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The earliest known organized state within the boundaries of present Tatarstan was Volga Bulgaria (c. 700–1238 CE). The Volga Bulgars had an advanced mercantile state with trade contacts throughout Inner Eurasia, the Middle East and the Baltic, which maintained its independence despite pressure by such nations as the Khazars, the Kievan Rus and the Cuman-Kipchaks. Islam was introduced by missionaries from Baghdad around the time of ibn Fadlan's journey in 922.

Volga Bulgaria finally fell to the armies of the Mongol prince Batu Khan in the late 1230s (see Mongol invasion of Volga Bulgaria.) The inhabitants, mixing with the Golden Horde's Kipchak-speaking people, became known as the "Volga Tatars." Another theory postulates that there were no ethnic changes in that period, and Bulgars simply switched to the Kipchak-based Tatar language. In the 1430s, the region again became independent as the base of the Khanate of Kazan, a capital having been established in Kazan, 170 km up the Volga from the ruined capital of the Bulgars.



Volga Bulgaria

baltawars, iltäbärs and emirs (kings).

Kotrag, founder of Volga Bulgaria










Batyr Mö'min


Almış first Muslim ruler


Mikail bine Cäğfär


Äxmäd bine Cäğfär


Abdulla bine Mikail


Talib bine Äxmäd


Mö'min bine Äxmäd


Abd ar-Rahman bine Mö'min


Abu Ishak Ibrahim bine Mohammad


Näzir äd-Din




Rule by the Golden Horde





In September 1223 near Samara an advance guard of Genghis Khan's army under command of Uran, son of Subutai Bahadur, entered Volga Bulgaria but was defeated in the Battle of Samara Bend. In 1236, the Mongols returned and in five years had subjugated the whole country, which at that time was suffering from internal war. Henceforth Volga Bulgaria became a part of the Ulus Jochi, later known as the Golden Horde. It was divided into several principalities; each of them became a vassal of the Golden Horde and received some autonomy. By the 1430s, the Khanate of Kazan was established as the most important of these principalities.


Volga Bulgaria was situated on the trade routes connecting Eastern Europe with the East. In the tenth century it actively traded with the Arab Caliphate, Byzantium, and Rus’. Its cities were trans-formed into great trade and artisan centers. A trade agreement with Rus’ was concluded in 1006. However, there were also clashes between the Bulgars and the Russian princes - for example, the campaigns of Russian princes against the Bulgars in 977, 985, 994, and 997. After the 11th century, the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality became the main military and trade rival of Volga Bulgaria. The Bulgars repeatedly attacked Russian cities;these attacks, in turn, provoked  military campaigns of the Russian princes against Volga Bulgaria (1120, 1164, 1172, 1183, and 1220). The constant threat from the Russian princes compelled the Bulgars to transfer their capital from Bulgar to Biliar. In 1229 peace was concluded between Volga Bulgaria and Rus’.

In the 1220’s, Volga Bulgaria was the first European state to receive a blow from the Mongols. The attack in 1223 was successfully repulsed. Only in 1236 son of  Genghis Khan, Ögödei (1229-’41) took Biliar, and by 124 1he had completely subjugated Volga Bulgaria which, having retained some autonomy, became part of the Golden Horde. The culture of Volga Bulgaria was an important component in the formation of the GoldenHorde’s culture of the Lower Volga Region. In the second half of the 13th century the cities of Volga Bulgaria again became great trade and artisan centers; Bulgar became the leading city. Merchants from many countries, including China and India, assembled here. Foreign craftsmen, including Armenians and Russians, worked along with the Bulgars in the city. From 1240 to 1428 the Bulgars minted their own money in Bulgar. Having recovered from the defeat inflicted by the Mongol-Tatars, the Bulgar princes began to expand their domain, mainly in the areas of the Viatka and Kama rivers. Two main principalities - the Bulgar and Zhukotin - developed as distinct entities within Volga Bulgaria. Kazan, the northern center of Volga Bulgaria, also began to play a major role. The economic rise of Volga Bulgaria in the 14th century caused the Bulgar princes to strive for independence. Their participation in palace disturbances in the Golden Horde provoked punitive expeditions by the Golden Horde khans against Volga Bulgaria. The best known was the 1361 campaign of Bulak-Timur. Weakened by the Horde and divided  into two principalities, Volga Bulgaria could not defend itself against the renewed campaigns of the Russian princes (from 1360) and the numerous raids of the Ush-kuiniks.




