Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kama River

There are many Tatars along the Kama river.  The Capitol city of Bolghar/ Bolgar was at the place where the Kama meets the Volga. 

The overall length is 1,805 km (1125 miles). The Kama river basin includes 73 718 rivers (93% of them are 10 km and shorter). The largest tributaries to the Kama are Kosa, Vishera, Sylva, Chusovaya, Belaya, Ik, Izh, Zay, Vyatka and Myosha Rivers. The cities situated on the banks of the Kama are Solikamsk, Berezniki, Perm, Sarapul, and Naberezhnye Chelny. It is fairly well used trade route. Passenger routes connect Perm and Moscow, Nizhniy Novgorod, Ufa, and Astrakhan. Picturesque scenery and beautiful banks of the river attract numerous tourists. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

notes on Codex Cumanicus

The Codex Cumanicus, which is presently housed in the Library of St. Mark, in Venice, Cod. Mar. Lat. DXLIX, is not one but several unrelated (except in the broadest sense) works which were ultimately combined under one cover. The Codex may be divided into two distinct and independent parts : I) a practical handbook of the Cuman language with glossaries in Italo-Latin, Persian and Cuman II) a mixed collection of religious texts, linguistic data and folkloric materials (the Cuman Riddles), stemming from a number of hands, with translations into Latin and a dialect of Eastern Middle High German

Much of the content is in Qipchak dialects and fascinating. It is believed to be from the late 13th centuryThis is but one text in one foreign library.  We wonder how much history of the Tatar people, the Bolghar people, of Kipchaks may be found in other libraries of the world.  The WWW is helpful in tying up loose ends but there is still much digitizing and documenting left to do! 

codex cumanicus notes here
library of St. Marks - Venice

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Yes, We never tire of admiring photographs of Peremech.  You can just smell how delicious this all is can't you? 

In her own words, Alsu says , "Strange food, it disappears almost by itself the minute you serve it..."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bashkir Samovar Dancing

Ф.Гаскарова - Bashkir Dance

We would LOVE to learn how to dance like this but we need a practice samovar as it is certainly doomed.

Tatars 1920 - The War of the Black Eagle and the Farmer

The war of the Black Eagle and the Farmer (voina chernogo orla i zemledel'tsa) took place during February and March 1920 in Bugul'ma and Menzelinsk districts and the northern areas of Buguruslan district.  The Union of the Black Eagle and the Farmer was an organization of Right SRs and ex-kolchak officers committed to the restoration of the Constituent Assembly and a third all-nationality peasant revolution against the White reaction and Bolshevik commissarocracy.  The peasant war in the Bugul'ma region which inherited the name of this organization certainly benefited from the political and military expertise of the Right SRs and former White officers, but it started as a spontaneous peasant uprising against the Bolshevik requisitionings and, like the chapany uprising, was directed in the villages by the peasants and deserters from the civil war armies.

The uprising began in the village of Novyi Elan'' (Troitskoe volost' Menzelinsk uezd) on 7 February 1920.  A requisitioning brigade of thirty-five workers from Menzelinsk had placed the village under its own martial law because of the refusal of the peasantry to fulfil the food levy (which, it was later admitted, had been set far too high).  Twenty suspected "kulaks", including two women, had been incarcerated in unheated quarters at -30 degrees Centigrade.  The villagers attacked the brigade with pitchforks, axes, and pikes, disarmed it, and chased it out of the village.  Some of the nearby villages rose up in a similar fashion against other brigades.  On 9 February a major uprising broke out in the small market town of Zainsk, where the main headquarters of the uprising were subsequently established.  The chairman of the Menzelinsk Cheka, which had recently conducted a brutal campaign against the deserters in the woodland regions, was murdered, along with twenty-eight food-brigade workers from Petrograd.  The police building was ransacked.  On the steps of the town church a "parliament" was established, headed by the bandit A.I. Borisov, several Right SRs, and deserters from Kolchak's army.

From Zainsk, the uprising spread rapidly in three main directions: south-east towards Ufa, winning over a large proportion of the Bashkir population (pastoralists, poor peasants); south towards Bugul'ma and Buguruslan, taking in a broad cross-section of the Russian and Tatar peasants, especially in the areas near the Simbirsk-Ufa railway; and west towards Chistopol', where Mordvin, Chuvash, Tatar, and Russian peasants all joined the insurrection.  Despite this ethnic diversity, nationalist opposition does not appear to have played a prominent role in the uprising, which was squarely based upon peasant opposition to the requisitionings.  The slogans of the movement were preoccupied with political and economic issues similar to those of the chapany uprising: "Down with the Communists!"; "Down with the prodrazverstka!"; "Long live Soviet power without the Communists!"; "Long live the Bolsheviks and free trade!"; "Down with the seizures of grain, smash the collection points": "Long live peasant power!"; It is true, however, that in some of the non-Russian areas, particularly among the Tatars, hatred of the requisitioning brigades had been stirred up by the inability of the latter to distinguish between the different socio-economic groups of the population - a failure no doubt explained by the fact that the brigades comprised mainly Russians.

The armed forces of the Black Eagle rising were, like the chapany, organized on a territorial basis.  Each insurgent village established and maintained its own regiment.  The entire male population between the ages of 18 and 45 was subject to conscription.  The large number of deserters in the region endowed the rebel units with a natural officer class and a relatively advanced supply of weaponry, including rifles and machine-guns.  At the height of its influence, on 12 March, this "peasant army" numbered 26,000 armed men, organized on three main "fronts" - Chistopol - Kazan, Bugul'ma- Samara, and Menzelinsk.  The army could count on the support of the peasantry in twenty-five volisti in Menzelinsk district, twenty-two volisti in Bugul'ma district, and twelve volosti in Chistopol' district.  Within these woodland regions, the rebel units were difficult to combat, since they had built up very close ties with the rural population.  The main channels of Bolshevik influence within the insurgent region were all destroyed:  the lines of communication were cut; the railways were torn up; the party cells, the police and the Cheka were terrorized.  over 600 party and soviet officials were murdered in Menzelinsk, Belebei, and Bugul'ma districts during the uprising.

