Tuva Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tuva Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic


(Tyva Avtonomnung Sovet Sotsialisticheskaia Respublika), Tuva (Tyva), part of the RSFSR. Formed as an autonomous oblast on Oct. 13,1944, and reorganized as an ASSR on Oct. 10,1961. The Tuva ASSR is located in southeastern Siberia in the region of the upper reaches of the Enisei River; its southern and southeastern borders adjoin the Mongolian People’s Republic. Area, 170,500 sq km. Population, 253,000 (1975). The Tuva ASSR is divided into 13 raions and has five cities and three urban-type settlements. Its capital is the city of Kyzyl.

Government. The Tuva ASSR is a socialist state of the whole people that expresses the will and interests of workers, peasants, and intelligentsia, people of all nationalities; an autonomous soviet socialist republic. Its present constitution was adopted on May 31,1978, by the Extraordinary Eighth Session of the Fourth Convocation of the Supreme Soviet of the Tuva ASSR. The highest organs of the state power are the unicameral Supreme Soviet of the Tuva ASSR, consisting of 130 deputies elected for five-year terms by equally populated electorates, and the Presidium. The Supreme Soviet forms the republic’s government, the Council of Ministers. The Tuva ASSR is represented by 11 deputies in the Soviet of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. The local organs of state power are raion, city, settlement, and village soviets of people’s deputies, whose members are elected by the population for 2V2 year terms.

The Supreme Soviet of the Tuva ASSR elects the members of the republic’s Supreme Court (comprising a criminal and a civil division), who serve for five years, and the Presidium of the Supreme Court. The procurator of the Tuva ASSR is appointed by the procurator general of the USSR for a term of five years.

Natural features. Tuva is located in the center of Asia, where the Siberian and Central Asian landscapes meet. A mountainous region with alternating high ranges and deep basins, Tuva is notable for the diversity and richness of its natural environment and resources.

The dominant landform of the republic’s western and central areas is the Tuva Basin, which is surrounded by the Zapadnyi Saian, Shapshal, Tsagan-Shibetu, and Tannu-Ola ranges and the Vostochnaia Tuva Highlands. Southwest of the Tsagan-Shibetu Range stands the highest massif in Tuva, the Mungun-Taiga (3,970 m). Located in the eastern, most elevated part of the republic are the southwestern slopes of the Vostochnyi Saian Range along with the Todzha Basin, the Vostochnaia Tuva Highlands (which contain the Akademik Obruchev Range), and the Sangilen Highland. Mineral resources include coal, asbestos, iron ore, gold, mercury, ores of nonferrous and rare metals, and various building materials.

The climate is sharply continental. The winters are characterized by extreme cold and lack of wind, with little snow in the basins. The summers are moderately warm in the mountains and hot in the basins. The average temperature for January ranges from –28° to –35°C, and the average for July ranges from 15° to 20°C. Annual precipitation in the basins amounts to 150–400 mm (200–220 mm in the Tuva Basin and 350–400 mm in the Todzha Basin); in mountainous regions it ranges from 400–600 mm to 800–1,000 mm. Maximum precipitation occurs during the summer. In the principal crop-raising regions the frost-free period lasts from 90 to 116 days, and the growing season lasts from 150 to 160 days. Much of Tuva is covered by areas of permafrost.

Almost all Tuva’s rivers are located in the Enisei River basin. The most important rivers are the Ulug-Khem, or Verkhnii Enisei; the Khemchik, a left tributary of the Ulug-Khem; and the two sources of the Enisei, the Bii-Khem and the Ka-Khem. Located in the southern part of the republic is the Tes-Khem River, which flows into the undrained lake Ubsu-Nur. Most of the rivers are mountain rivers, which represent a considerable hydroelectric power resource; the potential capacity is approximately 8 gigawatts.

Lakes that are primarily of glacial and glacial-tectonic origin are located in the Todzha Basin (Noion-Khol’, Todzha, Many-Khol’, and others) and in the mountains of western Tuva (Khin-diktig-Khol’, Kara-Khol’, and Sut-Khol’). The Tuva Basin contains the drainage lake Chagytai and the undrained saline lakes Khadyn and Cheder, which are a source of solar salt. In addition to the lake Ubsu-Nur, which is located in the Mongolian People’s Republic, the Ubsu-Nur Basin contains the freshwater lake Tere-Khol’.

Approximately 50 carbonate thermal springs (arshans) are known to exist; they are located primarily in the east.

