Society > Tatars in Russian and abroad
Tatars in Russia and abroad

Tatars are one of the biggest Turkic-language ethnos. They live practically across all Russia, in many CIS countries and in a number of the states of far abroad.

Tatar people do not have a united ethnic root. The Huns, Bolgars, Kypchaks, Nogais and other peoples, which were formed on base of various Scythian cultures and other tribes and peoples during the most ancient times were among its ancestors.

Finno-Ugric and Slavs rendered the certain influence on formation of modern Tatars. It is nonscientific to try to search for ethnic purity in the face Bolgars or any ancient other Tatar people. It is more likely politics than historical motives lay in the so-called “Bolgarists”s position, who intend to rename the Tatars into the Bolgars and who reduce all the history to just one ethnos.

Ancestors of the modern Tatars never lived in isolation, on the contrary, they actively moved, mixing up with various Turkic and not Turkic tribes. On the other hand, the state structures, developing an official language and culture, promoted active mixture of tribes and peoples. It is especially true, that the state played a big ethnoforming function at all times. And in fact, the Bolgar, Golden Horde, Kazan, Astrakhan and others khanates existed many centuries – sufficient period to generate new ethnic components. Not less religion was a strong factor of mixture of ethnics. If Orthodoxy in Russia converted many christened peoples into the Russians, the same way Islam converted many into the Turkic-Tatars in the middle ages.

It is difficult to track connection of the "Tatars" ethnonime, mentioned in Chinese, Arabian and other sources with the modern Tatars. Different peoples were meant during the various periods of a history under the name "Tatars". Final fastening of the "Tatars" ethnonime as a national self-name - is relatively late phenomenon connected to national consolidation. It is matter of fact that not only the Volga, Crimean and Lithuanian Tatars were called so before the revolution of 1917, but also the Azerbaijani, and a number of Northern Caucasus and Southern Siberia peoples. At the end of the day the “Tatars” ethnonime has been fixed with the ones who lived by the Volga river and in the Crimea.

The term "Tatar-Mongols" which requires careful analysis is rather disputable to find out validity of a combination of names "Tatars" and "Mongols". Mongols bore on Turkic tribes in their expansion. The Turkic culture has affected formation of empire of Genghis Khan and Ulus Djuchi even to the greater extent. Traditionally, the Mongols and the Turks frequently simply were named "Tatars". It was correct and incorrect at a time. Correct, since there were very few of the Mongols, and Turkic culture (language, scriptures, military order, etc.) gradually became common for many peoples. Incorrect by virtue the Tatars and the Mongols are two different peoples. Moreover, the modern Tatars cannot be identified not only to Mongols, but even with medieval Central Asian Tatars. At the same time, they are successors of culture of peoples who lived in 7-12 centuries by the Volga and in Trans-Urals, people and the state of the Golden Horde, Kazan khanate, also would be a mistake to speak, that they have no relation to the Tatars, living in East Turkestan and Mongolia. Even the Mongolian element which today is minimal in the Tatar culture has influenced formation of a history of the Tatars. Eventually, the khans buried in the Kazan Kremlin were chingizides and it is necessary to be considered.

The greatest achievement in history of the Tatars is occurrence of Ulus Djuchi as part of the Mongolian superempire, and then the independent state. During a chingizides epoch the Tatar history became really world-wide, and touched interests of the East and Europe.

Tatars lived in Kazan, Astrakhan, Siberia, Kasimov, Crimea, Meshchery, Nogai steppes, etc. after disintegration of the Golden Horde. So they were named differently: Kazan, Astrakhan and Siberian Tatars, Mishars, Crimean Tatars, Nogais and Bashkirs.

The move of the Kazan Tatars in Trans-Urals, which has amplified in 18 century because of prosecutions on religious motives, began after a capture of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible in 16th century. A part of the Tatars moved to Western Siberia and Central Asia in 19 century. It rendered significant influence on ethnic processes, with the account of primordially living Turkic population.

Later migration of the Tatars in industrial regions of European part of Russia, to the Caucasus and Ukraine was observed. The migration of the Tatars during the Soviet period has been connected to famine in 1921.

Part of the Tatars appeared in Turkey, Japan, Australia, Germany, the USA and other countries by virtue of different reasons (escape from violent christianize, famine, civil war, etc.). Building of new rail ways and taking part in its service were one of the important reasons of moving of the Tatars to Finland and China. The Tatar intelligence, teachers and imams, migrating in Turkestan before the revolution and after civil war, have brought in the significant contribution to development of Turkic culture. When in 1954 the history of development virgin and lay lands of Kazakhstan began last mass wave of migration of Tatars passed.

Now besides Tatarstan, the prevailing majority of ethnic Tatars is concentrated in republics and areas of the Volga-Ural region. The Tatars also live in Western and Eastern Siberia, at the Far East, in Central Asia and Kazakhstan, on Caucasus and Ukraine, in the Baltic states. Total number is approximately 9 million.

The neighborhood and germination to each other of two powerful ethnics - Slavic and Turkic is clearly designated on an ethnographic map of Eurasia. This neighborhood and linking to a certain extent define and dictate realities of the federal device of Russia and its politics concerning the largest states of "near abroad" - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan. The commonness of historical destinies during the most ancient period connects modern Tatars with Bashkorts and Chuvashs in Volgo-Urals, Kumyks, Nogais, Karachays and Balkars on Northern Caucasus, Altaians, Shors, Kumandians, Khakases, Tuvinians and Tofalars in Southern Siberia, Yakuts and Dolgans in Eastern Siberia. The significant part Turkic population Russia, including immigrants from the Central Asia and Trans-Caucasus, lives together in other people, outside of the ethnic territories.

It is impossible to speak about the Tatars without the Republic of Tatarstan being an epicenter of development of the Tatar nation at the present stage. The headquarters of the World Congress of Tatars is located here; the government of republic carries out a purposeful policy of support of the Tatar culture and interaction with the copatriots.
Territory of Tatarstan is a place of contact of Europe and Asia, region of spiritual - cultural symbiosis of the East and the West. The capital of republic appeared on a crossroad of different roads and various cultures at the same time. Gercen wrote: "Kazan is the main caravan - shed on a way of ideas European to Asia and character Asian to Europe ".

RT President Mintimer Shaimiev at a session of Council of subjects heads at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia on July 7, 2005 noted in his address that the 1000th-anniversary of Tatarstan’s capital, celebrated in 2005, is a good opportunity to show the world community an example of ethno-confessional consent, formation experience in multinational Russia civilization based on variety and dialogue of cultures.
We bring to your attention sketches about the Tatars living in the Russian regions and abroad.