How are Turks, Finns and Hungarians connected?

Ethnogenesis and cultural significance of the Hungarian people in Europe

Fig. 1. The Finno-Ugric peoples and their relationships with one another

The Hungarians are numerically the largest group in the Finno-Ugric language family, followed by. the Finns, the Estonians living in the Soviet Union and other smaller and larger ethnic groups. According to the testimonies of linguistics, archeology, plant and zoogeography and other branches of science, their original home was in the western Volga-Kama region, where the Finno-Ugric peoples around the 3rd millennium BC. Lived close together. According to the findings of archeology and linguistics, these ethnic groups were fishermen and hunters who knew animal husbandry even before the groups split up and who initially also dealt with agriculture. In their original homeland, the later Hungarians settled near the Woguls (Mansi) and Ostyaks (Chanti), together with them they formed the Ugric branch. But as can be deduced from the Hungarian vocabulary, they also had relationships with the Permians. Almost nothing at all has survived from the material culture of the Finno-Ugric and Ugric periods. In one or the other device or in hunting and fishing customs, some relic can be guessed at. On the other hand, all the more material from this early cultural layer is hidden in the spiritual culture. In the lament and magic chants, in children's games, in belief in ghosts {G-28.} And in shamanism, elements emerge that can be traced back to the early days of the ethnic history of the Hungarians.

Middle of the 3rd millennium BC The Ugrians (Woguls, Ostyaks, Magyars) slowly broke away from the Finnish-Permian group (Finns, Estonians, Syrian [Komi], Votyak [Udmurt], Cheremiss [Mari], Mordwinen, Lappen, etc.). The Magyars (Hungarians) like to be around 1000–1500 BC. From the later Ob-Ugrians (Woguls, Ostjaks). The so-called Ananino culture, to which the Proto-Hungarians probably also belonged, fell into this period. The Hungarians shifted from the Volga – Kama area in a south-southeast direction, that is, from the forest zone into the world of the shrub steppe.

But not only was the landscape around them different, they also came into contact with other peoples, mostly Turkic peoples. In this way the Hungarians acquired the most important knowledge of animal husbandry, sheep, cattle and horse breeding. They ran a nomadic pasture economy. At this time they also became familiar with the basic elements of cultivating the soil with the plow, which at the same time suggests that they were already partially settled. Their relations with the Turkic peoples seem to have been so close that they are initially referred to as Turks in Byzantine sources. In other written monuments they are also named with a Turkish word - Onogurs ("ten tribes"). From this the naming of Hungarians in most European languages ​​is derived: (h) hungarus, Ungar, vengri etc. The Hungarians themselves gave themselves the Ugric tribal name magyer, which became Magyar (en).

In the course of their migration to the south, the Hungarians reached the foothills of the Caucasus, where they were incorporated into the Khazar Khanate - at least from the 8th century onwards. This empire, which was characterized by a developed cattle breeding, gardening and wine culture as well as agriculture, already showed characteristics of an early feudal state, in which the Magyars also played a part. In the 9th century, seven Hungarian tribes moved west and conquered a vast area that stretched to the lower reaches of the Danube. They {G-29.} Were also joined by the rebellious Khabars, a tribe of the Khazars. At that time, the Byzantine sources mentioned the Hungarian tribes as Magyars who not only practice nomadic livestock farming, but also agriculture. They had set up their more or less permanent camps mainly on the banks of the river.

Traces of contact with different Turkic peoples can be found in the peculiarities of animal husbandry, especially nomadic animal husbandry, in agriculture and in viticulture. In the clothing and the construction, some features are also recognizable, which are reminiscent of these peoples, as well as in the hemp processing and the tools used for it. In the field of folklore, too, many elements have survived to our day, even if they are often hidden by other structures. In this context, the appropriation of runic writing and the full development of shamanism, which was personified in the figure of the táltos (for example: magician), should be emphasized. The pentatonic chants with the alternation of fifths can be traced across the Turkic peoples to Inner Asia, and almost a tenth of the Hungarian folk songs are of this type. We also come across elements in wedding and funeral customs that point to this time.

