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The Ussuriysk Tortoise—A 13th Century Jurchen Monument

https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2019.47.4.099-104

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Abstract

This article gives a detailed account of the scholarship focusing on the stone effigy of a tortoise found in 1864 near the Yuzhno-Ussuriyskoye fortified site in Primorye by the mining geologist I. Lopatin. The accompanying events are described. The main source is the unpublished diary of F.F. Busse, who unearthed the sculpture in 1885. He also excavated a kurgan on which it had been placed, and six other burial structures. His findings suggest that before the kurgans were built, the place had been occupied by a 13th-century Jurchen tribal cemetery. Stone tortoises with steles on their backs, called “steles on the spirit’s path”, had been placed at such cemeteries near the graves of top-ranking persons. There was no inscription on the stele nor on the top, and there was no stone vault under the adjacent kurgan. This is possibly due to the fact that the mausoleum was constructed for a person who had died far from that place. On the basis of Busse’s diaries and new archaeologicalfindings, I suggest that the cemetery with which the tortoise statue was associated might be connected with the key historical figure of the region—Puxian Wannu, who founded the Jurchen state Eastern Xia.

About the Author

N. G. Artemieva
Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of the Peoples of the Far East, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Department Head.

Pushkinskaya 89, Vladivostok, 690001



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For citation:


Artemieva N.G. The Ussuriysk Tortoise—A 13th Century Jurchen Monument. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2019;47(4):99-104. https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2019.47.4.099-104

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ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)