Siberian Tatars

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Siberian Tatars
Сыбырлар / Sybyrlar
Regions with significant populations
 Russia 6,779[1]
Siberian Tatar, Russian, Tatar
Sunni Islam, Shamanism
Flag of the Siberian tatar people

Siberian Tatars (Siberian Tatar: Сыбырлар; Sybyrlar) refers to the indigenous Siberian population of the forests and steppes of South Siberia stretching from somewhat east of the Ural Mountains to the Yenisey river in Russia. The Siberian Tatars call themselves Yerle Qalyq or older inhabitants to distinguish themselves from newer Volga Tatar immigrants to the region.[2]

Some non-Muslim Turkic people of Siberia (Chulyms, Khakas people, Shors, Teleuts) still call themselves “tatar” or “tadar” as self-designation, but do not consider themselves as a part of Tatar nation.


Siberian Tatars represent a mixture of two races, Uraloid and Mongoloid. Ethnogenetic processes during the Middle Ages and later periods make Siberian Tatars anthropologically close to Sarts, Kazakhs and Bashkirs. Dermatoglyphic material can be attributed to the circle of the mixed Mongoloid-Caucasoid forms with a significant predominance of the Mongoloid component.

Zabolotnie (Yaskolbinsk) Tatars of the Tobol-Irtysh group are extremely close to the Khanty people.


Siberian Tatars historically lived in the wide valleys between the Ural mountains and Yenisei river. According to the ambassadors of the Siberian Khanate ruler Yediger Khan who visited Moscow in 1555, the population of "the black people" (in many Turkic languages: lieges) not counting the aristocracy was 30,700. In a decree concerning tribute issued by Ivan the Terrible the number was given as 40,000.

According to the results of the 1897 All-Russia Census there were 56,957 Siberian Tatars in Tobolsk guberniya. This was the last true information about the population of the Siberian Tatars, as in the other censuses the other Tatar immigrants from the other regions of Russia were also included. It should also be noted that the Siberian Tatars tried to avoid the census as much as possible as they believed that it is was an attempt to force them to pay the Yasak (tribute).[3] Their population in the territory of the current Tyumen Oblast in 1926 was recorded as 70,000, in 1959 as 72,306, in 1970 as 102,859, 136,749 in 1979, 227,423 in 1989 and 242,325 in 2002. According to the results of the 2002 Russian Census there were 385,949 Tatars living in the oblasts discussed above (their territory roughly corresponds to the historical territory of the Siberian Khanate). Of these Tatars only 9,289 identified themselves as Siberian Tatars.

2002 Russian Census revealed only 9,611 Siberian Tatars in Russia. Whereas in some publications their number is shown in the range of 190,000-210,000.[4] Such significant discrepancy is explained by the fact that the self-identification of the Siberian Tatars is still a matter of discussion. Part of them agree with the official point of view and consider themselves as a part of united Tatar nation and their language as the eastern dialect of the Tatar language, but the other part consider themselves a distinct ethnic group with its own language and culture.[5][6][7]


The term Siberian Tatar covers three autochthonous groups, all Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi madhab, found in southern Siberia. They are remnants of the Khanate of Sibir, which was conquered by Russia in 1582. Geographically, the Siberian Tatars are divided into three main groups, each speaking their own dialect.[2] Although the Siberian Tatar language has been sometimes considered a dialect of Tatar; detailed study demonstrates that Siberian Tatar idioms are quite remote from Volga Tatar by origin. Siberian Tatars' ancestry was partly from Turkic, Ugric, Mongolic, Ket and Samoyedic [8] tribes, but their main ancestors were the Kypchaks.

Ethnogenesis and ethnic history[edit]

Part of the Siberian Tatars’ ancestry was Kypchak, who also took part in ethnogenesis of many Turkic people. During their long and complicated ethnogenesis Siberian Tatars were in touch with Ugric people, Samoyedic peoples, Kets, people of Altai-Sayan (see: Siberian Turkic languages), Central Asia and Kazakhstan.