On southern Russian territory, the Hungarians first came into contact with various East Slavic tribes, such as the Severians and Polyans, from whom they collected taxes for the Khazars. They lived at war with these tribes, and the prisoners sold them to Byzantine traders in the Black Sea port. But their relationships were not only of a warlike nature, there are also traces of peaceful coexistence. In this way, they enriched their previous knowledge of fishing with new ones. In particular, they became familiar with the devices and procedures involved in collaborative work. They also broadened their knowledge in agriculture. In all likelihood, the Magyars also adopted the track-oriented cart plow from the Slavic tribes. Various elements from the world of faith, such as those related to the belief in witches, may also date back to this time.

The warlike and nomadic groups of the Hungarians invaded the Carpathian Basin as early as 862 AD and interfered in the disputes of the peoples living here, sometimes taking the side of one, sometimes of the other. During this time the chief of the Hungarians went into the field with around 20,000 riders. This number presupposes probably 100,000 families as a basis, so that the total population is likely to have reached or exceeded the half-million mark.

The Hungarians defeated the Bulgarians in alliance with Byzantium. In revenge for this, they incited the Pechenegs, who were advancing from the east, on the Hungarians, and that at a time when the Hungarian army was on forays. The devastated settlements and the well-founded fear of renewed attacks left them with no other choice but to move on. In the year 896 the entire tribal association invaded the Carpathian Basin, which it was able to occupy completely within a few years.

The Carpathian Basin has been home to many peoples throughout history, and in some cases their culture was adopted by their successors. The use of iron tools on a larger scale goes back to the Celts (4th – 1st century BC). The Celts were later subject to the Romans, who in Transylvania (Dazia province) and even more in the area south and west of the Danube (Pannonia province) left behind a culture of which certain elements were not completely obliterated, even in the centuries of migration.

The Hungarians found many different tribes in the relatively sparsely populated Carpathian Basin. The Bulgarians occupied part of the central Pussa regions and Transylvania, elsewhere various Slavic peoples settled like islands: Moravia, Danube Slovenes, White Croats, Slovaks and others. Since the time of the Frankish empire of Charlemagne, Bavaria has been resident in the western border region. Only the Gossmavian Empire, which stretched in the east as far as the Gran, stood in the way of the Hungarians as a strong state structure, but was also defeated by them. The conquered peoples adapted to the Hungarians, but the opposite tendencies can also be observed. The Hungarian-Slavic relations continued and continue to this day.

For more than half a century, the contact of the Hungarians with Europe was only of a warlike nature. Forays, that is, forays to the west, were undertaken. Taking advantage of the turmoil of the feudal West and its constant quarrels, the Hungarians allied themselves now with one, now with the other ruler and covered the countries with war, fought in Italy and Germany, appeared in Switzerland and France and even once in Spain. Such campaigns had many advantages for the Hungarian tribal princes not only because their troops could always prove themselves in the constant maneuvers, but also because they gave them the necessary peace in the interior of the country by keeping attacks from the west away from the national borders and such a state structure could be organized. The speed of the Hungarian cavalry, their fearsome arrows and their new fighting style spread general horror in Europe until they suffered a decisive defeat in 955 on the Lechfeld near Augsburg by the united German armies under Otto the Great. In the course of their forays the Hungarians gained insight into a completely different and for them new world, they came into contact with European culture for the first time.

However, none of these influences would have been able to bring about a fundamental change in the previously semi-sedentary and semi-nomadic way of life. The Christianization efforts that first started in Byzantium had a decisive effect. Stephan I decided in favor of Roman Christianity, he was baptized and induced - sometimes under duress - the entire Hungarian people to {G-31.} To take this step. In this way, Stephan I successfully counteracted the process of dissolution that affected many peoples of the Migration Period in the Carpathian Basin and that led to their demise. The Hungarians were able to maintain their statehood and their own language, even if a large part of their independent culture, beliefs and customs were lost or changed and merged with other cultural elements.

