This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (January 2018)
|approx. 2 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Turkic peoples, closest to Nogais, also to Kyrgyzes, Kazakhs, Karakalpaks and Volga Tatars|
The Bashkirs (; Bashkir: ?, romanized: Ba?qorttar, IPA: [bqort't?r]; Russian: ?, pronounced [b'k?ir?]) are a Kipchak Turkic ethnic group, indigenous to Russia. They are concentrated in Bashkortostan, a republic of the Russian Federation, and in the broader historical region of Badzhgard, which spans both sides of the Ural Mountains,where Eastern Europe meets North Asia. Smaller communities of Bashkirs also live in the Republic of Tatarstan, the oblasts of Perm Krai, Chelyabinsk, Orenburg, Tyumen, Sverdlovsk and Kurgan, and other regions in Russia; sizable minorities exist in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Most Bashkirs speak the Bashkir language, an endangered languages closely related to the Tatar and Kazakh languages, which belong to the Kipchak branch of the Turkic languages; they share historical and cultural affinities with the broader Turkic peoples. Bashkirs are mainly Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi madhhab faith, following the Jadid doctrine. Previously nomadic and fiercely independent, the Bashkirs gradually came under Russian rule beginning in the 16th century; they have since played a major role through the history of Russia, culminating in their autonomous status within the Russian Empire, Soviet Union, and post-Soviet Russia.
The etymology and indeed meaning of the endonym Bashqort has been for a long time under discussion.
The name of the people of Bashkort has been known since the 10th century, most researchers etymologize the name as "main/leader/head" (bash) + "wolf" (qort, old archaic word for the animal), thus "wolf-leader" (from the totemic hero ancestor). The folk interpretation of the name suggests an etymology related to the legend regarding the migration of the first seven Bashkir tribes from the Syr-Darya valley to the Volga-Ural region. The legend relates that the Bashkirs, who dwelled in the arid Syr-Darya, were committed to the Goddess of Fertility of Tengrism, (referred as "Omay-äsä" or also "Umay" in most sources), Umay, in order to reward them for their loyality, decided to donate them a prosperous, green, fertile land, protected by the legendary Ural mountains (in alignement with the famous Bashkir epic poem "Ural-Batyr"), a wolf was sent to guide these tribes to their promised land, therefore the tribes followed the wolf, thus "Bash-qort" ("Head/Lead(ing)" + "Wolf"). The 18th-century ethnographers V. N. Tatishchev, P. I. Richkov, and Johann Gottlieb Georgi, seem to agree with this interpretation.
Other theories have been formulated in the years, but none of them seems to have some kind of folk foundation unlike the most prominent theory:
The formation of the Bashkir people was played by Turkic tribes of South Siberian Central Asian origin, who, before migrating to the Southern Urals, wandered for a considerable time in the Aral-Syr Darya steppes [modern day central-southern Kazakhstan], coming into contact with the Pecheneg-Oghuz and Kimak-Kipchak tribes. Therefore it is possible to note that the Bashkir people originates from the same tribes which compose the modern Kazakhs, Kyrgyzes and Nogais, but there has been a considerable cultural and a small ethnic exchange with Oghuz tribes.
The migration to the valley of the Southern Urals happened between the end of the 9th century and the beginning of the 10th century, in parallel to the great Kipchak migration to the north.
The first report about Bashkirs might have been found in the Chinese chronicle Book of Sui: around 40 Turkic Tiele tribes were named (636 AD) in "A Narration about the Tiele people"; Bashkirs might have included within that narration: if the tribal name (Mandarin B?g?n < Middle Chinese ZS: *pi?X-k?n) were read as (B?qi?n < *pi?Xt?s?en), according to Chinese scholar Rui Chuanming
In the 7th century, Bashkirs are also mentioned in "Ashkharatsuyts".
However these citations may refer to the precursors of the Kipchak Bashkir tribes who wandered in the Aral-Syr Darya region before the migration. The Book of Sui might be speaking about the precursors of these tribes when the Turkic peoples were still wandering in southern Siberia.
From the 9th century, during the migration of the Bashkirs to the Volga-Ural, the first Arab and Persian written reports about Bashkirs commence. These include reports by Sallam al-Tardzhuman (9th century).
In the 12th century, Said Al-Andalusi and Muhammad al-Idrisi mentioned the Bashkirs. The 13th-century authors Ibn Sa'id al-Maghribi, Yaqut al-Hamawi and Qazvini and the 14th-century authors Al-Dimashqi and Abu'l-Fida wrote about Bashkirs.
