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The distribution of Bashkir tribes before and during their integration into the Russian State

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The ethnic geography of Bashkiria immediately before and during its absorption by the Russian Empire is a matter of debate because few of any relevant written or archaeological sources are available. The only reliable source is the toponymy and hydronymy of Bashkir historical legends and genealogies (shezhere). Ethnographers believe that legends originated at the early stage of feudalism whereas according to shezhere they are contemporaneous with the absorption of Bashkiria by the empire. Eventually, legends became the only documents proving Bashkirs’ ownership of land. The preserved legends and shezhere jointly mention some eighty names of rivers and mountains matching modern toponyms of the southern Ural and mirroring ethnic geography of medieval Bashkiria. Our comparative analysis suggests that the boundaries of “Old Bashkiria” passed between the Dem River valley and the western foothill of the southern Ural, as well as along the eastern foothill of the southern Ural from the Miass River in the north to the Sakmara River in the south. During the 15th and 16th centuries, these borders remained relatively stable, shifting mainly southward because of the annexation of territories emptied after Ivan IV had conquered the Kazan Khanate and ousted the Nogais from southern Ural.

About the Author

V. A. Ivanov
Bashkir State Pedagogical University, Oktyabrskoy Revolutsii 3а, Ufa, 450000, Russia
Russian Federation


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For citations:

Ivanov V.A. The distribution of Bashkir tribes before and during their integration into the Russian State. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2016;44(3):121-129.

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ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)