The soil cover is extremely varied, as are the flora and fauna; this diversity is a result of the mountainous relief and Tuva’s location between the Mongolian semideserts and the boreal regions of Siberia. Steppe vegetation on chestnut and chernozem soils predominates in the basins; on the slopes of the surrounding mountain ranges and in the eastern part of the republic cedar-larch taiga is found on mountain-forest (gray) and mountain-taiga soils. Cedar forests occupy more than 3 million hectares (ha) and make up 11 percent of the cedar forests in the RSFSR. Pine forests grow in the basins on sandy soils, and poplar forests occur in the valleys of the major rivers; thickets of sea buckthorn are widespread in the Khemchik Basin. Altitudinal zonation is well defined in the republic’s mountains, which contain a belt of mountain steppe and forest steppe (elevations to 1,000–1,200 m) and of mountain-forest steppe (1,000 to 2,200 m). Mountain forests occupy approximately one-half the republic’s area. The tops of most of the mountain ranges located in the high-mountain belt are covered by moss-lichen and stony-cobble tundra and, occasionally, by meadows.

The mountain taiga regions are inhabited by sables, squirrels, Siberian weasels, ermines, blue hares, wolverines, lynx, and brown bears; the ungulates include elk, roe deer, musk deer, marals, and wild boars. The bird population includes hazel hens, black grouse, capercaillies, bearded partridges, geese, and ducks. Fauna typical of the forest-steppe and steppe regions include foxes, wolves, polecats, and rodents, including Citellus undulatus and various species of the subfamily Microtinae. The southern areas of Tuva contain representatives of Central Asian fauna: Siberian bobacs, Daur hedgehogs, manuls, cape hares, corsacs, and others. The high-mountain belt is inhabited by mountain goats, creepers, ptarmigans, and willow grouse. Reindeer are found in eastern Tuva. Rivers and freshwater lakes contain taimen, lenok, whitefish, grayling, pike, and other fish. The sable and the muskrat have become acclimatized to Tuva.

Tuva contains seven sanctuaries: Azas, Balgazin, Tere-KhoP, Khutin, Khindiktig-Khol’, Cherbin, and Shan.


Population. According to the 1970 census, Tuva’s population includes Tuvinians (139,400), who constitute the basic population, Russians (88,400), and Khakass (2,100). The average density is 1.5 persons per sq km (1975). The population is distributed extremely unevenly over the republic, with the majority living in the intermontane basins and in the valleys. The most populous area is the Tuva Basin, which contains the cities of Kyzyl (57,000 inhabitants in 1976, that is, more than 20 percent of Tuva’s population), Shagonar, Chadan, and Ak-Dovurak and the settlements of Kyzyl-Mazhalyk, Khovu-Aksy, and Kaa-Khem. The urban population represents 40 percent of the total.

Historical survey. The oldest archaeological remains in Tuva date from the Upper Paleolithic. The Bronze Age saw the beginning of stock raising and mining. From the seventh to the third century B.C. stock raising and primitive metallurgy underwent further development, and a seminomadic way of life was adopted.

From the second century B.C. to the first century AD. Tuva was invaded by tribes related to the Huns. Beginning in the second century AD., the Hsien-pei tribal union ruled in Tuva; it was subsequently replaced by the Juan-juan. From the mid-sixth to the mid-eighth century Tuva was part of the Turkic Kaganate, which was destroyed in the mid-eighth century by the Uighurs. In the mid-ninth century the Uighurs were expelled by the Kirghiz (Kyrgyz). By the ninth century, feudal relations were dominant in the medieval state of the Kirghiz; these relations were complicated by vestiges of the patriarchal clan system. A feudal aristocracy emerged from among the nomads.

The Tuvinians developed from ancient indigenous tribes and from groups of Tugiu-Turks, Uighurs, and Kirghiz; in addition, some Mongolian tribes came to be turkicized and were assimilated by the Tuvinians.

In 1207 Tuva was conquered by Genghis Khan, and in the 13th and 14th centuries it was controlled by the Mongol Yuan dynasty, which ruled China. From the end of the 16th century to the mid-17th century Tuva was a part of the Western Mongolian state of the Altyn khans. During the 16th and 17th centuries Lamaism spread throughout Tuva and became the official religion of the feudal and administrative elite. At the end of the 17th century a considerable portion of Tuva was conquered by the Dzungarians, who were decisively defeated in 1757 by the Manchu.

From 1757 to 1912 Tuva was ruled by Manchu-Chinese feudal lords, whose yoke brought about spontaneous popular uprisings on several occasions. The largest revolt, which took place in the Khemchik River valley between 1883 and 1885, is known as the Uprising of the 60 Heroes. The national liberation movement of the Tuvinian arats (peasant herdsmen) put an end to the Manchu yoke in 1912.

