Mari people

Mari people
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Russia 604,000

Mari, (42,000 speak Tatar as a third language), Russian


Predominantly † Orthodox Christianity
(Russian Orthodox Church)
also Marla faith

Related ethnic groups

other Uralic peoples

The Mari (Russian: черемисы (old name), марийцы (modern name)), are a Volga-Finnic people who have traditionally lived along the Volga and Kama rivers in Russia. The majority of Maris today live in the Mari El Republic, with significant populations in the Tatarstan and Bashkortostan republics. In the past, the Mari have also been known as the Cheremis in Russian and the Çirmeş in Tatar.

The Mari people consists of three different groups: the Meadow Mari, who live along the left bank of the Volga, the Mountain Mari, who live along the right bank of the Volga, and Eastern Mari, who live in the Bashkortostan republic. In the 2002 Russian census, 604,298 people identified themselves as "Mari," with 18,515 of those specifying that they were Mountain Mari and 56,119 as Eastern Mari. Almost 60% of Mari lived in rural areas.[1]



The Mari have their own language, also called Mari, which is a member of the Uralic language family. It is written with a modified version of the Cyrillic alphabet. Linguists today distinguish four different dialects, which are not all mutually intelligible: Hill Mari (мары йӹлмӹ), concentrated mainly along the right Volga bank; Meadow Mari (марий йылме), spoken in the lowland regions of the Kokshaga and Volga rivers, which includes the city of Yoshkar-Ola; Eastern Mari, spoken east of the Vyatka River; and North-Western Mari.

In the 2002 census, 451,033 people stated that they spoke the Mari language.


Maris have traditionally practiced a pagan faith that closely connected the individual with nature. According to their beliefs, nature exerts a magical influence over people. They relate to it as a sacred, powerful, and living being outside of which man can not exist. Nature serves as a source of absolute good who always helps man as long as he does not harm or oppose it.[2]

The Mari faith also possesses a pantheon of gods who reside in the heavens, the most important of whom is known as the Great White God (Ош Кугу Юмо, Osh Kugu Yumo). Other lesser gods include the god of fire (Тул Юмо, Tul Yumo) and the god of wind (Мардеж Юмо, Mardezh Yumo). The Mari also believe in a number of half-men, half-gods (керемет, keremet) who live on earth. The most revered of these gods is Chumbulat (Чумбулат) Kubrat or Chumbylat (Чумбылат), a renowned leader and warrior.[3]

Christianity was adopted by the Mari in the 16th century after their territory was incorporated into the Russian Empire during the reign of Ivan IV "the Terrible". Adoption of Christianity was not universal, however, and many Mari today still practice paganism or are of the Marla faith, a form of Christianity that retains significant amounts of pre-Christian elements.

Soviet Union

Following the organisation of Muslims in the Soviet Union through Muskom, the Mari Section was set up under the auspices of Narkomnats, the Peoples Commissariat for nationalities. Its task was to facilitate the close union of the Mari people with other people, to abolish anti-Russian mistrust and to raise the "class consciousness" of Mari workers. In practice this involved facilitating grain requisitions by the Soviet state, the recruitment of soldiers for the Red Army and the implementation of Bolshevik control of the society.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года,
  2. ^ Шкалина, Галина. "Язычество народа Мари-феномен европейской культуры". "Етносфера".
  3. ^ Чумбылат – марийский национальный герой (Russian)
  4. ^ The Sorcerer as Apprentice: Stalin as Commissar of nationalities, 1917–1924, by Stephen Blank, Greenwood Press, London 1994 ISBN 978-0-313-28683-4

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mari language — Mari марий йылме marij jəlme Spoken in Russian Federation: autonomous republics Mari El, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Udmurtia; oblasti Nizhny Novgorod, Kirov, Sverdlovsk, Orenburg; Perm Krai …   Wikipedia

  • Mari — may refer to: Mari (given name) Mari language, Uralic language Mari people, Volga Finnic people Places Mari El Republic, a federal subject of Russia Mari Autonomous Oblast (1920–1936), an administrative division of the Russian SFSR, Soviet Union… …   Wikipedia

  • Mari-Udmurt War — Date 13th century Location Mari El Result Decisive Mari victory …   Wikipedia

  • Mari music — is the music of the Volga Finnic Mari people of Russia. Mari music is generally pentatonic.[1] Song Mari songs are generally short and lyrical.[1] Common themes include the Volga river, and a love of nature, to include forests and rainbows.[2]… …   Wikipedia

  • Mari El — For other uses, see Mari (disambiguation). Mari El Republic Республика Марий Эл (Russian) Марий Эл Республик (Mari)   Republic   …   Wikipedia

  • Mari El —    An ethnic republic of the Russian Federation. Incorporated into Russia in the 16th century, the Finnic Mari people often resisted attempts at Russification, maintaining a separate ethnic and religious identity. The Soviets established the Mari …   Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation

  • Mari (Volk) — Die Mari (historisch: Tscheremissen) sind ein Volk in Russland, u. a. in der Republik Mari El. Sie gehören zu den Wolga Finnen. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Verbreitung 2 Geschichte 3 Religion …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mari Boine — performing at Riddu Riđđu 2006 Background information Birth name Mari Boine Persen Born …   Wikipedia

  • Mari Iijima — 飯島 真理 Mari Iijima in 2010 Background information Born May 18, 1963 (1963 05 18) (age 48) …   Wikipedia

  • MARI — MARI, one of the principal centers of Mesopotamia during the third and early second millennia B.C.E. The archaeological and epigraphical discoveries there are of prime significance for the history of Mesopotamia and Upper Syria. The Akkadian… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.