Nothing is more associated with Tambov than the famous phrase: "Tambov wolf is your comrade!" Now it is difficult to say what caused the appearance of this expression and why it so quickly went to the people. There are several versions:
Before the Christianization of the Tambov region, local pagans of the Finno-Ugric tribes worshiped the idol of a deity in the form of a wolf. According to one version, this pagan god could become the prototype of the famous character of local folklore - the Tambov wolf.
Since ancient times, the trade routes passing through the Tambov province were constantly terrorized by many robber bands hiding in the dense forests. In addition, exiled criminals became one of the main contingent of the first settlers of the Tambov fortress. Since in the old days in Russia criminals were usually called wolves, the name "Tambov wolf" could be assigned to local residents.
In the 17th-18th centuries, the Tambov lands supplied magnificent wolf skins to many Russian markets. On one of their first visits, English merchants invited by Peter I to trade in Russia bought a batch of huge wolf skins of Tambov origin. Upon their return to their homeland, the merchants, among other goods purchased in Russia, presented the skins of wolves to their king. The king was so delighted with their quality that he immediately ordered the merchants to purchase wolf skins to equip with the uniforms of one of the regiments of his personal guard. Already on their next visit to Russia, English merchants walked through the capital's trading rows and asked: “Tambov wolf? Tambov wolf? "
But the Tambov wolf became a "comrade" during the Peasant War that broke out in the Tambov province in the 20s of the last century. ... When interrogated by the insurgents, when addressing the Soviet law enforcement officers, they were rebuffed by the "Tambov wolf to you comrade", which became a catch phrase.
Earlier, another expression was used in this sense - "Bryansk wolf". J. Rossi in his "Guide to the Gulag (1987) writes:" A civilian, whom a prisoner would dare to call a comrade, "usually answers:" The wolf in the Bryansk forest is your comrade, not me! " (1959) Yuza Aleshkovsky: "And my friend is the gray wolf of Bryansk."
The expression about the Tambov wolf received wide all-Union fame after the film "The Rumyantsev Case", which came off the screens of cinemas in 1955. In this film, the catch phrase - "The Tambov wolf is your comrade!". This phrase was said by a police officer in response to the appeal of the artist Alexei Batalov, who played the role of the driver in the film.
A monument to the Tambov wolf was erected in Tambov. The wooden sculpture of the Wolf was installed in 2008 next to the highway at the entrance to the city from the Penza side. In addition, in 2004 - 2006. In Tambov, the Museum of the Tambov Wolf functioned, but as a result of the fire, all the exhibits were destroyed and the museum was closed.
Currently, "Tambov Wolf" is registered as a trademark, and the image of a wolf is one of the best-selling souvenirs in Tambov.
The wolves settled on the territory of the Tambov region belong to the species of common gray wolves widespread in the nature of Russia. There is no specific "Tambov" subspecies of wolf.