The Volga Tatars or simply referred to as Tatars (Tatar: татарлар) are a Turkic ethnic group native to the Volga-Ural region of Russia. They are subdivided into various subgroups. Volga Tatars are Russia's second-largest ethnicity after the Russians. They compose 53% of the population of Tatarstan and 25% of the population of Bashkortostan. The Volga Tatars are by far the largest group amongst the Tatars.
|c. 6.2 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Predominantly Sunni Islam with Orthodox Christian and irreligious minority|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Bashkirs, Chuvash, and other Turkic peoples|
Tatars inhabiting the Republic of Tatarstan, a federal subject of Russia, constitute one third of all Tatars, while the other two thirds reside outside Tatarstan. Some of the communities residing outside Tatarstan developed before the Russian Revolution of 1917, as Tatars were specialized in trading.
Russians were using the Tatar ethnonym during the 18th and 19th centuries to denote all Turkic inhabitants of the Russian Empire, but, before the emergence of the Soviet Union, the Turkic peoples of the Russian Empire did not generally identify as Tatars. Up to the end of the 19th century, Volga Tatars mainly identified as Muslims, until the rehabilitation of the ethnonym Tatar occurred. Russian officials used literary Tatar language to interact with the Turkic peoples of the Russian Empire before the end of the 19th century. The Volga Tatar role in the Muslim national and cultural movements of the Russian Empire before the 1917 Revolution is significant and this continued even after 1917.
The 1921–1922 famine in Tatarstan was a period of mass starvation and drought that took place in the Tatar ASSR as a result of war communism policy, in which 500 thousand to 2 million peasants died. The event was part of the greater Russian famine of 1921–22 that affected other parts of the USSR, in which up 5 million people died in total.
Khazar invasions forced the Bulgars, Turkic people, to migrate from the Azov steppes to the Middle Volga and lower Kama region during the first half of the eighth century. In the period of 10th–13th centuries, other Turkic peoples, including Kipchaks, migrated from Southern Siberia to Europe. They played a significant role in the Mongol invasion of Rus' in the 13th century. Tatar ethnogenesis took place after migrated Turkic peoples, mixed with the local Bulgar population and other inhabitants of the Volga River area, kept Kipchak dialect and became Muslims. Several new Tatar states had emerged by the 1500s after the Golden Horde fell. These states were Khanate of Kazan, Astrakhan Khanate, Khanate of Sibir, and Crimean Khanate.
Controversy surrounds the origin of the Tatar people, whether they are descended either from Bulgars or Golden Horde. According to one theory, Kazan Tatar heritage can be traced back to Kipchaks of the Golden Horde, yet according to another theory, the Tatars emerged from the Bulgar culture that survived the Mongol conquest of 1236–1237.
Among Volga Tatars, especially in Tatarstan, there is an ongoing debate about whether they should embrace their Turkic Bolgar history. Advocates of such idea (see: Bulgarism) feel like they are the descendants of Volga Bolgars and at the same time experience the umbrella term Tatar as a derogative given to them by the Russians. Leading figure among the Bolgarists was Rashid Kadyrov, who pointed out how recent generations of 'Tatars' have taken the term for granted and don't even know it's history.
Mishars (or Mişär-Tatars) are an ethnographic group of Volga Tatars speaking Mishar dialect of the Tatar language. They comprise approximately one third of the Volga Tatar population. They are descendants of Cuman-Kipchak tribes who mixed with the Burtas in the Middle Oka River area and Meschiora. Nowadays, they live in Chelyabinsk, Ulyanovsk, Penza, Ryazan, Nizhegorodskaya oblasts of Russia and in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Mordovia.
The Qasím Tatars have their capital in the town of Qasím (Kasimov in Russian transcription) in Ryazan Oblast. See "Qasim Khanate" for their history. Today, there are 1,100 Qasím Tatars living in Kasimov. There is no reliable information about their number elsewhere.
Perm (Ostyak) TatarsEdit
A policy of Christianization of the Muslim Tatars was enacted by the Russian authorities, beginning in 1552, resulting in the emergence of Keräşens (Christianized Tatars).
Many Volga Tatars were forcibly Christianized by Ivan the Terrible during the 16th century, and continued to face forced baptisms and conversions under subsequent Russian rulers and Orthodox clergy up to the mid-eighteenth century.
Keräşen Tatars live in much of the Volga-Ural area. Today, they tend to be assimilated among the Russians and other Tatar groups. Eighty years of Atheistic Soviet rule made Tatars of both faiths not as religious as they once were. Russian names are largely the only remaining difference between Tatars and Keräşen Tatars.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2014)
Historically, the traditional celebrations of Tatars depended largely on the agricultural cycle.
Tatar cuisine is rich with hot soups (şulpa), dough-based dishes (qistibi, pilmän, öçpoçmaq, peremech, etc.) and sweets (çäkçäk, göbädiä, etc.). Traditional Tatar beverages include ayran, katyk and kumys.
In the 1910s, they numbered about half a million in the area of Kazan. Nearly 2 million Volga Tatars died in the 1921–22 famine in Tatarstan. Some 15,000 belonging to the same stem had either migrated to Ryazan in the center of Russia (what is now European Russia) or had been settled as prisoners during the 16th and 17th centuries in Lithuania (Vilnius, Grodno, and Podolia). Some 2,000 resided in St. Petersburg. Volga-Ural Tatars number nearly 7 million, mostly in Russia and the republics of the former Soviet Union. While the bulk of the population is found in Tatarstan (around 2 million) and neighbouring regions, significant number of Volga-Ural Tatars live in Siberia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. Outside of Tatarstan, urban Tatars usually speak Russian as their first language (in cities such as Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Nizhniy Novgorod, Ufa, and cities of the Ural and Siberia).
According to over 100 samples from the Tatarstan DNA project, the most common Y-DNA haplogroup of the ethnic Volga Tatars is Haplogroup R1a (over 20%), predominantly from the R1a-Z93 subclade.Haplogroup N is the other significant haplogroup. According to different data, J2a or J2b may be the more common subclade of Haplogroup J2 in Volga Tatars. The haplogroups C and Q are among the rare haplogroups.
Haplogroups in Volga Tatars (122 samples):
- C2: 2%
- E: 4% (V13: 3%)
- G2a: 2%
- I1: 6%
- I2a1: 5%
- I2a2: 2%
- J2a: 7%
- J2b: 2%
- L1: 2%
- N1c2: 9%
- N1c1: 16%
- O3: 2%
- Q1: 2%
- R1a: 33% (Z282: 19%, Z93: 14%)
According to Mylyarchuk et al.:
It was found that mtDNA of the Volga Tatars consists of two parts, but western Eurasian component prevails considerably (84% on average) over eastern Asian one (16%).
Together with Tatars, Russians have high frequencies of allele families and haplotypes characteristic of Finno-Ugric populations. This presupposes a Finno-Ugric impact on Russian and Tatar ethnogenesis... Some aspects of HLA in Tatars appeared close to Chuvashes and Bulgarians, thus supporting the view that Tatars may be descendants of ancient Bulgars.
Volga Tatars, along with Maris, Finns, and Karelians, all cluster genetically with northern and eastern Russians, and are distinct from southern and western Russians. The scientists also found differences in relationships among some of the northern and eastern Russians.
According to a genetic admixture study, Volga Tatars reveal roughly 90% Caucasoid and 10% Mongoloid maternal genetic lineages.
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