Komi-Zyrian in Russia

Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2024
Potashev Aleksandr - Shutterstock  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  West Siberian Peoples
People Name: Komi-Zyrian
Country: Russia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 148,000
World Population: 150,100
Primary Language: Komi-Zyrian
Primary Religion: Non-Religious
Christian Adherents: 32.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.10 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Finno-Ugric
Affinity Bloc: Eurasian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Komi is the name used by a group of indigenous peoples. They are divided into subgroups, the most prominent being the Yazva, Permyat and Zyrian. All three have their own dialect, though they also speak the local trade language. The Zyrian live further north and the Permyat live south of other Komi groups in Russia. They also have smaller subgroups based on location.
The Komi had their first contact with the Russians in the 1100s when Russian Orthodox missionaries such as Stephen Permski came to the region. In the 1500s, Russian settlers moved eastward, settling in the Komi homeland and trying to get them to assimilate to Russian culture. Russians also set up a penal colony in the region. The Komi peoples rebelled a number of times, most notably in the 1860s. Russia temporarily lost control of the region after the 1917 Russian Revolution but re-established control in 1919. The new Soviet government tried to integrate minorities like the Komis, but they also industrialized the area, which devastated the traditional Komi way of life. Dictator Josef Stalin killed most Komi leaders for being bourgeois nationalists. The Komi region was also used for gulag prison camps. The influx of Russian prisoners left the Komi as a minority in their own land. After the USSR dissolved in 1991, the Komi people have been trying to re-establish their language and culture. Still, the Komi population continues to decline along with the populations of other indigenous peoples in that region. A small number have migrated to nearby countries like Finland.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Komis have their own region within Russia; it’s called the Komi Republic.
Most Komi people live in urban areas where they live alongside other ethnic groups. Those who live in rural areas often must hunt wild game, fish and collect wild berries and mushrooms since farming is nearly impossible in this near tundra climate. Their diet and cuisine mainly include these locally collected foods.

What Are Their Beliefs?

There is a large Russian Orthodox influence among the Komi peoples. Some are vibrant Christians; others are Christian in name only. Most also adhere to their traditional shamanistic practices. Shamanism affects Komi folklore. They have always believed there to be two opposing creator gods, which those who are Russian Orthodox identify as God and Satan.

What Are Their Needs?

The Komi people need to put Jesus Christ first in their lives. Most likely there will need to be a team of disciplers willing to teach them from the Bible. The New Testament is in all three major Komi dialects and the entire Bible is in two of them.

Prayer Points

Pray for disciplers to go to the Komi people, teaching God’s word and drawing them into a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Pray for the Russian Orthodox Church to become more Christ-centered and willing to change their direction to conform to God’s will.
Pray for Komi leaders to find their way to the cross and invite others to do the same.

Text Source:   Joshua Project