The Place of Azerbaijan in the System of Mutual Relationship Between the Nomadic Steppe and Settled Oasis: from the Huns to the Kipchaks

(On R. A. Huseynzadeh’s publication “The Turks of the Desht-I-Kipchak and people around them: a symbiosis of the nomadic steppe and the settled oasis”. Baku, 2019)

A lot of books, theses on this topic have been written, both in the former USSR and abroad. However, most of them include contradictions, and, it must be admitted, contrapositions. The aim of this is very simple: to diminish the role of the Turkic-speaking ethnoses in forming and developing of nations and states of the Eurasian area.

The author of the above given book has spent over 60 years on researching the topic and let through his cognitive system, if one can say so, a huge amount of information and came to conclusion that it all must be published…

The given topic is an integral part of the general Turkic problem. It embraces the past of both the ethnoses of the Turkic-speaking family and relevant nations and states of Eurasia.

The author studies mutual relationship of the Turks of the Desht-I-Kipchak with the world around during a millennium – from the Huns (the IV century) to the Kipchaks (the XIII century). The descendants of the Huns and Kipchaks still live in Central Asia, Western Asia and Asia Minor, in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, including Azerbaijan. It is not accidental that the Azerbaijani language belongs to the Oghuz-Kipchak language family.

As to the Desht-I-Kipchak directly, as the historical megaregion of Central Eurasia is named in the sources of the XI-XV centuries, this is a territory from Altai in the east to the Danube in the west and from Great Bulgaria in the north to the Crimea and Caucasus in the south. Its length is 4000 km from east to west, and its width is about 1000 km from north to south.

Covering the problem of mutual relations of the nomadic steppe and settled oasis of the Desht-I-Kipchak within the territorial and historical scale from the Huns to the Kipchaks, the author recounts both military and political stories and the problems of ethnogenesis and glottogenesis of the countries, tribes and peoples, related to the studied period. Based on historical facts ancient historians preserved in the west and the east, he focuses on that the Turks existed since the Antiquity and became famous as the subject of history since the IV century. They were, particularly, the Huns and the Sabirs, the Avars and the Bulgars, the Pechenegs and the Khazars, the Kipchaks and the Tatars. Their original ethnonyms were Hunni, Gaoche, Tele. However, these ethnodefinitions do not embrace all Turkic-speaking people.

Both the Huns’ Empire of Attila and its first successor, the great Turkic khaganate (552-745), found by the Altai tribe of Tyukue (Chin.) during the Great migration of peoples from the east to the west in the IV-VII centuries, seized nearly the whole territory of Eurasia. It is then the symbiosis of the nomadic steppe and settled oasis originated, and along with it the “Eternal Turkic el (state) from sea to sea” (the territory of Eurasia from the Yellow Sea in the east to the Mediterranean in the west is meant). The author proves that later on, there functioned various Turkic states, which left a trace in the history of many nations and states. They were Western-Turkic and Eastern-Turkic, Turgesh and the Third Uyghur, Kara-khanids’ and Kyrgyz, Avar and Khazar, Kimek-Kipchak khaganates, as well as Volga Bulgaria, the Seljuk Empire and the Azerbaijani Ildenizid Sultanate.

The book also provides the study of other important aspects of the general Turkic problem. That is the definition of “a Turk” and “Eternal Turkic El (state) from sea to sea”, the Kipchaks and the Great Steppe, which became famous as Desht-I-Kipchak since the XI century, which presents not only a landscape but also a beaten track of Islam and civilizations, including the Muslim one.

In the Caucasus, including Azerbaijan, the Desht-I-Kipchak and its “owners”, the Kipchaks, their role in the events, were well known. Along with that, like in every spot of the world, here the great conqueror of the Antiquity Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) was also well-known. Therefore, it is not accidental that the great poet Nizami, in his Eskandarnama, one of the five books of the Khamseh (Quinary), dedicated a special part to Alexander and the Kipchaks, titled “Eskandar goes to the Great Steppe”. By that he emphasized that the Kipchaks were a great phenomenon in the world history and at the same time he spanned the Antiquity and the Middle Ages, connecting Alexander, that’s the western world, with the Desht-I-Kipchak, that’s with the mysterious and unbounded east where the conqueror went to.

