Bashkirs, Or Bashkurts, uncivilized tribes of Russia, scattered from the Caspian to the boundary of Siberia, chiefly W. of the Ural mountains, and inhabiting large tracts of land (together about 50,000 sq. m.) in the governments of Perm, Ufa, Orenburg, Samara, and adjoining parts; total number about 500,000. They are of remote Finnish origin, but considerably mixed with Tartars, and have their local organizations of cantons, clanships, yurts, and villages, though they have been under Russian authority since their final subjugation about the middle of the 18th century. They are under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Mohammedan Tartar mufti of Ufa, and are nominally Sunnite Mohammedans, but addicted to paganism. They have many of the Tartar and Kirghiz characteristics, but although semi-savages, they are docile and inoffensive. About 50,000 of them are employed in the Russian cavalry service, and the whole race are relieved from paying taxes. They are excellent horsemen and eat horse flesh, and their horses, famous for endurance, are highly valued. In the war of 1812 the Bashkirs, though inferior to the Cossacks, rendered good service. In the Crimean war they were chiefly employed in rough work connected with the transportation of provisions and material.
Some of them reside in permanent villages, cultivating the soil, and raising cattle and bees; others are nomads, wandering from place to place with their flocks and herds, which are numerous, a rich man sometimes having 2,000 sheep and 500 head of cattle. About 400 schools have been established among them, which are attended by about 8,000 children.