The remoteness of the insurgent areas, which had only been under Soviet power since the previous spring, weakened the early initiatives of the Bolshevik authorities and allowed the uprising to take root.  the Red Army reserve forces in the region seriously underestimated the extent of the uprising and, with inadequate troops, made little headway against it until the middle of March.  The Reds would overcome a village stronghold and arrest the suspected ringleaders, only to find that the core of the rebel forces had dispersed and fled to the woods  Officially, the uprising was said to have been suppressed by the end of March, but until the end of the year small bandit groups surviving from the February uprising continued to harass the party authorities and disrupt the requisitioning campaigns. 

from the pages of "Peasant Russia Civil War"
The Volga countryside in Revolution 1917-1921  by Orlando Figes 1989

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tatars in Japan - Publications - Books

Japon araştırmacı Akira Matsunaga’nın İdel-Ural ile ilgili 2 çalışması:

1. Ayaz İshaki vǝ Uzaq Şǝrqdǝki Tatar Türklǝri, Bakı, “Sabah”, 2004, 104 s. (Türkçe; İngilizce; Rusça) / Ğayaz İsxaqıy häm Yıraq Könçığıştağı Tatar Törekläre

2. Japonya Tatarları, Tokyo, 2009, 64 s. (ISBN 978-4-88595-832-8) - Japonca

3. Japonya'da Türk Izleri - Merthan Dündar

Delia Nigmatulina - Sin Bulsan

Saturday, January 19, 2013

...more on Gubaidulina

Sofia Gubaidulina ... chose a path that displeased the authorities.  Encouraged to continue to develop along her own "mistaken" path by Shostakovich at her graduation from the music conservatory, she mastered Western methods but also studies unusual Russian, Caucasian, and Asian instruments, which she uses in her compositions.  She became deeply interested in the spiritual and mystical aspects of music.  Because of her unusual music, for a long time she was not recorded and seldom performed.  Like Schnittke, she turned to writing film scores for income.  Her work gained recognition outside Russia in the 1980's, and her reputation has been growing ever since.  Among her works are Offertorium, Hour of the Soul, and Two PathsTwo Paths, about Martha and Mary in the Bible, had its world premiere in New York in 1999.  In some of her work, Gubaidulina explores the ideas of the feminine and masculine, as in her Hour of the Soul

schultze 2000

Genghis and Fall of Kiev - Golden Horde

The Fall of Kiev and the Rise of Moscow

With Kiev weakened and central authority in disarray, suddenly a terrible disaster struck, an event so devastating that some Russians think its effects are still felt today.  Genghis Khan had established a powerful Mongol Empire far to the east, and after his death in 1227, his descendants continued his efforts to expand control over much of Asia and on into Europe.  The Mongols swept down out of Asia in 1237   and destroyed many Russian towns, burning and killing as they went.  Kiev fell in 1240, effectively ending the Kievan age in Russian history.  The Mongols initially were able to take control of all Russia except the Novgorod region, but even this area was later forced to submit to Mongol authority.

The Mongols formed a state called the Golden Horde; its center was at Sarai, northwest of the Caspian Sea.  The Russian rulers, the princes of the various regions, had to travel there to pledge their loyalty.  The Mongols were mostly interested in collecting tribute from the Russians and in getting fresh troops for their armies, rather than in imposing their culture on the Russians.  Yet their emphasis on a very strong central authority placed its stamp on Russia and became a feature of Russian life that endured long after the Mongol rule ended.  Mongol rule also increased Russia's isolation from western Europe and contributed to the sense that Russians have of themselves as a combination of east and west.  The subjugation of the Russian people by the Mongol Empire became known as the Tartar (or Tatar) Yoke, after one of the Mongol groups.  (Present day Tatars of Tatarstan are NOT Mongols but descendants of Bulgar Turks - the Term "Tatar" has several meanings)  Today Russians have a saying, "Scratch a Russian and you'll find a Tartar." They also say, "An uninvited guest is worse than a Tartar." (whatever that means??)

from Cultures and Customs of Russia
by Sydney Shultze 2000

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin - Unesco World Heritage

Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin is on the Unesco World Heritage list 

"Built on an ancient site, the Kazan Kremlin dates from the Muslim period of the Golden Horde and the Kazan Khanate. It was conquered by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 and became the Christian See of the Volga Land. The only surviving Tatar fortress in Russia and an important place of pilgrimage, the Kazan Kremlin consists of an outstanding group of historic buildings dating from the 16th to 19th centuries, integrating remains of earlier structures of the 10th to 16th centuries."

The page about Kazan is here and includes a good summary of history and justification for inclusion on this list.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Empire of the Tsars and the Russians: The Country and its Inhabitants

The Empire of the Tsars and the Russians VI: The Country and its Inhabitants
Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu and Zenaide A. Ragozin
The Knickerbocker Press  1898 New York/ London

This is the portion of this rather extensive and opinionated, sometimes outright racist view of Russia that relates to Tatars and Turkic folk:  As the original is written in French, we hoped this would be an unbiased view of Turkic Russia. It is not, but there are still valid points and interesting observations.

Book II Chapter III
The Tatar or Turk Element - Tatars and Mongols - The Kalmyks - What is the Proportion of Tatar Blood in the Russians? - The Tats in Russia and the Arabs in Spain - Slow Elimination of the Tatar Element - Ethnical Influence of the Turk Tatar Tribes Previous to the Mongol Invasion - Varieties of Type amidst the Modern Tatars - Their Customs and Character.