The arms of Bulgar were supposed to have been of three lions passant in two important German armorials of the 15th century: The report by Ulrich Richental of the Council of Konstanz held in 1417, and the Armorial of Conrad Grüneberg of 1483 who borrowed much from Ulrich Richental. These quotes were interpreted by later scientists that the arms with the three lions were the arms of Bulgar on the Volga being in fact the arms of a Bulgarian tsar in the Balkans.

This is based however on a misreading of the name of the Georgian prince Bagrat V (1360-1396) spelled in arab script “Bagra”.


The oldest emblem used for Volga Bulgaria was on the seal of Ivan the Terrible dated 1556.  This represented a feline surrounded by the legend болгарскяа печать (Seal of Bulgar). This emblem was augmented with a procession cross ensigned with a red banner with a yellow cross. It is in the Titularnik from the time of Tsar Alexei Mihailowitsj (1645-'76), representing the arms of several parts of the Empire of the Grand Princes of Moscow. [1]



Seal of Bulgar on the Great Seal of Ivan the Terrible, 1556.



Arms of Болгаскіи in the Titularnik, 1672  Æ


Here the feline is doubtlessly a snow-leopard (Uncia uncia – Felidae) living in the inaccessible valleys and mountain-slopes of Central Asia


Snow-leopard (Uncia uncia-Felidæ)


The (snow) leopard (Uncia uncia – Felidæ) comes from a very ancient tradition and very beautiful pieces are known from 6th-5th century BC scythian culture.There is, however, no continuity in its use over the ages, nor is it known for what purpose the leopard was used although, however, that a military significance can be supposed.


Textitle with paired leopards

Western Iran, 1340-’80.

Hewitt National Design Museum. New York


In the era of the mongol empires of the 13th and 14th centuries the figure was represented on earthenware and on textiles but pieces preserved are very rare.

During the Ming dynasty  (1368-1644) in China the leopard became a badge of rank of  a military official of the 3rd or 4th rank and later of the 3rd rank only. A representation was embroidered on the so-called mandarin square. This is probably of sigificance for the explication of the leopard in the arms of Bulgar. It would mean that the Khans of Bulgar, vassals of the Golden Horde, were entitled to an important command within the imperial army of the Golden Horde. This title became meaningless after the breaking up of the Golden Horde after 1395 and the loss of the position of the Khans of Bulgar at the beginning of the 15th century. Although their status was pinched by the Hordian Tatars, these however did not adopt the leopard as a badge. It was revived however after the dissolution of Bulgar by Ivan the Terrible in 1552. He put the seal of Bulgar in the margin of his own great seal a few years later but it is not known on what tradition he leaned.


In the 17th century this feline was understood as a paschal lamb with the banner of the church. This was perhaps derived from the tatar word barometz meaning lamb which was a fabulous creature half lamb half plant and in Western Europe associated with Tartaria since the 11th century.




If there were a Bulgar city on the site of present Kazan estimates of the date of its foundation range from the early 11th century to the late 13th century (see Iske Qazan). It was a border post between Volga Bulgaria and two Finnic tribes, the Mari and the Udmurt. Another vexatious question is where the citadel was built originally. Archaeological explorations have produced evidence of urban settlement in three parts of the modern city: in the Kremlin; in Bişbalta at the site of the modern Zilantaw monastery; and near the Qaban lake. The oldest of these seems to be the Kremlin.

If Kazan existed in the 11th and 12th centuries, it could have been a stop on a Volga trade route from Scandinavia to Iran. It was a trade center, and possibly a major city for Bulgar settlers in the Kazan region, although their capital was further south at the city of Bolğar.

After the Mongols devastated the Bolğar and Bilär areas in the 13th century, migrants resettled Kazan. Kazan became a center of a duchy which was a dependency of the Golden Horde.

The last Khan ruling all of the Golden Horde was Tokhtamish (1378-'95). After him the Khanate fell apart in the Khanates of Siberia, Astrakan, Krim and Kazan the last khanate called after the city of Kazan founded by the Mongols at about 70 km north of Bulgar. In the 1430s, Hordian Tatars (such as Ghiasetdin of Kazan, governor of Kazan until 1438) usurped power from its Bolghar dynasty. In 1438 Kazan became the capital of the powerful Khanate of Kazan.


