The significance of studying the socio-cultural character of the Kalmyks is caused by the fact that the issue is poorly researched. The problems of mentality of this ethnic group have been considered mainly in the works of philosophers, cultural scientists and ethnologists, while in historical works, mainly in pre-revolutionary ones, we find only fragmentary notes about it. At the same time, new methodological approaches that have been established in historical science in recent decades allow us to take a fresh look at this problem. The aim of this article is to analyze some mental characteristics of the Kalmyks in the last quarter of the 19th century. The geographical scope of the study is the territory of the Kalmyk Steppe, a special administrative unit of the Astrakhan Province, where the nomadic Kalmyk population with a traditional way of life lived. The work is based on archival sources of administrative character, which are introduced into academic circulation for the first time. These are documents from the annual reports of the Astrakhan Governor on the condition of the Kalmyk Steppe, containing a small section on the morals of the Kalmyks in the 1870s.
The work is based on the application of a complex of general academic and specific historical methods. The principle of historicism allowed the authors to avoid modernization of the phenomena of Kalmyk life more than a century ago, the interdisciplinary approach and system analysis allowed to present the mental image of Kalmyks as an important element of the integral picture. The analysis of specific material on the problem showed the stability of Kalmyks' mental traits conditioned by the economic way of life, social relations and collectivism of social life, as well as spiritual and moral principles of Buddhism.
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