Attaman, the title of the supreme chief of the Cossacks, now retained only by those of the Don. The attaman was elected by the people in a general public meeting; the mode of election was by throwing their fur caps at the favorite, and he who had the largest heap of caps was chosen. When in the 16th century the Cossacks submitted to the Poles, the election of the attaman was confirmed by the Polish king. After the secession of the Cossacks from Poland and their submission to Russia in the 17th century, the attamans preserved the same rights until after the insurrection of Mazeppa, when the office was suppressed. In 1750 it was restored in the person of Count Razumovsky. When Catharine II. destroyed the organization of the Cossacks of the Ukraine, the dignity of attaman was confined to those of the Don. The last elective attaman of these Cossacks was Platoff, after whose death the emperor Nicholas made the dignity of attaman hereditary in the cesare-vitch. The commanders of various other Cossack organizations in Russia bear the title of attaman, but only by custom and courtesy.

From the word attaman was derived the word hetman, in ancient Poland the title of the commander of all the military forces of the nation.