Tabasaran people


Traditional Tabasaran outfit

Tabasarans (self-designated as Tabasaranar [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]) are one of the peoples of Dagestan, whose main area of settlement is the southeastern slope of the Greater Caucasus Range. Most of the Tabasarans live in Tabasaran (Rubas basin), Khiva (Chiragchai River basin) and Derbent districts of Dagestan, and the urban population is concentrated mainly in Derbent, as well as Ogni, Kaspiisk and Makhachkala. A small number of Tabasarans can be found in all regions of the North Caucasus. The Tabasarans coexist with the Dargins in the North and Northwest, the Agulas in the Southwest, and the Lezgins in the South.

Tabasarans are both linguistically and ethnoculturally close to other peoples of Dagestan. The ancestors of the modern Tabasarans historically belonged to a multi-tribal state, Caucasian Albania, and were known under the common name of “Albanians” [16]. According to geneticists, two Y-chromosome haplogroups dominate in Tabasaran – J1 (49%) and R1b (45%) [17]. The Tabasaran people are Sunni Muslims.

Culture and traditions

The social life of Tabasarans was traditionally regulated by feudal-patriarchal institutions. Family ceremonies are close in many respects to ceremonies of other peoples of Dagestan. There are widespread traditions of hospitality and respect for elders. The wedding is preceded by matchmaking and collusion (there was also the custom of betrothal of minors); relatives and fellow villagers took part in the wedding, which was accompanied by dancing and singing.

The main occupations are agriculture (and in some places gardening) and cattle breeding. An important traditional branch of the economy is the production of carpets. Wood and stone carvings are also produced [50].

Historically in Tabasaran, carpet weaving, woodworking, pottery, patterned weaving, wood and stone carvings, blacksmithing, wool products, paper, linen weaving, felt products, leather, and patterned socks were among the artisinal activities. Now the traditions of making carpets and wooden utensils continue.

Tabasaran Cuisine

The traditional food of Tabasarans consists mainly of vegetables, meat and milk. The main dish is hinkal, a kind of dumpling that is eaten with meat, butter, sour milk, garlic and crushed nuts. Another dish is pies with a filling of wild herbs, cottage cheese, and eggs. Meat is eaten in boiled and fried forms. Also eaten are cooked cabbage rolls, dumplings, and pilaf. Dairy products include fresh and sour milk, cottage cheese, sour cream, butter. Bread (cakes) is often fresh, and less frequently leaven. The main drinks are ayran and tea [50].


The ethnonym tabar-sar-aran (the owner of mountain peaks and coastal plains) comes from the Tabasaran language and originally designated all the inhabitants of the Kaitago-Tabasaran district and part of the Kurinsky district (including Derbent Azerbaijanis, Tatas, some Lezgins), then later became the name of only a more limited group, the modern-day Tabasarans [18]. For a long time this ethnonym was used by the Tabasarans mainly in communications with their foreign-speaking neighbors [18].

The Tabasaran Language

The Tabasaran language is classed under the Lezgian branch of the Nakh-dagestani (Northeast dagestani) family of languages.

The literary Tabasaran language was formed on the basis of the Nitrik southern dialect [37]. The closest language to Tabasaran is the Aghul language. A.M. Dirr, who published a special article on the Tabasaran language in the early 20th century, came to the following conclusion:

“Tabasaran is a language with undoubtedly Dagestani grammar, but its lexicological material is significantly impoverished: the Tabasaran vocabulary abounds in Persian, Turkish-Tatar and Arabic words. Most of these words penetrated the Tabasaran language through the Tatar language, the influence of which, however, is found not only in the dictionary, but also in grammar” [38].

The Tabasaran language is included in the Guinness Book of Records as one of the most complex languages in the world (for example, there are 48 cases of nouns) [40]. In the modern Tabasaran language three dialects are distinguished: Nitrik, Suvak, and Galina (Eteg), each of which comprises a group of sub-dialects. The basis of the literary Tabasaran language is the phonetic and grammatical system of the Nitrik dialect. In the lexicon there is a rather significant layer of borrowing. From Farsi it mainly borrowed ancient military, domestic and craft terminology; from Arabic, religious, scientific and philosophical terms; from Russian (or from European languages through Russian), modern scientific and technical and socio-political terminology. There is also a considerable amount of borrowings from the Azerbaijani language. They include both nouns and many complex verbs [41]. The Soviet linguist A.A. Magometov reported on the influence of the Azerbaijani language on Tabasaran: “The influence [of Azerbaijani] in the Tabasaran language was also felt. First of all, it affected the lexical composition of the language, which contains a large number of words that penetrated into Tabasaran through the Azerbaijani language… Borrowed words can sometimes supplant and actually replace Tabasaran words.” [38]

The written language uses the Russian alphabet. In 1932, a newspaper in the Tabasaran language appeared in Tabasaran. It was called Uiru Tabasaran (“Red Tabasaran”), and served as the the organ of the Tabasaran District Party Committee [42].

According to the 2010 census, the total number of speakers in the Tabasaran language was 126,136 people [43].

