Turks: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to Turk article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Turk or Turkish may refer to:



  • Something relating to or from Turkey, a modern-day nation
  • Something relating to or from Turkestan, a region of Central Asia inhabited by Turkic peoples
  • Something relating to or from the Ottoman Empire, the historic empire of Turkish people from the 13th to the early 20th century
  • "The Turks", a common abbreviation for the Maumturks, the chain of mountains in the west of Ireland
  • Turks and Caicos Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean
  • Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Turk, California, community in Fresno County


People / Groups




  • The Turks (Final Fantasy VII) are minor antagonists in the video game Final Fantasy VII and supporting characters in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII series
  • Christopher Turk, generally known as "Turk", a character on the TV series Scrubs
  • Virgil Sollozzo, a character in The Godfather who is nicknamed "The Turk"
  • Turkish, a character in the 2000 film Snatch
  • The Turk (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), an episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
    • The Turk a chess computer from the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

See also

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TURKS. The words "Turk" and "Turkish" are used in three senses, political, linguistic and ethnological. Politically, Turk means a Mahommedan subject of the sultan of Turkey. In the East at any rate it is not employed in speaking of Christians, and its application to Arabs, Albanians, Kurds, &c., living in Turkey, though not unusual, is hardly correct. The linguistic use of the name, by which it designates a well-marked division of the Ural-Altaic languages and their speakers, is the most satisfactory. The languages in question are easily identified and defined (see below), and there can be little doubt that they were spoken by the vast majority of the people called Turks since the 6th century of the Christian era. Ethnographically, the use of the word presents difficulties, for it is not easy to differentiate the Turks by physique or customs from allied tribes such as the Finno-Ugrians, Mongolians and Manchus. The Bashkirs, who are probably of Finno-Ugrian stock, speak a Turkish language, and the Magyars, who speak a Ugrian language, have many Turkish characteristics. At the present day there is no difficulty in making a practical distinction between Turks and Mongols. The former speak Turkish languages, are Moslems by religion, live almost entirely in the western half of Asia and fall within the Arabic, and to some extent the European, sphere of influence; the latter speak Mongolian languages, are Buddhists by religion, live in the eastern half of Asia and fall within the sphere of Chinese influence. Yet both Turkish and Mongol traditions represent the two nations as descended from two brothers: Jenghiz Khan, the founder of the Mongol power, must have had large numbers of Turks in his armies, for the chief traces left in Europe of the Mongol invasions are the settlements of Turkish-speaking Tatars in Russia; and the name of his son, Jagatai, is commonly used for a Turkish dialect and khanate in the regions of the Oxus. In Central Asia the distinctions between tribes, nations and races are unusually fluid: we are dealing with predatory nomads for ever fighting with one another or with the settled populations round them. The conquerors enslaved the men and married the women of the conquered: a successful leader attracted round his standard men of different tribes and languages. The corps of janissaries instituted by the Turks in Europe is no doubt an illustration of what happened during many centuries in Asia. The Turks after taking Constantinople claimed from the Christian population a certain number of male children, who were brought up as Turkish soldiers with few ties or principles except obedience to their officers. There was thus a large class, of Turkish speech and Turkish habits, who had absolutely no Turkish blood in their veins. In addition to this, intermarriage has taken place to so large an extent that the modern Turks are almost entirely European in physique. Similarly, no doubt, among the hordes of Central Asia the youths of conquered tribes were absorbed and assimilated by the conquerors and lost their original language. Such transformations were facilitated by the fact that there was no great difference in the manners and customs of these tribes. They were all nomadic, mostly horsemen, and rapacious. As they settled down from time to time they borrowed a good deal from their more civilized neighbours, but their natural manner of life was simple and untrammelled. The Turkish-speaking tribes were apparently the most mobile and adventurous. Starting from the confines of China they reached India, Algeria and the walls of Vienna. They probably formed a large contingent in the hordes of Jenghiz and of the Huns, and perhaps the Petchenegs, Avars and Comans all belonged to this group. In comparison with them the Mongol and Manchu-speaking tribes, though conquerors in the East on no mean scale, seem stationary and inactive, while the Finno-Ugrians are nomad hunters rather than warriors. To the honour of the Turks it must be said that, bad as is their administration when judged by European standards and especially when applied to Europeans, the empires of the Seljuks, Osmanlis and Moguls which they founded rise far above the ordinary standard of ephemeral Oriental dynasties.

The effect of Turkish invasions has been in the main destructive, but they have also played a considerable part in transporting both ideas and commodities from one end of the old world to the other. The achievement by which they are best known - the transplantation of Mahommedanism on to European soil - is a remarkable, though not successful, feat of this kind. But they are also largely responsible for the introduction of Mahommedanism into India, for carrying Nestorian Christianity and Persian fire-worship into China, and for the overland intercourse between China and India which fostered if it did not introduce Chinese Buddhism. They exported Chinese silk to Byzantium, and the most ancient Buddhist temple in Japan contains Persian objects which must have been brought across Asia by their caravans.


At the present day the name Turk is applied primarily to the people who have conquered Constantinople and the regions known as Turkey, but the following may be classed as Turkish in the sense of belonging to the same group linguistically and to some extent racially: i. The Yakuts are a Siberian tribe who inhabit the country near the banks of the middle and lower Lena, including Yakutsk and Verkhoyansk on the Yana. Their language is purely Turkish, though differing considerably from the more western Turkish idioms, but they have largely intermingled with the Tunguses. They are said to be industrious and skilful alike as artisans, traders and agriculturists. They are nominal Christians, but preserve much of their old nature worship.

2. Tatar (q.v.) or Tartar is a popular name which in its most correct sense is applied to Turkish-speaking Moslems in Russia, who number over three millions and are mostly remnants of the Mongol invasion which took place in the 13th century. But it is also extended rather loosely to various tribes 'in Siberia and elsewhere who speak Mongolian, Finnish or other languages.

