In Russian
Kipchaks Contents
Huns Contents
Besenyos, Ogur and Oguz
Alans and Ases
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline
Seyanto Dateline
S.A.Pletneva (1926-2008)


ISBN 5-02-009542-7 © Publishing house “ Science “, 1990

Appelatives: Kipchaks, Qipchaq, Qifjaq, Xifjaq, Kimchag, Kimcha'ud, Kuchak, Kyfchak, Kimaks, Kibi, Kukiji, Kujshe, Kuche, Kyueshe, Kushi, Kushu, Kuchuk, Kumans, Quman, Comani, Kumandy, Kun-ok, Kun, Kangli, Kengeres, Qangli, Seyanto, Sirs, Tele, Falven, Falones, Val(e)we(n,) Phalagi, Skythicon, Sakaliba, Khartesh, Ðlàvñi, Ðlàwñó, Ðlàuñi, Ðlàwci, Ðàlóñz(îk), Polovetsy, Polovtsy, Polowtzi, and other variations
Subdivisions and ethnic affiliates
XXX, and other variations

  Introduction 3
Chapter 1 Eastern European steppes at the boundary of two millennia 9
Chapter 2 Kimaks and Kipchaks 25
Chapter 3 “Obtaining a motherland“ 36
Chapter 4 Horde Unions. “Great Khans“ 44
Chapter 5 Black Kalpaks and “Wild Kipchaks“ 70
Chapter 6 Hordes in the steppes 95
Chapter 7 Kipchaks at home 110
Chapter 8 New associations. Khan Konchak 146
Chapter 9 Invasion. Last steps 171
  Chronology 139
  Literature 192
  Sources 195
  Abbreviations 196
  Name Index 197
  Ethnogeographical Index 201
State of Caspian Huns - Contents State of Caspian Huns - Chapter People of Caspian Huns =>


Foreword to the Selected Quotations

Page numbers of the original are shown in blue. The translation replaces Russian peculiar terminology with generally accepted English terms used in the literature, thus avoiding repetition of various distortions found in the Middle Age Rus annals and carried over into the present Russian publications, like using “Torks“ for “Türks“, “Pecheneg“ for “Bajanak“, and “Polovetses“ for “Kumans“ and “Kipchaks“. This also helps to eliminate terminological puzzles. Like the term “Polovetses“ used indiscriminately in the Rus annals for “Kumans“ and for “Kipchaks“, the author does not discriminate between the Rus and the Russian periods of the history, calling “Russian“ most of the subjects from the time when Russia did not yet exist, and because in the literature it is conventionally termed “Rus“, this term “Rus“ is used in the present translation where appropriate. The author indiscriminately uses the Türkic word “ordu“, army (Engl. “Horde“) for the whole population of a tribe, a group of clans, or for one clan, and also as a synonym for “they“ vs “us“, as a faceless crowd; this term is rendered by its English synonym “horde“ with a suitable semantical clarification. When helpful, a Russian term is shown in parenthesis. The author's notes are given in a base font, and the Translator's Notes are in (blue italics and parenthesis), or are in blue boxes.

The English rendition of the extensive citation of the work is much simplified, with many details omitted and much reduced references, but with an eye to preserving the facts and evidence of the original work. The author, S.A.Pletneva, is a venerable, outstanding scientist doing an honest work, a feat not too frequently met in the Russian politicized humanities field, she frequently uses language appropriate for the subject, not lowering herself to a version of the common Russian scientific language cleansed from its inherent Türkisms, and having addressed Alans twenty five times in her book, not once did S.A.Pletneva used the title “Iranian-speaking“, mandatorily applied to the Alans, just like in the Soviet epoch the title “President“ was mandatorily applied to “Brezhnev“, and she also did not invoke the also mandatory Scytho-Ossetian faux. Nowadays, the name of S.A.Pletneva is so firmly associated with the archeological studies of the N.Pontic that no author writing about the E. European history can do without citing and deferring to her works.

Without even stipulating her position, in contrast with the revelations usually heralded by the Indo-Iranists, S.A.Pletneva does not get at all into the Indo-Iranian type quasi-scientific fishing, but instead in an inconspicuous footnote quietly etymologizes the Türkic names of the Bajanak Khans, and on the maps she supplies the unheard of, in the Russian academic works, the Türkic ononyms that were cited by Herodotus and lasted, at least some of them, into the present. This ability to be factual is the best and lasting honor that the author can endow herself.

Mini Glossary

ail  = village, extended family
coaching = a verb from coach (n.), which is a common Türkic word for a “coach“: to ride in a coach, to follow herds in a coach, to migrate to new lands in a coach. Riding a coach is complementary, but not synonymous, with driving a coach. Coaching is done in caravans, individual coaching is a simple riding, like “he rode to the city, but they coached to the city“. Coaching is done in covered wagons which semantically are synonymous with mobile homes.

ISBN 5-02-009542-7 © Publishing house “ Science “, 1990



The book is devoted to the history of one of the most known and powerful Türkic-speaking ethnoses of the Middle Ages epoch, the Kipchaks, called Polovetses by Rus chroniclers. In the Arabian and Persian compositions they were called Kipchaks, and in the Byzantine and Latin compositions they were called Kumans. The author examines written sources and archeological materials about this ethnic formation, raises and quite often solves in a new way many questions of the origin, economic and social relations, ideology and political history of this people.

Their Rus contemporaries in the 11th-13th centuries called them Kipchaks (Polovetses). Byzantines, and after them all Western Europe called this people Kumans (probably the other way around, first their neighbors, and then Byzantines). The eastern hordes (i.e. tribes) of that ethnos coaching east of Itil and Urals steppes, up to Irtysh, were called Kipchaks. Under that name they entered the pages of the Arabian and Persian manuscripts. The Chinese transcribed the word “Kipchak“ by two hieroglyphs: “Tsyn-cha“. The Chinese chroniclers knew the Tsyn-cha in the 3rd-2nd centuries BC, but Byzantines and Rus met them 1,300 years later, in the 11th-12th centuries (there was no Byzantine and Rus in the 3rd-2nd centuries BC). In that long time the Kipchaks went through periods of glory, military successes, economic rises, and the periods of bad declines, when the chroniclers and travelers of all countries and nations ceased mentioning them.

Nevertheless, we can confidently tell that the general tendency of the Kipchak society before the Mongolian invasion in the beginning of the 13th century was a tendency of development: from a small tribe, barely mentioned in the Chinese chronicle, by the beginning of the second millennium they turned into a strong, powerful and numerous ethnic formation, with the political influence and military potential of which had to be reckoned by the aging Byzantium and incipient Rus.

Kipchaks were shielded from Chinese by Kangars, who were a solid barrier between the Chinese and Central Siberia. With Kangar's inclusion in the Türkic Kaganates in 552 AD, Kipchaks were also included, and the generic “Türks“ 突 厥 was used for the constituent tribes not involved in the Chinese power play. The Second Türkic Kaganate, one of the largest states ever assembled, was ruled by the Kipchaks, in 760's a monument of the Uigur Kagan Moyun-Chur definitely states: “Kipchak Türks dominated [over us] for fifty years.“ So far for the historical accuracy of the “small tribe“.

The complex, multifaceted history of the Kipchaks, naturally, frequently drew the attention of scientists.

P.V.Golubovsky, second half of the 19th century, “Badjanaks, Türks and Kipchaks before invasion of Tatars“, printed in Kiev in 1883.

I.Marqwart, ca. 1900, German Türkologist “Ober das Volkstum der Komanen“, some Markvart's positions on the early history of Kipchaks and now have not lost their scientific value.

D.A.Rasovsky, the beginning of the 1930es, “Sermnariuni Kondakovianum“, Prague, and brilliant articles devoted to the history of the nomads of the Eastern European steppes, synchronous and interacting with Kipchaks (Badjanaks, Türks, Kara Kalpak union, etc.).

After these works it became clear, that rather new data, the new facts can be received only by developing one more source, which until then was not used at all by the scientists. This source were archeological materials.

Their accumulation began in the end of the 19th century. A mass excavation of nomadic kurgans was undertaken by the general-lieutenant N.E.Bravdenburg in Cherkass area (in the Ros area), and by one of the most active Russiann archeologists B. A.Gorodtsov on the banks of the Severski Donets (the Russian historical adjective “Severski“ refers to the Suvar tribe, which lived in the basin of the “Small Don“, or Donets, river) and Don, started a collection of nomadic (including Kipchak's) antiquities of the Eastern Europe.

A.A.Spitsyn suggested that the burials excavated by Brandenburg should be connected with Badjanaks, Türks and Berendeys, located by the Rus annals in the river Ros area. The remarkable archeological intuition peculiar to Spitsyn, and deep knowledge of the material allowed him to correctly date these burials by the 11th - the beginning of the 13th century.

Gorodtsov divided into the ethnic groups the kurgans excavated by him in the basin of Severski Donets. He was the first who allocated precisely the features of the Kipchak's funeral ceremony: kurgan embankments with stone, tombs with timber roofs, eastern orientation of the diseased.

Fedorov-Davidov's monograph “Nomads of the Eastern Europe under the authority of the Altyn Ordu Khans“ is a complete report of all nomadic antiquities, in which he divides them into four chronological groups: 1st belongs to the 9th-11th centuries and is linked with Badjanaks and Türks; 2nd belongs to the end of the 11th-12th centuries, the first period of the Kipchak's domination in the steppes; 3rd belongs to the pre-Mongolian period of the Kipchak's domination; 4th belongs to the 13th - 14th centuries Kipchak Khanaate period.

Each group has a number of the burial types, and that gives Fedorov-Davidov a basis to stipulate that it is impossible to discern the ethnic definition of each type: their mixture in any chronological period is too commingled. However with the general propriety of that division of the material, each period has a typical prevalence of one type ceremony, or the funeral ceremony has new features traceable in other territories in the earlier, and sometimes also in the synchronous burials. Obviously, a connection of a ceremony with a certain ethnos undoubtedly existed. At present it only develops, and in the future with further accumulation of the material and its processing these connections will come to light more clearly.

In the last two decades (i.e. 1970-1990) the update of source base is conducted rather actively, as the excavations of the steppe archeological monuments, kurgans of different epochs including medieval, is annually done by tens of new construction expeditions. Now is starting a new stage of understanding the found up materials, which, in due course will end up with a monographic summary.

A much greater unity and clearness achieved the archeologists in the ethnic, and in particular the Kipchak's stone sculptures (balbals), today they are a most characteristic accessory in the museum collections of the southern steppe cities of in the Ukraine and Russia. At the time tens of thousand sculptures stood in groups or alone on all elevated, visible from afar points of the steppe. The Russian ploughmen in the 17th-18th centuries ploughed the virgin lands and a widespread construction led to a mass destruction of these works of art. By the 20th century almost none of them remained in the Dnieper-Don interfluvial, the main territory of their distribution. Countess P.S.Uvarova, an archeologist and philanthropist, started a fight for their preservation. She asked the governors of the southern provinces to organize a census of the statues. This great source for study of the statues and their distribution in the steppes is kept now in the GIM. At the same time at the end of the 19th - the first decades of the 20th century, started to be created extensive museum collections of the steppe statuary.

For a long time, during all of the 19th century, the stone statues were attributed to a variety of peoples who lived in the teppes: Scythians, Huns, to Goths, Bulgars, Finns, Slavs, Ugrs, Tatars, Nogays and even to Slavic migrants. The first researcher who resolutely stated that they are left by the Kipchaks, and tried to prove his hypothesis, was I.Veselovsky. After publications of his work in the 1915 the majority of scientists unconditionally recognized them as Kipchak's. The material was not specifically canvassed.

Only in 1974 was published my book “Kipchak's stone sculptures“ where all largest museum collections of statues (1322 originals) were investigated whenever possible. In addition to the publication of statues (catalogue), the work attempted to make it a historical source for future historical studies.

A big attention is paid to Kipchaks in the works of the historians for the history of the pre-Mongolian Rus. Especially big place occupy the sections about them in B.A.Rybakov's books.

Essential role in the research of the Kipchak history and culture played the abundance of monographs and articles addressing the “Tale of Igor's Campain“. There with especial thoroughness are examined the questions of mutual relations between the Kipchaks and Rus: language, cultural, political and so forth.

Thus, the Kipchak's subjects are traditional for the Russian historical science. Noteworthy is that in the beginning of the 70es, not without the influence of the “flashed“ and spread in the previous decade interest to the Kipchaks and other so-called late nomads, in Romania were published two good books of Peter Diakonu about Badjanaks and Kipchaks in the Danube basin.

Too bad that S.A.Pletneva even in 1990 did not mention the crucial 1975 work of O.Suleymenov that was speedily confiscated immediately after its release, was totally avoided by the “Russian historical science“, and was for years a hit of the “Samizdat“, a grass-root cottage industry manually copying forbidden literature. O.Suleymenov shows the bi-lingual state of the Rus society, repudiating the state doctrine of a negligible role of the Türks in the period including Late Middle Age Rus, promulgated by Russian ethnic patriots including the editor of S.A.Pletneva book, Academician B.A.Rybakov, who were ignoring or discounting the facts and inventing artificial substitutes on an industrial scale. This omission, coupled with the overblown image of the petty Rus principalities, a consistent failure to mention that the “Rus regiments“ were in fact mostly Türkic regiments in service of their predominantly Türkic masters, and the reduced image of the Kipchak state, shows that even the works of the most honest researchers working in the shade of the Russian Academy of Sciences need to be complemented with inquisitive between-the-lines reading.

In the same 70es and in the beginning of the 80es activated the research of not only the western Kipchak's, but also the eastern Kipchak antiquities and monuments in the Irtysh area and Itil-Ural interfluvial. In the 1972 was published extremely useful and informative book of B.E.Kumekov “Kimak State of the 9th-11th centuries in the Arabian sources“, where the author sums up more than a century of studies of this people, and also examines anew many sources, and gives an expressive and full picture of the Kumaks' and Kipchaks' life up before and partially after their migration to the West to the N.Pontic steppes.

So, even a most cursory review of the literature about Kipchaks that mentioned only the most important monographic works testifies that this theme is not forgotten in neither Western, nor Russian, nor the Soviet scientists (in other words, “don't kill me for being a maverick, I am only threading the established paths“, but fortunately this is not true at all).

This book is a first attempt of a popular rendition, and occasional first generalization of the accumulated in the last hundred years observations, materials and conclusions for various moments of the Kipchak history, geography, economy and culture. The book introduced some new materials and facts, it express new ideas and hypotheses for some topics. Probably, they will be interesting but only for a general reader for whom this book is intended, but also to the history experts.

Chapter 1.
Eastern European steppes at the border of two millennia
(i.e. in the 1000 AD)

Bosnians (Slav. “Pecheneges“)


At the end of the 9th century the Khazarian Kaganate, torn apart by internal problems and religious upheaval, lost its recent absolute power, its glory of invincible power won by rivers of blood. The neighboring peoples begun to agitate, one after another began leaving the tribes and the tribal unions of the Khazar confederation who used to pay a tribute to the Kagan.

In the Eastern European steppes at that time (ca. 880-890) formed a new nomadic union, Badjanaks (in the Latin and Byzantine literature they were called Patsinaks or Pachinaks, in the Arabian literature they were called Badjnak (بآجانآك Bechenek)).

In fact, the Latin sources called them Becens/Besenyos, which was close to their self appellation that came to our days in its Middle Age form, Bosnia/Bosnians

It was headed by the descendents of the political union Kangüy (Kangar). The new association received a new name.

S.A.Pletneva glosses over a monumental ethnos, documented, unlike any other in the history of the humankind, over five and a half millennia in the space from the lake Balkhash to the Persian Gulf. The name of the ethnos is Kangar, attested in the Sumerian records in the Near East interfluvial, and in the Chinese records west of the Altai foothills. Besenyos were related to the Kangar people, hence their exoethnonym, “in-laws“, that came to be their adopted ethnonym “Bajanaks“. In the Kangar confederation the autonomous Besenyos had their own Khans, and we were fortunate to learn of their ruling clan and the names of some individual rulers from that clan.

The origin of a word “Badjanak“ (“Becheneg“) has differing opinions. One of them is rather probable: from the Türkic name Beche, probably a first leader of the Badjanak's tribal union. Like all nomadic associations, Badjanaks were multi-ethnic and multi-lingual union: besides Türkic-speaking hordes, they could also have some Ugrian groups.

