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(self-designation Taulu, Mallqarlï), a people inhabiting mainly the southern and southwestern parts of the Kabarda-Balkar ASSR. A small number of Balkars live in the Kirghiz and Kazakh SSR’s. The population is 42,000 (1959). They speak Karachai-Balkar. Religious Balkars are Sunnite Muslims.
The ethnogenesis of the Balkars has not yet been finally clarified. They are thought to have been formed from the merging of indigenous tribes of the northern Caucasus with alien Iranian-speaking and Turkic-speaking tribes (Alani, Bulgars, Khazars, and so on; especially the Kipchaks). After the Mongol invasion (13th century) the ancestors of the Balkars were driven back into the mountain gorges of the central Caucasus, where they later formed five large “societies” (Balkar, Khulam, Bezengi, Chegem, and Urusbiev). In the second half of the 19th century some of the Balkars again settled in the lowlands. Before the October Revolution the Balkars were primarily engaged in cattle breeding and herding, and secondarily in farming. In the years of Soviet power the Balkars, having received national autonomy, developed a highly mechanized collective farming economy (agriculture and animal husbandry) in the course of socialist construction; a considerable portion of them are employed in industry. Much cultural development has been achieved; a people who did not have their own writing system prior to the October Revolution have created a national intelligentsia. In late 1943 and early 1944, as a result of a violation of socialist law, the Balkars were resettled in different areas of Middle Asia and Kazakhstan. On Jan. 9, 1957, an ukase was issued by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR restoring national autonomy to the Balkar people; the Kabarda-Balkar ASSR was reestablished. The authorized perversions of Leninist principles on national policy were corrected. Almost all of the Balkars returned to their native provinces, where conditions were recreated for their overall development.
REFERENCESNarody Kαv kaza, vol. 1. Moscow, 1960.
Ocherki istorii balkarskogo naroda. Nal’chik, 1961.
Alekseeva, E. P. Karachaevtsy ibalkartsy—drevnii narod Kavkaza. Cherkessk, 1963.
Zasedaniia Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR chetvertogo sozyva, shestaia sessiia (5–12 fevralia, 1957). Stenograficheskii otchet.[Moscow, 1957.] Pages 576–77, 743–44.
G. KH. MAMBETOV