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Medieval states in 14th -15th centuries

23 September 2014

Economy and culture

The main occupation of the population of Kazakhstan in the 14th -15th centuries remained nomadic cattle breeding same as in the previous centuries. Nomads bred sheep and horses, camels, in certain areas — cattle, for instance, Nogais and Karakalpaks in the western and southern lands who used to live in flood plains of the rivers and the foothills. In the same places the population was engaged also in agriculture, dryland farming and irrigation, also in fishery and hunting everywhere.

The horse was the main vehicle during movements and in military campaigns. Sheep breeding was widespread everywhere. It was not only the main food product, but also it gave skin and wool which was in production of clothes, beddings, carpets, covers for yurt, etc. House crafts on processing of livestock raw materials satisfied needs of nomads for articles of clothing and life. Certain masters produced more difficult subjects like a horse harness, metal jewellery, military equipment (swords, a spear, bows and arrows), bullock carts, details of yurts etc.

The ratio of three of its types allocated during evolution of cattle breeding economy — nomadic, semi-nomadic and settled — existed for many years in the territory of Kazakhstan, throughput centuries did not remain invariable. It had been changed not only depending on ecological conditions, but also from political events, migrations of the tribes and the people, in turn, connected with these conditions and events.

These events and conditions could even influence on the routes changes which for long time ago had been developed according to natural and geographical conditions also historical traditions. Owing to traditions nomadic childbirth and tribes of Joint stock company Horde and Abulkhayr’s Khanate passed to winter from kocheviya in certain regions of East Desht-i Kypchak into valleys of Syr-Darya and its inflows, into the foothills of Karatau and Priaralya.

Due to tradition nomadic tribes and groups of Ak-Orda (White Horde) and Abulkhair Khan’s Khanate moved for winter stop to certain regions of East Desht-i- Kypchak into valleys of Syr-Darya and its inflows, also into the foothills of Karatau and land near Aral Sea.

Quite often governors had to fight with neighbouring countries to keep the territories. Traditional routes of Nogai cattle breeding nomads were from winter stops in the mouth of Volga and on the northeast coast of the Caspian Sea to summer stops upwards Volga, Ural and Emba. Due to political situation they had to move as towards the territories near Aral Sea and lower reach of Syr Darya in the east as well as along the coast of the Caspian Sea to the south, towards Kumsky lowland in west. In Zhetysu the routes of nomads’ stops were shorter. According to the sources there are lands which were the most well-known for cattle breeding such as dzhailau Ulug-Zhulduz and Kishik-Zhulduz in the basin of the Ili River, plain pastures Abish between Charyn and Chilik etc.

In the 14th -15th centuries there were basic changes in overall balance of economic occupations of the population of Southeast Kazakhstan. Long domination of the Mongolian khans and feudal lords, inflow in the 13th century of new numerous nomad tribes from the East, continuous internal wars in the Chagatays ulus, in the state to Hyde for redistribution of possession, and were connected with these wars long and frequent movements of the Mongolian troops, by the end of the 14th century destroyed settled and agricultural and city culture in Zhetysu. Agrarian districts round the cities disappeared, and then also the ancient cities of Balasagun, Almalyk, Almaty, Taraz, Kayalyk, Iki-Oguz, etc.

The nomadic cattle breeding prevailed everywhere. It turned into the main branch of economy of local population. Traces of settled life still remained in the 14th-15th centuries in the Western Zhetysu in valleys Chu and Talas, in districts of the disappeared cities. Based on written sources, for instance, according to Muhammad Haidar, near Issyk-Kul were constructions of new settlements and caravans in 15th century.

But in general, during entry of the region of Southeast Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan into the state of Mogulistan city life did not revive here. Therefore, in economic and political life of this state settled and agricultural areas and the cities of Kashgaria were important. Fight for them often caused internal wars in Mogulistan. At the end of the 15th century Mogulistan khans’ who interfered with fight of the Kazakh khans, Shaibanid governors and the last descendants of Timur for the power over the cities in the basin of Central Syr-Darya managed to subordinate for a while Tashkent and Sairam. Vital interests of the population of Zhetysu nomadic areas necessity of sale of products of cattle breeding and receiving subjects of city craft production and agricultural production focused them on economic relations with the population of agricultural areas as well Southern Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

A certain rising of city and agricultural life in the 14th -15th centuries happened on territory of the Southern Kazakhstan. It was mentioned in the sources that construction in Otrar, Sauran, Sygnak and Dzhenda carried out by khans of Ak-Orda Erzen, Mubarak-Khodja and Urus. Also housing, cult and public building had been constructed. Fortification walls, construction of which earlier was forbidden by Mongolian authorities, were restored.

The most considerable construction at a boundary of the 14th -15th centuries is Khodja Ahmed Yasawi’s mausoleum built by the emir Timur in the city of Yasa (Turkestan). There was a new architectural style, construction methods were improved, the crafts connected with construction business developed (production of a brick, facing materials, in particular irrigation tiles). Craft production had been developed in the cities. In Otrar, for example, archaeological excavation revealed estates and workshops of potters, smiths, weavers, bakers, etc.