Tabasaran History

In the territory of northern Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan from the 4th-3rd centuries BCE and before the IV century there was an ancient state of Caucasian Albania. This state was an alliance of 26 multilingual tribes and peoples, among which were the ancestors of Tabasaran.

Maisum Tabasaran (principality)

As a result of the Arab invasion of Dagestan, the territory of Tabasaran became part of the Arab Caliphate. Following the caliphate’s disintegration, the territory became part of Shirvan. In 917, Muhammad Maisum from the Arab Mazyadid dynasty began to rule Tabasaran. After that, the rulers of Tabasaran began to be called “Maisums.” The main enemy of Maisum was the Emirate of Derbent. In the years 944-956, the brother Muhammad Ahmad established his power. In 948, Muhammad became Shirvanshah and transfered control of Tabasaran to his son Haytham. He was succeeded by his brother Ahmad, after which the management of Tabasaran was inherited by his son Haytham II (981-1025). By the beginning of the 12th century the Maisum Tabasaran was divided into 24 counties. At the head of each county there was a local sarhang (commander) [44].

Tabasaran Qadiate

In southern Dagestan, the Maisum Tabasaran remained a major feudal kingdom for centuries. Then in the 1570s, civil conflicts broke out between representatives of the Maisum dynasty. A considerable portion of them died, and the survivors, having left Khuchni, moved their residence to Jarag, where they became more vulnerable to strikes from their enemies including Derbent. In Khuchni, the Qadiate of Tabasarana came to power [45]. At the end of the 16th century, Tabasaran experienced a period of hostilities between Turkey and Iran [46].

Kaitago-Tabasaran District

In 1860, instead of the former possessions, districts were organized. The Kaitago-Tabasaran District was formed from the territory of the Kaitag Utsmii and Tabasaran. [48]

In 1895, there were 4 districts in the county: Karakaitag (center: Djibagni), Nizhne-Kaitagskoye (center: Kayakent), North Tabasaran (center: Ersi village), Urkarakhskoye (center: Urkarakh village). [49]

By 1926 the district was divided into 3 sections: Verkhnee Tabasaran (center: Khuchni village), Dakhadayevsky (center: Majalis village), Safarovsky (center: Jalal-Kent village).

Historical Demographics

According to 2010 data, the number of Tabasarans in Russia is about 147,000.

According to the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were 14,463 Tabasarans in Dagestan [20]. According to the data for 1886, there were 13,270 Tabasarans in the Kaitago-Tabasaran District [21], and in the Kurinski District, according to data for 1894, there were 35,948 Tabasarans [22].

According to the 1970 census, Tabasarans in the USSR numbered 55,200 [23].

According to the 2002 All-Russia Census, the Tabasaran numbered 131,785, of which 53,600 (40.7%) lived in cities and 78,200 in rural areas (59.3%). In 2002, more than 110,000 Tabasarans lived in Dagestan (4.3% of Dagestan’s population), mainly in the regions of Khiva (58.5% of the region’s population) [24], Tabasaran (79.7%) [25], Derbent (10.7%) [26] and Kayakent (1.7%) [27]; and in the cities of Derbent (15.4%) [28], Kaspiisk (5.2%) [29], Dagestan Lights (35.5%) [30], Kizlyar (2%), and Makhachkala (2%) [31].

During the Soviet period, some of the Tabasarans moved from the mountains to the plains of the Tabasaran and Derbent districts, and also to cities of the republic [32].

Latest Demographics

Total Tabasarans: ~ approx. 150,000 (2010)

Russia: 146,360 (2010) [1]

Dagestan: 118,848 (2010) [2]

Stavropol Territory: 6951 (2010) [3]

Rostov Region: 2481 (2010) [2]

Chechnya: 1656 (2010) [3]

Krasnodar Territory: 1651 (2010) [2]

Saratov Region: 1234 (2010) [2]

Astrakhan Region: 1082 (2010) [2]

Ukraine: 900 (2017) [4]

Uzbekistan: 700 (2017) [5]

Turkmenistan: 200 (2017) [6]

Azerbaijan: 300 (2017) [7]

Kazakhstan: 300 (2017) [8]

Belarus: 57 (2009) [9]

Latvia: 6 (2010) [10]

