(Tatarlar / Татарлар)
Ruslan Chagaev • Dinara Safina
Şihabetdin Märcani • Pyotr Gavrilov
Mintimer Shaymiev • Charles Bronson •
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov • Ğabdulla Tuqay
|Regions with significant populations
|Sunni Islam and Orthodox Christianity
Tatars (Tatar: Tatarlar/Татарлар), sometimes spelled Tartars, are a Turkic  ethnic group numbering 10 million in the late 20th Century, including all subgroups of Tatars, such as Volga Tatars or Lipka Tatars.
Russia is home to the majority of ethnic Tatars, with a population of around 5,500,000. Turkey,Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan also each have populations greater than 30,000.
The original Tatars inhabited the north-eastern Gobi in the 5th century and, after subjugation in the 9th century by the Khitans, migrated southward. In the 13th century, they were subjugated by the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan. Under the leadership of his grandson Batu Khan, they moved westwards, driving with them many stems of the Turkic Ural-Altayans towards the plains of Russia.
In Europe, they were assimilated by the local populations or their name spread to the conquered peoples: Kipchaks, Volga Bulgars, Alans, Kimaks and others; and elsewhere with Finno-Ugricspeaking peoples, as well as with remnants of the ancient Greek colonies in the Crimea and Caucasians in the Caucasus.
Siberian Tatars are survivors of the Turkic population of the Ural–Altaic region, mixed to some extent with the speakers of Uralic languages, as well as with Mongols. Later, each group adopted Turkic languages and many adopted Islam. The three ethnic descendants of the original 13th-century westward migration are Volga Tatars, Lipka Tatars and Crimean Tatars.
Tatars comprise a spectrum of physical appearance, ranking from Mongoloid and Caucasoid or a mixture of both and have an Asian origin.
Kul Tigin Monument on which the first mention of theTatar people is inscribed
There is a historical theory (as no actual facts remain) that the name Tatar initially appeared amongst the nomadic Turkic peoples of northeastern Mongolia in the region around Lake Baikal in the beginning of the 5th century. These people may have been related to the Cumans or the Kipchaks. The Chinese term is Dada (韃靼) and is a comparatively specific term for nomads to the north, emerging in the late Tang. Other names include Dadan and Tatan.
As various of these nomadic groups became part of Genghis Khan‘s army in the early 13th century, a fusion ofMongol and Turkic elements took place, and the invaders of Rus and the Pannonian Basin became known to Europeans as Tatars (or Tartars). After the break up of the Mongol Empire, the Tatars became especially identified with the western part of the empire, which included most of European Russia and was known as theGolden Horde.
The form Tartar has its origins in either Latin or French language, coming to Western European languages from Turkish and Persian language Tātār (“mounted courier, mounted messenger; postrider”). From the beginning the extra r was present in the Western forms, and according to the Oxford English Dictionary this was most likely due to an association with Tartarus (Hell in Greek mythology), though some claimed that the name Tartar was in fact used amongst the Tatars themselves. Nowadays Tatar is usually used to refer to the people, but Tartar is still almost always used for derived terms such as tartar sauce or steak tartare.
The discrimination of the separate stems included under the name is still far from complete. The following subdivisions, however, may be regarded as established:
Tatars – Tatarlar or Татарлар. In modern English only Tatar is used to refer to Eurasian Tatars; Tartar has offensive connotations as a confusion with the Tartarus of Greek mythology, due in part to the popular association of the ferocity of the Mongol tribes with the Greek sub-underworld. In Europe the term Tartar is generally only used in the historical context for Mongolian people who appeared in the 13th century (the Mongol invasions) and assimilated into the local population later.