The following classes of Tatars speak Turkish languages: (a) The Kazan Tatars, numbering perhaps a million. Their centre is in the government of Kazan, but they extend down both banks of the Volga as far as the government of Saratov. (b) The Astrakhan Tatars, numbering only about x0,000. (c) The Bashkirs, whose headquarters are in the government of Ufa. They appear to be a tribe of Finnish origin who have adopted a Turkish language.

(d) The Tatars of the Crimea, sometimes called the Krim or Nogai Tatars, who occupied the Crimea in the 13th century and had a considerable empire from the 15th to the 17th century. There are also Nogai Tatars in the Caucasus and Kuban country. (e) There are considerable bodies of Tatars in Rumania and Bulgaria, who appear to be Nogais who have emigrated from the Crimea, Bessarabia and other parts of Russia. (f) The Tatars of the Caucasus seem to be for the most part Azerbaijan Turks mingled with Armenian, Georgian, Lesghian and other blood. But the name is often loosely applied to any Mahommedan Caucasian tribe.

3. Kirghiz, nomadic tribes amounting to about three million souls who are found chiefly in Asiatic Russia. They fall into two chief divisions. (a) The Kazaks, who inhabit the northern and eastern parts of the Aral-Caspian basin, including the government of Orenburg. They do not call themselves Kirghiz, and apparently the name has been given them by the Russians in order not to confuse them with the Cossacks. (b) The KaraKirghiz, who are the less numerous division, live in Dzungaria, in the Altai, about lakes Balkash and Issyk-kul, and extend southwards to the Pamirs and the sources of the Oxus.. Some of them inhabit Chinese territory. Both divisions live chiefly on the produce of their herds. Their chief drink is koumiss, or fermented mare's milk.

4. The Kara-Kalpaks (q.v.) or Black-caps, who inhabit the south-eastern shores of the sea of Aral, are sometimes classed with the Kirghiz, but seem to be a separate branch of the Turki stock. They are a feeble race, apparently in process of extinction, and now number only about 50,000.

5. Uzbeg is a political and not an ethnological denomination. It is derived from Uzbeg Khan of the Golden Horde (1312-1340), and was subsequently used at the beginning of the 16th century to designate the adherents of Shaibani Khan. Finally it was employed as the name of the ruling tribes in the Central Asian khanates (much like Osmanli in Turkey), in opposition to Kirghiz and Sarts, as well as to non-Turkish tribes. The Uzbegs are accordingly a mixed race, but the elements of which they are composed are mostly Turkish. Their numbers have been estimated at about two millions. They are mostly agriculturists or dwellers in cities, not nomads.

6. Sart is the name commonly given to the Turkish-speaking urban population of the Central Asian khanates. It is opposed to Tajik, which denotes the agricultural, Iranian-speaking population, but both words are used very loosely and have come to mean little more than town and country people. Sart and Uzbeg are also opposed in the meanings of common people and aristocracy, but many Sarts claim Uzbeg descent. The word is hardly suitable for scientific use, but is employed by Russian writers as the name of the Turkish language spoken in Bokhara, Samarkand and Ferghana.

7. The various Turkish tribes found on the eastern slopes of the Tian Shan, in Kashgar, Yarkand, Khotan, &c., are the descendants of the ancient Uighurs or Ouighours. These people were probably the most eastern branch of the Turks who remained behind when the first westward movements were made, but subsequently moved westward themselves. They ruled in Kashgaria from the 10th to the 12th centuries, and, like other branches of the Turks, adopted Mahommedanism. They continued, however, to use a variety of the Syriac alphabet introduced by Nestorian missionaries, and a book, the Kudatku Bilik, composed in their language about 1065, is extant. The Taranchis, an agricultural tribe of the Ili basin, seem also to belong to this group. The Turkish spoken in Kashgaria, &c., is often distinguished as Turki.

8. Mogul, Moghul or Mughal, appears to be the same word as Mongol, but is commonly restricted to the tribes who invaded northern India from Ferghana in 1526 under Baber (or Babar) and established the Mahommedan Empire of Delhi. Memoirs written by Baber in Jagatai Turkish are extant.

9. The Koibals and Karagasses of the upper Yenisei are perhaps of Finnish stock, but they speak languages akin to the Kashgarian Turki. They are sometimes called Tatars.

10. Turkoman or Turkman is the name usually given to the nomadic tribes who inhabit the country between the Caspian and the Oxus. They appear to be a branch of the Western Turks and not essentially different from the Osmanlis or Azerbaijanis, except that until the Russian occupation of Mer y they remained in the condition of predatory horse-riding nomads, much feared by their neighbours as ".man-stealing Turks." They are divided into many tribes, of which the principal are (a) The Chaudors in the north-western part of the Ust-Urt and near the Kara-boghaz Gulf. (b) The Yomuts or Yamuds extending from Khiva across the Ust-Urt and along the shore of the Caspian to Persia. (c) The Goklans or Goklens settled in the Persian province of Astarabad. They are said to be the most civilized and friendly of all the Turkomans. (d) The Tekkes, who were the most important tribe when the Russians conquered Transcaspia. They are first heard of in the peninsula of iMangishlak, but were driven out by the Kalmuks in 1718, and subsequently occupied the Akhal and Mer y oases. The Russians inflicted a crushing defeat on them at Geok-Tepe in 1881. (e) The Sakars inhabit the left bank of the Oxus near Charjui. (f) The Sariks are found in the neighbourhood of Panjdeh and Yulatan. (g) The Salors, an old and important tribe, suffered much in the course of fights with the Tekkes and in 1857 migrated to Zarabad in Persian territory near the Hari-rud. (h) The Ersaris are now chiefly found near Khoja Salih. They were once a very important tribe on the upper Oxus. (i) The Ali-elis live near Andkhui.

