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Bulghārs

(3,370 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
The Bulghārs were a Turkic tribal confederation that formed a series of polities in the Caspian-Pontic steppes, the Danubo-Balkan region (Bulgaria), and the Middle Volga (Volga Bulghāria). The ethnonym derives from Turk. bulgha- “to stir, confuse, disturb, produce a state of disorder” (Clauson, 337), that is, “those who cause disorder” (Németh, 129–31). The ethnonym appears as: Greek Βούλγαροι (Moravcsik, 100–6), Latin Bulgari, Medieval Eastern Slavic Bolgary ( Polnoe, 1:84), Armenian Bułgark’ ( Ashkharhats’oyts’, trans. Hewsen, 55, 110 n.118), Syriac Burgarē (Zacha…
Date: 2020-02-11

al-Bāhilī, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Rabīʿa

(771 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Rabīʿa al-Bāhilī (Dhū l-Nūr) (d. 32/652–3?) was an Umayyad commander in the Caucasus from 22/642 to 32/652–3. After serving under Saʿd b. Abī Waqqāṣ, a Companion of the Prophet, at the battle of Qādisiyya in 14/636 and as a judge at Kufa until 21/641 (al-Ṭabarī, 3:489, 569, 4:139), he came to the Caucasus and was associated with the securing of Bāb al-Abwāb (“gate of gates”)/Darband (“gate, barrier, fortress on a mountain pass,” present-day Derbent, in Daghistān)—the Sāsānid outpos…
Date: 2020-02-11

Avars

(3,387 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
The Avars are the largest ethnic group of Dāghistān (capital, Makhachkala) in the Northeast Caucasus and form smaller communities in adjoining regions. About 500,000 of the 600,000 Avars live in Dāghistān (especially in the Andi and Avar Qoy Su region), where the Avar nationality often includes smaller, linguistically related groupings. Ethnic identification, in a region of more than thirty distinct ethnicities, is often situational and includes strong “sub-ethnic” identities. The Avar self-designation is maʿarulal “mountaineers” (< Avar meʿer “mountain,” although this e…
Date: 2020-02-11

Oghuz

(4,608 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
The Oghuz tribal union derived from groups within the Türk Qaghanate; they were led by a Yabghu and inhabited the Syr Darya–Aral Sea region. The Eastern Old Turkic (EOT) ethnonym Oghuz initially denoted a kinship grouping (cf. Chin. 九 姓 Jiu Xing “Nine Surnames/clans” translated into Chinese as Toquz Oghuz [“The Nine Oghuz”]). Its earliest attestation may be Hujie 呼揭 (Old Chin. hâ/hâh gat, Early Middle Chin. xɔ gɨat) or Wujie 烏揭 (Old Chin. ʔâ gat/kat, Early Middle Chin. ʔɔ gɨat), which may transcribe *Hagaŕ (Oghur? the Western Old Turkic [WOT] variant of Oghuz), a people con…
Date: 2020-02-11

Altaians

(736 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
The Altaians are a Siberian Turkic-speaking people living in the Altai Republic of the Russian Federation and adjoining regions. In 1989, they numbered over seventy thousand. The ethnonym “Altaian” (Altai, Altai Kizhi, “Altai person,” Russ. Altaĭtsiĭ), although used as early as the 1840s, was adopted in the twentieth century to denote a number of Siberian Turkic groups of complex and partly distinct origins (including Samoyed, Kettic, and Mongolian elements), merged by Soviet nationality policies…
Date: 2020-02-11

Boz Ulus

(750 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
Boz Ulus (lit. “grey nation”) is the name given by the Ottomans to a confederation of predominantly Turcoman tribes that were located in the vicinity of Diyarbakır. These tribes were brought into the Ottoman Empire following the victory of Sultan Selim I (Sulṭān Selīm I, r. 918–26/1512–20) over the Ṣafavids at the battle of Çaldıran (920/1514), as well as subsequent Ottoman campaigns in eastern Anatolia. By the 1520s, if not earlier, the Ottomans had established the Boz Ulus confederacy. Most of the tribes in the Boz Ulus stemmed from the Ak  Koyunlu (Aq Qoyunlu) confeder…
Date: 2020-02-11

