Who is Kazakhs? /Kazakhs short history/

The Kazakhs, also spelled Qazaqs, are a Turkic people native to Central Asia and Eastern Europe, primarily inhabiting Kazakhstan. They also reside in parts of northern Uzbekistan, the border regions of Russia, the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern China, and the Bayan-Ölgii Province in western Mongolia.

The Kazakh identity originated in the medieval period and was significantly influenced by the establishment of the Kazakh Khanate between 1456 and 1465. This emergence followed the disintegration of the Golden Horde, leading several tribes, under the rule of sultans Janibek and Kerei, to break away from the Khanate of Abu'l-Khayr Khan with the aim of forming a powerful khanate.

The term "Kazakh" is used to refer to ethnic Kazakhs, while "Kazakhstani" refers to all citizens of Kazakhstan, irrespective of their ethnicity.

Etymology: The origin of the term "Kazakh" is associated with the Turkic verb "qaz" (meaning wanderer, brigand, vagabond, warrior, free, independent) or the Proto-Turkic word "khasaq," referring to a wheeled cart used by Kazakhs to transport their yurts and belongings. Another theory suggests that it comes from the ancient Turkic word "qazğaq," denoting a person who wanders and seeks gain.

History: Throughout history, Kazakhstan has been home to various nomadic societies, including the Sakas, Xiongnu, Western Turkic Khaganate, Kipchak Khaganate, Mongol Empire, Golden Horde, and the Kazakh Khanate established in 1465. The Kazakhs, emerging as an ethno-linguistic group in the early 15th century, formed a powerful confederation along the Silk Road and gained wealth through trade.

The Kazakh identity emerged from the nomads of the Jochid Ulus (Golden Horde), collectively known as Uzbeks, during the 15th century. The Kazakhs, forming a distinct group, were part of the Chinggisid uluses, sharing common language, political ideology, royal lineage, ethnic identity, and Sunni Islam with other Central Asian peoples.

Language: The Kazakh language belongs to the Turkic language family, specifically the Kipchak (Northwestern) group. It lacks phonemic vowel length, and its script has undergone changes, transitioning from Arabic to Cyrillic due to Russian influence. Efforts are ongoing to return to the Latin script.

Three Kazakh Juz (Hordes): Modern Kazakhs, while tribalism is fading, traditionally associate themselves with one of the three Zhuz (hordes): the Senior Horde (Uly juz), the Middle Horde (Orta juz), and the Junior Horde (Kishi juz). This division has historical roots and is more of a tradition than a necessity in contemporary Kazakh society.

This overview provides a glimpse into the rich history, cultural identity, and linguistic characteristics of the Kazakh people.