Since there is no data whatsoever about their actual ethnic composition, we can speculate all we want about multi-ethnicity of Kangars or Besenyos, including Martians at the extreme, and the only morsel we have is that nomadic societies, as formulated by Fedorov-Davidov, may include clans of different ethnicity that recognized the predominance of a titular clan at the time of an attachment, and form a economic unity nowadays frequently looked upon as a political or ethnic confederation. After, say, five generations, a bi-linguality proliferate, and after another, say, five generations, the ethnoses blend completely. In other words, in two hundred years the linguistical distinctions within the newcomer clan fade enough to be inappreciable. The Khan who initiated the switch of allegiance in the first place, and who negotiated the terms of the association, remained an autonomous ruler of the newcomer clan, being a perennial hub in the interface between the central authority and the former newcomer group.

In the first decades of their existence the Badjanak's hordes pastured in the steppes on the eastern bank of Itil. There began the formation of both political structure, and the Badjanak's ethnos with a common material culture.

The 1,000,000 strong “Badjanak's hordes“ (i.e. people) did not start their existence only on the borders of the Khazar Kaganate. They had a formidable force, and when their northern pastures were forcibly taken by the Oguzes, and southern pastures by desertification caused by the loss of Uzboy, they moved as a coherent force to the western pastures located between the Itil and Don rivers.

Squeezed in the steppes east of Itil between considerably stronger neighbors, Oguses (Uzes in the original), Kipchaks, Magyars and the Khazarian Kaganate, having felt the weakening of the last, they rushed to the western fringes of their pastures. The Khazars tried to stop the movement of the Badjanak hordes.

Unfortunately, this reconstruction of the events is primitive and dogmatic. Hundreds of thousands members of wild Besenyo hordes “rushing“ their sheep to celebrate an absence of the Khazari border guard regiments is not real. In reality, a defense army of a branch of Kangars, under a military pressure from Oguzes, secured a safe pasture land for the remaining 85% of the population, willing to face up or make arrangements with the owner for the use of their land. The following development of the events shows that an arrangement was found.


The (Khazar) Kagan concluded a union with Oguses, hoping that the allied forces would crush the unexpected aggressors. However, the result of this agreement turned out completely the opposite. The Oguzes, according to the Byzantine historian emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, “joined battle with the Pechenegs and prevailed over them and expelled them from their country...“. He writes “And the Pachjinaks, fled and wandered round, casting about for a place for their settlement“ (Constantine Porphyrogenitus, p. 155). The Badjanaks' path in the seized lands at the end of the 800's - first decade of the 900's was marked by large fires, destruction of the overwhelming majority of steppe and forest-steppe settlements, castles and even cities (on the Taman peninsula) (reference to the destruction of the Bulgar capital Banja). This relatively short period of the Badjanaks' advancement to the west found, from our point of view, a reflection in the Persian geographical work “Borders of the world“, by an unknown author, probably in beginning of the 10th century. It tells about two branches of Badjanaks: Türkic and Khazarian.

The geographical position of the Türkic Badjanaks is described as follows: “The east of their country borders on Oguzes, south of them are Burtases and Baradases, west of them are Magyars and Rus, north of them is the river Ruta“.

If the anchor point is taken in respect to Burtases instead of the Rus, then the Besenyos at that point were in the vicinity of the Samara bend, and the Burtases are south of them. The Magyars = Mishars are in their historical location west of Itil, and the Rus is further west. Then Ruta would be one of the Oka/Itil tributaries. There is a chance that “Ruta“ is distorted rendition of the Greek “Ρυθα“ = “Rutha“, in Slavic river Ros, extensively (and uniquely) described by S.Pletneva in this book.

The description is, like all Arabian and Persian studies of the Eastern Europe, not clear. Nevertheless the pastures of the Türkic Badjanaks can be determined, with larger or smaller probability, in the Dnieper-Don interfluvial. The name “Türkic“ these Badjanaks received from the most fearful and dangerous to them in those decades neighbor, the Oguz Türks (“Torks“ in the original) (interestingly, the Ruses also later began to call Oguzes “Türks“ (Torks)). West of them were the possessions of the Magyars - Hungarians and Rus. The Rus was to the north of the Badjanak's main direction aimed at capture of the steppe pastures. Therefore Badjanaks faced the Rus later.

More likely, at the time of the report the Badjanaks were politically divided under control of the two masters: the Oguz Türks and the Khazars, each part located in their respective sphere of dominance. The Badjanaks' obligations to both of their suzerains were identical: a nominal tribute and a participation of their respective suzerains' campaigns. This participation left us with records of their allegiance, because the wars were documented by their contemporaries.

In the beginning Badjanaks struck the Hungarians who were living then in Dniester-Dnieper steppe interfluvial, called Atelkuzu.

Ata+el+kuju = Father+land+people, i.e. akin to Fatherland, the Hunnish motherland well known into the 15-th c., and then conveniently wiped out from the people's memory, together with the carriers of that memory. The Ros area is located on the eastern fringes of the Atelkuzu. The Atelkuzu name may ascend to the Scythian times, the word Ata-el was a name of a Scythian ruler who minted coins with his name, the Greeks called him Ateas (ca. 429 BC–339 BC). Eurocentric publications explain away the name by claiming that second A “lost its bar“.

Coin of Atails with Greek script ATAIΛΣ legend Atelkuzu area shown on the map

For that, Badjanaks first of all concluded an alliance with the Danube Bulgarian King Simeon (aka Shamgun, 893-927) who, naturally, wished to destroy such a dangerous neighbor as the Hungarians. Taking advantage when the main forces of the Hungarians set out to a campaign, Badjanaks broke into their country and completely exterminated, as writes Constantine Porphyrogenitus, their families and purged the guards left to protect the land. The Hungarians returning from the campaign found their land “emptied and destroyed“, and besides occupied by ferocious enemies. Ascertaining that they could not hold on to their land any more, the Hungarians turned to the west. However their first impulse was to capture the nearest to the Atelkuzu territories, the forest-steppe lands on Rus border. That happened in the 898, briefly recorded in the Rus annals mentioning tabor (mobile fortification of military carts encircling the camp) next to the Kyiv hill on the bank of the Dnieper. Apparently, they tried to settle there, but were met extremely unfriendly by the Rus border regiments and consequently, without stopping any more and not without entering any battles, proceeded over the Carpathian mountains into the Danube area. There, as testified by the (Rus) chronicler, they “started fighting“ and, achieving a victory, settled in the rich Pannonian lands.

The “Rus border regiments“ must be a figment of the author's imagination, there is not a thread of any documentary support, the falsehood is clearly written to fool the “general public“ of Soviet Russia. Only 40 years after wrestling control of the Bashtu/Kyiv from the Khazars, Kyiv was a city-state and only had a ragtag Slavic-based militia and the Dane Varangian (Viking) mercenaries, and no “Rus border regiments“ whatsoever. But Kyiv was located on a major shlyakh (road) of the area that would allow a train of ca. 50 thousand carts to cross to the other side of the Dnieper from the Lebedia just captured by the Badjanak advance army. The logistics of the crossing must be tremendous, with two forts set up on the opposite sides of the river, and transportation of the heavy carts and remaining herds and household carts across the river. The crossing made the confederation of the four Ugrian tribes and three Bulgarian tribes especially vulnerable to assaults, and its success demonstrated the strength of the organization and the superb experience in forging water barriers. The crossing was made under a leadership of an offspring of the Hunnish ruling clan Dulo, the Prince Arbat (Hung. Arpad) Madjar (Hung. Magyar) (r. 896 - ca 900), a senior son of the Bulgarian Kaan (Kaĝan with silent “ĝ“) Almysh (r. 895-925), Prince Arbat headed the allied federation of Hungarian Magyars and Bulgarian Kubars.

The Badjanaks' victory made them the masters of the Dnieper, Donetsk and Don steppes reaching the Itil.

The second section of the Badjanaks, named by the Persian Anonym “Khazarian“, was coaching in the lands to the east of what were the “Khazarian mountains, south of them were Alans, to the west was the Gurz Sea (Caspian), in the north of them were Mirvats (Burtases)“ (Hudud-al-Alam, p. 160). We see, that the information about this branch is even more uncertain than about the Türkic segment. The only clear reference is the Alans, who lived, as it is known, in the Caucasus foothills. The Sea, mentioned in the citation fragment, probably is the Azov Sea (and a part of the Black Sea), and the mountains are the hills running along the Kuma - Manych depression. Who was named by the Anonym Mirvats, remains obscure. Nevertheless the provisional site of the Khazarian Badjanaks' land all the same can be established as a steppe interfluvial of the Lower Don and Kuban rivers. The archeological research of some seaside settlements testify that many of them, particularly such a large city as Bandja (Bulgarian capital Bandja = Gr. Φαναγορ(ε)ία/Phanagoria = Onoguria/Hunoguria, founded ca. 543 BC, named Fanagoriya by the author), were destructed at the end of the 9th - beginning of the 10th century.

Contrary to the S.A.Pletneva' assertion, the Hudud-al-Alam information is perfectly clear: the Gurz Sea is the Gurgan Sea, i.e. Caspian Sea; Mirvats are Burtases living north of the Don-Itil confluence, as stated by Constantine Porphyrogenitus. Khazarian Mountains are Caucasus Mountains, from the depth of which they came from, i.e. from Bersilia. What is jumbled in this quotation are the words east/west: Caspian Sea in the east and Caucasus in the west. Badjanaks took over the plain of the Kuban river, displacing the pastoral eastern Bulgars, or Ak Bulgars, composed of Onogur 10 tribes. The destruction of Bandja is an archeological confirmation to the accuracy of Hudud-al-Alam.


The sources tell us about one more group of Badjanaks who lived in the area east of Itil. Passing through the steppes east of Itil in the beginning of the 10th century (i.e. in 922), Ahmed Ibn Fadlan met there Badjanaks coaching near the water, that “looked like a sea“. Seemingly, he meant the salty lake Chelkar located in the center of the east of Itil lands. Talking about them, Ibn Fadlan writes: “they are dark brunettes with completely shaved beards, and are poor comparing to Oguzes...“. Apparently, these were those Badjanaks that did not follow to the West together with the main nucleus of the Badjanak's tribal union, and remained in the former pastures, submitting to Oguzes. About these Badjanaks also wrote in detail Constantine Porphyrogenitus: “At the time when the Pachinakits were expelled from their country, some of them of their own volition and personal decision stayed behind there and united with the so-called Uzes, and even to this day they live among them, and wear such distinguishing marks as separate them off and betray their origin and how clan about that they were split off from their own folk: for their tunics are short, reaching to the knee, and their sleeves are cut off at the shoulder, whereby, you see, they indicate that they were cut off from their own folk and those of their race“. It was most passive and poor part of the Badjanaks. Remaining in their former pastures, they, naturally, have submitted to the Oguzes, joined their union and had no independent value any more, and were not mentioned in the other sources.

By the middle of the 10c. Badjanaks took over enormous steppe territories from Itil to the Danube. About the political geography of the Badjanak's land, about location there of separate Badjanak's hordes, or femas, narrates in detail the same Constantine Porphyrogenitus. The matter is that the Badjanaks at that time played in the history of the eastern and central European peoples and countries, and in the history of the Byzantium, extremely visible role. By that, they constantly attracted attention of the Byzantine politicians, who were counting upon them in their plans of the struggle against the states surrounding them of the Bolgars, Hungarians, Khazars, Ruses. Significantly, Constantine begins his composition, an instruction to his son titled “De Administrando Imperio“, with the chapters describing the relations of all their neighboring peoples with the Badjanaks, with their significant dependence on the Badjanaks who are plundering their peaceful settlements, with them interfering in trade, with them extorting repayments and payoffs. Especially suffered from them the Hungarians and Bulgars, who were “repeatedly defeated and plundered by them and learned from experience that it is better and favorable to always be in peace with Pachinakits“.

After a general characteristic of the “international situation“ complicated by the Badjanaks, Constantine moves to the description of the “Pachinakia“ itself, thanks to which we now have a clear picture of the Badjanak location during the high time of their greatest power. He wrote that the country of Badjanaks is divided into eight fems. The fema Tsur (or Kuartsitsur), Kulpei (Sirukalpeis), Talmat (Borotalmat), Tsopon (Vulatsopon) are located east from the Dnieper and down to Itil. One of the Jewish authors, namely Joseph bei-Gorion, who also wrote his composition in the 10th century, tells that the tribe Tilmats coached along Itil. Apparently, we can quite compare this name to the fema Talmat named by Constantine. Specifying further the location of the eastern group of the Badjanaks, Constantine wrote that their neighbors of were Uzia and Khazaria, the distance from which was five days of travel (about 200 kms), Alania which lands were six days of travel from the pastures of Badjanaks, and Mordia (Mordva), at a distance of 10 days travel.

The other four femas are: Chopon (Giazichopon) is “neighboring“ with Danube Bulgaria, half-day of travel from its borders (15-20 kms); Gila is close to Hungary at a distance of four days travel: Charavon are coaching one day travel from the southern border of Rus, and Irtim (Iavdiertim) is “neighboring“ the Rus tributor districts, the Oultines and Dervlenines and Lenzenines and the rest of the Slavs“. Now we know well where lived one of the Slavic tribes named by Constantine, the Dervlenines-Drevlyans: in the interfluvial of the Dnieper and Bug, on the southern bank of the Pripyat and its tributaries down to the border with the steppe. Apparently, to the south of this border in the steppes coached Irtim horde. Constantine also repeatedly emphasized that Badjanaks are very close to Kherson, “and even closer to the Bospor“, which, probably, means that their pastures were somewhere in the east coast of the Azov Sea and on the Taman peninsula.

P.Golden explanation of Besenyo tribal names: Names of 8 tribes consist of two parts, a name proper, usually a horse color, and with some possible exceptions, titles of their rulers, e.g. Xaboujin-gula  => Qabuqàin-Yula => “Yula tribe with bark-colored horses”, Suroukoulpey => Suru Kül Bey => “Kül Bey tribe with grayish horses”. A tribal color is identified with a color of its herds.

Later in Chapter 3 S.A.Pletneva asserts (or, rather, retranslates) the etymology of the Sary Kipchaks, about complexion of the Sary people. But it is likelier that the name Sary Kipchaks relates to the color of their herds, as in Besenyo example. This is even more plausible because in S.A.Pletneva's own observation, Türks traditionally had a freedom of association, selecting for themselves a union to join in, and this caused a demographic fluidity that would debunk the very concept of monoethnicity that she implies.

The depiction by Constantine Porphyrogenitus is the fullest and most detailed description of the location of Badjanaks in the Eastern European steppes in middle of the 10th century. It is interesting, that the Khazarian Kagan Joseph who wrote a letter to Hasdai ibn Shafrut, at the same time tried to gloss over the Badjanaks, without mentioning that they actually captured all the territory of the Kaganate, and settled there, densely surrounding with a hostile half circle the domain of the Kagan himself. Joseph allocated to them only the former Atelkuzu, placing their pastures between the Dnieper and Danube. And the Kagan also contrived, telling that all Badjanaks pay him a tribute. However, the boastful refrain about a tribute paid to him by all neighboring peoples, sounds from him after each mentioning of these peoples and countries.

And it is natural, as only the grandfather of Joseph ruled a really powerful state with many subordinated peoples. To reconcile with the loss of this power was difficult for Joseph, especially to admit it in the information letter about his state. However to hold back story about Badjanaks who dealt to Khazaria a first crushing blow he could not, as the news about their invasion already reached Spain where lived Hasdaj ibn Shafrut, a Spanish Jew and ranking noble of the Arabian (Cordovian) Caliph. This is evidenced by the “Song about Roland“ that mentioned the “hordes of wild Badjanaks“. Clearly, they were known in Spain, and in France, and in the German princedoms. Nevertheless, Joseph minimized as much as he could the tragical role of this people in the history of his country.

And meanwhile the Badjanaks had actually destroyed the Kaganate. They destroyed its economy; most of the rich agricultural settlements in the forest-steppe zones of the Don area was wiped out from the face of the earth. The population has been partly destroyed, partly joined the nomadic divisions of the Badjanaks. Only a small number of them fled to Danube (to the Danube Bulgaria), to the Middle Itil and to the boondock corners of the upper courses of Oskol and Don rivers, reliably protected by forest massifs from the nomadic attacks. A part of the Bulgaro-Alaian population of the Don area also retreated to the southern areas of the Kaganate, into the domain of the Kagan. The small border town Sarkel on the Don had grown appreciably, which is archeologically clearly traced: the cultural layers of the beginning of the 10th century in the fortress stand out by especially rich and diverse finds. Precisely then appeared in the ity the first Slavic immigrants, the inhabitants of the bordering Kaganate Slavic lands, who fled together with the population of the Kaganate from the Badjanak's invasion. A terrible loss endured the trade of the Kaganate, and its diplomatic communications were defeated. Badjanaks, who captured the steppes between Kuban and Don, cut off the Khazaria from the Byzantine empire. Besides, the Badjanaks destroyed some coastal cities and settlements in the Eastern Crimea. Thus, all the vital arteries that connected Kaganate with its allies, trading partners and tributors, were seveared. The state inevitably was moving to a destruction, by the middle of the 10th century it was practically reduced to the size of the personal domain of the Kagan, located approximately in the territory of the modern Kalmykia.