The second of the great fountain-heads from which the Russian people might be said to have flowed - the one most peculiar to Russia, more decidedly Asiatic, has received from habit the name of "Tatar."  Never did more misleading designation steal into history, philology, ethnography.  At its first appearance in Russia this name was borne by one of the Mongol tribes who helped found the empire of Djinghiz-Khan (Genghis Khan)  In her terror of these new barbarians, who seemed to her the outcome of hell, Europe (it was in the thirteenth century) dubbed them "Tartars," and this name, suggested by a classical reminiscence, was extended to all the heterogeneous crowd of peoples dragged along after the savage conquerors.  As to the old name, "Mongols," the tribes to which it belonged by right were robbed of it, and it came to designate that branch of the Uralo-Altaic stock, of which Turkestan was the starting-point, and of which the Turks are the chief representatives.  The Tatars, who stayed on the banks of the Volga are nearly related to the Turks, or rather they are Turks, just as the Ottomans, both risen from the same cradle, both speaking dialects of the same language; all the difference between them being that the Ottomans invaded Europe later and were converted to Islam only after that invasion.  To this day the scions of the tribes from Turkestan who, coerced and led by the Mongols, settled in Russia, have not lost the memory of their origin : the Tatars of Kazan and Astrakhan call themselves Turks, a name endeared to them by the ancient glory of the Osmanlis and a common religion.

The Turkish branch is, at present, nearer to the Finnic than to the Mongolian branches. (In their primitive and unalloyed stage, the Turks may have been nearer to the Mongols.)  Turks and Finns have often met and mixed to such extent, that there are tribes - the Bashkirs and Tchuvashes (Chuvash) for instance - in whom it is difficult to make out the share of one and the other. The difficulty is still greater when dealing with extinct peoples, such as the Huns, the Avars, and the old Bulgars of the Volga, in whom the Finn blood seems to have predominated, - the Alans and Roxolans, (Some Russian scholars make out these Roxolans to be Russian Slavs.) who appear to have been mostly Turks or Tatars.  The union of Turk and Mongol, especially in Asia, has taken place quite as frequently, and it is hard at times to distinguish between them.  One instance of such fusion still survives in Europe:  it is the tribe of the Tatar-Nogay, who dwelt in the steppes of the kuban and of the Crimean peninsula before they were driven out into those of the Kuma.  The features of these nomads seem to bear out the notion of an alliance with the Mongols.  they have the same square, squat figure, the eyes raised obliquely towards the external angle, the broad, flat nose, the beardless chin.  this case stands alone amidst the Russian Turks.  As a rule, whenever their countenance betrays a cross, it is rather with the Finns or the peoples of the Caucasus. 

(There certainly is nothing in the features of the Tatars of the Volga familiar to all dwellers in large cities, where they ply their traditional trades of peddlers, restaurant-waiters, and cab-drivers, to recall the no less familiar type of the Ottoman Turk.  The broad face, with slightly salient cheekbones, not too oblique eyes, and thickish lips, yellowish skin, and scant beard, is an attenuated copy of the rampant Mongolian type.  The same characteristics are observable in the Finns of Finland, further modified by the considerable strain of Scandinavian blood, to which they owe their lustreless dun or sandy locks and almost imperceptible eyebrows over dull, fishlike eyes of washed-out blue.  If the long contact with their whilom masters has undoubtedly ennobled them morally and intellectually, it has not done the same service to their personal appearance, for they are the most appallingly homely people one can meet.  It is related of the Emperor Nicholas that, stopping at a Finn village a hundred miles or so from the capitol, he was so disagreeably struck by the physique of the villagers, that he ordered one of his handsomest guard-regiments to be forthwith stationed there.)

There still exists in European Russia a people of Mongol origin - the Kalmyks - who dwell in the Caspian depression, this side of the Volga.  There are about 130,000 of them, and they carry around their kibitkas, or felt tents, and drive their camels and their flocks along in the arid steppes of the governments of Astrakhan and Stavropol.  It is these twenty-five or thirty thousand families, roaming about at one extremity of the empire, whose name has been so frequently applied, as a kind of nickname, to the Russian people. At first sight their Chinese type distinguishes them nearly as markedly from the Tatars as from the Russians.  It is to be noted that these Mongols of the Volga did not enter Europe in the rear of Batu and the successors of Jinghiz-khan, but settled down in that forgotten corner of Russia at a relatively recent period.  It was as late as the seventeenth century that, after a long migration from the confines of China to the Ural River, these spiritual subjects of the Dalai Lama of Tibet set foot in the steppes by the Volga.  Taking advantage of the hereditary rivalry between the Mongol and Tatar tribes, Russia successfully employed these new-comers in her wars against the Turks and the Khans of Crimea; but any attempts to get them into more direct subjection caused numbers of them to return to their original fatherland.  they went en masse, giving the eighteenth century the spectacle of a wholesale migration, like those of olden times.  During the winter of 1770 from two to three hundred thousand Kalmyks, with their flocks, crossed the Volga and Ural upon the ice.  Then thaw came on and detained the rest, who decided to stay in Russia, while their brethren, notwithstanding repeated attacks from the Kirghiz, plodded on to their old homesteads on the confines of the Chinese Empire.

The Kalmyks  who stayed in the cis-Caspian steppes, owning the Russian sovereignty, were until very lately, all Buddhists.  They had a chief to whom they gave the title of Grand-Lama, who, since Alexander I., was nominated by the Tsar, and whose residence lay somewhere near Astrakhan.  there is one fact which has exercised vital influence on their respective destinies, it is that the three chief branches of the Uralo-Altaic race have apportioned to themselves the three chief religions of the old continent.  The Finn has become Christian; the Turk or Tatar, Muslim ; the Mongol, Buddhist.  To this ethnological distribution of worships there are few exceptions.  It is in this diversity of faiths, above all, that we must seek for the causes of the widely diverging destinies of the three groups, especially the Finn and the Tatar.  Religion has prepared the one to European ways of life;  religion has removed the other from the same influences.  Islam gave the Tatar a more precocious national civilization, and helped him to build such thriving cities as ancient Saray and Kazan, and to found, in Europe and in Asia, powerful states.  Islam gave him a more brilliant past, but, on the other hand, prepares for him more difficulties in the future.

It is to the Tatars that the Russians have long been indebted for the misnomer of "Mongols'; yet the Tatars themselves have but a questionable claim to the name.  In any case, it ought to be dropped when dealing with the Russian, not because in itself offensive, but because resulting from a misapprehension.  (???)