Basically, through Slavic mediation, Christianity prevailed among the Hungarians, which at the same time was associated with an abundance of new words, terms, objects and phenomena. Hence, most of the words associated with religious life in Hungarian are of Slavic origin. Slavs also helped establish the new feudal state and gave the Hungarians the appropriate terms and their names. As far as folklore is concerned, however, the Slavic influence in the field of agriculture is of greater importance. Sustainable changes occurred in the system of field management, but also in the manner of cultivation and harvesting. In particular, the introduction of the cultivation of vegetables in gardens can be attributed to the Slavic peoples living with the Hungarians. The names of the most common vegetables such as bab (beans), cékla (beetroot), mák (poppy seeds), retek (radish), ugorka (cucumber) have been taken directly from Slavonic. The Slavic influence resulting from the close relationships can also be demonstrated in handicrafts and trades, in the family, in family ties, in the house, in the apartment, in nutrition, clothing and in numerous other areas. Of course, one can only speak of mutual influences here. For example, around 1000 words of Hungarian origin are used in Slovak, which is partly due to the emergence of new terms and knowledge.

The beginnings of the contact with the Germans in the western border marks already fall in the time of the Hungarian conquest. These relationships became stronger under the government of Stephen I, who was married to a Bavarian princess and brought Bavarian-Austrian knights, priests and citizens into the country. In the 12th and 13th centuries, far greater numbers of farmers and craftsmen immigrated, some of whose descendants still live in Spiš (Czechoslovakia) and Transylvania (Romania). The associated influence was particularly noticeable in city life, in the guilds and in the handicrafts, but one or the other object and term also penetrated into rural culture, for example tönköly (spelled), bükköny (vetch), csűr ( Barn), istálló (stable), major (farmyard), puttony (butte) etc., which suggests a development towards more intensive cultivation.

Fig. 2. Eastern Europe in the 9th century and the former settlement areas of the Hungarians

Relationships with the Italians arose early on, but these contacts are of much less importance than the Slavic-German {G-32.}. Particularly in urban culture, certain shipping terms such as sajka (barge), bárka (barge), gálya (galley) and trade such as piac (market) left some traces. Through the buildings (churches, castles and palaces) of the Italian masters working in Hungary, the great European styles were conveyed, which gradually had an impact on peasant architecture. At the turn of the 12th to the 13th century, an important French-Walloon settlement wave began. In addition to priests and monks, there were also peasants whose influence can be clearly demonstrated, for example in viticulture.

Slavic, German, Italian, French and other western influences can be reconstructed not only in material culture, but also in folklore. The great cultural upheavals first reached the ruling classes before they gradually made themselves felt among the peasantry. The Church acted as one of the mediators of the new culture, introducing the Hungarians to a new spiritual culture through its saints and the legends attached to them, as well as through the customs on religious festivals. Minstrels spread the western heroic chants at the court of the king and the aristocracy, while the former pagan singers were pushed back to the sphere of activity among the people and {G-33.} Incidentally, including the memory of the old world of faith, were mercilessly fought by the priests.

At this time the process of differentiation of the epic art genres gradually began. In addition to the heroic songs, the legends, sagas and ballads became more and more important. An early cultural layer of legends, sagas and ballads probably came to the Carpathian Basin with the Walloon-French settlers.

Although the Hungarian peasantry retained much of its spiritual culture from earlier times, it gradually took the Central European route. Repeated pagan uprisings show that this upheaval did not take place without friction. But the great economic and the subsequent spiritual change could no longer be stopped. Another important factor in the course of this development was the fact that political relations with the East weakened noticeably. The Arpads (until 1301) still had - mainly family - relations with Kiev and thus also with the Byzantine Eastern Church, but this did not result in an economic or cultural influence affecting the large mass of the people.

Between 1241 and 1242, the Mongols devastated a significant part of the country. During this time, the nomadic Cumans, and after them the Jazygens, came to the flat areas of central Hungary, which were suitable for extensive livestock farming. Their appearance in the second half of the 13th century led to a revival of old pagan traditions, especially since some kings (Ladislaus IV the Kumans) also paid homage to the customs of the ancestors. In the course of the following centuries, however, the Cumans and Jazygens integrated themselves into the higher level of development of the Hungarians; only some of their words and objects were adopted from the Hungarian language and culture, e.g. B. buzogány (mace), csődör (stallion), komondor (Komondor = Hungarian shepherd dog), kobak (skull), balta (ax), csákány (pickaxe) etc.