The traveller Sallam an at-Tardzhuman visited Bashkir lands and wrote in circa 840 the first written Arab source on the Bashkirs and a rough description of its borders. In the 10th century, Persian Abu Zayd al-Balkhi (10th century) described Bashkirs as a people divided into two groups: One inhabiting the Southern Urals, the other living on the Danube plain near the boundaries of Byzantium.[A 1] Ibn Rustah, a contemporary of Abu Zayd al-Balkhi, observed that Bashkirs were an independent people occupying territories on both sides of the Ural mountains ridge between Volga, Kama, and Tobol Rivers and upstream of the Yaik river.
Ahmad ibn Fadlan, ambassador of the Baghdad Caliph Al-Muqtadir to the governor of Volga Bulgaria, wrote the first ethnographic description of the Bashkir in 922. The Bashkirs, according to Ibn Fadlan, were a warlike and powerful people, which he and his companions (a total of five thousand people, including military protection) "bewared... with the greatest threat". They were described as engaged in cattle breeding. According to ibn Fadlan, the Bashkirs worshipped twelve gods: winter, summer, rain, wind, trees, people, horses, water, night, day, death, heaven and earth, and the most prominent, the sky god. Apparently, Islam had already begun to spread among the Bashkirs, as one of the ambassadors was a Muslim Bashkir. According to the testimony of Ibn Fadlan, the Bashkirs were Turks, living on the southern slopes of the Urals, and occupying a vast territory up to the river Volga. They were bordered by Oghuz Turks on the south, Pechenegs to the south-east and Bulgars on the west.
By 1236, Genghis Khan had incorporated the lands of Bashkortostan were incorporated into his empire. During the 13th and 14th centuries, all of Bashkortostan was a component of the Golden Horde. The brother of Batu-Khan, Sheibani, received the Bashkir lands east of the Ural Mountains.
In the middle of the 16th century, Bashkirs were gradually conquered by the Tsardom of Russia. Primary documents pertaining to the Bashkirs during this period have been lost, although some are mentioned in the shezhere (family trees) of the Bashkir.
During the Russian Imperial period, Russians and Tatars began to migrate to Bashkortostan which led to eventual demographic changes in the region. The recruitment of Bashkirs into the Russian army and having to pay steep taxes pressured many Bashkirs to adopt a more settled lifestyle and to slowly abandon their ancient nomadic pastoralist past.
In the late 16th and early 19th centuries, Bashkirs occupied the territory from the river Sylva in the north; to the river heads of Tobol in the east; the mid-stream of the river Yaik in the south; in the Middle and Southern Urals, the Cis-Urals including Volga territory and Trans-Uralsto; and the eastern bank of the river Volga on the south-west.
The Bashkirs participated in the 1662-64, 1681-84 and 1704-11 Rebellions. In 1676, the Bashkirs rebelled under a leader named Seyid Sadir or 'Seit Sadurov', and the Russian army had great difficulties in ending the rebellion. The Bashkirs rose again in 1707, under Aldar and Kûsyom, due to perceived ill-treatment by Imperial Russian officials.
At the founding of Orenburg in 1735, the fourth insurrection occurred in 1735 and lasted six years. Ivan Kirillov formed a plan to build the fort to be called Orenburg at Orsk at the confluence of the Or River and the Ural River, south-east of the Urals where the Bashkir, Kalmyk and Kazakh lands met. Work on Fort Orenburg commenced at Orsk in 1735. However, by 1743 'Orenburg' was moved a further 250 km west to its current location. The next planned construction was to be a fort on the Aral Sea. The consequence of the Aral Sea fort would involve crossing Bashkir and the Kazakh Lesser Horde lands, some of whom had recently offered a nominal submission to the Russian Crown.
In 1774, the Bashkirs, under the leadership of Salavat Yulayev, supported Pugachev's Rebellion. In 1786, the Bashkirs achieved tax-free status; and in 1798 Russia formed an irregular Bashkir army from among them.
During the Napoleonic Wars, many Bashkirs served as mercenaries in the Russian army to defend from the French invaders during Napoleon's invasion of Russia.  Subsequently, the Bashkir battalions were the most notable fighters during the Napoleonic wars on the north German and Dutch plateau. The Dutch and the Germans called the Bashkirs "Northern Amurs", probably because the population was not aware of who the Bashkirs actually were or where they came from, therefore the usage of "Amurs" in the name may be associated to a reference of something or someone coming from far away; these battalions were considered as the liberators from the French, however modern Russian military sources do not give credit to the Bashkirs for these accomplishments. These regiments also served in Battle of Paris and the subsequent occupation of France by the coalition forces.
After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the All-Bashkir Qoroltays (convention) concluded that it was necessary to form an independent Bashkir republic within Russia. As a result, on 15 November 1917, the Bashkir Regional (central) Shuro (Council), ruled by the notorious Äxmätzäki Wälidi T?w?an proclaimed the establishment of the first independent Bashkir Republic in areas of predominantly Bashkir population: Orenburg, Perm, Samara, Ufa provinces and the autonomous entity Bashkurdistan on November 15, 1917. This effectively makes Bashkortostan the first ever democratic Turkic republic in history.
