Learn more about Volga Tatars
Famous Volga Tatars
|Total population||c. 8 million (2005)|
|Regions with significant populations|| Russia:|
|Religion|| Sunni Islam, Atheism, Orthodox Christianity, Other <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th> <td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">other Turkic peoples, Eastern Iranian peoples, Finno-Ugric peoples, probably Slavic and Baltic peoles</td>
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.
 Kazan (Qazan) Tatars
From the 11th to 16th centuries, most Turkic tribes lived in what is now Russia and Kazakhstan. The Kazan (Qazan) Tatars are descendants of the Volga Bulgars, who settled on the Volga in the 8th century. The Bulgars of that period were related not only to Turkic peoples, but to Iranian Alans. They mingled with Scythian and Finno-Ugric speaking peoples as well as descendants of the Kipchaks, who settled on the Volga during the 13th century. After the Mongol invasion, Bulgaria was defeated and left in ruin.
Most of the Volga Bulgaria population survived the invasion. And while they did not keep their language, their old culture and Islamic faith remained intact. (The Bulgars converted to Islam in 922 during the missionary work of Ahmad ibn Fadlan). There was little mixing of Mongol and Turkic aliens after the conquest of Volga Bulgaria, particularly in the northern regions (Tatarstan today).
In some places, the Kazan Tatars called themselves Volga Bulgars. Even today, some Tatars (see Bulgarism) do not recognize the word Tatar as a name for their nation. Kazan Tatars form the ethnic majority of nearly 2 million in Tatarstan, one of the constituent republics of Russia.
In the 1910s, they numbered about half a million in the government of Kazan. (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 during 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. In Poland, they constituted one percent of the population in the district of Płock.
The Kazan Tatars speak a Turkic dialect (with a sizable complement of Russian and Arabic words—see Tatar language). Their general physique has been described as middle-sized and broad-shouldered. The majority have brown and green eyes, a straight nose and salient cheek bones. Because their ancestors include not only Turkic peoples, but Iranian peoples and Finno-Ugric as well, many Kazan Tatars tend to have European faces. The population is not homogeneous: around 33.5% belong to Southern European subtypes, 27.5% to Northern European , 24.5% to Finno-Ugric and 14.5% to Southern Siberian.. Most Kazan Tatars practice Sunni Islam.
Before 1917, only the wealthier classes practiced polygamy and was a declining institution. The Bashkirs, who live between the Kama, Ural, and Volga, speak the Bashkir language, which is similar to Tatar, and are adherents of Sunni Islam.
Because it is understandable to all groups of Russian Tatars, as well as to the Chuvash and Bashkirs, the language of the Kazan Tatars became a literary language in the 15th century (iske tatar tele). The old literary language included many Arabic and Persian words. Nowadays, the literary language substitutes European and Russian words for Arabic ones.
Kazan 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 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, Ufa, and cities of the Ural and western Siberia).
See also: Tatar language
 Noqrat Tatars
Kazan Tatars live in Russia's Kirov Oblast.
 Perm Tatars
 Keräşen Tatars
Many Kazan Tatars were forcibly Christianized by Ivan the Terrible during the 16th century, and later, during 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 (who are mostly Christian) and Kazan Tatars (mostly Muslims).
Keräşen Tatars live all over Tatarstan. Now they tend to be assimilated among Russians, Chuvash, and Tatars with Sunni Muslim self-identification. 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 the Tatars and Keräşen Tatars.
Some Turkic (Kuman) tribes in Golden Horde were 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.
 Tiptär Tatars
Like Noğaybaqs, although they are Sunni Muslims. Some Tiptär Tatars speak Russian or Bashkir. According to some scientists, Tiptärs are part of the Mişärs.
 Kazan Tatar language dialects
There are 3 dialects: Eastern, Central, Western.
The Western dialect (Misher) is spoken mostly by the Mishärs, the Middle dialect is spoken by Tatarstan and Astrakhan Tatars ("Volga Bulgarians"), and the Eastern (Siberian) dialect is spoken by some groups of Tatars in Russia's Tyumen Oblast. This latter, which was isolated from other dialects, is related to Chulym, and believed to be an independent language. The Bashkir language, for example, is better understood by Kazan Tatars, than is the Eastern dialect of the Siberian Tatars.
Middle Tatar is the base of literary for the Kazan Tatar Language. The Middle dialect also has subdivisions.
 Mişär Tatars
Mişär Tatars are a group of Tatars who origniated along the Volga River, in Tartarstan, and speak a dialect of the Kazan Tatar language. They are descendant from the Kipchaks in the Middle Oka and Meschiora where they mixed with the local Finno-Ugric tribes and Russians. Today, they live in Tambov, Penza, Ryazan oblasts of Russia, and in Mordovia.
 Qasím Tatars
 Astrakhan Tatars
Astrakhan Tatars (nearly 70,000) are a group of Tatars descendant of Astrakhan Khanate's agricultural population, living mostly in Astrakhan Oblast. During the 2000 census of Russia, most of Astrakhan Tatars identified themselves as common Tatars and few determined themselves to be Astrakhan Tatars. A large number of common Volga Tatars (Kazan Tatars) are living in Astrakhan Oblast and differences between them tend to disappear.
Text from Britannica 1911:
- The Astrakhan Tatars number about 10,000 and are, with the Mongol Kalmyks, all that now remains of the once so powerful Astrakhan empire. They also are agriculturists and gardeners, whereas 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 (that is, Kazan) dialect. Their ancestors are Khazars, Kipchaks, and some Volga Bulgars—Volga Bulgars had trade colonies in modern Astrakhan and Volgograd oblasts of Russia.
 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—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—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 – Russian military forces officers and soldiers.
- 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
- England, 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)
 See also
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
- (Russian) More about genesis of Volga Tatars