Home    Number 2, 2021

Chuvash’s Distinctiveness in the Perception of August Ahlqvist

[Samobytnost’ chuvashei v vospriiatii Avgusta Al’kvista]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150014809-9

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 02.10.20

Accepted: 30.11.20

About author(s)

Anton Salmin | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1072-9933 | antsalmin@mail.ru | Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences (3 University Emb., St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia)


August Ahlqvist, identity, distinctiveness, Chuvash, ethnic origins, history of ethnography, language


The article examines the perception of the Chuvash national distinctiveness by August Ahlqvist, a nineteenth-century Finnish researcher and associate member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. It draws on Ahlqvist’s various articles and manuscripts that were written on the basis of materials collected in the Middle Volga region. I attempt to describe the activities of Ahlqvist against the backdrop of Russian-Finnish relationships and in the context of a series of fieldtrips initiated by the Helsinki university. It was in the nineteenth century that the groundwork for academic research on historical roots of the Finns was laid, and it was then that Finns directed their sights to Russia. They were interested not only in eastern Finns (Komi, Cheremis, Moksha, Erzya), but also in Turkic and Mongolian peoples. While traveling among the Chuvash, Mishars, and Tatars, Ahlqvist collected information on ethnic origins, history, and ethnography; however, what interested him most was the specificities and distinctiveness of language and culture of the Chuvash. He argues that, from the historical point of view, the Chuvash were a unique and distinctive ethnic and cultural group that exhibited noteworthy differences in regard to all their neighbours.


Salmin, A.K. 2021. Chuvash’s Distinctiveness in the Perception of August Ahlqvist [Samobytnost’ chuvashei v vospriiatii Avgusta Al’kvista]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 2: 97–110. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150014809-9

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