Akhsīkath

(782 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
Akhsīkath was the pre-Islamic capital city of Farghāna (Fergana, in present-day Uzbekistan). It was called in Soghdian 'γsyknδh or γsyknδh (Freyman and Livshits, 2:144, 193), which was shortened in the tenth/sixteenth century to Akhsī. The Arabs captured the city in 86/705 (Ibn al-Athīr, 4:524; al-Balādhurī, 409: Kh-sh-k-t = Akhsīkath). The principal city of Farghāna into the fourth/tenth century, it was “the residence of the amīr and [his] lieutenants” ( Ḥudūd, trans. Minorsky, 116). Kāsān (al-Yaʿqūbī, 394: the city “in which the king resides”) may have been an …
Date: 2020-02-11

Altai

(900 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
The Altai is an extensive mountain range (Sayano-Altai) in southern Siberia, mainly in the Altai Republic of the Russian Federation, but extending into Kazakhstan, western Mongolia, and Xinjiang, China. It is one of the ancient homelands of the Turkic peoples (Türks). It has lent its name to the Altaic language family, which includes the Turkic, Mongolic, and Manchu-Tungusic languages and has possible connections to Japanese/Ryukyuan and Korean. This relationship and even the Altaic hypothesis itself remain the subject of debate. Chinese sources (e.g., the Zhoushu and the Suishu, …
Date: 2020-02-11

Alāns

(1,051 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
The Alāns were an Iranian people of the western Eurasian steppes and North Caucasus, noted by Graeco-Roman authors (as Ἀλανοί, Ἀλανορρσοί, Alani, or Halani) since the first century C.E. Middle Persian and Modern Persian Alān (= Īrān < *āryāna < *aryānām (genit. pl.) < *arya (“Aryan”), with the shift ry > l characteristic of some Scythian dialects) = Arabic al-Lān (sometimes ʿAlāniyya), Hebrew Alan, and Armenian Alankʿ. The mediaeval Alāns were sometimes known as Ās/Āṣ in Islamic sources (cf. Georgian Ows-i, Mongol Asud (pl.), Hungarian Jász). Th…
Date: 2020-02-11

Balkar

(1,591 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
The Balkars, or Malqar(lı), are a Turkic-speaking Sunnī Muslim people living in the upland valleys of the Baksan/Baskhan (Orusbiy), Chegem, Kholam, Bezengi/Bızıngı, and Malka(r) rivers in the North Caucasus, in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria (capital: Nal’chik), which forms part of the Russian Federation. Their self-designation is tawlu (“mountaineer”), and their Kabardinian neighbours refer to them as Q’ushkh’ǝ (also “mountaineer”) or Bǝɬqǝr. The latter name is probably linked to the Balkar/Malka(r) gorge, from which the Russian “Balka…
Date: 2020-02-11

Atil

(287 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
Atil is the Turkic name of the Volga River and is given in Islamic sources as the name of the Khazar capital located on the Volga's estuary on the Caspian Sea. Turkic Ätil (cf. Tatar İdel “Volga; great river”) derives perhaps from *as-til (“great river”), from which the name Attila may also stem. In the sources it appears as Arabic ʾTl, Ātl, ʾThl, Khazar-Hebrew ʾṬl, ʾṬīl, Armenian Atʿl, Tʿald, Byzantine Greek Ἀτήλ, Ἀττίλαν, etc., and Ἀστηλ (“the river of Khazaria; it is also a town”; Golden, 1:226–7; Moravcsik, 2:78–9), and Mongol-era L…
Date: 2020-02-11

Burṭās

(1,671 words)

Author(s): Golden, Peter B.
The Burṭās were a people, or more probably a confederation of peoples and a territory or country, noted by Muslim geographers of the fourth/tenth-century (Ibn Ḥawqal, 333–4) and later in a number of contradictory notices probably reflecting different eras of their history. Their name appears as Burṭās (as in, for example, al-Masʿūdī, al-Tanbīh, 62, al-Iṣṭakhrī, 227); Burdās, in the Jayhānī tradition (works based on the now lost Kitâb al-Masâlik wa’l-Mamâlik by the 10th century Sâmânid servitor, Abu ‘Abdallâh Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Jaihânî, and the materials gathered b…
Date: 2020-02-11