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Title: Udmurts  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Finno-Ugric languages, Demographics of Ukraine, Tatarstan, Ivan the Terrible, Mordvins, Republics of Russia, Bashkortostan, Idel-Ural State, Udmurt language, Mongol invasion of Volga Bulgaria
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


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. Through history they have been known in Russian as Chud Otyatskaya (чудь отяцкая), Otyaks, or Votyaks (most known name), and in Tatar as Ar.


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 Finnish itää 'to germinate, sprout') and the second part (Udmurt murt 'person'; cf. Komi mort, Mari mari) is an early borrowing from Indo-Iranian *mertā or *martiya 'person, man' (cf. Urdu/Persian mard). This is supported by a document dated Feb. 25, 1557, in which alongside the traditional Russian name otyaki the Udmurts are referred to as lugovye lyudi 'meadow people'.[4]

On the other hand, in the Russian tradition, the name 'meadow people' refers to the inhabitants of the left bank of river 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.[5]


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 language belongs to the Uralic family.

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


Anthropologists relate Udmurts to the Urals branch of Europeans. Most of them are of the middle size, often have blue or gray eyes, high cheek-bones and wide face. The Udmurt people are not of an athletic build but they are very hardy.[6] and there have been claims that they are the "most red-headed" people in the world.[7] Additionally, the ancient Budini tribe, which is speculated to be an ancestor of the modern Udmurts, were described by Herodotus as being predominantly red-headed.


The Udmurts have a national epic called Dorvyzhy.

Their national instruments include the krez zither (similar to the Russian gusli), and a wind instrument called the chipchirghan.[8]


External links

  • Udmurtology (Russian), a site devoted to the Udmurt language and Udmurt resources on the internet
  • Udmurt World Heritage Encyclopedia

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