The Russians have scarcely a few drops of Mongol blood; have they much more Tatar blood?  Perhaps even less than the Spanish people have Moorish or Arab blood.  In Spain the Arabs stayed much longer, occupied a far larger portion of the territory, settled down in far greater numbers, and held the peninsula under their own immediate rule.  In Russia, the Tatars having entered the country in the thirteenth century, were already in the sixteenth, driven back to their extremities.   They ruled hardly more than one half of European Russia, and the greater part of even that they did not hold under their direct sway, but merely under their suzerainty.  They did not destroy the Russian principalities, but were content to make them pay tribute.  The Arabs colonized the fairest regions of Spain, those which, to this day, are the most fertile and most populous.  The Tatars spread over the parts of Russia which are even now the most thinly peopled, - over the steppes of the south and east.  Towards the centre they advanced only up the rivers, along the Volga and its tributaries, as shown even still by their actual distribution.  It was not even into the midst of the Russians that these colonizers from Asia broke their way.  The Russians at that time had barely reached the central basin of the Volga and the junction of this river with the Oka at Nijni Novgorod.  So it was the Finnish peoples, discussed in the preceding chapter, in whose midst they appeared; the peoples whose remains we see in the Mordvins, the Tcheremiss, the Tchuvash (Chuvash), and of whom several suffered themselves to be tatarized.  The Russian Turks have not, like the Arabs in Spain, created a rich and industrious civilization; far from devoting themselves to a sedentary agricultural life, they in part remained nomads.  Their cities were not numerous, and the largest were small in comparison with the Moorish capitals in Andalusia.  With a territory three or four times as extensive, it is doubtful whether the Golden-Horde ever came up in numbers to the Khalifat of Cordova.  An analysis of the two languages suggests similar conclusions.  The mark left by Arabic on the Spanish language is incomparable deeper than that imprinted by the Turkish or Tatar language on Russian.

Have the Muslim Tatars contributed more towards the formation of the Russian people because, instead of expelling the Muslims, as did Catholic Castile, Orthodox Moscovia left them their religion and their newly adopted country?  The contrary appears more probably.  In Russia as in Spain the reasons for separation between victors and vanquished remained the same during the rule of the Cross as during its subjection, and they all centered in one thing - religion, which raised between the two races an insuperable barrier.  From the one to the other, before as well as after the national deliverance, here was but one road - apostasy.  If preaching and self-interest made many converts amidst the Mussulmans in Russia, especially amidst the Murzas or Tatar chieftains, a great many more must have taken place amidst the Mussulmans in Spain, subjected as they had been through many long years to the most unscrupulous proselytism, till the day came when they could keep their faith only at the cost of wealth and country.  In Russia no such alternative was ever placed before the Mussulmans.  The Tsar never had need to resort to such barbarities in order to decrease in their states the power of the Tatar element.  What was done violently in Spain, to her eternal damage, did itself, slowly, gradually, in Russia.  All that she had to do was to leave things to take pretty well their own natural course.

Simultaneously with the process of absorption, assimilation of the Finnic elements, another, inverse process has been going on in Russia, - that of secretion, elimination of the Tatar and Muslim elements which she could not assimilate.  After their submission numbers of Tatars left Russia, not wishing to remain as subjects of the infidels, whose masters they had been.  Before the advance of the Christian arms, they spontaneously recoiled back to the lands where the law of the Prophet still held sway.  After the destruction of the khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan, they inclined to concentrate in Crimea and the neighboring steppes which , as late as the eighteenth century, went by the name of Little Tartary.  After the conquest of Crimea by Catherine II. they resumed their exodus towards the empire of their Turkish brethren, and even in our days, after the war of Sebastopol and the submission of the Caucasus, the emigration of Tatars and Nogay has begun again on an immense scale, at the same time as that of the Tcherkess (Circassians), so that they do not at the present day amount to one fifth of their numbers at the time of the annexation to Russia.  From 1860 to 1863, nigh on 200,000 Tatars have gone forth from the government of Tauris (Crimea), leaving behind 784 aouls (awil) or villages, of which three quarters remained desert like the depoblados left by the expulsion of the Moors on the map of Spain.  Since the introduction of obligatory military service, in 1874, this sort of exodus has begun again.  Thus it is that defeat and self-banishment, apart from absorption and commingling, have reduced the Tatars to small groups - harmless islets in the countries where they have been rulers for centuries, in such even, like Crimea, of which, some hundred years ago, they were the sole inhabitants. 

Recent examples show us the natural and spontaneous decrease of the Tatar and Muslim elements in Russia: that of European Turkey, where, up to the emancipation of the Danubian principalities, the Mussulmans made up only one third or one fourth of the population, from which we see that even at the time of their sovereignty the Tatars were numerically a minority in their own empire.  The route followed by these invaders and the actual position of the Tatars along the rivers, in lands occupied by Finns, lead us to think that they formed a majority only just around their capitols, on the Volga and in such other countries like Crimea and the steppes of the southeast as seem mean by nature for pastoral life.  The figures to which the armies of the khans mounted up must not mislead us as to the number of their subjects.  In these armies, every healthy man hastened to enlist ; lacking fanaticism or patriotism, the bait of booty was sufficient to keep men from deserting in the course of these expeditions, of which the main object was plunder.  A Crimean khan could call together 100,000 warriors without having a million of subjects.  The Tatars scarcely ever got to the centre of Russia except with armed hand, and never settled there.  Thus Moscovia was and remained towards them, from the point of view of population, in a condition similar to that in which Serbia, Hungary, Romania, and Greece stood towards the Turks, who in all these countries had but few colonies.  Rarely have there been two situations so identical as that of the Russians under the Tatar yoke and that of the South Slavs under the Turkish yoke.  In both cases the same races face each other, in both the same religions, so that we have before us the same actors in the same parts though under different names, wish nothing changed but the stage.  With all these analogies, the Russian has had a great advantage over the Bulgar or the Serb.  He was vassal and tributary, but never direct subject.  Therefore it may well be doubted whether there was any mixture of the two races on the banks of the Volga any more than on those of the Danube.  If there was some, through intermarriage, through slavery, rapes, and polygamy, a few perhaps through conversions, sincere or forced, it was perhaps rather at the cost of the Slavs, for through all these channels Christian blood was introduced in the Muslim's veins far more easily than Muslim blood into the veins of the Christian. 