In 1912 and 1913 many important Tuvinian feudal lords and officials repeatedly asked the Russian tsar to annex Tuva. In 1914, Tuva, which was referred to by the Russians as Uriankhai Krai, became a Russian protectorate. To a certain extent this change in status facilitated Tuva’s economic and cultural development and helped bring the Tuvinian people into contact with the Russian revolutionary movement. Construction was begun on the Us Route, which would link Tuva with the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

After the February Revolution, the Provisional Government confirmed Russia’s protectorate over Tuva in August 1917. On Mar. 16, 1918, Soviet power was proclaimed in Tuva, and on June 18, at a joint session of a congress of representatives of the Tuvinian people and a congress of the Russian population, an agreement was adopted providing for Tuva’s self-determination and pledging friendship and mutual assistance between the Russian and Tuvinian peoples. Between 1918 and 1921 the working people of Tuva waged a struggle against the forces of A. V. Kol-chak, Chinese militarists, and Mongolian feudal lords, all of which were routed with the help of the Red Army. On Aug. 14, 1921, the All-Tuvinian Constituent Khural (Congress) proclaimed the formation of the People’s Republic of Tannu-Tuva, designated as its capital the city of Khem-Beldyr (known as Kyzyl since 1926), and ratified a constitution.

In 1926 Tannu-Tuva was renamed the Tuvinian People’s Republic (TPR). During the ensuing period Tuva developed along noncapitalist lines under the guidance of the Tuva People’s Revolutionary Party, which had been founded in 1922. The Eighth Congress of the Tuva People’s Revolutionary Party in 1929 determined more precisely the path to the building of socialism and outlined a plan for collectivizing the peasant farms. Associations for joint cultivation of the land and associations for the improvement of livestock raising were formed, and the first kolkhozes and goskhozes (state farms) were established. The creation of a Tuvinian national writing system in 1930 and the struggle to eliminate illiteracy represented major cultural and social advances. By 1931 the feudal lords had been abolished as a class; their property was distributed among goskhozes, kolkhozes, and individual farms belonging to the arats.

The USSR rendered continual economic, political, and cultural aid to Tuva. From 1926 to 1929 research was conducted in Tuva by a geological expedition headed by I. P. Rachkovskii and organized by the Commission of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR for the Study of the Mongolian and Tuvinian People’s Republics and the Buriat-Mongolian ASSR. In 1930 and 1931, Tuva was visited by a multipurpose expedition of the Scientific Research Association for the Study of National and Colonial Problems of the Communist University for Workers of the East; the expedition gathered material on the Tuvinian economy and outlined the paths of its subsequent development. The cultural and linguistic section of the expedition helped establish a number of scientific and cultural-educational institutions. The first census of Tuva’s population was carried out in 1930 and 1931 under the direction of P. P. Maslov; information was obtained on the distribution of the population, the patterns of its nomadic wanderings, and the dominant sector in each region’s economy.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 the TPR rendered various forms of material aid to the Red Army, and Tuvinian volunteers fought in the Soviet ranks against the fascist German invaders. On Aug. 17,1944, an extraordinary session of the Lower Khural of the TPR adopted a declaration to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR requesting that the republic be included in the USSR. By an edict of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR of Oct. 13,1944, the republic was included in the Russian Federation as an autonomous oblast. Socialist construction began in Soviet Tuva.

By 1953, agriculture had been collectivized, for the most part, and the nomadic arats had made the transition to a settled way of life. A cultural revolution had been accomplished, and a national intelligentsia had taken shape. In the Soviet period, the CPSU’s Leninist nationalities policy has resulted in Tuva’s transformation into a republic with an extensive, diversified agriculture and a developing industry; it now has a highly developed culture that is socialist in content and national in form. The Tuvinian people have been consolidated into a socialist nation. On Oct. 10,1961, the Tuvinian Autonomous Oblast became the Tuva ASSR. On Oct. 9, 1964, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Tuva’s incorporation in the USSR, the Tuva ASSR was awarded the Order of Lenin. On Dec. 29,1972, the republic was awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples in honor of the 50th anniversary of the USSR.


Economy. Agriculture and the extraction of minerals are the principal sectors of Tuva’s economy. Its development has been based on close economic ties with the southern regions of Krasnoiarsk Krai, particularly with the Saian Territorial-Industrial Complex.