Volga Tatars :
are a Turkic people who live in the central and Eastern European parts of Russia. Today, the term Tatars is usually used to describe the Volga Tatars only. During the 2002 census, the Volga Tatars were officially divided into common Tatars, Astrakhan Tatars, and Keräşen Tatars. Other ethnic groups, such as Crimean Tatars and Chulyms, were not officially recognized as part of this group, and thus were counted separately.
|Where they live:
||Bashkortostan and Tatarstan in Russia
||Altaic, Turkic, Kypchak, Kypchak-Bolgar, Bashkir
Main article: Volga Tatars
Kazan (Qazan) Tatars
During the 11-16th centuries, these Turkic tribes lived in what is now Russia and Kazakhstan. The present territory of Tatarstan was inhabited by the Volga Bulgarswho settled on the Volga in the 8th century and converted to Islam in 922 during the missionary work of Ahmad ibn Fadlan. On the Volga, the Bulgars mingled withScythian and Finno-Ugric speaking peoples. After the Mongol invasion, Bulgaria was defeated, ruined and incorporated in the Golden Horde. Much of the population survived, and there was a certain degree of mixing between it and the Kipchak Tatars of the Horde during the ensuing period. The group as a whole accepted the ethnonym “Tatars” (finally in the end of 19th century; although the name Bulgarspersisted in some places; the majority identified themselves simply as the Muslims) and the language of the Kipchaks; on the other hand, the invaders eventually converted to Islam. As the Horde disintegrated in the 15th century, the area became the territory of the Kazan khanate, which was ultimately conquered by Russia in the 16th century.
There is some debate among scholars about the extent of that mixing and the “share” of each group as progenitors of the modern Kazan Tatars. It is relatively accepted that demographically, most of the population was directly descended from the Bulgars. Nevertheless, some emphasize the contribution of the Kipchaks on the basis of the ethnonym and the language, and consider that the modern Tatar ethnogenesis was only completed upon their arrival. Others prefer to stress the Bulgar heritage, sometimes to degree of equating modern Kazan Tatars with Bulgars. They argue that although the Volga Bulgars had not kept their language and their name, their old culture and religion – Islam – have been preserved. According to scholars who espouse this view, there was very little mixing with Mongol and Turkic aliens after the conquest of Volga Bulgaria, especially in the northern regions that ultimately became Tatarstan. Some voices even advocate the change of the ethnonym from “Tatars” to “Bulgars” – a movement known as Bulgarism.
In the 1910s they numbered about half a million in the Kazan Governorate (Tatarstan, the Kazan Tatars’ historical motherland), about 400,000 in each of the governments of Ufa, 100,000 in Samara and Simbirsk, and about 30,000 in Vyatka, Saratov, Tambov, Penza, Nizhny Novgorod,Perm and Orenburg. Some 15,000 belonging to the same stem had migrated to Ryazan, or had been settled as prisoners in the 16th and 17th centuries in Lithuania (Vilnius, Grodno and Podolia). Some 2000 resided in St. Petersburg, where they were mostly employed as coachmen and waiters in restaurants. Later they were never counted as separate group of the Tatars.
The Kazan Tatars speak a Turkic language (with a big complement of Russian and Arabic words; see Tatar language). They have been described as generally middle-sized, broad-shouldered, and the majority have brown and green eyes, a straight nose and salient cheek bones. Because their ancestors number not only Turkic peoples, but Finno-Ugric and Eastern Iranian peoples as well, many Kazan Tatars tend to have Caucasoid faces. Around 33.5% belong to Southern Caucasoid, 27.5% to Northern Caucasoid, 24.5% to Lapponoid and 14.5% to Mongoloid . Most Kazan Tatars practice Sunni Islam.
Before 1917 in Russia, polygamy was practised only by the wealthier classes and was a waning institution. The Bashkirs who live between the Kama and Ural speak the Bashkir language, which is similar to Tatar, and have converted to Sunni Islam.
Because it is understandable to all groups of Russian Tatars, as well as to the Chuvash and Bashkirs, the language of the Volga Tatars became a literary one in the 15th century (İske Tatar tele). (However, being written in Arabic alphabet, it was spelled variously in the different regions). The old literary language included a lot of Arabic and Persian words. Nowadays the literary language includes European and Russian words instead of Arabic.
