кыргыздар, kırgızdar, قیرغیزدار
|c. 5 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Kyrgyz, Russian, Chinese|
|Predominantly Sunni Islam|
^a At the 2009 census, ethnic Kyrgyz constituted roughly 71% of population of Kyrgyzstan (5.36 million).
What does their name mean[change | change source]
It also means "imperishable", "inextinguishable" and "immortal".[source?]
Where are they from[change | change source]
They come from Southern Siberia since at least 201 BC. They descend from the Yenisei Kyrgyz. The Yenisei Kyrgyz lived in the upper Yenisey River valley, central Siberia. The earliest Kyrgyz were also related to the Sakas (Scythians), Wusun, Dingling, Mongols and Xiongnu.
History[change | change source]
In 840, the Kyrgyz allied with the Tang dynasty to defeat the Uyghur Khaganate (Mongolia). The Kyrgyz qaghan (king) killed the Uyghur qaghan and rescued Princess Taihe. They moved to Jeti-su and spread south to the Tian Shan mountains and Xinjiang. The Kyrgyz then lived peacefully around Central Asia and Xinjiang, as vassals to the Tang.
The Tanghuiyao (8–10 c) called them Tsze-gu (Kirgut) and Xiajiasi. According to Tang records Xiajia could mean "yellow head and red face". That's what the Uyghurs called the Kyrgyz. Their tamga (tribe symbol) is identical to the modern day Kyrgyz tamga.
Russia then took over, Modern Kyrgyzstan declared independence in 1991.
By the 16th century they lived in Siberia, Xinjiang, Tian Shan, Pamir-Alay, Middle Asia, Urals, Kazakhstan, etc. In China, the term Kyrgyz also refers to the oldest Turkic tribes that lived there (the Tiele and Yeniseian Kyrgyz).
Genes: they look East Asian[change | change source]
Religion[change | change source]
But they were originally shamanist. Arab traders travelled along the Silk Road and arrived by the 8th century. But the Kyrgyz were not immediately converted. The Persian text Hudud al-'alam, said that the Kyrgyz "venerate the Fire and burn the dead".
Chinese-Kyrgyz[change | change source]
The Kyrgyz-Chinese are one of the 56 ethnic groups of China. There are more than 145,000 Kyrgyz livinng in China. They are known as Kē'ěrkèzī zú (Chinese: 柯尔克孜族). They live mainly in Xinjiang.
In the 19th century, the Russians conquered Kyrgyz land and drove many to China. The Kyrgyz had a better life in China than in Russia. The Russians fought against the Muslim nomadic Kyrgyz. But because there were so many Chinese-Kyrgyz, the Russians stopped because they did not want to fight against the Chinese. The Muslim Kyrgyz were sure that in any upcoming conflict, China would defeat Russia.
Some are called the "Fuyu Kyrgyz". They are Yenisei Kirghiz (Khakas people) people. In the 17th c, the Dzungar khanate moved them from the Yenisei river to Dzungaria. In the 18th c, the Qing dynasty then defeated Dzungaria and moved them to Manchuria. They now live in Wujiazi Village, Fuyu County, Heilongjiang. Their language is related to the Khakas language (the Fuyü Gïrgïs dialect).
Language[change | change source]
They speak a Turkic language. It used to be written in Turkic old script. In Kyrgyzstan, it is written with the Cyrillic alphabet. In China it is written with an Arabic script. President Atambaev of Kyrgyzstan said switching from Cyrillic to Latin (like Kazakhstan had) may hurt communication with Kyrgyz people in Russia.
Sources[change | change source]
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