According to the author, that is of deep historical and philosophical significance for our history and science. Firstly, the poet related the events of the world history to an important epoch of Turkic-Kipchak spreading in vast Eurasia. Secondly, Nizami confirmed the idea of universal history. Thirdly, he stressed that the east knew the west and vice versa, and stated their interrelations and mutual influence. Fourthly, on that basis, our poet and thinker made us understand that the evolution of Eurasia is inseparable from the Hellenistic period, which drew, in its turn, many things from cultural treasury of the east, where Alexander the Great took his main field, dreaming to create the world’s empire, that’s, to unite the west and east under his aegis. Here is the path from poetry to history…

Getting into the core of history according to poetic life of those days, R. Huseynzadeh states that Nizami’s contemporary, the Jacobite patriarch of the east Michael the Syrian (1126-1199), dedicated a special book in his Chronicles to the Turks, paying attention to their relations with the South Caucasus. He also preserved information on the Turks of Desht-I-Kipchak, telling the stories, related to the Oghuz people, who stated about themselves twice in the world history: firstly, in the early Middle Ages, when they were mentioned in the Old Turkic Script (also known as Orkhon-Yenisey Script), Turkic monuments of the VII century, and the second time, when they took part in the creation and prosperity of the vast and powerful Seljuk Empire (1038-1157), which occupied a noticeable place in the history of the XI-XII centuries. The author also emphasized that it was then that a mass migration of the Turks from the east to the west took place.

In a certain degree, all these events are related to the Huns and the Kipchaks, which can be seen from numerous publications on the Huns’ epoch and the history of the Azerbaijani Ildenizid Sultanate, which Ziya Bunyadov’s beautiful monograph is dedicated to.

The book tells us that among Eurasian states of the Middle Ages, Byzantine had the most long-lasting relations with the Turks. Therefore, relationships between them belong to a number of engaged problems of the Middle Ages, for it touches the destiny of modern states and nations of Eastern Europe. As far back as the VI century, the first Uygur Embassy was opened in Constantinople. The Avars’ appearance in the capital of Byzantine aroused interest, people were collecting to look at “barbarians”, into the hair of the men of which colourful tapes were plaited, a nomads’ characteristic headgear.

According to the author, the most striking example is related to the Khazars. So, to strengthen the union with them, the Byzantine Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (717-741) married his son Constantine to Tzitzak (a flower), a kinswoman of a Khazarian khagan, who was named Irina (world) after christening. By her khazarian name, the male robes called Tzitzakia started a fashion craze in the court. Her son, Leo IV, who ruled the Empire from 775 till 780, was called Khazarin, because of his origin in the mother’s line. His son, Constantine VI (780-797) also was an Emperor. Suburbs of Constantinople were called “Khazar”, where khazar ambassadors and merchants stayed and some Khazars always resided. They were an elite unite of the Byzantine army and served as personal bodyguards of the Emperors.

Looking through a huge number of historical written sources, the author comes to conclusion that the Turkic immigration to the Byzantine borders started in the second half of the XI century and became noticeable in the next century, that’s, at the height of the Kipchaks’ activity.

During the post-Seljuk period, the Turks became popular in the South Caucasus, where the Sultanate of  Eldiguzids (1136-1225) was found by a Kipchak Shams al-Din Ildeniz (1136-1176). Not only Eldiguzids, but also Georgian kings relied upon the Kipchaks’ military force. Thus, in 1118 David the Builder (1089-1125) invited 40 thousand Kipchak militants and their families to serve. Another Georgian king George III (1156-1184) also invited several tens of thousands of Kipchaks to his army. As a result, a noticeable number of Kipchaks settled in eastern Georgia. Among their descendants are Azerbaijanis, still living there nowadays.

During the marches of conquest from the IX to early XX century, wars often ended with the fact that the winners started settled life, created governments, and took part in local and international events. The Turks’ migration flow from Central Asia to Western Asia intensified since the XI century, assuming a mass character. That was closely related to the activity of the Seljuk Empire, and from the XIII century – with Tatar-Mongol conquests.