In March 1919, the Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was formed based on agreements of the Russian Government.
On October 11, 1990, Declaration of State Sovereignty by the Supreme Council of the Republic was proclaimed. On March 31, 1992 Bashkortostan signed a federal agreement on the delimitation of powers and areas of jurisdiction and the nature of contractual relations between the authorities of the Russian Federation and the authorities of the sovereign republics in its composition including the Republic of Bashkortostan.
The modern Bashkirs have an average of approximately 60% "West-Eurasian/European" and 40% "Siberian/East-Asian" genetic material.
Genetic studies have revealed Y-DNA haplogroups the dominant frequency for Bashkir males is the haplogroup R1b (R-M269 and R-M73) which is, on average, 47.6%. The Y-DNA haplogroup R-M269 (R1b1a2) is the most common European haplogroup, greatly increasing in frequency on a West to East its prevalence in Wales at 92.3% to Poland estimated at 22.7%.
The second most dominant is the haplogroup R1a at an average frequency of 26,5%, and third the haplogroup N1c at 17%. Despite the Bashkirs being considered a Turkic peoples, DNA haplogroups R1a and R1b are majority shared with Indo-Europeans.
Most mtDNA haplogroups of the Bashkirs (60-65%) consist of the haplogroups G, D, ?, Z and F; which are lineages characteristic of East-Eurasian populations. On the other hand, mtDNA haplogroups characteristic of European and Near Eastern populations were found in significant amounts (35-40%). Immunogeneticist Suslova commented in 2015 that:
The Bashkirs appear close to Mongoloids in allele and haplotype distribution. However, Bashkirs cannot be labelled either as typical Mongoloids or as Caucasoids. Thus, Bashkirs possess some alleles and haplotypes frequent in Mongoloids, which supports the Turkic impact on Bashkir ethnogenesis, but also possess the AH 8.1 haplotype, which could evidence an ancient Caucasoid population that took part in their ethnic formation... Bashkirs showed no features of populations with a substantial Finno-Ugric component, for example, Chuvashes or Russian Saami. This disputes the commonly held belief of a Finno-Ugric origin for Bashkirs...-- Suslova et al. 2015, International Journal of Immunogenetics
The Bashkirs are characterized by East-Asian admixture, which dates from the 13th century, according to an analysis of the identical-by-descent segments.
A group of Bashkirs from the Burzyansky and Abzelilovsky districts of the Republic of Bashkortostan in the Volga-Ural region who belong to the R1a subclade R-SUR51 are the closest kin of the Hungarian Árpád dynasty, from which got separated 2000 years ago.
The Russian census of 2010 recorded 1,152,404 Bashkir speakers in the Russian Federation. Bashkir language is native to 1 133 339 Bashkirs (71,7% of the total number of Bashkirs, reporting mother tongue). The Tatar language was reported as native tongue to 230,846 Bashkirs (14,6%) and Russian language, as the native tongue to 216 066 Bashkir (13,7%). Most Bashkirs are bilingual in Bashkir and Russian.
The first appearance of a "Bashkir" language is dated back to the 9th century AD, in the form of stone inscription using a Runic alphabet, most likely, this alphabet derives from the Yenisei variant of the old Turkic runic script. This archaic version of a Bashkir language would be more or less a dialect of the proto-Kipchak language, however, since then, the Bashkir language has been through a series of vowel and consonant shifts, which are a result of a common literary history shared with the Idel Tatar language since the formation of the Cuman-Kipchak confederation, when the Oghuric Volga Bulgars started to receive Kipchak Turkic influence and became the Idel Tatars, most likely between the 10th and 11th centuries.
From an ark of time of roughly 900 years, the Bashkir language and Idel Tatar language, previously being completely different languages, "melted" into a series of dialects of a common "Volga Kipchak" or "Volga Turki" language, the Idel Tatars and Bashkirs tough are and always were two peoples of completely different origins, cultures and identities, but because of a shared common literary history in an ark of 900 years, the two languages ended up in a common language, spoken in different dialects with features depending on the people which spoke them.
For example, the dialects spoken by Bashkirs, tend to have an accent which mostly resembles other Kipchak languages, like Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Nogai, Karakalpak, and many other languages of the Kipchak sub-group, while the dialects spoken by Idel Tatars, have accents more resembling the original Oghuric Volga-Bulgar language spoken before the Cuman invasion.
At the beginning of the 20th century, most notably during the Russian revolution, when Bashkortostan and Tatarstan became two different republics, the Bashkir and Idel Tatar language were defined as two separate literary languages, each of them based on the most distinct dialects of the Volga Kipchak language spoken by the Bashkir and Idel Tatar people.