It has frequently been remarked how rare, how abnormal conversion of Muslims to Christianity have at all times been; the opposite phenomenon has attracted less attention : how much more frequent has been the passage from the doctrine of Christ to that of Muhammed.  All Western Asia, all Northern Africa, Egypt, and Barbary but too loudly bear witness to the fact.  Even in Europe, the extremities of which have alone been touched by Islamism, the Begs of Bosnia, the "true believers " of Albania, the Pomaks of Muslim Bulgars, the Mussulmans of Candia and Crimea, of Greek or Goth origin, are descended from apostate Christians, while it would be difficult to quote a Muslim people , nay a single tribe, ever having embraced the Christian faith.  The reason does not lie merely in the fact that Islam seems adapted to certain races and certain modes of life, but also in the reciprocal position, in the dogma, and it may be said, in the respective ages of the two religions.  Islam is a more recent doctrine than Christianity, an, in a great measure, aimed directly against the latter.  It is, from the standpoint of dogma, a simpler faith, at least apparently, a- more strictly monotheistic freer from any kind of anthropomorphism. 

The Muslim emigrates or dies out where the Christian rules, but does not become a convert, so that the mixing of the two races hardly can take place in any way but exchange of one faith for the other.  It is certain that, in Russia, the force of example and self-interest, - proselytism, private or official, have, in the last three or four hundred years, effected many a conquest amidst the Tatars in favor of Christianity.  (About one-eleventh part (40,000 out of 450,000) of the Tatars residing in the government of Kazan were baptized by the Russian authorities in the eighteenth century.  They still are Christian in name ; but, their baptism notwithstanding, they are not yet russified : they retain their language, their own peculiar customs, generally even their faith in the Koran.)  Several of the greatest Russian families come from this source, and when baptized, the neophytes exchanged the title of a Tatar Murza for that of a Russian Kniaz; but such apostasies, even when accomplished wholesale, have been relatively rare occurrences.  

(The thoroughly national title kniaz - the k to be well sounded - is that which is uniformly rendered in all other European languages by "prince." Nothing could be more misleading, for the word "prince" represents something that does not exist in Russia, at least not in the form familiar to the other nations, those that have passed through the feudal system, which we have been spared.  The title ought to be retained in its Russian form.  A slightly parallel case is that of the Anglo-Saxon "jarl" now "earl" which is inadequately rendered in other languages by the Latin "count" (comes) and the German "Graf."  But more of this in its proper place. - As to the families of Tatar origin, they are quite numerous in the higher nobility and the women especially show it in their hair, which is dark, very long and silky, without a wave or ripple, and sometimes in the color of their skin, which is of a warm creamy tinge, not infrequently leaning markedly to yellow and unlike the dead olive complexions of so many Spanish women, capable of vivid bloom and quick blush.  The names of such families often betray their origin.  Thus "Bahmetief" (aspirate the h strongly)  is corrupted from "Mehmet."  The coats-of-arms improvised for the new Russian nobles also show transparent devices, - none prettier than that of a kinsman of the last Khan of Kazan, who having adopted Christianity, was given a wife from among the noblest maidens, with large landed possessions : the family 'scutcheon bears across the lower field a gold crescent on argent ground - symbol of the ancestral faith, - while the upper field is divided into two compartments, one of which has a crooked scimitar on gules ground - a reminder of the founder's bravery in battle, - and the other a star on azure ground, in poetical allusion to the lady.  It may be mentioned here that, however correct our author's remarks are concerning the frequency of Christian apostasy, they do not apply to the Russian Slavs, who have never been known to forsake orthodox Christianity for any other religion.  The only exception is the adoption of the Jewish religion by a very few ignorant fanatics, under very peculiar circumstances, an exceedingly curious phenomenon, of which more hereafter

They took place amidst populations in great part already mixed with new Christian masters or old Finn subjects.  Outside of Russia, nay, in their very cradles, the Tatars must have undergone a certain amount of crossing with Caucasian races, - first in Turkestan, where from times immemorial Eranians have dwelt in great numbers ; then along the highroads of invasion, especially in the Caucasus, where the community of religion facilitated alliances which the beauty of the Tcherkess woman made desirable in the eyes of the Turks of the Volga as well as those of the Turks of the Bosporus.  

If then a noticeable strain of Tatar blood has very gradually filtered into the veins of the Russian people, it possibly came less from the hordes of Batu and the invaders of the thirteenth century than from the kindred tribes who, for thousands of years have dwelt or roamed in the south of Russia, from the Scythians of old to the Khazars, the Petcheneg, the Polovtsi of the Middle Ages.  Under the vague designations of "Scythians," the ancients used to mix up populations between whom there was no ethnical relationship whatever.  It appears that amongst these Scythians there were some Aryan ones ; but the majority of them seem to have been derived from a Finno-Turkish stock.  That such was the case is more certain still concerning the Khazars, the Kumans, and other nomads who, up to the great invasion, wrangled for the possession of the south of Russia.  These now extinct peoples were for a long time the only denizens of this immense territory, of which the Greeks and Italicans knew only the coastland.  Must we infer from this that they were the ancestors of the thinly scattered population of these even yet half desert plains?  The territory of all these barbarians, was the "woodless zone," the steppe-zone, where the population is still either very much scattered or very recent.   In order to open these plains to culture, the nomads had first to be driven off.  The Scythians and all their Turko-Finn kindred were pastoral nomads, who, with their wagons and flocks, led in the steppes, this side of the Volga and the Don, the life that their brethren, the Kirghiz, even now lead on the other side of these rivers.  All these peoples, so much dreaded by the West, and so soon vanished from the ken of history, were as insignificant in numbers as the Asiatic tribes of the same race, who maintain , to this day, the same kind of existence.  One famine, one epidemic, one battle, sufficed for their annihilation.  They destroyed one another, leaving of themselves no other vestiges but their names.  It is in the southern half of Russia that we must seek for traces of Scythian or Tatar element, and it is from the west and north, from the wooded regions, that the present inhabitants of Southern Russia have emerged gradually, we might almost say under our eyes. 

