On the Emergence of Kazakh Ethnonym

26 October 2018
On the Emergence of Kazakh Ethnonym
There has been an endless debate over the origins of the Kazakh ethnonym. The significance of our country is that on its territory there were tribes that were spread out all across the vast country.

By the 15th century, the tribes had already come into existence, but their formation took place in the preceding centuries together with the long process of the formation of the nation. In writings, their existence is reflected in the eastern chronicles of the 16th century. The formation of tribes is connected with the natural and climatic conditions of Kazakhstan and the way of life of its population - nomadism. Kazakhstan consists of natural landscapes sufficient for self-development. Moreover, the long-lasting entry of the population into the system of individual states and, above all, the Mongolian uluses could not but affect it.

The senior horde occupied territory from the Syrdarya to the Semirechye inclusive. It included Uisin, Kangly, Dulat, Alban, Suan, Sirgeli, Ystyk, Oshaqty, Shaprashty, Zhalayir. The middle horde was located in the Central and the North-Eastern part of Kazakhstan. In its composition - Kypchaks, Argyns, Naimans, Congrates, Kireites, Karluks and others. The junior horde occupied the lower reaches of the Syrdarya, the shores of the Aral Sea, the northern part of the Caspian lowland. In its composition the tribal association alshyn, such tribes as aday, alash, baibakty, zhappas, berish and others.

To begin with, it is worth noting that there is an endless debate on the emergence of the Kazakh Khanate, according to the qualified majority of scientists, it is also the case when it comes to the origin of the name of the Kazakh people itself. This ethnonym is unique and mysterious in the sense that it is for sure not even know what language gave him life, although it is believed that it has ancient Turkic roots. But with the same success it can be said about its ancient Iranian or ancient Mongolian foundations. This issue is of academic interest from both linguistic and historical points of view. The answer to it is very difficult, in many respects hypothetical and so far unequivocally impossible. A prominent expert on this extremely confusing issue, academician Kumekov noted that for two centuries scientists have been trying to disclose the semantics of this concept. However, no one has been able to make a final judgment so far. Let's add from ourselves that in the near future there will be no chance for this. Although the best academic minds worked at that time to solve the mystery of the name "Kazakh".

For example, the historian Levshin, whom Shoqan Ualikhanov called "Herodotus of the Kazakh people" for good reason, stated, referring to the opinion of Eastern historians, that the ancient name of the Cossack goes back further from the Nativity of Christ, and that the Cossacks made up independent people in the remotest centuries of our era.  And modern to it "Tatar Cossacks" were only imitators and their name not Tatar, and borrowed from other people. And he came to the conclusion that the very name of them as the name of their own people is not subject to any translations, or etymological disputes. That's it, neither more nor less.

Shoqan Ualikhanov himself wrote that in the era of the formation of the Kazakh Khanate and the Kazakh people, the name "Kazak" had a significant respectable meaning and meant an elevation of spirit, soundness corresponded to the European chivalry. The nomadic steppe, in order to distinguish himself from its city-born neighbors, Uzbeks and Nogais, were proud of the name of the Kazak - a free steppe, a nomadic person. In the semantics and morphology of this specific military-heroic term, he, as we see, preferred not to go deeper. A great connoisseur of Kazakh history and genealogy, Mukhamedzhan Tynyshpaev, also noted that all possible interpretations of the word "Cossack" apart from various absurdities that only confuse the issue. Therefore, he did not even consider these "interpretations" because of their "complete failure". He bluntly declared that it was as useless to seek the meaning of the word "Cossack" as an attempt to find the meaning of the words "Russian", "Arab", "French", etc.

Famous Soviet and Kazakh scientists participated in its writing. It would seem that in this fundamental academic publication on the national history the origin of the term "Kazakh" would be given a priority attention. However, contrary to expectations, it was only about one page. Denoting the problem "The origin of the word" Kazakh", the authors merely stated that the term itself goes back to a very ancient basis, the origin and significance of which are still unclear, and no attempts have been made to elucidate this issue by eminent authors. Apparently, ideologically they feared being accused of bourgeois nationalism in the field of linguistics. The same applies to other editions of the history of the Kazakh SSR of the Soviet period, except that in the 1979 edition of this ethnonym it is written in more detail. But it is also noted that there was no exact, unequivocal answer to the question of its origin in science, and it still does not exist.

