Ethnic Russians form the majority of the population, and Russian, rather than any of two co-official Mordvinic languages, is the common language of communication in the city: Erzya and Moksha languages. There are also some tartars in Saransk.
Typical Mordvin women’s dress consists of tunic-cut dresses in bright colours, complex headgear, and masses of jewellery. Moksha and Erzya dresses differed in a number of ways. Today the Mordvin women wear traditional costume – mainly in rural areas - only on festive occasions. It is mainly the Moksha women who still prefer to wear traditional folk dress. Traditional men’s dress was replaced by Russian style clothing in the 18th century. Moksha women also wore white linen trousers, not only dresses.
The Moksha wore waist ornaments that dangled by their side, consisting of, buttons, pendants, and cotton tassels. They also wore specially embroidered cloths - sometimes as many as six - tied to their waist. Their complex, regionally differentiated headgear bore decorations of beadwork, coins, as well as single-thread embroidery. Brooches were made of a series of beads threaded on a wire. Silver coins were frequently used on brooches. A typical item of Erzya women's clothing was the bottom-shawl, tied at the waist from the back. It reflected not only their age, but also their social status: the largest and most ornate ones were worn by girls of marriageable age. The size of the bottom shawls decreased in line with the age of the wearer, old women were not allowed to wear them at all.