Tatar, Shorian in Uzbekistan

Tatar, Shorian
Photo Source:  Anonymous 
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People Name: Tatar, Shorian
Country: Uzbekistan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 500
World Population: 13,800
Primary Language: Shor
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 28.00 %
Evangelicals: 2.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Ural-Siberian
Affinity Bloc: Turkic Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Shorian Tatars are an indigenous Turkic people who live in southwestern Siberia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Mongols conquered the region in the 13th century and the Tatar people adopted many aspects of the Mongol culture. A century later Islam came to the Tartars and most of them converted. The Russian Empire took over southwestern Siberia and north central Asia in the 16th century. The Shors were forced to pay a tax in animal furs to the Russian government. The Shors’ ability to smelt iron and make iron tools made them valuable to the Mongols. The European Russians came into the Central Asia with their superior techniques of producing iron. The Shorians went back to fishing, hunting, logging and trapping as their chief means of making a living. During the 19th century some Shorians were forcibly converted to Russian Orthodox Christianity. Some left Russian and moved to the more Muslim friendly area of what is now Uzbekistan. A small group of Shorian Tatars lives in Uzbekistan today.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Since the 1990s the Shorian Tatars have seen a revival of their culture. They were free again to speak their language, consult their shamans, elect their tribal chiefs and engage in Muslim practices. The homeland of the Shorian Tatars is rich with iron ore, coal and gold. Unfortunately, the mining has brought industrial scale pollution to the land, rivers and air. The Shorians have not reaped the benefits of their land’s resources. Some still work as in miners but the mines are owned by others. Many Shorians have become "Russified." Many speak Russian, live in Russian speaking cities and no longer know or speak the Shorian language. Outside of the urban areas many Shorians retain their language and many parts of their traditional ways. On feast days they recite epic Tatar poems, dance and sing songs about their gods and heroes. Villages elect their chief and make judicial decisions. Throat singing is an ancient musical practice.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most Tatars claim to be Sunni Muslims. However, their brand of Islam is heavily influenced by folk religion and ancestor worship. A devout Saudi or Egyptian Muslim would see the Shorian Tatars as more pagan than Muslim. The Shorians have their own creation myths and epic poems. The mixture of Muslim and folk beliefs continues today. The Shorians believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature including rivers, mountains, trees, rocks, animals and sky. These spirits must be appeased or they can bring harm on the Shorian people.

What Are Their Needs?

The Shorians need to be delivered from their fear of evil spirits. They must come to understand that Isa or Jesus is more than a human prophet. He is the Lord and Savior of the world who alone can forgive their sins. The rural Shorians would benefit by modern medical care and scientific help with their animals and crops.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send workers to the Shorians in Uzbekistan who can tell than the good news about Christ. Pray the Lord produces a spiritual hunger in the lives of Shorian leaders and heads of clans. Pray that God raises up a Disciple Making Movement among the Shorians of Uzbekistan in this decade. Pray that more Christian resources become available in the Shorian language.

Text Source:   Joshua Project