Khazar Kagan royal domain


Badjanaks no more saw the Khazars as dangerous enemies in any respect. Apparently, the Kaganate even did not try to expel them from their former lands. And there was no necessity any more, fore the lands all the same would remain empty, there was nobody to occupy them.

So, neither the Oguzes, nor the Kaganate disturbed the Badjanaks. Byzantium was a far and still inaccessible country: it was impossible to reach it, because Badjanaks had to cross for that purpose the Danube Bulgaria, leaving in the rear not only the Bolgars, but also a mighty, gaining strength every year opponent, the Rus. It was the only real force, capable to resist the nomadic hordes.

For the first time the Ruses have met Badjanaks in the 915, when Badjanaks made a peace accord with Igor (Ugyr Lachini, 912-945, aka Igor I the Old, Ingvar). Apparently, while resettling in the steppes, capturing ever new and new open steppes, Badjanaks tried to also “to master“ the forest-steppe areas belonging to Rus. Having encountered resistance of the Rus regiments, Badjanaks concluded a peace with Rus to ensure a quiet rear, and proceeded coaching to the borders of the weaker opponents: Bulgaria and Hungary.

A few morsels that complete the rosy picture:

1. Badjanaks were not able to travel in force to fight in the forest zone. Slavs did not travel. Vikings used waterways exclusively, for there were no roads at all. There was nothing that Badjanaks could extract from the country of subsistence forest dwellers. In 912 the young Ugyr Lachini (Igor) inherited a realm created by his enterprising uncle Salahbi Yolyg (Oleg), consisting of tributary tribes of Slavic Polyans, Drevlyans, Krivicheys, Ilmen Slavs, Radimiches, Dulebs, Croats, Tiverians, the Türkic Bulgars, who constituted his domain, and Suvars, Finno-Ugric Meryas, Vepses, Ests, and Danish Viking mercenaries.

2. The whole Viking army of Ugyr Lachini was worth 300 grivnas of silver per year, or ~28-29 kg. It was not “Rus regiments“, but no more than a couple of hundred-strong ruthless mercenary band with an annual enlistment.

3. After the death of Lachyn (aka Rürik, 855-882), his brother-in-law or maternal grandfather Salahbi Yolyg (aka Oleg, Oleg the Seer, Olaf, 882-912) was the Ilchibek (regent) for Igor (Ugyr Lachini, 912-945, aka Igor I the Old, Ingvar) with a seat in Ladoga, 862-864, then Novgorod, 864-882, then Kyiv 882-on. The Besenyo-Rus treaty was made with just enthroned petty heir, not a powerful ruler.

4. Lachyn (aka Rürik) hid in Ladoga for two years. In 864 he moved to Novgorod. These were Finno-Slavic, pre-Rus bases. In 882 Lachyn treacherously captured Kyiv from the Vikings in service of Khazars. The just baked state, and its army, simply did not exist in the 915 yet, whatever the patriotic propaganda is saying. Undoubtedly, the Badjanaks were aware that they are dealing with a splinter “state“ just stolen from the Khazars, and could play Rus vs Khazars game, concluding a typical nomadic-sedentary treaty with the Rus.

5. Ugyr (Igor) also must were aware that the Badjanaks just demolished plenty of his Ak- and Kara-Bulgarian relatives, and was not about to be next in line.

6. Most likely, Badjanaks were satisfied with an annual tribute of produce, grains and honey, and both sides were happy with the arrangement. For some reasons the Rus Annals do not dwell on any Rus setbacks, but belch with pride on any Rus success.

Nevertheless, the Badjanaks continued to maintain diversified and brisk relations with the Rus. Byzantium was concerned with it, and also with the rise of Rus, and constantly pitted Badjanaks against the Rus, because the Ruses, according to Constantine Porphyrogenitus, could not neither be at war, nor trade, if they were not in peace with the Badjanaks, therefore they constantly were “occupied to have peace with Pachinakits“. Besides the peace treaty of 915, the Rus chronicler notes one more, this time already a military alliance made by Prince Igor with Badjanaks in the 944 for a joint raid to Byzantium: “collecting warriors of many Varyags, and Rus, and Polyans, and Slovens, and Kriviches, and Badjanaks... set out against Greeks in boats and on horses“. The Emperor Roman, hearing about it, sent towards them “the best Boyars“ (Boyars, Türk. “Nobles“),  paid off Igor and Badjanaks, by sending them “cloth and gold“. Igor decided to stop the campaign, however it did not relieve him of obligation to settle with Badjanaks, who joined this campaign for the opportunity to loot the captured lands. Instead of the Byzantine possessions, Igor had to divert Badjanaks to “fight the Danube Bulgarian land“.

Igor tried neutralizing Badjanaks not only by a conclusion of a peace treaty, but also with the force of the weapons. In the 920, he attacked them. Who won that campaign and where Rus attack was directed is not known. No other messages about Rus attacks were preserved in the annals. And to organize them then was hardly possible. The Badjanaks, pasturing in the huge spaces of the N.Pontic steppes, were practically uncatchable, coaching the year around, spending all time in the carts and on horses (this stipulation conflicts with the statements of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who specifically noted locations and names of the Bajanak's cities: Aspron, Toungatai, Kraknakatai, Salmakatai, Sakakatai, Giaioukatai; the Bajanak's economy was primarily based on sheep husbandry, the sheep herds do not traverse great distances; any attack of few-hundred strong Rus mercenary “army“ against much stronger and well-organized people did not have a chance, except for a local predatory raid against undefended settlement when its men were elsewhere, the only tactics used by the Rus Princes over the centuries).

The Badjanaks were at the so-called “tabor“ stage of nomadism that is characterized by quite advanced social relations: military democracy. The eight “femas“, which is possible to view as associations such as hordes (i.e. tribal unions), were headed by the Khans, “archonts“ as Constantine Porphyrogenitus called them. The hordes (i.e. a tribal unions) were divided onto 40 divisions, i.e. each horde (i.e. tribal union) had five clans. This structure of the Badjanak's society was traced by the ethnographers to some presently existing peoples, in particular to the Karakalpaks. The clans were headed by “arhonts“ of a lower rank, the lesser Khans. The role of the tribal and clan Khans in the conditions of the military democracy was reduced to a role of a military leader. Constantine Porphyrogenitus wrote down the names of the first Khans who led Badjanaks in capturing the Eastern European steppes: Baitzas (horde Irtim), Kourkoutai (Gila) (Kangar, Ch. 康居 Kangju, Kangüy; tai/sai/zai is Turkic "clan", the name is that of "Dede Kurkut" epos), Kaidoum (Charaboi) (modern Horvats, Croats), Giazis (Chopon), Konel (Tzour), Ipaos (Koulpei), Batas (Tzopon), Kostas (Talmat).

Probably, each horde operated to a large degree independently. During plundering and occupation campaigns and wars some of them grew especially rich and separated to be on their own (plundering whom? occupying what? enriching from whom? this derogatory attitude has only rhetorical value, and is totally out of place).

The Byzantine emperor relays: “Pachinakits also are called Kangar, but not all of them, but the people of three femas: Iavdiirti, Kuartsitsur and Chavuksingila, as more courageous and noble, than the others: for this is the meaning of the nickname Kangar“. The Kangar femas apparently originated from “Kangüy“ (Ch. Kanguy, Kangju  康居) and from the very beginning, from the formation of the Badjanak federation, they were at the head of the union. Apparently, the heads of the three “chosen“ hordes, the Khans Kurkute, Vaitsu and Kuel were the most glorious and powerful in the Badjanak's land. The semantics of the Khans' names seems to me to be very significant. Respectively, they are: “Wolf“, “Storm“ or “Typhoon Wind “ (?), “Strong El“ - “Strong Ruler“ (?)

Nevertheless, they even could not hand down power to their sons. The power was inherited by cousins or cousins' children, “for the honor not to remain constantly in one branch of a clan, but that honor be inherited and received as well by the relatives on the lateral line. Nobody from outside clans interferes and does not become archont“, concludes the emperor Constantine his scholarship on the social order of the Badjanaks.

The described by him somewhat unusual order of inheritance, it seems, suggests matrilineage of the kinship, or at least the remnants of the matriarchal law. It should be noted, that the vestiges of the matriarchy were, apparently, generally characteristic for the nomads; some of its features, as we shall see below, are also well traced in the Kipchak society.

S.A. Pletneva displays an excessive modesty, she must be well aware of the typical for all Türkic societies of all times lateral system of succession, widely documented starting from the Chinese annals of the first millennium BC through the Middle Ages in Europe. The vestiges of this tradition are also clearly traced in the Rus history: election to the Grand Knyaz was lateral, and the disputes about the succession lead to chronic internecine wars so well known from the early history of Rus and other surrounding Türkic states, including the Kipchak Khanaate, from which the Russian state emerged. The succession order is intended to have a most able person to lead a country, and has nothing to do with matriarchate. What S.A. Pletneva terms as matriarchate is a normal human respect to and recognition of women, so foreign to the ancient European, Indo-Iranian and Semitic traditions. That Türkic trait was first documented in the Etruscan society, when the Greeks and Latins were stunned by the respect and position held by the women in the Etruscan traditions. See the works of M.Adji about the cultural impact of the Late Antique Türkic traditions on the European Middle Age psyche (in Russian and English). On the traditional matrimonial unions among Huns, Usuns, and Türks, reflected in the name of the maternal tribe “Badjnaks“ = “In-laws“, see the works of Yu.Zuev.

For the following paragraphs: S.A. Pletneva uses F.Engels' template to narrate her social observations. F.Engels, a “classic“ of Marxism-Leninism, is the first entry in her work's Literature List, even though the Russian alphabet still starts with “A“, and not with “E“. Evidently, her work was composed much earlier, when these schemes and citations were mandatory in the “scientific“ works, and we can enjoy the full splendor of these orthodox discourses. F.Engels was heavy on both terms “matriarchate“ and “military democracy“, he created a simplistic scheme, and all Soviet writers had to fit real life phenomena into the shoes of the Marxistic scheme.

The Khans were military leaders and apparently possessed executive authority. In extraordinary cases Badjanaks, as is known from the later (11th century) sources, called a “meeting“ that was, in essence, a national assembly, a most typical body of the military democracy. Bishop Bruno and the Byzantine Princess Anna Comnena mention that. The constant wars, participation in plundering campaigns are the most typical features of that social order (for an educated critique of that traditional perception see Backwith, 2009, “Empires of the Silk Road“). For that reason, Badjanaks could be so easily incited for any campaign against any country whose robbery would bring them benefit. We already know that the Byzantines used them most often. However, and they themselves were constantly mindful about their Crimean possessions, in particular for the Chersonesus, to which walls the Badjanaks probably frequently coached to closely (in fact, quite improbably. From the Hunnic times, the Crimean steppes were occupied by the Scythian tribes, who symbiotically co-existed with the Greek colonies south of them, and Bulgar ranges north of them. There is also literary evidence that Crimea was also Shared by the Scythian Akathyrsi, a tribe separate from the Crimean Scythians. There is no literary or archeological evidence that Badjanaks forced themselves into Crimea, or conflicted with its population).

In the 965, during a reign of the Prince Svyatoslav, Badjanaks participated in the Rus campaign against Khazaria. There is no direct data, but not without a reason the Byzantine emperor emphasized an impossibility for the Ruses to engage in international wars without a prior agreement with the Badjanaks.

In that campaign Svyatoslav inevitably had to cross the Badjanak's steppes to reach the Khazarian cities: the Sarkel, which was taken the first and was ravaged by his army, and then the Itil somewhere on the Lower Itil. The peace of Svyatoslav with the steppe-dwellers was short-lived. Three years later (i.e. in the 968) Badjanaks organized a big campaign against the Rus. Svyatoslav at that time waged an aggressive war against Danube Bulgaria, and it is quite probable that the Byzantines, frightened by the close neighborhood of the Rus cohort, incited this campaign against the country weakened by the absence of its prince and the best part of his cohort (Svyatoslav was bought by the Greeks for 15 centinarii, of which fact S.A. Pletneva could not possibly have not known, and possibly Greeks were taking advantage of interregnum between Peter I, 927-969, and Boris II, 969-971. The Rus tradition held that Svyatoslav altruistically wanted to relocate his capital to the Pereslavl in the Danube Bulgaria, which conflicts with the expense account of the Greeks. The 15 centinarii, if it is a count of solidi, gives 1,500 solidi at 20 solidi/lb,  weigh 75 lb, or 35 kg of gold, for an army numbering at most 2,000 mercenaries). The Rus chronicler reports that Badjanaks laid a siege to Kyiv. The city and princess with princesses were saved by a commander Pretich, who came to Kyiv after being notified about the calamity that befell the city by an adolescent Kyivan, who made his way through the Badjanak's encirclement and swam across Dnieper to get to the Chernihiv (at that time still called Karajar in Türkic) soldiers, who were encamped on the left bank of Dnieper and did not know about distress of the capital city.

The interesting part of this story was that the juvenile pretended to look for his horse, holding a bridle in his hands, he crossed the Badjanaks' lines, and the Badjanaks did not recognize a foreigner in this Kyivan. Provided that there was some dialectal difference between the Bulgaro-Khazarian populace of Kyiv, and the newcomer Badjanaks, even the Slavic-Bulgarian bi-linguism would not help in that situation. The Kyivan boy was speaking in his own language, and his language must were darn close to the Badjanak language.

The Badjanaks, seeing the arriving Rus cohorts of Pretich, decided that it was Svyatoslav creeping to them from the rear, his glory of invincibility was so strong that the steppe-dwellers retreated without engaging in fight, and the Badjanak's prince asked Pretich for peace and friendship, and exchanged weapons with him: a horse, a saber, and arrows for armor, a shield and a sword. During the exchange of these courtesies, Svyatoslav really returned together with his cohorts to the Rus, gathered warriors, and expelled Badjanaks into the fields, i.e. far to the steppe, and confirmed again his peace with them. But not for a long time. In the 969 Olga died, and there was nobody left to keep the irrepressible prince in the house.

Svyatoslav appearance, cited by Soloviev as Svyatoslav's description left by Leon Diakon: “Svyatoslav sailed in a boat to the meeting place across Danube, rowing with an oar together with others rowers. He was of the middle height, with a flat nose, blue eyes, dense eyebrows, few hair in the beard and long, shaggy moustache. All hair on his head was shaved, except for one lock, that was hanging on both sides, which signified his noble origin. His neck  was thick, the breast wide, and all other members very gracious. All his exterior presented something gloomy and furious. In one ear hung an earring, decorated with a karbunkul (rubi) and two pearls. His white robe differed from the clothes of other Ruses only by its cleanness“.

Anybody who grew up un a Slavic country would immediately recognize the patently non-Slavic appearance and culture. And anybody familiar with the ancient Türkic customs would immediately recognize a Türkic noble. As the Bulgarian Nominalia said: (Before Asparukh...) with shaven heads we ruled for 515 years on the other side of the river (Danube)... .

Nobody in their sane mind would confuse the description of the first ruler of the incipient Rus with a Viking. The tale of the Vikings called upon to preside over a disunited countryside was invented centuries later. Composed by political aspirants who set out to recreate the history of Rus, they started the Orvellian period of Rus that was to last for 700 years. They could rewrite it all in their own domain. Fortunately for us, they could not rewrite them all. The fictitiousness of the initial story of the Rus was discovered soon after the start of the study of the annals, and now it is a recognized fact which, for some strange Russian logic, does not preclude scientists and everybody else from widely citing them.

 In any case, Svyatoslav (his Türkic name was Barys, and we know that his son's tamga was a trident, the old Sarmatian and Bulgarian tamga of the royal clan), he ruled in 945-972, and he was nothing like his fake Greek-like image depicted in the Granovitaya Hall of the Armory in Kremlin in Moscow. Someone was grossly lying, either the Moscow portraitist, or Leon the Diakon...

