The Tatars are a group of people from the Turkic descent living in Asia and Europe. Siberian Tatars are a group of people from the mountainous regions of South Siberia. They inhabit an expanse of land that spans from the eastern parts of the Ural Mountains to the Yenisei River in Russia. In the region, there are two specific groups of people the Siberian Tatars and the Volga Tatar immigrants. They call themselves the Siberian Tatars roughly translated in the local language as “old inhabitants.”
About half a million Tatars are residing in this region, but only approximately 10,000 of this figure are indigenous Siberian Tatars. An estimated 400,000 Tartars belong to the Volga Tartars ethnic descent. Despite the fact that, they were the first inhabitants, their language is not recognized. The Volga Tartar language and Russia are the ones employed in learning in the region. The Serbian Tartars were the original Tartan, but because of their little population, the Volga Tartans are the officially recognized Tartans by the Russian government.
The Siberian Tartar group comprises of three indigenous tribes. The Tomsk Tatars, the Barabinsk Tatars and the Tobolo-Irtysh who are the largest. The Tomsk Tatars have smaller clans namely the Kalmaks, the Chats, and the Eushta. The Barabinsk Tatars also have sub-divisions; the Barabo-Turashi, the Terenino-Choi, and the Liubei-Tunusy. Lastly, Tobolo-Irtysh has the following sub-divisions; the Tars, Kurdak-Sargatsk, Tobolsk, Tiumen, and Iaskolbin Tatars.
They are all Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi madhab and reside in southern Siberia. Siberian Tartars all have their dialect, which is quite distinct from the other. The dialects are the Baraban, Tobol-Irtysh, and Tomsk. There are other smaller clans among the Siberian Tartar with diverse dialects. The many tribes for one indicate they are widely multi-linguistic. They also have various forms of speech like the Tiumen, Tar, and Tevriz forms within the Tomsk dialect and the Kalmak and Chat-Eushtin forms of expression.
The Siberian Tatars like their ancestors are nomadic pastoralists. They have one skill that enhanced their adaptability to the mountainous terrains of Eastern Europe. They are masters in handling the horse. Over these years, these people survived on food gotten from hunting. The game from their hunting expeditions provided them with food, and the fur of these animals became precious commodities. The fur was in turn traded for money and other necessities.
They were also skilled in artworks. In the region, they had developed techniques in weaving, and this fetched revenue for them. They were excellent traders, and they traded extensively with other tribes in Asia for centuries. Apart from all these skills, the Serbian Tartars were good farmers; they were great bee farmers. In the region, farming proved to support more people in an area than any other occupation.
They also have festivals and celebrate many things. One of their traditional celebrations is the “sabantui.” It is a harvest festival, and it comes up around October/November yearly. The festival has also evolved. There is now a modern twist to the festival spiced with sack races, egg tosses, and other activities as in European festivals.
In the Eastern Europe and Asian culture, it is a norm for families to be patriarchal and the community owns everything. In essence, the father is the final authority in the family setting. Islamic teachings also affect their way of life mainly in the diet; they do not eat pork. The girls in the Siberian Tartar community like other Tartans do not go to school. Their women also move around with a veil. They are strict with their dress codes. Even, their females do cover their hair when they do not put on the veil, and the men are with skullcaps mostly. Some of these cultural biases have been relaxed starting from 1917.
Due to the invasion of Russia on their lands over two centuries ago, southern Siberia now has about 95% Russian population and about 5% Serbian Tartans. They are no longer in large settings again but exist in small groups in various locations. The Russian invasion began with the fall of the Tatar Khanate of Sibir in 1582. After the conquest of the Sibir, their societal structure served as a template for the entire Northern Asian region conquered by Russia. They had a tribute system, which the Russians capitalized and extended the reach. They used the tribute system to gather valuable fur all over the region.
Siberian Tatars often practice endogamy. They do not want their ethnic identity lost through intermarriage with other tribes. Therefore, an average Serbian Tartan will marry another Tartan. In family size, they are a close-knit people. They have suffered discrimination for such long time. Therefore, an average family sometimes has three generations living together. They do not interact so often with neighboring communities where you find them. They largely depend on their own for job and business opportunities.