As we know, people fear wolves, while also recognizing their power and nobility. Wolf packs obey their own laws, harsh and indisputable. The same as our people in their majority. They live, raise children, nibble seeds in the evenings, but respect power and intelligence and scorn meanness. We don't know when the Tambov Wolf expression originated, but there are many very interesting legends.
Before baptism, local Tambov region pagan Finno-Ugric tribes worshipped the idol in the shape of a wolf. According to one version, this pagan god became the prototype of the famous character of local folklore, that is Tambov Wolf. Horses, the main striking force in the armies of steppe-dwellers, feared a wolf scent. Tambov warriors fought against the Tatar and Nogai hordes dressed in fresh or undone wolf skins over their armor. The Tartar horses could smell the wolf's scent and instinctively turned back.
Once English merchants bought a batch of the most beautiful wolf skins, which delighted the British Queen, too. She ordered the use of such skins for the trimming of officers' uniforms. Merchants who returned to Russia, went in Moscow through all trade fur rows, but their range of products did not impress them all, so they understood that there was nothing better than Tambov wolf skins.
According to Tambov local historian Ovsyannikov, the term appeared in the late 19th century. Due to the fact that Tambov region was an agricultural area, with many people leaving to seek extra earnings, asking for less money than local people did. They grumbled: 'Tambov wolves prowl about homesteads once again to beat down our wages'.
'Tambov wolf is your comrade' proverb (i.e. you are no friend to me) came up during the rebellion of peasants guided by Antonov. In 1956, 'The Rumyantsev Case' film was released, in which the character, the driver (actor Alexei Batalov), and a law enforcement officer use a phrase in their conversation to later become winged: 'Tambov wolf is your comrade!'
Since then, the phrase has firmly set in the modern Russian language, to eventually lose its negative meaning. Today, in any corner of Russia and abroad, everyone knows what ‘Tambov Wolf’ means and continues the phrase with a smile.
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