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The Sondsteadish Tatars (Sondsteadish: Sündstedrisjh-Tadare̊n or Tadare̊n) are an ethnoreligious group of Turkic origin and Muslim faith in Sondstead. Descended from the nomadic horsemen of the Prekovi steppe, Tatars settled in Sondstead in the 16th and 17th centuries as servants of the crown, distinguishing themselves as skilled cavalrymen. Although gradually adopting the Sondsteadish language and syncretic cultural customs they steadfastly retained their religion and lifestyle.
Sondsteadish is a Burgundian term meaning "People Without Place" referring to their nomadic lifestyle.
While in the 12th and 13th centuries the reach of Turkic mariners extended as far as the island of Däffen in northeastern Sondstead, the Sondsteadish Tatar community originated with a group of semi-nomadic Turkic Muslim clans expelled from the Prekovi Basin in the 1550s, who were invited to settle in Sondstead by King Bernard in exchange for offering their services as horsemen to the crown. Many settled in central Windstrand Proper as the low, flat plains were well suited to raising horses and livestock. The region of the greatest Tatar settlement in the 16th and 17th centuries in Windstrand still has a significant Tatar minority and a number of municipalities and settlements with names of Tatar origin.
The Tatars were granted special privileges and a status in the social hierarchy similar to the untitled nobility. After Bernard was deposed in 1575, the Tatar cavalrymen he had invited to settle came under suspicion, but the Tatar clans quickly pledged their loyalty to the new monarch, Bernard's brother Christopher IV following the lead of Bey Mohmet Yadegarzade, which earned them the king's favour. The Tatar cavalrymen, or Tissats (Sondsteadish: Tissatde̊n) would subsequently serve with distinction in every Alisnan war in which Sondstead fought, most notably in the Varnian Civil Wars and the Great Maredoratic War.
Starting in the 17th century, the Tatars began to adopt the Sondsteadish language and adapt to local customs, with some converting to Christianity and assimilating totally into the Sondsteadish population. However, many held steadfastly to their Muslim faith and distinct identity even as their lifestyle and customs became more and more similar to those of their Christian neighbors. In the Sondsteadish census of 1838, some 15,540 Tatars were counted. However, due to assimilation, decreasing birth rates, and immigration, the rate of growth in the Tatar community slowed in the 20th century and eventually the population became essentially stagnant.
At the constitutional convention of 1876–1877, the sole Tatar delegate, Jöhännes Uruslan vigorously argued for the Tatars' traditional rights. Uruslan's one achievement at the convention was to convince the other delegates to approve a clause allowing the Tatar community to elect it's own representative to parliament.
The last Tatar units fought in the Sondsteadish-Varnian War of 1916. Following the end of the war, the Tissat regiments were disbanded in the 1920s as the role of horse cavalry was taken over by armoured vehicles, ending the over three century long Tissat tradition. However, some of the traditions of the Tatar regiments are sustained by the Royal Tissats, Armoured regiment of the Sondsteadish Army.
In the 2008 Sondsteadish census 19,173 people declared their ethnicity to be Tatar. More than half live in Windstrand State, mostly in Windstrand City and in the three ridings Kjeälknerländ, Nortbankje̊n, and Nörtberg, the later areas making up the region long known as Lits-Tärtäriy ("Little Tartary"). Outside Sondstead, there are an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people of Sudechen identity, mainly in the other Nordic countries, Morieux, and Rochehaut. Hundreds of thousands more in Sondstead, the Sondsteadish diaspora, and in Karaman likely have Sudechen ancestry.
In present day Sondstead, the community is well integrated into mainstream society and are not highly visible in the media or public perception. Despite this, they have retained a level of ethnic autonomy. Although it has limited competencies there is a communal governing body, the Tatar Community Authority headquartered in Basar Majdan, with an elected council, and a reserved seat in the Fölkstingjh, both elected by Tatars of voting age who register on a separate roll. However, participation has declined in recent years. The Tatars also elect their own Grand Mufti.
Many Sondsteadish Tatars can trace their ancestry back through four centuries of military men, and, since the 20th century, women, who served the Sondsteadish crown, and a disproportionate number still today serve as officers and professional soldiers; in 2012 it was estimated roughly six percent of Tatars were in active military service, compared to less than one percent for the general population, with about a third of those being women, and that nearly one in every eight households had at least one member on active duty.
Culture and religion
The culture, lifestyle, and understanding of religion among the Sondsteadish Tatars has been greatly influenced by Islamic thought, nominally that of the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam, but also by that of the local Christian communities and by a basis in nomadic Turkic and Mongol traditions. Tatar women traditionally had a great amount of freedom, and participated in mixed-gender congregations and coeducation of children. Women traditionally wore the hijab only for marriage or at mosque.
Some old Turkic customs are still practiced, such as the sacrifice of bulls at major festivals such as Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. Horsemeat is still consumed somewhat commonly, despite it being makruh (discouraged) in Islam and illegal to produce (with exceptions) or import in Sondstead, dating back to religious law which prohibited it as a pagan practice (see horse sacrifice). By a royal decree the Tatars were granted an exclusive privilege to slaughter horses in 1559, and the Tatar Community Authority still must approve any abattoir to produce horse meat in addition to ordinary certification by the Food Safety Board. Most Tatars do not eat pork or drink wine made from dates or grapes, but do not consider beer, vodka, or kumis to be haram.
The liberal interpretation of Islam which developed among the Sondstead Tatars contrasts with the orthodox conservatism prevalent in most of the Muslim world. Large scale immigration to Sondstead of Alqosian, Karamish, and Setifan Muslims in the 20th century has given rise to controversy between religious thinkers from immigrant communities, many of whom follow conservative interpretations of Islam, and the Tatar community.
Some Tatar families claim descent from the Mongol Khans of Prekonate, especially the last of that line, Tömörbaatar Khan. However, no verifiable lineage of descent from Tömörbaatar to the present day has yet been put forward.
By the end of the 18th century the Tatar language had been abandoned by the Sondsteadish Tatars in the favour of Sondsteadish. However, into the early 20th century, particularly to write Islamic texts, the Tatars used an Arabic script to write Sondsteadish called Arabisjised ("Arabicised").
Notable Sondsteadish Tatars
- Äjsje Samara, 17th century Islamic reformer and Turkish tutor to Cecilia, Queen of Sondstead.
- Ändres Samara, ice hockey player.
- Gäbriel Madjassunr, Prime Minister of Sondstead 1904 to 1906.
- Jäsmin Ähmetssünr, writer, historian, and Windstrand University professor.
- Jöhän Bojar, ambassador.
- Jöhännes Uruslan, parliamentarian.
- Mihäel-Hasan Samara, Great Maredoratic War cavalry officer. Also designed the Sudechen flag.
- Möhemet Samara, royal favourite and Lord Chancellor to Queen Cecilia. Son of Äjsje Samara.
- Mohmet Yadegarzade, 16th century bey (clan chieftain) and cavalry captain.
- Saga Hanssunr, artist and sculptor