Home History of Kazakhstan Kazakhstan in the Russian Empire Socio-economic development of the Kazakh society in XVIII and mid-XIX centuries Social organization

Social organization

24 September 2013

Social organization of Kazakhs was based on variety of interconnected forms of human relations: blood-relative family, economic, genealogical, protest-political, military, cultural, ethnic and other, which arose in different spheres of public life and created difficult system of various social organisms and their institutes which have provided functioning of society as the self-regulating unit.

The main core of public relations was the unity of interests and purposes that were formed in the process of social production. In the conditions of agrarian society it was implemented in the form of a community which functioned on the basis of production communications. In sources it is noted: "Kyrgyz have a communal possession of the earth, each tribe and section have a separate lot, on this space each of relative can have the arable lands, summerings and winterings; but the tribe jealously watches that none of other tribes occupy their lands". Existence of a community was caused by need of labor cooperation of cattle-farmers for implementation of all links of production which assumed association of efforts of a large number of people.

Functioning of a nomadic community was considerably mediated by a seasonal rhythm of cattle pasture. Depending on distinctions in character of a movement during different seasons of year in Kazakhstan there were two types of a community. During the winter, early-spring and autumn periods the so-called minimum community which sizes (5 — 6 farms) usually corresponded to the average size of a winter flock of sheep (300 — 400 heads) was developed. The community sizes in these seasons were defined by quantity of the cattle capable to subsist on pasturable grounds adjacent to wintering and in the maximum extent depended on efficiency of forages on this territory. The pasturable sites which were settling down in a radius of 2 — 4 km from wintering, were in property of this community which was not only a form of labor co-operation and individuals, but also the unit of land tenure and land use.

The second type of a community took place during the warm period of year when nomads united in larger economic groups mainly on the basis of interests of the most rational provision of cattle by water.

Sizes of an expanded community were defined in this case not so much by its dependence on the capacity of pasturable grounds, as much from provision of animals with water sources. Therefore it usually represented an association of two-three minimum communities. On the basis of the general need for regulation of water use there were property relations on water sources. In droughty areas where wells of different depth were the main water sources, the community property on water sources was implemented in the form of the right of "the first use", and in landscape zones with prevalence of sources of a natural origin — by right of the "first seizure". Appropriating this or that source, the expanded community actually appropriated the territory round this reservoir. Therefore, it not only regulated productions in the sphere of nomadic cattle breeding, but also was the subject of land use.

In turn, an expanded community was included into wider social group which regulated the relations of different communal groups on an occasion of land use, distributions of pasturable grounds and water sources, coordination of routes of a movement. This social group is known in historical literature under the name "clan", "tribe", "patronimiya", "pasturable and nomadic community". It was the direct owner of all pasturable grounds where component parts were concentrated in summertime. At the level of this association of communities functions of noneconomic regulation of the intercommunal relations concerning the earth and water were implemented, and therefore it actually carried out a regulation of all system of a movement.

Along with this social structure in the Kazakh society there was branched tribal organization representing a form of association of people in different hierarchically organized social groups by means of genealogical relationship.

Kazakhs were subdivided on Senior (Uly), Average (Orta) and Young (Kishi) zhuzes. In Senior zhus the following tribes entered: zhalair, oshakty kingly, shanyshkly, dulat, alban, suan, shaprashty, sary uysyn, ergeli, ysty. Middle zhuz was made by tribes: Argyn, Naiman, Kypchak, Kerey, Konrad. Kazakhs of Young zhuz were subdivided into three large associations: Alimuly, Bayuly and Zhetyru. By separate calculations, in XVII — the first a half of XVIII centuries the structure of all three zhuzes included 112 tribal divisions. Each link of this structure, for example, association or a tribe, was split up, in turn, for a set of smaller groups (tribes and their divisions, generations, clans etc.) closely connected among themselves by tradition of common family tree. All of them, as well as system as a whole, had the difficult genealogical legends erecting the origin to one real or legendary ancestor. Set of social functions which are carried out by the tribal organization, and strict ekzogamiya up to the seventh descent, allow presenting it as a big patronimiya.

The coverage of system of genealogical relationship extended on public consciousness, family and marriage and social relations, ideology, structures of the power and policy. Belonging to this or that division of tribal structure could influence a social status and prestige of any group, tribe, the individual in society, to define character of relations of other groups and individuals with them. A certain influence was made by the principle of genealogical relationship and on the different parties of social and economic life of Kazakhs, for example, in such cases, as the guarantee for faults of relatives, debts and payment of kuna, protection of relatives and rendering financial support.

In the lowest links of the tribal organization (aul, division, tribe) by means of this principle were regulated questions of inheritance of property and guardianship establishment over juvenile children, the right of levirate, material security of ritual celebrations on the occasion of the birth, a wedding, a funeral etc.

