The historic and cultural heritage of the republic of Tatarstan is very rich. Combination of at least four types of mutual cultural influence (Turkic, Finno-Ugric, Bulgarian and Slavonic-Russian) as well as the two religions (Islam and Christianity) determines the originality of this region, the peculiarity of the Arts, the cultural and historical treasures.
Alongside with the general cultural traditions, there are different ethnic groups of the Tatars with their peculiarities. As for Kazan, it was the cultural center of the main ethnic group of the Tatars - Kazan Tatars, who became the base for forming the Tatar nation.
Bright original art and culture of the Tatars inherits the traditions of the state of the Volga Bulgaria, the Golden Horde and The Kazan Khanate. The influence of Islam, adopted in 922, was of the great significance. Runic writing, spread among people, was interchanged with Arabic one, which triggered development of the sciences, philosophy and literature. Islam created and strengthened main traditions of the Tatar and Bulgarian culture. Owing to close Muslim affinity the Volga Bulgarians maintained trade and diplomatic relations with the huge world of Islam, the way to the East - to the Sacred Mecca, Egypt, Turkey, Iran - was opened. The images of pre-Islam pagan mythology - images of birds, animals and, sometimes, the man - were changed with floriated and geometric ornamental design, which soon became dominating.
While in Russian Art Bible and Christian graphic motifs were being established, in the Bulgarian decorative art, as well as in the Eastern countries, the pattern and ornamental design became the aesthetic and art principle. Amazing creations of Bulgarian masters - samples of jewelry, peaces of work in bronze, silver and gold - have been preserved till our days.
The new stage of development of art and culture was connected with including the Volga Bulgaria into the Golden Horde in 1236, which was the symbiosis of Turkic, Mongolian and Middle-Asian cultural traditions with their characteristic splendour of ornamental design and the richness of dйcor, the use of precious metals, stones and gems. Special importance was given to creation of articles, connected with horse attire and warrior outfit, production of arms and other works of art, resided to the Turkic nomadic environment.
After the break-up of the Golden Horde a row of independent Tatar states appeared: the Astrakhan, Kazan, Siberian and Khasim Khanates. The Kazan Khanate, with its capital in Kazan city, played a special role in the destiny of Tatar ethnos; it was Kazan Tatars, who became the consolidating core in the process of forming the Tatar nation. The capital of the state continues developing the best traditions of architecture.
In the second half of the 16th century Kazan Khanate became the part of the Russian state. The people, who moved to Kazan from Moscow, Novgorod, Pskov and other Russian cities and towns, brought some elements of Russian culture, which on its turn underwent some influence of Eastern culture. It became apparent in partly changed architecture of churches (decorative techniques, eastern ornamental details), appearance of splendid eastern patterns, polychromy, which was unusual for Russian Art, however, all those influenced features took root in it, as the consequence of borrowing of the Tatar culture art samples.
The famous 'Kazan Hat' and 'Monomach Hat' - the two preserved until our days crowns of the Russian tsars - are the vivid examples of historic and cultural interaction between Russia and the Kazan Khanate.
The significant Tatar influence is also found in everyday life culture. Among other things - the names of the Russian ancient articles of clothing. For example, ancient Russian footwear - 'choboty", 'bashmaky' were borrowed from the Tatars, as well as other clothes names: 'kaftan' 'kazakin', 'kushak', 'tulup'. A lot of other names, connected with trade and everyday life, were also borrowed from the Tatar language: 'altyn' (golden coin), 'ambar' (barn), 'arshin' (measure of length), 'bazaar', 'bakaleya'(grocery), 'barysh' (profit), 'denga'(coin), 'caravan' and others. Many famous in Russia names descended from Tatar families: Aksakov, Derzhavin, Karamzin, Turgenev.
Russians also learnt some basics of state culture with the help of the Tatars. The census was conducted, and the population of the country was registered. The strict system of duties, customs and taxes was established.
All said above testifies the close connection and mixing the cultures of the Moscow, Bulgarian and the Golden Horde states, and later - Kazan Khanate, that trade and led wars, and changed skilled masters, architects, craftsmen.
By the 19th, with the appearance of manufactures, decorative arts reached its fullest flower. That was the time when the classic samples of chain-stitch and golden thread embroidery with the rich ornamental design, jewelry with graceful filigree, colourful women's head-dress - 'kalfak', decorative towels with superfine patterns. In that period the classic Tatar costume was taking its look, common national style of exterior and interior of dwellings, of ceremonial and everyday life items was developing.
Ancient and modern amateur and folk arts are amazing. Till our days astounding works of Bulgarian ancient masters has been preserved - magnificent samples of jewelry, embossment, works in copper, bronze, silver and gold. In an attempt to perfection the masters of old tried to surpass themselves, so that they could write on their works words, as those written on one of the ancient Bulgarian castles of the 12th century: 'The work of Abu Bekra, the son of Akhmed. Constant glory and peaceful success, and happiness covering everything, and eminence, and prosperity to its owner. In the year of 541. (1146)'. Those great traditions were preserved and developed in Kazan.
Delicate taste of people, their skill and artistic flair were perfectly well shown in the art of embroidery, patterned weaving; in embossing and ceramics, in national costume, in jewelry art and to a great extent in national art of leather appliquй work, famous all around the world.
Nowadays original traditions of Tatar national arts are gaining special artistic significance. Scientific-research works are carried out, expeditions are organized, and owing to it, the museums of Kazan and other cities of the republic are enriched with items and exhibits of cultural and historic value. Production of patterned mosaic footwear (Arsk association) and artistic weaving (Alekseyevskay factory) exist in the form of folk artistic homecraft.
Professional artists create unique samples, which are recognized all around the world (in 1994 at the exhibition in Pakistan the Tatar artist I. Fazulzyanov won the first prize for the article of jewelry - 'hasite').
Studying articles of folk art, modern artists create jewelry using the technique of knobby filigree, tablecloths and towels, embroidered in chain stitch, leather inlaid footwear, national souvenirs and presents to be remembered.