Home    Number 2, 2022

Appellations of the Ainu among the Peoples of Amur and Sakhalin

[Nazvaniia ainov u narodov Amura i Sakhalina]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522020038


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 18.02.2022

Accepted: 24.02.2022

About author(s)

Juha Janhunen | http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1242-8808 | asiemajeure@yahoo.com | University of Helsinki (P.O. Box 59, Unioninkatu 38, FI-00014, Helsinki, Finland)


Ainu, Kuril, Sakhalin, the Kurile Islands, ethnonyms, ethnic contact


This paper deals with the interconnections of the ethnonyms by which the peoples of the Amur basin and Sakhalin, as well as, historically, Kamchatka, referred to the Ainu. It is shown that the exoethnonyms by which the Ainu used to be known to the Amur Tungus (kuyi ~ kui) derive from the older form *kuri, which was also present in the language of the Okhotsk Ewen at the time of the arrival of the first Russian explorers. The appellations of the Ainu in Nivkh (k’uɣi) and Russian (kuríly) were borrowed from this same form. It is likewise possible, though not confirmed, that the form *kuri goes back to the Ainu word kur ’man, human being’, which is also the likely source of the name †kuzi by which the Kamchadal called the Ainu in the 17th to 19th centuries.


Janhunen, J. 2022. Nazvaniia ainov u narodov Amura i Sakhalina [Appellations of the Ainu among the Peoples of Amur and Sakhalin]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 2: 45–53. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522020038 EDN: HQJIXD

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