Table 1. Livestock population of the Tuva ASSR1 (thousand head)
1 For all types of farms at the end of the year
Cattle. . . . . . . . . .144165194182
Cows. . . . . . . . . .64637267
Sheep and goats. . . . . . . . . .5399081,1191,296
Swine. . . . . . . . . .2292720

AGRICULTURE. In 1974 agricultural lands occupied 27 percent (4.6 million ha) of Tuva’s territory and included approximately 500,000 ha of cultivated land, 100,000’ha of hayfields, and 4 million ha of pastureland. At the beginning of 1975 there were 40 sovkhozes, 22 kolkhozes, and an agricultural experiment station. The republic has 2,500 tractors, 1,100 grain-harvesting combines, and 2,300 trucks.

The main branch of agriculture is livestock raising, which accounts for 84 percent of the total gross agricultural output. The raising of fine-wooled sheep and of beef and dairy cattle occupies a prominent place in the economy. Swine raising and poultry husbandry are new, rapidly developing areas of agriculture. Figures on the development of livestock raising are given in Table 1. Other animals traditionally raised include horses (mainly in the southwest), camels (in the south), and reindeer (mainly in the northeast).

The cultivation of land is oriented toward grain production, as is shown in Table 2. The principal crop is wheat; barley, oats, and millet are also sown. Feed crops occupy a large percentage of sown areas. Grain and feed crops are cultivated mainly in the Tuva Basin. The climate of Tuva’s agricultural regions has made it necessary to extend irrigation farming. In 1974 there were 64,100 ha of irrigated lands, of which 38,400 ha were irrigated on a regular basis. The Barlyk irrigation system provides water in the Khemchik River basin.

In 1975 state purchases of agricultural products included 20,800 tons of livestock and poultry and 24,600 tons of milk.

Table 2. Sown areas of the Tuva ASSR (thousand ha)
Total sown area. . . . . . . . . .61362349370
Grain crops. . . . . . . . . .58262231258
Wheat. . . . . . . . . .20190158175
Feed crops. . . . . . . . . .2.094113107

The fur trade is an important part of Tuva’s agriculture. Sable, squirrel, muskrat, Siberian weasel, and fox furs are obtained by hunting and trapping. The blue Arctic fox is bred on fur farms.

INDUSTRY. The republic’s total industrial output increased by a factor of 53 between 1945 and 1975. Sources of fuel and energy have been developed in the Soviet period. Of particularly great importance are the coal deposits of the Ulug-Khem Basin, which supplies the Kyzyl, Ak-Dovurak, and Khovu-Aksyn thermoelectric power plants. Tuva is part of the Krasnoiarsk power grid. Electric power lines have been constructed that connect Abaza, Ak-Dovurak, Kyzyl, and Turan.

Mining is an important branch of Tuva’s industry and is carried out at deposits of nonferrous metals, asbestos, coal, gold, and other minerals. Tuva has two large-scale mining enterprises: Tu-vakobal’t, at Khovu-Aksy, and Tuvaasbest, at Ak-Dovurak. An enterprise that explores for and produces mercury is located at Terlig-Khaia. Gold is mined in the east at Bai-Siut and Oinaa. Of the other branches of industry food processing is the most highly developed; the republic has meat-packing and flour-milling combines, a milk-processing plant, and a brewery. The lumber and wood-products industry is represented by logging, sawmill, and furniture enterprises. The republic’s total timber reserves exceed one billion cu m. The building-materials industry has undergone development and includes plants that produce bricks, reinforced concrete products, and various types of structural members. Metalworking and light industry, including the leather industry, have also been developed. Many enterprises are located in Kyzyl and Ak-Dovurak. Table 3 gives output figures for Tuva’s main products.

TRANSPORT. Motor vehicle transport accounts for 92 percent of the republic’s freight turnover. As of 1975 the total road length was 6,100 km, including 1,600 km of hard-surface roads. The main highway (Kyzyl-Ak-Dovurak) connects with rail transport via the Us Route (from Kyzyl through the Zapadnyi Saian) to the Minusinsk railroad station (436 km) and via the Ak-Dovurak-Abaza Highway to the Abaza railroad station (237 km). The Ulug-Khem River and the lower courses of the Bii-Khem and Ka-Khem rivers are navigable. As a result of the construction of the Saian-Shushenskaia Hydroelectric Power Plant, the lowest areas of the Tuva Basin that are adjacent to the Ulug-Khem River valley will fall within the Saian Reservoir. Navigation along the Enisei River will thereby be improved. Rivers are also used to float timber. Air routes link Tuva with Abakan and Krasnoiarsk and connect Kyzyl with various raions of the republic. Products and materials supplied by the Tuva ASSR to other regions of the USSR include asbestos, meat, wool, furs, leather, and pharmaceutical raw materials.