The Cyrillic alphabet is the official alphabet used to write Bashkir.
The ethnic Bashkir population is estimated at roughly 2 million people (2009 SIL Ethnologue). The 2010 Russian census recorded 1,584,554 ethnic Bashkirs in Russia, of which 1,172,287 Bashkirs live in Bashkortostan (29.5% of the total population of the republic).
The Bashkirs traditionally practiced agriculture, cattle-rearing and bee-keeping. The half-nomadic Bashkirs wandered either the mountains or the steppes, herding cattle. Wild-hive beekeeping can be named as a separate component of the most ancient culture which is practiced in the same Burzyansky District near to the Kapova Cave.
Traditional Bashkir dish bishbarmaq is prepared from boiled meat and halma (a type of noodle), sprinkled with herbs flavored with onions and some qorot (young dry cheese). This is another notable feature of the Bashkir cuisine: dishes are often served with dairy products -- it is a rare party that is without qorot or qaymaq (sour cream). Most of the dishes in Bashkir cuisine are nutritious and easy to prepare.
The Bashkirs have created a rich folklore associated with their early period of history. In their works of their oral folk art, the views of ancient Bashkirs on nature, their worldly wisdom, psychology, moral ideals, social aspirations and creative imagination are artistically reflected into the modern Bashkir folklore. The genre composition of the Bashkir folk art is very diverse: epic and fairy tale, legends and traditions, riddles, songs (ritual, epic or only lyrical) etc.
The Bashkir poems, like the epic creations of other peoples, find origin in the ancient Turkic mythology, in fact the Bashkir epic tale culture can be considered a more developed and expanded version of old turkic epic culture. Majority of the poems of Bashkir mythology have been written down and published as books at the beginning of the 20th century, these poems compose a great part of the literature of the Bashkir people and are important examples of further-developed turkic culture.
Some of these poems became important on a continental level, for example the poem of the "Ural Batyr", which tells the tale of the legendary hero Ural, is the origin of the name of the Ural mountains, the natural border between Europe and Asia. Other poems constitute a great part of the Bashkir national identity, other tales apart from the Ural Batyr are "Aqbuzat", "Qara yurga", "Aqhaq qola", "Kongur buga", "Uzaq Tuzaq", and many others.
The poem Ural Batyr, has been developed with the inclusion of the pantheon of the old Turkic politheistic religion "Tengrism". It takes basis on the pre-Islamic Bashkir conception of the world. In the Ural batyr and pre-Islamic Bashkir folktale religion (which still constitute the basis of the modern Bashkir folk and literature) the world is three-tiered. It includes an heavenly, earthly and undergroundly (underwater) trinity: on the sky, the heavenly king Samrau resides, his wives are the Sun and the Moon, he has two daughters, Umay and Aikhylu, who are incarnated either in the form of birds or beautiful girls. In the Ural batyr, Umay is incarnated into a swan in fact, she later assumes the aspect of a beautiful girl as the story proceeds.
People live on the earth, the best of whom pledge honor and respect to the existence of nature. The third world is the underground world, where the Devas, or also singular, Deva or Div, live, incarnated as a snake, the incarnation of the dark forces, who live underground. As mentioned above, through the actions told in the Ural Batyr, the Bashkirs express their ideas on good and evil. This is how the legendary hero Ural, possessing titanic power, overcoming incredible difficulties, destroys the deva, and obtains "living water" (the idea of water in nature, in the pre-Islamic Bashkir panteon of the turkic mythology, is known as a spirit of life, thus the water is what gives life). Ural thus obtaining "Living water" in order to defeat death in the name of the eternal existence of man and nature. Ural did not drink the "living water", but instead of drinking it to live eternally, he decided to sparkle it around himself, died and donated eternity to the world, the withered earth turned green, Ural died and from his body, the Ural mountains originated.
The name of the Ural mountain range comes from this poem.
The Bashkirs have a style of overtone singing called özläü (sometimes spelled uzlyau; Bashkort ), which has nearly died out. In addition, Bashkorts also sing uzlyau while playing the kurai, a national instrument. This technique of vocalizing into a flute can also be found in folk music as far west as the Balkans and Hungary.
Bashkirs began converting to Islam in the 10th century. Arab traveler Ibn Fadlan in 921 met some of the Bashkirs, who were already Muslims. The final assertion of Islam among the Bashkirs occurred in the 1320s and 1330s during the Golden Horde period. The mausoleum of Hussein-Bek, the burial place of the first Imam of Historical Bashkortostan, is preserved in Bashkortostan. The mausoleum is a 14th-century building. Catherine the Great established the Orenburg Mohammedan Spiritual Assembly in 1788 in Ufa, which was the first Muslim administrative center in Russia.