The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a tribal alliance that existed from the fifth to 11th centuries along both banks of the Volga (extending approximately from present-day Syzran’ to Volgograd). The Burtasy were first mentioned by Arab authors in the tenth century and in Russian literary records of the 13th century. The chief occupations of the Burtasy were farming, livestock raising, hunting, and wild-hive beekeeping. They carried on trade in furs. The ethnic composition of the Burtasy has not yet been precisely determined. In the seventh century the tribal union of the Burtasy mobilized up to 10, 000 horsemen for raids against the Bulgars and Pechenegs. Beginning in the late seventh century the Burtasy came under the rule of the Khazar Khanate, and in the late tenth century they became vassals of Rus’. The Burtasy gradually lost their own ethnic identity after the arrival of the Polovtsy in the 11th century. The culture of the Burtasy apparently had some influence on the cultural formation of the Mishars and Mordvinians.


Zakhoder, B. N. Kaspiiskii svod svedenii o Vostochnoi Evrope, vol. 1. Moscow, 1962.
Alikhova, A. E. “K voprosu o burtasakh.” Sovetskaia etnografía, 1949, no. 1.
Smirnov, A. P. “K voprosu o burtasakh.” In the collection Kraevedcheskie zapiski (UVianovskii oblastnoi kraevedcheskii muzei), issue 2. Ulianovsk, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.