In the early 2000s, Russian scientists S. Klyashtorny and T. Sultanov made another attempt to find out the historical-political and ethnic content of the term "Cossack". They have traditionally stressed that in the historical literature there were still a wide variety of interpretations of its origin. They noted that one of the first mentions of the word "Cossack" in Muslim written sources is found in an anonymous Turkic-Arabic dictionary, probably written in Egypt, known from the manuscript of 1245 and with the meaning "homeless", "homeless", "wanderer" , "exile". Nevertheless, the authors also acknowledged that there is still no reliable etymological explanation for the word "Cossack". But whatever its origin is, undoubtedly, that initially had a nominal meaning, in the sense of a lonely, free, homeless, wanderer, exile, or a getter.

That is, for the word "Cossack", a lot of various portable meanings were fixed - from a robber to a daring hero-young man. Thus, initially the word "Cossack" had neither political nor ethnic content, but only social. Any free man was called a Cossack, who broke away from his state, people and the tribe, forced for this reason to lead the life of an adventurer. There were always a lot of people in the steppe who led such a way of life (if necessary or of their own free will). That is, any person could become a "Cossack" regardless of origin, gender and tribe, even princes of blood, for example, Chingizids or Timurids. Like Timur himself, Tokhtamysh, Babur, Sultan Hussain Baikara, Muhammad Shaibani, Siberian Khan Kuchum and others. Moreover, to lead the way of life of the Cossack was not something shameful and reprehensible; on the contrary, it was considered a matter of honor and heroism, when the pretender to the throne for some time of his life would "cossack", thereby confirming his right to power.

Later this Turkic word appeared in the Russian language, and the original homeland of the Slavic Cossacks is the southern outskirts of Russia, adjacent to the Kypchak steppe (the so-called "Wild Field"). As you know, the Cossacks were not only Turkic, but also Russian (for example, Don), Ukrainian (Zaporozhye), Lithuanian (from fugitive Crimean Tatars), Mongolian, Mughal, Nogai, Kyzylbash and others. The author of these lines, who at one time defended his doctoral thesis on the history of the Russian Cossacks in Kazakhstan, agrees with this point of view. To denote the way of life of the Cossack in the eastern sources, there appeared the noun Cossack - "Cossacks", "wanderings", "liberty". Their references are found in the works of many medieval Muslim authors - both Turkic and Persian.
The well-known Kazakh orientalist Yudin summarized all previously published materials on the origin of the term in the article "Towards the etymology of the ethnonym Kazakh (Cossack)", unpublished during his lifetime. Noting at the same time that the results of academic research were still insignificant, since to this day it has not even been possible to establish the language that gave life to the word "Kazakh".

To date, scientists have proposed more than twenty different etymologies: from "kaz ak" and "kyz ak" to "kas sak" and "kai sak" - depending on the scientific or antiscientific preferences of their authors. Such a large number of unsystematic interpretations of the ethnonym "Cossack / Kazakh" in itself is proof of their inconsistency with historical reality. Therefore, serious scientists do not accept them. Especially often the ethnonym "Cossack" is derived from the syllable "Sak", although there is a time gap between Kazakhs and Sakas more than 1,500 years, which makes such hypotheses fantastic and completely unacceptable. A common drawback of all these hypotheses is the external sound similarity with the prototype (ie, the "Cossack" and the modern word "Kazakh"). For this reason, searches were conducted within a predefined lexical sphere that a priori dooms such attempts to failure. Against such superficial sound convergence of various historical terms and ethnonyms, academician V. Bartold sharply noted.

Such unscrupulous methodical techniques that lie beyond the bounds of serious science allow, with a great desire of the authors, to find any ethnonym in any epoch and in any geographical region of the world. Such vulgar and archaic constructions, caricature examples are abundant in modern domestic publications, which came from the pen of home-grown "discoverers of America." Reading such authors, you think, whether seriously write, or joke.
While the hypothesis about the origin of any ethnonym can acquire a scientific character only in cases of its adequacy to the facts of historical phonetics, semantic conformity and mandatory registration of the prototype by various literary monuments.

It should also be emphasized that the necessary array of historical sources is written in many different system languages - Arabic, Armenian, Latin, Chinese, Mongolian, Persian, Persian, Central Asian Farsi, Polish, Old Turkic, Turkic, Old Slavic, Old Uigur / Chagatai and others. Therefore, fixed by means of completely different lexicographic systems, which sometimes causes insurmountable difficulties for researchers. Hence it is clear that the failures associated with the search for adequate answers to the question of the origin of the ethnonym Kazakh are primarily connected with this circumstance. Thus, the question of the time and place of the birth of the word "Cossack", as well as its semantics, remains controversial. In written sources of the pre-Mongol period. It is not fixed. 