The closest people to Siberian Tatars (by ethnogenetics) are Kazakhs, Bashkirs and Turkic people of Altai-Sayan region. Despite the cultural similarities among Volga Tatars, Astrakhan Tatars and Siberian Tatars, anthropologists differ Siberian group as an independent ethnic group. Since Tatarstan had become the center of Tatar culture, the impact of Volga Tatars on other Tatar subgroups led to cultural consolidation of all Tatar subgroups. Literature and media which is made in Tatarstan and is available all over Russia made the local differences minimal.

Nevertheless, some Siberian Tatars feel close ties to Kazakhs and difference from other Tatar groups. However, the relations between them and other Tatars groups are usually friendly.


Siberian Tatar language belongs to Kipchak–Nogay group of the Kypchak languages.[9] There are some elements of the Karluk, Kipchak–Bolgar and Eastern Kipchak languages in grammar and vocabulary. Such type of interpenetration of elements of different Turkic groups and subgroups is characteristically nearly for all Turkic languages.

Siberian Tatar language has different dialects.[9] Since the penetration of Islam until 1920s Siberian Tatars, like all Muslim nations, were using alphabet that had been based on Arabic script. In 1928 they adopted an alphabet based on Latin script, in 1939 based on Cyrillic script. Written language for Siberian tatars until 2014 was Tatar language, which is based on the grammar rules of Volga Tatars. In XXI century, work began on the rationing of the Siberian Tatar language. Conducting scientific research in the field of literary language norms of indigenous population of Siberia. Issued by the "Русско-сибирскотатарский словарь = Урысца-сыбырца сүслек" (2010) (Russian-Siberian Tatar Dictionary) , "Грамматика современного сибирскотатарского языка" (2014)(The grammar of modern Siberian Tatar language). International Organization for Standardization ISO 639-3 PA with its headquarters in Washington, awarded in 2013, the Siberian Tatar language classification code 'sty' in New Language Code Element in ISO 639-3. The first person who seriously researched Siberian Tatar language was Soviet Tatar linguist and an organizer of science Gabdulkhay Akhatov.


Tobol-Irtysh Tatars[edit]

Main article: Tobol-Irtysh Tatars

The Tobol-Irtysh Tatars group is the most numerous out of all 3 groups of Siberian Tatars. They live in the Tyumen, Kurgan and Omsk Oblasts.

The sub-groups are: Zabolotnie (Yaskolbinsk), Tobol, Kurdak-Sargat, Tara, Tyumen-Turin.

Baraba Tatars[edit]

Main article: Baraba Tatars

Their self-designation is Baraba, and they are found mainly in the steppe of Baraba, in the Novosibirsk Oblast. Their population is around 8,000.

The sub-groups are: Baraba-Turazh, Lyubey-Tunus, Terenin-Choy.

Tomsk Tatars[edit]

Main article: Tom Tatars

The Tomsk Tatars are indigenous population of Tomsk, Kemerovo and to some extent Novosibirsk Oblasts.

The sub-groups are: Kalmak, Chat, Eushta.

Siberian Bukharans[edit]

Main article: Siberian Bukharans

The Bukhalyks, literally "those from the city of Bukhara" are descendents from 15th and 16th Century fur merchant colonies from Central Asia. These settlers have now merged entirely with Siberian Tatars.

Famous Siberian Tatars[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Russian Census 2010: Population by ethnicity (Russian)
  2. ^ a b The Siberian Tatars in Muslims of the Soviet empire : a guide / Alexandre Bennigsen [and] S. Enders Wimbush pages 231 to 232 Bloomington : Indiana UP, 1986 ISBN 0-253-33958-8
  3. ^ Valeev F.T. Siberian Tatars. Kazan, 1993. (in Russian)
  4. ^ Siberian Tatars. Historical reference (in Russian)
  5. ^
  6. ^ The Siberian Tatar writers decided to be a distinct ethnic group (in Russian)
  7. ^ Ishakova, Valeev— The problems of revival of the national language of the Siberian Tatars (in Russian)
  8. ^ Levinson, David (1996). Encyclopedia of World Cultures. G.K. Hall. p. 340. ISBN 978-0-8161-1808-3. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  9. ^ a b Tumasheva D.G.. Dialects of the Siberian Tatar language: experience of the comparative research. Kazan, 1977 (in Russian)

External links[edit]