Kriashen Tatars - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Before 1930 the Kriashens tended to rely on a wooden plow ( saban ); iron plows were slowly being introduced by that time. Until 1930 the Kriashens practiced subsistence-level agriculture, which consisted primarily of rye and wheat cultivation. This cultivation was supplemented by vegetable and fruit growing and by raising sheep, pigs, cattle, horses, and poultry. Agriculture was marginally supplemented by fishing and gathering, and, to a smaller degree, by hunting. The collectivization of the Kriashen villages in the early 1930s undoubtedly had a detrimental effect on overall food production in these villages. The Kriashen diet consisted chiefly of bread supplemented by vegetables and of meat consumed during festivals involving sacrifices. It appears that dairy products were important in the Kriashen diet. Certain dishes, such as porridge ( butga ) and fish pies, had an important ritual significance.

Industrial Arts. The material for the manufacture of most utensils, furniture, and tools was wood. As with the Islamic Tatars, many Kriashens were accomplished leatherworkers. Clothes and rugs were woven by the villagers.

Trade. Until 1930 money was not the main medium of exchange in Kriashen villages. Consequently, trade was not a major facet of the Kriashen economy. Nonetheless, it seems that there were markets in the Kriashen villages, and incomes were supplemented by the sale of surplus handicrafts and agricultural produce.

Division of Labor. In traditional Kriashen society much of the outdoor agricultural work such as plowing, certain crafts, metalworking, and fishing and hunting was done by men. Food preparation, weaving, gathering, and much of the harvesting was done by women. Daughters-in-law living with their husband's family performed a disproportionately large share of the household chores. The first sowing of the year was usually done by the senior member of the family.

Land Tenure. Little is known regarding Kriashen land tenure before their enserfment in the eighteenth century, except that Russian tax registers seem to indicate that plots, to some extent, were owned communally. After the emancipation of 1861 land was owned by the village commune and was periodically redistributed among the villagers. From 1905 until collectivization in 1930 land was under private ownership.


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