The majority of Hungarians, the working people, were already divided into numerous classes in the Middle Ages, which were more or less separated from one another. The situation and the living conditions of the unfree peasants, the hereditary or free fron farmers, the freedmen and the craftsmen changed in the different historical phases. The unfree peasants had to pay the feudal lord a ninth and the church tithing of the income from their land in kind. In addition, they had to do forced labor and occasionally give money and gifts. The amount of the latter taxes in particular was subject to fluctuations, depending on what the feudal lord needed. In general it can be said that the situation of the peasants visibly deteriorated towards the end of the Middle Ages. As a result, local peasant riots and uprisings increased.

In 1514 the great peasants' war broke out under Dózsa's leadership.After its cruel suppression, the rights of the peasants were largely restricted, and indissoluble {G-34.} Serfdom was imposed on them. The peasants lost the right to freely choose their place of residence, and the hard labor they had to do was increased to one or two days a week, often even more. This development took place at a time when the Turkish expansion threatened the country ever more strongly. In 1526 the Turks inflicted a devastating defeat on the Hungarians in the Battle of Mohács, and King Ludwig II fell on the battlefield. The country was then divided into three parts: Central and southern Hungary were occupied by the Turks, the northern and eastern areas fell to the Habsburgs, while in Transylvania an independent principality, more or less recognized by the Turks, emerged.

Although this period lasted almost a century and a half until the end of the 17th century and was the most difficult time in the history of Hungary, the cultural development did not stop entirely. Of the great artistic and intellectual currents, renaissance and humanism fell on fertile ground in Hungary as early as the 15th century, followed by the Reformation and the rise of the printing press, and schools were founded in increasing numbers. The peasants suffered most in the areas occupied by the Turks. Excessive taxes, robbery, looting and pillage were the order of the day. Regardless of this, rural culture continued to develop during this period. The threefold structure of the house (living room, kitchen, chamber) became more and more prevalent, and some pieces of furniture of a new type and purpose appeared at that time. Business flourished in the market towns that were spared by the Turks. There they even made clothes that had been taken over from the Turks, such as kalpag (kalpak = lambskin hat), csizma (high boots), papucs (slippers), dolmány (dolman = men's skirt of the old Turkish costume), and new dishes such as tarhonya (dried pastries) were tried out. A large part of the cultural assets of Ottoman-Turkish origin reached the Hungarians through South Slavic mediation.

The peasant culture of Transylvania is a product of the mutual influence of Hungarians, Romanians and Transylvanian Saxons living with or next to each other. The situation is a little simplified: the Hungarians were farming, the Romanians were raising cattle and the Saxons were doing handicrafts, supplying each other with their products. The multifaceted development of the Renaissance, the import of Turkish handicrafts and the associated influence on folk culture can be easily traced back.

Settlement density increased in the northern part of Hungary, which was ruled by the Habsburgs, as the feudal lords from the south, often their serfs, fled here in large numbers. However, they too did not escape the looting carried out here by the imperial mercenaries - no more lenient than the Turks. The German influence was more noticeable here in culture, but the peasantry was less affected by it.

As soon as the Turkish yoke was shaken off towards the end of the 17th century, the Hungarians took up arms again to free themselves from the oppression of the hated Habsburgs. {G-35.} The struggle for freedom under Ferenc Rákóczi II lasted from 1703 to 1711. After it was suppressed, the Habsburgs distributed the most fertile areas of the plundered and depopulated land to the Austro-German landlords who had earned merit in the war. During this time a migration from north to south began, with Hungarian ethnic groups who had once fled from the Turks to northern Hungary, moved to the Hungarian lowlands; Slovaks also settled here. But the number of German settlements - primarily in western Hungary, but also in various parts of the lowlands and Upper Hungary - were significantly higher in number. At the end of the 18th century, the Hungarians made up barely 50 percent of the total population of the country. All of this again had an impact on Hungarian peasant culture, albeit to a lesser extent, since the mostly isolated nationalities were either absorbed by the Hungarians or took over essential elements of their culture.

