Who are they?
The Karaims are descendants of the Khazars. Their historical homeland is the Crimea peninsula. And first of all it is the medieval town-fortress Tchufut-Cale not far from Bakhchisarai.
Language and religion
The Karaim language belongs to Turkic languages group. Their religion is Karaism. The prayer house is called kenassa. The religious head is Gakhan. The Lithuanian Migration In the 14th century 400 karaim warriors with their families were brought to Lithuania by Prince Vitovt to protect him. Except Ukraine, Russia and Lithuania the biggest Karaim communities are located in Poland, Turkey and France.
The main occupations are agriculture, crafts and trade, some are military men.
Representatives of the Karaims
Typical surnames are Katlama, Kasas, Kiskatchi, Tcherkez, Mikey, Kushul,Shapshal.
Marshal, the Minister for Defence in the USSR Rodion Malinovsky. Russian ballet dancer, one of the greatest dancers of the 20th century Anna Pavlova. Lieutenant commander, the commander of the destroyer “Proud” Efet. Composers Maykapar and Ayvaz. Famous ophthalmologist Kalfa. Film director, artist and cinema theorist Utkevich.
The Karaims in the Russian Empire
The Tsar’s government admitted Karaims to be a political unit and kept their independence. They were given privileges, patronage and independence. In 1918 there were over 40 Karaim communitiesand 20 active temples in Russia. Today there are only less than 2000 Karaims left in the whole world and they carefully keep their traditions and culture.