Reviews

This book is dedicated to one of the most poorly studied eras in the history of modern Bashkiria, the post Golden Horde period. At that time, the Southern Urals became the arena for oppositions between two social and political systems, those of respectively the Noghai Horde, and the “Golden Horde” (or Ulus of Jöchi) supported by the Tuqay-Timurid dynasty. The author analyses the relationship between Bashkir aristocracy and the ruling houses, built on the fragments of the Golden Horde’s successor states. Introducing the conditions and character of “vassal/suzerain” relation between the Bashkir tribes and the khans, he comes to the conclusion that the Southern Urals were a politically and economically autonomous region, bound with administrative ulus and wing (parts of the Golden Horde) system. A final period of Bashkir vassalage occurred under the rule of Tukhtamish and of his successors in Kazan. If on the one hand the Bashkirs obtained some privileges (land property, tax privileges), on the other they were involved in military service and took part in many operations of the Tuqay-Timurid khans.

Separate statements of the book can be distinguished for their innovative character, notably the thesis that the central and southern parts of the Urals region were for some time a component of the Kazan Khanate. Focusing on ethnic and class structures of the Kazan and Kasimov khanates, the author engages new reflections on self-denominations such as “Tatar,” “Bulghar” or “Chuvash,” raising significant issues of the ethnic history of the populations of the Middle Volga. As to political organisation of Bashkir society, the author emphasizes the role of “chieftainships” arising as a result of the weakening of the Golden Horde. The so-called “Khanate of Tura-Khan,” hegemonic in the Southern Urals during the whole fifteenth century, is considered one of the largest and most influent entities of the time, ruled by Qunghrat-Giray tribes whilst integrating tribes of “Bulghar” and “Qipchaq” origins. Other confederations existed in Western Siberia and South-Eastern Urals like the “Tabïn Confederation” led in the fifteenth century by descendants of Mayki Bay, a high-rank officer of Genghis Khan’s. In short, fifteenth and sixteenth-century Bashkir confederative formations are for the first time presented as a political subject of regional history. Another innovation of the author’s work is its utilisation of primary materials coming from Bashkir folklore. Besides, three categories of oral historical tradition are used as sources: genealogical trees (shejeres), historical legends, and steppe oral chronicles. For the author, using these sources is a good alternative to the lack of archaeological materials and written sources of Russian and Middle Asian origins as far as this period is concerned. So doing, he has made his monograph the result of an interdisciplinary investigation, using methods of historical and political anthropology, social history and folklore studies.

Larissa A. Yamaeva, Institute for Humanities, Ufa
CER: II-3.2.B-158