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The Budini (Greek: Boudinoi) were an ancient people who lived in Scythia.

Herodotus located them east of the Don River (known as the Tanais in his time) beyond the Sarmatians.[1] He gives us the only description of them:

The Budinians are a large and populous tribe, with piercing grey eyes, and bright red hair. There is a town in their country called Gelonus which is made out of wood. Each side of its high outer wall is thirty stades long, made entirely of wood, and wood has been used for all its houses and shrines too. They have sanctuaries there which are dedicated to the Greek gods and equipped in the Greek manner with statues, altars and buildings of wood; and every third year they celebrate a festival of Dionysus and become possessed by the god. The Budini, however, differ from the Gelonians in both language and lifestyle. The Budinians, who are nomadic, are the indigenous inhabitants of the country, and they are the only race there to eat lice, whereas the Geolonians are farmers, grain-eaters and gardeners; moreover, the two sets of people are altogether dissimilar in appearance and colouring.... The land is entirely covered with forests of every conceivable species of tree. In the largest forest there is a large, wide lake, surrounded by a reedy marsh. They capture otters are beavers in this lake, and also a square-faced creature whose skin they sew as a trimming on to their jackets, and whose testicles are good for healing diseases of the womb.[2]

Pliny the Elder mentions the Budini together with the Geloni and other peoples living around the rivers which drain into the Black Sea from the north.[3]

The Budini are also mentioned by Classical authors in connection with reindeer. Both Aristotle and Theophrastus have short accounts – probably based on the same source – of an ox-sized deer species, named tarandos, living in the land of the Bodines in Scythia, which was able to change the colour of its fur to obtain camouflage. The latter is probably a misunderstanding of the seasonal change in reindeer fur colour.[4]

The 1911 Britannica surmises that the Budini were Fenno-Ugric, of the branch now represented by the Udmurts and Komis.[5] Edgar V. Saks identifies Budini as the Finnic Votic people.[6]


  1. ^ Herodotus, The Histories, iv. 21.
  2. ^ Herodotus, The Histories, trans. Robin Waterfield (1998), iv. 108, 109.
  3. ^ Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, book 4, XII, 88; Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, trans. John Bostock, book 4, chapter 26
  4. ^ Georg Sarauw, "Das Rentier in Europa zu den Zeiten Alexanders und Cæsars" [The reindeer in Europe to the times of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar], In Jungersen, H. F. E. and Warming, E.. Mindeskrift i Anledning af Hundredeaaret for Japetus Steenstrups Fødsel (Copenhagen 1914), pp. 1–33.
  5. ^  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Budini". Encyclopædia Britannica 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  6. ^ Edgar V. Saks, Eesti viikingid (Tallinn 2005), p. 16.