Udmurt people

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Udmurt people.jpg
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
Minorities: Protestant, Pentecostal,[3] Islam[4]
Related ethnic groups
Other Uralic peoples (particularly Permic peoples such as the Komi)

The Udmurts are a people who speak the Udmurt language. In the course of history, Russian-speakers have referred to them as Chud Otyatskaya (чудь отяцкая), Otyaks, Wotyaks or Votyaks (the most-known[citation needed] name). Tatar-speakers call the Udmurts Ar.

There have been claims[by whom?] that they are the "most red-headed" people in the world.[5] The ancient Greek historian Herodotus described the long-extinct Budini tribesmen, possible relatives of the modern Udmurts,[6] as predominantly red-headed.[7]


The name Udmurt probably comes from *odo-mort 'meadow people,' where the first part represents the Permic root *od(o) 'meadow, glade, turf, greenery', and the second part murt means 'person' (cf. Komi mort, Mari mari), an early borrowing from an Iranian language (such as Scythian): *mertä or *martiya 'person, man' (cf. Urdu/Persian mard). This is supported by a document dated 1557, in which the Udmurts are referred to as lugovye lyudi 'meadow people', alongside the traditional Russian name otyaki .[8]

On the other hand, in the Russian tradition, the name 'meadow people' refers to the inhabitants of the left bank of river in 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.[9]


Most Udmurt people live in Udmurtia. Small groups live in the neighboring areas of Kirov Oblast and Perm Krai of Russia, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and Mari El.

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

Udmurt resettlement area in the Volga-Ural region (data based on the National Population Census 2010)


The Udmurt language belongs to the Uralic family; the Udmurts are therefore considered to be a branch of the Ugric peoples.

The Udmurts have a national epic called Dorvyzhy. Their national musical instruments include the krez zither (similar to the Russian gusli) and a pipe-like wind instrument called the chipchirghan.[10]

A chapter in the French Description de toutes les nations de l'empire de Russie from 1776 is devoted to the description of the Wotyak people.[11] James George Frazer also mentions a rite performed by the people rites in his book The Golden Bough.[12]


  1. Официальный сайт Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года. Информационные материалы об окончательных итогах Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года
  2. State statistics committee of Ukraine - National composition of population, 2001 census (Ukrainian)
  3. http://sreda.org/arena
  4. James Minahan (1 Jan 2002). Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: S-Z (illustrated ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 1953. ISBN 9780313323843. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Fernandez-Armesto, F., ed. (1994), The Times Guide to the Peoples of Europe. London: Times Books.
  6. Matthews, William Kleesmann (1951). Languages of the U.S.S.R. At the University Press. p. 27. 'Udmurt' reads 'Votud' in Zyryan and may be identical in origin with the [...] Budini of Herodotus<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Herodotus (1866). The History of Herodotus: A New English Version. D. Appleton & Co. p. 78. The Budini [...] have all [...] bright red hair.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. A.G. Ivanov, "Udmurty – 'Lugovye lyudi'", Linguistica Uralica Vol. 27, No. 3 (1991), pp. 188–92.
  9. Белых С. К., Напольских В. В. Этноним удмурт: исчерпаны ли альтернативы? Linguistica Uralica. T. 30, № 4. Tallinn, 1994.
  10. Vitaly Michka (1 October 1994). Inside the New Russia. SC Publishing. ISBN 978-1-885024-17-6. Retrieved 17 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Müller, C. G. (1776). "Les Wotyaks". Description de toutes les nations de l'empire de Russie (in français). St. Petersburg. p. 65.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Frazer, James George (1913). The Golden Bough. Cambridge U. Press. p. 155. ISBN 978-1-108-04738-8. Annual expulsion of Satan among the Wotyaks of Russia<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links