Volga Tatars number nearly 8 millions, mostly in Russia and the republics of the former Soviet Union. While the bulk of the population is to be found in Tatarstan (nearly 2 million) and neighbouring regions, significant numbers of Kazan Tatars live in Central Asia, Siberia and the Caucasus. Outside of Tatarstan, urban Tatars usually speak Russian as their first language (in cities such as Moscow, Saint-Petersburg,Nizhniy Novgorod, Tashkent, Almaty, and cities of the Ural and western Siberia) and other languages in a worldwide diaspora.
Main article: Chinese Tatars
A significant number of Tatars emigrated during the Russian Civil War, mostly to Turkey and Harbin, China. According to the Chinese government, there are still 5,100 Tatars living in Xinjiang province.
Tatars live in Russia’s Kirov Oblast and Tatarstan.
Tatars live in Russia’s Perm Krai. Some of them also have an admixture of Komi blood.
Main article: Keräşen Tatars
Some Tatars were forcibly Christianized by Ivan the Terrible during the 16th century and later in the 18th century.
Some scientists suppose that Suars were ancestors of the Keräşen Tatars, and they had been converted to Christianity by Armenians in the 6th century, while they lived in the Caucasus. Suars, like other tribes (which later converted to Islam) became Volga Bulgars and later the modern Chuvash (mostly Christians) and Tatars (mostly Muslims).
Keräşen Tatars live all over Tatarstan and in Udmurtia, Bashkiria and Chelyabinsk Oblast. Some of them did assimilate among Chuvash and Tatars with Sunni Muslim self-identification. Eighty years of Atheistic Soviet rule made Tatars of both confessions not as religious as they were. As such, differences between Tatars and Keräşen Tatars now is only that Keräşens have Russian names.
Some Turkic (Kuman) tribes in Golden Horde converted to Christianity in the 13th and 14th centuries (Catholicism and Nestorianism). Some prayers, written in that time in the Codex Cumanicus, sound like modern Keräşen prayers, but there is no information about the connection between Christian Kumans and modern Keräşens.
Main article: Nağaybäk
Tatars who became Cossacks (border keepers) and converted to Russian Orthodoxy. They live in the Urals, the Russian border withKazakhstan during the 17th-18th century.
The biggest Nağaybäk village is Parizh, Russia, named after French capital Paris, due to Nağaybäk’s participation in Napoleonic wars.
Like Noğaybaqs, although they are Sunni Muslims. Some Tiptär Tatars speak Russian or Bashkir. According to some scientists, Tiptärs are part of the Mişärs.
Mişär Tatars (or Mishers) are a group of Tatars speaking a dialect of the Tatar language. They are descendants of Kipchaks in the MiddleOka River area and Meschiora where they mixed with the local Slavic and Finno-Ugric tribes. Nowadays they live in Chelyabinsk, Tambov,Penza, Ryazan, Nizhegorodskaya oblasts of Russia and in Bashkortostan and Mordovia. They lived near and along the Volga River, in Tatarstan.
The Western Tatars have their capital in the town of Qasím (Kasimov in Russian transcription) in Ryazan Oblast, with a Tatar population of 1100. See “Qasim Khanate” for their history.
The Astrakhan Tatars (around 80,000) are a group of Tatars, descendants of the Astrakhan Khanate‘s agricultural population, who live mostly in Astrakhan Oblast. For the 2000 Russian census 2000, most Astrakhan Tatars declared themselves simply as Tatars and few declared themselves as Astrakhan Tatars. A large number of Volga Tatars live in Astrakhan Oblast and differences between them have been disappearing.
The Astrakhan Tatars are further divided into the Kundrov Tatars and the Karagash Tatars. The latter are also at times called the Karashi Tatars.
Text from Britannica 1911:
The Astrakhan Tatars number about 10,000 and are, with the Kalmyks, all that now remains of the once so powerful Astrakhan empire. They also are agriculturists and gardeners; while some 12,000 Kundrovsk Tatars still continue the nomadic life of their ancestors.
While Astrakhan (Ästerxan) Tatar is a mixed dialect, around 43,000 have assimilated to the Middle (i.e., Kazan) dialect. Their ancestors areKhazars, Kipchaks and some Volga Bulgars. (Volga Bulgars had trade colonies in modern Astrakhan and Volgograd oblasts of Russia.)