The Turkish nomads scattered over Persian territory are often known by the name of Azerbaijanis or Adharbaijanis, though this name is strictly applicable only to the inhabitants of the province of Azerbaijan (q.v.), of which Tabriz is the capital. They are the descendants of various bodies of Turks who have wandered into Persia at various times, but more particularly of the Ghuzz tribes (the OiYoc of the Greeks) who invaded it during the Seljuk period. They are also known as Ilat or Iliyat, meaning tribes, and each tribe has its own chieftain or Ilkhani appointed by the shah.

Among the tribes are (1) The Kajars, who dwelt in Transcaucasia until Abbas the Great (1585-1628) forced a portion of them to settle near Astarabad. The present dynasty of Persian Shahs comes from this tribe. (2) The Afshars or Awshars are a very numerous tribe in the province of Azerbaijan. Another division of them is found in the Anti-taurus. (3) The Shekakis and Shah-seven. The latter is a political name which has become hereditary, "those who love the shah," i.e. partisans of the Safawi dynasty (1499-1736), and of the Shiite faith. (4) The Karakoyunlu living near the town of Khoi. In the south of Persia are found (5) the Abulwerdis, (6) the Kara-Gozlii, (7) the Baharlu, (8) the Inamlu and (9) the Kashkai. These last perhaps include the Khalaches or Khalaj who were already settled near Herat before the arrival of the Seljuks, and from whom sprang the Indian dynasty known as Khalji (1290-1320).

12. The Turks now inhabiting the Turkish Empire fall into various categories and have entered it at various times.

a. The Osmanlis or Ottomans. This word is loosely used to mean any Mahommedan subject of the sultan, though even then it is not generally extended to Arabs and Albanians. Used more strictly it means the clan of Osman and their descendants as opposed to Seljuks and other Turks. The name is genealogical rather than ethnic; for though the exploits of the Osmanlis have given them an importance in modern history far exceeding that of all the other tribes, they are not distinguished from them in language or customs. According to tradition the clan came from Khorasan, supported the Seljuks and received in return the fief of Eskishehr. In the 14th century they took Brusa from the Byzantine Empire and established a kingdom there which withstood the shock of Timur's invasion (1402). In 1453 they captured Constantinople. Until recently Turkish Mahommedans always employed the words Osmanli and Osmanlija to describe themselves and their language, and avoided the expressions Turk and Turkche as signifying semi-civilized tribes, but in the last twenty years the older words have again come into use as national designations.

b. There must be many Turks in the Ottoman dominions who have no claim to be called Osmanlis in the strict sense. Byzantine authors mention a colony of 30,000 Turks on the river Vardar in Macedonia as early as the 9th century, and many Turks in Europe are still called Koniots or Konariots and claim to be descendants of the Seljuks. After the defeat of the emperor Romanus at Manzikert (1071) Turkomans and Turks of every description poured into Asia Minor. The Tatars of the Dobrudja also seem to be an ancient settlement.

c. The Kizil-Bash, or red-heads, who are found in the plains of Asia Minor about Angora, Tokat and Karahissar, differ somewhat from the surrounding Turkish population in both physique and customs. They appear to be immigrants from Persian territory, where some of them still remain. They are industrious agriculturists and their women enjoy unusual freedom. They call themselves Eski-Turk or old Turks, and have a secret religion in which Shiite tenets seem to be combined with older pagan (or possibly Christian) elements.

d. In various parts of western and southern Asia Minor, particularly the plains of Cilicia, are nomadic Turkoman tribes called by the Turks Yiiruk or Gyochebe. They are even found near Smyrna. They are a peaceful race, with fair complexions and a fine physique, and are great camel breeders. Though they do not appear to have a religion of their own like the Kizil Bash, they are only nominally Mahommedans.

Besides the peoples mentioned above, a number of extinct tribes may have been Turkish-speaking, though in the absence of linguistic records no certain conclusion is possible. Such are the Huns Ephthalites, Avars, Bulgars, Khazars, Comans and Petchenegs. The name Hun is perhaps identical with the Chinese Hiung-nu or with the Turkish word for ten, on or un, meaning the ten tribes. Of the Avars really nothing is known: they were an extremely barbarous people who made no settlements and disappeared as suddenly as they came. They have been identified with the Jwen-Jwen of the Chinese. The name of the Khazars has a Turkish sound :: they were a relatively civilized people and had a kingdom in the neighbourhood of Astrakhan and the north Caspian which lasted for several centuries. The original Bulgarians were certainly not Slays, though they acquired a Slavonic language, but it is more probable that they were Finno-Ugrians than Turks. The Petchenegs, also called Hari-L.1,6Kac or IIaT cvaKiTac in Greek and Bisseni in Latin, are said to have been driven into Europe from the lower Ural by the Ghuzz (ON-01.) at the end of the 9th century, and wandered about the northern frontiers of the Byzantine Empire for about 300. years. Perhaps some of them settled in Hungary and Bulgaria. They were, like the Avars, very barbarous and were probably Turks, for Anna Comnena says they spoke the same language as the Comans. This dialect is known by the so-called Codex Cumanicus. Coman or Kuman is a name given by Europeans to the tribes who occupied Moldavia and the adjacent regions in the middle ages. Rubruquis speaks of the Coman Kipchaks, and it is probable that the Comans. were a hybrid Turkish tribe.


