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Tatars ( Tatar татарлар ), out of date also Tartars , has been a collective name for various, predominantly Islamic , Turkic peoples and population groups in the ancient Turkish sources ( Orkhon runes ) since the end of Late Antiquity and since the European Middle Ages .

Due to the linguistic affiliation to today's Turkic peoples, the Tatars are also variously referred to as törk tatarları (Tatar) as well as turk tatarları ( Turkish ), which can be translated as " Turko-Tatars ".

In Europe, the troops of the Mongol Empire and the Golden Horde from the late 12th to the early 16th centuries were referred to as Tatars, often also called Tartars.

Today this name is used for various related peoples, often with geographic attribution. In Russia the ethnonym Tatars is mainly used for a Turkic people who live in many parts of Eurasia , especially in the Russian republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan .

The spread of the Turko Tatars

Tatars - a name for many peoples

The name "Tatars" is used in many different contexts. So were and are called Tatars:

At the time of Geng Khan only two clans of eastern Mongolia were counted among the Tatars:

“Abroad, both in the Islamic as well as in the West, their name was used for the Mongols. They also initially consisted of two clans, the Ari'ut and the Buiru'ut. Lying far to the east, they were neighbors of the Chinese Empire and counted among the Mongols' hereditary enemies. Yesugai, Genghis Khan's father, was poisoned by them. Hence his war slogan that they killed their Mongolian ancestors. Together with Jamucha, whom they had joined, she was exterminated by Genghis Khan (1202). "

Incorrect designation of the Mongols in Europe as Tartars

The Mongolian troops , which first invaded Europe in the 1220s under the Great Khan Genghis Khan , were referred to as Tartars in some sources. (According to Tartaros , Tatar peoples in Europe were sometimes also referred to as "Tartars", as it was assumed that they came straight from hell. The Mongols under Genghis Khan and his successors were also later called that way.) Already in the Chronica Maiora of Matthew Paris , the only halfway comprehensive European primary source on the Mongol Empire, this equality is clarified as an error (probably made by the French King Louis IX ). The US-American historian David O. Morgan and the British historian Peter Jackson see the origin of this "mistake" in the attempt of western chroniclers to corrupt the Mongols, who are regarded as particularly cruel, as "coming from Tartarus". The Austrian historian Johannes Gießauf points out that the Tatar people were almost completely exterminated by the Mongols under Genghis Khan and that the minor remains were assimilated by the Mongols; The Tatars were therefore in fact among the first victims of the Mongol conquests, which lasted from the late 12th century to the early 16th century.

Subdivisions of the Tatars (in the narrower sense)

  • The approximately 50,000 Astrakhan Tatars live on the lower reaches of the Volga in the area of ​​the former Astrakhan Khanate . They were close to the nomadic tradition of the Nogai Tatars until the 20th century and are generally regarded as belonging to them. They originally come from the White-Nogai Horde .
  • The Volga-Ural Tatars live mainly in the Tatar heartland on the Volga and the foothills of the Urals ( see also: Volga Bulgarians , Kazan Khanate ). They differ once again into different, sometimes geographically separate, subgroups with sometimes different dialects.
  • The Siberian Tatars live in islands scattered throughout western Siberia and are divided into numerous other sub-groups ( Tobol Tatars , Tumen Tatars , Baraba Tatars, etc.). They are descendants of the core population of the Sibir Khanate . Some adhere to natural religions.
  • The Crimean Tatars are a Turkic-speaking ethnic group. Their language, Crimean Tatar, is one of the northwest Turkish languages. Today you are counted among the Turkic peoples.
  • The Lipka Tatars in Poland , Lithuania and Belarus no longer speak Tatar and define their Tatarism primarily through the Islamic faith.
  • The Finland Tatars are close to the Lipka Tatars and are Muslims.
  • The Crimean Chaks of Turkic origin are a Turkic-speaking minority of Jewish faith based in Crimea. They belong to the Talmudic school of Judaism. The Crimean Chak language is almost extinct.
  • The Caucasus Tatars are now assigned to the Balkars , Karachayers and Kumyks . This term replaced the earlier term "Mountain Tatars".
  • The Tatar-speaking Greek Orthodox Urum often count themselves to the ethnic group of the Greeks; however, some emphasize their Tatar roots (Mariupol area, Ukraine).

(The figures for Astrakhan, Qasim and Mishar are based on estimates based on older figures.)


The number of Tatars was controversial for a long time and they never received their own union republic , although they were once the state coat of arms of the USSR as one of the six nations linguistically represented.

In the 1989 census of the Soviet Union , a total of 6,648,700 people stated to be Tatars. Of these, 5,552,000 lived in what was then the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic . The Tatar proportion of the population in the then ASSR Tatarstan (1989) was 1,765,400 and in the neighboring ASSR Bashkirs 1,120,700 Tatars.

It is currently assumed that the number of Tatars worldwide is around 8 million. The last census in Russia (2010) showed that 5,310,649 Tatars live there. Among these were 34,822 Kryaschen (Keräschen), 786 Mishars and 6,779 Siberian Tatars.


