Ethnic group. At 1.6 million, the Chuvash are Russia’s fourth-largest ethnic minority. Their origins can be dated to the establishment of the Volga-Bulgar state in the 10th century. Ethnically, the Chuvash are a mixture of Turkic Bulgars and Finno-Ugric Maris; however, their language, Chuvash, is the only surviving member of the Oghur subfamily of Turkic languages, which includes the dead languages of Khazar, Hunnic, and Bulgar.
   Chuvash identity experienced a renaissance in the 1980s, centered on the Chuvash Public Cultural Center. This cultural revival gained political strength with the establishment of the National Rebirth Party (led by the philologist Atner Khuzangai, son of the preeminent Chuvash poet of the 20th century) and other nationalist organizations in 1991, and the increasing tendency of ethnic Chuvash to speak their mother tongue in public areas. Nationalism, which was quite tepid (described by some pundits as “ethnic nihilism”) in the late 1980s, grew in strength by 1991 when some nationalist leaders, including the future president Nikolay Fyodorov, called for Chuvashiya’s elevation to the status of a union republic.
   While the vast majority of Chuvash are nominally Russian Orthodox due to mass conversions in the 18th century under Russian rule, some retain Islam from the period when they were governed by the Tatars, while others have more recently converted due to proselytizing effort of Muslims from Turkey and Central Asia. Until the mid-20th century, Christianity as practiced by the Chuvash remained highly syncretic, continuing many animist folk practices. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a number of Chuvash have embraced Sardash, a form of neo-paganism based on ancestral practices and purportedly influenced by Zoroastrianism. This belief system has been promoted by many Chuvash intellectuals as a national religion; it also has a strong ecological orientation, which has attracted environmentally minded Chuvash.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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 — 1. adjective From, or pertaining to, Chuvashia 2. noun a) Someone from, or pertaining to Chuvashia b) An agglutinative language of the Bolgar branch of the Turkic language family and is spoken west of the …   Wiktionary

  • 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

  • Chuvash — adj. pertaining to Chuvashi people n. member of people of mixed Uralic and Altaic descent who live in western Russia n. Turkic language spoken by the Chuvash …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Chuvash — [ tʃu:vα:ʃ] noun (plural same) 1》 a member of a people living in Chuvashia, an autonomous republic in Russia. 2》 the Turkic language of the Chuvash …   English new terms dictionary

  • 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 — noun 1. a member of a people of Turkic speech living in the Volga region in eastern Russia • Hypernyms: ↑Turki 2. the Turkic language spoken by the Chuvash • Hypernyms: ↑Turki, ↑Turkic, ↑Turko Tatar, ↑Turkic language …   Useful english dictionary

  • Chuvash — ISO 639 3 Code : chv ISO 639 2/B Code : chv ISO 639 2/T Code : chv ISO 639 1 Code : cv Scope : Individual Language Type : Living …   Names of Languages ISO 639-3

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