The Permic Language Branch

The Komis

Population: Approx. 505,000

Concentration: Scattered throughout western Siberia, smaller groups are found as far west as the Kola Peninsula.

Religion: Russian Orthodox

Ethnic inheritance: European with Mongoloid influence.

Language: Komi

The Komi language which is closely related to Udmurt, is made up of three major dialects, Zyryan has roughly 350,000 speakers which is the literary basis within the Komi Autonomous Republic, the dialect of the Komi-Permyak National District (Komi- Permyatsky Natsionalny Okrug) is Permyak where it serves as a literary language and is spoken by over 150,000 speakers, Finally Yazva, which has approximately 4,000 speakers, spoken east of the Komi-Permyak National District. Zyryan and Permyak are sometimes considered separate languages.

A written form of early Komi (called Old Permic) was used in religious manuscripts in the 1300’s. Komi literature began to develop in the 19th century. The Komi were converted to Russian Orthodox during the 12th century. There traditional source of income is from agriculture, hunting and fishing, which varies in different regions. The Izhma Komi a more northern group, hunt reindeer as there main source of income and are also experienced and well known merchants.

The Udmurts

Population: 747,000

Concentration: Largely in the area of the lower Kama River, 67% live in the Udmurt Autonomous Republic.

Religion: Russian Orthodox.

Ethnic inheritance: European with some Mongoloid features.

Language: Udmurt

In ancient times the Udmurts lived on the territory of the Kirov region and Tatarstan. There religion was based on the idolization of phenomena in nature and they worshipped many gods. According to ethnography, anthropology, linguistics, and archeology the origin of the Udmurts is connected with autochtonous tribes of the Vyatsko-Kamaski region. There is evidence of some trading with India and Egypt during the first millennium BC. The Udmurts did not begin farming until the Bronze Age. Many of the Udmurts were forced convert to Christianity, to escape this many migrated further east and north. The Udmurts first appeared in Russian chronicles during the 14th century, they paid tribute to the Golden Horde, Kazan Khanate and Volzhskaya Bulgaria. Russians had begun to settle on there territory at the end of the 12th century. After the conquest of Vyatka during the late 1400’s, the northern group of Udmurts came under Russian rule, then the southern group in 1552 after the fall of Kazan. Following this the first large Russian settlements began to appear on Udmurt territory. After 1740 the Russians began to Christinize the Udmurts on a larger scale, this led to the pure Udmurts settlements being founded and a Udmurt literary language was constructed. In 1756 the first private factory was founded in Udmurtia (the Bemyzhski copper melting works). In 1780 two Udmurt settlements gained city status (Glazov and Sarapul). After the mid 19th century industry and culture began to develop further. In 1899 the main railway perm-cotlas crossed Udmurtia, which contributed to further economic development. The Russian Revolution in 1917 led to the growth of the national consciousness which was supported by the Bolsheviks. This led to Udmurt Autonomy. Since 1934 Udmurt has been called the Udmurt Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Following the dissolution of the USSR the UASSR was renamed the Republic of Udmurtia. In 1993 Udmurt introduced a flag. There emblem and anthem was validated in 1994.

Today the language of Udmurt is studied around the world, it’s closest relative is Komi about as close as Russian and Polish. Roughly 500 words from Udmurt originate from the original Proto-Finno-Ugric languages.

The Udmurts are a hard working people who are famous for weaving and artistic wood processing. Songs are an important part of the Udmurt culture.