ECONOMIC REGIONS. The central region of Tuva is the most densely populated and contains the chief industrial centers: the cities of Kyzyl, Ak-Dovurak, and Chadan. The area is also a major grain- and livestock-raising region. The southern region is devoted to livestock raising. In the northeastern region, lumbering, commercial hunting, reindeer raising, and fishing are carried on.

STANDARD OF LIVING. The people’s standard of living is steadily improving. The wages of industrial and nonindustrial workers increased by an average of 55 percent between 1966 and 1975. Between 1965 and 1974, personal monetary income increased by a factor of 2.2. In 1975 social security agencies paid out 13.6 million rubles in pensions and benefits, including 1.6 million rubles to kolkhoz members. The retail commodity turnover increased by a factor of nearly 2.3 between 1965 and 1975, in which year it amounted to 767 rubles per capita. Between 1965 and 1975, state and cooperative enterprises built 834,000 sq m of housing, schools accommodating 15,700 pupils, and preschool institutions for 3,600 children.


Public health. As of Jan. 1, 1975, the population of Tuva was served by 48 hospitals with 3,900 beds—that is, 15.7 beds per 1,000 inhabitants. In 1945 the republic had only 16 hospitals with a total of 400 beds. In 1975 Tuva also had 124 stations staffed by feldshers and midwives, 15 public health epidemiologic stations, and 29 public health stations. Medical personnel included 696 physicians—that is, one for every 360 inhabitants (as compared to 26 physicians in 1945)—and 2,400 secondary medical personnel (as compared to 157 in 1945). Tuva contains the Ush-BePdyr balneological health resort, the Cheder peloid health resort, four sanitoriums, and eight houses and centers of rest. There are two tourist centers located near Kyzyl: Azas and Zharki. The tourist itineraries leading to Kyzyl, the geographic center of Asia, are popular. The southern Saian Ring (Abakan-Shushenskoe-Kyzyl-Ak-Dovurak-Abaza-Abakan) passes through Kyzyl and Ak-Dovurak.

Education and cultural affairs. During the 1944–45 school year 9,200 children attended the republic’s general-education schools; in the following school year 179 pupils were enrolled in three special secondary schools. During the 1975–76 school year 67,500 pupils attended general-education schools and 2,500 pupils attended the six vocational-technical schools of the State Vocational-training System of the USSR (Gosprofobr); the republic’s five special secondary schools had an enrollment of 4,200, and the Kyzyl Pedagogical Institute had 2,100 students. In 1974 the republic’s 201 preschool institutions were attended by 13,200 children. As of Jan. 1,1975, Tuva had 159 public libraries (with 2,027,000 copies of books and periodicals), 194 clubs, 214 motion-picture projection units, 14 extracurricular institutions, and the Sixty Heroes Museum of Local Lore in Kyzyl.

Scientific institutions. The republic’s scientific institutions include the Tuva State Agricultural Experiment Station (founded in 1934 with the aid of the Tuva Agricultural Expedition of the V. I. Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences), which publishes Trudy (Transactions), and the Tuva Scientific Research Institute of Language, Literature, and History (1945), which publishes Uchenye zapiski (Scientific Notes). Other institutions are the Tuva Laboratory of the Scientific Research Institute of National Schools of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR (1972), the Tuva Economics Laboratory of the Institute of Economics and Management of Industrial Production of the Siberian Division of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1975), and the Tuva Section of the Scientific Research Institute of the Economics of Agriculture of the Siberian Division of the V. I. Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences (1975).

Press, radio, and television. In 1974 the Tuva Republic Publishing House published 74 titles of books and pamphlets, totaling 381,000 copies. Republic newspapers in Tuvinian include Shyn (Pravda) and Tyvanyn anyiaktary (Youth of Tuva), which have been published since 1925 and 1933, respectively. The Russian-language republic newspaper Tuvinskaia pravda has been published since 1924. Ulug-Khem, a miscellany of literature and art, has been issued in Tuvinian and Russian since 1946. Programs of All-Union Radio are broadcast for 16 hours and 40 minutes a day; nine hours of republic programs in Tuvinian and Russian are broadcast. The sole television channel is on the air for an average of 12.2 hours a day; it broadcasts 10.1 hours of programs relayed from Central Television via the Orbita system. Local television broadcasts in Tuvinian and Russian are on the air for 2.1 hours a day. The city of Kyzyl has a television center.

