The Tuvinian of Russia
The Tuvinian live in a harsh mountainous region that has an intense climate. The summers are hot and dry with temperatures reaching 43ºC (110ºF). The winters are bitterly cold with temperatures dropping to -61ºC (-78ºF). Still, this region has up to 300 sunny days a year, and the extremely dry air helps people to withstand the cold winters and the hot summers.
Formerly, the Tuvinian Republic was under Mongol rule. However, in 1911, it became independent "Tuva," under strong Soviet influence. In 1944, Tuva was integrated into the Soviet Union. Although the USSR dissolved in 1991, the territory remained part of Russia.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Many of the Tuvinian still live as nomadic shepherds, migrating seasonally with their herds. Those who inhabit the plains traditionally live in large felt tents called gers or yurts. Those in Siberia usually live in round tents made from bark.
The main industrial activity in the Tuvinian Republic is mining, especially for asbestos, cobalt, coal, gold, and uranium. Other industries include processing food, crafting leather or wood items, and manufacturing building materials.
The Tuvinian diet primarily consists of meat (mutton, beef, horse, goat, camel, reindeer, and wild game), fish, roots, cedar nuts, and dairy products. The Tuvinian enjoy drinking airag (fermented milk) on special occasions.
In times past, Tuvinian marriages were arranged by the parents, and couples married when they reached the age of 12 or 13. Today, the minimum age for marriage is 18 and parental consent is no longer necessary. A young bride formerly lived with the husband's family, but today the couple's home is determined by their economic conditions. Divorce is common among the Tuvinian and abortion is often used as a form of birth control.
The Tuvinian culture is noted for its rich, oral epic poetry and its music. The Tuvinian use more than fifty different musical instruments, and traveling ensembles often perform outdoors.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Tibetan Buddhism was first embraced by the Tuvinian in the 1700's. In the 1930's, the Soviets destroyed nearly all of the Buddhist monasteries, and all the monks were dispersed; some were even shot. Recently, however, a Buddhist community was officially registered in the Tuvinian Republic, and efforts are underway to rebuild a great monastery.
The influence of shamanism is still obvious among the Tuvinian. Ceremonies are held on the seventh and forty-ninth days after someone's death. The soul is believed to remain in the body of the deceased for seven days, then depart for the "kingdom of the dead," reaching its ultimate destination on the forty-ninth day.
The Tuvinian believe that all natural elements contain spirits that must be appeased with offerings. The people are dependent on shamans (medicine men) to cure the sick by magic and communicate with the spirits.
What Are Their Needs?
See also the following related group:
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.