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Baltasinski Rayon


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Administrative center: Baltasi
Area: 1094.5 sq.km
Population: 33,900

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Do you want to see Zakazanye’s (Trans-Kazanka) farthest part of Tatarstan? Then Baltasinsky Rayon is your destination. It is situated on the border with Mari El Republic and Kirovskaya Oblast.

 

You get your first impression of this rayon by looking at its unique nature. The special beauty of the area lies in its numerous small rivers and streams with such unusual names as the Arborka, Nurminka or Kushketka, in the strawberry-covered slopes of river valleys and forest trees clinging hard to the steep river banks. The largest river is the Shoshma, a tributary of the Vyatka. It has many tributaries of its own, some as many as 20 or 30 km long. There are also lakes, usually small ones, but quite enough to sit by and daydream, or even catch a fish. One of the lakes, Kara-Kul, is of karst origin.

The young pine plantations and groves are located mainly on the left slope of the river Shoshma. Oaks on the right bank of the river Shoshma are considered the northernmost oak grove in Tatarstan. The south of the rayon is adorned by vast coniferous forests that make up part of the Arsk and Saby forestries. However, they also feature the birch, aspen and lime trees, and an abundance of birds. As Tatarstan’s environmentalists well know, the woodland of Baltasi can boast several species of owls, sandpipers and geese. And some may be lucky enough to spot a moose or wild boar, a red fox or a squirrel.

The forests covering the area determined the life of local people in the past.

Official documents state that "... the Tatars receive the perfunctory salary from the state. In excess thereof, they do some logging for ship construction, and are quite well-off." According to historians, the place name "Baltasi" (tat. "Baltach") preserves the personal name of one of the village founders. ‘Baltach’ is actually a nickname deriving from the word 'Balta' (axe), therefore, baltachy, or balta ostasy, can refer to an axe-wielder, a master carpenter.

The coat of arms of the rayon shows a bear holding an axe in its paws, which is not accidental. The bear is a traditional symbol of power, strength, and confidence — the king of the forest. The bear of Baltasi is not just an allegory of a prudent household owner, but also of the master carpenter, the builder. The bear is building a human house here and the whole emblem reveals the traditions and ingenuity of the Baltasi woodcraft.

In 2010 Baltasi celebrated the eightieth anniversary of the rayon, which dates back to 30 August 1930. But the real history of the area goes much further into the past. The rayon’s administrative center — the village of Baltasi — was probably founded in late 14th or early 15th century, when Bolgars were massively migrating north, to Trans-Kazanka lands, after their cities beyond the Kama were razed in 1391. According to the famous historian Al-Muslimi, the settlement of Baltasi was founded as far back as in 1396.

There are some other interesting facts to tell. In the Khanate period the territory of the present-day Baltasinsky rayon was a part of the Arsk Daruga. After the capture of Kazan in 1555, Baltasi as one of the most important northern settlements of the Khanate was razed to the ground, and the so-called wasteland appeared in its stead. The village was rebuilt only in the 18th century, probably, with the arrival of a wealthy nobleman murza Akman Hudyashev. Hence the second name of the village — Akmanova Pustosh (Akman’s Wasteland). Rebuilding of the village, once started, went pretty fast.

The villagers were classified as state peasants, did the lashman service, which in their case was associated with logging. It included a range of jobs in felling and chipping trees, as well as delivering timber to the destination point by water.

The timber was used for the needs of shipbuilding, with the Kazan Office of the Russian Admiralty acting as the main commissioner and overseer.

By the end of 18th and early 19th century, Baltasi held a weekly fair on Fridays at the village mosque. Even by the end of the 19th century the fair had almost the same trade turnout as the largest markets of the area.

The Sibirsky Trakt (Siberia road), passing through the territory of the rayon, was the main route to Siberian exile for many famous people. The Russian writer Alexander Radischev describes the local villages of Arbash, Karelino and Yangulovo in his travel notes, paying attention to the living standards of their inhabitants. The famous geographer and traveler P.P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky also stayed in the villages of the rayon and made notes of them as well.

