Who are the Tatars?

Indigenous people territories in modern Russian Federation

The Tatars find themselves among 100+ indigenous nations who populate the Russian Federation. Based on 2010 census Tatars form the largest non-Slavic ethnic group comprising of 3.9% of total population of Russian Federation.

Although the Tatars are scattered across the large areas within Russia, majority of them (about 7 million) reside in the  Republic of Tatarstan (the historic land of the modern Tatars). With its capital in Kazan, Tatarstan is a home and central focus of Tatar (Volga or Kazan Tatars) culture, crafts and lifestyle.

The modern Tatars trace their roots to Volga Bulgars and have settled in their indiginous territories since middle ages. After World War I, a vast group of the Volga Tatars migrated to the other parts of the world. These days, Tatar diasporas (comprising of roughly 3 million Tatars) are thriving in Finland, Australia, China, Belgium, USA, Canada, Ukraine.

The Tatars speak the Tatar tongue (that is part of Altaic, Turkic language family) and have a culture, customs and traditions that are largely influenced by Islamic norms and mindsets. Tatars share language similarities and cultural origins with many Turkic-speaking ethnic groups. Based on lexicostatystical matrix of Turkic languages, Tatar language exhibits more than 50% basic vocabulary similarities with at least 11 Turkic languages (Azeri, Bashkir, Kazakh, Karachi, Khakas, Kyrgyz, Turkish, Turkmen, Tuvan, Uyghur, Uzbek). According to recent 2020 article in Journal of Language Evolution the Turkic language family traces back to 66 BCE (before common era).

Tatar girl of mid-19th century (J.Frost)
of early 20th century
(D. Zalyaletdinov)
of Soviet 1970ies. Mosaic mural by S.Bubenov
of early 21st century

One comment on “Who are the Tatars?

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