Svyatoslav son's Vladimir zolotnik 980-1016 AD
With trident tamga

Barys (Svyatoslav )
clan tamga
Onogur traibal areas
surrounding Onoguria (Gr. Phanagoria)
Hun state Crimean Onogur clans
Fig. 5-50 Fig. 5-49

On-Ogur = Ten Tribes (Türk)

To make things even more savory, here is a table showing tamgas of the Kushans. Anybody not entirely blind would note the familial connections that can't be ascribed to the Vikings even with the wildest fantasy:

After dividing the Rus between his already matured sons, Svyatoslav set out in the 971 on a conquest of Danibe Bulgaria (actually, in 967-969, during the interregnum). The beginning was favorable for the Rus prince, then started failures, and then he recolled, that leaving Kyiv he did not conclude a new peace with the Badjanaks. Svyatoslav had to return across the hostile steppes across along the Dnieper to the home, to Kyiv.

Bulgars and Byzantines hastened to inform Badjanaks that Svyatoslav is moving from Dorostol with “uncounted“ captured and with “a small cohort“. Badjanaks set an ambush at the Dnieper cataracts, waiting for Svyatoslav. Svyatoslav, discovering it,  decided to winter in Beloberejie. The wintering was hungry and cold. In the spring the weakened soldiers could not break through the Badjanak's encirclement, and when Svyatoslav came to the cataracts, the Badjanak's chieftain Kurya assaulted them and killed Svyatoslav. Kurya ordered then to cut off Svyatoslav's head and to make a goblet framed in gold from his skull. Making goblets  from the skulls of the killed enemies was a custom widely spread in the Türkic world (Iakinf Bichurin, II, p.117). The nomads believed that in this way to them would pass the power and courage of the slain enemy. It is interesting, that Khan Kurya and his wife drank from that ritual goblet to have a son like Svyatoslav. About this mighty and brave knight were composed legends not only in the Rus, but also in the steppes.

This drinking cup from the skull of an enemy is present in all records about Türkic traditions for 2 millennia, starting from Herodotus and his Scythians, and stretching well into the Late Middle Ages. A few of them have preserved, due to the artful golden framing, taken as booty after a conquest and stored in royal treasures, and now are displayed in the museums. Some of them may even come with a pedigree, because the owner of the skull was widely known, and the looters could capture the custodians of the Khan's treasury or his servants, and record the legendary story while inventorying the plunder.

S.A.Pletneva alludes to the Türkic custom of the Eastern Huns in N.Bichurin's translation of the Chinese annals: Laoshan Shanuy (174-161 BC, Ch. “Laoshang“ means “old and elevated“, it is a calque of the Türkic “Aga“, his name was “[A]giyui“ = “Aga-Yui“ =  “Old Respected Yui“ =  “Old Respected Uigur“) made a drinking cup from the skull of the Yuechji Sovereign before 162 BC, and that drinking cup was used in 47 BC for a sacred oath by Huhanye Shanuy.


After the death of Svyatoslav, the offensive activity of the Badjanaks has increased. In response to it the new Kyiv prince Vladimir (his Türkic name was Budimir, 980-1015. S.A. Pletneva skips the reign of Yaropolk, his elder brother dethroned in a coup, and the Badjanak-Rus relations during his 972-980 reign), a son of Svyatoslav, started an atypical fortification of the state's southern borders:  fortification along Desna, and Ustrya, to the Trubeshev, and along Sula, and along Stugna. He settled guards from all ends of the Rus in these fortifications. At that time were built a part of the well-known Snake Bulwarks and those already existing were renewed and upgraded.

The Chinese Xi/Si/Kumosi 奚, Mongolian Kai, Arabo-Persian Kimak, Türkic Gilyan/Djilayan/Uran/Uryankhai = Uran-Kai, Slavic Zmei/Cheshuev, Russian Kai, Hungarian Kun, Armenian Ots, all with semantics of “snake“, and tamga depicting snake , were “Dunghu“ Mongolian people incorporated in the 3rd c. BC by the Eastern Hun's Shanyu Mode into the Eastern Hun's state. A portion of the Xi escaped into remote mountains, called Syanbi and Uhuan, and later became known as independent Mongolian tribes Syanbi/Xianbei/N.Xian 鲜卑 and Uhuan/Wuhuan 乌桓 . The Kai tribe, which by the 650 AD was associated with the Ogur Türkic Huns and their Türkic descendents for 850 years, apparently was completely Turkified by the time when they became a dynastic tribe of the Kimak Kaganate. Apparently, a Kai tribe led the Kipchak migration to the Eastern Europe, establishing a dynasty of Sharukhanids, called Zmievs and Cheshuevs by the Slavs. The “Snake Bulwarks“ mentioned by S.Pletneva are the defense fortifications built against the Sharukhanids. The “Snake Bulwarks“ is a folkloric term that survived to the present.

The presence of the Kai/Kimaks in the E.European conglomerate that became known under a generic term “Kipchak“ is beyond any doubts. The identification of the Kai/Kimaks with the Kumans is logical, though it lacks a direct and unequivocal confirmation of a contemporary witness. However, it leaves room for an alternative: the Kumli people. “Kumli“ is a dialectal form of “Kumlar“, meaning “people of sands“, “desert people“, it is a generic name for the inhabitants of the Karakum desert, who largely abandoned territory between the Caspian and Aral seas after Uzboy went dry in the 8th c. The Kumli people were Oguzes (Uzboy means Uz/Oguz River) and Oguz Badjanaks. The addition of a natural disaster does not have to conflict with another cause for the westward migration, which was a domino effect of the tribes who infringed on the Kimak Kaganate from the east, but that made the situation more dire: the loss of pastures able to support substantial population of chattel and people removed an option that could have been used to absorb the displaced tribes, and instead added the refugees from the Usurt plateau into the melee. The timing of the desertification coincided with a front wave of the Badjanak assault, and these Kumli refugees may have produced the Greek appellation “Kuman“. Phonetically, “Kumli“ seems to be closer to “Kuman“ then “Kimak“.

About these fortifications-bulwarks located south of Stugna, mentions traveling in the Eastern Europe bishop Bruno in the letter in the beginning of the 11th century: “The Rus sovereign saw me off for two days to the last limits of his state, which for safety from the enemy over very big space in all directions are surrounded by the bulwarks“. This message is also interesting because, judging by it, the distance between Rus and Badjanak's pastures doubled (to 60 km) compared with that of the Constantine Porphyrogenitus' time, at which it was equal one day travel (that defines the radius of the Rus “powerful“ domain, 30-40 km from the center).

Despite of the successful as a whole Vladimir's policy in respect to the Badjanaks, despite the fortification of the borders and gradual expansion of the territory, the Badjanaks hung as a heavy cloud over the Rus. In  the 993 they crossed Sula and stopped on the left bank of the Trubej. On the other side opposite them lined his cohort Vladimir. Because both sides hesitated to begin a battle, the Badjanak's Khan (who?) offered to Vladimir a single combat of bogatyrs (“mighty men“. S.A. Pletneva is not braving the fate by using a Türkic word, she could not avoid it, Russian has only this word). In case of the Badjanaks' victory his tribesmen by agreement  could be free to plunder Rus for three years, a victory by a Rusian would bring them three quiet years, the Badjanaks for these years promised not to raid the Rus' borderlands. The Rus bogatyr won and saved Rus from ruin. The Badjanaks fled, the Ruses went in pursuit and killed many with swords and sabers. Vladimir in the place of the victory built city and has named it Pereyaslavl.

For three years the Badjanaks really did not raid Rus, until in the 996 again began a wearisome struggle of the Rus with the steppe. The chronicler wrote about these last years of the first millennium: “unending wars“. Judging from the annalistic records, the Badjanaks would come to a town, probably  selected beforehand, take it, plunder its vicinities and retreat with the captured to the steppe.

They had no special tools for breaching walls, and therefore as a rule they were starving out (as when they wanted to capture Kyiv in the Olga's and Svyatoslav's  time) the besieged. The annals preserved an interesting legend story about the siege of the Belograd by the  Badjanaks. When a bad famine began in the city, the Belogradians came up with a ruse: from the last stocks collected from the whole city, they cooked a barrel of gelled punch and a barrel of porridge, and fit them into specially made wells, and then invited 10 of the best Badjanak's nobles into the city and treated with the meal from the wells. The amazed Badjanaks ascertained that the townspeople were not deceiving telling that they have the “food from the earth“, and that siege was not threatening them: stay there for ten years and keep ruining yourselves, said the Belogradians. The Badjanak's Khans, having tasting the gelled punch and porridge, ordered to retreat from the city. However such “happy endings“ happened seldom, usually the small towns were burned, people were taken to slavery, the cultivated lands were trodden. Therefore the Prince Vladimir tried in every possible way to keep peace. In the first years of the 11th century the bishop Bruno, traveling through the Rus to the the land of Badjanaks, on behalf of the Rus prince concluded a peace with Badjanaks. The Rus prince pledged to observe a number of conditions of the steppe-dwellers, and turned over his son as a security hostage for the peace. What those requirements consisted of can be only guessed.

Before we proceed to the habitual patriotism-distorted guesses, here are standard terms of vassalage between the nomads and others:
1. Direct military participation in the suzerain's campaigns with a right for booty for the participant, or a monetary compensation for non-participation;
2. Nominal tribute, depending on the wealth or occupation of the population, like a pelt and two-pence from a household based on approved census for forest-dwelling Rus' subjects;
3. A marriage of a vassal's son to a daughter of the suzerain, which gave him a status of father-in-law of the vassal, a very special position in Türkic societies, which also included a right of the father-in-law to raise his male grandkids.

Probably, Badjanaks, as usual, demanded payoffs, and the hostage was apparently the unloved son of Vladimir, Svyatopolk. Not accidentally Svyatopolk used Badjanaks' help in his struggle for his father's throne after the death of the Prince Vladimir. For four years the Badjanaks were participating in the revolt, plundering and ruining the Rus. In the 1019 Svyatopolk for the last time came with powerful Badjanak force. (His older brother) Yaroslav the Wise (Mudriy), who already settled on the Kyiv throne, gathered cohorts and defeated his brother. The defeat of the Badjanaks in that fight was so bad that in the beginning of the Yaroslav's reign the pressure of Badjanaks weakened considerably. The Ruses were not slow to take advantage of a respite, and in the 1032 Yaroslav started building fortifications in the “neutral territory“. Thus, the Rus was grabbing the territory that previously for a long time (what is this S.A. Pletneva “long time“? 20 years? 50? 1019-1032?) remained a neutral zone separating it from the (millenniums old) nomadic steppe.

Trying to retain the reputation of invincible and terrible opponents, Badjanaks made a desperate attempt to crush or at least to temporarily weaken the Rus. For this purpose they went on a campaign to Kyiv in the 1036. Yaroslav came from Novgorod with a strong Viking-Slavic cohort. Understanding apparently the consequences of the forthcoming battle, Yaroslav carefully prepared for it. Three regiments from the city fought Badjanaks in the place where at the time of whiting the annals already stood the Sofia cathedral. Yaroslav won the battle, actually destroying the Badjanak's control.

However, the name of Badjanaks did not disappear from the pages of various (multi-lingual) medieval manuscripts. We also not once shall return to them in our book.

Chapter 1. (continued)
Eastern European steppes at the border of two millennia
(i.e. in the 1000 AD)

Oguzes (Slav. “Uzes, Torks (Türks)“)


In the beginning of the 11th century new nomadic hordes, called in the Rus annals Torks, in the Byzantine chronicles Uzes, and in the eastern compositions Oguzes flooded the Eastern European steppes. Oguzes displaced Badjanaks from their former stans and pastures, and forced them to search for new lands in the west.

The Oguzes, right after the capture the steppes east of Itil, began showing an active interest to their main western neighbor, the Khazarian Kaganate. Documents have preserved that already in the middle of the 10th century they plundered the Kaganate, crossing Itil on ice in the winter. In the bad for the Khazars year of Svyatoslav campaign (965) the Oguzes joined Ruses to rob the weakened state.

On the border of the Khazarian Kagan domain in the trading small town-fortresses Sarkel at the end of the 9th century settled Badjanak mercenaries who formed a nomadic garrison of the fortress. The natives of the Oguz hordes constantly poured in, asking for peace and protection in the Sarkel (Türk. Sary Kel = White Fort). This Badjanak-Oguz garrison also continued to function after the capture of the Sarkel by Svyatoslav and his conversion of it into a Rus steppe advanced post White Fort. Gradually near Sarkel - White Fort grew a new political formation: Badjanak-Oguz horde. Near the city appeared a nomadic Badjanak-Oguz cemetary. The members of the horde were connected not by blood relations, but by administrative authority which initially was a Khazarian governor of the Sarkel, and later a head of the Rus cohorts left by Svyatoslav in the fortress.

This example well illustrates the fact of gradual penetration of Oguzes in N.Pontic steppes. Apparently, their separate groups and pastoral clans could move about freely enough in the Badjanak's possessions.

This version of events tries to reconcile the irreconcilable: PVL claims that Svyatoslav captured Sarkel, which it calls by its Slavic translation, White Fort, and the Russian historians insist that Rus retained control of it, making it a Slavic island in the Türkic sea (or, in another Russian version, all the land around it already belonged to Rus and was already populated by Slavs). Per S.A.Pletneva, it was surrounded by the Badjanak territory everywhere, and access roads and supplies had to cross the Badjanak lands against which it was supposedly peopled by the Slavic guards (Artamonov etc.). That unrealistic scenario is contradicted by the archeological investigations of S.A.Pletneva, who found there Türkic kurgans with Badjanak and Oguz type burials. To explain it away within the framework of the accepted doctrines, S.A.Pletneva turns a blind eye to reason, and builds an improbable scenario about poor poor Oguz refugees asking for peace and protection in the Sarkel. These are the same Oguzes who at that time are aggressively tackling Khazars and Ruses. The reason for this concoction is simple: Russian historiography declared that Khazaria was dismantled by the raid of 965, the Khazars had dispersed, and left a vacuum that was filled by transitory Badjanaks and Oguzes. Bulgaria evaporated from the N.Pontic with its submission to Khazaria. And all these vacated lands naturally fell into the Russian lap, where they belonged to begin p. But S.A.Pletneva's works (not her reports) indicate that Badjanak and Oguz tribes were in the Khazar federation ruled by the Ashina clan, or in the Bulgarian federation led by the Dulo clan, and well after they were officially proclaimed dead and nowhere to be found they were obligated to man the Khazarian or Bulgarian fortifications. And the “sudden“ appearance of the Oguzes at the end of the 9th century is not too true either, for the Oguzes were the Khazarian allies and subjects already for 350 years, because they were a main component of the allied force that dislodged the Bulgarian ruling dynasty Dulo, to which belonged the children of the Bulgarian Kurbat Khan. So far for the “gradual penetration of Oguzes in N.Pontic steppes“ and Rus' Sarkel.

That example illustrates well the fact of gradual penetration of the Oguzes into N.Pontic (“southern Russian steppes“ in the original). Apparently, their separate units and pasturing tribes could fairly freely move around in the Bajnak's possessions. In 985, Oguzes concluded an alliance with Vladimir, a son of Svyatoslav, and went with him and his (maternal) uncle Dobrynya to a campaign against Bulgars. Some believe that Vladimir went traditionally against the Danube Bulgars (like his father and grandfather), others believe that these Bulgars were the “black“ Bulgars (Kara Bulgars; note that “kara“ also means “western“, making them “Western Bulgars“, and correspondingly the Ak-Bulgars are “Eastern Bulgars“) that lived, in the opinion of the majority of researchers, in the Crimean steppes, a third identify these Bulgars with the Itil Bulgaria. The last hypothesis seems to me the most likely. At that time the Itil Bulgaria became a fairly strong and rich state. Being in the rear of the Rus, and besides blocking the Itil trading road connecting the countries of the north and the east, it started seriously obstruct the young, gaining force Rus state (Provided that Bulgaria by 985 existed for 600 years, and Rus existed for 60 years, who started obstructing whom needs a serious rephrasing. In addition, in 985 Bulgaria reclaimed its possessions that were freed from the Khazar usurpation, maintaining the traditional djien system, while the princes of the incipient Rus eyed these possessions as their potential tributaries). A clever and active prince Vladimir in the beginning of his reign had to think of the opponent that really was giving him problems. There is information that in the 90es he twice campaigned against the Itil Bulgaria (Vladimir, along with Oguzes, joined the internecine war on the side of Ibragim's revolt against Vladimir's cousin Timar, 981-1004, exactly like the Bulgars, Oguzes and Badjanaks were always called for help by the Rus' pretenders, and participated in the Rus internecine wars). The Rus annals tell about this campaign that after Bulgaria Vladimir attacked Khazars and imposed tribute (RPC, I, p. 59) (quite the opposite, Vladimir lost most of his army, and had to pledge to Bulgars to keep paying the Rostov rent). Thus, Vladimir with Dobrynya in the 985 attacked the Itil Bulgaria. Vladimir's allies in that campaign were the Oguzes (Türks). The Türks rode up the river to the Itil Bulgaria approximately 400 km north of their pastures, and Vladimir sailed down Oka to the Itil (i.e. Vladimir brought Viking mercenaries and Slav militia from Smolensk/Shamlyn. See Chapter 15 Reign of Timar for a fascinating political background).

