1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cheremisses

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CHEREMISSES, or Tcheremisses, a Finnish people living in isolated groups in the governments of Kazan, Viatka, Novgorod, Perm, Kostroma and Ufa, eastern Russia. Their name for themselves is Mori or Mari (people), possibly identifiable with the ancient Merians of Suzdalia. Their language belongs to the Finno-Ugrian family. They number some 240,000. There are two distinct physical types: one of middle height, black-haired, brown skin and flat-faced; the other short, fair-haired, white skinned, with narrow eyes and straight short noses. Those who live on the right bank of the Volga are sometimes known as Hill Cheremis, and are taller and stronger than those who inhabit the swamps of the left bank. They are farmers and herd horses and cattle. Their religion is a hotchpotch of Shamanism, Mahommedanism and Christianity. They are usually monogamous. The chief ceremony of marriage is a forcible abduction of the bride. The women, naturally ugly, are often disfigured by sore eyes caused by the smoky atmosphere of the huts. They wear a head-dress, trimmed with glass jewels, forming a hood behind stiffened with metal. On their breasts they carry a breastplate formed of coins, small bells and copper disks.

See Smirinov, Mordres et Tcheremisses (Paris, 1895); J. Abercromby, Pre- and Proto-historic Finns (London, 1898).