Khans of Kazan 1438- 1552 [2]

Ulugh Muhammad الغ محمد

1438 - 1446

Mäxmüd of Kazan محمود ابن الغ محمد

1445 – 1466

Xälil of Kazan خلیل ابن محمود

1466 – 1467

Ibrahim of Kazan ابراہیم ابن محمود

1467 – 1479

Ilham Ghali of Kazan علی ابن ابراہیم

1st reign 1479 – 1484

Möxämmädämin of Kazan محمد امین ابن ابراہیم

1st reign 1484 – 1485

Ilham Ghali of Kazan علی ابن ابراہیم

2nd reign 1485 – 1487

Möxämmädämin of Kazan محمد امین ابن ابراہیم

2nd reign 1487 – 1495

Mamuq of Kazan ?

1495 – 1496

Ghabdellatif of Kazan عبد اللطیف ابن ابراہیم

1496 – 1502

Möxämmädämin of Kazan محمد امین ابن ابراہیم

 3rd reign 1502 - 1518

Shahghali شاہ علی ابن شیخ اللہ یار

1st reign 1518 - 1521

Sahib I Giray صاحب غرائی

1521 - 1525

Safa Giray of Kazan صفا غرائی

1st reign 1525 - 1532

Canghali of Kazan جان علی ابن شیخ اللہ یار

1532 – 1535

Safa Giray of Kazan صفا غرائی

2nd reign 1535 – 1546

Shahghali شاہ علی ابن شیخ اللہ یار

2nd reign 1546

Safa Giray of Kazan صفا غرائی

3rd reign 1546 - 1549

Utameshgaray of Kazan عتمش غرائی

1549 – 1551

Utemish being a minor the actual ruler was his mother Söyembikä who acted as regent

Shahghali شاہ علی ابن شیخ اللہ یار

3rd reign 1551 – 1552

Yadegar Mokhammad of Kazan یاد گار محمد



Kazan was captured by Ivan te Terrible in 1552 and has remained a part of the Russian empire and its successors until the present day.


Kazan Khanate after its capture in the 16th century with its most important cities in the 18th century


During the Civil War of 1918–1920 Tatar nationalists attempted to establish an independent republic (the Idel-Ural State). They were, however, put down by the Bolsheviks and the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was established on May 27, 1920. There was a famine in the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1921 to 1922 as a result of war communist policy. The boundaries of the republic did not include majority of the Volga Tatars. The Tatar Union of the Godless were persecuted in Stalin's 1928 purges.


The Idel-Ural State was a Tatar republic with its centre in Kazan that united Tatars, Bashkirs and the Chuvash in the turmoil of the Russian Civil War. Often viewed as an attempt to recreate the Khanate of Kazan, the republic was proclaimed on 12 December 1917, by a Congress of Muslims from Russia’s interior and Siberia. “Idel-Ural” means “Volga-Ural” in Tatar language.

On 5 May  1917 more than 800 non-Russian delegates representing Maris, Chuvashes, Udmurts, Mordvins (Mokshas and Erzyas), Komis, Komi-Permyaks, Kalmyks and Tatars held a general meeting in Kazan to create an independent Idel-Ural Republic in the Volga-Ural area in Russia. The main idea was a loose League of Small Nations where all were free to strengthen their own cultural heritage. At first the Muslim Bashkirs declined to participate, but later in 1917 they and the Volga Germans joined the League of Idel-Ural.

Initially Idel-Ural State comprised only Tatars and Bashkirs in the former Kazan and Ufa governorates, although other, non-Muslim and non-Turkic, nations of the area joined in a few months later: the Komi peoples, Mari, and Udmurts, who speak Uralic languages and practice either Orthodox Christianity or shamanism. Defeated by the Red Army in April 1918, the republic was restored by the Czech Legion in July of the same year but the Bolsheviks managed finally to dissolve it at the end of the year. The president of Idel-Ural, Sadrí Maqsudí Arsal, escaped to Finland in 1918.


Red Army (18.06.1918)

Czech Legion



The fall of the Idel-Ural State led to open revolt in 1919-1920 and even after the revolt was smashed by the Bolsheviks in 1921, the idea of the Idel-Ural State continued to exist clandestinely until 1929. That year the Cheka finally managed to infiltrate the Idel-Ural movement and smashed the leadership. Several thousand Idel-Ural supporters were executed all over the Volga and Ural minority-settled regions.