Article translated from Russian Wikipedia (


  1. Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Национальный состав населения. Проверено 17 декабря 2011. Архивировано 3 февраля 2012 года.
  2. Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Национальный состав населения. Проверено 24 декабря 2009. Архивировано 21 августа 2011 года.
  3. Ошибка в сносках?: Неверный тег<ref>; для сносок perepis10region не указан текст
  4. Ukrain – People Groups. Tabassaran // Joshua Projekt. A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.
  5. Uzbekistan – People Groups. Tabassaran // Joshua Project. A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.
  6. Turkmenistan – People Groups. Tabassaran // Joshua Project. A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.
  7. Azerbaijan – People Groups. Tabassaran // Joshua Project. A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.
  8. Kazakhstan – People Groups. Tabassaran // Joshua Project. A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.
  9. Перепись населения Республики Беларусь 2009 года. НАСЕЛЕНИЕ ПО НАЦИОНАЛЬНОСТИ И РОДНОМУ ЯЗЫКУ. Архивировано 3 февраля 2012 года.
  10. Распределение населения Латвии по национальному составу и государственной принадлежности на 01.07.2010 (латыш.)
  11. В. П. Нерознак, Р. А. Агеева. Государственные и титульные языки России: энциклопедический словарь-справочник. — Academia, 2002. — С. 342. — 615 с.
  12. В. Н. Ярцева. Языки Российской Федерации и соседних государств: энциклопедия в трех томах. — М. : Наука, 2005. — Т. 3. — С. 38. — 605 с.
  13. Дагестан в эпоху великого переселения народов: этногенетические исследования / Ин-т истории, археологии и этнографии ДНЦ РАН. — 1998. — С. 74. — 191 с.
  14. М. К. Мусаева. Этнография детства народов Дагестана: (традиции народов Равнинного и Южного Дагестана) / Ин-т истории, археологии и этнографии ДНЦ РАН. — 2007. — С. 18. — 251 с.
  15. А. А. Магометов. П.К. Услар, исследователь дагестанских языков. — Махачкала : Дагучпедгиз, 1979. — С. 35. — 99 с.
  16. Магомедов Р. М. Происхождение названия Лезгинстан, «Ученые записки ИИЯЛ», т. IX, Махачкала, 1961, стр. 56.
  17. Юнусбаев Б. Б. Популяционно-генетическое исследование народов Дагестана по данным о полиморфизме Y-хромосомы и Alu-инсерций. — г. Уфа, 2006. — 107 с.
  18. Услар П. К. Этнография Кавказа. Языкознание. VII. Табасаранский язык. Тбилиси, 1979. — 1072 с.
  19. Генко А. Н. Табасаранско-русский словарь. М.: Academia, 2005 (подготовлен в 1930-х гг.). Сс. 206—207.
  20. Дагестан // Энциклопедический словарь Брокгауза и Ефрона : в 86 т. (82 т. и 4 доп.). — СПб., 1890—1907.
  21. Кайтаго-Табасаранский округ // Энциклопедический словарь Брокгауза и Ефрона : в 86 т. (82 т. и 4 доп.). — СПб., 1890—1907.
  22. Кюринский округ // Энциклопедический словарь Брокгауза и Ефрона : в 86 т. (82 т. и 4 доп.). — СПб., 1890—1907.
  23. Табасараны. БСЭ. Архивировано 23 августа 2011 года.
  24. Хивский район
  25. Табасаранский район
  26. Дербентский район
  27. Каякентский район
  28. Дербент
  29. Каспийск
  30. Дагестанские Огни
  31. Махачкала
  32. Аграрные культы табасаранцев. — Российская академия наук, Дагестанский науч. центр, Ин-т истории, археологии и этнографии, 1995.
  33. Официальный сайт Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года. Информационные материалы об окончательных итогах Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года
  34. Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Официальные итоги с расширенными перечнями по национальному составу населения и по регионам.: см.
  35. М. М. Ихилов. НАРОДЫ ЛЕЗГИНСКОЙ ГРУППЫ. 1967 г.
  36. Ихилов М. М., 1967, c. 19.
  37. ТАБАСАРА́НСКИЙ ЯЗЫ́К. Краткая литературная энциклопедия. Архивировано 30 мая 2012 года.
  38. Институт этнографии имени Н.Н. Миклухо-Маклая.Кавказский этнографический сборник. — Изд-во Академии наук СССР, 1989. — Т. 9. — С. 113-114.
  39. Кавказские языки // Энциклопедический словарь Брокгауза и Ефрона : в 86 т. (82 т. и 4 доп.). — СПб., 1890—1907.
  40. Книга рекордов Гиннесса. Языковые рекорды. Самые сложные языки
  41. Языки Российской Федерации и соседних государств. — М.: Наука, 2005. — Т. 3. — С. 48. — 606 с. — ISBN 5-02-011237-2.
  42. Табасараны. Газета Дагестанская Правда.Архивировано 23 августа 2011 года.
  43. Информационные материалы об окончательных итогах Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года
  44. Магомедов Р. М., 2002, с. 78-79.
  45. Магомедов Р. М., 2002, с. 155.
  46. Магомедов Р. М., 2002, с. 161-162.
  47. Магомедов Р. М., 2002, с. 172.
  48. Магомед Атабаев. Кумыки. История, культура, традиции. — Litres, 2017-01-12. — 147 с. — ISBN 9785457687288.
  49. Просмотр документа – Проверено 24 августа 2017.
  50. Ихилов М. М., 1967.
  51. Филип Шенк. Друзья табасаранцев – друзья Дагестана. — Москва: Новости, 2007. — С. 107. — 192 с. — ISBN 978-5-88149-293-9.
  52. Филип Шенк. Друзья табасаранцев – друзья Дагестана. — Москва: Новости, 2007. — С. 111. — 192 с. — ISBN 978-5-88149-293-9.
  53. NCCS Organization Profile – Friends of the Tabasarans (760705626) (англ.). Проверено 29 августа 2017.