Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
This study demonstrates that certain similarities in the domestic artifacts, clothing, and weapons in the Pazyryk burials of the Altai, those in the oases of Xinjiang (Subashi, Yanghai, Jumbulak Kum, Wupu, Keriya, etc.), and those in the piedmont of the southern Altai Mountains, do not evidence a single culture. Such parallels in basic items are caused only by spatial proximity and contacts. Personal ornaments, decoration of utensils, weapons, and horse harness, and signs such as tattoos are more reliable cultural indicators. Every member of the Pazyryk society, regardless of age, was marked by a set of outward signs, distinguishing him or her from the neighbors. This set included tattoos, and also ornaments worn on the clothing, headgear and belt, and decorating the horse. The elaborate Pazyryk traditions of woodcarving enabled everyone to have equally meaningful ornaments, which, like the artistic tattoos, made him or her recognizable. The term “Pazyryk style” is proposed. Being the most exact cultural indicator, it extends to all elements of culture, uniting the Pazyryk people despite the fact that their lifestyle, subsistence, etc., were identical to those of their neighbors.
Keywords: Pazyryk culture, Early Iron Age, Xinjiang cultures, clothing, tattoo, ornaments, Pazyryk style