The Astrakhan Tatars also assimilated the Agrzhan.
Volga Tatars in the world
Places where Volga Tatars live include:
- Ural and Upper Kama (since 15th century) 15th century – colonization, 16th – 17th century – re-settled by Russians, 17th – 19th century – exploring of Ural, working in the plants
- West Siberia (since 16th century): 16th – from Russian repressions after conquering of Khanate of Kazan by Russians, 17th – 19th century – exploring of West Siberia, end of 19th – first half of 20th – industrialization, railways constructing, 1930s – Stalin‘s repressions, 1970s – 1990s oil workers
- Moscow (since 17th century): Tatar feudals in the service of Russia, tradesmen, since 18th – Saint-Petersburg
- Kazakhstan (since 18th century): 18th – 19th centuries – Russian army officers and soldiers, 1930s – industrialization, since 1950s – settlers on virgin lands – re-emigration in 1990s
- Finland (since 1804): (mostly Mişärs) – 19th – from a group of some 20 villages in the Sergach region on the Volga River. See Finnish Tatars.
- Central Asia (since 19th century) (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Xinjiang ) – 19th Russian officers and soldiers, tradesmen, religious emigrants, 1920-1930s – industrialization, Soviet education program for Central Asia peoples, 1948, 1960 – help for Ashgabat and Tashkent ruined by earthquakes – re-emigration in 1980s
- Caucasus, especially Azerbaijan (since 19th century) – oil workers (1890s), bread tradesmen
- Northern China (since 1910s) – railway builders (1910s) – re-emigrated in 1950s
- East Siberia (since 19th century) – resettled farmers (19th), railroad builders (1910s, 1980s), exiled by the Soviet government in 1930s
- Germany and Austria – 1914, 1941 – prisoners of war, 1990s – emigration
- Turkey, Japan, Iran, China, Egypt (since 1918) – emigration
- UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Mexico – (1920s) re-emigration from Germany, Turkey, Japan, China and others. 1950s – prisoners of war from Germany, which did not go back to the USSR, 1990s – emigration after the break up of USSR
- Sakhalin, Kaliningrad, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Karelia – after 1944-45 builders, Soviet military personnel
- Murmansk Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai, Northern Poland and Northern Germany (1945–1990) – Soviet military personnel
- Israel – wives or husbands of Jews (1990s)
Tatars of East Europe
Main article: Crimean Tatars
The Crimean Tatars constituted the Crimean Khanate which was annexed by Russia in 1783. The war of 1853 and the laws of 1860-63 and 1874 caused an exodus of the Crimean Tatars. The area that was Little Tartary is currently part of Ukraine and Russia.
Those of the south coast, mixed with Scyth, Greeks and Italians, were well known for their skill in gardening, their honesty, and their work habits, as well as for their fine features. The mountain Tatars closely resemble those of Caucasus, while those of the steppes – the Nogais – are decidedly of a mixed origin with Turks and Mongols.
During World War II, the entire Tatar population in Crimea fell victims to Stalin‘s oppressive policies. In 1944 they were accused of being Nazi collaborators and deported en masse to Central Asia and other lands of the Soviet Union. Many died of disease and malnutrition. Since the late 1980s, about 250,000 Crimean Tatars have returned to their homeland in the Crimea.
Main article: Lipka Tatars
‘Tatar dance’ – (Crimean) Tatar soldier (left) fighting with a soldier of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (right). This was a common occurrence until the 18th century.
After Tokhtamysh was defeated by Tamerlane, some of his clan sought refuge inGrand Duchy of Lithuania. They were given land and nobility in return for military service and were known as Lipka Tatars. They are known to have taken part in theBattle of Grunwald.
Another group appeared in Jagoldai Duchy (Lithuania’s vassal) near modern Kursk in 1437 and disappeared later.
