Udmurt people

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Udmurt people.jpg
Total population
637,000 (2002)
Regions with significant populations
 Russia 552,299 (2010)[1]
 Ukraine 4,712 (2001)[2]
Udmurt, Russian
Orthodox Christianity
(Russian Orthodox Church)
and Udmurt Vos
small Protestant and Pentecostal minorities[3]
Related ethnic groups
other Uralic peoples (particularly Permic peoples such as the Komi)

The Udmurts are a people who speak the Udmurt language. Throughout history they have been known in Russian as Chud Otyatskaya (чудь отяцкая), Otyaks, Wotyaks or Votyaks (most known[citation needed] name), and in Tatar as Ar.

There have been claims that they are the "most red-headed" people in the world.[4] The members of the long-extinct Budini tribe, who are said to have been precursors of the modern Udmurts, were described as being predominantly red-headed by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus .


The name Udmurt probably comes from *odo-mort 'meadow people,' where the first part represents the Permic root *od(o) 'meadow, glade, turf, greenery' (related to the Finnish word itää 'to germinate, sprout') and the second part (Udmurt murt 'person'; cf. Komi mort, Mari mari) was an early borrowing from an Iranian language (such as Scythian): *mertā or *martiya 'person, man' (cf. Urdu/Persian mard. This is supported by a document dated February 25, 1557, in which the Udmurts are referred to as lugovye lyudi 'meadow people', alongside the traditional Russian name otyaki .[5]

On the other hand, in the Russian tradition, the name 'meadow people' refers to the inhabitants of the left bank of river in general. Recently, the most relevant is the version of V. V. Napolskikh and S. K. Belykh. They suppose that ethnonym was borrowed from the Iranian entirely: *anta-marta 'resident of outskirts, border zone' (cf. Antes) → Proto-Permic *odə-mortUdmurt udmurt.[6]


Most Udmurt people live in Udmurtia. Small groups live in the neighboring areas: Kirov Oblast and Perm Krai of Russia, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and Mari El.

The Udmurt population is shrinking; the Russian census reported 637,000 of them in 2002, compared to 746,562 in 1989.

Ареал расселения удмуртов в Волго-Уральском регионе. По данным Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года.


The Udmurt language belongs to the Uralic family and the Udmurts are therefore considered to be a branch of the Ugric peoples.

The Udmurts have a national epic called Dorvyzhy. Their national musical instruments include the krez zither (similar to the Russian gusli), and a wind instrument called the chipchirghan.[7]

A chapter in the French Description de toutes les nation de l'empire de Russie from 1776 is devoted to the description of the Wotyak people. James George Frazer also mentions the people in his book The Golden Bough.


  1. ^ Официальный сайт Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года. Информационные материалы об окончательных итогах Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года
  2. ^ State statistics committee of Ukraine - National composition of population, 2001 census (Ukrainian)
  3. ^ http://sreda.org/arena
  4. ^ Fernandez-Armesto, F., ed. (1994), The Times Guide to the Peoples of Europe. London: Times Books.
  5. ^ A.G. Ivanov, "Udmurty – 'Lugovye lyudi'," Linguistica Uralica Vol. 27, No. 3 (1991), pp. 188–92.
  6. ^ Белых С. К., Напольских В. В. Этноним удмурт: исчерпаны ли альтернативы? // Linguistica Uralica. T. 30, № 4. Tallinn, 1994.
  7. ^ Vitaly Michka (1 October 1994). Inside the New Russia. SC Publishing. ISBN 978-1-885024-17-6. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 

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