Anyway, it is clear that to join the Rus cohort, the Oguz Türks had to cross the lands of one of the Badjanak's possessions, probably Talmat lands (since Oguzes rode approximately 400 km north up the Itil river to the Itil Bulgaria, why would they need to cross Badjanak's lands?).

The Bulgars were defeated by the joint efforts of the Rus and Oguz units. Later, they (Ruses and Oguzes) together clobbered down the Khazars, and apparently greatly enriched themselves in that campaign (See Chapter 15 Reign of Timar for the peace terms; the Rus version of the events is quite different from the Bulgarian version).

After that successfully completed joint campaign the Oguz Türks, apparently, continued relations with the Rus. To the Rus cities were coming to serve the people from the Türkic ranges like they were coming earlier to the Sarkel and other Khazarian cities (in a less Hurray-patriotic scenario, more likely the cantonized structure of the Türkic heritage has remained in the budding Rus, similar to that described in the Itil and other Khazarian cities. The Slavs were controlled by the Slavic chieftains, Jews by Jewish leaders, etc, with different degrees of suzerainty over different groups).

As a rule, they served for a good pay: they were hired by the masters who paid more, or were at present in a favorable political position. In an opposite situation, like any mercenaries, they switched over to the strongest side. So, is known a fact that an Oguz Türk was a cook for the young Murom's prince Gleb Vladimirovich, but he switched over to Svyatopolk who captured the Kyiv throne, and on an order of Svyatopolk he slaughtered his former patron. The annals' message about that event is also interesting because the Oguz Türk joined the retinue of the prince in one of the extreme easternmost Rus princedoms. It can be an additional testimony that even in the beginning of the 11th century (the murder took place in the 1015) the Oguz Türks were still coaching in the eastern regions of the Eastern European steppes.

There is definitely a need for a better resolution: Oguzes came to the N.Pontic as an army (horde), hired by the Khazar government to counter the onslaught of the Badjanaks. Oguzes they were only in name, they were a collection of military units that included Horezmians, Kipchaks, Kimaks/Kuns, Karakalpaks, and whatever other ethnic entity agreed to risk their lives for promises of pay and booty. Most of the mercenaries returned home to their herds and families, a part stayed behind in the Khazarian domains. Who came later, with their families and herds, came on their own, seceding from the protection of the Oguz Yabgu state. The N.Pontic was utterly cantonal, the old djien system covered only the old aboriginal peoples, and the newcomers did not fit in the old scheme. As mercenary tribes, the Oguz migrants had to render military service to the Khazar landowners, for the opportunity to graze in their lands, but that was limited by the Khazar's ability to control them, which was greatly diminished and kept diminishing, and the Bulgar rulers did not venture to attempt to subjugate them. The flailing Oguz Yabgu state did not extend their control to the N.Pontic, and until the mass arrival of the Kipchaks, with their reigning hierarchy, the N.Pontic steppes belonged to their inhabitants, who arbitrated themselves their pasturing routs, and decided for themselves who to associate with. Our knowledge of the situation is very poor, to a degree that we even do not know which of the 24 Oguz tribes had their presence in the N.Pontic steppes. It could very well be that the Oguz tribe of Kangars (Kangly) in the N.Pontic reunited with the Badjanak confederation, the Oguz tribe of Kipchaks reunited with the Kipchak confederation, and some other tribes went under generic Oguz name, at the same time remaining themselves distinct ethnicities. The Black Klobuks (Karakalpaks), for example, became a state within a state, they allied with the Rus hierarchy, and played a strong political hand, selecting successors and taking sides, a role that continued into the Russian state and ended only with Peter I suppressing a revolt of the “streltsy“ musketeers.

Approximately at that time, within the Oguz hordes (i.e. confederation), who were coaching in the Aral area steppes, began the so-called Seljuk movement. The Oguzes, passing through the deserts and oases of the Middle Asia, took over the Asia Minor and formed the Türkish empire of Seljuks (aka Selcuks). The (splinters of the) northern Oguzes intended to cross the N.Pontic steppes and in the Byzantine join with the main forces of the Seljuks, who were pressing the Byzantine empire from the south. The Badjanaks inevitably were drawn in that powerful movement, some Badjanaks joined it, the others were destroyed (the S.A.Pletneva's missive of Badjanaks' destruction in 1055 grossly conflicts with the S.A.Pletneva's archeological findings). The Oguz Türks tried to not clash with the Rus cohorts: first, because the Rus lands were far from their path (they were moving in the steppes); and secondly, the Türks benefited from good neighborhood, because they were saving their force for the war with the Byzantine empire.

A better explanation would be that being relatively isolated, surrounded by many different peoples, and burdened by their households and their herds, the Oguzes knew their vulnerability, and tried to stay away from the troubles. Those Oguz clans and tribes that ventured into the unpredictable N.Pontic have already separated from the main body of their countrymen and their leadership, they could improve their position by reuniting with both of them, and a prospect of a war with the Byzantine empire could not be one of their best inspirations. S.Pletneva's etiology is influenced by peculiar psyche impregnated with paramount state-building, an unlikely inspiration for the people in search for better grazing and water for their herds.

Nevertheless, the Rus Princes Izyaslav, Svyatoslav and Vsevolod (all Yaroslav's sons, a so-called triumvirate) were apparently mindful of the danger that would threaten Kyiv in case the Oguz Türkic troops join Seljuks and Byzantine perished. In addition, it should be thought, the Byzantine politicos used all their pull  to involve the Rus into a struggle against the Oguz Türks. It is telling that a first Rus prince who started a war with the Oguz Türks was Vsevolod Yaroslavich, married to a “Greek Princess“.

That year (1055) the Oguz Türks (Torks), or rather one of their hordes (armies? tribes?) came too close to the Rus border, to the mouth of the river Sudy, where Ruses already staked a small town Voin (“warrior“ in Slavic). The horde (armies? tribes?) stopped there for the winter which, naturally, could not be pleasing for the inhabitants of the small town, because usually the Oguz Türks (Torks) tried to fill the winter shortage of forage with robbery of the Rus settlements (the previous discourse does not mention any of these Oguz Türks' “usual“ predations, it looks like a citation from the annals that seeks to justify the Rus predation. The Rus annals did not accuse of predation the Oguz mercenaries that joined the Rus Princes, though they were the same people who were accused across “we“ vs. “them“ divide). Prince Vsevolod fell on these Oguz Türks. The Oguz Türks were “defeated“ and driven away into the steppe. And five years after that small raid, in the 1060, all three princes of the triumvirate, with the Polotsk prince Vseslav collected “uncounted“ forces and on horses and in boats attacked the Oguz Türk. Having heard about approaching against the steppe Rus regiments, The Oguz Türk's military leaders did not engage in fight, and retreated far into the steppe. Then the chronicler briefly and expressively narrates about their fate: “they fled dying, some from the winter colds, others from hunger, others from diseases“ (PSRL, II, p. 152) (this is a telling story about heroic feats of the brave joint Rus Prince armies against peaceful and defenseless transients in a protective enclave wintering their herds, wrapped in a patriotic camouflage).

And in fact, after that the Oguz Türks (Torks) were not mentioned any more in the Rus annals as an independent political force. However, like the Badjanaks, the Oguz Türks were not completely destroyed. The overwhelming majority of the Oguz Türks who survived in the steppes, together with the Badjanaks coached to the Rus borders and enlisted in the service to the Rus Princes, for which they were assigned lands for pasturing in the lands adjoining the steppe.

A searches for strong patrons was necessary for both peoples, because from the east to the Eastern European steppes was already coming a new nomadic wave, surpassing in power the two previous. This new force were Kipchaks, who for the first time came to the southeastern border of Rus in the summer of the 1055. The Rus chronicler wrote about the first meeting quite favorably: “Came Blush with Kipchaks, and Vsevolod signed peace with them, and they returned“. Thus opened a new page in the joint history of the nomadic steppe and the Rus.

Chapter 2.

Kumaks and Kipchaks


The Arabian and Persian geographers, travelers  and historians of the 9th-10th centuries, in the sections of their compositions devoted to the peoples who lived in the Eastern European and Asian steppes remote from the Caliphate, were continuously mentioning the Kimak people and country. A first to name Kimaks and their Kipchak branch in the list of the Türkic tribes was a well-known Arab geographer Ibn Khordadbeh  (second half of the 9th century), who used in his work earlier compositions (possibly, even of the 8th century). A little later than Ibn Khordadbeh, al-Istahri and Ibn Haukal, drawing maps, tried to define location of the lands occupied by these peoples. Al-Masudi, who was a most educated historian of his time (10th century), gave more specific information about their location, and his contemporary Abu-Dulaf in his composition describes their economy and religious beliefs. Thus the knowledge about these, peripheral for the Arabo-Muslim world Türkic-speaking peoples, was gradually accumulating.

At the end of the 10th century the writers and scientists in the Caliphate capital were well informed about them, and they were known especially well in the Middle Asian states, where not only the inaccessible for the people books were written about them, but  the travel to the Kimak country was also narrated in the markets and chaihanas (chai houses).

The increased amount of information first of all showed up in the well-known Persian geographical treatise “Hudud-al-Alam“ (“Borders of the World“) which dedicated whole chapters to Kimaks and Kipchaks, and a great Middle Asian writer al-Biruni mentioned them in several compositions.

In the 11th century Gardizi wrote about Kimaks in composition “Ornamentation of news“ where is relayed a legend about settlement of this people, and in the 12th century a main source of study of the Kimak-Kipchak country, its occupations, and customs, became a large Arabic geographical composition by al-Idrisi.

A legend about the early history of Kimaks and Kipchaks was preserved in the Gardizi composition. The legend goes back to considerably earlier time than the source, specifically to the end of the 7th-8th century (this is inaccurate, the legend describes the events that happened immediately after the fall of the Seyanto Kaganate, 626-648, when the tribes of the Seyanto Kaganate fled to Irtysh).

In 7th century Kimaks pastured in the lands north of Altai, in the Irtysh area and were a part of the Western Türkic and partly Uigur Kaganates (this is inaccurate, the Western Türkic, 600/603-659, and Uigur, 740-840, Kaganates never co-existed). With the destruction of the  Uigur Kaganate crystallized the nucleus of the Kimak tribal union headed by a Shad (Prince) (this is inaccurate,  the origin of the Kimak tribal union and the Uigur Kaganate are unrelated;  the origin was connected with the Chinese aggression and revolt of Uigurs, who carried the dynastic traditions of the Eastern Huns, against their former vassal tribes of Tele, represented by Seyanto tribe). Here is how it is stated in the legend: “A Chief of Tatars died and left two sons; the senior son seized an empire, the younger began envying his brother; the name of the younger was Shad. He made an attempt on the life of the senior brother, but unsuccessful; afraid for himself, he fled with a slave-mistress from his brother and came to a place where was a big river, a lot of trees, and an abundance of game; there he put up his yurt and settled down.

 Every day this man and his slave went on hunting, ate meat and made clothes of sable fur, squirrels and ermines. After that seven men, relatives of Tatars, came  to them: the first Imi, the second Imak, the third Tatar, the fourth Bayandur, the fifth Kypchak, the sixth Lanikaz, the seventh Adjlad. These people grazed the herds of their misters; in the places where before the herds grazed, remained no pastures; looking for grass, they came to the side where was Shad. Seeing them, the slave-girl said: “Irtysh“, i.e. “stop“; from that, the river received its name Irtysh. Upon recognizing the slave-girl, they all stopped and set up yurts. The Shad, upon return, brought a lot of game from the hunt, and fed them; they remained there till the winter. When the snow fell, they could not come back; there was a lot of grass, and they spend the whole winter there. When the land cleared and snow melted, they sent a person to the Tatar camp to bring them news about their tribe. When he come there, he saw that the whole land was devastated and deserted by the population: an enemy came, plundered and annihilated all people. The remains of the tribe came down from the mountains to the that man, he told his friends about the Shad; they all went to Irtysh. Upon arriving there, everybody greeted Shad as a leader and began honoring him. The other people, hearing about that, began coming there too; gathered 700 men. For a long time they remained in the Shad service; and then, when they multiplied, they settled the mountains and formed seven tribes named after the seven men“ (Kumekov, 1972, pp. 35-36).

The fragment cited in its entirety is interesting because it tells, in simplified and schematical form, but probably on a whole close to the truth, the story about formation of the Kimak tribal union. Abundantly clear is that the Kimak union formed after a destruction of another political formation (in this case the Western Türkic and later the Uigur Kaganate) (actually, the Seyanto Kaganate, 626-648, which for a short time took over under Tele control the re-unified First Türkic Kaganate led by Ashina tribe, violently replacing the whole power and social structure of the Kaganate, but which fell under an internecine conflict sown by the Chinese Tang empire and Chinese-coordinated Uigur attack) of seven (Tele Oguz, who even were collectively called “Yeti Eren“ = “Seven men“) tribes who earlier were members of the Kaganates. In a similar way, as a rule, went the formation of all steppe nomadic and semi-nomadic empires during the Middle Age epoch (really?).

The tribe Imak (Yemak, Kimak) became the head of the union, and later of the Kimak Kaganate. In another transcription this tribal name sounds as “Kai“, which translated from Mongolian means “snake“ (Ch. Si < Hi < Γiei = giei = Qiy = Kiy = Mong. “snake“; Kimak = Kumo + Si ~ Kumosi ~ Kumohi; Kumo < Kuo-mak < Kimak, reconstruction by P.Pelliot; ref. Ahinjanov, 1989, p. 107-110; P.Pelliot in S.B.Taskin, 1969, p. 180).

It can't be excluded that during consolidation of this steppe federation of seven tribes appeared the expression: “A snake has seven heads“, cited by Mahmud Kashgari in his fundamental work “Genealogy of Türks“ (mind you, this fundamental work of Mahmud Kashgari, cited by anyone who is who in Türkology, has never been published in the former Russia, former Soviet Union, in the former China, present CPR, or anywhere else in the world by anybody who does not immure substantial portion of the Türkic people like do the Russia and China, except for a typewritten 1917 publication in Istanbul, Turkey, in Turkish. How do they get to cite it? Some kind of Türkological Samizdat? The Divan Lugat et-Turk was published in 1996: Mahmood Kashgari, Divan Lugat et-Turk, trans. M. Siyaqi, Tehran, Pajuheshgah-e Olum-e Ensani ve Motaleat-e Farhangi, 1073/1996).

The dominating Kimak tribe was settled mostly on the banks of Irtysh. The Kipchaks, described by Hudud al-Alam, occupied a separate territory located to the west, approximately in the southeast part of the Southern Ural. It is interesting that the Chinese chroniclers also wrote about the montane nature of the Kipchak land, in the chronicle Yuan-shi these mountains are named Üyli-Boli, and the Kipchaks are called “Tsyn-cha“ (etymology?). North of Kipchaks and Kimaks lay endless forest. Some sources stipulate that there (in the endless forest) lived the legendary tribes Yadjudj and Madjudj (or Gog and Magog).

Ibn Haukal's work of the 10th century enclosed a map showing that Kipchak-Kimak tribes pastured together with Oguzes in the steppes north of the Aral Sea, and al-Masudi at approximately the same time wrote that all of them were coaching along Emba and Yaik: “The distance between their estuaries is 10 days of travel; along them are winter stans and summer pastures of Kimaks and Oguzes“.

Other Arabic and Persian authors also knew about this close neighboring location. So, al-Marvazi wrote that “when between them (Kimaks and Oguzes) is peace, in the winter Kimaks were coaching down to Oguzes“, and Biruni, on the contrary, noted that Oguzes quite often pasture in the country of Kimaks. Some hordes of Kimak tribes quite often coached along the coast of the Caspian Sea: the “Shakh-name“ even calls that sea as Kimak's Sea.

