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\ \ Gemil Tasin. The Issue of The Tatars Ethnogenesis


The Issue of The Tatars Ethnogenesis

Approaches to the history of tatars-and especially to the issue of their ethnogenesis have been made so far from a subjective point of view serving political purposes rather than objective one aiming to highlight scientific truth. Tatars were seen by early Christian chroniclers as well as by several western historians as "Gods punishment" for deviations from the teaching of Rome, while Russian historians employed their skills at justifying thus the Tsarist expansion over Tatar territories.
     Over the last decades, an ever greates number oh historians have applied themselves to the task of shedding a light on the true history of Tatars. Unfortunately, part of their approaches have continued to be tributary to the same old cliches cultivated with great care by the Roman Church and by Russian historiography. We should nevertheless mention a series of pertinent studies by some of the most prominent specialists in Central Asian issues, as well as the free access granted to Tatar historians by the liberalization of regimes in Eastern Europe and, most of all, in the ex-USSR.
    Based on the first document assessing the presence of the Tatars which dates back to 732 and also employing other sources of the time, the coclusion is reached that the ancient Tatars-whom the author conventionally designates as proto-Tatars-belongs to the Turkish tribes. The force of attraction given to the appellation Tatar is considered to be the most prominent contribution of the proto-Tatars to the ethnogenesis of the nowadays Tatar people. Researches having focused on the history of Genghis Khans Empire are of the same mind when ascertaining that both the population and the army of this huge state counted a non-Mongolian majority with a predominant Turkish element. This enormous mass of people within which Mongols hemselves were a minority, bore the generic name of Tatars.
    The coming into being of the khanate of the Golden Horde as a political entity would mark the embarking upon a decisive stage of ethnogenesis. The Tatar people was born within Euro-Asiatic boundaries, to be more precise in the European parts of the great Khanate of the Golden Horde (1243-1502). The Islamization of the Golden Horde impelled by Khan Berke (1257-1266) and completed by Khan Uzbek (1312-1340) would coincide with the final stage of ethnogenesis of the modern Tatars.
    Also based on conculsions reached by prominent specialists such as Louis Hambis, Bernard Lewis, Gotthard Juschke, Behaeddin Ugel, Jean-Paul Roux, Bertold Spuler, Mustafa Kafai a.s.o., it is being highlighted that in the process of ethnogenesis of the Tatar people the Kiptchak (Cuman) element was the bottom layer on which an osmose would take place between pre-existing elements of Turkish origin and elements newly arrived in the western part of the Golden Horde. To this main body of Turkish origin a contribution derived from the Turkification of the minoritian but politically dominant Mongolian element would add up. As in the case of other peoples, during the process of ethnogenesis as well as in the subsequent evolution of the Tatars several other ethnical influences would be at work, exerted, among which we may cite as most prominent the Finnish, the Slav, the Caucasian, the German, the Persian ones.
    But before the Tatar people could reach unitary development, the state which had harboured and nurtured its process of formation would witness a decline followed by disintegration. Tha Tatar people underwent thus a fragmentation among the Tatar khanates being set upen the ruins of the Golden Horde, in the 15th-16th centuries. Beginning with the middle of the 16th century, this fragmentation would be aggravated by the liquidation of these Tatar states as a result of Russian expansion. Throught the centuries, all these segments of the Tatar people-apart from the Crimean Tatars, whose close links to Turkey were preserved until the destruction of their state in 1783-would live in isolation from the Turkish-Islamic world outside the Russian (Soviet) Empire, as well as from one another.
    Even if the separate historical evolution allowed for the development of differents traits characteristic of the various Tatar groups and communities, it is irrefutable that most of the nowadays 12-14 million tatars have the same ethnical identity and speak dialects of the same Turkish language. As a result, the Tatars can communicate rather freely with all the peoples and populations having the same Turkish origin as theirs.
     Therefore, the Tatar people of nowadays was born in the European parts of the great state of the Golden Horde, as a people of Turkish origin and of Islamic faith.

Gemil Tasin

Resource - web-site "Tatars of Romania"
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