At the level of the highest patronimical groups (tribes, unions of tribes, zhuzes) genealogical communications played an important role mainly in the sphere of the power, ideology and policy. The reason was that in the conditions of state and political decentralization of nomadic society the system of genealogical relationship served as the main mechanism of regulation of social relations. The power structure at Kazakhs was presented in the form of genealogical hierarchy of tribes.

Industrial relationships. A certain role in system of public relationships at Kazakhs belonged to the relations developing between people in the process of production concerning means and products of work. In a common law of Kazakhs some forms of ownership on means of production are recorded: 1) the property relations on cattle and cattle breeding products in the form of individual private and family property; 2) the communal ownership of land, or more exact, of winter pastures; 3) property of an expanded community on water sources: 4) noneconomic property of communities association on the territory where groups of cattle-farmers subordinated to it wandered. Characteristic of production relations in nomadic society of Kazakhs of XVIII — the middle of the XIX century was limit absent-mindedness of the property rights among links of the social organization (a family, a community, association of communities). Practically none of its structures possessed monopoly for the earth and water and could realize their rights to it only at the time of finding of nomads in this territory.

At the same time it must be kept in mind that the forms of property relations recorded in a common law owing to standard nature, as a rule, reflect only outer side of the phenomena and aren't able to give a complete and objective idea of an essence of things. In this situation the importance gets consideration of production relations in the Kazakh society through the main and primary form of ownership — individual property on cattle.

Modern researches revealed direct dependence between the general security of farms by cattle and specific structure of herd. In herds of rich cattle-owners the most mobile animal species (horses, camels, sheep) had very high specific weight (in comparison with average), then, as a share of neat (cows, bulls) was minimal. On the contrary, poor farms had very significant amount of cattle, but had rather small livestock of horses, camels and sheep. Therefore it is quite natural that the rich cattle-owners who had more mobile structure of herd, wandered much quicker than the needy relatives and the first consumed fresh, touched by nobody vegetation. At the same time less provided families of cattle-farmers were compelled to go after them and to consume only those forages which remained after a pasture of farms.

In this regard eyewitnesses noted that upon transitions to summer nomad camps "who arrive before, those occupies the best camps, others, having been late, don't find any benefits". Therefore, the earth in the process of a movement also was involved in the relations of the actual property by means of assignment of the best fodder and water resources by the rich cattle-owners who were carrying out in practice the right of possession of land grounds in a type of "the rights of first seizure". Thus, the qualitative and specific structure of herd which was directly depending on property security of this or that family, caused an inequality of individuals in the sphere of land water use.

The number of rich cattle-owners in the Kazakh society as a whole was insignificant, but the share of cattle belonging to them was rather great. The researcher of the middle of the XVIII century I. P. Falk wrote in his notes that "rich Kyrgyz have in possession five and even ten thousand heads of horses. Such rich men can't even know their herds with accuracy". Bigger figures about quantity of cattle at some Kazakhs are specified in the works of S.B.Bronevsky, A.I.Levshin, V. V. Radlov and other contemporaries. From the data provided by them it is visible that for social and economic development of the Kazakh society in XVIII — middle of the XIX centuries were characteristic processes of concentration of cattle in hands of rather not numerous group of individuals.

However the bigger part of Kazakhs, by recognition of eyewitnesses, consisted of "poor people, not having sufficient cattle breeding for their livelihood". This social group of the nomadic population on their economic and social situation can be ranked as category of dependent producers. Owing to vital need needy cattle-farmers were compelled to sell their labor and therefore entered the different economic relations with rich cattle-owners.

The main form of exploitation in the Kazakh society during the considered period was joint work of property differentiated individuals within a community. Each economy entering it, carried out a pasture of communal herd in turn, irrespective of a cattle share which was in its personal property. The difference between equal expenses of work and private nature of assignment and consumption of products of this joint activity "made the size of an additional product for one and norm of expllotiation for others".

Such form of exploitation, as saun — institute of investment of poor farms by livestock was used by richer farms. The needy nomads taking cattle on a pasture, were obliged to look after herd of "benefactor", and in case of death of the last, to return earlier taken quantity of cattle, together with a litter. However the saun relations didn't gain among Kazakhs a wide circulation in view of small number of the rich farms, capable to give cattle on a pasture.

Outside of a nomadic community employment of impoverished Kazakhs as workers to rich cattle-owners, Russian immigrants and Cossacks, for seasonal works on mountain mines, salt-mines and industrial institutions of the region widely practised.

Ordinary commoner and rich cattle-owner could exist and normally provide functioning of cattle breeding economy only in the process of active interaction with each other, as the alliance of first with rich nomads provided a necessary living wage to eat, drink and reproduce similar, and prosperous individuals had an opportunity to realize their aspiration to multiply and increase herds belonging to them. Thus, both classes of the Kazakh society mutually supplemented each other and acted as components of a uniform social and economic complex.

History and ethnology institute by Ch.Ch.Valikhanov name KN MON RK, 2013


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