The main western neighbors of Kimak-Kipchaks in the 10th c. were Bashkirs (pra-Bashkirs in the original), with whom at that time the westernmost  Kipchak hordes (clans?) established very close contacts.

In the 10th c. the Kimak union was a strong state known in the sources under a general name “Kimak Kaganate“. All tribes named in the Gardizi work belonged to it. The economic development of the Kimak association's tribes and hordes (clans?), who stretched their settlements and pastures over thousands kilometers of the steppe from Irtysh to the Caspian Sea, from taiga to the Kazakhstan semi-deserts, was uneven. First of all it is because of the different climatic and environmental conditions: the eastern areas differed from the western as much as the northern forest-steppe from the southern foothills of the Tian-Shan mountains. The Persian Anonym specially emphasized that Kipchaks living in the extreme western areas of the Kaganate lead a more primitive way of life than the Kimaks who live near Irtysh, where the center of the Kimak union was and the summer court of the Kimak Kagan, the city Imakiya.

The archeological research in the Irtysh area now allows to assert that Kimaks were semi-settled, and consequently were familiar with agriculture. Al-Idrisi in the 12th century wrote as a well-known fact about the cultivated lands in the country of Kimaks, about weat crops, barley and even rice, the agriculture was quite advanced. The medieval authors also testify about Kimak cities and  way of life. Al-Idrisi describes these cities in detail, emphasizing that all of them are well fortified, and in the Kagan city, where all Kimak aristocracy concentrated, were markets and temples. Apparently, in the central areas of the Kimak Kaganate was going a usual for nomadic peoples process of settling on the land, a transition of a significant part of the population to the agriculture and craft manufacture.

The diluted statements of S.A.Pletneva are in fact breakthrough events, cracking the molds of the decreed science and censoring barriers, both external and induced self-censorship. In the Russian historiography the nomads are traditionally depicted as only nomads and barbarians, and the settled people as superior to nomads, the superior settled people are naturally Slavics, and inferior nomads are Türkic and other inferiors. That is why in the original the “cities“ are in the quotation marks, implying their inferiority, and that is why the apologetic understatement qualifications like “relatively settled“, not unlike a “partially pregnant“. A more honest picture would mention a culture of widespread irrigation, tumuli of ancient settlements,  timber grave structures reflecting houses that were 1500 years old in the 10th c., and other traits of a complex pastoral and settled society in existence for millennia. The settling of the people, axiomatically taken as superior in the Russian nationalistic propaganda, was in fact a pauperization, when the people whose wealth (“tovar“ in Türkic and Slavic) was destroyed by wars and plunders, lost their herds and had to join their hapless Slavic counterparts with their subsistence farming. Though this attitude is also fairly endemic to the scholars in Europe, China, and N.America, a number of works demonstrated a higher productivity, higher standard of living,  and incompatibly more precious liberties and freedoms in the nomadic societies, compared with the sedentary agricultural populations of the Eurasia. The Chinese walls, for example, were built to keep the Chinese in, a la Berlin Wall, not to prevent the nomads from crossing in.

The first mentioning about Kimaks' settled life are recorded in the sources in the 9th-10th centuries, the blossom of their settled culture belongs to considerably later time of 11th-13th centuries. The Kazakh archeologists investigating Kimak cities note that all of them transitioned in the development from temporary settlements sheltering nomadic aristocrats to permanent settlements that became centers of craft and agriculture {Kumekov, 1972, pp. 98-107).

Sedentary life has led the population to the necessity to build more fundamental dwellings: in the cities and in the settlements alongside with felt yurts began to be widely used clay-walled semi-dugouts. Typically, both had the hearth in the center, like in the yurts: the ancient custom of reverence for the hearth, as a rule, lasted for a long time even for completely settled “nomads“.

Despite the transition to a settled way of life by a part of the Kimak Kaganate population, many its ethnoses in the 10th c. continued the habitual form of existence, the pastoral cattle breeding with some elements of sedentary life. Especially nomadic and pastoral cattle breeding were Kipchak hordes. This is testified by both the written sources, and by the archeological findings, namely by a full absence of any traces of a settled or semi-settled settlements in the lands occupied at the end of the 1st millennium  by the Kipchaks.

A less myopic view would see that any nomadic society consist of predominantly nomadic cattle-breeding sector, a local shepherd sector, and settled sector with subsistence cattle-breeding. The local pastoral economy and the settled cattle-breeding do not need new pastures, and any expansion or migration involves only a part of the nomadic cattle-breeding sector, which in time stabilizes in the new territory and grows with natural increase in population plus the immigration from the nuclear regions. The umbilical cord connecting the settled and semi-sedentary parts of the population with the advance nomadic portion remains as strong as it was before the onset of the migration. Thus, most of the provisions needed to support the nomadic fraction continue to be obtained from the traditional suppliers, and that includes the metal tools and equipment, home (yurt) construction, carriages, weaponry, textile, specific grains, and so on. With time, the local, possible non-Türkic suppliers, may start providing a part of the nomadic necessities. As long as the economy of cattle-breeding is more productive (and beneficial) than the economy of the subsistence farming, the increase in the settled populace results from the settlers' immigration, and not from the pauperization of the nomadic cattle breeders.

The technology of settled life existed long before the emergence of the nomadic economy, and it continued its development in parallel with the development of the nomadic technology, they always were complementing each other, and accentuate one while ignoring the other is a deliberately myopic view.

Another aspect not addressed by S.Pletneva is the presence in the country of the population that predated migration described in the Kimak origin legend. The country was not an empty space in the 6th c., there were nomadic peoples occupying non-agricultural lands, foot hunters occupying forested land, and traditional agriculturists, each with their own mode of house construction, production implements, culture and tradition. These elements blended with the new pastoral horse husbandmen, who took over a political control, but complemented and absorbed the existing population. 

The nature of the Kipchak steppes favored prosperity of the advanced and well organized nomadic cattle breeding. The steppe was subdivided into locations with certain pasture routes, (yaylak, yailag, or jailik, djailik, aul) summer settlements and (atar, kishlak) winter settlements. Near permanent yaylak and kishlak settlements appeared kurgan cemeteries. In the settlements and along the steppe shlyakhs (roads) and pasturing routes Kipchaks erected ancestor sanctuaries with stone statues representing the diseased.

The most typical and bright feature of the Kipchak culture are the statues, erected at kurgan sanctuaries with square fencing of rough stone and gravel.

The statues constitute simple rough stelae, frequently with figures without details. Faces  are indicated by deeply carved lines, frequently in a shape of the “hearts“. The women statues differed from the men's by round “breasts“. From the end of the 9th century, construction of small fenced sanctuaries devoted to ancestors, with a statue (or statues) inside became a distinctive feature of the Kipchaks (Charikov, 1979) (they were carried over to their new N.Pontic homeland). Before, in the 6th- 9th centuries, similar sanctuaries with statues of the diseased soldiers and numerous “balbals“ (a line of stone stelae symbolizing enemies killed by the diseased ancestor) stretching from the fence were installed by the (Ashina) Türks and Uigurs. Later, with the destruction of Kaganates, they forgot this custom, and the Kipchaks were the only Türkic-speaking peoples who kept it. As we shall see below, they continued it until their loss of the political independence, i.e. just like in the Türkic and Uigur Kaganates.

The above statement is typical for the Russian “Türkology“ busy with creative writing to substitute nonsense for the facts. The Kipchak people, being a dominant member of the Türkic, and a major member of the Uigur Kaganates, were the very Türks that continued their notable burial customs for over 2 millennia, spreading it from the steppes of the Eastern Europe to the Gansu steppes, with the pendulum oscillating around the center in the Middle Asia. To be so blind to these facts is self-deprecating for the operators of that odious science.

The fenced graves and  fenced “balbals“ graves coexisted, they were architectural expressions of the status of the diseased. A diseased soldier had a few stone balbals commemorating his feats, a leader who had many more balbals had them in the fence and also lined up along an alley, a woman had few, if any, balbals in her fence. Religion and traditions dictated the concept, but individual burials were as distinct as they are the modern cemeteries with distinct plaques, gravestones, crypts, and statuary. After the 15th c. Russian conquest, the relocated colonist peasantry at first respected the curious cemeteries, but with time came to utilize them as a source of material, and at some point the limestone slabs initially brought from remote sources were even mined for brick factories and similar usage.

The Kurgan tradition dissipated not with the fall and resurrection of the political power of the Türkic states, as stipulates S.Pletneva, but with a conversion to the new religions. Like any mass conversions, the conversions were forced and enforced, the inherent traditions associated with the old religions were proscribed and persecuted; the syncretic religions of Manichaeism and early Nestorian Christianity embraced and absorbed the old traditions and beliefs, thus extending their life in a revised format; the militant religions of Islam, Judaism, and later form of Christianity rejected any traditional forms, and at times forced a switch to the opposite forms: from casket burial to pit burial, from grave structures to unmarked graves, from supplies for a travel into other world to no supplies at all. The enforcement was facilitated with a takeover by the religious institutions of the basic stages in the people's lives, which included birth, marriage, and death rituals. The priests, mullah, rabbi inserted themselves in the rituals, and took over their forms and contents, killing or at least minimizing the old Kurgan tradition. A major tool in the religious makeover was pauperization of the population that pegged people to permanent locations, where they can be subjected to ever-present monitoring and enforcement. People and states that escaped pauperization retained richer elements of the Kurgan tradition, and the influence of the new religious hierarchy on the nomadic pastoralists was lighter even in the states with militant state religions. Instead of a revolutionary switch to a new set of dogmas and traditions, these people created their own syncretic forms of religion, prodding the observers to note, usually with a dismissive prejudice, that such-and-such people are Moslems, Buddhist, Christians only in name.

Another aspect of religious makeover was its influence on the literacy. The new religions came with their own scripts and cannons, which could be disseminated only by the servers of those religions. A conversion necessitated a break in the Türkic traditional institution of maternal grandfathers educating their grandsons, and paternal grandmothers educating their granddaughters, encompassing education within a family circle. The family-based education facilitated a high degree of the literacy, evidenced by proliferation of graffiti and memorial inscriptions. Since the religious instruction was done inherently by the strangers from the outside of the family circle, it inhibited and substituted the native literacy with religion-driven literacy, far lesser in scope and penetration, demonstrated by a Sharp decline in the graffiti and memorial inscriptions.


The sanctuaries were naturally only built for the rich and noble nomads (sorry, this is patented nonsense. Burial was a paramount event in life of any family, rich or poor, it is well documented). Ibn Fadlan in the 922 passed through the steppes east of the Itil, and he wrote that among Oguzes were owners who had herds of 10 thousand heads of sheep (not including the other cattle) (and these sheep were not racing sheep able to outrun a cavalry army and justify the Rus annalistic inability to catch up with pastoral clans). Among the Kimak-Kipchak aristocracy were likewise rich men. Their ails (large families) owned huge steppe dominions with their own ranges (routes and settlements). Possibly, private hereditary landownership already existed in the Kaganate. About that tells the author of “Hudud-al-Adam“: “... The Khakan of Kimaks has 11 sub-rulers, and their allotments are handed down to the children of these rulers“. These so-called rulers probably were largest representatives of the clan and tribal aristocracy that gradually was becoming feudal in those centuries.

Trying to conjure facts to fit a standard Marxism scheme to show your  faithfulness to a censor does disservice to Marxism, facts, and senility. The news of “Hudud-al-Adam“ is simple and clear: the Kimak federation consisted of 11 lands, each one with its own semi-autonomous Khan, elected from a ruling clan of that land, thus keeping the throne within the ruling family, no different from Hohenzollerns, Stewarts, or Romanovs, who also had their clan allotment, and arbitrated private and communal holdings within their realm. Each clan, and each Khan had ownership of the use of certain pastoral range, otherwise the society would not be functional for centuries on. The Kimak federation was the same type of confederation that was the Hunnish, Türkic, Bulgar, Khazar, and Uigur Kaganates. In the Chinese annals the tribal Khans were called “elders“, see N.Bichurin, they played a major part in the life of the state.

In the head of the Kimak state in the 10th c. was Kagan (“Khakan“ in Arabic lingo), and the Kipchaks in the Kaganate, per “Hudud-al-Alam“, were headed by a “malik“, which corresponds to the Türkic title “Khan“. It is indirectly proved by the message of al-Horezmi, who comments about the Türkic titulature: “A Khakan is a Khan of Khans, i.e. a leader of the leaders, just as Persians say “shah-n-shah“.

Apparently, the “sub-ruler“ Khans were vassals of the Kagan, and they in turn had vassals receiving allotments from them, from among rich clannish aristocracy. Gardizi tells about property inequality among the Kimaks, and al-Idrisi emphasized that “only the noble wear red and yellow silk clothes“. Also interesting is his message about the presence in the Kimak army of the foot soldiers who, undoubtedly, were drafted from the poor folk who did not have their own horses.

Applying concepts developed for agricultural societies to the cattle-breeding societies brings erroneous conclusions, hence the utter misunderstanding of social realities and the faulty vassalage scheme. The Russian history is the best example of the difference between the two: while the settled Slavs in Russia were successfully enslaved by their feudal lords as soon as the lords wiggled out from under the Tataro-Mongols, the Türkic and other subjugated pastoral people were never enslaved. Moreover, Bashkirs and Cossaks, who preserved their freedoms almost unscathed for another 3 centuries, became most potent allies of the Russian slave-holding Tsarist system precisely because they escaped vassalage and had to be bribed to serve the stronger power. With readily moveable property, you always have a walk-out alternative to subservience.

The “foot soldiers who undoubtedly“ etc., are in fact not only doubtful, but simple wrong. The Hunnish, Türkic, Uigur, and Kimak Kaganates were multi-ethnic confederations, a blend of nomadic, agricultural, and foot hunter tribes. A good example is the Seyanto Kaganate, whose leading tribe is Saka/Se/Sai/Sək 塞 , and dependent tribe is Yanto/Yantuo 延陀 . The etymological description of the Yanto displays their foot hunting provenance, and though they amalgamated with the Saka for many centuries, they were foot soldiers, and Seyanto was known for their foot soldier might. For lightning strikes that constitute the nomadic stratagem, they were mounted warriors; for a battle, they dismounted and were invincible foot soldiers.

S.Pletneva brings up an important subject of pauperization. No horse husbandman would abandon his vocation for a life of an yeoman tiller, not to mention a serf of a landlord. But the high productivity rate has its drawback, a few men can pasture thousands-head herds, but they can't effectively defend them, and fall an easy prey to sedentary and nomadic invaders. They prosper at the time of peace, they are made rich by trade, but they are ruined by wars, and that scenario was repeated over again from before the 1st c. BC to the 20th c. AD. Over the centuries, masses of nomadic husbandman had to turn to subsistence hunting, mining, crafts, and even peasantry, driven out of business by the loss of their pastures or their herds. The high degree of vulnerability necessitated a social organization of confederations, for a united defense against numerically superior peripheral states.

Burial Customs of Kimaks, Kipchaks, and Oguzes in Kimak Kaganate

Besides the statues, a handful of excavated burials contain information about Kimaks and Kipchaks' etiology and various reverence rites for the dead and funeral cult. The objects buried with the diseased give some idea about daily objects surrounding the nomads during their life, though undoubtedly these objects, because of their deposition (in the tombs), are somewhat single-sided, usually they are presented by objects necessary for a nomad during a trip (to the next world): horse harness, weapons, less frequently personal decorations, and vessels with ritual food.

Next to the deceased  was laid his true tovarich (Türk., comrade), a horse, without which in the boundless steppes, where wide movement is necessary for life, a man practically was almost helpless. The belief in need to supply the diseased  with the things necessary on the road and at least for initial life in the other world, received an especially detailed illumination from Ibn Fadlan, the most inquisitive and truthful Arab traveler in the beginning of the 10th century. He described not the Kimak- Kipchak, but the Oguz funeral ceremony. However, from the excavations of the nomadic kurgans we know that the funeral ceremony of the Türkic-speaking peoples generally was extraordinarily monotonous, and it means that the general provisions, which the nomads held for the construction of the funeral complexes, were actually identical.