On August 30, 1990, Tatarstan announced its sovereignty with the Declaration on the State Sovereignty of the Tatar Soviet Socialist Republic and in 1992 Tatarstan held a referendum on the new constitution, and 62 percent of those who took part voted in favor of the constitution. In the 1992 Tatarstan Constitution, Tatarstan is defined as a Sovereign State. Nevertheless the referendum and constitution were declared unconstitutional by the Russian Constitutional Court. As a result, articles 1 and 3 of the constitution, as introduced in 2002 define Tatarstan as a part of the Russian Federation.




The arms of the kingdom and government of Kazan, were a black basilisk on a white field.


The Basilisk


The basilisk is a mythological bird probably derived from a cock, usually the symbol of vigilance. He is represented as a cock with the tail of a lizard. Sometimes he has the wings of a bird but on other representations the wings are of a bat. For that reason a basilisk is sometimes called a dragon. Because the basilisk is given sometimes some qualities of a phoenix, he is often also confused with that mytholigical bird.  The cock or basilisk of Kazan has evoluated unto a dragon in the course of time.

About the basilisk Bartholomew Anglicus writes in about 1240:


"The Cockatrice hyghte Basiliscus in grewe and Regulus in latyn, and hathe that name Regulus of a lyttell kynge, for he is kynge of serpentes, and they ben afearde and flee when they se hym: for he sleeth theym with his smelle and with his brethe: and sleeth also a thyng that hath lyfe with brethe and with syghte. In his syghte no foule ne byrde passeth harmeles, and thoughe he be ferre fro the foule, yet it is brente and devoured by his mouthe, but he is overcome of the wesell: and men brynge the wesell to the cokatrice denne, where he lurketh and is hid. For the father and maker of all thying lefte no thinge without remedy. And so the cokatrice fleeth when he seeth the wesel, and the wesel pursewed and sleeth hym. And the cokatrice is halfe a fote long, and hath white speckes: And the cokatrice sleeth that that cometh nyghe, as the Scorpi­on... [although] the bytynge of the wesell is deathe to the cokatri­ce... nevertheless the biting of the cokatrice is deathe to the wesell. And that is soth, but if the wesell ete rewe before." [3]


To which he adds:


"his ashes be accounted good and profytable in werkynge of Alkamye, and namely in turnynge and chaungyne of mettalle".


In 1272 Albrecht von Scharffenberg versifies in the "Jüngeren Titurel" (vs. 3929 et seq.):


„Er qvam mit manigem dvzze . busine und ouch tambure

Mit ovgen eiter scvzze . fvrt er den basiliscus duch die fvre

Daz er in den ougen treit vergifte

Wen er gesiht der vellet tot duch daz er imz zu wappen hie nu stifte

Ouf kursit und uf schilte uf helm und wappenrocken“


(He came with many horns, trumpets and drums also

With eyes both closed  he leads the basilisk through the fire

Having poison in its eyes

Whom it regards drops dead because it serves him for arms

On cuirass and on shield, on helmet and coat of arms.) [4]


In 1350 Konrad von Megenberg tells us:


"Basilicus haizt ain unk . der ist ain kunich aller slangen, sam Jacobus spricht, wan basiliscus in kriechisch haizt ain künigel ze däutsch". (there are two kinds of them: ) "ez ist auch ainerlai unk, die auz dem ai werdent daz ain han legt, der neun jâr alt ist, als die alten weisen sagent".


(A toad called Basilisk is a king of all serpents says Jacobus  because basiliscus in greek means little king in german. [....] there is also a toad coming from an egg laid by a nine years old cock as the old wise men say) [5]


The Rooster


The rooster as a badge of office is likely of persian origin. In the sassanian era birds of different kinds were woven on the cloths of civil officials. Such clothes are also known from 13th century central Asia (Turkestan). They are paralleled by the birds on the so-called mandarin squares of chinese civil officials. In both systems of badges of rank however the rooster is strikingly absent. In that respect the cloth respresenting two roosters respecting is quite unique. The circumstance that the medallion is surrounded by dragons of chinese shape makes it likely that the cloth was made for a civil official ranking in a central asian empire. Such and empire was the Empire of the Golden Horde which existed  1227-1499. So, on the cloth represented below, dating from the turn of the 13t and 14th century, the dragons are for a Khan of the Golden Horde for example Toqta (1291-1312) or Uzbeg Khan (1312-‘41). The roosters within a garland on the cloth are likely the badges of rank of a Golden Horde official,  the roosters respecting the emblem of his government. The other birds with garlands still ask for an explanation.