Literature. Tuvinian literature emerged after the introduction of a national writing system in 1930. The initial works of the literature were collaborative efforts. The first poems of S. Saryg-ool (born 1908), B. Khovenmei (1915–72) and S. Piurbiu (1913–75) appeared in the 1930’s; their works celebrated the new national life and the friendship of peoples. Narrative poetry was established in Tuvinian literature with the appearance of Piurbiu’s Chechek (1941). The first work of Tuvinian prose, Sambukai’s Tale (1930–31), was created by a group of writers. It was followed by the short stories and sketches of S. Toka (1901–73), including “The Torments of a Farm Laborer” and “Journey to Kargy.” The founders of the Tuvinian drama were A. A. Pal’mbakh (1897–1963), who wrote the play Girl from the Kholkhoz (1931); V. Kok-ool (born 1906), who wrote the plays Don’t Forget About Jute (1935) and A Happy Day (1937); and Toka, who wrote the play Three Years as Secretary of a Party Cell (1938). Tuvinian literature of this period was imbued with a publicist spirit and vividly conveyed a political message. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 Tuvinian writers created works of a patriotic and internationalist cast, including the narrative poem Sany-Moge (1944) and the novella The Gift (1943) by Saryg-ool, the ballad “The Red Convoy” (1942) by Piurbiu, and the novella In a Birch-bark Tent (1943) by Toka.

Tuvinian literature achieved new successes after Tuva was incorporated

Table 3. Major types of industrial output in the Tuva ASSR
1Data for 1960 and 1965 cited in wholesale prices of enterprises on July 1,1955; data for 1970 and 1974 are cited in wholesale prices of enterprises on July 1,1967.
Electricity (million kW-hrs). . . . . . . . . .29.599.9192.5174.9
Coal (thousand tons). . . . . . . . . .112284516638
Timber shipped (thousand cum). . . . . . . . . .552492497487
Lumber (thousand cum). . . . . . . . . .159156160186
Bricks (million units). . . . . . . . . .15.118.924.727.5
Precast reinforced concrete structures and structural members (thousand cu m). . . . . . . . . .1.814.018.441.4
Asbestos (thousand tons). . . . . . . . . .11.833.658.8
Felt footwear (thousand pairs). . . . . . . . . .46576571
Leather footwear (thousand pairs). . . . . . . . . .34355585
Garments (thousand rubles). . . . . . . . . .2,3472,1953,1634,288
Furniture (thousand rubles)1407718844919
Butter (tons). . . . . . . . . .302656397606
Whole milk products computed as milk (tons). . . . . . . . . .4,9548,62412,21014,555
Meat, including first-category by-products (tons). . . . . . . . . .3,7065,2848,12211,607
Sausage products (tons). . . . . . . . . .5896841,1111,282
Bread and baked goods (thousand tons). . . . . . . . . .16.222.827.031.9
Confectioneries (tons). . . . . . . . . .380692685832
Flour (thousand tons). . . . . . . . . .13.616.012.312.1
Salt (mined) (tons). . . . . . . . . .2,3002,6856,60010,572

into the USSR in 1944. Toka’s trilogy Word of an Arat (1950–64) depicts Tuvinian life before and after the revolution. In The Tale of a Happy Boy (books 1–2, 1961–66), Saryg-ool turned to the past of his people. O. Sagan-ool (1913—71) in his novellas The Man from Baian-Tal (1963) and The Lucky Star (1965) and his novels The Irrepressible Ones (1967) and Kith and Kin (1970) described the new people of Soviet Tuva. Narrative poems have been published by Saryg-ool, M. Kenin-Lopsan (born 1925), and Iu. Kiunzegesh (born 1927). The genres of psychological drama and historical chronicle have become part of Tuvinian literature. Popular contemporary novels and novellas include The Rapids of the Great River (1965) and A Woman’s Pride (1971) by Kenin-Lopsan; A Quiet Nook (1965), Lofty Clouds (1971), and The Ulug-Khem Is Not Quiet (vols. 1–2, 1973–74) by K. Kudazha (born 1929); The Hinterland: A Tale of the Beginning of the Year 1922 (1968) and A Mother’s Oath (1973) by S. Siuriun-ool (born 1924); and The Folks From Khairakan (1971) by Toka. These works deal with important problems of Tuvinian life. Many works by Soviet and foreign writers have been translated into Tuvinian. Literary scholarship and criticism are developing, as is evidenced by the work of Pal’-mbakh, A. Kalzan (born 1930), D. Kuular (born 1932), and others. Children’s literature is also developing.