Oguz burials

So, Ibn Fadlan tells: “And if a person from their number would die, for him is dug a big hole in a shape of a house, he would be dressed in his his jacket, his belt, his bow... and they would put in his hand a wooden cup with nabiz, would put before him a wooden vessel with nabiz, would bring everything that he has, and would lay it with him in that house... Then would place him in it and cover the house above him with decking, and pile above it something like a dome of clay“. So was constructed the sepulchral niche and the kurgan above it (a clay dome) (opposite to S.Pletneva, no reference to the wealth of the deceased).

Then Ibn Fadlan wrote about actions accompanying a main ceremony: “Then they would take horses, and depending on their number would kill a hundred heads of them, or two hundred heads, or one head, and would eat their meat, except for the head, legs, hide, and tail. And, truly, they stretch all that on wooden frames and say: “These are his horses on whom he would go to paradise“. And if he ever killed men and was brave, they would carve images from wood numbering those whom he killed, would place them on his tomb and would say: “These are his youngsters who would serve him in paradise“.“ The nomads were always accompanied on the way into another world with slaughtered horses, and sometimes with others animals, and also by the killed by him enemies represented by simple stelae or rough human images of stone or wood (balbals). Among Oguzes, the images of the diseased were not installed neither over the tombs, nor in special sanctuaries . That custom existed only among the population of the Kimak Kaganate, and mainly among Kipchaks (and Scythians).

Ibn Fadlan vividly and in detail explains the meaning of the accompanying the burials with horses: “Sometimes they would neglect to slaughter the horses for a day or two. Then one of their old men, from among elders, induces them and says: “I saw such and such, which is the diseased, in a dream, and he said to me: „You see, my comrades have already overtaken me, and from following after them ulcers formed on my legs. I have not caught up with them, and I am remaining alone“. In such cases they take his horses and slaughter them and stretch them over his tomb. And then a day or two would pass, and this old man would come to them and say: “Tell my family and my comrades that really I already caught up with those who left before me, and that I have found a calm from the weariness“.“ (Ibn Fadlan, p. 128)

Clearly, the horses were necessary for fast passage, for coaching from one world to another. The more of them were, the better: the richer and more mobile was the diseased in his new world.

Kimaks and Kipchaks

About other beliefs of Kimaks, and moreover for the Kipchaks, survived only very sketchy testimony. So, Gardizi wrote that Kimaks worship river Irtysh and say that “the river is a god of a man“, and the later sources preserved information about fire worship, and even about a custom on a part of Kimaks to cremate their diseased, about worship of the sun and stars. “Kumans (Kipchaks) use astrology, use the indications of the stars, and worship them“, wrote Abulfeda. Abu - Dulaf wrote about divination of Kimaks, particularly about the stones with which they induce rain. A belief in mysterious force of stones was spread very wide among Türkic-speaking peoples.

Neither Kimaks, nor Kipchaks can't be taken as a monolithic ethnicity, even sub-tribes that nominally are ethnically “pure“ are agglomerated clans and families that originated from ethnically different tribes. Consequently, the “Kipchak“, “Kimak“, or “Oguz“ tradition has an element of mosaic. Cremation may be one of the mosaic elements: Chinese annals state that the Eastern Huns at some point switched from cremation to inhumation, and the cremation may be carried over by some constituent Hunnic groups that later joined Kipchak, or by original Kipchaks that retained cremation. A significant impact must have had a change of a conjugal partner: new partner inevitably brings elements of a new tradition. For Kipchaks, we do not have an inventory of the constituent tribes, but an example of Oguzes, listed as 22 or 24 tribes, demonstrate the variety of the constituent people, we should view the Oguz tradition as conglomeration and agglomeration of many old traditions: Kınıks, Kaıs/Kimaks, Bayundurs, Kangars, Badjanaks, etc.

Kimaks also worshipped rocks with images (probably, ancient petroglyphs) and images of human foot and horse hoofs. Al-Idrisi spoke about belief in various spirits, and also about following by some Kimaks of Manichaeism and Islam. The last two religions probably started penetrating to Kimaks in the 10th century, and spread among them much later, and only in the central areas, in the Irtysh and Balkhash area (Manichaeism among Türkic people ascends to Late Antique time).

Kipchaks, who in the 10th century were coaching in the western fringes of the Kaganate, were hardly inclined to accept and learn the alien religious systems. They needed resolute actions and ideology that would substantiate these actions. Fortunetelling of shamans by the stars, shaman divination (S.A.Pletneva uses Türkic derivative word “kamlanie“ from Türkic Kam = diviner) over sacred rocks and burned mutton scapula, the ancestor sanctuaries surrounded by hundreds of killed enemies, predicted the Kipchaks' struggles, called for far raids.

Aside from the truthful and objective depiction by Ibn Fadlan, and the derisive speculations from the pen of the author, the description of the Kimaks-Kipchaks beliefs is notable by its shallowness and poverty. A reader can get a wind that a part of Kipchaks were Moslems. What part, where, when, where are their mosques, their Korans, what are their Moslem names, how the burials were impacted, their art, their script... All these questions are left unaddressed and unanswered. Ditto for the Manichaeism. And ditto for the Tengrianism, so brightly shown in the Orkhon inscriptions written in the Kipchak language and archeologically studied by S.A.Pletneva in the Tengrian burials. And ditto for the ancient Türkic folk beliefs served by the Kams. The Kipchak history is now a constituent part of the Russian history, and the paucity of knowledge about it does nothing less than impoverish the whole Russian history.


Location scheme of Kimaks, Kipchaks, Kipchaks, Kumans in the steppes

I - Rus
II - Hungary
III - Bulgaria
IV - Georgia
V - Volga Bulgaria;
1 - 2 - northern border of steppes
3 - nomadic communities
4 - main directions of nomadic expansion in the end of the 10th - the beginning of the 13th century.

Enough reasons had accumulated for the migratory movement. First of all, for the pasturing of the growing every year herds were needed new pastures. A long peace period provided by the strong central authority of the Kimak Kagan has ended. Rapid development of economy in the state led to centrifugal forces of autonomous units, and corresponding strife. On the periphery the Kimak and Kipchak warriors were joining one by one, and sometimes by the entire clans into the Oguz (Seljuk) movement. The rich aristocracy was grabbing the pastoral routes and pastures. The ordinary nomads who did not leave their native lands had to go in servitude, or engage in robbery, plundering pastures of the weaker neighbors. The central authority could not cope any more with one of its main purposes, keeping order inside the country. By the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries, Kipchaks have already received actual independence. From the beginning of the 11th century they moved to the west. Approximately in the 30es of the 11th century the Persian author Baihani records their location at the borders of Khoresm, and another eastern writer, the Tadjik (in the 11th c. Tadjiks were only Arabs from the tribe Tadjik, or by extension generic Moslems originating from the Caliphate, not the present Tadjiks) Nasiri Husrau in the middle of the 11th century calls the Aral area steppes already not Oguz, as did his predecessors, but Kipchak's.

Only the “western“ authors preserved the news about the beginning of the expansion, namely al-Marvazi, who was serving at the end of the 11th - the beginning of 12th century as a court doctor of the Seljuk Sultans, and the Armenian historian Matvey Edessian who wrote in the middle of the 11th century. They both apparently recorded the same event mentioning semantically identical names. Al-Marvazi tells that Kais (snakes) and Kuns pressed the tribe Shars (Türkic sary = pale, yellow), and those, in turn, occupied the lands of the Turkmen, Oguzes and Badjanaks. Matvey Edessian tells that the people of snakes pressed the “red-haired“ (i.e.yellow) and the last moved on the Oguzes, who together with Badjanaks attacked Byzantine.

In these testimonies for us is especially important the data about two ethnoses: Kais are, as we know, Kimaks, and Sharys, in the opinion of all scientists studying the nomadic associations of the Middle Age epoch, are Kipchaks, because the Slavic copy word for Kipchaks is “Polovetses“ (Slav. “polovye“) with a meaning light yellow (Slav. “polova“ = straw, chaff, husk).

The analysis given by the author on the reasons of Kipchak massive migration is self-contradictory. The prosperous husbandmen with stable pasturing ranges that produce ever-growing herds would not suddenly abandon their wellbeing and venture to conquer new pasturing ranges. The balanced and symbiotic relation between the Kipchaks and Oguzes was providing prosperity for two centuries, Middle Asia was at hand's length to trade in their surplus production, markets were open and growing. Oguzes and Kipchaks displaced Badjnaks from the huge territory west of the Aral Sea by pushing Badjnaks into the Eastern Europe to do the conquest, and they had plenty of living space. The Kai's/Kimaks power was not overburdening, the tribes ruled by Kimaks had enough autonomy and discretion to support the stability of the Kimak state. There were no internal reasons for a mayhem migration.

However, the world around the Kimak Kaganate has dramatically changed since its inception. In 840 Kirgizes expanded their political control to include the eastern part of the Uigur Kaganate. The center of Uigur people moved south and south-west, away from the Kimak Kaganate, an Uigur branch of Karluks moved south-west, taking over Jeti-su and Kangar lands north and west of lake Bakhash and north of Syrdarya/Seyhun, and consolidating into a Karakhanid state, 840–1212. West of the Karakhanids formed a state of Khitans/Kidans, 915–1125, who pushed Naimans, Keraits, and Merkits northwest, bringing them into Kirgiz territories east of Ob river, and toward the eastern fringes of the Kimak Kaganate. The Kirgiz Kaganate shrank back to its traditional territories northeast of the Kimak Kaganate. From 992 to 1041 the Ghaznavid Sultanate and Karakhanids controlled Horezm, which fell form the Uigur/Karluk control to the Oguzes, bringing it into immediate contact with the Kipchaks of the Kimak Kaganate, and subjecting them to the Horezm's harassment. The westward movement of the Naiman, Kerait, and Merkit tribes, called Kais (Kimaks were a branch of the Kai tribes), probably after their ruling tribe, displaced the Kimak hierarchy. The displacement was nearly complete: the leaders of the Kimak Kaganate had to leapfrog their prosperous Kipchak subjects, and move into the new domain west of Itil, which in the 1030's was a no-man's land housing many fragmented tribes.

Unfortunately, no maps show Oguz Yabgu state and Kimak Kaganate, and the schematic depictions are either too vague, or just bad.

Thus, in this total migration to the fecund western pastures Kipchaks were the most active participants, a number of sources calls them “Yellow“. Many researchers believe that Kipchaks were blonds and blue-eyed, some researchers even connect their origin with the “Dinlins“, who lived in the Southern Siberian steppes in the end of the 1st millennium  BC, and who were, according to the Chinese chroniclers, blonds.

Dinlins/Dinglings 丁零, also called Gaogyui/Gaogyuy/Gaoche 高車, later Chile 敕勒 , later Tele 鐵勒 , represent a calque of the Türkic word “teleg/telig“ for a carriage wagon, in Russian version “telega“, which describes an agglomerate of the ancient Türkic tribes and their Siberian and Middle Asian confederates. Chinese annals provide a list of the Tele constituent tribes, at around 3rd c. BC they numbered 15 tribes, including Saka/Seayanto, a compound of Middle Asian and Altaian tribes. Disassociation of the Tele tribes brought about well known Tokuz Oguz Uigur confederation, Uch Karluk Karluk confederation, On Ok Western Türkic confederation, Yeti Seayanto confederation, and other tribal unions. The blondness described in the Chinese annals rules out a descent of the Tele tribes, united by their Kurgan burial tradition, from the brunette Indo-Arian tribes, or their Indian, Indo-Iranian, Iranian scions, or any scionic blend thereof.

The Saka (Saka/Se/Sai/Sək 塞 ) members of the Tele tribal union produced two known descendent offshoots: Seaynto and Ashina Türks. Seaynto were a compound of nomadic horse pastoralists Saka and forest foot hunters Yanto 延陀. The Türks 突 厥, who became known for their dynastic clan Ashina, were a branch of the Saka (Yu.Zuev [ref.], N.Bichurin [ref.], C.Backwith 2009, pp. 9, 505n53, with ref. to Ling-hu Te-fen /1971, Chou shu 50:907-908, Sinor 1990, Establishment and dissolution of Türkic empire pp. 287-288, Menander cited in Blockley 1985, The History of Menander the Guardian, pp. 116-117 “The Turks, who had formerly been called the Sacae...“). Linguistically, it would be logical to suggest that if the tribe of Türks spoke Northern Kipchak (Oguz branch) language, the Saka/Scythians were also Northern Kipchak (Oguz branch) lingual, and that would support the statement of Chinese annals that the Türks are “a separate branch of the Huns“, because the Huns, like their conjugal partner Uigurs, were speakers of the Ogur branch, aka Karluk branch, aka Southern Kipchak branch, aka Bulgar branch. Fortunately, we have an ample supply of indigenous Uigur and Bulgar sources, which provide us with sufficient insight into the language of the Huns. The fact of the existence of independent literary testimonials, coming from the opposite ends of the Eurasian steppes, that state that Saka/Sakae was a former name for the Türks, along with persistent identification by the Greek sources of the Scythians with the Türks, contrasts with the absolute absence of the identification of the Saka/Scythians with intimately familiar to the same Greeks Iranians, should have raised a doubt in the validity of the modern-time Indo-European Urheimat-driven paradigm about Irano-linguality of the Saka/Scythians.

It is certainly quite probable that among Kipchaks were some blond individuals, however a great bulk of the Türkic-speaking people with an admixture of Mongoloidness (according to anthropologists) of the Kimak-Kipchaks was dark-haired and brown-eyed. Possibly the color characteristic was a symbolical definition of, probably, a part of the Kipchaks, as, for example, in the same centuries were separate Bulgarian hordes of “black“ Bulgars in the Eastern European steppes, and in the 13th century a color definition received some Mongolian states: Altyn (Golden) Horde, Kuk (blue) Horde, Ak (white) Horde.

A little deeper look at the etymology would bring into this Russian-riveted description a much wider perspective in time and geography: the derivative of “Sary“ is Shared by Slavs and the Germans, and, since there is no chance that the Slavs of the 10th c. taught the Germans of the 10th c. on how to call Kipchaks, the roots of the name comes from much earlier times, when the Germans, and the future Slavic part of the Baltics, and the Türkic Sarys, all were members of the Western Hun empire, and when the Slavic language was being born from the mix of Baltic, Türkic, and Germanic: Falven, Falones, Val(e)we(n,) Phalagi, Ðlàvñi, Ðlàwñó, Ðlàuñi, Ðlàwci, Ðàlóñz(îk), Polovetsy, Polovtsy, Sary, Shary.

Anthropologically, the earth is still to produce a single anthropologist who can tell the color of the eyes and hair from his digs, the author's reference to “according to anthropologists“ is a pure falsehood. But the combination of the Pazyryk-type mummies of the Senior Juz (Ch. “Greater Üechji“), Chinese description of the Dinlins, distribution of blood type “B“ in Europe and Asia, prevalence of light colored eyes among the present Türkic-speaking peoples of Eurasia, and wide spread of light colored eyes in the present Russia among the genetically Türko-Finno-Slavic admixture allows to suggest that blue-eyed gene was widespread between the Kipchaks, and was popping out everywhere as soon as the dominant dark-eyed gene would give it a break.

Anthropologically, S.A.Pletneva and her mentor B.A.Rybakov should be well aware that the Slavs are dark haired, the western Slavs are almost exclusively dark haired, and the Slavic-speaking populace becomes lighter in hair and eye color as the gradient slides toward the east and north, into the native Türkic and Finnish areas of Poland and Russia.

These facts are not unknown among some of the Russian archeologists, who identified the Upper Ob and Srostin “cultures“ and attributed them to the Kuman-Kipchak layer of the Türkic Kaganate. Among the Russian historians is not also unknown the fact that the first founding Kagan Tuman (Touman, Toumen, Tumen, etc., 240 - 210 BC) belonged to the Kipchak clan So/Suylyanti (So/Se= Ch. for Sogdy/Saka  塞).

On another hand, we can be positive that the Mongol-derived tribe of Kimaks preserved a good deal of the Far-Eastern genes for straight black hair, especially so in the male Y-chromosome. The Kuman Kuns, a tern that designate Kimaks, would be a first-class bridgehead for elucidating studies.

P.Golden explanation of Besenyo tribal names: Names of 8 tribes consist of two parts, a name proper, usually a horse color, and with some possible exceptions, titles of their rulers, e.g. Xaboujin-gula  => Qabuqàin-Yula => “Yula tribe with bark-colored horses”, Suroukoulpey => Suru Kül Bey => “Kül Bey tribe with grayish horses”. A tribal color is identified with a color of its herds.

It is conceivable that the name Sary Kipchaks relates to the color of their herds, as in Besenyo example. This is even more plausible because in S.A.Pletneva's own observation, Türks traditionally had a freedom of association, selecting for themselves a union to join in, and this caused a demographic fluidity that would debunk the very concept of monoethnicity implied by her.

