Siberian Tatars - Orientation

Identification. At the present time there are thought to be over 500,000 Tatars in Siberia. Of these only about 200,000 are Siberian Tatars, that is, those whose ancestors were living in western Siberia before the appearance of Russian immigrants at the end of the sixteenth century. (At the end of the seventeenth century there were 16,500 of them; at the end of the eighteenth, 28,500; and at the end of the nineteenth, 47,000.) The remaining Tatars of Siberia are more recent immigrants, plus their descendants from the Volga and Ural regions (Kazan Tatars, Mishers, Kryashen Tatars, and other groups of European Tatars). In the twentieth century, some of these have also begun to be labeled "Sibtatars."

The aboriginal Siberian Tatars consist of three large ethnic groups, each of which has further subdivisions. The Tomsk Tatars are composed of the Kalmaks, the Chats, and the Eushta. They live along the Tomi and Ob rivers in the Tomsk District, and, in part, in the Kemerovsk and Novosibirsk districts. Among the Barabinsk Tatars, scholars have recently distinguished the following subgroups: the Barabo-Turashi, the Terenino-Choi, and the Liubei-Tunusy. They are settled in the Barabinsk steppe and the Novosibirsk region. The most numerous group, the Tobolo-Irtysh, consists of the Tars, Kurdak-Sargatsk, Tobolsk, Tiumen, and Iaskolbin Tatars. They live in the basins of the Irtysh and Tobol rivers in the Omsk and Tyumensk districts of Russia.

Among the Siberian Tatars there were yet other tugums (genealogical groups), including Kuyan (Rabbit), Torna (Crane), Pulmukh (Dull-witted), Chungur and Shagir (personal names), Sart, Kurchak, and Nugai. For the Siberian Tatars over 250 ethnonyms have been used, including clan, tribal, and tugum designations.

Soviet scholars concur on the multiethnic composition of all groups of Siberian Tatars. In the most general sense the ethnogenesis of the Siberian Tatars was through the mixture of Ugric, Samoyed, Turk, and, to a lesser degree, Iranian and Mongolian tribes and peoples. The Ugric group (ancestors of the Hungarians, Mansi, and Khanty) and the Turkic-speaking Kipchaks were central to the formation of the Barabansk and Tobolo-Irtysh Tatars, as the Samoyeds (ancestors of the Nentsy and the Selkups) and the Kipchaks were to the coalescence of the Tomsk Tatars. The penetration of Turkic-speaking peoples into the territory of the western Siberian plain from the Altai and Sayan has been fixed as occurring between the fifth and seventh centuries; the increase in the influx of Turkic groups from Central Asia and Kazakhstan is thought to have occurred from the eleventh to the twelfth centuries.

Thus, by the fourteenth century the basic ethnic constituents of the Siberian Tatars were already in place. Another stratum of the Siberian Tatars were the Siberian Bukharians, composed of Uzbeks, Tajiks, and, to a lesser extent, of Kazakhs, Turkmens, and others who migrated from Central Asia to western Siberia from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

In the second half of the nineteenth century and the first third of the twentieth, Tatars from the Volga and west of the Urals—basically Kazan Tatars and Mishars—settled in communities of Siberian Tatars.

Linguistic Affiliation. The language of the Siberian Tatars is part of the Northwest Kipchak Group of the Turkic Branch of the Altaic Language Family. It is distinct from the language of the Volga Tatars and consists of three dialects: Baraban, Tobol-Irtysh, and Tomsk. Within the Tobol-Irtysh dialect scholars have distinguished the Zabolotny, Tobol, Tiumen, Tar, and Tevriz forms of speech, and within the Tomsk dialect, the Kalmak and Chat-Eushtin forms of speech.

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