The invasions and conquests of the later Turkish dynasties form an important part of the history of the world and are treated in such articles as Turkey; Seljuks; Timur; Moguls. Here it is proposed to sketch the earlier wanderings. and agglomerations (for they can hardly be called kingdoms) of Turkish tribes in eastern and central Asia. Much new information on this subject has been made accessible in the last twenty years by the discovery near the river Orkhon, to the south of Lake Baikal, of Turkish inscriptions dating from the 8th century A.D., and by the publication of materials furnished by Chinese writers. But authorities are still not entirely agreed as to the chronology of the events recorded or the identity of the names which appear in Turkish, Greek and Chinese forms, so that the following summary is for many periods tentative.

From 1400 B.C. onwards, but especially about 200 B.C., Chinese history contains notices of warlike nomads called Hiung-nu or Hsiung-nu, who were a danger to the empire. Their political_ power broke up in the early centuries of this era before the advance of the Sien-pi and Tobas, who appear to have been Tunguses, and from whom arose the Wei dynasty of northern China. In A.D. 433 a Hiung-nu clan called Asena or A-shih-na, disliking the rule of the Wei, moved eastwards and sought the protection of a people called Jeu-Jen or Jwen-Jwen, who were also a kind of Hiung-nu. They are the Geougen of Gibbon and others, and their identity with the Avars has been affirmed and disputed with equal confidence. The Asena served the Jwen-Jwen as. workers in iron and lived not far from the modern city of ShanTan in Kan-suh. In this neighbourhood was a hill called from its shape Turku, Durku or T'u-chueh, meaning helmet, and this is said be to the origin of the national name which has become so celebrated. The name Tu-Kiue (Tou-Kiue) or Turk is first used by the Chinese in recording the events of A.D. 545, and the following years, when the Turks, or descendants of the Asena, revolted against the Jwen-Jwen. These latter were crushed and disappear from history, at least under that name. The victorious Turks. advanced across their territory, came into collision with the Hephthalites or Ephthalites, whom they defeated, and are heard of on the Oxus about A.D. 560. The period 546-582 marks the first brilliant epoch of early Turkish history. The tribes. were not divided and made the most astonishing advance under Tumen (who took the title of Ili-Khan), his brother Itsami or She-ti-mi (perhaps the Stembis of Greek writers), his son Mokan and Istami's son Tardu or Ta-t'eu. Though fifty years before only a servile clan in China, they sent an embassy in 567 to the East Roman emperor Justin II., as related by Menander Protector (C. Muller: Fragm. hist. graec., vol. iv.). The object of this mission was to open up commercial relations, especially in the silk trade, with the West, and to co-operate with the Greeks. against the Persians, because the latter wished to make the Persian Gulf the only outlet for the silk trade, and with that object to hamper the communications of the Turks with Western powers. The ruler who sent this embassy is called in Greek.

Silziboulos or Dilziboulos, corresponding to the Sinjibu of Arab chroniclers and perhaps representing Sin-jabgu in old Turkish, the latter part being a title. He has been identified with Ista,mi. Justin sent as envoy to him in return a certain Zemark, who visited the khan at Ektel or Ektag (? Ak-dagh), and several subsequent embassies were exchanged. In 598 the khan Tardu wrote to the emperor Maurice, and in 620-28 the Turks assisted Heraclius in his campaigns against Persia. Meanwhile the Turks had themselves split into two divisions with separate princes. A tendency towards division, very natural in so loose and extended a community, had been visible for some time, and the rupture was precipitated in 582 by the jealousy of Ta-lo-pien or Dalobian, who was angry at not being chosen khan. For a century and a half or so we hear of two khanates: the northern Turks, living near Lake Baikal and the southern tributaries of the Yenisei, and the western 1 Turks, who appear to have had two headquarters, one near Urumchi and one near Aulieata, north of Tashkent. But their conquests, or at least their successful raids, extended very much farther to the west and south. In 630 the Chinese pilgrim Yiian Chwang (Hsiian Tsang) was well received by their khan, T'ung-she-ho, who exercised some kind of authority from Turfan to Merv. The Chinese followed a consistent policy of spreading dissension among these dangerous tribes and of supporting the factions which were weak or distant against those who were strong or near. Accordingly they were friendly to the western Turks until they had conquered the northern Turks. This western branch lasted until about 750 as a political name. From about 550 till 650 they were independent, and, as mentioned, allies of the east Roman Empire against the Persians. But about 650 the politics of the Nearer East were transformed by the conquests of the Arabs following on the preaching of Mahomet. After subduing Persia in 639 they spread to Transoxiana. At the same time dissension prevailed among the western Turks themselves: the five tribes called Nu-she-pi, who lived west of Issyk-kul, quarrelled with the five tribes called Tu-lu living to the east of it. The Chinese fomented the quarrel, and in 659 were able to declare that they annexed the whole territory of the western Turks, including at least Dzungaria, Tashkent, Ferghana, Bokhara, Khulm, Badakshan, Ghazni, Bamian, Udyana, Wakhan and Karateghin. But it would seem that neither the Turkish occupation nor the Chinese annexation of most of these countries was effective. From 650 to 750 the possession of them was disputed not only by the Turks and Chinese but by the Tibetans in the east and the Arabs in the west. In the west, the campaigns of Qotaiba b. Moslim or Kutaiba (705-14) completed the Mahommedan conquest of Transoxiana (see Caliphate, sect. B § 6). In the east the really effective power seems to have been exercised by a new Turkish tribe called Turgash, who had capitals at Tokmak and in Ili.

For the history of the northern Turks our only authorities are the Orkhon inscriptions and Chinese writers. The halfcentury following on the division was prosperous for the northern as well as for the western Turks, and they menaced China; but in 630 the Chinese conquered them. This is the Chinese servitude mentioned in the inscriptions. In 682 Kutluk (also called Elteres, which seems to be a title) re-established a Turkish state on the Orkhon. He was succeeded by his brother Kapagan (or Me-Chuo), who subdued the Turgash, or perhaps merely drove them southwards, early in the 8th century, and was succeeded by Bilge. Kagan of the inscriptions.

