Eastern European Tatars (Lipka Tatars)


Where they live:
Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland
Total population:
10,000-15,000
Language Branch:
Altaic, Turkic, Kypchak, Kypchak-Cuman, Crimean Tatar
Religion:
Sunni Islam
Related to:
Volga Tatars, Crimean Tatars; Karaim

The Lipka Tatars (also known as Lithuanian Tatars, Polish Tatars, Lipkowie, Lipcani or MuĊ›limi, Belarusian Tatars) are a group of Tatars who originally settled in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the beginning of 14th century. The first settlers tried to preserve their shamanistic religion and sought asylum amongst the non-Christian Lithuanians. Towards the end of the 14th century, another wave of Tatars - this time, Muslims, were invited into the Grand Duchy by Vytautas the Great. The Lipka Tatar origins can be traced back to the descendant states of the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan - the White Horde, the Golden Horde, the Crimean Khanate and Kazan Khanate. They initially served as a noble military caste but later they became urban-dwellers known for their crafts, horses and gardening skills. Throughout centuries they resisted assimilation and kept their traditional lifestyle. While they remained very attached to their religions, over time however, they lost their original Tatar language and for the most part adopted Polish. There are still small groups of Lipka Tatars living in today's Belarus, Lithuania and Poland, as well as their communities in United States.

Imformation quoted from wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipka_Tatars