Two roosters respecting between four dragons

Fragment of a textile, lampas; silk and gilded paper lamella both spun around silk and woven flat. H: 228; W: 63.5 cm. Eastern Islamic area, Central Asia or China. first half of 14th century.[late 13th-early 14th cent.] The David Collection 641 (Art from the World of Islam, The David Collection Copenhagen, 2001)


No data about the origin of the cloth are known and consequently it can not attributed to any official in the empire of the Golden Horde. As the roosters are a classificatory emblem in this case some other governors of Golden Horde pricipalities may have had the right to use them. About the system of badges of rank however very little is known. Two other bages are known as Speransov mentions a ram as a badge for a 12th century ruler of Bulgar, the ram (ibex) being the badge of a high or even supreme commander in Sassanian military hierarchy. Also, the badge of  Tatar khans is documented as being an owl but its originin is very enigmatic.

Nevertheless, a rooster appears at the beginning of the 15th century in Western Europe and has developed into the basilisk  from the arms of Kazan.


The arms of Kazan

The arms of Kazan are Argent, a basilisk Sable crowned, billed and membred Or.


The arms with the basilisk appears for the first time in the report on the Council of Konstanz, held 1414-1418 by  Ulrich Richental (1420-'30) on fol. 130a. [6]  Here the „basilisk“ has more the appearance of a rooster. It is:

Arms: Argent, a basilisk (rooster) Sable crested Gules, billed and membred and with a crown around its neck Or.

Crown: Of three flowers and two groups of three pearls

These arms may be attibuted to Ghiasetdin, ruler of Kazan at the beginning of the 15th century


The arms with the owl of Pierre d’Abbeville


Likely  the arms with an owl as in Pierre d’Abbeville’s La Geographie Universelle (1676) are derived from these arms, A yellow flag with an owl is given by a Dutch flag chart from the turn of the 17th-18th century. This flag was copied over and over until far in the 19th century



Flag of the Khan of the Golden Horde (?) and of  Kazan

From: Danckertsz, Cornelis: Nieuwe Tafel van al de Zee vaarende Vlagge des Weerelts.


Almost for sure the owl is derived from the mongol gerfalcon which was the emblem of Genghiz Khan and the badge of rank of a mongol commander of 100,000. A gerfalcon was on the mongolian passports of  Genghiz Khan.

Mongolian passport from the Dzjengiz Khan  era

Seal supported by dragons and crested with a bird, wings expanded


The  tradition of the arms with the basilisk began at least in the last half of the 15th century:



The arms of Kazan in Conrad Grünebergs Wappenbuch, 1483


These arms may be attributed to Ibrahim (1467-’79) or Ilham Ghali (1479-’84), tsars of Kazan.


í The arms were mistakenly attributed by the copiist to the (last) emperor of Trabzon, David (1458-’61) who, however, bore Gules, a two-headed eagle Or. The legend reads accordingly: „Der kaiser von Trappesod stost an Kriechen vnd an das Kaisertum von Athen. Hat yetzn der turgisch kaiser gewunnen und den kaiser geköpft” (The emperor of Trabzon borders with Greece and with the Empire of Athens. Has been captured by the Emperor of Turkey now and the emperor beheaded).

This legend is probably exchanged with the legend:

Kayser von bulgari // Rex caldeorum Der kayser von Bulgarien das muß mitsamen haben zu vicarioy von ordo und hett under im Regem d Caldeore (Emperor of Bulgaria // King of Caldeorum The Emperor of Bulgaria should be together with the vicar of the order and has the king of Caldeore under him) in the same armorial of Conrad Grüneberg. Here the arms are of three lions passant and a single lion rampant which are the arms of the king of Georgia and a king of Macedonia and not of the tsar of Bulgar. For the King of Caldeorum there is another quote in the report of Richental (fol 131v°). This is: Azure, three banners per bend Gules. L.: Rex Caldeorum under dem groſſen kan. [7] We have to keep in mind here that caldeorum is the translation in latin of Kazan, meaning kettle in tatar language and that consequently the King of Kazan (or his commander of the army) is meant there, who indeed was under the Great Khan (i.e. Jabbar Berdi (1417–‘19).


