Álvaro Laiz: The Hunt
It was still a time when an Udege, looking at a deer, thought he saw a deer-man (…) In those times all sort of things happened to people. Such things happened that nowadays do not. – An Udege tale
The Udege people, in eastern Siberia, have lived in the boreal forest for hundreds of years. Due to their close contact with nature, their beliefs are full of references to supernatural forces that they believe should be respected.
In 1997 a Russian poacher called Markov came across the trail of a enormous Amur tiger. Despite the risk, Markov saw the tiger’s footprints as a promise for a better life. He shot the tiger, but was not able to kill it. Udege people believe that if someone attacks a tiger without good reason, Amba, the dark side of the tiger, will hunt him down. Without realising it, Markov had unleashed the Amba. Over the following 72 hours the animal tracked him down and killed him. Later investigations suggested that the tiger planned its movements with a rare mix of strategy and instinct and most importantly, with a chilling clarity of purpose: Amba was seeking revenge.
This animistic belief constitutes the leitmotiv to experience the impact of nature in the Udege communities across one of the last remnants of shamanism: the culture of the hunter.