This northern khanate was destroyed by a coalition of the Karluk, Uighur and Basmal in 744. These peoples, like the Turgash, appear to have been Turkish; for though Turk was originally the name of the clan whose destinies in its northern and western branches have just been sketched, yet there is no objection to the usage by which it is extended to the descendants 1 No better name seems forthcoming, but western Turks is a most inconvenient designation because it is also used (and equally correctly) to signify the Osmanlis and Seljuks as opposed to the Turks of Transoxiana and Kashgar.

of similar clans with similar customs and as far as is known similar languages. A succession of these pressed forwards from the east. When first heard of, the Karluk inhabited the country on the Irtysh and the Urungu, and subsequently occupied Teles and Tokmak. The Uighurs belonged to the group of tribes known as TOl6s or T'ie-le and established themselves at Balasaghun (also known Ly the forms Kara-Balghasun, KaraBalgassun and Balagasun: see Karakorum). This brings us to the middle of the 8th century. For the next two hundred years the Turkish element in Central Asia, though it must have been numerous, does not cut any figure in history, which is filled with the chronicles of Arab and Persian dynasties (see Caliphate; Samanids), but in the 10th century we begin to hear of it again. Turkish adventurers founded the dynasty of Ghaznevids at Ghazni, and there was a Uighur kingdom in the east comprising Kashgar and Khotan. Boghra Khan, the ruler of this kingdom, was converted to Islam at the end of the 10th century, and it continued under various branches of Uighurs until 1120. An interesting memorial of this period is the book Kudatku Bilik (see below). More important politically is the rise of the Seljuks. They were the princely family of the Kabaks, who were a section of the group of tribes called Ghuzz (Oghuz, Oi oc), and are heard of in Transoxiana about 985. Their chieftains Toghrul and Chakir drove the Ghaznevids to India and established themselves as protectors of the Abbasid caliph, who formally ceded his temporal power to them. (For the history of the dynasty see Seljuks.) Alp Arslan, the son of Chakir, defeated the Byzantines at Manzikert (1071), and prepared the way for the Ottoman conquests. His son Malik Shah ruled over nearly all the modern Turkey in Asia, and as far as the frontiers of China. On his death in 1092 his empire broke up into several pieces. Konia became the capital of the sultanate of Asia Minor and various Seljuk dynasties established themselves in Kerman, Irak and Syria. A new Turkish power was founded by the khans of Khiva, who are known as the Khwarizm-shahs. They were originally vassals of the Seljuks, with the title of tasdar or ewer-bearer, but became independent and conquered Khorasan and Irak. They had, however, to contend with yet another new arrival from the east, the KaraKitais. These also were probably Turks, and were pushed westwards from China by the Kins. They conquered Kashgar, Khotan, Yarkand and later Transoxiana, pushing the Ghuzz tribes before them into Persia and Afghanistan. Their prince bore the title of gur-khan, and the Khwarizm shahs did homage to him till 1208, when they unsuccessfully revolted. But all these squabbling principalities were swept away in 1219 by the extraordinary wave cf invasion which surged across Asia to Europe under Jenghiz Khan (q.v.). After the death of Jenghiz his conquests were divided, and Transoxiana, Kashgar, Badakshan, Balkh and Ghazni were given to his second son Chagatai or Jagatai. Jenghiz and his family must have been Mongols, but the name Jagatai passed to the population and language of the countries about the Oxus. It does not appear that they ever ceased to be Turkish in speech and customs. The hordes of Jenghiz must have comprised a considerable Turkish element; the Mongols had no inclination to settle in cities, and Jagatai himself lived near Kulja in the extreme east of his dominions. Though the cities in western Central Asia suffered severely the people were not Mongolized, and Mahommedan learning even flourished. But otherwise the whole history of the Jagatai khanate, which lasted from 1234 to 1370, is a confused record of dissensions with frequent intervals of anarchy In 1321 it split into two khanates, Transoxiana and Dzungaria and in 1370 collapsed before Timur. This great conqueror (1333-1404), who like Jenghiz had an extraordinary power of collecting and leading the hordes of Central Asia, was a native of the district of Samarkand and a Turk by descent. He conquered successively Dzungaria (1370), Persia and the Caucasus (1390), the Kipchaks on the Volga (1395), and Northern India (1398). He then invaded Syria and Asia Minor, where he defeated but did not annihilate the Osmanlis. The house of Timur did not retain his more distant conquests, but they ruled at Samarkand until 1499 with the usual struggles between different branches of the family. Their possessions included, at least from time to time, the northern parts of Afghanistan and Persia, as well as Transoxiana and Turkestan. They were one of the most enlightened and cultivated of Turkish dynasties. They beautified the cities of Central Asia and were patrons of literature. The literary languages were as a rule Arabic or Persian; Turkish was used more rarely and chiefly for poetry.

The Timurids were overthrown and succeeded by the Shaibani dynasty, a branch of the house of Juji, Jenghiz Khan's eldest son, to whom his father had assigned dominions in the region north of the kingdom of Jagatai. About 1465 a number of this clan migrated into the Jagatai khanate. They were given territory on the Chu River and were known as Uzbegs. About 1500 their chief, Mahommed Shaibani or Shahi Beg, made himself master of Transoxiana and founded the Uzbeg power. The chief opponent of the Uzbegs in their early days was Baber, who represented the house of Timur in the fifth generation, but he ultimately led his armies in another direction and invaded India (1526), where he founded the Mogul Empire, a far more important state than the principalities of the Oxus. The Shaibanis continued to rule in these latter till 1583, and were followed by the houses of Astrakhan and Mangit; but it is not necessary to continue here the complicated chronicles of these dynasties.

