Historical Miniatures of the Provinces of the Russian Empire – Where the Transcaucasian Tatars Lived in 1856

Historical Miniatures

Miniature number 1. The Derbent Governorate to the south of modern Dagestan and the north of modern Azerbaijan. The population was 116 thousand people and comprised of Georgians, Chechens, and Armenians. Tatars (current Azerbaijanis) are not mentioned – all highlanders are counted as Chechens.

Miniature number 2. The Erivan Governorate, which is practically modern Armenia. The population was 12 thousand people, including Armenians, Persians, and Lezgins. Tatars (Azerbaijanis) are not mentioned in the miniature.

Miniature number 3. The Kutais Governorate, which currently is Western Georgia minus Adjara not yet recaptured from the Turks. The “tribes” indicated here are Georgian, Armenian, and Abkhazian.

Miniature number 4. Perhaps the Tatars-Azerbaijanis lived in the Shemakha (future Baku) Governorate? That is, the territory of Azerbaijan itself, as well as Nagorno-Karabakh?

The population of the province again comprises all the same Georgians and Armenians, as well as Persians and the Kist people (a Vainakh ethnic group). Apparently, Avars and the Tsakhur people were counted as Vainakh people.

Armenians with Georgians were everywhere, but there were no tolerant Turks anywhere? This is just some kind of conspiracy!

Miniature number 5. But no, there were Turks, there were! In the Tiflis Governorate, Tatars are finally mentioned along with Georgians and Lezgins (Ossetians appear to have been counted as Lezgins). And they are even mentioned the first! Apparently, the Russian commission traveled to Tiflis on a market day, and the Tatars gathered all their yurts and from all over the Caucasus arrived in the Georgian capital to sell pastoral products. The Russian commission thus included them in the census.

Various mountain ethnic groups of Russians were often confused with each other. Lermontov is no exception. The fact that the Vainakh peoples were always in sight due to endless conflicts and that all the highlanders seemed to belong to Vainakhs is not surprising.

Lezgins were also in sight – the most numerous mountain people at the time, they settled in the South Caucasus, Georgia, and Armenia.

As for the Turkic peoples who were well-known to the Russians (since the Turkic people were the largest non-Slavic people who the Russians have long been in contact with), the fact that they were left out of attention suggests that they, as nomads, really had no settled centers anywhere except Tiflis, or that the ancestors of Azerbaijanis in many cases identified themselves as Persians.

A. Grigorov

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