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Ethnic mentality of the Mari people (E. V. Nikitina)

The article presents a literature review of historical, ethnographic, ethno-psychological, cultural and philosophical character relating to the Mari ethnic mentality.

The Mari people is a small Russian Finno-Ugric minority living in different regions of the Volga and the Ural regions. The people have been preserving their unique ethnic religion and ethnic culture to the present day. The author notes that close ethnic and cultural links with the Volga Bulgars (the Chuvash and the Tatars) influenced considerably the development of the Mari people; after entering the Russian state (1551–1552) the Mari knew the strengthened Russian influence.

The specificity of the Mari ethnic mentality is revealed through people dependence from three main factors: climate conditions of life, social life particularities and specific religious and spiritual practice. The main ethnic mentality feature of the Mari is that they are a ‘forest people’. Forest has a special place in the material and spiritual culture of the Mari. Hence, the following features of their ethnic mentality are: hard working and diligence, thrift and economy, modesty and patience, tolerance and environmental consciousness. The Mari since ancient times have been trying to live in harmony with nature, themselves and family, avoiding conflicts and wars in every possible way.

The Mari are called ‘the last pagans of Europe’. Their loyalty to the traditional faith is a unique phenomenon nowadays.

Keywords: ethnic mentality, the people of the Volga and the Ural regions, the Mari, Mari ethnic mentality, Mari ethnic religion.

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