The actual Tatars (also called "Turko-Tatars") are regarded as descendants of a mixture of Volga-Bulgarians and Kipchaks with "Tataro-Mongols" (Turkomongols). Their real story begins with the Golden Horde in the 13th century. They were the core population of the khanates (principalities) of Kazan , Astrakhan , Kasimov, Sibir and the khanate of Crimea .

After the disintegration of the Golden Horde of the Mongolian Empire , the Kazan Khanate was formed in 1437 as the first Turkic-Tatar successor state; however, it was conquered, occupied and incorporated by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 . Already in the 16th century almost all settlement areas of the Tatars belonged to Russia. These clashes between the Kazan Tatars and the Russians are known as the Moscow-Kazan Wars . When Ivan the Terrible conquered Kazan , major non-Russian territories fell into the Moscow Empire for the first time . Because it was the first city to be conquered in the territory of the people of a different faith, Kazan played a key role in missionary activity throughout the Russian East. Three years after the conquest, it was elevated to an archbishopric in 1555 . Within the Russian hierarchy, he was awarded third place in the ranking after Moscow and Novgorod .

Despite the support of the entire Russian Church, Christianization among the Tatars was neither successful nor consistent. Again and again there were violent rebellions of the Muslim Tatars against the massively funded proselytizing . Economic and social privileges should prevent the baptized Tatars (Keräschen) from falling back to Islam . 40 years after the conquest of Kazan, Metropolitan Germogen gave Tsar Fyodor a rather negative assessment of the missionary work to date. In 1593 the tsar then ordered a tougher pace in proselytizing: cruel punishments for relapsing into Islam, resettlement, destruction of mosques and other measures were intended to make the acceptance of Christianity more attractive. By the end of the 18th century, the list of economic and social disadvantages for Muslims and the privileges of the baptized was constantly expanded. One of the most far-reaching consequences of this policy was the Christianization and Russification of the Tatar upper class. They were the ancestors of a significant part of the Russian nobility .

At the end of the 18th century, the Russian Empress Catherine II changed her policy towards the Muslim subjects of the tsarist empire: She tried to integrate them by accommodating them. Katharina created the “Spiritual Assembly for the Muslims of Russia” in Orenburg, which was directly under the control of the Russian authorities and, as the highest authority, was responsible for all religious matters. In the 19th century, the Islamic reform movement of Jadidism (from Arabic jadid 'new' ) emerged among the Tatars , which spread Enlightenment ideas among the Tatars and Bashkirs of the Volga region.

In 1920 Tatarstan was proclaimed an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) within the Soviet Union by the Soviet-Russian Communist Bolsheviks .

During the Second World War , the population structure of the Volga-Ural region changed: after the German attack on the Soviet Union, many residents of the western regions of the Soviet Union were evacuated to the Urals and the Volga region, so that Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians in large numbers to Tatarstan and Bashkiria came. In 1990 the republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan declared their sovereignty and since then both areas have been trying to achieve the greatest possible independence without leaving the Russian Federation entirely.

Well-known Tatars

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Stephan Theilig: Historical conceptions of corporeality. Frank & Timme, 2011, ISBN 978-3-86596-333-8 , p. 109, limited preview in the Google book search - Tartars, derived from the Greek Tartaros , meaning "those who come from hell". The self-name was mistakenly distorted with a similar-sounding term.
  2. Hans Leicht (ed.): Dschinghis Khan. Conqueror, tribal chief, thought leader. Albatros, Düsseldorf 2002, appendix “The most important inner-Asian steppe peoples of the Zeut Dschings Khans”, p. 252
  3. Jack Weatherford: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. Minnesota 2004, p. 14.
  4. ^ JJ Saunders: Matthew Paris and the Mongols. Toronto 1968, p. 124.
  5. ^ David O. Morgan: The Mongols. Oxford 1986, p. 57.
  6. Peter Jackson: Tughluk Temür. In The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition, p. 705.
  7. Johannes Gießauf: Mongolia. Graz, 2001, p. 57.
  8. Р. К. Уразманова, С. В. Чешко: Татары . In: Российская академия наук Академия наук Татарстана Институт этнологии институт иситории и антрополот. Н. Н. Миклухо-Маклая (Ed.): « Народы и культуры » . Наука, Moscow 2001, ISBN 5-02-008724-6 , pp. 583 .
  9. Информационные материалы об окончательных итогах Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года. In: . Rosstat, accessed August 13, 2020 (Russian).
  10. Cf. Aktschura Oglu Yusuf: The current situation of the Mohammedan Turko-Tatars in Russia and their efforts. 1915.
  11. ^ Mathias Brüggmann: Foresight rules the northernmost outpost of Islam. In: . January 11, 1996, accessed December 31, 2014 .

Web links

Commons : Tatar costumes  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Tatar  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • The Tartars - report by the radio station "Voice of Russia"