Images of Sakhalin in the research legacy of B.O. Pilsudsky (based on materials of the Far-Eastern archives) 

Golovnev I.A., Golovneva E.V.


Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnografii, 2021, 2 (53)


              page 129137




In modern anthropology, researchers pay increasing attention to photographic data as a category of historical/ethnographic documents. This article is based on visual and anthropological materials of Bronislaw Pilsudsky (18661918), a renowned researcher of Sakhalin ethnic groups, collected by the authors from the archives and museums in the Far East during the expedition in June August 2019. The study is focused on Pilsudskys photographic and manuscript collections on the ethnography of the Nivkhs reposited in holdings of the Sakhalin Regional Museum (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk) and the Society for Research on the Amur Region (Vladivostok). Many of these photographic documents, being unique evidence of the evolution of the material and spiritual culture of the indigenous people of Sakhalin at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, are introduced into the scientific discourse for the first time. The photographic materials are analyzed from the historical and anthropological perspectives, in conjunction with the published papers and archival manuscripts of the scientist (in particular, Wants and needs of the Sakhalin Gilyaks). Correlation of the textual and visual materials shows that B. Pilsudsky represented Sakhalin in a series of images: the island of native dwellers (traditional lifestyle of the Gilyaks) the island of convicts (colonization of the territory, involuntary-settlement community) the island of autonomies (cultural and economic zoning). In the course of his studies, B. Pilsudsky used concurrently textual description of the impressions and their photographic capture. The key feature of the scientific work of B. Pilsudsky of this period was the absence of a metric perspective he photographed his characters in their natural habitat, in their daily routine. The conclusion is drawn on the archive photographs as multi-layered visual-anthropological documents on their time, which under a proper critical research perspective constitute valuable historical sources of scientific interest for studies in a wide range of the humanities.

Key words: Bronislav Pilsudsky, visual anthropology, photo-document, Nivkhs, Sakhalin.


Funding. This work was supported by the Russian Foundation for the Humanities as part of project
No 18-59-23007
Visual anthropological research of Russian and Soviet frontier territories in the first half of
the 20th century: Russian and Hungarian scholars and filmmakers.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 25.02.2020

Article is published: 28.05.2021


Golovnev I.A., Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera) of the RAS, Universitetskaya nab., 3, St. Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation, E-mail:,


Golovneva E.V., Ural Federal University, Mira st., 11, Ekaterinburg, 620002, Russian Federation, E-mail:,