13 The ethnic groups and religion of Mordovia. The Mordvinic languages.


    More than 7 billion people of diverse origins, languages, cultures and beliefs inhabit the world we live in. Within the world population, there are about 6,900 distinct languages currently spoken. People speaking different languages see the world and think of it differently. The Russian population is made up of ethnicities speaking more than 170 of the country’s languages. 17 ethnic groups in Russia (about 3 mln people) speak the languages of the Uralic family, which also includes Finnish – an official language of Finland. This means that some languages of the Russian Federation (e.g., the Moksha language, the Ersya language, the Khanty language, the Mansi language, the Komi languages and others) and Finnish are related languages originating from a common proto language. They form the Finno-Ugrian group of the Uralic language family.

    The Finno-Ugrian group is divided into six language subgroups: (Finnish, Ingrian, Karelian, Veps, Votic, Estonian, and Livonian); Saami (Lapp); Mordvin (Erzia and Moksha); Mari; Permian (Komi-Zyrian, Komi-Permiak, and Udmurt); and Ugric (Hungarian, Mansi (Vogul), and Khanty). The most numerous Finno-Ugrians in the Volga-Urals region are the Mordvins: the Moksha and Erzya people (806,012, the Moksha and Erzya languages). They inhabit the territory to the south-east of Moscow between the two large rivers; the Oka and Sura.

    Recent theories locate the Finno-Ugrian ancestral homeland north of the Middle Urals, mainly to the Siberian side of the mountains, between the mountain ridge and the Ob’. Scientists came to such a conclusion using the evidence derived from archeology and linguistic paleontology.

    One of the methods scientists use is the analysis of the names of flora and fauna in languages. It is based on the theory that the language words denoting wildlife help us to find out the homeland of a nation. Before close contiguity with the neighbouring Indo-European nationalities, the Finno-Ugrians had lived in coniferous and small-leaved forest areas. Look at the words: fir tree  Finnish – kuusi, Moksha, Ersya – куз, Veps – ku|s’, Komi – коз, Mari – кож, Mansi – кол; pine  Finnish – petäjä, Veps – peda|i,  Moksha – пиче, Komi – пожома, Mari – пунчи; birch Finnish – koivu, Veps – koiv, Mari – куэ, Mansi – кэль, Moksha – келу, Ersya – килей; rowan Finnish – pihlaja, Estonian – pihlakas, Moksha – пизелкс, Ersya – пизёл, Veps – pih|l’, Mari – пызле.

    The Finno-Ugrians scattered widely outside their original ethnic territory. The Balto-Finnic group moved westward to the Baltic Sea, the Saami reached the shores of the Arctic Ocean and the Hungarians took a long-distance trip from the Urals to their contemporary homeland in central Europe. Geographical isolation, long distances and loss of contact with related tribes became the main determinants in the evolution of the Finno-Ugric linguistic community.

    Separated, the languages have been mutating from one generation to the next. Eventually, they developed their own accents. Lexis and grammar changed. Nevertheless, they still have a lot of affinities with each other. If the Finno-Ugrians had not scattered around the world, they could have understood each other more easily. Unfortunately, we cannot argue with history, but study languages.


    Mordvin native religion Mordvin Neopaganism, or the Mordvin native religion or Erzyan native religion, is the modern revival of the ethnic religion of the Mordvins(Erzya and Moksha), peoples of Volga Finnic ethnic stock dwelling in the republic of Mordovia within Russia, or in bordering lands of Russia. The religion is often called Mastorava (Mordvin for: «Mother Earth»), from the homonymous epic poem or the mother goddess of the Mordvin pantheon. The name of the originating god according to the Mordvin tradition is Ineshkipaz. The Mordvins have been almost fully Christianised since the times of Kievan Rus’, although Pagan customs were preserved in the folklore and a few villages completely preserved the native faith at least until further missionary activities of the Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th century and in the early 20th century.[1] The Neopagan revival was started in 1990, alongside that of many other native religions in Russia, as the Soviet Union was on the brink of dissolution. According to scholar Victor Schnirelmann, 2% of the Mordvins adhere to the Mordvin native faith,[3] while more recent figures by the Evangelicaldatabase Joshua Project report 5%.[4] Adherents of the Erzyan Mastor organisation organise the Rasken Ozks (Mordvin for: «Native Prayer»), a national Mordvin worship service held yearly, with participation also of members of the Mastorava organisation and other ones.