Russian Rule


In 1552 Kazan was captured by the Russian army and the same year Ivan the Terribele usurped the title of Tsar of Kazan. Shortly afterwards the basilisk if Kazan appeared in the margin of his great seal and a seal of the kingdom itself is known from 1577. The legend reads in both cases: ПЕЧАТЬ ЦАРЬСТВА КАЗАНЬСКОГО (Seal of the Kingdom of Kazan).  [8]


On the great seal of Ivan the Terrible, 1556

On the seal of 1577

On a seal of 1637

On a seal of 1693


In the 17th century the basilisk developed to the arms of the kingdom of Kazan. The figure also appeared on flag-charts from that time on which a yellow cloth with a black dragon is represented with the legend "Vlag van de Keizer van Tartarien" (Flag of the emperor of Tartary).

In 1727 the arms of Kazan were put on the left wing of the eagle of Empress Catharine I. In a decree of 1766 the colors were established as brown with golden wings and tail-tip. [9]


The basilisk of Kazan in the Titularnike (Царский титулярник, 1672)


Crowned arms of the kingdom of Kazan

on a golden plate of Tsar Alexis of 1675





The crowned arms and blazon of  the Kingdom of Kazan, 1800

From: All arms of the Greater Russian Empire  (Полныи Геръб Всероссйіскія Имперіи 1800)


On 11 April 1857 a greater achievement of the Russian Empire was adopted. by decree N° 31720.

The arms of Kazan are described there as follows, the basilisk called a dragon:


I. Герб Царства Казанскаго: в серебряном щите черный коронованный дракон; крылья и хвост червленые, клюв и когти золотые, язык червленый.


Not in the decree is the fact that the arms were crowned with the crown of Kazan.


Æ See illustration in the head of this article


The Crown of Kazan


The crown of Kazan

Chromolithograph by F. Dreger, 1854


The Kazan Crown is dated by 1553. It was first mentioned in the treasury of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, who captured Kazan in October 1552 and annexed the Kazan khanate. To commemorate this capture he ordered a crown combining national and eastern artistic traditions. Some elements remind decorative traditions of Russian churches of the epoch. At the same time, a combination of stones, e.g. red tourmalines and rubies with blue turquoise and carved ornament of knitting herbs on niello background represent oriental artistic influence. Since the 19th century this crown served as heraldic crown of  the "Tsardom of Kazan".



Kazan Governorate


Kazan Governorate with its most important cities in the 18th century


Kazan Governorate, was established on 29 December (Old Style 18 December) 1708, by Tsar Peter the Great's edict about the lands of the Khanate of Kazan.

In 1717 Astrakhan Governorate was separated from Kazan Governorate. Nizhny Novgorod in 1719,  Orenburg in 1744 and Vyatka, Simbirsk, and Ufa Governorates in 1781. Under Catherine the Great (1781–‘96) Kazan was the center of a namestnichestvo (viceroyalty), with Kazan, Penza, and Saratov Governorates as its integral parts.


The arms of of Kazan Governorate were adopted by decree of 18 October 1781 and their blazon reads: A black dragon with the golden crown of Kazan and red wings on a white shield. ("Змий черный под короною зоотью, Казан-скою, крылья красные, поле белое").

1794 "в белом поле змей чёрный с красными крыльями под короною золотою Казанскою" [10]


By decree of 8 December 1856 embellished arms were adopted for Kazan Government. It is:


Arms: Argent, a basilisk Sable, langued and winged Gules, crowned billed and membred Or.

Crown: The Russian Imperial Crown

Garland: Branches of oak Or and a bow and ribbon Azure of the Order of  St. Andrew.



Here the wings of the basilisk are, probably hyper-correct, bird’s wings instead of dragon’s or bat’s wings. Also the grassy ground in base introduced in the 17th century is omitted [11] 


Kazan governorate was finally abolished during the Bolshevik administrative reform.


Idel Ural State

1917.12.17- 1920.05.27


After the collapse of the Russian Empire and the abolition of the Kingdom of Kazan in 1917 Tatar nationalist attempted in the ensuing Civil War of 1918-1920 to establish an independent republic (the Idel-Ural State).



Flag of Idel Ural Republic

adopted 3.12.1917 in Ufa


The national flag of Idel Ural was adopted on 3 December 1917 by the National Assembly anticipating the proclamation of independence in Kazan on 24 January 1918. At the end of April the state and its flag were put down by the Bolsheviks and the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was established on 27 May 1920.

