Infobox Ethnic group

poptime=500,000Fact|date=September 2008
popplace=Russia, Mongolia
rels=Tibetan Buddhism ("Lamaism"), Shamanism
langs=Buryat, Russian
related=Other Mongolic peoples
The Buryats or Buriyads, numbering approximately 436,000, are the largest ethnic minority group in Siberia and are mainly concentrated in their homeland, the Buryat Republic, a federal subject of Russia. They are the northernmost major Mongol group. ["The New Encyclopædia Britannica", 15th Edition. (1977). Vol. II, p. 396. ISBN 0-85229-315-1.]

Buryats share many customs with their Mongolian cousins, including nomadic herding and erecting yurts for shelter. Today, the majority of Buryats live in and around Ulan Ude, the capital of the republic, although many live more traditionally in the countryside. Their language is called Buryat.


The name "Buriyat" is mentioned for the first time in the "Secret History of the Mongols" (1240). [ Erich Haenisch, "Die Geheime Geschichte der Mongolen", Leipzig 1948, p.112] Consolidation of tribes and groups took place under the conditions of the Russian state.

When the Russians expanded into Transbaikalia (eastern Siberia) in the mid-17th century, they found only a small core of tribal groups speaking a Mongol dialect called Buryat. The ancestors of most modern Buryats were speaking a variety of Turkic-Tungusic dialects at that time. [Bowles, Gordon T. (1977). "The People of Asia", pp. 278-279. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London. ISBN 0-297-77360-7.] In addition to genuine Buryat-Mongolian tribes (Bul(a)gad, Khori, Ekhired, Khongoodor) that merged with the Buryats, the Buryats also assimilated other groups, including some Oirats, Khalkha Mongols, Tungus (Evenks) and others. The territory and people were annexed to the Russian state by treaties in 1689 and 1728, when the territories on both the sides of Lake Baikal were separated from Mongolia. From the middle of the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century, the Buryat population increased from 27,700 to 300,000. [ [http://www.nupi.no/cgi-win/Russland/etnisk_b.exe?Buryatian Buryats] ]

Another estimate of the rapid growth in people referring to themselves as Buryat is based on the clan list names paying tribute in the form of a sable-skin tax. This indicates a population of about 25,000 in 1640 rising to 157,000 in 1823 and more than a million by 1950. [Bowles, Gordon T. (1977). "The People of Asia", p. 279. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London. ISBN 0-297-77360-7.]

The historical roots of the Buryat culture are related to the Mongolian. After Buryatia was incorporated into Russia, it was exposed to two traditions — Buddhist and Christian. Buryats west of Lake Baikal and Olkhon (Irkut Buryats), are more "russified", and they soon abandoned nomadism for agriculture, whereas the eastern (Transbaikal) Buryats are closer to the Khalkha Mongols, may live in yurts and are mostly Buddhists. In 1741, the Tibetan branch of Buddhism was recognized as one of the official religions in Russia, and the first Buryat datsan (Buddhist monastery) was built.

The second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century was a time of growth for the Buryat Buddhist church (48 datsans in Buryatia in 1914). Buddhism became an important factor in the cultural development of Buryatia. After the Revolution, most of the lamas were loyal to the Soviet power. In 1925, a battle against religion and church in Buryatia started. Datsans were gradually closed down, and the activity of the church curtailed. Consequently, in the late 1930s the Buddhist church ceased to exist and thousands of cultural treasures were destroyed. Attempts to revive the Buddhist Church started during World War II, and it was officially re-established in 1946. A genuine revival of Buddhism has taken place since the late 1980s as an important factor in the national consolidation and spiritual rebirth.

In 1923, the Buryat-Mongol Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was formed and included Baikal province (Pribaykalskaya guberniya) with Russian population. In 1937, in an effort to disperse Buryats, Stalin's government separated a number of counties ("raions") from the Buryat-Mongol ASSR and formed Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug and Aga Buryat Autonomous Okrug; at the same time, some raions with Buryat populations were left out. Fearing Buryat nationalism, Joseph Stalin had more than 10,000 Buryats killed. In 1958, the name "Mongol" was removed from the name of the republic (Buryat ASSR). BASSR declared its sovereignty in 1990 and adopted the name Republic of Buryatia in 1992. The constitution of the Republic was adopted by the People's Khural in 1994, and a bilateral treaty with the Federation was signed in 1995.

Famous Buryats

*Valéry Inkijinoff - French actor
*Irina Pantaeva - supermodel and actress
*Yuriy Yekhanurov - Prime Minister of Ukraine
*Agvan Dorjiev - Buddhist monk and tutor of the 13th Dalai Lama.
*Alexander Vampilov - Russian playwright.
* [http://acmebirdseed.com/tsybikova.php Albina Tsybikova - Painter, Honored Artist of Russia and Buryatia.]
* [http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Список_знаменитых_бурят Список знаменитых бурят (List of Buryats)] in [http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Заглавная_страница Wikipedia] .


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ee also

* Ust-Orda Buryat Okrug
* Agin-Buryat Okrug
* List of indigenous peoples of Russia
* Far Eastern Republic
* Buddhism in Russia

Further reading

* [http://www.traveleastrussia.com/buryatia.html The Republic of Buryatia]
* [http://www.nupi.no/cgi-win/Russland/etnisk_b.exe?Buryatian Ethnic groups — Buryats]
*J.G. Gruelin, Siberia.
*Pierre Simon Pallas, Sammlungen historischer Nachrichten über die mongolischen Volkerschaften (St Petersburg, 1776–1802).
*M.A. Castrén, Versuch einer buriatischen Sprachlehre (1857).
*Sir H.H. Howorth, History of the Mongols (1876–1888).

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