Chuvash people

Chuvash people
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Row 1: P. Yegorov  • N. Bichurin  • I. Yakovlev

Row 2: N. Nikolsky  • K. Ivanov  • Şeşpĕl Mišši
Row 3: A. Nikolayev  • G. Aygi  • N. Pavlova

Total population
up to 2 million
Regions with significant populations
 Russia 1,637,094 [1]
 Kazakhstan 22,305 [2]
 Ukraine 10,593 [3]
 Uzbekistan 10,074 [4]
 Turkmenistan 2,281 [5]
 Belarus 2,242 [6]
 Moldova 1,204 [7]
 Kyrgyzstan 848 [8]
 Latvia 752 [9]
 Georgia 542 [10]
 Estonia 495 [11]
 Azerbaijan 489 [12]



† Orthodox Christianity

Related ethnic groups

Volga Tatars, Volga Bulgars

Chuvash diaspora in Volga Federal District

The Chuvash people (Chuvash: Чăвашсем; Russian: Чуваши) are a Turkic ethnic group, native to an area stretching from the Volga Region to Siberia. Most of them live in Republic of Chuvashia and surrounding areas, although Chuvash communities may be found throughout all Russia.



There is no universally accepted etymology of the word Chuvash. However, there are two main theories that try to explain it.


According to one theory, "Chuvash" is a Shaz-Turkic adaptation of Lir-Turkic Suvar, an ethnonym of people that are widely considered to be the ancestors of modern Chuvashes. Compare Lir-Turkic Chuvash: huran to Shaz-Turkic Tatar: qazan (cauldron).


Another theory suggests that the word "Chuvash" may be derived from Common Turkic jăvaš ("friendly", "peaceful") as opposed to şarmăs ("warlike").


There are rival schools of thought on the origin of Chuvash people. One is that they originated from a mixing between the Turkic Suar and Sabir tribes of Volga Bulgaria with local Mari tribes. Another is that the Chuvash are a remainder of the pre-Volga Bulgar population of the Volga region, merged with Scythians, Volga Bulgars and Mari.


Chuvash people are divided into two main groups: Virjal or Turi (Chuvash: вирьял, тури; upper) and Anatri (Chuvash: анатри; lower). The latter also have their own subgroups: Anat jenci (Chuvash: анат енчи; mid-lower) and Hirti (Chuvash: хирти; steppe).


The Turkic ancestors of the Chuvash people are believed to have come from central Siberia, where they lived in the Irtysh basin (between the Tian Shan and Altay) from at least the end of the third millennium BC.[13] In the beginning of the first century AD, the Bulgars started moving west through Zhetysu and the steppes of modern-day Kazakhstan, reaching the North Caucasus in 2nd-3rd centuries AD. There they established several states (Old Bulgaria on the Black Sea coast and the Suvar Duchy in modern-day Daghestan) and came into contact with various Iranic peoples.

Old Bulgaria broke up in the second half of the 7th century after a series of successful Khazar invasions. Some of it's population fled north, to the Volga-Kama region, where they established Volga Bulgaria, which eventually became extremely wealthy; its capital being the 4th largest city in the world. Shortly after that, the Suvar Duchy was forced to become a vassal state of Khazaria. About half a century later, the Suvars took part in the Khazar-Arab Wars of 732-737.


They speak the Chuvash language and have some pre-Christian traditions. In addition to the Chuvash language,[14] many Chuvash people also use the Russian and Tatar languages.


Chuvash people are predominantly Orthodox Christians and belong to the Russian Orthodox Church. They retain some pre-Christian traditions in their cultural activities.

See also


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Chuvash — /chooh vahsh /; Russ. /chyooh vahsh /, n., pl. Chuvashes, Chuvashi /chooh vah shee/; Russ. /chyooh vah shi, vu shi /, (esp. collectively) Chuvash for 1. 1. a member of a people of mixed Uralic and Altaic ancestry who live in the middle Volga… …   Universalium

  • Chuvash — /tʃʊˈvaʃ/ (say choo vahsh) noun 1. a people making up the majority of the population of Chuvashia. 2. (plural Chuvash or Chuvashes) a member of this people. 3. the Turkic language of this people. –adjective 4. of or relating to this people or… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Chuvash — Chu•vash [[t]tʃuˈvɑʃ[/t]] n. pl. Chu•vash•es, Chu•va•shi [[t]tʃuˈvɑ ʃi[/t]] (esp. collectively)Chu•vash 1) peo a member of a people of the middle Volga River basin in the Russian Federation, living mainly in the Chuvash Autonomous Republic 2) peo …   From formal English to slang

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