Tatars (the common form Tartars is less correct), a name given to nearly three million inhabitants of the Russian empire, chiefly Moslem and of Turkish origin.
The majority - in European Russia - are remnants of the Mongol invasion of the 13th century (see also Mongols), while those who inhabit Siberia are survivals of the once much more numerous Turkish population of the Ural-Altaic region, mixed to some extent with Finnish and Nenets (Samoyed) stems, as also with Mongols. The name is derived from that of the Ta-ta Mongols, who in the sth century inhabited the north-eastern Gobi, and, after subjugation in the gth century by the Khitans, migrated southward, there founding the Mongol empire under Genghis Khan. Under the leadership of his grandson Batu Khan they moved westwards, driving with them many stems of the Turkish Ural-Altaians towards the plains of Russia. The ethnographical features of the present Tatar inhabitants of European Russia, as well as their language, show that they contain no admixture (or very little) of Mongolian blood, but belong to the Turkish branch of the Ural-Altaic stock, necessitating the conclusion that only Batu, his warriors, and a limited number of his followers were Mongols, while the great bulk of the 13th century invaders were Turks. On the Volga they mingled with remnants of the old Bulgarian empire, and elsewhere with Finnish stems, as well as with remnants of the ancient Italian and Greek colonies in Crimea and Caucasians in Caucasus. The name of Tatars, or Tartars, given to the invaders, was afterwards extended so as to include different stems of the same Turkish branch in Siberia, and even the bulk of the inhabitants of the high plateau of Asia and its NW slopes, described under the general name of Tartary. This last name has almost disappeared from geographical literature, but the name Tatars, in the above limited sense, remains in full use.
The present Tatar inhabitants of the Russian empire form three large groups-those of European Russia and Poland, those of Caucasus, and those of Siberia. The discrimination of the separate stems included under the name is still far from completion. The following subdivisions, however, may be regarded as established:
- The Kazafi Tatars, descendants of the Kipchaks settled on the Volga in the 13th century, where they mingled with survivors of the old Bulgarians (NB! the most of Bulgaria population survived: they hadn't keept their language, but we can say, that Kazan Tatars are 'Bulgars') and partly with Finnish stems. They number about half a million in the government of Kazan, about 100,000 in each of the governments of Ufa, Samara and Simbirsk, and about 300,000 in Vyatka, Saratov, Tambov, Penza, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm and Orenburg; some 15,000 belonging to the same stem have migrated to Ryazan, or have been settled as prisoners in the l6th and 17th centuries in Lithuania (Vilnius, Grodno and Podolia); and there are some 2000 in St. Petersburg, where they pursue the callings of coachmen and waiters in restaurants. In Poland they constitute 1% of the population of the district of Plock. The Kazan Tatars speak a pure Turkish dialect; they are middle-sized, broad-shouldered and strong, and mostly have black eyes, a straight nose and salient cheek bones. They practice Islam; polygamy is practised only by the wealthier classes and is a waning institution. Excellent agriculturists and gardeners, very laborious, and having a good reputation for honesty, they live on the best terms with their Russian peasant neighbours. The Bashkirs who live between the Kama, Ural and Volga are possibly of Finnish origin, but now speak a Tatar language and have converted to Islam.
- The Astrakhan Tatars (about 10,000) are, with the Mongol Kalmucks, 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.
- The Crimean Tatars, who occupied the Crimea in the 13th century, have preserved the name of their leader, Nogai. During the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries they constituted a rich empire, which prospered until it fell under Turkish rule, when it had to suffer much from the wars fought between Turkey and Russia for the possession of the peninsula. The war of 1853 and the laws of 1860-63 and 1874 caused an exodus of the Crimean Tatars; they abandoned their admirably irrigated fields and gardens and moved to Turkey.
Those of the south coast, mixed with Greeks and Italians, were well known for their skill in gardening, their honesty and their laborious habits, as well as for their fine features, presenting the Tatar type at its best. The mountain Tatars closely resemble those of Caucasus, while those of the steppes
-the Nogais-are decidedly of a mixed origin from Turks and Mongols.During World War II, the entire Tatar population in Crimea fell victims to Stalin's oppressive policies. In 1944 they were unjustly 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. Although a 1967 Soviet decree removed the charges against Crimean Tatars, the Soviet government did nothing to facilitate their resettlement in Crimea and to make reparations for lost lives and confiscated property. Today more than 250,000 Crimean Tatars are back in their homeland, struggling to reestablish their lives and reclaim their national and cultural rights against many social and economic obstacles.
The Tatars of Caucasia, who inhabit the upper Kuban, the steppes of the lower Kuma and the Kura, and the Aras, number about 1,350,000. Of these,
The Siberian Tatars
- the Nogais on the Kuma show traces of an intimate mixture with Kalmucks. They are nomads, supporting themselves by cattle-breeding and fishing; few are agriculturists.
- The Karachais (18,500) in the upper valleys about Elburz live by agriculture.
- The mountain Tatars (about 850,000), divided into many tribes and of an origin still undetermined, are scattered throughout the provinces of Baky, Erivan, Tiflis, Kutais, Daghestan, and partly also of Datum. They are certainly of a mixed origin, and present a variety of ethnological types, all the more so as all who are neither Armenians nor Russians, nor belong to any distinct Caucasian tribe, are often called Tatars. As a rule they are well built and little behind their Caucasian brethren. They are celebrated for their excellence as gardeners, agriculturists, cattle-tenders and artisans. Although most fervent Shi'ites, they are on very good terms both with their Sunnite and with their Russian neighbours.
are estimated (1895) at 80,000 of Turki stock and about 40,000 of mixed Finnic
stock. They occupy three distinct regions-a strip running west to east from Tobolsk to Tomsk
, the Altai
and its spurs, and South Yeniseisk. They originated in the agglomerations of Turkish stems which in the region north of the Altai reached some degree of culture between the 4th and the 5th centuries, but were subdued and enslaved by the Mongols
. They are difficult to classify, for they are the result of somewhat recent minglings of races and customs, and they are all more or less in process of being assimilated by the Russians, but the following subdivisions may be accepted provisionally.
