Russian People - Ingrias

Ingria – it is one of the few cases when a small nation remained untouched in the North-West region of Russia.

Ingrias, which separated from South Karelia tribes, at the end of the 1st millennium populated the territory south of the Neva River and the Gulf of Finland. In the 7thcentury this land was acceded to the Novgorodprincipality.

Ingrias settled among the Slavs and the Vods. That is why the influence of the Slavic culture defined their further development. They adopted Christianity and adopted some lifestyle elements from the Slavs.

Before the revolution, in Russia there were about 17 thousand Ingrias. But today only a few hundred people call themselves Ingrias. Most of them live in the Leningrad region and St. Petersburg. There are also some Ingrias in Estonia and Ukraine.

They Have no Malice, no Idleness

Historians noted kindness and hard-working nature of Ingrias, their agility and flexibility, love of cleanliness and their willingness to become literate. Observers also identified the main character trait of Ingrias as slyness.

They are typically blue-eyed, fair haired, men wear beards. Ingrias were slightly taller than their Russian neighbors.

Interesting Facts and Customs

Wedding customs of Ingrias are quite interesting. The groom chose his bride, and he didn’t need parental approval. The bride did not sit down at a wedding table: she always stood and bowed, offering food to the guests.

After the wedding, the wife shaved her head. She grew out braids only after the birth of their first child.

Where did This Ancient Nation Disappear?

In total in Russia in 80 years more than 16 thousand representatives of this nation have disappeared…

Most of them were forcibly moved to Finland during the World War II. Many Ingria villages were destroyed during the war. As a result, the remaining Ingrias got “dissolved” among the general population.

The ethnic identity and the Ingria language are partially preserved only in a few villages in the Leningrad region.

The Ingria Language Can Disappear

For several centuries now Ingrias have had Russian last names and have been Orthodox, but even at the beginning of the last century they barely spoke the Russian language.

In the 1930s there were attempts to create Ingria writing. They began learning the language in elementary schools; books in the Ingria language were published. But then the experiment was shut down. At the moment there are very few Ingrias who speak their native language; the Ingria people are on the verge of complete assimilation.

Creating a local history museum in the village of Vistino, a folk ensemble of the village of Gorki “Shoikulan laulat”, a self-study book of the Ingria language –these are all visible efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of Ingria people.


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