Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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 Bashkir language, apparently a close relation of the Tatar language, but some authorities think that it stemmed from ethnically Finnic origins, later transformed by Tatar influence.
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. The people themselves did not use this name in the 10th century — it has its origins in a nickname.
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.
Some Bashkirs traditionally practiced agriculture, cattle-rearing and bee-keeping. The nomadic Bashkirs wandered either the mountains or the steppes, herding cattle.
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. They profess Sunni Islam.
- J. P. Carpini, Liber Tartarorum, edited under the title Relations des Mongols ou Tartares, by d'Avezac (Paris, 1838).
- Gulielmus de Rubruquis, The Journey of William of Rubruck to the Eastern Parts of the World, translated by V.W. Rockhill (London, 1900).
- Semenoff, Slovar Ross. Imp., s.v.
- Frhn, "De Baskiris", in Mrn. de l'Acad. de St-Pitersbourg (1822).
- Florinsky, in Вестник Европы [Vestnik Evropy] (1874).
- Katarinskij, Dictionnaire Bashkir-Russe (1900).
Bashkir news sites (in Russian)
- http://bashinform.ru/ (the official news site of the republic of Bashkortostan)
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