Kyrgyz (also spelled Kirgiz,
Kirghiz) are a Turkic ethnic
group found primarily in Kyrgyzstan.
There are several etymological theories on the ethnonym
Krgyz is a derived from "forty", with -Iz being an old plural
suffix, referring to a collection of forty tribes.
Kyrgyz also means "imperishable", "inextinguishable" or "immortal".
This version has an obvious popular appreciation. Historical
evidence for many conflicts with other peoples also supports this
theory. The Chinese transcription "Tse-gu" (Gekun,
allows to restore the pronunciation of the ethnonym
as Kirkut (Kirgut)
and Kirkur (Kirgur)
forms go back to the earliest variation Kirkün
) of the term "Kyrgyz" meaning "Field People",
"Field Huns". The term Kirkün
went through a notable
evolution: Kirkün (Kirgün) = Kirkut (Kirgut) = Kirkur (Kirkor,
Kirgur) = Kyrkyz (Kyrgyz)
. The evolution is traced well
chronologically. The semantic connection between kün (gün)
is a chronologically consecutive development of
the concept kün = "female progenitor" = her offsprings =
"tribe" = "a people"
at the last stage coincides with the
gür = "people"
, like in the Khitan
Application of affixes of plurality "t" - "r" - "z" in the ethnonym
shaded the initial sound, and then also the
meaning, making its roots enigmatic. By the Mongol epoch, the
initial meaning of the word Kirkun
was already lost,
evidenced by differing readings of the earlier reductions of the
. The change of ethnonym produced a new
version of an origin, and the memory about their steppe motherland,
recorded in Uanshi, survived only as a recollection of the initial
birthplace of forty women. Subsequently, however, that recollection
was also lost.Kir-kis means "leader of the people with boars
totem". kis,kas[-er],khiz,khuz, khi, khion (hunn) means boar.
Early color image of a Kyrgyz family,
The early Kyrgyz people, known as Yenisei
or Xiajiasi (黠戛斯), first appear in written records in
the Chinese annals of the Sima Qian
Records of the Grand
(compiled 109 BC to 91 BC), as Gekun
(鬲昆 or 隔昆). The Middle Age Chinese composition
of the 8-10th
century transcribed the name "Kyrgyz" Tsze-gu
(Kirgut), and their tamga
identical with the tamga of present day Kyrgyz tribes Azyk, Bugu,
Cherik, Sary Bagysh and few others. According to recent historical
findings, Kyrgyz history dates back to 201 BC. The Yenisei Kyrgyz
lived in the upper Yenisey
River valley, central Siberia.
Yenisei Kyrgyzes in the Late Antique times were a part of the
tribes. Later, in the Early
Middle Age, Yenisei Kyrgyzes were under the rule of Göktürk
Kaganate and Uigur
Kaganate. In 840 a revolt led by Yenisei
Kyrgyzes brought down the Uigur Kaganate, and brought the Yenisei
Kyrgyzes to a dominating position in the former Turkic Kaganate
. With the rise to
power, the center of the Kyrgyz Kaganate moved to Jeti-su, and
brought about a spread south of the Kyrgyz people, to reach
Shan mountains and Eastern Turkestan, bringing them
immediately to the borders of China and Tibet. By the 16th century the carriers of the
ethnonym "Kirgiz" lived in South Siberia, Eastern Turkestan, Tian Shan, Pamir Alay, Middle Asia,
Urals (among Bashkorts), in
In the Tian Shan and Eastern Turkestan
area, the term "Kyrgyz"
retained its unifying political
designation, and became a general ethnonym for the Yenisei Kirgizes
and aboriginal Turkic tribes that presently constitute the Kyrgyz
population. Though it is obviously impossible to directly
identify the Yenisei and Tien Shan Kyrgyzes, a trace of their ethnogenetical
connections is apparent in archaeology, history, language and
Majority of modern researchers came to a
conclusion that the ancestors of the southern Kyrgyz tribes had
their origin in the most ancient tribal unions of Sakas
300,000 Yenisei Kyrgyzes survived in the Tuva depression until
A Kyrgyz family
cites Chinese and Muslim sources of
the 7th–12th centuries AD that describe the Kyrgyz as having red,
sometimes blond hair, blue or green eyes, and white skin. These
features were totally different from those of modern Kyrgyz, which
suggest in the 8th century AD that the Kyrgyz were
related to the Slavs
descent of the Kyrgyz from the autochthonous Siberian population is confirmed by recent genetic
Remarkably, 63% of modern Kyrgyz men share Haplogroup R1a1
(~60%), and even Icelanders
(25%). Haplogroup R1a1 (Y-DNA) is
often believed to be a marker of the Proto-Indo-European language
Because of the processes of migration, conquest, intermarriage, and
assimilation, many of the Kyrgyz peoples that now inhabit Central
and Southwest Asia are of mixed origins, often stemming from
fragments of many different tribes, though they speak closely
The Kyrgyz state reached its greatest expansion after defeating the
in 840 AD.
