In 1991, new country - the Republic of Kazakhstan - appeared on the geopolitical map of the world.
Kazakhstan has a multi-millennia history and culture. One of the central question is the origin of it's native people, Kazakhs, and the development of their statehood, culture, traditions, and relations with other civilisations.
If written sourses are examined, it can be concluded that the Kazakh statehood was completely formed by 1470 when sultans Janibek and Girey organised numerous tribes in the south-eastern areas and combined them into a single 'Kazakh' tribe.
In the beginning ot the 16th century, when Kasymkhan ruled over these lands, the Kazakh khanate strengthened: its borders were expanded and the khanate included the cities of Turkestan, Otrar, Sairam, Sauran, Sygnak, Suzak and Chimkent which were located on the Syr Darya river. Kazakhs became well-known both in Europe and Asia.
The 16th century is a milestone in the Muslim world history. This was the time when a new age began. V. Bartold, an outstanding orientalist, wrote: "In the new history of Islam, the pace of changing dynasties, the general instability of power, and small states where no patriotism could exist came to there opposite - uniting of states which took place there. We see the Muslim empire of Great Mogul in India, then Turkey, Persia...". That was the approximate time when the Kazakh, Bukhar, and Yarken khanates were established in Central Asia. Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kyrgyzes, and Karakalpaks, all speaking Turkic languages, claimed their rights in the historic arena.
The Kazakh khanate existed until 1718 when Taukekhan, the last khan of all the Kazaks, died and numerous steppe khans, who governed small groups of Kazakhs on small areas, took over the power, this was the beginning of disintegration and recession which resulted in joining of the khanate to the Russian Empire.
The ethnic name 'Kazakh', then used as the name ot the state, is a Turkic word. In the opinion of the majority of investigators, it means 'a free man'. Kazakhs originally nomads and farmers who loved freedom and owned tremendous herds, succulent pastures and rich lands in the foothills and in river valleys.
However, when speaking about Kazakhs and their first state, the Kazakh khanate, it should be mentioned that the origin of the people as well as the origin of their statehood are rooted in a very distant time.
Even in the Bronze Age, four thousand years ago, the land of Kazakhstan was inhabited by the socalled Andron and Begazy-Dandybai tribes. They were engaged in farming and life-stock breeding, and were excellent warriors who even mastered battle chariots. Their society was already split and consisted of ordinary people and chariot warriors. They believed that the warriors' guardian was the Sun God to whom they dedicated their religious hymns.
Pictures with chariots still exist on rocks in places where the ancient people established their tribal sanctums with the sky as a roof. People carved scenes of ritual dances, sun-headed gods, huge bulls and camels personifying ancient gods on the sun-burnt black rocks.
Scattered over the Kazakh steppe, the burial mounds of noble warriors have impressive dimensions for both the mound and the grave itself. The most well-known are the Bergazy and Dandybai necropolises in the Sary-Arca, Tegisken and Priaralie areas. They contain the armament of dead men - axes, bronze daggers, and spears, and sometimes even horses put into battle chariots, in their graves.
People of that age were not only excellent warriors, farmers and live-stock breeders, but also remarkable metallurgists. They made axes, daggers, knives and jewels of bronze, and were the first to start development of the copper deposits which are still in operation - the Zhezkazgan and Sayak mines.
These people lived in large settlements, with dug-outs and above-ground dwellings. Also, they created large towns, surrounded by walls and moats, where houses were constructed strictly according to a layout. Such cities were inhabited by warriors and craftsmen, priests and farmers. These tribe lived in the territory of Kazakhstan for about a thousand years: from the 17th century B.C. to the 8th or 9th centuries A.D.
Then they gave way to Sakies. That was the name given to these people by the ancient Persians. The Chinese name was 'se' and the Greek name was Scythians. They were nomads, semi-nomads and farmers. However, most of all, they were great riders who learned how to use a bow while galloping at full speed. These were Scythian riders who became the prototype for fearless half-man and half horse centaurs.
In the 7th century B.C., lightning quick detachments of steppe knights from mountain and steppe Eurasian areas, primarily from Kazakhstan, crossed the Caucasus ridge and invaded the Front Asia, devastating towns, palaces and temples.
Their success frightened the Assyrian sovereign Assargadon (680-669 B.C.) who was then forced to consider allying with them and even gave his daughter away in marriage to the Scythian leader Partatua.
The Scythian cavalry appeared at the walls of Urartu kingdom, then in Palestine, then moved forward on to Egypt. There were also Scythians who destroyed the Urartian fort Teishebaini. The Bible prophet Jeremiah cried: "These are people moving from a north land... having bows and short spears... Their voice is roaring as a sea, they are galloping on their horses making a line like one man... Just hearing about them, we loose our heart... the dagger of the enemy is horrifying us...".
Only at the end of the 6th century B.C., did the Scythians return home bringing with them not only heir spoils but also the knowledge of the Midian, Urartian and Assyrian culture. Then Scythians had bloody wars with the Achaemenids. That was a battle with the Scythians where the powerful Cyrus the Great, "the king of Parsuash country frpm the Achaemenid house", was killed in 530 B.C.. The Scythian queen Tomiris ordered his head put into a wine-skin filled with human blood.
Then, having made an alliance with the Persians, the Scythians conducted a war against ancient Greece and became famous for their victory at the city of Phoermopilis. They successfully resisted the soldiers of Alexander the Great and blocked the way of the "conqueror of lhe world" toward the East anoss the Yaksart (Syr Darya) river.