Compared to previous centuries, a relatively peaceful era followed, which brought with it some consolidation of the peasantry, although the pressures grew. In addition to the taxes in kind, the farmers had to work 52 days with their team or 102 days on foot each year, and haulage services often stretched over several days. Agriculture had also changed structurally, extensive livestock farming was on the decline, arable farming increased in importance, and new crops (potatoes, maize, paprika, tobacco) spread over a large area. The house and the interior had developed further, various elements of the folk costume that still live on to this day appeared again at that time. During this period the Hungarian folk song takes on its new style and the most characteristic dances are created. Towards the end of the epoch, which ended in 1848 with the abolition of serfdom, those features of Hungarian peasant culture came to the fore, which can be directly studied scientifically with the help of the museum collections and on the basis of personal memories.

In the second half of the last century the differences in land ownership by the peasants became more and more visible, with the influence of early capitalism also becoming noticeable. A constantly growing discrepancy can be observed between the 20 to 50 hectare rich and the poor peasants who toil on 1 to 5 hectares. Many of the small farmers gave up and thus increased the army of the landless agrarian proletarians and the servants and maidservants working on large feudal estates. Strata also develop in the camp of the agrarian proletariat: servants, earthworkers, farm workers in the melon and tobacco plantations, whose culture contains certain elements that are characteristic only for these strata. In spite of everything, the heyday of Hungarian folk art fell into this period. The costumes, weaving and embroidery are becoming more diverse, with industrially manufactured new fabrics also playing a major role. The most elaborate pottery and painted furniture come from this period, which lasted approximately {G-36.} Until the First World War. Peasant traditions were generally abandoned first by the richest and the poorest. The rich peasants wanted to advance their adjustment to the ruling class, while the poor were mostly forced to do so by material hardship and the break with traditions resulted from the fundamental change in their living conditions.

In 1920, after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, most of the nationalities living on the territory of Hungary were attached to their own autonomous states in accordance with the peace treaty. 10.5 million people live within the then established borders of today's Hungary, 95 percent of whom speak Hungarian as their mother tongue. Germans, Slovaks, Southern Slavs and Romanians live in large numbers as national minorities in Hungary.

In the years after 1945 the Hungarian people tried to repair the severe war damage. Since 1948/49 work has been carried out to build a socialist economy, society and culture. 1961 - an important date for life in the village - based on numerous previous examples, the path to collective management was generally followed. The past 15 years show that this upheaval in the countryside represents a similar turn of fate in the development of the peasantry as it did when the fishermen and hunters became nomadic shepherds, or when the way of life and culture changed fundamentally after settling in the Carpathian Basin had changed, or when the peasant was freed from the labor burdens and serfdom. The nature, organization and division of work have changed fundamentally. As a result, there was, for example, a decisive change in the family organization. The farm buildings of the individual farmers are gradually disappearing next to the new residential buildings, as they are used less and less. As a result of the changed way of life - influenced by school and mass media - a new culture emerges, a culture that wants to preserve everything worth preserving and assign it its permanent place in the overall cultural complex. In this sense, the present presentation focuses primarily on the past. This past is explored, presented and evaluated by ethnography as a historical discipline.

In addition to the roughly 10 million Hungarians who are resident in their country, about 5 million live outside the country's borders: in Czechoslovakia 604,000 (1981), in Yugoslavia 520 938, in Romania 1,811,983, in the Soviet Union 164,960 (according to data from 1967/68) and in Austria about 50,000. The number of Hungarians who have settled in the USA is around 1 million, and that of Hungarians scattered in various other parts of the world can be assumed to be 500,000 . The interest of folklore research in Hungarians living outside the national borders, but in their original settlement area, is important not only because of their numerical strength, but also because {G-37.} Because of their separate existence they have retained some of their old cultural features .

This brief outline should give the reader an insight into the great twists and turns of fortune in the course of Hungarian history, into the millennium-long process of the emergence of Hungarian culture. Such knowledge is indispensable if one wants to understand the Hungarian folk culture, which is based on Eastern foundations, formed in Central Europe and connected with the universal European development.