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(self-designation Bashqort), nation (natsiia; nation in the historical sense), indigenous population of the Bashkir ASSR. They also inhabit the Cheliabinsk, Orenburg, Kurgan, Perm’, Sverdlovsk, Kuibyshev, and Saratov oblasts. They speak the Bashkir language. Total population, 1,240,000 (1970 census), including 892,700 in the Bashkir ASSR. Bashkir believers are Muslim Sunnites.
The ethnogenesis of the Bashkirs is extremely complex. The Southern Urals and the surrounding steppes, where the formation of the people occurred, were for a long time areas of varied cultural and linguistic interaction. In the latter half of the first millennium B.C., the Sarmatians, Iranian-speaking cattle breeders, lived in the south, and hunting and farming tribes of the Ananino culture, ancestors of the Finno-Ugric peoples, lived in the north of Bashkiriia. In the first millennium A.D., Turkic nomads began to penetrate the Southern Urals, and by the end of the millennium they occupied all of Bashkiriia. The Turkic tribes, after driving out and partially assimilating the native inhabitants, apparently played a decisive role in the linguistic, cultural, and physical makeup of the Bashkirs. The first written records concerning the Bashkirs date from the ninth and tenth centuries. The formation of the main body of the people had very likely been completed by this time. The Oghuz-Pecheneg tribes, Volga-Kama Bulgars, and later the Kypchaks (11—13th centuries) and several Mongol tribes (13—14th centuries) all contributed to the ethnic composition of the Bashkirs. After the defeat of the Golden Horde, the Bashkirs came under the dominion of the Kazan, Nogai, and Siberian khanates. Annexation to the Muscovite State (1552–57), which put an end to tribal fractionation, furthered the solidarity of the Bashkir people.
The chief occupation of the Bashkirs in the past was nomadic cattle raising; hunting, apiculture, and handicrafts, including weaving, felt-making, the making of pileless carpets, embroidery, and leatherworking, were widespread. Between the 17th and 19th centuries the Bashkirs changed over to farming and a settled mode of life. Dwellings are predominantly of wood, wattle, and adobe construction, and in the past the eastern Bashkirs lived in felt yurts (tirme). Clothing was sewn from sheepskin, homespun, and purchased fabrics; various ornaments made of coral, beads, shells, and coins were common.
In present-day Bashkiria, which received national autonomy in 1919, heavy industry and highly mechanized agriculture were developed in the course of socialist construction. Fundamental changes have occurred in Bashkir living conditions. Major advances have been achieved in science and culture, a national intelligentsia has appeared, and a national literature and professional art have been created.
REFERENCESNarody Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow, 1964. (Bibliography.)
Arkheologiia i etnografiia Bashkirii, vols. 1–2. Ufa, 1962–64.
N. V. BIKBULATOV