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Udmurt people

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Title: Udmurt people  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Ethnic groups in Europe, Mordvins, Demographics of Russia, Besermyan, Mansi people
Collection: Permians, Udmurt People
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Udmurt people

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
Minorities: Protestant, Pentecostal,[3] Islam[4]
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 name), and in Tatar as Ar.

There have been claims that they are the "most red-headed" people in the world.[5] The long-extinct Budini tribesmen, said to have been precursors of the modern Udmurts,[6] were described as being predominantly red-headed by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus.[7]


  • Etymology 1
  • Distribution 2
  • Culture 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The name Udmurt probably comes from *odo-mort 'meadow people,' where the first part represents the Permic root *od(o) 'meadow, glade, turf, greenery', and the second part murt means 'person' (cf. Komi mort, Mari mari), an early borrowing from an Iranian language (such as Scythian): *mertä or *martiya 'person, man' (cf. Urdu/Persian mard). This is supported by a document dated 1557, in which the Udmurts are referred to as lugovye lyudi 'meadow people', alongside the traditional Russian name otyaki .[8]

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.[9]


Most Udmurt people live in Udmurtia. Small groups live in the neighboring areas of 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.

Udmurt resettlement area in the Volga-Ural region (data based on the National Population Census 2010)


The Udmurt language belongs to the Uralic family; 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 pipe-like wind instrument called the chipchirghan.[10]

A chapter in the French Description de toutes les nations de l'empire de Russie from 1776 is devoted to the description of the Wotyak people.[11] The Golden Bough.[12]


  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. ^
  4. ^ James Minahan (1 Jan 2002). Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: S-Z (illustrated ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 1953.  
  5. ^ Fernandez-Armesto, F., ed. (1994), The Times Guide to the Peoples of Europe. London: Times Books.
  6. ^ Matthews, William Kleesmann (1951). Languages of the U.S.S.R. At the University Press. p. 27. 'Udmurt' reads 'Votud' in Zyryan and may be identical in origin with the [...] Budini of Herodotus 
  7. ^ Herodotus (1866). The History of Herodotus: A New English Version. D. Appleton & Co. p. 78. The Budini [...] have all [...] bright red hair. 
  8. ^ A.G. Ivanov, "Udmurty – 'Lugovye lyudi'", Linguistica Uralica Vol. 27, No. 3 (1991), pp. 188–92.
  9. ^ Белых С. К., Напольских В. В. : исчерпаны ли альтернативы?удмуртЭтноним Linguistica Uralica. T. 30, № 4. Tallinn, 1994.
  10. ^ Vitaly Michka (1 October 1994). Inside the New Russia. SC Publishing.  
  11. ^ Müller, C. G. (1776). "Les Wotyaks". Description de toutes les nations de l'empire de Russie (in Français). St. Petersburg. p. 65. 
  12. ^ Frazer, James George (1913). The Golden Bough. Cambridge U. Press. p. 155.  

External links

  • Udmurtology (Russian), a site devoted to the Udmurt language and online resources
  • Udmurt WorldHeritage
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