Chuvash in Tajikistan

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People Name: Chuvash
Country: Tajikistan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 4,300
World Population: 1,108,600
Primary Language: Chuvash
Primary Religion: Christianity
Christian Adherents: 55.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.80 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Ural-Siberian
Affinity Bloc: Turkic Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Chuvash speak a unique Turkic language. Their Turkic ancestors lived in central Siberia, dwelling in the Irtysh Basin starting at the end of the third millennium BC. They are associated with the Bulgar tribal federation. The Mongol Empire disrupted their lives in the 1200s. The Russians conquered their land in 1552 and demanded tribute. The Chuvash lost most of their land and worked for the Russians in the timber industry and on barges. The Chuvash became poor. Russians have maintained control over the Chuvash ever since.
The Russians never fully made them culturally Russian, but the Chuvash were forcefully moved towards Russian ways. The Chuvash had a revival of their language and culture in the 18th and 19th century which was squelched by the Russians during the 20th century. The Russians tried to force them into a Russian Orthodox mold in the 19th century before trying to force them into atheism during the 20th century. The Chuvash people kept their language after the fall of the USSR in 1991, but Russian is a key language for them.
Today the Chuvash people live mainly in Russia, where their homeland is located. They also live in the other countries of the Russian Federation, including Tajikistan.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Chuvash families are small, but they are often larger in rural areas. Men and women marry any time between the age of 18 and 24. The women have full-time jobs as well as doing housework.
Most Chuvash are farmers who produce potatoes, wheat, rye, hemp, hops, dairy products, poultry, and meat. Their diet is rich in root vegetables and grains. They pickle some of their vegetables for the winter, especially sauerkraut. They eat soups, rye bread, and, above all, porridge. The Chuvash people make their porridge from buckwheat or millet.
Despite obstacles, the Chuvash still have their own cultural forms. They love embroidery, sewing, woodworking, ceramics, and making goods with beads and silver. They have their own epic tales, fairy tales, songs, legends, and skits. Weaving the gospel message into Chuvash art forms would be a good way to open spiritual doors.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Chuvash are mostly Russian Orthodox, though some have preserved their ancient shamanistic practices. A small minority is Sunni Muslims because of their contact with the Tatars hundreds of years ago. Those in Tajikistan are surrounded by Muslims.

What Are Their Needs?

The Chuvash people need their own identity as a people. More importantly, they need the chance to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points

Pray for Chuvash fellowships in Tajikistan to be centered on Christ rather than tradition.
Pray there will soon come a day when the Chuvash people will send loving workers to unreached people groups.
Pray for spiritual hunger and a discernment that will keep the Chuvash away from spiritual counterfeits. May they be led to put their faith in Christ alone.

Text Source:   Joshua Project