Great has been the influence of the Tatars , but more historically than ethnologically ; it had to do with the conquest more than with the fusion of the races.  However, while confuting a popular prejudice, we should not rush into the opposite excess ; the Tatar's share in the formation oft eh Russian people has been the smallest possible, but cannot be quite explained away.  On more than one point there has been some mingling of blood between the Turk and Slav tribes whence Russians have sprung, - on the banks of the Dniepr, when the rulers of Kiev were collecting the remnants of the Polovts and the Petcheneg, - on the same river, on the Don, on the Volga, amidst the Cosacks, who both in peace and war, frequently entertained close relations with their Muslim neighbors and foes.  However that may be, the ethnical influence of the Tatars, even in the south, always remained far behind that of the Finns in the north, all the more that the Tatars themselves were frequently crossed with Finns.  

Crimea and the region which, as late as the last century, went by the name of Little Tartary, is, after all, perhaps the country where it is easiest to study the manners and character of the Tatars.  Scarcely a hundred years ago they were the masters and almost the only occupants of this region.  In consequence of repeated emigrations, they are, this day, two or three times inferior in numbers to the Russian or foreign colonists who have taken their place ; in certain portions of the peninsula, however, you still feel that they are at home.  On the steppe-land which occupies the centre and north, rebellious against culture, they continue to lead their nomadic life.  In the fertile regions, they still own towns, of which they are themselves the chief and almost only population, as for instance Karasu-Bazar, or Bakhtchi-Saray the old capitol of the Crimean khans.  There, in a cool and narrow valley, around the verdant gardens and the marble fountain-basins of the Ghirey, lives a Muslim community more purely oriental than those of the cities of European Turkey or of the littoral of Asia Minor.  There the Muslim law holds its sway in all its rigor, and were it not for the loneliness of the palace halls, with hanging sand furniture all untouched, as they were under the last of the khans, nothing would recall the fall of the Tatar's might.

The Turks of Bakhtchi-Saray and Karasu-Bazar are traders and farmers.  So are those of the Volga.  having come to a land of bountiful soil, they abandoned their nomadic mode of life and became craftsmen or traders in the cities, tillers of the soil in the country.  At Kazan, once the capitol of the most powerful of the three khanates which sprang from the dismemberment of the Golden Horde, the Tatars inhabit a suburb (sloboda) of their own, situated at the foot of their former capitol, far removed from the Kremlin, taken from them by the Orthodox Tsars.  (the word sloboda means "a free place" probably because suburban life may have been free from much of the restraint imposed on those that dwelt in the city proper; also the suburb may have enjoyed some local franchises)  Their suburb looks clean, quiet, and prosperous.  They have their mosques and schools, with their Mullahs elected by the community and acting as arbiters and judges, according to Muslim custom (In these as in all Muslim schools, the ground work of instruction is Arabic, the language of the Koran, which is frequently recited without being understood.  This barbarous method is a great obstacle to the intellectual growth of the Tatars.  Therefore the government is making praiseworthy efforts to introduce among them instruction in the Tatar language, in expectation oft the time when it will be possible to get them to use the Russian language.) .

At Kazan, as well as in Crimea, the Tatars have preserved the specialty of certain oriental industries, such as the manufacturing of article in leather and morocco : boots, slippers (babushes), saddles, sheaths for swords and daggers, etc.  Many of them still boast the muscular strength which is proverbially attributed to the Turks, and the porters at the great Nijni fair are almost all Tatars.  The high walks of commerce are not closed against them. and at Kazan more than one of their merchants have achieved a considerable fortune.  And although there are many differences among them, as well physical as moral, they are, on a whole, saving and painstaking, and noted for domestic morality and the harmony prevailing in their families.  In all these qualities, the Turks of Russia are in no wise inferior to those of the Ottoman Empire, whose virtues in private life are unanimously extolled by travellers.  For certain pursuits the Tatars are often preferred by the Russians themselves.  Being noted for cleanliness, probity, sobriety, they are sought for in several crafts, and have made a sort of monopoly of certain employments, especially such as requite most honesty and trustworthiness.  The great Russian families, who own villas on the south coast of Crimea, are not afraid of taking into their homes Tatar servants, and in the restaurants of Peterburgh it is quite "the thing" for the waiters to be Tatars from the government of Riazan, so that the unsuspecting foreigner who orders his dinner from a French menu is waited on, in perfect ignorance of the fact, by descendants of Djinghiz or Batu's rider-warriors. 

The qualities of the Tatars come in part from their religion, which enjoins temperance as an absolute duty ; their faults, the causes that hamper their progress, come from the same source.  The race's only apparent inferiority consists in a lack of originality.  Their ancient cities have perished.  In order to find monuments of their domination, we must go as far as Turkestan, Samarkand, and there we find buildings entirely in Persian style and taste.  In Russia nothing is so rare as constructions from the time of the khans. In Crimea, besides the palace of Bakhtchi-Saray of late date and poor merit, nothing is left but a few mosques, of which the handsomest do not amount to much.  Kazan boasts a grotesque  brick pyramid in four tiers, held in great veneration by the Tatars, but probably built after the Russian conquest.  It is in a city destroyed by the Tatars themselves at the time of Tamerlane's invasion, in Bolgary, near the left bank of the Volga, that the most interesting Oriental ruins of all Russia are to be seen - two constructions with cupolas, which will soon have crumbled to pieces, and whose graceful Arabic architecture, seen from afar, recalls the beautiful tombs around Cairo.  The Turks of the Volga, like those of Central Asia, and the Ottomans of the Bosporus, show in everything they do, in architecture as well as in poetry, imitation of the Arabic or Persian genius.  Such a lack of originality makes their entire culture dependent on foreign contact, and the civilization which they have received from their Mussulman neighbors, their religion forbids them to improve on, except with the loss of their independence. 

