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Nikolai Ubushaev, The Shikryakhn Clan

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


In this interview Nikolai talks about his parents, paternal ancestors, siblings and his life in Siberian exile. Nikolai: I work on my family’s genealogical tree. Our ancestors were: Shikr, his son Takh, his son Chidng, his son Erdn, then Nadvid, and from him comes my father Uvsh. My ancestor Shikr had 7 children and they all lived in Orenburg. When they grew up, all 7 children moved in different directions and lived separately. The name Takh means ‘horseshoe’. We have a saying in my family: ‘We are savvy and armed, our horses have shoes’. This saying alludes to my ancestor Takh. Takh’s son Chidng had 5 children, including Erdn. Erdn in his turn had 2 sons and 2 daughters. Erdn married the widow of his elder brother, but they did not live long together and got divorced. The woman did not know at that time that she was pregnant. The son who was born was named Khasg. Khasg had 3 sons: Boovk, Goodzha and Aanya. Khasg’s descendants today live in Ulan Khol. One of Erdn’s daughters was married to a man named Dovng. Dovng had 3 children: Syukya, Narn and Aasa. The descendants of Syukya and Narn (who have the surname of Syukiev and Naranov) today live in Yashkul. Aasa had a daughter who worked in a maternity hospital. My grandfather Nadvid had 7 children: 5 daughters and 2 sons. One of his daughters was named Agash, which in Kalmyk means ‘princess’. She lived with a Russian man by the name of Praznikov. That Russian man had a wife Lida, but they were childless. My aunt Agash bore Praznikov twin daughters. The Russian man took one of the twins and returned home to his wife. They named the girl Maria and baptized her. When Maria grew up, she married a Russian by the name of Skorobogatov. They had a son Stepan, who was named after his grandfather. Stepan fought the Great Patriotic War and died here aged over 90. Stepan had a son Sasha, who has a son Stepan. I think that Praznikov and Skorobogatov were not Russians, but Jews. Q: Are Jews called ‘khar guyr’ in Kalmyk? Nikolai: Not ‘guyr’, but ‘Uighur’ that is ‘black Uighurs’. In the past when we were in Central Asia we lived alongside the Uighurs. When we moved here there were no Uighurs around, and we began to use this name for Russians. I always thought that my aunt Agash lived in Astrakhan, but now I understand that she most likely lived in Lagan. My brother told me that Agash’s sister married a man named Mu Zhoozha. I think she did not marry Mu Zhoozha but his son Badmar. Badmar had a son Mandzhi. Mandzhi had 7 children: 3 daughters and 4 sons. They all live in Elista and are my close relatives. I have not written anything about my grandfather Nadvid yet. My father Uvsh was a fisherman. He had no formal education. During the war, he worked in a fishing division that sent fish to the front. Later he was sent into exile. In 1945, he joined us in Siberia. As soon as he joined us, he died because he was very sick. Q: How many children did he have? Nikolai: In total, Uvsh had 10 children. The first 2 died immediately after birth. Of the surviving 8 children, 3 died in Siberia. One of my sisters got married in Siberia but died there with her husband and children of tuberculosis. Only 5 of us returned from Siberia alive. I am the only survivor now. My family is big. Once we lived in the village of Mukhla near Lagan, and some of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren still live there. My mother Badm was also from the Tsaatan clan. Her father was Eld. My mother died at 70. She raised us in Siberia and died in Kalmykia. When we were in Siberia, my paternal uncle Koku was denounced and spent 8 years in gulag. Those who denounced others received a bag of flour as a reward. Koku was a tall, broad-shouldered, muscular man. We all lived in the same house: my family and my uncle’s family. At home Koku’s meals were prepared separately. He could eat half a sheep and drink 750 gr of vodka in a sitting. He used to tell me about Kalmyk dances, songs and so on. He was about 50 when he was denounced. Q: Did Koku get out of prison? Nikolai: He was released when we still lived in Siberia. We had a garden of 80 acres where we planted potatoes. Since we had a big family, it was necessary to fill two cellars with potatoes. We youngsters had to weed and water the plants including cucumbers and tomatoes.



Tsaatan, clan, autobiography

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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin