Kazakhs: Wikis


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AbaiPainting 140x190.jpgAbylai khan 140x190.jpgKurmangazy 175 140x190.jpgBaitursynov 140x190.jpg
ToktarAwbakirov 140x190.jpgNursultan Nazarbayev 27092007 140x190.jpgTokaev 140x190.jpgAssan Bazayev 140x190.jpg
Shamshi Qaldayaqov.jpgMuhtar Shaxan Kazak poet 140x190.jpg4wiki Radik Zhaparov 140x190.jpgYussupova 140x190.jpg
(left to right) A. QunanbayuliAblai KhanS. KurmangazyA. Baitursynov
T. AubakirovN. NazarbayevKassym-Jomart TokayevAssan Bazayev
Shamshi KaldayakovMukhtar ShakhanovRadik ZhaparovAliya Yussupova
Total population
approx. 13,800,000
Regions with significant populations
 Kazakhstan 10,098,600 [1]
 Uzbekistan 800,000 - 1,100,000 [2]
 China 1,400,000 - 1,500,000 [3]
 Russia 654,000 [4]
 Turkmenistan 40,000 - 90,000 [5]
 Mongolia 140,152 [6]
 Kyrgyzstan 38,900 [7]
 Afghanistan 21,000 [8]
 Turkey 19,000-25,000 [8]
 Germany 890 [8]
 Tajikistan 900 [9]
 Iran 10,000-15,000 [8]
 Ukraine 5,526 [10]
 Belarus 1,239 [11]

Kazakh, Russian, Turkic
(and/or languages in country of residence)


Sunni Islam with Tengriism & Islamic Agnosticism

Related ethnic groups

other Turkic peoples

The Kazakhs (also spelled Kazaks, Qazaqs; Kazakh: Қазақтар [qɑzɑqtɑ́r]; the English name is transliterated from Russian) are a Turkic people of the northern parts of Central Asia (largely Kazakhstan, but also found in parts of Uzbekistan, China, Russia, and Mongolia).

Kazakhs are descendants of Turkic tribes (Kipchaks and Naimans, Cumans, Nogais, Qarluqs, Kankalis),[12] Mongol groups (Kiyat, Kerait, Onggirat, Argyns, Manghud, Jalayir, Dughlat, etc.)[citation needed], Indo-Iranian tribes (Wusun, Sarmatians, Sacae, Scythians, etc.) and Huns which populated the territory between Siberia and the Black Sea and remained in Central Asia when the Turkic and Mongolic groups started to invade and conquer the area between the fifth and thirteenth centuries AD [8].


Etymology of Qazaq

The Kazakhs began using this name during either the 15th or 16th century.[13] There are many theories on the origin of the word Kazakh or Qazaq. Qazaq was included in a 13th century Turkic-Arabic dictionary, where its meaning was given as "independent" or "freeman".[citation needed]. Some speculate that it comes from the Turkish verb qaz (to wander), because the Kazakhs were wandering steppemen; or that it derives from the Mongol word khasaq (a wheeled cart used by the Kazakhs to transport their yurts and belongings).[14]

In the 19th century, one etymological explanation was that the name came from the popular Kazakh legend of the white goose (qaz means "goose", aq means "white").[14][15] In this creation myth, a white steppe goose turned into a princess, who in turn gave birth to the first Kazakh. This etymological derivation is regarded as flawed because, in Turkic languages, the adjective is put before the noun, and therefore "white goose" would be Aqqaz, not Qazaq.[citation needed]

Another theory on the origin of the word Kazakh (originally Qazaq) is that it comes from the ancient Turkic word qazğaq, first mentioned on the 8th century Turkic monument of Uyuk-Turan. According to the notable Turkic linguist Vasily Radlov and the orientalist Veniamin Yudin, the noun qazğaq derives from the same root as the verb qazğan ("to obtain", "to gain"). Therefore, qazğaq defines a type of person who seeks profit and gain.[16]


Kazakh stamps featuring a traditional bride's dress, groom's clothing and the interior of a kiyiz uy, a traditional Kazakh yurt.

Due to their complex history, Kazakhs display phenotypical diversity, though they tend to exhibit predominantly Mongoloid features.

Fair to light-brown skin tends to be the norm. Among physical traits are aquiline noses, epicanthic fold and high cheekbones. Hair colour among Kazakhs varies from prevalent jet black to red and sandy brown. Hazel, green and blue eyes are not uncommon. These nomads roamed in the Altai Mountains (and thus are known as Altaic peoples) in northern Mongolia and on the steppes of Central Asia.



Many are also skilled in the performance of Kazakh traditional songs. One of the most commonly used traditional musical instruments of the Kazakhs is the dombra, a plucked lute with two strings. It is often used to accompany solo or group singing. Another popular instrument is kobyz, a bow instrument played on the knees. Along with other instruments, these two instruments play a key role in the traditional Kazakh orchestra. A notable composer is Kurmangazy, who lived in the 19th century. A notable singer of the Soviet epoch is Roza Rymbaeva, she was a star of the trans-Soviet-Union scale. A notable Kazakh rock band is Urker, performing in the genre of ethno-rock, which synthesises rock music with the traditional Kazakh music.

Approximate areas occupied by the three Kazakh jüz in the early 20th century.
     Junior juz      Middle juz      Great juz

Oral history

Due to their nomadic pastoral lifestyle, Kazakhs kept an epic tradition of oral history. They had to develop phenomenal memories in order to keep an account of their history. The nation, which amalgamated nomadic tribes of various Kazakh origins, managed to preserve the distant memory of the original founding clans. It was important for a Kazakh to know his or her genealogical tree for no less than seven generations back (known as şejire, from the Arabic word shajara - "tree").


The Kazakh marriage system was exogamous, with marriage between individuals with a common ancestor within seven generations considered taboo. In intertribal marriage, paternal descent is decisive.

In modern Kazakhstan, tribalism is fading away in business and government life. Still it is common for Kazakhs to ask which tribe they belong to when they meet each other. Nowadays, it is more of a tradition than necessity. There is no hostility between tribes. Kazakhs, regardless of their tribal origin, consider themselves one nation.

The majority of Kazakhs belongs to one of the three juzes (juz, roughly translatable as "horde"): the "Great juz" (Ulı juz), "Middle juz" (Orta juz), and "Junior juz" (Kişi juz). Every juz consists of tribes confederation (taypa), tribes (ruw) and clans. Also Kazakhs, but outside of the juz system are: tore (direct descendants of Genghis Khan), qoja/Khoja (descendants of Arabian missionaries and colonists), tolengit (descendants of Oirat captives), "sunak" (like "qoja" Khoja - descendants of Arabian missionaries and colonists) and "kolegen" (descendants of Ancient Sairam inhabitants).


The Kazakh language is a member of the Turkic language family, as are Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Uyghur, Turkish, Azeri, Turkmen, and many other living and historical languages spoken in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Xinjiang, and Siberia.

Kazakh belongs to the Kipchak (Northwestern) group of the Turkic language family. Kazakh is characterized, in distinction to other Turkic languages, by the presence of /s/ in place of reconstructed proto-Turkic */ʃ/ and /ʃ/ in place of */tʃ/; furthermore, Kazakh has /dʒ/ (alveodental affricate) where other Turkic languages have /j/ (glide).

Kazakh, like most of the Turkic language family lacks phonemic vowel length, and as such there is no distinction between long and short vowels.

Kazakh was written with the Arabic script during the 19th century, when a number of poets, educated in Islamic schools, incited revolt against Russia. Russia's response was to set up secular schools and devise a way of writing Kazakh with the Cyrillic alphabet, which was not widely accepted. By 1917, the Arabic script was reintroduced, even in schools and local government.

In 1927, a Kazakh nationalist movement sprang up but was soon suppressed. At the same time the Arabic script was banned and the Latin alphabet was imposed for writing Kazakh. The Latin alphabet was in turn replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet in 1940.

Kazakh is one of the principal languages spoken in Kazakhstan, along with Russian. It is also spoken in the Ili region of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China, where the Arabic script is used, and in parts of Mongolia.


Islam was brought to ancestors of modern Kazakhs during the 8th century when the Arabs entered Central Asia. Islam initially took hold in the southern portions of Turkestan and thereafter gradually spread northward.[17] Islam also took root due to the zealous missionary work of Samanid rulers, notably in areas surrounding Taraz[18] where a significant number of Turks accepted Islam. Additionally, in the late 1300s, the Golden Horde propagated Islam amongst the Kazakhs and other Central Asian tribes. During the 1700s, Russian influence toward the region rapidly increased throughout Central Asia. Led by Catherine, the Russians initially demonstrated a willingness in allowing Islam to flourish as Muslim clerics were invited into the region to preach to the Kazakhs whom the Russians viewed as "savages" and "ignorant" of morals and ethics.[19][20] However, Russian policy gradually changed toward weakening Islam by introducing pre-Islamic elements of collective consciousness.[21] Such attempts included methods of eulogizing pre-Islamic historical figures and imposing a sense of inferiority by sending Kazakhs to highly elite Russian military institutions.[21] In response, Kazakh religious leaders attempted to bring religious fervor by espousing pan-Turkism, though many were persecuted as a result.[22] During the Soviet era, Muslim institutions survived only in areas where Kazakhs significantly outnumbered non-Muslims due to everyday Muslim practices.[23] In an attempt to conform Kazakhs into Communist ideologies, gender relations and other aspects of the Kazakh culture were key targets of social change.[20]

In more recent times however, Kazakhs have gradually employed determined effort in revitalizing Islamic religious institutions after the fall of the Soviet Union. Some Kazakhs continue to identify with their Islamic faith,[24] and even more devotedly in the countryside. Those who claim descent from the original Muslim soldiers and missionaries of the 8th century command substantial respect in their communities.[25] Kazakh political figures have also stressed the need to sponsor Islamic awareness. For example, the Kazakh Foreign Affairs Minister, Marat Tazhin, recently emphasized that Kazakhstan attaches importance to the use of "positive potential Islam, learning of its history, culture and heritage."[26]


Ethnic Kazakhs in percent of total population of Kazakhstan
1897 % 1911 % 1926 % 1939 % 1959 % 1970 % 1979 % 1989 % 1999 % 2008 % 2009 %
73.9 60.8 59.5 38.0 30.0 32.6 36.0 39.7 53.4 59.8 63.1

Kazakh minorities


In Russia, the Kazakh population lives primarily in the regions bordering Kazakhstan. According to latest census (2002) there are 654,000 Kazakhs in Russia, most of whom are in the Astrakhan, Volgograd, Saratov, Samara, Orenburg, Chelyabinsk, Kurgan, Tyumen, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Altai Krai and Altai Republic regions. Though ethnically Kazakh, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, these people acquired Russian citizenship.

Ethnic Kazakhs of Russia[27]
national censuses data
1939 % 1959 % 1970 % 1979 % 1989 % 2002 %
356 646 0.33 382 431 0.33 477 820 0.37 518 060 0.38 635 865 0.43 653 962 0.45


Kazakh family in Xinjiang, China

Kazakhs, called Hāsàkè Zú in Chinese (; literally "Kazakh people" or "Kazakh tribe") are among 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. In China there is one Kazakh autonomous prefecture, the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, three Kazakh autonomous counties, Aksai Kazakh Autonomous County in Gansu, Barkol Kazakh Autonomous County and Mori Kazakh Autonomous County in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Many Kazakhs in China are not fluent in Standard Mandarin, instead speaking the Kazakh language. Since the early 21st century, Mamuer Rayeskan, a young Kazakh musician from Qitai, Xinjiang now living in Beijing, has achieved some renown for his reworking of Kazakh folk songs with his group IZ, with which he sings and plays acoustic guitar, dombra, and jaw harp. Kazakhs & Uyghurs peoples have many problems in comunist's China.


Ethnic Kazakhs live predominantly in Western Mongolia in Bayan-Ölgii Province (88.7% of total province population) and Khovd Province (11.5% of total province population, living primarily in the Khovd city, Khovd sum and Buyant sum). In addition, a number of Kazakh communities can be found in various cities and towns spread throughout the country. Some of the major population centers with a significant Kazakh presence include Ulan Bator (90% in khoroo #4 of Nalaikh düüreg[28]), Töv and Selenge provinces, Erdenet, Darkhan, Bulgan, Sharyngol (17.1% of population total[29]) and Berkh cities.

Ethnic Kazakhs of Mongolia[30]
national censuses data
1956 % 1963 % 1969 % 1979 % 1989 % 2000 % 2007[31] %
36,729 4.34 47,735 4.69 62,812 5.29 84,305 5.48 120,506 6.06 102,983 4.35 140,152 5.39

The Kazakh folk music is well known and loved in Mongolia. Most of Mongolian Kazakhs belong to "Middle juz" (Orta juz), the largest among three juzes.


Significant Kazakh population lives in Karakalpakstan and Tashkent oblast. Since the fall of Soviet Union, vast majority of Kazakh people are returning to Kazakhstan, mainly to Manghistau Oblast'. Most Kazakhs in Karakalpakstan are descendants of one of the branches of "Junior juz" (Kişi juz)-Adai tribe.


Iranian Kazakhs live mainly in the Golestan province in northern Iran.[32] According to ethnologue.org, in 1982 there were 3000 Kazakhs living in the city of Gorgan.[33][34] Since fall of the Soviet Union number of Kazakhs in Iran decreased due to emigration to their historical Motherland."[35]


See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Kazakhstan National Census 2009 preliminary results
  2. ^ Kazakh population share was constant at 4.1% in 1959-1989 (CIA estimates) and declined to 3% in 1996. Official Uzbekistan estimation (E. Yu. Sadovskaya «Migration in Kazakhstan in the beginning of XXI century: main tendentions and perspectives»ISBN 9965593019) in 1999 was 940,600 Kazakhs or 3.8% of total population. If Kazakh population share was stable at about 4.1% (not taking into account the massive repatriation of ethnic Kazakhs (oralman) to Kazakhstan) and the Uzbekistan population in the middle of 2008 was 27.3 mln, the Kazakh population would be 1.1 mln. Using the CIA estimate of the share of Kazakhs (3%), the total Kazakh population in Uzbekistan would be 0.8 mln
  3. ^ Census 2000 counts 1.25 mln Kazakhs[1], later the Kazakh population had higher birth rate, but some assimilation processes were present too. Estimations made after the 2000 Cesus are claiming Kazakh population share growth (was 0,104 % in 2000), but even if this share value was preserved at 0.104% level it would be no less than 1.4 mln in 2008
  4. ^ 2002 Census ethnic composition data, in 2003-2008 Kazakhstan national statistics noted the oralman (ethnic Kazakhs) repatriation to Kazakhstan
  5. ^ In 1995 Kazakh poulation was 86,987 [2] or 1.94 % population total. Later was a massive pepartriation of ethnic Kazakh population (oralman) to Kazakhstan: 22,000 before 2001 and 38,000-40,000 in 2001—2007. Press reports are claiming [3],[4],[5] the most part of Kazakhs had left Turkmenistan
  6. ^ Ethnic composition of the Mongolian population in 2007, Mongolian government 2007. Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  7. ^ National Statistical Committee of Kyrgyzstan. 2008 estimation
  8. ^ a b c d The Kazakh Diasporas: Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Information (Russian). Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  9. ^ Results of the 2000 population census in Tajikistan. Retrieved on 6 April 2009
  10. ^ Ukrainian population census 2001: Distribution of population by nationality. Retrieved on 23 April 2009
  11. ^ Belarus population census 1999: National composition of the population. Retrieved on 23 April 2009
  12. ^ Z. V. Togan: The Origins of the Kazaks and the Ozbeks, Central Asian Survey Vol. 11, No. 3. 1992
  13. ^ Barthol'd, Vasiliĭ Vladimirovich. Four Studies on the History of Central Asia, vol. 3, trans. V. and T. Minorsky. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1962, p. 129
  14. ^ a b Olcott, Martha Brill, The Kazakhs, Hoover Press, 1995, p. 4, ISBN 0817993517, ISBN 9780817993511. Retrieved on 7 April 2009
  15. ^ Grodekov, Nikolaĭ Ivanovich. Kirgizy i Karakirgizy Syr'-darinskoi oblasti, vol. 1, Tashkent: Iuridicheskii byt, 1889, p. 1
  16. ^ Yudin, Veniamin P. Tsentralnaya Aziya v 14-18 vekah glazami vostokoveda, Almaty: Dajk-Press, 2001, ISBN 9965-441-39-1
  17. ^ Atabaki, Touraj. Central Asia and the Caucasus: transnationalism and diaspora, pg. 24
  18. ^ Ibn Athir, volume 8, pg. 396
  19. ^ Khodarkovsky, Michael. Russia's Steppe Frontier: The Making of a Colonial Empire, 1500-1800, pg. 39.
  20. ^ a b Ember, Carol R. and Melvin Ember. Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Men and Women in the World's Cultures, pg. 572
  21. ^ a b Hunter, Shireen. "Islam in Russia: The Politics of Identity and Security", pg. 14
  22. ^ Farah, Caesar E. Islam: Beliefs and Observances, pg. 304
  23. ^ Farah, Caesar E. Islam: Beliefs and Observances, pg. 340
  24. ^ Page, Kogan. Asia and Pacific Review 2003/04, pg. 99
  25. ^ Atabaki, Touraj. Central Asia and the Caucasus: transnationalism and diaspora.
  26. ^ inform.kz | 154837
  27. ^ Ethnic composition of Russia (national censuses)
  28. ^ Education of Kazakh children: A situation analysis. Save the Children UK, 2006[6]
  29. ^ Sharyngol city review [7]
  30. ^ "Монгол улсын ястангуудын тоо, байршилд гарч буй өөрчлөлтyyдийн асуудалд" М.Баянтөр, Г.Нямдаваа, З.Баярмаа pp.57-70
  31. ^ State Center for Civil Registration and Information
  32. ^ گلستان
  33. ^ Ethnologue report for Iran
  34. ^ http://www.golestanstate.ir/layers.aspx?quiz=page&PageID=23
  35. ^ قزاق

Notable Kazakhs

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




  1. Plural form of Kazakh.


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