Vepsians (Veps: vepsläižed), are a
Finnic people who speak
the Veps language, which belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic
languages. The self-designations of these people in various dialects
are vepslaine, bepslaane and (in northern dialects, southwest of Lake
Onega) lüdinik and lüdilaine. According to the 2002 census, there
were 8,240 Veps in Russia. Of the 281 Veps in Ukraine, 11 spoke
Vepsian (Ukr. Census 2001). The most prominent researcher of the Veps
Finland is Eugene Holman. Western
Vepsians have kept their
language and culture. Nowadays, almost all
Vepsians speak fluent
Russian. The young generation in general does not speak their native
2.2 Historical period
3 Notable Vepsians
4 Further reading
6 External links
In modern times, they live in the area between Lake Ladoga, Lake Onega
and Lake Beloye – in the Russian
Republic of Karelia
Republic of Karelia in the former
Veps National Volost, in
Leningrad Oblast along the
Oyat River in the
Podporozhsky and Lodeynopolsky Districts and further south in the
Tikhvinsky and Boksitogorsky Districts, and in
Vologda Oblast in the
Vytegorsky and Babayevsky Districts.
Archeological and linguistic studies suggest that
Vepsians lived in
the valleys of the Sheksna, the Suda, and the Syas rivers, developing,
according to Kalevi Wiik, from the proto-Vepsian
Kargopol culture to
the east of Lake Onega. They probably also lived in
East Karelia and
on the northern coast of Lake Onega. It is possible that the earliest
mention of the Veps dates to the sixth century CE, when the Gothic
Jordanes mentioned a people called Vasina broncas, which may
have indicated the Vepsians. One of the eastern routes on which the
Vikings went through their area, and the bjarm people mentioned by the
Vikings as inhabiting the coast of the
White Sea may have referred to
the Veps. Evidence from tombs proves that they had contact with
Finland and Meryans, other Volga Finnic tribes and
later with the
Principality of Novgorod
Principality of Novgorod and other Russian states.
Vepsians also inhabited the western and eastern shores of Onega.
Vepsians etc. tribes. An approximative map of the non-Varangian
cultures in Eastern Europe, in the 9th century.
In early Kievan Rus' chronicles, they are called "Весь" (Ves’)
and in some Arabic sources they are called Wisu. It is assumed that
Bjarmians were at least partly Vepsians. From the 12th century their
history is connected with first the
Principality of Novgorod
Principality of Novgorod and then
Muscovy. Russian settlement reached the Onega Veps in the 14th or 15th
Vepsians in the
Kargopol area merged
linguistically with the
Russians before the 20th century.
The existence of the Vepsian people was not widely known until the
mid-19th century. Despite its close relationship to the Karelian and
the Finnish languages, the
Vepsian language was thus one of the last
Uralic languages to be recognized as one.
Vepsians numbered 25,607 in 1897. Some 7,300 of them inhabited East
Karelia. In the beginning of the 20th century there were some signs of
national awakening among Vepsians. Early Soviet nationality politics
supported this progress, and 24 administrative units with the status
of national village soviets were formed. The alphabet and the written
language were developed. Teachers started to instruct in Vepsian in
some elementary schools. The Soviet authorities started to oppress the
Vepsian culture in 1937. All national activities were stopped and the
national districts were abolished. When
Finland invaded East Karelia
in the Continuation war, some
Vepsians joined the so-called Kindred
Battalion of the Finnish Army. These troops were relinquished to the
Soviet Union after the war.
In the postwar period many Veps moved from their historic villages to
larger cities. In 1983, on the initiative of national academics, an
inquiry was carried out which showed that there were nearly 13,000
Veps in the Soviet Union, 5,600 of whom lived in Karelia, 4,000 in the
Leningrad region and just under a 1,000 in the Vologda region. The
new Vepsian primer Abekirj and other elementary school books were
Petrozavodsk in 1991. Kodima, a newspaper in Vepsian, has
been published since 1993. The Vepsian rural commune was formed in
East Karelia in 1994, encompassing 8,200 square kilometers of land and
3,373 inhabitants, 42% of them Vepsian. The republican authorities
granted some budgetary autonomy to the commune in 1996. The language
was taught as a subject in two schools, the
Shyoltozero and Rybreka.
However, the cultural revival slowed down in the second half of the
1990s and the federal authorities abolished the autonomy in 2006.
Nowadays the young generation in general does not speak the language,
Though the actual population of
Vepsians continues to grow.
Nikolay Abramov – Vepsian-language poet, translator and writer
Vepsians Museum — in Shyoltozero,
Republic of Karelia, northwestern Russia.
Kurs, Ott (March 2001). "The Vepsians: An administratively divided
nationality". Nationalities Papers. 29 (1): 69–83.
^ Russian census 2010 Archived October 6, 2014, at the Wayback
^ "Ukrainian census 2001". Ukrcensus.gov.au. Retrieved 24 October
2017. [permanent dead link]
^ "POPULATION BY ETHNIC NATIONALITY, MOTHER TONGUE, CITIZENSHIP, SEX,
AGE GROUP AND PLACE OF RESIDENCE, 31 DECEMBER 2011". Pub.stat.ee.
Retrieved 24 October 2017.
^ "Население по национальности и
родному языку" [Population by nationality and mother
language] (PDF). Перепись населения
Республики Беларусь 2009 года (in Russian).
Нацыянальны статыстычны камітэт
Рэспублікі Беларусь. 12 August 2010.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-12. Retrieved
^ "L'extinction d'un peuple finno-ougrien: les Vepses".
Regard-est.com. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
^ Toivo Vuorela 1960, Suomensukuiset kansat, p. 103
^ Saressalo 2005, Vepsa Maa, Kansa, Kulttuuri, p. 13
^ a b c "The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire". Eki.ee.
Retrieved 24 October 2017.
^ Ott Kurs (1994). "Vepsians: the easternmost Baltic-Finnic people".
Terra. 107: 127–135.
^ a b Ott Kurs (2001). "The Vepsians: An administratively divided
nationality". Nationalities Papers. 29: 69–83.
Effort to vitalise the Vepsian language
The Peoples of the Red Book: THE VEPS
Uralic peoples speaking Uralic languages
Ethnic groups in Russia