Architecture and art. Paleolithic and Neolithic habitation sites have been discovered in Tuva, and Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery decorated in a strict, geometric pattern has been discovered. The Scythian period is represented by burial mounds, works of applied art in the Scytho-Siberian animal style (small animal figures carved from bone and cast in bronze), and stone steles (the “reindeer stones, ” which are decorated with stylized representations of reindeer and other animals as well as weapons). Petroglyphs depicting humans, animals, and hunting scenes date from the Scythian and Hun periods. Wooden anthropomorphic statuettes and artistically rendered metal objects have been preserved from the Hun period. Such objects are characteristic also of the ancient Turkic period, in which engraved, gilt, and cast artifacts were decorated with patterns dominated by curvilinear and plant motifs. Stone carvings of human beings were also made in the ancient Turkic period. During the Uighur period, and especially during the Kirghiz period, more complex metalworking techniques were adopted: engraving was combined with the incrustation of iron with gold, silver, or bronze. Fortress remains, such as those of Por-Bazhin on an island in the lake Tere-Khol’, date from the Uighur period.

The basic Tuvinian dwelling was a felt yurt (kidiseg) with a latticed framework, usually containing felt rugs with quilted geometric ornamentation, wooden chests, and beds decorated, in contrasting sections, with bright multicolored ornamental painting. Leather vessels were decorated with embossed designs, and saddle skirts and saddlecloths with colored applique work. Artistically rendered metal artifacts were also widely produced and included ornaments, metal disks for saddles and bridles, and cinch buckles; these artifacts were forged, cast, or beaten. Tuvinian folk ornaments generally exhibit a strict symmetry of composition and contain round curvilinear forms, plant motifs, stylized representations of horns, S-shaped patterns, and meanders. The sculpture of miniature objects developed from about the end of the 18th century; the principal materials included wood, stone (agalmatolite), and metal. The objects made included toys, chessmen, and religious objects; the religious objects were usually zoomorphic and were characterized by static, stylized forms.

The folk sculptors Kh. Toibukhaa, Kh. Khuna, and M. Cherzi have produced miniature sculpture; their best works achieve a delicate, decorative quality and create a sense of movement. Easel painting and graphic art have undergone intensive development since the 1940’s. Outstanding examples of easel art include the landscapes and genre and historical paintings of V. F. Demin and S. K. Lanza; the portraits and genre compositions of T. E. Levertovskaia, G. L. Torluk, M. A. Darzhai, G. S. Suzdal’tsev; and the graphic art of I. Ch. Salchak, M. A. Petrov, and Iu. G. Kurskii. In 1965 the Tuvinian Division of the Artists’ Union of the RSFSR was organized; in 1968 the division became the Artists’ Union of the Tuva ASSR.

During the Soviet period Kyzyl has been modernized; new settlements have appeared, and old settlements have undergone extensive renewal. Construction is being carried out according to general plans that provide for the separation of industrial zones from residential areas. With the transition of the nomadic arats to a settled way of life, frame and stone houses, clubs, and schools have been built in the villages.

Music. Since ancient times the musical art of Tuva has included ritual and lyric songs, chastushki (folk ditty, often humorous), a guttural style of folk singing (sygyt, kargyraa, khoomei, ezengileer, and borbannadyr), melodies accompanying folk tales and epics, and instrumental folk tunes. Tuvinian folk music is based on the pentatonic scale and is characterized by distinctive intonations and a variety of metrical and rhythmic structures. The ancient long songs exhibit melodies with a wide range that require great breath control.

The most common folk instruments include the dopshuluur, byzaanchy, and igil, which are bowed stringed instruments, and the chadagan, shanzy, sheler-khomus, kuluzun-khomus, and demir-khomus, which are plucked stringed instruments. Wind instruments include the murgu and shoor. Prior to the October Revolution of 1917, Lamaists and shamans used special instruments; these included the buree, bushkuur, and tun among the wind instruments and the shan, konga, dambyra, kengirge, and dungur among the percussion instruments.

Musicians traveling about the countryside were the chief disseminators of musical culture. Recordings of Tuvinian musical folklore were made between 1910 and 1920 by the composers A. V. Anokhin, E. V. Gippius, and Z. V. EvaF and later by S. G. Korovin, A. N. Aksenov, M. M. Munzuk, and folklorists from the Tuva Scientific Research Institute of Language, Literature, and History.

