The Udege people belong to the Tungus-Mantjur group. Presently there are only 2000 Udege. They live in Primorsky and Khabarovsk regions. Traditionally Udege live by the rivers and even the names of different Udege bands are the names of the rivers - Bikini, Samargin, Iman, Khor and Aniuke. Udege did not have writing, their religion is shamanism. Their traditional activities are hunting, fishing and gathering.

The main staple of their diet is fish and meat of wild animals. Those Udege bands that have extensive contacts with Chinese and Russians began to grow small vegetable gardens, but fish and meat still their main food. Many Udege prefer it raw. Udege of Primorsky region gather ginseng.

Before the Soviet revolution Udege lived in the small clans in the forest. But the soviets forced them into villages where they had hospitals, schools and other elements of the social welfare. The same time Udege were forced to speak Russian, the Udege language as well as the practicing shamanism were strictly forbidden. As the result the very few modern Udege know much of their language and the traditional culture.

Traditional Udege clothe is similar for men and women - a rob made out of fabric, fixed at the right side, pants underneath and short leather boots. The head is covered by a small round fur hat. Underneath which there is a kind of a cotton or wool helmet with long sides and back to protect from rain and snow.. A womanís rob was longer and more ornamented than manís.

Udege believes are full of spirits and mythology of the creation. The sacred animals are tigers and bears.

The same as all indigenous peoples in Russia, Udege are in horrible economic and spiritual situations. The language and culture are dying, the birthrate is dropping, the tuberculosis is rampant.

Natalia Kantchuga,

Illustrtation by A. Dianov