bashkir people

Volga Tatar boys during Sabantuy festivities in Moscow, Russia. Photographed by Galya Morrell

“There are some things that do not get bigger by being talked about. One of them is Sabantuy. You can’t make Sabantuy bigger than it is. You can’t make it shine more that it shines itself. Sabantuy is a “Plough’s Wedding”. It is celebrated by Tatars, Bashkir and Turkic peoples living along the Volga. In Bashkir, it is known as Habantuy, in Chuvash — as Akatuy. Sabantuy is about kumis (mare’s milk) drinking, horse racing, pillar-climbing, egg-in-spoon-in-mouth-racing, pot smashing and Kurash - the Tatar wrestling.”


Sabantuy in the Ural region of Russia. Photographed by Matvey Grebnev.

“Sabantuy (translated from the Bashkir and Tatar “Feast of the plow”) - a holiday of some people (Bashkirs, Tatars, Chuvash) Russia. Sabantuy traces its origins to the pre-Islamic epoch, when it was celebrated before the sowing season. The presence of Sabantuy was noticed by ibn Fadlan as early as in 921. Traditional songs and other customs of the Sabantuy probably had a religious connotation at that time.

Later, with the spread of Islam among Tatars and Bashkirs and Christianity among Chuvashs, it became a secular holiday. In each region, villages took turns to celebrate the holiday.”