Starting with the Huns, in the IV-XII centuries, Turkic tribes, including the Avars and Sabirs, Khazars and Bulgars, Pechenegs and Oghuzs, Kipchaks and Seljuks, became popular in Eurasia where they played a marked role in all what happened. Among general Turks’ mass, the Huns’ and Kipchaks’ waves appeared a more significant, indicative, mobile and important landmark due to their activities and as a result of the influence they had on other tribes, ethnoses and nations. In this connection, one can summarize that the Huns as well as the Kipchaks are two huge and powerful multiple Turkic “superethnoses”. They had an influence greater than other Turkic strata had, on the world history and the destiny of most tribes, ethnoses, and peoples, and thus stuck in the memory of the contemporaries, who tried to pose as them.

In this connection, the author gives an interesting fact which was confirmed in Mahmud al-Kashgari’s writing, who said the following about the Turks: “Allah the Great and Almighty said: I have a troop which I called at-Turk, and located in the east. If I am angry with some people, I will make them obey Me by its help!” Naturally, these are not Allah’s words but the Turks of those times were so powerful that there appeared such epithets that elevated the Turks to the heaven and related them to Allah.

The settled oasis did not like bellicose nomads but used them in their selfish ends, to reach their goals. That’s how China, the Arabian caliphate and Byzantine acted. Nevertheless, according to Rawendi, a historian of the XII century, “Praise be to Allah, in the lands of the Arabs, Persians, Byzantines and Russians, the Turks have power and there is a strong fear in their hearts before their swords”.

First Turkic scientists and writers appeared during the reign of the Kara-Khanid Khanate. They are Yusuf Balasaguni and Mahmud al-Kashgari. Their creative works can be called the start of the “Turkic Renaissance”. The author believes fairly that this Renaissance cannot be imagined without fundamental works by great Turkic theologians – from Imam al-Bukhari and Isa al-Tirmizi to Ahmad Yasawi and Baha-ud-Din Naqshband. The classical work by Imam al-Bukhari (810-870), Sahih al-Bukhari, is considered the second main source of Islam after the Koran. Yusuf Balasaguni (1016-1084), an outstanding poet and thinker, the author of a Muslim literature monument The Kutadgu Bilig (Beneficial Knowledge), wrote his poem in the very heart of Central Asia, in Kashgar, during the epoch of the educated dynasty of Kara-Khanids. Approximately along with the poem, in 1074 Mahmud al-Kashgari compiled The Dictionary of Turkic Dialects in Seljuk Baghdad. We also have a collection of religious and philosophical works by great Ahmad Yasawi (died in 1167), a writer and mystic from Central Asia.

Naturally, all this had a serious impact on the literature of the Greater Middle East. In this connection, the creative works by the outstanding Azerbaijani poet and thinker Nizami Ganjavi can and must be noted. His main work, which is included in the treasury of the world literature, is the Khamseh, one whole part of which is dedicated to the Kipchaks. Great Firdausi, in his Shahnameh (Book of Kings), cites Afrasiab, the Turks’ legendary king. “A Turk is like a pearl in the shell, which is priceless until it is inside its home, but when it leaves it, it assumes the value, serving as an ornament of the kings’ crowns, a bride’s neck and ears!” Mahmud al-Kashgari’s writing about the Turks was not an exaggeration: “God named them “Turks” and granted king’s power. He made them the ruler of times. He gave them the reins of government over peoples of the earth”. Therefore, it is not accidental that in the XI century a collection of an Arabic author, Ibn Hassul, typically titled The Book On The Turks’ Valour And Their Superiority Over Other Hordes appeared.

Thus, the book, a scientific research by Rauf Huseynzadeh, Doctor of History, is not only of historical significance but also helps the present generation to familiarize themselves with successes and role of ethnoses, which we are part of. We are part of the great past and must remember that to be worthy of our ancestry.

Rafig Aliyev,

PhD, Prof.

9.04.2019 08:09 / Hits: 410 / Print
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