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    Republic of Buryatia

History

The Buryats appeared in the result of unification and development of different ethnic groups that lived in the region. Different tribes and clans inhibited these territories from the Prehistoric times. During the Stone Age there were forest tribes, hunters and fishers; then, in the Bronze Age, appeared the creators of tiled graves, who left a lot of monuments, like for example mysterious deer stones and wall paintings in the caves. Later, nomadic tribes of the Huns added their legends and art heritage to the history of this land. One of their burial places was discovered near to Kyahta in the southern Buryatia. First documents referring to the Mongolian pagan tribes presence on these territories appeared in the 10th or 11th century AD. At the end of the 12th beginning of the 13th century the region was in the center of the epoch-making event the creation of the Mongol Empire. Genghis Khan (Temujin), the powerful conqueror, was born near Lake Baikal. He proclaimed the present territory of Buryatia to be the Ancestors Land, that is the sacred reserve. Hunting, land cultivation and building were prohibited. Some scientists think that direct descendants of Genghis Khan were buried here.

Till the end of the 17th century there were no state boarders in the region. When Russians first came here, the territories were inhibited with 4 major tribes: the Bulgats, the Ekhirits, the Khogodors, and the Khorins. Besides, there were scattered Mongolian, Tungus and Turkic tribes, known as the forest people. These tribes migrated on the huge territory from Lake Baikal to the Gobi Desert.

Only in 1727, when the boarders between Russia and China were fixed, this migration stopped and the formation of the Buryat nationality started. It is supposed that the name Buryat goes back to Mongolian bul, which means a forest man, or to the word bu, meaning a (sable) hunter. Since the middle of the 17th century Buryatia is a part of Russia.

Russians came in three major waves. First were the Cossacks (in the 17th century), then the Old Believers, who were actually exiled here, and then at the end of the 19th beginning of the 20th century came the peasants. All these people brought their own culture with them, which mixed with the local tribes features.

Soviet power gained control over the region in 1918 and established the Buryat-Mongol Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1923. In 1990 Buryatia Supreme Council ratified the Declaration of the State Independence and with the Soviet Union collapse in 1991, Buryatia became an autonomous republic within Russia and passed the law creating the post of the president.

Buddhism

In the 18th-19th centuries Buddhism brought to the Buryat territory the latest achievements of Tibetan and Mongolian cultures. 100 Mongolian and 50 Tibetan lamas arrived to Baikal in 1723. In 1741 empress Elizabeth Petrovna (youngest daughter of Peter the Great) signed a decree that acknowledged Lamaism in Buryatia. In the Buddhist temples opened schools and started book-printing. The expansion of Buddhism in Buryatia contributed to the appearance of Tibetan Medicine. Classical works on the medicine were reprinted and new created, describing local ways of treatment. Nowadays there are several functioning Buddhist temples in Buryatia.

 

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