The Osmanlis, or house of Osman, the founders of the present Turkish Empire, appear to have been a clan similar to the early Seljuks or the present Turkomans of Transcaspia, who migrated into Asia Minor from Khorasan and made the neighbourhood of Brusa their headquarters. Their conspicuous position in history is mainly due to the fact that they attained pre-eminence very late and in districts very near Europe. Except for the invasion of Timur they did not suffer from the attacks of other Turks and they were able to concentrate their strength on the conquest of the decrepit Byzantine Empire.

Customs, Civilization, Religion, &c. - The Turks are imitative rather than original, and, in all their branches, have assimilated to some extent the nearest civilization whenever they have settled down. Up to the 7th century their only culture consisted of some scraps of Chinese and Indian civilization. Subsequently both the eastern and western states which they founded adopted PersoArabic civilization and Mahommedanism. The Osmanlis have also been affected by Byzantine and west European influences.

Chinese historians and the Turkish inscriptions of the Orkhon and Yenisei give us a good deal of information respecting the earlier condition of these tribes. We are told that the Hiung-nu lived on horseback and moved about from place to place in search of fresh pasture. They possessed horses, cattle and sheep and also camels. They had no towns or villages and no agriculture and they never stayed long in one camp, but during their halts a special piece of land was assigned to each tribe and each tent. They were ignorant of writing. The children were taught to ride and shoot, and the adults were expert archers. Their food was flesh and milk and their clothing the skins of animals. They were polygamous and a son married his deceased father's wives, except his own mother. It is expressly stated that old people were despised and neglected, but this barbarous trait disappeared from the manners of the later Turks.

Of the Turks in the 6th century the Chinese writers give a rather more flattering account. They had numerous grades of rank, and when their khan was invested with the supreme power he was carried in a carpet. When troops were levied or taxes collected, the required amount was carved on a piece of wood marked with a golden arrow as a sign of authority. Their punishments were severe. Marriage was b y arrangement with the parents, not capture. The dead were kept for some time after death and the mourners gashed their faces. They sacrificed to heaven and to the spirits of their ancestors. Their amusements included singing antiphonally, playing dice and drinking koumiss till they were drunk. They had a written alphabet (derived from India or Syria) and a duodenary cycle in which the years were designated by the names of animals. Somewhat similar accounts are given of the Kerkur or Kirghiz and of the Kankli or Kankali, These were perhaps the ancestors of the Uighurs and moved about in carts with high wheels: they are described as a barbarous undisciplined people, but capable of concerted action.

In the Orkhon inscriptions of the early part of the 8th century a somewhat more civilized branch of the Turks gives an account of itself which tallies with the Chinese descriptions. No Turkish cities are mentioned, only tribes and localities. War is the national occupation. The sovereign or kagan fights himself, and it is interesting to see that the names of the various chargers which he mounted are carefully recorded. The spirit of tribal patriotism and desire for glory which animate these compositions are very noticeable and also the implied obligation of the rulers to see to the prosperity of the people. The existence of the tombs and of inscriptions in Chinese characters as well as in an alphabet of Aramaic origin, and the mention of gold, silver, silk and precious objects show that the builders had looted, so to speak, a certain amount of fragmentary civilization from their neighbours. The chief deity is Heaven or Tangri (still used in Osmanli Turkish as the equivalent of Allah), who gives the kingdom to the kagans and cares for the name and reputation of the Turkish people. There are also spirits of the earth and waters. All this is very like the earliest Chinese religion. Funeral ceremonies were evidently elaborate and the cycle of years named after animals was used for chronology.

The Chinese pilgrim Hi san Tsang was entertained by She-hu (perhaps a title), kagan of the Western Turks, near Tokmak about A.D. 630. He left an account of the barbaric splendour of his reception and alludes to the number of horses, the gold embroidery of the kagan's tent, the silk robes of his retinue, and the use of wine and music. He says the Turks were fire-worshippers and would not sit on wooden seats.

It is probable that before they were converted to Islam the Turks practised in a desultory manner Buddhism, fire-worship and Nestorian Christianity, though they never wholly accepted any of them. An interesting trace of Buddhism remains in the names Shaman and Shamanism. It would appear that the Indian word Sramana or Samana was applied to the wizards and exorcizers of the older Turkish superstition. Recent investigations have discovered the existence of a considerable Buddhist civilization at Khotan, but at the time when it flourished it would appear that the mass of the population was of Iranian affinities and that the Turkish element was small.

The Kudatku Bilik (about 1065) gives a picture of life in Eastern Turkestan after the conversion to Islam, but still showing many traces of Chinese influence. But after this period nearly all the Turks (except a few obscure tribes like the Yakuts) adopted the Perso-Arabic civilization. Some however, such as the Kirghiz, Turkomans and Yuruks of Asia Minor, have not yet abandoned the nomadic life. The Turks seem to be everywhere characterized by their innate sense of discipline and their submissiveness to their own authorities; councils or assemblies have rarely assumed importance among them; sovereigns and even dynasties (except the house of Osman) have often been removed by violence, but the despotic form of government has never failed to secure obedience. But equally important, as explaining their military successes, is the fact, noticed alike by ancient Chinese historians and modern European officers, that the ordinary Turkish soldier has in military matters an unusual resourcefulness and power of initiative which, without impairing discipline, renders him independent of his officers.


