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Political structure of the Kypchak state

28 October 2014
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13 January 2015


According to the wide range of various historical sources, the Kypchak confederation of tribes headed by Khans was established in the steppes of Kazakhstan, with the center in its northern regions, in the 11th-12th centuries. Due to characteristics of the native habitat and specificities of the nomadic type of economic and cultural activities, in the 11th — the early 13th century the Kypchak society is characterized by definite peculiarities in the system of material production, in the sphere of social relations, social and administrative-political structure.

Khan was the supreme ruler of the Kypchak state. The power was transmitted from generation to generation and belonged to the Yelborili dynasty. According to the data of researcher Dzhuzdzhani, who died after 1260, originator of this dynasty was Abar-Khan [1]. The aristocracy included Khans, Tarkhans, Yughurs, Baskaks, Beks and Bais. Clans and tribes also had their own hierarchic staircase, in accordance with social significance.

Horde was the centre of the Khanate. Khan’s government was responsible for property and army. According to ancient Turkic traditions, the state has two capitals, including the right one (located on the Ural River on site of the city of Saraychik) anf the left capital (with the center in the city of Sygnak near the Syr Darya River) [2].

From the second half of the 11th century to the first third of the 12th century the relative stabilization and political integrity of the Kypchak Khans were observed. Ancient sources mark out the two most outstanding rulers among them — "the powerful" and "the widely respected Tsar". It may therefore be concluded that the Kypchak society had powerful Khans who strongly influenced subjugated peoples.

According to the historical data, there was a paper work in the Khanate. That was a correspondence with the rulers of neighboring and distant countries. Among other Chinese, Indian, Uighur scientists Kypchak philosophers were also mentioned [3].

In the opinion of prominent researcher V. Bartold, "movement of the Kypchak people is a rare example of colonization of a huge territory without political integration and establishment of statehood. There were several Kypchak Khans but no one Khan of all Kypchaks appeared". Therefore, the Kypchak state had a form of confederation.

The Kypchak society was characterized by inequality. The wealth was measured by the number of cattle. According to medieval sources, most Kypchaks owned herds numbering several thousand horses, ten thousand horses and even more [4].

1. Tabakat-i-Nasiri. A General of the Muhammadan Dinasties of Asia, including Hindustan from A. H. 194 to A. H. 658, and the infidel. Mugals into Islam by H. G. Raverty. London, 1881, t. II, p. 961, 10097.
2. Istoriya Kazakhstana s drevneyshikh vremen do nashikh dney. Almaty, 1993, p. 76 (in Russian)
3. Rashid-ad-din. Sbornik letopisey, Vol. I, Book I, p. 67.
4. Kyzlasov L. R. Istoriya Tuvy v srednie veka. Voscow., 1969, p. 164.

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