Who are the Lipka Tartars?
- connieLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
The Lipka Tatars are a group who originally settled in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the beginning of 14th century. The first settlers tried to preserve their shamanistic religion and sought asylum amongst the non-Christian Lithuanians. Towards the end of the 14th century, another wave of Tatars - this time, Muslims, were invited into the Grand Duchy by Vytautas the Great. These Tatars first settled around Vilnius, Trakai, Hrodna and Kaunas and later spread to other parts of the Grand Duchy that later became part of Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth. These areas comprise present-day Lithuania, Belarus and Poland. From the very beginning of their settlement in Lithuania they were known as the Lipka Tatars. While maintaining their religion, they united their fate with that of the mainly Christian Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. From the Battle of Grunwald onwards the Lipka Tatar light cavalry regiments participated in every significant military campaign of Lithuania and Poland.
The Lipka Tatar origins can be traced back to the descendant states of the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan - the White Horde, the Golden Horde, the Crimean Khanate and Kazan Khanate. They initially served as a noble military caste but later they became urban-dwellers known for their crafts, horses and gardening skills. Throughout centuries they resisted assimilation and kept their traditional lifestyle. While they remained very attached to their religions, over time however, they lost their original Tatar language and for the most part adopted Polish. Today there are about 10,000-15,000 Lipka Tatars in the former areas of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The majority of descendants of Tatar families in Poland can trace their descent from the nobles of the early Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Lipka Tatars had settlements in north-east Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, south-east Latvia and Ukraine. Today most reside in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus, as well as their communities in United States. Most of the Lipka Tatars (80%) assimilated into the ranks of the nobility in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth while some lower noble Tatars assimilated to the Belarusian, Polish, Ukrainian and Lithuanian townsfolk and peasant populations.
In religion and culture the Lipka Tatars differed from most other Islamic communities in respect of the treatment of their women, who always enjoyed a large degree of freedom, even during the years when the Lipkas were in the service of the Ottoman Empire. Co-education of male and female children was the norm, and Lipka women did not wear the veil - except at the marriage ceremony. While nominally Islamic, the customs and religious practices of the Lipka Tatars also accommodated many Christian elements adopted during their 600 years residence in Belarus, Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania while still maintaining the traditions and superstitions from their nomadic Mongol past, such as the sacrifice of bulls in their mosques during the main religious festivals.
Over time, the lower and middle Lipka Tatar nobles adopted the Ruthenian language the later Belarusian language as their mother tongue. However, they used the Arabic alphabet to write in Belarusian until the 1930s. The upper nobility of Lipka Tatars spoke Polish.