Kyrgyz quickly moved as far as the Tian Shan range and maintained their dominance over this
territory for about 200 years. In the 12th century,
however, the Kyrgyz domination had shrunk to the Altai Range and
Mountains as a result
of the rising Mongol expansion.
the rise of the Mongol Empire
13th century, the Kyrgyz migrated south. In 1207, after the
establishment of Yekhe Mongol Ulus (Mongol empire), Genghis Khan's
oldest son Jochi occupied Kyrgyzstan without resistance. They
remained a Mongol vassal until the late 14th century.
Various Turkic peoples
until 1685, when they came under the control of the Kalmyks
Kyrgyz are predominantly Muslims
was first introduced by Arab
traders who travelled along the Silk Road
in the seventh and eight century.
In the 8th
century, orthodox Islam reached the Fergana valley with the Uzbeks.
Atheism, on the other hand, took some following in the northern
regions under Russian communist influence. As of today, few
cultural rituals of Shamanism
practiced alongside with Islam particularly in Central Kyrgyzstan.
During a July 2007 interview, Bermet
, the daughter of Askar
, the former President of Kyrgyzstan, stated that
is increasingly taking root even in the
northern portion which came under communist influence. She
emphasized that many mosques
have been built
and that the Kyrgyz are increasingly devoting themselves to
, which she noted was "not a bad thing in
itself. It keeps our society more moral, cleaner."
The Kyrgyz in China
Kyrgyz form one of the 56 ethnic
groups officially recognized by the People's
Republic of China. There are more than 145,000 Kyrgyz in
They are known in China as Kēěrkèzī
found mainly in the Kizilsu
Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture in the southwestern part of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, with a smaller
remainder found in the neighboring Wushi , Aksu, Shache (Yarkand), Yingisar, Taxkorgan and Pishan (Guma), and in Tekes, Zhaosu (Monggolkure), Emin (Dorbiljin), Bole (Bortala), Jinghev (Jing) and Gonliu in northern
Xinjiang. Several hundred Kyrgyz whose forefathers
emigrated to Northeast China more than 200 years ago now live in
Wujiazi Village in Fuyu County, Heilongjiang Province.
Certain segments of the Kyrgyz in China are followers of Tibetan Buddhism
Notable Kyrgyz people
- Chinghiz Aitmatov -
- Askar Akayev - politician,
scientist, first President of
- Kurmanbek Bakiyev -
politician, current President of Kyrgyzstan
- Kurmanjan Datka - politician,
- Felix Kulov - politician, former
Prime Minister of
- Abdylas Maldybaev -
- Zamira Sydykova -
- Omurbek Tekebayev -
politician, speaker of the Kyrgyz parliament
- Kasym Tynystanov - a prominent
Kyrgyz scientist, politician and poet, first minister of
- Nasirdin Isanov - politician,
first Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan
- Orzubek Nazarov - former
World Boxing Association
- Bibisara Beishenalieva -
- Talant Duishebaev - handball
player, second in the IHF World Player of the Century
- Pulleyblank 1990, p.108.
- Zuev, Yu.A., Horse Tamgas from Vassal Princedoms
(Translation of Chinese composition "Tanghuyao" of 8-10th
centuries), Kazakh SSR Academy of Sciences, Alma-Ata, 1960, p.
103 (In Russian)
- Abramzon S.M. The Kirgiz and their ethnogenetical
historical and cultural connections, Moscow, 1971, p. 45
- Abramzon S.M., p. 31
- Abramzon S.M., pp. 80-81
- Abramzon S.M., p. 30
- V.V. Bartold, The Kyrgyz: A Historical Essay, Frunze,
1927. Reprinted in V.V. Bartold, Collected Works, Volume
II, Part 1, Izd. Vostochnoi Literatury, Moscow, 1963, p. 480
- Mirfatyh Zakiev, Origins of the Turks and
Tatars, Part Two, Third Chapter, sections 109-100, 2002.
Retrieved on 15 May 2009
- The Eurasian Heartland: A continental perspective
on Y-chromosome diversity
- Wells 2001, Karafet 2001, Zerjal 2002, Underhill 2000, and
- EurasiaNet Civil Society - Kyrgyzstan: Time to
Ponder a Federal System - Ex-President's Daughter
References and further reading
- Abramzon, S.M. The Kirgiz and their ethnogenetical
historical and cultural connections, Moscow, 1971, , ISBN
5-655-00518-2 (in Russian).
- Kyzlasov, L.R. "Mutual relationship of terms Khakas
and Kyrgyz in written sources of 6-12th centuries".
Peoples of Asia and Africa, 1968, (in Russian).
- Zuev, Yu.A. "Kirgiz - Buruts". Soviet Ethnography, 1970, No 4,
- Shahrani, M. Nazif. (1979) The Kirghiz and Wakhi of
Afghanistan: Adaptation to Closed Frontiers and War.
University of Washington Press. 1st paperback edition with new
preface and epilogue (2002). ISBN 0-295-98262-4.
- Kyrgyz Republic, by Rowan Stewart and Susie Steldon,
by Odyssey publications.
- Books by
- Aado Lintrop, "Hereditary Transmission in Siberian Shamanism and the
Concept of the Reality of Legends"
- 2002 Smithsonian folklife festival
- Kyrgyz Healing Practices: Some Field Notes
- Culture of
Kyrgyz Republic.Well made JAPANESE pages.
- Kyrgyz Textile Art