The color of the flag reminds the blue banners (gök bayrak) of the medieval Ottoman Empire. Also from the Middle Ages is the tamgha which was on flags of the Golden Horde as represented on 14th century catalan portolans or sea charts. Here the hook symbolizes the place where the people belonged, the ring the assembly of the representatives of the tribes (Aksakal), the crescent the Islam and the frame that many peoples are gathered under a single leadership. [12]


Proclamation of the Idel-Ural Republic

as a part of the Russian Soviet Republic of Workers and Peasants, dated 1st of March 1918 [13]


On the proclamation of the Idel Ural Republic of 01.03.1918 the emblem of the republic consisted of a bow and arrow and the name of the republic in arab script.


A project for an emblem of Idel Ural was one of the pieces of the exhibition  “Pages of history of statehood of the Republic of Tatarstan” held in the National Museum of Kazan (2010). It was a picture of  “a design of the first unofficial emblem of the Republic”, created by Baki Urmanche.

The emblem is:


Arms: Gules, a rising sun radiant Or and a bow-and-arrow point upeards over all. In chief the name of the republic in tatar language.

Garland: Ears of wheat Or tied wit a ribbon Gules and charged with a hammer and sickle in base proper.

Crest: Agricultural utensils issuant proper

Supporters: A worker in the dexter and a farmer on the sinister standing on leafs of corn in saltire all proper.

Because of the rapid political changes this emblem was never adopted.


Thereupon its Eastern part with the city of Kazan was proclaimed the Tatar ASSR, while the Western part was eventually divided between Chuvashia and Mari El.


Tatarstan Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic



The autonomous republics on the territory of former Kazan Governorate used the arms of the  R.S.F.S.R. of 1920. In 1930 the arms of 1920 were adapted for use in Tatarstan by adding the name of the Tatarstan A.S.S.R. in cyrillic and tatar script.  In 1937 the insciptions in tatar script were spelled in latin




The Volga-Tatar Legion (German: Wolgatatarische Legion) or Legion Idel-Ural (Janalif: Idel-Ural Legionь) was a volunteer Wehrmacht unit composed of Muslim Volga Tatars/Bulgars, but also included other Idel-Ural peoples such as Bashkirs, Chuvashes, Mari people, Udmurt people, and Mordva. It was formed in 1942.



In 1978 a five-pointed star was added and apporved by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR of 1 June 1981.


Republic of Tatarstan



On 30 August 1990, Tatarstan proclaimed its sovereignty with the Declaration on the State Sovereignty of the Tatar Soviet Socialist Republic. The sovereign republic, although a federal subject of Russi, received the name of The Republic of Tatarstan (Респу́блика Татарста́н, tr. Respublika Tatarstan; IPA:  Tatar Cyrillic: Татарстан Республикасы,: Tatarstan Respublikası). Its capital is the city of Kazan. The unofficial Tatarstan motto is: Bez Buldırabız! (We can!).

By referendum of 21 March 1992 the population of  Tatarstan voted for complete sovereignty.

The National Emblem was adopted by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Tatarstan on 7 February 1992 (№1415-XII). The decree reads:


2. Государственный герб Республики Татарстан представляет собой изображение крылатого барса с круглым щитом на боку, с приподнятой правой передней лапой, на фоне диска солнца, помещенного в обрамление из татарского народного орнамента, в основании которого надпись "Татарстан". В цветном изображении Государственного герба Республики Татарстан солнце - красного, барс - белого, обрамление - зеленого, орнамент на обрамлении и надпись - золотистого цвета".


That is:

2. The State Emblem of the Republic of Tatarstan represents a winged snow leopard with a round shield on its side, with a raised right foreleg, against the background of the solar disk, placed in a frame of a Tatar national ornament and the  inscription "Tatarstan" at the bottom

In the colored representation of the State Emblem of the Republic of Tatarstan the sun is red, the leopard is white, the frame is green, and the ornaments on the frame and the inscription are gold. "



Arms: Argent a solar disk Gules, a winged leopard passant, its dexter paw lifted, on its side a disk Or, an eight-petalled marguerite Argent, and a bordure Vert decorated with a Tatar vegetative ornament, a tulip in chief and the base inscribed with the word TATATPCTAH, Or.




In the arms

The sun symbolizes kindness, success, happiness and life

The leopard, once a god of fertility and a patron of the children, symbolizes the state as a patron of its citizens now.

