International workshop Peoples and languages of the Sino – Russian borderlands: Dauria

Date & Time

October 9-10, 2019


Palacký University, Křižkovského 12, Room 2.15, Olomouc, Czech Republic


The region with the historical name of Dauria comprises lands around north-eastern Sino-Russian border – administratively the northernmost part of Heilongjiang, northern part of Inner Mongolian Hulunbuir, and the adjacent parts of Russia. The culture and history of the Dagurs and other peoples of Dauria have so far received little attention in the western scholarship. The workshop brings together researchers in history, anthropology, and linguistics who deal with the area and peoples of historical Dauria. We aim at a multiperspective study of this, once compact, region which became the borderland of two empires and, in the same time, became involved in important historical events.

Book of Abstract

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Important archaeological findings from the Liao, Jin and Yuan periods (namely the “Khitan towns” and the remains of the palace of Genghis Khan’s brother Khasar) bear witness to the importance of the area for the Middle Age Central Asian empires. For the modern world, Dauria was “discovered” in the 17th century by both Russia and Qing China during the two empires’ expansion. At that time the Mongolic speaking Dagurs together with the Tungusic Solons were dominating this region which was inhabited by several other Mongolic and Tungusic tribes. The conquest and subsequent establishment of the Sino-Russian border led to a series of migrations, uprisings and switching of alliances which continued into the beginning of the 20th century. In that time, Dauria became a territory of clashes between three great powers – Russia, China and Japan, and a stage for political games such as the puppet pan-mongolist “Daurian government.” The Chinese Dauria saw several several independence movements and, later, became part of Manchukuo. After the end of the 2nd World War the little known first Inner Mongolian autonomous government was established in Chinese Dauria, its end in 1949 marking also the decline of the political importance of this area.

Ethnic groups

After becoming subjects of the Manchus, the Dagurs, a Mongolic speaking people with Tungusic culture, were divided into several groups and re-settled, one of the groups being sent as far as Xinjiang. The most “mongolized” Hailar Dagurs gained strong political influence within the late Qing empire and continued to exercise it until the beginning of the Communist rule. The Dagur intellectuals of that time were famous for knowing Mongolian, Chinese and Manchu spoken and written languages in addition to using Manchu, Cyrillic and Latin alphabets for writing in Dagur. In the 70s the Dagurs, against the will of the Hailar Dagur elite who claimed to be Mongols, the Dagurs in China were listed as a separate ethnic group without writing system. At present, Dagur is used only by the older generation. With the decline of the Dagur language the rich and very specific folklore and the peculiar shamanic tradition, both little known to western scholarship, are being gradually lost. Besides the Dagurs, other ethnic groups have ties to historical Dauria, including great Mongolic tribes such as the Buryats, Bargas or Khorchins, the Tungusic communities of Solons and Orochens or small endangered groups with handfuls of speakers such as the Khamnigans or the Yakut Ewenkis.  As this list suggests, Dauria was an area of intensive language and cultural contacts. The indigenous cultures, themselves in constant contacts and communication, were at times coming under the influence of Mongols, Russians, Manchus, Chinese and Japanese, forming a fascinating multicultural ‘melting-pot’.


Ocotober 9, 2019

10:30 – 11:00 Registration. Tea & coffee

11:00 – 11:15  Welcoming speech, Ondrej Kucera

11:15 – 11:30 Opening Speech, Ute Wallenböck and Veronika Zikmundová


11:30 – 12:00  Daur Names and Daur Identities: Testing Boundaries of Social and Cultural Perceptions Loretta Kim (University of Hongkong)

12:00 – 12:30 Evolution of the term “Daur-Mongol”  and self identification of Daurs in the revolution period: Case of Fumintai  (Aiul Samdan) and his Pan-Mongol revolutionary activity Bazar Tsybenov (Russian Academy of Sciences, Ulan Ude)

12:30 – 13:00 Where did they go? The Daur as a vanished transnational community and the impact of imperial ethnic categorization on the definition of “indigenous people” today Stephanie Ziehaus and Ute Wallenböck (Palacký University Olomouc)

13:15 – 14:45 LUNCH BREAK


14:45 – 15:15 Race, ethnicity and kinship in the Russia – China borderlands:  Case of Gantimur  and  three hundred years of the Daur’s cross-border life Sayana Namsaraeva (MIASU, University of Cambridge, Palacký University Olomouc)

15:15 – 15:45 Appeals in the Eight Banners: Taking the Cisan Incident as Example Kicengge (Otemon Hakuin University, Osaka)

15:45 – 16:15 The role of the Daur politician Merse – Guo Daofu in the social and political life of early 20th century Inner Mongolia Kateřina Zikmundová (Charles University, Prague)

16:15 – 16:45 Past and Present of Dagur songs, Veronika Kapišovská (Charles University, Prague)

16:45 – 17:15 Coffee Break


19:00 DINNER

October 10, 2019

8:30 – 9:00 Tea & coffee


09:00 – 09:30 Some observations on Buryad speech of a native speaker of Dagur, Jargal Badagarov (Universität Heidelberg)

9:30 – 10:00 Some etymological remarks on the Dagur body parts names, Bayarma Khabtagaeva (Free Universty Berlin &University of Szeged)


10:00 – 10:30 Structural analysis of the Daur versions of the  ‘Account of the  Nishan shamaness’José Andrés, Alonso de la Fuente (Jagellonian University, Kraków) & Veronika Zikmundová (Charles University, Prague)

10:30 – 11:00 The Daur version of Nisan saman and modern shamanic practices among the Daur David Somfai Kara (Budapest)

11:00-11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:00 Round Table Discussion