Khanty in Russia

The Khanty have only been reported in Russia
Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Khanti of Russia live in western Siberia, just to the east of the Ural Mountains in the area drained by the Ob River. They are known by a variety of other names, including As-iakh, Hante, and Ostyak. Their culture and language are very similar to those of the neighboring Mansi people. The Khanti language is also closely related to Hungarian.
The Khanti once lived to the southwest of their current homeland and belonged to the same ethnic group as the Hungarians. Around A.D. 500, after being forced to leave the region, the Khanti migrated to the northeast and settled near the Ob River. They came under Russian control in the sixteenth century. Russian settlers flooded the region, making the Khanti a tiny minority in their own land. During that time, Russian merchants cheated them, and taxes became unbearable. After the communists took over, taxes were lowered substantially, and education was greatly improved.
Traditionally, most Khanti living in the northerly regions herded reindeer for a living. In the southern areas, they hunted and fished, and in central regions, they practiced a combination of these activities. Many Khanti also were involved in fur trading.
Before 1917, the Khanti lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle, inhabiting one camp in the summer and moving to another for the winter. The preferred dwelling was the yurt, a type of tent.
After the Communist Revolution of 1917, numerous Khanti were moved onto collective settlements where some of them continued to hunt, fish or herd reindeer. Other settlements focused on agriculture or cattle herding; activities foreign to the Khanti. Fur trading was still an important economic activity.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In the southern parts of the Khanti homeland, the land is covered by marshes and forests. Further north, the forests thin into the stark, treeless Arctic tundra. The climate is cold and harsh, and in the tundra regions, temperatures sometimes dip to -60 degrees Fahrenheit.
They now live in small houses in the villages or apartments in towns. Although some Khanti people continue to herd reindeer as their ancestors did, others have reluctantly turned to agriculture or cattle herding. In recent years some Khanti have abandoned their traditional occupations, adopting a more typical Russian lifestyle.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Although most Khanti converted to Russian Orthodox Christianity, they never completely embraced Christianity. They continued to follow their traditional animistic religion (the belief that objects and non-human lives have spirits). This religion has many gods, great and small, with the most important being called Numi-Torem. The Khanti also worship a variety of household deities. Khanti consider the bear sacred and honor it almost like a god. They worship the gods of various parts of nature, including rivers and forests. They also often participate in the worship of dead ancestors.
Traditionally, the Khanti believed that men had five distinct souls and that women had four. Each soul inhabited a different part of the body and could take on different forms, such as those of a bird or other animal. Supposedly, a man could kill himself hunting if he happened to shoot an animal that was one of his souls.
During the days of communist rule, many Khanti became atheists or simply rejected any formal association with any religion. Some continue to believe this way.

What Are Their Needs?

The Khanti have long been forced to adopt Russian culture, and many have been assimilated into Russian society whether they like it or not. With nearly a fourth of all Khanti speaking Russian as their first language, they are in danger of eventually losing their identity as a distinct people group.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, missionary influence caused many Khanti people to turn to Christ. However, today there is little evidence of this work; there are only a handful of known Evangelical believers among the Khanti. The Khanti need laborers and much prayer.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to pave the way for the Khanti people to rise above their current situation and thrive economically and spiritually.
Pray for them to have open hearts to the things of Christ.
Pray for a massive move towards Christ among the Khanti people.

Scripture Prayers for the Khanty, Ostyak in Russia.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Khanty
People Name in Country Khanty, Ostyak
Natural Name Khanty
Alternate Names Khants; Ostiak; Ostyak
Population this Country 31,000
Population all Countries 31,000
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 12652
ROP3 Code 104904
ROP25 Code 303939
ROP25 Name Khanti
Country Russia
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Khanty-Mansiyskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug, Yamalo-Nenetskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug, and Tomskaya Oblast’; east past the Mansi [mns] language area, along Ob river.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Russia
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Khanty-Mansiyskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug, Yamalo-Nenetskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug, and Tomskaya Oblast’; east past the Mansi [mns] language area, along Ob river..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.90 %)
4.00 %
Ethnic Religions
96.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Khanty (31,000 speakers)
Language Code kca   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Khanty (31,000 speakers)
Language Code kca   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Khanty

Primary Language:  Khanty

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1868-2018)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
FCBH NT ( Online
YouVersion NT ( Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General YouVersion Bible versions in text and/or audio YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Android Bible app: Khanty YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App iOS Bible app: Khanty YouVersion Bibles
Photo Source Anonymous 
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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