The Turkish or Tatar-Turkish languages belong to the Ural-Altaic family. Both nominal and verbal forms are built up solely by the addition of suffixes, and the law of vowel harmony is strictly observed. Hard and soft vowels cannot occur in the same word, and there is a tendency to assimilate the vowels of the suffix to those of the root; thus pederiniz, your father, but dostunuz, your friend. From the Mongol-Manchu languages the Turkish group is distinguished by its much; more developed system of inflexion, particularly in the verbs, by its free use of pronominal suffixes, and by its more thoroughly agglutinative character. The stem with its suffixes forms a single compound word, whereas in Mongol the suffixes often seem quasi-independent. In all these features Turkish resembles the Finno-Ugric languages, but it diverges from them in having a much simpler system of cases and different phonetics, in the absence of many peculiarities such as the incorporation of the pronominal object in the verb, and in the development of some special forms, such as the expression of negation by inserting a suffix after the verbal root (yazdim, I wrote, yazmadim, I did not write). The grammatical forms are more agglutinative and less inflexional than in Finnish; though they are single words, the root does not change and the elements can be easily separated, which is not always the case in Finnish. Compare the Turkish gyordiiniiz, " you saw," from the root gyor, with the equivalent Finnish nl itte from nlike. The fusion between the root and suffixes is much more thorough in the latter. Turkish thus stands midway between Mongol and Finnish in its development of the agglutinative principle. Also, though compounds are not unknown in Turkish (e.g. demiryol, railway) they are much rarer than in Finnish or Hungarian.

Despite the apparent divergence between Turkish and Mongol, due perhaps partly to the influence of Chinese on the latter, the affinity between them seems real, though not superficial. The pronouns, case suffixes, and construction of sentences all show a general similarity, and the verb in Buriat, which differs from other Mongol languages, exhibits a development parallel to Turkish. The want of resemblance in vocabulary between the three classes of languages is remarkable. The numerals, for instance, in Turkish, Mongol and Finno-Ugric are entirely different, and considerable changes have to be assumed before the identity of words can be proved. A comparison of Turkish words with Mongol equivalents makes it probable that the former are in many instances contractions: thus dagh, mountain, yol, road, correspond to the Mongol dabaga, yabudal and perhaps represent an earlier tavagh and yavol. The best-known Turkish languages, particularly Osmanli, have borrowed an enormous number of Arabic and Persian words which disguise the characters of the native vocabulary and to some extent affect the grammar.

Compared with the Finno-Ugric group, the Turkish languages are remarkably uniform. Indeed, allowing for the lapse of time and the importation of foreign words, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that from the Lena to Constantinople, from the Orkhon inscriptions till now, we have merely one language in different dialects. The native vocabulary and grammar remain substantially the same. The linguistic type is evidently strongly individual and persistent, and its separation from Mongol, &c., is probably very ancient.

Radlov divides the Turkish languages or dialects into four groups, according to their phonetic system. (I) Eastern: Altai, Baraba, Lebed, Tuba, Abakan, Kiidrik, Soyon, Karagass and Uighur. (2) Western: Kirghiz, Bashkir, Irtysh and Volga dialects. (3) Central Asiatic: Jagatai, Taranji, &c. (4) Southern: Turkmani, Azerbaijani, Krimmi, Anadoli and Osmanli. But this classification does not seem entirely satisfactory. As one passes across Asia from the Yakuts, through Kashgar, Turkestan and Azerbaijan to Constantinople, the pronunciation of the Turkish languages becomes decidedly softer, the suffixes become more intimately united with the words to which they are appended (approaching though not attaining the unity of Finnish inflexions), and the verbal forms grow more numerous and more complicated. Thus in the east we find nin, ni, ga as suffixes for the genitive, accusative and dative, and man for that of the first personal pronoun (e.g. durman, I stand or I am) corresponding to -in, -i, -a and in Osmanli, which have clearly assumed the character of inseparable terminations more completely than the older forms. Osmanli possesses more copious verbal forms than the other dialects, some of which (such as the future in -ajak) seem to be recent formations. On the other hand, the dialects of Turkestan use in speaking, though not in writing, forms which indicate a process of composition followed by contraction, more remarkable than any change which has taken place in the west. For instance, wopti, a contraction of bolup irdi, is said to be currently used in Khokand for "has become." Yakut (which can still be best studied in Bohtlingk's excellent grammar of 1851) is the dialect which is most distinct from the others, but does not appear always to preserve the oldest forms. Thus it has lost the genitive, which is replaced by a pronominal periphrasis (e.g. oriis bas-a, horse head-his, i.e. horse's head), and has verbal forms like bisabin, I cut, bispappin, I do not cut, apparently standing for bisarbin, bispatbin. The negative suffix is pa not ma. The resemblance between the Turkish dialects is increased by the fact that they are nearly all written in a somewhat artificial and standardized form which imperfectly represents the variety existing in conversational speech.

Several alphabets have been employed to write Turkish. (I) Arabic characters are everywhere used by Mahommedan Turks, almost without exception; yet this alphabet is extremely ill suited to represent Turkish sounds. It cannot distinguish the hard and soft vowels, so that oldu, " he was" is written in the same way as oldii, " he died." In some cases the consonants indicate the character of the vowels which are to be supplied after them, hard consonants being followed by hard vowels and soft by soft. Thus the word spelt with the letters kaf, is pronounced as kara, but that spelt with kef, re, he as kerre. Further the orthography often follows an antiquated pronunciation and the letters have many sounds. Thus the single letter kef can be used to express k, ky, g, gy, y, v, w and n. The result is that pure Turkish words written in Arabic letters are often hardly intelligible even to Turks and it is usual to employ Arabic synonyms as much as possible because there is no doubt as to how they should be read. Osmanli documents are often little more than a string of Arabic words with Turkish terminations.

2. The Uighurs and Eastern Turks used in the middle ages a short alphabet of fourteen letters derived from a Syriac source and probably introduced among them by Nestorian missionaries; similar characters may also have been employed by Manichaeans. The Mongol and Manchu alphabets represent further variations of this writing. Though very like the modern Nestorian, it is in some respects more nearly allied to the Estrangelo and Syro-Palestinian alphabets of the 6th and 7th centuries. The most important document in this alphabet is a MS. preserved at Vienna of the Kudatku Bilik, " The Blessed or Fortunate Knowledge," a poem composed at Kashgar about 1065. A colophon states that the MS. was written at Herat in 1465, and that it is a copy of one written in 1085. Inscriptions in a similar alphabet have also been found in China.