Further information: Islam in Belarus
Islam spread in Belarus from the 14th to the 16th century. The process was encouraged by the Lithuanian princes, who invited Tatar Muslims from the Crimeaand the Golden Horde as guards of state borders. Already in the 14th century the Tatars had been offered a settled way of life, state posts and service positions. By the end of the 16th century over 100,000 Tatars settled in Belarus and Lithuania, including those hired to government service, those who moved there voluntarily, prisoners of war, etc.
Tatars in Belarus generally follow Sunni Hanafi Islam. Some groups have accepted Christianity and been assimilated, but most adhere to Muslim religious traditions, which ensures their definite endogamy and preservation of ethnic features. Interethnic marriages with representatives of Belarusian, Polish, Lithuanian, Russian nationalities are not rare, but do not result in total assimilation.
Originating from different ethnic associations, Belarusian (and also Polish and Lithuanian) Tatars back in ancient days lost their native language and adopted Belarusian, Polish and Russian. However, the liturgy is conducted in the Arabic language, which is known by the clergymen. There are an estimated 5,000-10,000 Tatars in Belarus.
Main articles: Lipka Tatars and Islam in Poland
Tatar mosque in the village of Bohoniki, Poland
From the 13th to 17th centuries various groups of Tatars settled and/or found refuge within the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. This was promoted especially by the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, because of their reputation as skilled warriors. The Tatar settlers were all granted with szlachta (nobility) status, a tradition that was preserved until the end of the Commonwealth in the 18th century. They included the Lipka Tatars (13-14 centuries) as well as Crimean and Nogay Tatars (15th-16th centuries), all of which were noticeable in Polish military history, as well as Volga Tatars (16th-17th centuries). They all mostly settled in theGrand Duchy of Lithuania, lands that are now in Lithuania and Belarus.
Various estimates of the number of Tatars in the Commonwealth in the 17th century range from 15,000 persons to 60 villages with mosques. Numerous royal privileges, as well as internal autonomy granted by the monarchs allowed the Tatars to preserve their religion, traditions and culture over the centuries. The Tatars were allowed to intermarry with Christians, a thing uncommon in Europe at the time. The May Constitution of 1791 gave the Tatars representation in the Polish Sejm.
Although by the 18th century the Tatars adopted the local language, the Islamic religion and many Tatar traditions (e.g. the sacrifice of bulls in their mosques during the main religious festivals) were preserved. This led to formation of a distinctive Muslim culture, in which the elements of Muslim orthodoxy mixed with religious tolerance and a relatively liberal society. For instance, the women in Lipka Tatar society traditionally had the same rights and status as men, and could attend non-segregated schools.
About 5,500 Tatars lived within the inter-war boundaries of Poland (1920–1939), and a Tatar cavalry unit had fought for the country’s independence. The Tatars had preserved their cultural identity and sustained a number of Tatar organisations, including a Tatar archives, and a museum in Wilno (Vilnius).
The Tatars suffered serious losses during World War II and furthermore, after the border change in 1945 a large part of them found themselves in the Soviet Union. It is estimated that about 3000 Tatars live in present-day Poland, of which about 500 declared Tatar (rather than Polish) nationality in the 2002 census. There are two Tatar villages (Bohoniki and Kruszyniany) in the north-east of present-day Poland, as well as urban Tatar communities in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Białystok, and Gorzów Wielkopolski. Tatars in Poland sometimes have a Muslim surname with a Polish ending: Ryzwanowicz; another surname sometimes adopted by more assimilated Tatars is Taterczynski, literally “son of a Tatar”.
The Tatars were relatively very noticeable in the Commonwealth military as well as in Polish and Lithuanian political and intellectual life for such a small community. In modern-day Poland, their presence is also widely known, due in part to their noticeable role in the historical novels of Henryk Sienkiewicz, which are universally recognized in Poland. A number of Polish intellectual figures have also been Tatars, e.g. the prominent historian Jerzy Łojek.
A small community of Polish speaking Tatars settled in Brooklyn, New York City in the early 1900s. They established a mosque that is still in use today.