Professional Tuvinian music emerged in second half of the 1930’s, as the folk repertoire was absorbed and Russian classical and Soviet music began to exert an influence. The State Theater of Music and Drama, which was established in 1940, played an important role in Tuvinian professional music. One of the first Tuvinian songwriters was the dramatist and actor V. Sh. Kok-ool, whose songs “Youth” and “My Tuva, ” among others, became popular. In 1943 an orchestra was organized at the State Theater of Music and Drama that included folk instruments. After Tuva voluntarily became part of the USSR in 1944, musical culture and art began developing rapidly; a new, socialist content was assimilated, and new musical forms were created. The composer Aksenov was a seminal figure in Tuvinian music; he composed several works that drew upon Tuvinian musical folklore, and he wrote a monograph entitled Tuvinian Folk Music (1964).

Beginning in the second half of the 1950’s cantatas, symphonic works, concerti, choral arrangements, and other works were written in addition to compositions in traditional genres. Works of this period include The 60 Heroes (1955), Poem of Joy (1967), the symphony My Tuva (1970), music for the comedy Singers of the Day (1973) by Chyrgal-ool, the suite Blossom Forth, My Native Land (1958), and the musical folk tale Chechen and Belekmaa (1964) by R. D. Kendenbil’. Instrumental works by Tuvinian composers are, as a rule, programmatic. A symphony orchestra was established for radio and television in 1966, and a philharmonic society was founded in 1969. The Saiany Tuvinian Song and Dance Ensemble, which performs Tuvinian folk dances and music, was organized in 1970.

Leading Tuvinian musical figures include the composers A. B. Chyrgal-ool (Honored Art Worker of the RSFSR), R. D. Kendenbil’, D. Khureshool, and L. Laptan; the singers N. O. Olzeiool and Kh. B. Kongar (both Honored Artists of the RSFSR); and the conductor V. S. Toka.


Theater. Elements of theater existed in Tuvinian folk games and folklore and in religious rituals, such as the shamanist kamlanie ritual and the Lamaist mysteries. By the mid-1920’s the first amateur dramatic groups appeared; they staged improvised one-act plays with a political message. The establishment of the professional theater dates back to 1936, when a theater studio was opened as part of an educational complex in Kyzyl. The future actors staged works of the nascent Tuvinian theater, including The Law of the Khans, which had several coauthors; Woman, by S. K. Toka; and A Happy Day, by V. Sh. Kok-ool. The company toured the republic. The studio’s first graduating class formed the basis for the State Art Theater, which was opened in 1938; it became the State Theater of Music and Drama in 1940. This organization was a studio theater that included, between 1940 and 1945, a training school for actors preparing for a professional career. The academic and production work was headed by the director and teacher I. Ia. Ispolnev, who was instrumental in establishing the Tuvinian national theater. This theater, renamed the Tuvinian Theater of Music and Drama in 1958, has staged plays on historico-revolutionary and contemporary subjects. Its productions include Tongur-ool (1948, 1950, 1968) and The Dream Realized (1954) by Toka; Farewell, Life! (1944,1970) and Sambazhik (1963) by Kok-ool; Aspiration (1949) and The Awakening (1959) by O. K. Sagan-ool; Such Is Our Path (1942), Love Must Be Prized (1965) and Red Torrent (1967) by S. B. Piurbiu; and Friendship (1970) and The Eleven (1972) by K. K. Kudazha. Honored Artist of the RSFSR O. D. Namdara portrayed V. I. Lenin in productions of Pogodin’s Man with a Gun (1957,1967), Shatrov’s In the Name of the Revolution (1967), and Trenev’s On the Bank of the Neva (1969). The repertoire also includes classics of Russian and world literature and works by playwrights from the fraternal republics. In 1958 and 1968 the creative staff of the theater was augmented by final-year students of the Leningrad Institute of Theater, Music, and Cinematography. Since 1947 a Russian troupe has performed in the same building as the national company.

In 1976 leading theatrical figures included People’s Artists of the RSFSR M. M. Munzuk and K. N. Munzuk; Honored Artists of the RSFSR I. S. Zabrodin, V. Sh. Kok-ool, Kh. B. Kongar, S. P. Maier, N. O. Olzei-ool, and S. L. Oiun; Honored Art Worker of the RSFSR A. B. Chyrgal-ool; and Honored Artists of the Tuva ASSR B. F. Bady-Sagan, S. B. Bair, E. S. Kenden-bil’, L. F. Kotov, V. Sh. Mongal’bi, M. A. Ramazanova, and A. S. Tavakai. In 1976 Tuva had 13 people’s amateur theaters, including one young people’s theater.

In 1945 a troupe of jugglers and tightrope walkers was formed under the direction of V. B. Oskal-ool, who was subsequently awarded the title People’s Artist of the RSFSR and the Tuva ASSR. The troupe has become well known in the USSR and abroad.



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