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When the Twins Went to War
A Fable of Far East Russia


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Copyright © 1997, 2005 Aaron Shepard. All rights reserved.


Here is background info on my story.—Aaron

The Amur River, lying in the region that Russia calls its Far East, flows almost 2,000 miles down to the Pacific coast. This river is the home of many native tribes who lived for centuries by hunting and fishing. They were remarkably similar to the Pacific coast tribes of the northwest United States and of Canada.

Formerly, the clans of a tribe would often fight among themselves. Of course, their wars were not as terrible as wars of today. Most lasted only a few days; the men were careful not to hurt women or children; and they did not destroy their enemies’ homes. Still, some men would be killed, and the wars were numerous.

This is a retelling of a tale found in Khrabryi Azmun (Brave Azmun), collected and retold by Dmitrii Nagishkin, Moscow, 1949. The book was published in English as Folktales of the Amur: Stories from the Russian Far East, translated by Emily Lehrman, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, Abrams, New York, 1980. The story appears there as “How the Beldys Stopped Fighting.” Also in that volume is a second tale about Chubak and Udoga, called “The Twins.”

For a look at the Amur and the lifestyle of its natives, see the internationally-acclaimed Japanese film Dersu Uzala, by Akira Kurosawa.