Main articles: Tatars of Romania, Crimean Tatars in Romania and Crimean Tatars in Bulgaria
Tatars were present on the territory of today’s Romania and Bulgaria since the 13th century. In Romania, according to the 2002 census, 24,000 people declared their ethnicity as Tatar, most of them being Crimean Tatars living in Constanţa County in the region of Dobruja. The Crimean Tatars were colonized there by the Ottoman Empire beginning with the 17th Century.
Nogais on the Kuma
Main article: Nogais
The Nogais on the Kuma River show traces of a mixture with Kalmyks. They are nomads, supporting themselves by cattle-breeding and fishing; a few are agriculturists.
Today Nogais is an independent ethnos, living in the North of Dagestan, where they lived after Nogai Horde‘s defeating in war against Russia and settling Kalmyks in their lands in 17th century. Nogais was replaced to Black Lands in the North of Daghestan. Another part merged withKazakhs.
In 16th century Nogais supported Crimean Khanate and Ottoman Empire, but sometimes robbed Crimean, Tatar and Bashkir lands, although their rulers supported them. In 16th-17th century some defensive walls was constructed in modern Tatarstan and Samara Oblast.
In the 1770s and 1780s Catherine the Great resettled approximately 120,000 Nogais from Bessarabia, Yedisan, and areas northeast of theSea of Azov what is known today as New Russia to the Kuban and the Caucasus.
One of the Tatar national heroes, Söyembikä, was Nogai.
Some groups of Nogais emigrated to Middle Volga, where were (are) assimilated by Volga Tatars (in terms of language).
Main article: Siberian Tatars
The Siberian Tatars occupy three distinct regions—a strip running west to east from Tobolsk to Tomsk—the Altay and its spurs—and South Yeniseisk. They originated in the agglomerations of Turkic stems that, in the region north of the Altay, reached some degree of culture between the 4th and the 5th centuries, but were subdued and enslaved by the Mongols. According to the 2002 census there are 500,000 Tatars in Siberia, but 300,000 of them are Volga Tatars who settled in Siberia during periods of colonization.
The Baraba Tatars take their name from one of their stems (Barama). After a strenuous resistance to Russian conquest, and much suffering at a later period from Kyrgyz and Kalmyk raids, they now live by agriculture—either in separate villages or along with Russians.
After colonisation of Siberia by Russians and Volga Tatars, Baraba Tatars used to call themselves people of Tomsk, later Moslems, and came to call themselves Tatars only in 20th century.
They numbered at least 150,000 in 1990.
Main article: Tatar language
There are 3 dialects: Eastern, Central, Western.
The Western dialect (Misher) is spoken mostly by Mishärs, the Middle dialect is spoken by Kazan and Astrakhan Tatars, and the Eastern (Sibir) dialect is spoken by some groups of Tatars in western Siberia. All three dialects have subdialects.
Middle Tatar is the base of literary Tatar Language.
The name Tatars was originally applied to both the Turkic and Mongolic tribes which invaded Europe six centuries ago, and gradually extended to the Turkic tribes mixed with Mongolian or Uralic-speaking peoples in Siberia. It is used at present in two senses:
- Quite loosely, to designate any of the Muslim tribes whose ancestors may have spoken Uralic or Altaic languages. Thus some writers talk of the Manchu Tatars.
- In a more restricted sense, to designate Muslim Turkic-speaking tribes, especially in Russia, who never formed part of the Seljuk orOttoman Empire, but made independent settlements and remained more or less cut off from the politics and civilization of the rest of the Islamic world.
- Tatars are partly descendants of the Volga Bulgars. Volga Bulgars were a mixed people, whose ancestors may have included speakers of Scythian, Turkic and Finno-Ugric languages. After coming to the Middle Volga, Bulgars mixed with Finno-Ugric speaking tribes.
Various scattered articles on Tatars will be found in the Revue orientale pour les Etudes Oural-Altaïques, and in the publications of theuniversity of Kazan. See also E. H. Parker, A Thousand Years of the Tartars, 1895 (chiefly a summary of Chinese accounts of the early Turkic and Tatar tribes), and Skrine and Ross, Heart of Asia (1899). (P. A. K.; C. EL.)