In the 4th - 3rd centuries B.C., Scythians established their first state in the territory of Kazakhstan with the center in Zhetusy ("the land of seven rivers"), in south-eastern Kazakhstan. Scythian kings were not only warriors but also supreme priests. Scythians had their own writen language, mythology and remarkable art. This was called "the art of beast style" where characters were beasts of prey and herbivores and the dominant idea was the struggle between them. Their masterpieces of bonze and gold now decorate the collections ot many renowned museums in the world.
The Scythians buried their kings, noble warriors and priests in huge mounts and 'gave' the dead numerous gold jewels, armament, ceramic and wooden utensils as well as many other everyday items.
A Scythian burial mound, Issyk, was found near the city of Almaty. The mound is now well-known. Beneath the mound there was a grave lined with fir-tree logs containing the remains of a Scythian king whose cloth was completely covered with golden plates and who had a pointed hat on his head. The hat was decorated with figures of winged horses symbolising the Sun God. His armament consisted of a long sword and a short dagger. Clay jars with koumiss (fermented mare's milk), wooden trays with meat and precious bowls of gold and silver were found with him.
Both Androns as well as their descendants Scythians were the distant ancestors of Kazakhs. The name of 'Usuns', the people who came on the place of the Scythians in lhe 3rd century B.C. to the 3rd cenlury A.D., is still preserved in the name of one large Kazakh clan. Today, the Kazakhs-yisuns live at the same place where centuries ago lived their ancestors Usuns.
The majority of historians believe that the Androns, Scythians and Usuns had a constitution of a European type which is supported by anthropological research. However, since the fifth0sixth centuries A.D. representatives of the mongol race appeared on the steppes of Eurasia, including the Kazakh steppe, and their number increased rapidly.
The language situation was also rather difficult. Until recently, the common opinion was that Kazakhstan lands were inhabited mainly by those who spoke languages of Indo-European and Indo-Iranian subfamilies. However, now there is some evidence which proves that some of the Bronze Age tribes, especially the Scythians, spoke proto-Turkic languages.
A silver bowl with an inscription of 26 characters on the bottom was found in the 'old man' grave, the Issyk mound. This inscription have not yet been decrypted. Some scientists believe that it is one of Iranian languages, others - that it is a proto-Turkic one. In any case, this was the time when come the appearance and the language of the Medieval and modern Kazakhs, their psychological stereotypes, customs and many features of culture and live-style began their development. The middle of the first millennium A.D. is a true milestone in the history of Kazakhs and for all Turkic peoples.
An ancient Turkic source glorifying the famous warrior Kul-Tegin who belonged to the royal family, said about the beginning of the new age in the great steppe: "When the blue sky above and the brown earth below were created, then the human race was created. My ancestors Bumyn-kagan and Istemi-kagan reigned the human race. Having started their reign, they protected the state and established the laws of the Turkic people". The empire of ancient Turks stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Black sea.
At the same time, the ethnic environment also began changing and majority became Turkic-language peoples whose centre was in Altai. The term 'Turk' was fixed in written sources in the second half of the 6th century.
The archaeological investigations of Turkic memorials allows them to be related with specific Turkic tribal groups. Archaeological excavations in Sayan Altaic mountains showed that there were cultures which could be related to the early Kyrgyzs, Kypchaks, and Oguzs. Tribal wars, struggle for power and pastures on the steppe, mountains and valleys of Kazakhstan caused some Turkic tribes to move south and settle in Central Asia (Turgeshes, Karluks, Uzbeks, Oguzes, and Seljuks), in South Asia and the Caucasus (Turkmen and Seljuks), and in Europe (Kangars-Pechenegs, Kypchaks-Polovtsy, Turks-Ogyzes, and Karakalpaks).
In the 6th century to the beginning of the 8th century, the time of the Great Mongols' invasion, several states existed in the region successively replacing one another: the Western-Turkic, Tyurgesh and Karluk kaganates, and the states of the Oguzes, Karakhanids, Kimaks, and Kypchaks. After the invasion in the early 8th century, Uluses of the Mongol empire formed - Dzhuchi and Dzhagataya, which gave birth to the Ak-Horde and later to the Kazakh khanate itself.
All these states had mixed economies. Tribes of pastoral people were found adjacent to the tribes engaged in farming, and the residents of steppe and towns complemented each other. The cities of Taraz, Otrar, Ispidzhab, and Talkhir were on the Great Silk Road which connected long time ago the East and the West: Japan, Korea and China with Central Asia, Iran, the Seljuks' state, and the Russian and Byzantine empires.
That was the way of transportation of different goods: silk, fabrics, precious stones and silver, medicines and dyes, selected horses and elephants, cheetahs and rhinoceroses, eagles and ostriches for sale or as valuable gifts; and slaves. The arts of dancing and painting, architecture and music were spread along the Great Silk Road. It was the way of propagation of religions: Manicheaism and Buddhism, Christianity and Islam which, since the 8th century, became the predominant religion of Kazakhs. At the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th centuries, the sacred object of all the Kazakhs - Hadji Akhmed Yassawi complex, was erected in the city of Turkestan on the Syr Darya bank.
The people who lived on the territory of Kazakhstan absorbed the best ideas and achievements of other civilizations, and have made their contribution into the treasury of the world culture: their mobile houses 'yurts', saddle and stirrups, the art of conducting a battle on horsebacks, carpet patterns and silver jewels, melodious songs and music that sounds like running steppe horses.
Today, the ancient land of Kazakhs is in the period of recreation and development of its statehood, economy, and culture. The country is striving for an estimable place in the international community.
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