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The Bashkirs

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.

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