Nanai in Russia

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Nanai means person of the Earth. Nanai are a part of the Tunguso-Manchjury group in the southern branch. A majority of the Nanai in Russia live on the territory of Khabarovsky Krai, in Nanaisky, Ulichisky, Solnechny, and Komsomolsky. They also live in Primorsky Krai and Sakhalinsk region. The Nanais that live in northeast China call themselves Akani. Russians call the Nanais Golds, which is also used by the Ulchis, the Orochis, and the Negidals for a name with local orgins. Naikhinsky dialect is taken from the base of Nanaisky language. It takes the middle position between Upper Amur' and Lower Amur' dialects.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Nanais lead a reasonably isolated life. There was very undeveloped communication between the different groups; some groups were even considered to be a separate people. The Nanais would do different things, fishing and hunting, depending on the movement of varieties of fish in the river. For example, in the spring and summer the Nanais would hunt for food, while in the winter the animals were hunted for fur. During their daily lives, the Nanais run businesses such as, fishing and hunting. They also grow many different things like wild herbs, home produce; however, ever since the 19th century they have started to create their own gardens and stock breed. The Nanais main meal is fish. They know several types of ways to prepare fish for long keeping, such as: stocking, freezing, salting, smoking, and pickling. Besides fish, they enjoy eating raw bone marrow, liver, nostrils and other parts of animals that have been caught by the hunters. They separate the meat on the carcass, selecting the meat for saving, and then the rest of the meat is boiled or fried over a fire.
The Nanais make their own national clothes using fish, deer, elk leather and skin, and other forms of animals. Depending on what the occasion is (occasions like: everyday, festive, work, wedding, etc.), the Nanais will have different outfits. Generally, their outfit would consist of a skirt and jacket, a leather belt with conical metal pendants, mittens with figures of lizards, serpents, or frogs; and hats with branching horns or wolf, bear, or fox fur attached to it. Occasionally they would incorporate bits of Chinese mirrors into the outfits.
Today we see a restoration of their culture. There are public organizations and associations founded in the Nanaisky and Komsomolsky regions, along with one museum. They have even started to publish their own books and textbooks in their language. Also, just like any other people group they celebrate festivals and holidays.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Their traditional belief is shamanism; however, there are some who are Tibetan Buddhist. The Nanai believe that the shamans have the power to expel bad spirits by praying to the gods. They worship the spirits of the sun, the moon, the mountains, the water, and the trees. Among all of their beliefs, they believe that the land was once flat until great serpents gouged out the river valleys. They also believe that all of the things in the world, each thing possess its own spirit who wanders independently throughout the universe. Inanimate objects were regularly personified. A common example is Fire; it was personified as an elderly woman which they called Fadzya Mama. The children were not allowed to run up to the fire, because they might startle Faszya Mama. Men were always courteous in the presence of fire. They would generally bury the deceased in the ground, unless it was a young baby under one year whom they would put in a tree.

What Are Their Needs?

The Nanai need the chance to hear and respond to the ways of Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points

Please help the Nanai to recognize the God of all Creation and to worship him rather than the creatures He has made.
Pray that God reveals Himself to Siberian people such as the Nanai even as He did to the nomadic nation of Israel and pray that He makes himself at home in the hearts of the Nanai.
Pray that their language would be preserved so that these indigenous people may someday praise his name in each language.
Pray that God is continued to be glorified in Russia in the church and ask for blessings over the churches in Russia and help for them to reach out to the Nanai in ways that they can understand and respond.

Scripture Prayers for the Nanai, Gold in Russia.


Jubilee Adleta
The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire
The Nanais

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Nanai, Hezhen
People Name in Country Nanai, Gold
Natural Name Nanai
Alternate Names Akani; Gold; Goldi; Heche; Hoche; Nanaices; Olchis
Population this Country 12,000
Population all Countries 17,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 13940
ROP3 Code 107064
ROP25 Code 305859
ROP25 Name Nanai
Country Russia
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Khabarovskiy Kray: extreme far east, confluence of Amur and Ussuri rivers, scattered in Ussuri valley, Sikhote-Alin, centered in Amur valley below.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Russia
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Khabarovskiy Kray: extreme far east, confluence of Amur and Ussuri rivers, scattered in Ussuri valley, Sikhote-Alin, centered in Amur valley below..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.41 %)
4.00 %
Ethnic Religions
86.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
10.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Nanai
Language Code gld   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Nanai
Language Code gld   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Nanai

Primary Language:  Nanai

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1884-2021)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
FCBH NT ( Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Text / Printed Matter IBT, Russia - resources Institute for Bible Translation - Russia
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2024  Anonymous  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source Joshua Project / Global Mapping International  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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