vast and valuable collections of this Chinese official were later handed to other museums. The collections of P. K. Kozlov, the Prince E. E. Ukhtomsky, significant part of the collection of his son D. E. Ukhtomsky and A.A. Makarenko shared the same fate. Only twenty eight stands for Buddhist sculptures of the D. E. Ukhtomsky collection and eight objects of those gathered by A. A. Makarenko (coins and smith's instruments) remained in museum.

The collections gathered and purchased from the Chinese and Russian soldiers by the major general A.V. Vereschagin, talented collector and writer, the brother of the famous artist V.V. Vereschagin in 1900-1902 had more luck. From twelve of his collections (400 items) six containing 239 items preserved in museum funds. Among them are Buddhist artifacts, decorative house objects, carved desks, stamps, utensils, amulets, belt pendants and large number of women silver jewelry (about 200 pieces). The collections of A. V. Vereschagin were purchased by the Emperor Nicolas II and donated to the museum in 1903—1906.

In 1913 the museum received from the government of Russia the extremely valuable collection of the Chinese silver jewelry (79 pieces) of the first guild merchant F. M. Plyushkin purchased after his death.

The total number of the Chinese objects in the funds of the Russian Museum of Ethnography is 502 items forming part of 31 collection.

Korean collections in the RME fund

The diversity of headdresses distinguishes the collection on the Koreans' culture. Not in vain, the English travelers called Korea “the country of fancy hats”. Significant number of them are in the first collection on the culture of Koreans received from the renowned ichthyologist P. Yu.Schmidt in 1903. The same collection containing more than 300 objects are jewelry, clothes, a set of surgical instruments, items of personal hygiene, games and watercolor drawings which Koreans made for seasonal festivals.

The collection handed in the same year by the Mr. Dulsky – the Director of the Grodekovsky Museum in Khabarovsk is similar in its thematics and number of objects. It was gathered in Korea by one of special expeditions organized by the Russian Geographical Society. The most important source on the history of Korean migrants lived in the village of Yanchikha of the Primorsky Krai is the collection gathered by the famous geographer and local historian D.K.Soloviev. It characterizes almost all the aspects of culture of this group of Koreans including tobacco smoking and music.

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