As noted, for the first time the word "Cossack" in the post-Mongolian period was recorded in a written monument in Egypt in the middle of the 13th century. It is also known that from the moment of the birth of a new term and before its fixation, a considerable amount of time passes in written speech. The entire population of modern Kazakhstan was called the collective name "Uzbeks", only the population of Zhetysu was given a special name "mogul" (until the 16th century the region was part of Mogulistan). Nomadic Uzbeks began to be divided into Uzbek and Shiban, Uzbek and Cossack and Mangyt-Nogayev, whose rulers (the descendants of Shaiban, Urus and Edyge) were in constant internecine strife. Separation of a group of tribes called "Cossack" or "Kazakh" became an incubation period for the subsequent ripening of a new ethnos under a new name.

In the beginning of the sixteenth century, under the leadership of Muhammad Shaibani, the bulk of the nomadic Uzbeks from Eastern Desht and Kypchak, under the pressure of the Kazakhs and Mangits, moved to Maverannahr, the Fergana Valley and Khorezm. Behind them in the new homeland in Central Asia, the usual name Uzbeks was fixed, for the country - the Uzbek Khanate, now - Uzbekistan. Moreover, nomadic Uzbeks, under the influence of local peoples and the environment, gradually moved to settled, irrigated agriculture, trade and crafts, finally embraced Islam.
And the nomads who migrated originally to Zhetysu and returned after the death of Abulkhair for nomadic reasons needed a new name that would distinguish them from the Uzbeks who left the Central Asia. Therefore, for the tribes remaining in the steppe under the power of the descendants of Urus Khan, the name of free and free nomads of the steppe - Kazakhs, the country - the Kazakh Khanate, today - Kazakhstan was finally fixed. And Kazakhs, unlike Uzbeks, were ideal nomads for a few centuries, a classic model of the nomadic world, and the words "Kazakh" and "nomad" were synonymous. Although Islam was formally considered to be the dominant religion among the Kazakhs, they largely preserved shamanism (Tengrianism), vestiges of which safely exist to this day, which speaks of the vitality of traditional folk beliefs and cults.

From "Cossacks" to "Kazakhs"
Thus, the word "Cossack", originally of social significance, after the departure of Kerey and Zhanibek acquired at first political, and then ethnic meaning, turned into a new ethnonym - Kazakhs, i.e. into the self-name of the new people. Originated in 1465/1466 years. the independent Kazakh Khanate became the first national state in Central Asia created by the present-day people, and not by its predecessors or historically ancestors. With the passage of time, certain differences in language, culture, way of life, customs and customs arose between the nomadic Uzbeks of Central Asia and yesterday's Kazakh Uzbeks of Kazakhstan. Although once it was a single superethnos with a common history, name, territory, tribal structure, economy and way of life. This still brings together two fraternal Turkic-speaking people - Kazakhs and Uzbeks. It is no accident that the Kazakhs remembered for a long time: "My ancestors, my beginning - Uzbeks."

Kazakh ethnos has a very complex and ramified generic structure. But it is interesting that among the Kazakhs there was not a separate clan or tribe "Kazakh", while the Azerbaijanis, for example, have a genus "Kazakh", now living in the Kazakh region of this republic. Thus, throughout the vast territory of the former East Desht-i Kypchak: from the Altai and Alatau to Zhaiyk, from Southern Siberia to Tashkent, on the basis of numerous local and alien tribes and clans, there was a large Turkic-speaking people - the Kazakh, as part of a single centralized state - the Kazakh Khanate.

It seems that the formation of an independent Kazakh khanate, the addition of a single nationality and the consolidation of a new name behind it, the completion of the formation of a single language are the links of a single historical process - the emergence in Eurasia in the 14th-17th centuries. a new passionary ethnos - Kazakh. Although it is established that the history of the people and the history of the ethnonym may sometimes not coincide. However, the case with the ethnonym "Kazakh" is a happy exception. However, on this adventure of the new ethnonym did not end.

If our ancestors always called themselves Kazakhs, then not all neighbors recognized this self-name of the people. So, between the 16th and 19th centuries, Kazakhs were known in Russia under the name of "Cossacks", "Cossack horde" or "Cossack horde". After joining the Tsarist Russia, the Kazakhs, so as not to be confused with the Russian Cossacks (Orenburg, Siberian, Urals and Semirechensk) and the Tien-Shan Kyrgyz themselves, were called "Kaisaks", "Kirghiz-Cossacks", "Cossacks-Kirghiz", "Kirghiz", "Kaisaks", and in everyday life simply "Kyrgyz". This continued until the October Revolution of 1917, which returned to the Kazakhs their true name. True, not immediately.

To sum up, it should be noted that the ethnonym has experienced the difficult and confusing fate Kazakh, which, despite all the historical upheavals, has shown remarkable vitality, and remained intact and came down to our days. But it could disappear, as it often happened in history.


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