The Bashkirs name themselves the Bashkort
and they are a native people of the Republic of Bashkortostan. There
are 863,8 thousand of the Bashkirs in the republic itself, 1345,3
thousand of them are in the Russian Federation. Outside of the republic
the Bashkirs live in the Chelyabinsk, Orenburg, Perm, Sverdlovsk,
Tyumen, Kurgan, and Samara areas, Tatarstan, Kazakhstan, Central
Asia, and in Ukraine. The Bashkirs racial structure is complex and
represents mixture of the European and the Mongolian types with
local variations. The Bashkirian language belongs to the western
branch of Turkic group of the Altai family and has the ramified
dialect structure. The Bashkirs also speak the Tatar and Russian
languages. The Bashkirs are the Moslems - Sunni by religion.
The Bashkirs, a Turkic people, live
in Russia, mostly in the republic of Bashkortostan. A significant
number of Bashkirs also live in the republic of Tatarstan, as well
as in Chelyabinsk, Orenburg, Kurgan, Perm, Sverdlovsk, Samara, and
Saratov Oblasts of Russia.
Bashkirs particularly inhabit the slopes and confines of the southern
Ural Mountains and the neighboring plains. They speak the Kipchak-based
Bashkir language, a close relative of the Tatar language.
The name Bashkir appears for the first time in the beginning of
the 10th century in the writings of ibn Fadlan, who, in describing
his travels among the Volga Bulgarians, mentions the Bashkirs as
a warlike and idolatrous race. According to ibn Fadlan, the Bashkirs
worshipped phallic idols. The people themselves did not use this
name in the 10th century — it has its origins in a nickname. At
that time, Bashkirs lived as nomadic cattle breeders. Until the
13th century they occupied the territories between Volga and Kama
Rivers and the Urals.
European sources first mention the Bashkirs in the works of Joannes
de Plano Carpini and William of Rubruquis. These travellers, who
fell in with Bashkir tribes in the upper parts of the Ural River,
called them Pascatir, and asserted that they spoke the same language
as the Bulgarians.
Until the arrival of the Mongolians
in the middle of the 13th century, the Bashkirs formed a strong
and independent people, troublesome to their neighbors: the Volga
Bulgarians and the Petchenegs. At the time of the downfall of the
Khanate of Kazan in 1552 they had become a weak state. In 1556 they
voluntarily recognized the supremacy of Russia, which in consequence
founded the city of Ufa in 1574 to defend them from the Kirghiz,
and subjected the Bashkirs to a fur-tax.
In 1676, the Bashkirs rebelled under a leader named Seit, and the
Russians had great difficulties in pacifying them. Bashkiria rose
again in 1707, under Aldar and Kfisyom, on account of ill-treatment
by the Russian officials. The third and last insurrection occurred
in 1735, at the time of the foundation of Orenburg, and it lasted
for six years.
In 1774 Bashkiria supported Pugachev's
rebellion. Bashkir troops fought under the Bashkir noble Salawat
Yulayev, but suffered defeat.
In 1786, the Bashkirs achieved tax-free status; and in 1798 Russia
formed an irregular Bashkir army from among them. Residual land
ownership disputes continued.
Some Bashkirs traditionally practiced agriculture, cattle-rearing
and bee-keeping. The nomadic Bashkirs wandered either the mountains
or the steppes, herding cattle.
Bashkir national dishes include a kind
of gruel called yIsryu, and a cheese named skiirt.
Bashkirs had a reputation as a hospitable but suspicious people,
apt to plunder and disinclined to hard work. Ethnographically, they
have large heads, black hair, narrow and flat eyes, small foreheads,
ears always sticking out, and a swarthy skin. In general, they appear
strong and muscular, and can endure all kinds of labour and privation.