- The Baraba Tatars, who take their name from one of their stems (Barama), number about 50,000 in the government of Tobolsk and about 5000 in Tomsk. After a strenuous resistance to Russian conquest, and much suffering at a later period from Kirghiz and Kalmuck raids, they now live by agriculture, either in separate villages or along with Russians.
- The Cholym or Chulym Tatars on the Cholym and both the rivers Yus speak a Turkish language with many Mongol and Yakut words, and are more like Mongols than Turks. In last century they paid a tribute for 2550 arbaletes, but they now are rapidly becoming fused with Russians.
- The Abakan or Minusinsk Tatars occupied the steppes on the Abakan and Yus in the 17th century, after the withdrawal of the Kirghizes, and represent a mixture with Kaibals (whom Castren considers as partly of Ostiak and partly Samoyedic origin) and Beltirs-also of Finnish origin. Their language is also mixed. They are known under the name of Sagais, who numbered 11,720 in 1864, and are the purer Turkish stem of the Minusinsk Tatars, Kaibals, and Kizil or Red Tatars. Formerly Shamanists, they now are, nominally at least, adherents of the Greek Orthodox Church, and support themselves mostly by cattle-breeding. Agriculture is spreading but slowly among them; they still prefer to plunder the stores of bulbs of Lilium Martagon, Paeonia, and Erythronium Dens canis laid up by the steppe mouse (Mus socialis). The Soyotes, or Soyons, of the Sayan mountains (estimated at 8000), who are Finns mixed with Turks the Uryankhes of north-west Mongolia, who are of Turkish origin but follow Buddhism, and the Karagasses, also of Turkish origin and much like the Kirghizes, but reduced now to a few hundreds, are akin to the above.
- The Tatars of the northern slopes of the Altai (nearly 20,000 in number) are of Finnish origin. They comprise some hundreds of Kumandintses, the Lebed Tatars, the Chernevyie or Black-Forest Tatars and the Shors (11,000), descendants of the Kuznetsk or Iron-Smith Tatars. They are chiefly hunters, passionately loving their taiga, or wild forests, and have maintained their Shaman religion and tribal organization into suoks. They live partly also on cedar-nuts and honey collected in the forests. Their dress is that of their former rulers, the Kalmucks, and their language contains many Mongol words.
- The Altai Tatars, or Altaians, comprise (a) the Mountain Kalmucks (12,000), to whom this name has been given by mistake, and who have nothing in common with the Kalmucks except their dress and mode of life, while they speak a Turkish dialect, and (b) the Teleutes, or Telenghites (5800), a remainder of a formerly numerous and warlike nation who have migrated from the mountains to the lowlands, where they now live along with Russian peasants. Although Turkestan and Central Asia were formerly known as Independent Tartary, it is not now usual to call the Sarts, Kirghiz and other inhabitants of those countries Tatars, nor is the name usually given to the Yakuts of Eastern Siberia.
It is evident from the above that the name Tatars was originally applied to both the Turkish and Mongol stems which invaded Europe six centuries ago, and gradually extended to the Turkish stems mixed with Mongol or Finnish blood in Siberia
. It is used at present in two senses: (a) Quite loosely to designate any of the Ural-Altaic tribes, except perhaps Osmanlis, Finns and Magyars, to whom it is not generally applied. Thus some writers talk of the Manchu Tatars, (b) In a more restricted sense to designate Muslim Turkish-speaking tribes, especially in Russia, who never formed part of the Seljuk or Ottoman Empire
, but made independent settlements and remained more or less cut off from the politics and civilization of the rest of the Islamic world.
AUTHORITIES. The literature of the subject is very extensive, and bibliographical indexes may be found in the Geographical Dictionary of P. Semenov, appended to the articles devoted respectively to the names given above, as also in the yearly Indexes by M. Mezhov and the Oriental Bibliography of Lucian Scherman. Besides the well-known works of Castren, which are a very rich source of information on the subject, Schiefner (St. Petersburg academy of science), Donner, Ahlqvist and other explorers of the Ural-Altaians, as also those of the Russian historians Soloviev, Kostomarov, Bestuzhev-Ryumin, Schapov, and Ilovaiskiy, the following containing valuable information may be mentioned: the publications of the Russian Geographical Society and its branches; the Russian Etnographicheskiy Sbornik; the Izvestia of the Moscow society of the amateurs of natural science; the works of the Russian ethnographical congresses; Kostrov's researches on the Siberian Tatars in the memoirs of the Siberian branch of the geographical society; Radlov's Reise durch den Altai, Aus Sibirien', "Picturesque Russia" (Zhivopisnaya Rossiya); Semenov's and Potanin's " Supplements " to Ritter's Asien; Harkavi's report to the congress at Kazan; Hartakhai's "Hist, of Crimean Tatars," in Vyestnik Evropy, 1866 and 1867; " Katchinsk Tatars," in Izvestia Russ. Geogr. Soc., xx., 1884. Various scattered articles on Tatars will be found in the Revue orientale pour les Etudes Oural-Altaiques, and in the publications of the university of Kazan. See also E. H. Parker, A Thousand Years of the Tartars, 1895 (chiefly a summary of Chinese accounts of the early Turkish and Tatar tribes), and Skrine and Ross, Heart of Asia (1899). (P. A. K.; C. EL.)
Based on an article from 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. Please update as needed.
The Tatars form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China.
See also: Tatar language, Tatarstan