The local ceramics differed in a big variety of colour and ornaments. Mints of Sygnak (the capital of khans of Ak-Orda), Otrar, Saraichik (the capital of the Nogai Horde) had been worked. Agricultural life was restored and continued in the Sgynak, Yasa, Sauran, Sayram’s districts and other cities. Grains crops (wheat, barley) and also vegetable were grown up on irrigation lands. Wine growing and gardening was widespread. Production of farmers and city handicraftsmen served as an exchange subject in economic communications of the population of South Kazakhstan, East Desht-i Kypchak and Zhetysu. Trade was one of the most essential activities of the Southern Kazakhstan’s citizens. Also transit trade on the way from Europe through the Crimea, lower reaches of Don, further in the Saraichik, Otrar, Sairam with an exit to ancient trade ways from Central Asia through Zhetysu to Altai and to East Turkestan became an active.

Trade interchange of cattle-farmers of steppe regions of East Desht-i Kypchak and Zhetysu with agricultural and urban population of South Kazakhstan and Central Asia positively influenced as growth of municipal and agricultural economy in the south, and cattle breeding in the steppe. An advantageous position of the region of the Southern Kazakhstan on a joint of the settled and agricultural world the nomadic steppe, at the intersection of the main trade ways made it the centre of economic and cultural, economic contacts of the adjoining people. They promoted exchange between nomads and farmers of elements of material culture, life, economic skills, social norms, forms of the state organization and military art. Spread of culture, writing and education was among the steppe Muslims through these cities.

The Southern Kazakhstan region (according to the terminology of sources of that time — Turkestan), especially its northern part, was the traditional political and economic centre of all state educations in the territory of Kazakhstan. Cities near Syr Darya like Sygnak, Otrar, Yasa (Turkestan), Sairam, Sauran, Suzak, etc. constantly were in the centre of military collisions of governors of neighbouring states. Khans of Ak-Orda at the boundary of 14th -15th century had battles with descendants of Timur, governing in Central Asia (Transoxiana), with Abulkhair Khan in 40–60’s of 15th century to keep them. Also first Kazakh khans fought with Uzbeks Shaibanid to keep these cities. Governors of East Desht-i Kypchak’s distributed possession to the vassals, collected taxes, leaned on the local cities in race for power in the steppe, carried out construction. There were their patrimonial tombs (a sign of possession of the territory). The contribution to development of city and agricultural culture in the south of Kazakhstan, as well as in the southeast in the past was brought by far and close ancestors of the Kazakh nationality, as well as Kazakhs in the 15th -17th centuries.

Process of feudalization of the public relations in nomadic cattle breeding regions of Ak-Orda, the Nogai Horde, Abulkhayr’s Khanate and Mogulistan happened slowly, in case of the considerable saving remnants of the tribal organization of nomads. The tribal organization of nomads was connected to growth of specific weight of nomadic cattle breeding, restoration of patriarchal lines in the organization of control, in forms of land tenure, maintenance of the subject population during the Mongolian domination.

The existing ulus system of public organization of the population allowed nomads to have in communal possession a certain territory with pastoral grounds and reservoirs, prevented collisions with other ulus associations the tribal groups.
All members of ruling dynasty (oglan, sultans and mirza) had the right for nomadic ulus and the territories corresponding to them.

The numerous nobility heading rodoplemenny groups (ulusbek, emirs, Bai, Karachi), acquired the special rights (tarkhanstvo). In sources other forms of land tenure, the landed property are marked: an indzh (khans’ lands), mulyk — the privately owned lands which were found in agricultural oases, waqf — the earth of Muslim establishments and clergy in regions of distribution of Islam, in the southern cities of Kazakhstan. The system of collection of taxes and taxes from settled population became more arranged. The institute of «the patrimonial help» at nomads hid different forms of dependence and an exploitation poor in the rich.

In the 14th-15th centuries, the process of education, which began earlier, combined formation of the Turkic literary languages of three main dialect groups such as Karluk-Uigur, Uigur-Oguz and Kypchak-Oguz, began intensively develop. The Mongolian conquest did not lead to distribution of the Mongolian language\. The local Turkic environment rather easily absorbed the Mongolian elements.

In the 13th-14th centuries a large number of literature monument was created, also folklore had been developed in Kypchak language. Kypchaks and other Turkic tribes had the oral poetry. Folklore samples (riddles, aphorisms, pastushesky peep) remained in a monument of the Kypchak language «Code of Kumani-kus». In the 14th-15th centuries the Kazakh language was selected from the Kypchaks-Nogai subgroup of Kypchak group of Turkic languages.

Except Kazakh language, Nogai and Karakalpak languages were included in this subgroup. The works of singers (zhyrau) had been developed in Desht-i-Kypchak in the Nogai Horde. There are names of famous ones Sypyra-zhyrau and Kogana-Taishi (14th century), Asa-na-Kaigy and Kaztugan (the 14th-16th centuries), they song about the idea of unity of the people and love for the motherland. The Kypchak heroic epos had been created.

Islam became dominating religion in the settled and agricultural part of South Kazakhstan. Sufi’s awards «Yasavia» and «Nakshbandia» had been developed its influence. The nomadic population adhered to Shamanism and a cult of ancestors.

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