3. The most interesting forms of Turkish writing are those used on the inscriptions found in Siberia near the Yenisei and Orkhon rivers. For some time it has been known that stones bearing inscriptions as well as roughly carved figures and hunting scenes were to be found on the upper waters of the Yenisei, particularly near its tributary the Abakan in the district of Minusinsk. They are greatly venerated by the Soyotes inhabiting the region. They were first discovered by Messerschmidt in 1722, and some of them were represented in the plates of Strahlenberg's Das nord. and Ostliche Theil von Europa and Asia (1730). They were generally attributed to Scythians or Chudes. The knowledge of them did not much advance until the researches of Castren (1847) and the Finnish Society of Archaeology, which in 1889 published the text of thirty-two, chiefly from the Uibat, Ulukem, Altynkul and Tes. Even more interesting are the monuments discovered in 1889 and known as the Orkhon or Kosho-Tsaidam inscriptions, as they were found in Mongolia to the south of Lake Baikal, between the river Orkhon and Lake Kosho-Tsaidam. The most important are a mortuary inscription in Turkish and Chinese, bearing a date corresponding to 733, in honour of Kul-tegin, and another recounting the exploits of Bilge, Kagan. A third inscription at Kara-Balgassun probably dates from 800-805. The inscriptions were deciphered and translated by Thomsen and Radlov, and Donner examined the origin of the alphabet. He came to the conclusion that the Yenisei alphabet is rather older than that of the Orkhon inscriptions, and that both are derived from the Aramaic alphabet and most nearly allied to the variety of it used on the coins of the Assacid dynasty. In the 3rd century A.D. a section of the Kirghiz, who subsequently moved northwards, were in West Sogdiana and in touch with the Yiie-Chi, who had been for some time in contact with Persia. The old Turkish characters bear a superficial resemblance to runes; the Yenisei letters have the simplest shapes, those of Kara-Balgassun the most complicated. But they are mostly traceable to Aramaic prototypes and have no connexion with Scandinavia. The vowels are generally omitted, even at the beginning of words, and, as in the modern Turkish method of using the Arabic alphabet, their quality is often indicated by the consonants, many of which have two forms, one used with soft the other with hard vowels. Thus bar and bar are differentiated not by the vowels but by the consonants employed to write them.

4. Turkish-speaking Armenians and Greeks often write it in their own alphabets. Turkish newspapers printed in Armenian characters are published in Constantinople, and Greek characters are similarly employed in several parts of Asia Minor.

Bibliography: (a). - General works on the history and ethnography of the Turks: Deguignes, Histoire des Huns; Vambery, Das Tiirkenvolk (Leipzig, 1885), Ursprung der Magyaren (Leipzig, 1882), and several other publications; Radlov, Aus Sibirien (Leipzig, 1884); W. Grigorievemlewjedjenie K. Rittera Wostotschni iii Kitaiski Turkestan; Neumann, Die Volker des siidlichen Russland (Leipzig, 1847). We may add the historians of the MongolsD'Ohsson, Howorth and others - the numerous journals of travellers amongst Turkish peoples, and several articles in the Russische Revue; Journ. Royal Asiatic Soc.; Revue orientale pour les etudes Ouralaltaiques, and other Oriental periodicals; Skrine and Ross, Heart of Asia (1899); Cahun, Turcs et Mongols (Paris, 1896); E. H. Parker, A Thousand Years of the Tartars (1895), and numerous articles, especially in the Asiatic Quarterly by the same author on Chinese accounts of these tribes; Chavannes, Les Tou-kiue occidentaux (St Petersburg, 1903).

b. For the study of Turkish dialects the subjoined books may be used. (I) Osmanli: the grammars, dictionaries and chrestomathies of Wells (1880), A. Wahrmund (1884) and Redhouse (1890). (2) Uighur: the works of Klaproth; Abel Remusat, Recherches sur les langues tatares (Paris, 1820); Vambery, Uigurische Sprachmonumente and das Kudatku Bilik (Innsbruck, 1870), and a newer edition by W. Radlov (St Petersburg, 1900). (3) Jagatai: the dictionary of Pavet de Courteille and Vambery, Jagataische Sprachstudien (Leipzig, 1867). (4) Eastern Turki: Shaw's grammar and vocabulary (Journ. Roy. As. Soc. of Bengal, 1877). (5) Tatar dialects: the grammars of Kasimbeg-Zenker (Leipzig, 1848), Ilminski (Kazan, 1869) and Radlov (Leipzig, 1882); Dictionary of Trojanski (Kazan, 1833); the chrestomathies of Beresine (Kazan, 1857), Terentiev and specially Radlov, Proben der Volksliteratur der tiirkischen Steimme Siid-Sibiriens (St Petersburg, 1872). (6) Yakuti: Bohtlingk, Die Sprache der Jakuten (St Petersburg, 1851); Radlov, Yakutische Sprache in ihrem Verhdltniss zu den Turksprachen (1908). (7) Inscriptions: Societe finlandaise d'archeologie, Inscriptions de l'Ienisei and several works by 0. Donner, W. Radlov and V. Thomsen - especially Thomsen, Inscriptions de l'Orkhon dechiffrees (Helsingfors, 1896); Donner, Sur l'origine de l'alphabet turc (Helsingfors); Radlov, Die alt-tiirkische Inschriften der Mongolei (St Petersburg, 1897); Marquardt, Chronologie der alt-tiirkischen Inschriften (1898).

(C. EL.)

<< Turks And Caicos Islands

James Turle >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary





  1. Plural of Turk





  1. (language) Turkish



  1. Turkish

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address