Currently, the rayon has 77 villages, each is remarkable in something. The village of Tyunter was the home of a famous madrasah for two centuries. The old cemetery in Pochinok Sosna is the final resting place of Gabdulla Tuqay’s mother, Mamduda abystay. The village Nuriner is the birthplace of the famous Tumashev art dynasty: the first Tatar female film director Kashifa Tumasheva and her son director Ravil Tumashev. Shuda inspired one of the founders of Tatar drama Mirhaydar Faizi to write his famous drama "Galiyabanu".

Many Turkic theatres consider an honor to stage it.

This journey through the villages of Baltasinsky rayon may actually prove to be a long one. After all, the area is home to many famous people who have earned the respect and love of their compatriots. We will limit ourselves with only a few of them: Ismagil Alkin, a fellow fighter of Batyrsha, helped Tatar and Bashkir people rise for a relentless war against the autocracy of the Tsars; Ibrahim Salahov was a famous writer and the Tuqay Prize winner who died in the World War II; young poets Habra Rahman and Suleiman Mulyukov were Heroes of the Soviet Union and one of the first to hoist a red banner over the conquered Berlin. Other names worthy of a mention are Gabdulla Garifullin, commander of a Guards Regiment, Colonel Habibullah Ibragimov, Gaifutdin Gilmutdinov, Vasily Bulatov, Hafiz Sabirov, Bakyi Rakhimov, famous singer Albert Asadullin, singer Rima Ibragimova and Jawahira Salakhova, first Tatar admiral Mars Iskandarov, a physicist of international renown Gyyniyat Khaliullin, president of the Academy of Sciences of Tatarstan Ahmet Mazgarov, Governor of the Sakhalin Oblast Igor Farkhutdinov...

The Baltasi land was home to such well-known figures of the Udmurt culture as Grigory Medvedev, Ivan Yakovlev, Ashalchi Oki, Kuzebay Gerd, Nikolai Kuznetsov, Nikolai Nikiforov, Pyotr Kubashev, Pyotr Danilov and many others. It is probably difficult to find another rayon where so many villages have rich museums. Shuda is home of the memorial estate of the playwright Mirhaydar Faizi where he lived and wrote his plays.

The village of Tsipya, where people of different nationalities have lived side by side for centuries, you will be invited to have a look at the Museum of Peoples' Friendship. Karaduvan has an exciting exposition dedicated to the history of the Siberia Road, and a museum of the poet-hero Mussa Jalil. Unique exhibits are under the care of trained professionals, as all the museums in the Baltasi area are branches of the National Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan.

The main share of the rayon’s income comes from its agriculture. The production of grain, potatoes, meat, milk and wool, high yields of grain and forage crops have placed the rayon among the best in the region.

It should be noted that Baltasi Rayon is home to more than ten nationalities. In addition to the Tatars, who make up to 86% of the population, Udmurts, Mari and Russians live here. A special culture of coexistence has taken firm root here, with deep respect for the traditions and customs of each other passed from generation to generation. Together people celebrate ethnic festivals, grow corn and build new homes. As well as in other rayons of Tatarstan, they carefully preserve the cultural traditions of their ancestors and create conditions for the young to take these traditions further. Baltasi Rayon is proud of its inhabitants’ achievements in sports. Alfia Ziatdinova is an international master of sports, Ralif Askarov and Gulfaniya Garifullina — masters of sports of the USSR; Vasil Garifullin, Farid Ahmadiyev, Rafis Nasibullin Hamit Karimullin, Vagiz Fazliev, Radis Gallyamov, Aidar Khairutdinov and many more have been awarded the title of the master of sports of Russia and Tatarstan.

NB "Sabantuy" is translated from the Turkic languages as “wedding” (or “celebration”) of the plough. This holiday symbolizes the completion of the spring part of the agricultural cycle. This favorite ethnic festival is celebrated by Tatars around the world, with batyrs competing in strength and agility in Washington and San Francisco, Berlin and London, Montreal and Istanbul. In Tatarstan the Sabantuy is held in stages: it starts at the village level, then is taken further to the rayon centers and finishes in the cities of Tatarstan and its capital Kazan. The UNESCO Director-General has supported the initiative to nominate the Tatar ethnic festival Sabantuy a candidate for inclusion on the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.