On due reflection, it will appear that the main vice of Islam, the main cause of its political inferiority, lies neither in its dogma, nor even in its morals ; it lies in the confusion of things spiritual and temporal, of the religious and civil law.  The Koran being both Bible and Code, the Prophet's word standing for law, the laws and customs are once for all consecrated by religion.  This one fact is sufficient to keep the entire Muslim civilization at a standstill.  Indefinite progress, which constitutes the very essence of Christian civilization, is to them an impossibility ; whatever the seeming rapidity of its development, society, as a whole, it with them, in reality and of necessity, immovable.  This inferiority of Islam, however is more felt in public than in private life; it affects nations rather than individuals, for when subjected to foreign influences, Mussulmans can accept ideas and customs which could not have originated in their midst.  The Muslims my experience the same thing that happened to the Jews, no less handicapped  by their religious law, in the midst of  Christian society : had the Jews ever ceased to form a compact nation, they could not, without great effort, have risen to a civilization more complete than that of the Muslim nations.  For these, as for the Jews, Christian domination may prove beneficial in the end, since from political subjection can spring moral emancipation.  Thus it is that, wherever the Russian Tatars form a minority, and have been most affected by alien influences, they have done away with the external sign of Islam : the veil and seclusion of women. While yet in strictest use at Bakhtchi-Saray, in the centre of Crimea, the veil has been doffed by the Muslim women of the south coast.  The same influences are driving out polygamy, as they put an end to slavery.  The Tatars, broken up into small groups scattered over Russia, are inclined to pass through the same phases as the Jews , who, while retaining their worship, gradually fall into our modes of life.  Islam would probably not oppose a greater obstacle to their entrance into our civilization, than Judaism to that of the Israelites, hampered by far narrower ritualistic prescriptions.  Without amalgamating with the bulk of the population, the Mussulmans who stayed in Russia will for a longer or lesser space of time, preserve their  language and customs and form a peaceable, industrious class, who will play a part very much like that now filled by the Jews and Armenians, with this difference - that, dwelling in the country as well as in the cities, practising agriculture as well as trade, their agglomeration in the eastern provinces can never give rise to the same economical disasters which are caused, in the west, by the agglomeration of the Jews, who are almost exclusively devoted to city life and trade.

(The polonized Tatars, who, residing in Lithuania, lost their language centuries ago, yet preserved their religion, and who are mostly tanners and traders, afford a glimpse of what their brethren of the Volga may become one day when they are russified)

From the political point of view, the Tatars of European Russia even now are scarcely more troublesome to the government than its Russian or Finn subjects.  this was seen during the Crimean war : although they made at the time a full half of the population, they rendered hardly any service at all to the invaders., in whose ranks were their brethren of the Bosporus.

(It is a fact which cannot be sufficiently emphasized, in view of the senseless accusations of religious animosity continually thrown in our faces, that there is not and never was the slightest ill-feeling on the part of the Russian people towards any of the numerous aliens who live side by side with them as fellow-subjects - with the single exception of the Jews, meaning of course not the educated Jews, the "gentleman" who practise various liberal professions, who have crafts, commercial and industrial positions, or those who, in Russia as everywhere else, rule the financial and high business world, but those wretched, squalid millions which, granting it is their misfortune and not their fault, still certainly are a terrible evil; and the animosity of the lower classes - exasperated because of the close companionship forced on them, from which they have no possible escape - has nothing whatever to do with either religion or race.  Naturally benignant and tolerant, the Russians know not of such feelings. Beyond good natured banter, expressed in some long-standing nicknames, proverbial saws, their race feeling does not go; only they do not intermarry, a few may not like to eat at the same board with their alien fellow-subjects.  This latter, however, is the case with many religious sects composed of none but thorough-going Russians.)

The Bulgarian war, the fall of Khiva, and the submission of the other khanates of Turkestan robbed them of their last illusions.  Divided, even more than the Finns, into minute scattered groups, locked in on all sides by Russians, the Russian Turks are no longer a people ; religion has, for them , necessarily stepped into the place of nationality, and repeated emigrations rid them of their fanatics.  Everywhere in Europe, in the very places where they ruled longest, the Tatars incline to become a minority and this disproportion will go on increasing as the colonization of the Russian East progresses.  In Europe, including the inhabitants of Northern Caucasus, Russia numbers only 3,200,000 Muslim subjects.  Setting aside the Caucasus, both slopes of which are comprised in the same political circumscription, the number of the Mussulmans sinks to 2,500,000 and from this figure we must, if we wish to deal with genuine Tatars, descendants of the invaders of the Golden Horde, deduct the Bashkirs and the tatarized tribes in which Finnish blood is predominant.  Not quite 1,200,000 is all that remains of that Turk or Tatar raced which so long ruled Russia and terrified Europe.  In Russian Asia, their kindred by blood and brethren in religion are, in the first place, the Kirghiz, the most extensive of all the Turkish branches ; in Turkestan, the Turkmen or Turcomans, and the Uzbegs ; in the Caucasus, the Tatar (Sunnites or Shiites) from the banks of the Kura and the Araxus, the Kumuks and a few other small tribes ; lastly, in Siberia, some few Mahometans with more or less claim to the name of Tatars, with sundry tribes, now Christian and three quarters russified.  In Europe the Mussulmans exceed a half of the population only in one government, that of Ufa, and that only, thanks to the Bashkirs, in a half Asiatic region which is just being colonized.  In those of the other provinces where they are most numerous - in the Governments of Kazan, Orenburg, Astrakhan, the Muslims do not number even one third of the entire population.  Even along the Lower Volga, the majority has passed over to the Christians.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Aktanysh Tatar Language Videos

Aktanysh Humanitarian Gymanasium Presents: Tatar Language Lesson 1 
This is the first video and these are cool!