Its lifted dexter paw symbolizes the greatness of the Supreme Authority and also the first step forward on the way of revival

Its teeth and claws symbolize the power of self defense an protection

Its wings, consisting of seven feathers symbolizes his protective power in heaven and on earth

Its tail symbolizes good temper and friendliness

The eiht-petalled flower on the disk symbolizes the eternal source of life and longevity

The vegetative decoration and the tulip symbolize spring and the revival of Tatarstan

The golden contours separating the sun and the bordure from the background symbolize unity, infinity and supreme perfection


The colors mean:

Red: maturity, energy, force, life and viability

White: purity of the mind

Green: spring and the revival of Tatarstan

Gold: grace, beauty, wealth


The emblem of the republic of Tatarstan symbolizes the universal and moral values of goodness, justice, the well-being of its citizens, the friendship between peoples, peac and progress. [14]


The emblem was designed by Ilshat Zagitov (architect), N.Hanzafarov, E.Saginov and Fakhrutdinov Reef.

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 © Hubert de Vries




[1] Царский титулярник, 1670-е гг

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Kazan_khans

[3] Dennys, op.cit. p. 184. see also Ch. 12, note 5. Grewe = greek; rewe = wijnruit

[4] Cited by Seyler, Gustav A.:: Geschichte de Heraldik, 1884.  p. 159.  Translation uncertain

[5] Ibid. Translation unertain

[6] The arms with the basilisk is the last from six unidentified arms on fol 130a voor als laatste van zes onbenoemde wapens.  The text on that folio is about the realm of Prester John lying “behind Tartary wher Tartary ends”: Honorandus dominus et princeps dominus prespiter Johannes de Yndia maiori et minori, que terra situata est retro Tarthariam ubi Tartharia finem habet. Ab eadem Tartharia restant 10 diete usque ad Yndiam, ubi requiescit sanctus Thomas. Et est in eadem contracta civitas insigna, que vocatur volgaliter Ordo. Ab ista civitate omnes imperatores et reges Tartharorum deberent esse nati et trahere principatum ab ista civitate. Qua fuerunt antiquitus ibi Cesares et habebant in omnibus regnis Tartharorum eligere sub se Cesaren vel regem. Sic et fecerunt Troyani, postquam Romani et nunc electores Sacri Ymperii Romanorum. Et ubi, in quo regno non habetur princeps de Ordo Tartharie, ille princeps, qui sic non est natus, oportet eum habere vicarium de Ordo, qui sibi in nomine Ordo accomodat feoda, et Omaida et alia regimina, que spectant ad regnum. Sicut Magnus Can habet unum de Ordo, qui est vicarius suus, et omnes Tartharti similiter habent.

Dominus prespiter Johannes debet esse archiepiscopus, et habet sub se 4 archiepiscopos et 30 episcopos, et habebat nullum nuntium hic, nisi fuerunt 3 Ethiopi, qui finxerunt se esse de terra et regno isto. Qui autem ignorabant Latinum neque habebant ydeoma, quod intelligi quisquam poterat.

[7] In the facsimile edition of Stillfried-Alcantara, R. & A.M. Hildebrandt: Des Conrad Grüneberg Ritters und Bürgers zu Costenz Wappen­buch. Görlitz, 1875. Fol. 131v°& p. 264. The arms with the banners were also copied in the other copies of of Grünenberg (of the Bayrische Staatsbibliothek) be it with different legends.

[8] Kazan/Tatarstan arms

[9] Ströhl, H.G. op.cit, 1902, p. 174. Hefner, O.T. von: Die neuen Wappen des russischen Kaiser­reiches. Nürnberg, 1859.     

[10] From: Изображение губернских, наместнических, коллежских и всех штатских мундиров" (1794)

[11] Ströhl, Hugo Gerard: Russisch-Europäische Wappenrolle. Die Wappen der Gouvernements in Russland, Polen und Finnland, das Wappen des Gebietes der Donischen Kasaken und die Wappen der Hauptstädte dieser Territorien. In: Jahr­buch des K.u.K. Heraldischen und Genealogische Vereins "Adler". 1902, pp. 163-186. VI Tafeln

[12] After Roberto Breschi

[13] The unofficial name of the bolshevik state until the adoption of the first Constitution on 10 July 1918 when the working class was recognized as the ruling class of Russia.

[14] All according to State Symbols, The State Emblem of the Republic of Tatarstan / Герб Респуьлики Татарстан on internet

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