Problems of Archaeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of
Siberia and Neighboring Territories

ISSN 2658-6193 (Online)

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2019 Volume XXV

DOI: 10.17746/2658-6193.2019.25.754-758

УДК 3 94

The Altai System of Clans: The Outcomes of Its Transformation

Chemchieva A.P.

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This article describes the main development patterns in the Altai system of clans starting from the mid 19 th century until the present time. The transformations of the Altai clans are explored in three historical periods: pre-Soviet, Soviet, and post-Soviet. On the basis of ethnographic evidence, the initial state of the Altai clan system before its transformation has been analyzed. It has been shown that the Altai clan system manifests the following features: existence of the same ancestor, patrilineage, dislocality of exogamy, presence of a cult, and feeling of belonging to the clan. It has been established that the Altai clan system used to fulfill the following important functions: regulation of familial and marital relations, preservation of family cults, as well as administrative and organizational functions. In the late 19th century, the principles behind the existence of the Altai clans started to disintegrate. Gradual integration of the indigenous population into the system of general Russian relations made a destructive impact on the clan systems. The conversion of the indigenous Altaians to Orthodox Christianity also played an important role in their partial departure from clan-oriented concepts and lifestyle. The abolition of clan-oriented principles in the indigenous administrative system also contributed to destabilization of the Altai clan system. Since the Altai clans were viewed as “archaic” during the Soviet period, their further deformation occurred. Such fundamental changes in the Republic of Altai have resulted in transformation of the Altai clan system and disappearance of some of its social functions. In the post-Soviet period, the clan system gained social recognition. Empirical research has revealed that the majority of the indigenous Altaians continue to sustain their clan identities. Nowadays, the main function of the clan system is regulation of familial and marital relations. It has been concluded that the clan system appears to be able to resist the external influences and adapt to the changing environment.


Altai clan system, transformation, indigenous people, Northern Altaians, Southern Altaians

Chief Editor
Academician A.P. Derevyanko

Deputy Chief Editor
Academician V.I. Molodin

17, Аkademika Lavrentieva prosp., Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

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