Diaspora in Northeast Asia

Larisa Usmanova, The Türk-Tatar Diaspora in Northeast Asia. Transformation of Consciousness: A Historical and Sociological Account Between 1898 and the 1950s 

The study focuses on Turkic speaking Muslims who migrated from their homeland, the Volga-Ural region of the Russian empire, to Japan, China, Korea and Manchuria in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and tells the story of the formation of the diaspora in the Far East. The author starts out from the constructivist approach of diaspora studies in international relations, which emphasizes "norms and identities in the construction of social relations" and approaches diaspora as a ‘unique common life-style’ rather than as an ethnic or demographic phenomenon. Although she promises a study of the diaspora experience, the author is clearly keeping within the constraints of her own disciplinary background (sociology and political science); her research is also defined by the nature of the basic source material used which was the weekly newspaper called Milli Bairaq (National Flag) published in Manchuria between 1935 and 1945. Additionally, other Tatar émigré periodicals, Russian newspapers and diverse archival sources held in Tatarstan and Japan as well as private documents and photographs of the immigrants have also been consulted.

In Chapter 1 the author carefully addresses the problems of self-designation and self-identification as well as the characteristics shared by members of the group, such as the Turkic language spoken in the Volga region, Islam and a shared sense of history and territorial belonging. In addition to the theoretical perspective, this same chapter also considers the most important stages of the emergence of the diaspora, which included the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway in 1898 and the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The latter was followed by the intensive migration of Tatar peasants to Manchuria, later joined by intellectuals, merchants and their families and the former military personnel who had previously fought on the side of the white Russians. This narrative of the diaspora history is often interrupted by digressions on the characterization of the changing collective identity of the diaspora communities, which renders the reading somewhat awkward. Changing ideological influences are also addressed here, but they are elaborated in greater detail in Chapter 2, which focuses on the diaspora leaders and their shifting ideological agendas; these included belonging to the Altaic brotherhood, membership in the Prometheus League, or following Pan-Turkism, Turanism or Asianism. Chapter 3 presents the organizational structures of the diaspora, its major periodicals as well as the relations of the diaspora communities with their respective host countries. The first two congresses of the Türk-Tatar diaspora are treated here in greater detail. These congresses seem to have set a double agenda since they were concerned both with their own affairs as diaspora and with their relationship to their host countries, as well as with the fate of those they had left behind in the Soviet Union, which included no less than about 60 million brethren. Educational and religious problems faced in the diaspora situation as well as in the homeland were central to such discussions, which were invariably accompanied by lamentations of the gradual loss of national traditions. This is not so surprising since both the homeland communities as well as the diaspora were facing a situation whereby they lived in societies dominated by ethnically and linguistically very different, non–Muslim majorities. The trick was to develop ideologies which could reject Russian dominance but could simultaneously include the dominant majorities of the host countries. Nationalist ideology served as a useful point of departure: it spoke of a retreating, dying national spirit which needed revitalization and it was often likened to the ‘Asian spirit’. The great nations of Asia, or the ‘East’, were urged to unite against intensifying Europeanization. The diaspora organizations also took a very resolute anti-communist and anti-atheist stance, which further distanced these Türk-Tatars from the Russians. The author points out that, while these ideologies were mobilized in very specific historical circumstances and constituted strategies developed in response to the shifts and turns in international politics, simultaneously, the political agenda could also be coloured by sentiments which could not be explained simply by rational political calculations: while alliance or at least political cooperation was advocated with Georgians, Ukranians and Finno-Ugric peoples, such rapprochement with white Russians was considered to be out of question for religious and racial reasons.

Chapter 4 constitutes the most substantial part of the study. It considers aspects of social life and relations of what can be reconstructed of the individual Türk-Tatar diaspora communities. The descriptions of individual communities vary in length and detail, which reflect the size and importance of the individual communities. They include details about those aspects of communal life which were deemed significant enough to be included in the diaspora newspapers. Details include commemorations of important events in diaspora history, the celebration of religious rituals, financial affairs, the opening of a new mosque, references to marriages and deaths, education, charitable activities and interethnic relations. They also contain information concerning the occupational profile of community members and organizational activities initiated within the diaspora. The Conclusion summarizes the main chapters,emphasizes the role of religion in their identity formation and their later fate. The author concludes that the diaspora in northeast Asia did not follow the pattern of developing from labour migrants into immigrant communities,neither did they integrate into Asian societies; in spite of seeking political alliance with Asian countries and embracing ideologies that emphasized their closeness to Asian societies and cultures, they “were culturally attracted to Western models of civilization more so than by Eastern ones......though they chose an Islamic type of civilization in the “civilization conflict” and the East as a partner in the anti-colonial struggle with the Christian West”. (p. 205). The author, who hails from Kazan herself, maintains that even today Tatars in both the homeland and in the diaspora face an identity conflict, feeling torn between East and West. Here a few critical remarks are in order. Situating Tatars in a framework which inevitably evokes Huntington’s theory does not seem to do justice to the evidence emerging from the rich materials presented by the chapters and to the complexities of contemporary Tatar identity. Throughout the book the author is at pains to provide as many details as possible which, together with the sometimes confusing structure of the individual chapter (especially Chapter I), result in a style which is not always reader–friendly. Furthermore, the English language editing could have been done more thoroughly. In spite of this, the study is a pioneering, interdisciplinary work which sheds new light on the history of the Türk-Tatar diaspora in the Far East prior to World War II and is of interest to diaspora specialists and students of Tatar history.

Ildikó Bellér-Hann

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Reshit Shamkayev (Shamkay) Hind Kizina

Рәшит Шамкаев(Шамкай) - hинд кызына.
Reshit Shamkayev (Shamkay) Hind Kizina
"To a Hindu Girl"

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Shustov paints Ivan

Tsar Ivan III (1440-1505) Tearing the Deed of Tatar Khan

Nikolai Semenovich Shustov 1862 (oil on canvas)