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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(self-designation, Udmurt), a people in the USSR. In Russian written records of the 14th to 16th centuries, the Udmurts are referred to as the Ary, Ariane, or Otiaki. In tsarist Russia they were called Votyaks, a name used until 1932. Approximately 69 percent of the Udmurts (484,200 persons according to the 1970 census), including the ethnographic group known as Besermians, live in the Udmurt ASSR. Small groups have also settled in the Bashkir ASSR, the Tatar ASSR, the Mari ASSR, and Perm, Sverdlovsk, and Kirov oblasts. The total number of Udmurts in the USSR is 704,000. They speak the Udmurt language. Believers are members of the Orthodox Church.

According to archaeological, ethnological, and paleoanthropo-logical data, the origin of the Udmurts is linked with the ancient tribes of the Viatka-Kama region—the bearers of the Anan’ino (eighth to third centuries B.C.), P’ianyi Bor (end of the first millennium B.C. to the beginning of the first millennium A.D.), Polom (second half of the first millennium A.D.), and Chept (ninth to 13th century A.D.) archaeologial cultures. At the end of the first millennium A.D. and the beginning of the second, Bulgaria on the Volga exerted a considerable influence over the Udmurts. Evidence exists that from the 11th to 13th centuries the Udmurts had some ties with the Russians. In 1236 the Udmurts came under the Mongol-Tatar yoke.

Until the mid-16th century, the Udmurts were not unified territorially or administratively. The northern Udmurts were part of Viatka Land (from 1489, part of the Grand Principality of Moscow), and the southern Udmurts belonged to the Kazan Khanate. After the fall of the khanate in 1552, the remaining Udmurts came under the control of the Russian state (by 1558). Subsequently, the process of the formation of a single Udmurt nationality intensified.

From ancient times, the chief occupations of the Udmurts were farming, stock raising, and hunting (the last is no longer of economic significance). After the October Revolution of 1917, radical social and economic changes altered the lives of the Udmurt people. The collectivized agriculture became highly mechanized. A national working class and intelligentsia emerged, and illiteracy was eliminated. In the process of socialist construction, the Udmurts have developed into a socialist nation (natsiia; nation in the historical sense). The distinctive national culture of the Udmurts is particularly evident in the applied arts (embroidery, patterned weaving), music, and folklore. A national literature has been created, as well as the dramatic, operatic, and choreographic arts.

(For the history, economics, and culture of the Udmurts, see also.)


Narody Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow, 1964. (References, pp. 848–49.)
Gening, V. F. Arkheologicheskie pamiatniki Udmurtii. Izhevsk, 1958.
Kozlova, K. I. Etnografiia narodov Povolzh’io. Moscow, 1964.
Khrestomatiia po istorii Udmurtii. Izhevsk, 1973.
Buch, M. Die Wotjäken: Eine ethnologische Studie. Helsinki, 1882.


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