The Balkars, a Turkic-speaking people whose ethnogenesis remains unclear, currently constitute approximately 10 percent of the total population of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic in southern Russia. Kabardians and Balkars are not one people, though they live in one area. Even their language groups are different. The Balkar language is a Turkic language and is related to Turkish, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, etc., while Kabardian is a Circassian language, related to Adyghe and more distantly, Abkhaz.

For centuries, the historically Muslim Balkar people have lived in the highlands of the Caucasus Mountains, shepherding their flocks. This livelihood was passed from father to son, beginning at a very young age. Expanding their property to accommodate increased herds is something shepherds strive for, since a man’s fortune is ranked by the number of cattle or sheep he owns. In the 19th century Russian ethnographers spoke about the Balkars as “the most civilized among the mountain dwellers of the Caucasus...

April 27, 2020

IBT is continuing to publish online editions of our new translations even as we wait for printing-houses to open up once the covid-19 quarantine ends. The latest of these editions is the Balkar version of the Old Testament books of Ruth, Esther and Daniel.

The Turkic-language Balkars constitute about 10% of the population of Kabardino-Balkaria in the North Caucasus area of the Russian Federation. Together with the closely related Karachay people, there are about 300,000 speakers of this language in Russia.

Winter 2017-2018 Newsletter on the Balkar project

...Neither Alim nor any of his relatives believed that his life could be restored. All that followed resembled the story of the prodigal son. Alim’s liberation from the abyss of sin and despair, subsequent reconciliation with his family, and total restoration occurred in several stages, but the very first glimpse of hope was given to him by another native speaker of Balkar, one of the few existing Balkar Christians, who by God’s providence visited Alim’s prison in the early 1990s and addressed him in his mother tongue...