Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Tatar (TATA, TARTAR), one of the most involved terms in the whole range of ethnology. The original form appears to be Tata, plural Tatar, a Manchu or Tungus word, meaning either "archer" or "nomad," and occurring as early as the 9th century A.D. in Chinese records in reference to certain Mongol tribes, which later were driven by the Khitans southwards to the In-Shan Mountains, about the great bend of the Hoang-ho river. Here the predatory Mongols and Tatars, all closely related nomads of Mongolic stock and speech, lived in association and spread the terror of their name amongst all the surrounding peoples, long before the time of Jenghiz Khan, who gave them a world-wide celebrity. Jenghiz himself was of the Mongol tribe on his father's side, and of the Tata (Black or original Tata) tribe on his mother's side, and the result of his conquests was that the term Mongol became dominant in the east, and Tata in the west, w:hich was largely due to the fact that the Tatas generally formed the van of the Mongol expeditions westwards. At an early date Tatar took the form Tartar, and thus became associated with the Tartarus of classic mythology, as in the letter of Louis IX. to Queen Blanche (1241). But a far more important change was its gradual transition from the Mongol, or eastern, to the Turki, or western division of the Ural-Altaic race, so that Tatar, originally the name of a Mongolic tribe, is now exclusively used to designate peoples of Turki stock and speech. The change was analogous to that by which the Teutonic Frank became the Romano-Gallic French, and was due to analogous causes - Tatar and Frankish dynasties on the one hand, Turki and Romano-Gallic subjects on the other. The powerful Kipchak Empire, founded by Batu-Khan, grandson of Jenghiz, stretching from West Siberia to the Black Sea, was mainly inhabited by Kumans, Pechenegs, and other Turki peoples, and when the empire was broken into fragments, each section still continued to be ruled by Tatar (Mongol) Khans, and to be called Tatar Khanates. Thus originated the expressions "Siberian Tatars," Kazan, Astrakhan, Krim {Crimean), and other Tatars, meaning Turki peoples ruled by Tatar princes of Jenghiz Khan's dynasty. But the peoples tbemselves have always disclaimed the title of Tatar, calling themselves and their language Turki, never Tatari. Consequently Turki has again become the collective name of the western division of the "Mongolo-Tatar" family, although Tatar still continues to be applied, especially by Russian ethnologists, to the Turki peoples of Siberia, of the Volga (Kazan, Astrakhan), of the Crimea, of Caucasia, Lithuania, and Poland. The Manchu conquerors of China with whom the name probably originated, are also frequently and correctly spoken of as Tatars. But the word has been properly banished from geographical nomenclature, except, perhaps, in the extreme east, where the expression "Gulf of Tartary" still lingers on some European maps. [TURKI, URAL-ALTAIC.]