Besides Sharys, i.e. the yellow Kipchaks, in the advance to the West participated other Kimak hordes (Kais, Kuns) (here “hordes“ = tribes?), and other members of the Kaganate.

Further, S.A.Pletneva lists separate Kipchak clans that may in fact originate from the 11 divisions of the Kimak Kaganate.

All this avalanche was moving on the roads still dusty from the Oguz armies and herds: the road to the fertile Don and Dnieper steppes was well blazed. In addition, these steppes were almost empty. The majority of the Badjanaks left to the Byzantine borders, the Oguzes (Türks) defeated by Rus Princes were also coaching in steppe on the right bank of the Dnieper.

S.Pletneva indirectly allocates to the 100-year period of the Oguz domination of the Khazarian N.Pontic steppes, from 920's to 1030's, a number of stages in the life of pastoral people, from a forceful displacement of the Badjnaks to a province-type organization, which included demobilization of the army, organization of the migratory movement of the volunteer herd owners, allocation and securing a permanent use of the pasturing routs that include winter staging areas, summer pastures, and transitional routs. Apparently, the strongest motivator for the volunteer tribes was their loss of the pastures in the east, in the Kichak-controlled steppes, caused by the displacement of the Kichaks, who in turn were displaced by the Kai-led tribes from Mongolia.

In front of the the hordes headed by “Yellow“ Kipchaks laid immense pastures, richest hunting grounds, rich states from which in case of a successful raid or attack was possible to extract a rich payoff, capture slaves, get a booty.

“Rich states“ of S.Pletneva seem to be a reference to the Rus principalities, famous for their poverty and indigence of their population.

Chapter 3.

"Acquisition of the native land"


The Hungarian scientists found very successful definition for the brief period of the Hungarian history, when Hungarians, leaving under the strikes of Badjanaks to Pannonia, occupied Danube lands, displacing and partially including in their confederations the Slavs, who lived there, Volohs (Vlakhs/Vlachs) and probably the Avars. That restless time in the Hungarian historiography is called a “gain period“ or a “period ofative land“.

It should be said that the Hungarians, capturing a territory of the agricultural state (Great Moravia), passed this period very quickly. In other countries, the establishing, or better, stabilization of the nomadic economy and societal relations went much more slowly (sometimes for a century). However, a close examination and history of various nomadic ethnoses shows that each of them passed through a period of “finding a native land“. It began with intrusion of other's territory, and a forced confiscation for a permanent ownership of the pastures belonging to the local population (USA, Russia, Iran, China, etc. fall under this “definition“ of  various nomadic ethnoses. Mirror, mirror on the wall, where are you?).

In the first decade of the 11th century a huge mass of the Kipchak nomadic hordes rose from the familiar areas into a long and a total invasion campaign. Its purpose was not at all a complete peaceful resettlement of a part of the Kipchak population to the new lands, the purpose was a capture of new pastures somewhere in the far western areas (or whatever reason your imagination can suggest, including turning to the tea leaves).

As was already defined above, this phenomenon is economically characterized by an all-the-year-round (so-called tabor) coaching, and in a societal relation, by a military democracy. The invasion was headed by the most persistent and talented military leaders. It would seem to be strange that the “Yellow Kipchaks“ (Sary Kipchaks) of the feudal state, headed by a malik (khan) (why would Pletneva use a Semitic term to describe a  Türkic Khan?), again fell to a  lower stage of economic and social development. Nevertheless, a similar transition is also typical for the nomads in similar circumstances, i.e. facing a necessity to invade (The facts described by Pletneva about this migration and following stabilization indicate the opposite, a coherent enterprise that involved historically stable tribes united by traditional social hierarchy).

The capture of the N.Pontic steppes began with the most fertile, richest pastures necessary for the pasture of horses and large horned livestock, the area of the Donets, Lower Don and Azov steppes. The same lands were usurped by Badjanaks in the beginning of their movement, in the 8th century they were the first lands occupied by the Bulgar nomadic hordes (“hordes“ as a negative euphemism for people was a centuries-old favorite Russian scientific expression applied to the aboriginal population displaced by the Russian colonization; the “Bulgar nomadic hordes“ are known from long before the the 5th c. not the 8th c.), who were displaced by the Khazars in the Eastern Azov steppes. By the 11th century the remnants of the ancient Bulgar semi-settled population, despite heavily taken Badjanak's invasion, remained along the river banks in the basin of the Don and Azov steppes. In addition, in the upper course of the Severski Donets, in the deadlocked places inaccessible for nomadic cavalry still lived Alans, the former masters of the Khazar Kaganate's forest-steppe fringes (The upper course of Severski Donets was the domain of Suvars; any presence of the Alans is purely speculative). Although, the archeological studies of the Alans' and Bulgars' settlements give us incontestable proofs of destruction of these settlements no later than the beginning the 10th of century, i.e. under the blows of the Badjanak's hordes. However, history does not know examples of total destruction of the population during even most severe wars and most terrifying invasions.

A significant number of people, mainly women, children, and also craftsmen and craftswomen, are taken into slavery, and quite often they are left in the old burned-out places, and they gradually, though not completely, restore the destroyed settlements. Significantly, the anthropological examination of the 10th-13th cc. nomadic skulls indicates that the population of that time almost did not differ in appearance from the inhabitants of the steppes in the 8th - beginnings the 10th centuries. Also very significant is that in N.Pontic steppes, and especially frequently in the basin of the Seversk Donets, are found the burials of the 12th-13th centuries that preserve funeral features that allow to connect them with the former population of the steppes,  the population of the Khazar Kaganate. First, it is the meridional orientation of deceased (heads toward north or south), not typical for Badjanaks or for Kipchaks, but frequent among the ancient Bulgars and Alans (this equation of the Alans and Bulgars is glaringly suspicious: Bulgars are Ogur tribes that left ancient traces in the Mongolia, and specifically in the basin of the Tola river and in the Western Türkic Kaganate during the Early Middle Ages; the Alans are traced to the Aral-Caspian Masguts/Massagets; these two groups of people were widely separated linguistically, by great distances, and by different influences during most of their history; a single common funeral tradition is highly unlikely. S.Pletneva may clandestinely refer to the ethnonymical studies that equated Bulgars with Alans: Mengrels call Karachayans Alans, Balkars call themselves Alans, Ossetians call Balkarians Ases or Oses, the Itil Bulgars in another form are called Ases; the school that maintains the equivalency of the Bulgars and Alans is at a great political disadvantage, the official and enforced position of the Russian official science follows Muller and Abaev and equates Iranians, Ossetes, and Alans); second, it is the presence in the tombs of a padding of chalk or pieces of coal, and some other attributes. For example, on the banks of Donets and the Lower Don, during Kipchak's time, the nomads especially widely used the objects produced and spread during the previous Khazarian epoch: mirrors, kopoushkas (ear swabs), pottery, etc.

Thus, the first component which certainly joined the Kipchak's ethnic community (actually, political community, since Kipchaks took over the political, and not ethnic, leadership; the ethnic amalgamation took much longer, if it was completed at all; Kipchaks belonged to the Oguz branch, Bulgars and Suvars belonged to the Ogur branch, and the only direct evidence about the language of Alans is the statement of Biruni the Chorasmian: “The language of Alans is a compound of the Chorasmian and the Türkic Besenyo“, i.e. a compound of a branch of Sogdian + branch of Kipchak) and to some extent influenced the change of physical shape of Kipchaks, was numerically insignificant, but culturally stable population that earlier lived in the Khazar Kaganate.

Much larger role in the amalgamation of the Kipchak community played the remains of Badjanak's and Oguz hordes (i.e. people, tribes). It is evidenced first of all by an extraordinary variety of funeral customs. The funeral ceremony among all these ethnoses was on a whole uniform: a main task of relatives was equipping the deceased with all necessities in the other world (first of all horse and weaponry). The differences were in the details of the ceremony: orientation of the deceased with a head to the west or east, burial with the deceased of a complete horse or its effigy (a head, legs severed at the first, second or third joint, skin with a tail, filled with dry grass), burial of a (horse) effigy without a deceased, location of the horse in respect to the deceased. Some distinctions are also observed in the form of the grave cavity, and lastly, in the fill of the kurgan.

S.A.Pletneva does not stop to specifically mention, probably because in Russia generally, and among literate population in particular, a well-known fact that the Türkic populations of the Huns (in this case, Dagestani Huns intimately familiar to S.Pletneva), Bulgars, Khazars, Kumans, Badjnaks/Besenyo, Kipchaks, Oguzes had one overriding common feature: they all buried their deceased in kurgans, they were carriers of the Kurgan tradition, which started as a Sredni Stog Culture precisely at the location described in this book, continued as Andronov Culture, continued as Scythian and Eastern Hun Culture, continued as Türkic Kaganate Culture, and finally reached S.Pletneva in the N.Pontic as cultures of the Huns, Bulgars, Khazars, Kumans, Badjnaks/Besenyo, Kipchaks, Oguzes, and other Türkic populations. No other historically recorded population preserved the hallmark of the Sredni Stog Culture as a defining feature of their culture. Some of the Türkic neighbors adopted the superficial outlines of the Kurgan Culture for their leaders: Chinese, Macedonians, Phrygians, Germanic, a few more, but none of them ever carried the Kurgan Culture as a discriminating hallmark of their respective people. Neither kurgans, nor the horse husbandry ever penetrated the BMAC (Bactrian-Margiana Archeological Culture/Complex) area, though BMAC was exposed to the Andronovo people.

The advocates of the Indo-European Kurgan Hypothesis, a purely philological construction, do not address this subject: how come that historical Indo-Europeans ethnologically do not carry the Kurgan Culture kurgans and the nomadic horse husbandry, and the historical Türkic people do?

Sredni Stog Culture
Andronovo Culture


Badjanak and Kangar burial customs

It seems to me that at present we can state with confidence that Badjanaks buried under small earthen kurgan mounds, or constructed “collateral“ tombs in the mounds of the previous epochs kurgans (for the Scythians, kurgan was a pasture, it was built from the best topsoil sometimes brought from very remote locations [Khazanov 1975, Scythians]. Adding new burials to the existing “build-up pastures“ was a practical method of supplying the deceased with food for his horses not only for Badjanaks, but a common practice inherent to the Kurgan Culture),  usually only men, with the heads to the west, in supine position, to the left of the deceased was laid a horse effigy with legs severed at the first or the second joint. Probably, in the ancient kurgan mounds they also buried the effigy of the horse (without a man), thus creating memorial cenotaph (or, more likely, archeologists could not detect the ashes of the cremated body).

Oguz burials

The Oguzes, in contrast with Badjanaks, covered the tomb with a ceiling to lay on it an effigy of a horse, or laid an effigy on a ledge located to the left of the deceased.

Kimak/Kuman and Kipchak burials

Originally, the Kipchak ceremony probably strongly differed from the above two traditions. Their kurgan mounds were filled or tiled with stones (Arjan/Pazyryk type), the deceased were laid with the heads toward the east, near them (more often to the left) also with the heads toward the east was laid a whole carcass of a horse or its effigy, but with the legs severed at a knee. It should be especially noted that Kipchaks buried with honors both men and women, for both of them were built memorial sanctuaries with statues.

This typical Kipchak ceremony started to dissolve in a sea of alien customs still in the Aral and Itil area steppes: the stone kurgan mounds began to be substituted with simple earthen kurgan mounds (sometimes with inclusion of several stones), instead of a whole horse more and more often were buried effigies, sometimes on the ledges, like did the Oguzes; the orientation also changed, first for the horses, heads heads toward the west, and then also of the deceased. On the whole, like the anthropological data, the funeral ritual testifies about a continuing admixture of the most different ethnoses and tribes. Naturally, this process especially increased after the arrival of already strongly mixed with other tribes Kipchak hordes (i.e. people? army? tribes?) to the N.Pontic steppes. Only a single ethnographic attribute remained permanent, specifically the erection of the sanctuaries for the male and female ancestors. Brought from the depths of the Kimak Kaganate, this custom further developed and literally blossomed in N.Pontic steppes.

As to the archeological and anthropological data, they already allow to state now that the Kipchak and Kimak hordes (i.e. people? army? tribes?) that came to the Dnieper-Don steppe very quickly, literally after one, maximum two generations, became different people with changed physical and partially cultural appearance. They as though became identical with all other ethnic groups that lived in the steppes prior to them.

With all due respect for the work of the Russian physical anthropologists, this scenario of instantaneous physical change of a whole population should have raised a serious alarm about a conflict between the anthropological and archeological observations. Something must be deeply wrong: either the assumptions about the phenotype of the original people, or misidentification of the osteological or craniological series, or insufficient osteological/craniological data base, etc. That is especially true because of the nature of migration, with herds and households, not a raid of a small army. In the same N.Pontic area we know examples when the phenotype was preserved for centuries, across many generations, and after a period of more then two centuries, the people from the opposite ends of the Eurasian steppe instantaneously recognized their kinship at a first glance. A primitive prejudice keeps clouding the Russian science: Bulgars, Suvars, and Kipchaks are of the same South Siberian phenotype.

A simpler suggestion would be that the mute graves, classed by the archeologists as belonging to the mono-ethnic Kipchaks, are in fact a blend of different backgrounds, allied tribes, conjugal unions, and the like scenarios, that can't be professionally resolved without a genetic analysis like the analysis performed in 2003 at Egyin Gol by C.Keyser-Tracqui et al. . Egyin Gol also offers Uigur kurgans that are typologically identical with the “Kipchak“ kurgans analyzed by S.Pletneva . These examples show that Central Eurasian Türkic archeology is in its baby phase.


So, in the N.Pontic steppes appeared a new ethnic massif, quite friable in the beginning. Its formation followed the same laws as all other nomadic ethnoses and peoples of Antiquity and Middle Ages, as several centuries before in the Eastern European open space formed ancient Bulgars, Khazars, and Hungarians. One of substantial rules of that process was that an ethnos that gave the name to new ethnic formation not so necessarily happens to be most numerous: simply due to fortuitously developed historical conditions and a vigorous military leader it rises to a leading place in a forming association (the Rus, Rome, France, England happened to be non-nomadic entities that followed this fictitious “nomadic“ rule). In this specific case, in the beginning of the 11th century that place was taken by Shary - “Yellow“ Kipchaks. They became that powerful nucleus around which united all isolated and scattered on steppe hordes of Badjanaks, Oguzes, and partially the remains of the Bulgarian and Alanian population.

The above paragraph, and the following discourse creates a new paradigm for previously ignored history of the N.Pontic people. In the fossilized Russian historical paradigm, in the Early Middle Ages the N.Pontic was largely unoccupied, N.Pontic people were amorphous transients, once in a while bothering the true residents of the instantly coalesced Rus. The new paradigm retains the premises of the old paradigm, but adds a structure to the newcomer transients, and in that respect is very constructive. However, without understanding of the historical background, and limiting the horizon to few sources, a major one the discredited PVL/RPC (Tale of Bygone Years), the paradigm formulated by S.Pletneva suffers the same disfigurement as any other work written from a parochial perch.

During the Hunnic times, the Eastern Europe generally, and N.Pontic in particular, were incorporated into the Western Hun state, organized along the traditional scheme known from the preceding Eastern Hun state and the following Türkic Kaganate: administrative units of the leading East Wing, Center, and a secondary West Wing. The West Wing, köturi, which produced the Greek terms Kotrags and Kuturgurs, was the one best known to the Byzantines; the East Wing, utra, produced the Greek terms Utragurs and Otragurs, the gurs and ogor stand for tribes or tribal unions. The utra (front, opposite) for the Greek ear sounded indistinguishable from the otra (middle), but in respect to the Kuturgurs, both Utragurs and Otragurs were located to the east. The West Wing incorporated Huns, Goths, Alans, Bulgars, a part of Balts that became the incipient Slavs, Agathyrs, generic Scythians, generic Sarmatians, and whoever else happened to be in the Balkans and eastern part of the Central Europe. All constituent members preserved their own traditional hierarchy, the country was further subdivided into djien districts responsible for collection and forwarding of taxes, a separate djien district was organized for each tribe or tribal union; of necessity the djien system was a grass-root system: if a tribe wanted to pay directly instead of paying through an alien leader, it would necessitate creation of a separate djien district. The institute of djiens survived well into the Late Middle Ages. In addition to paying taxes, djiens were also responsible for supplying manpower for military operations. A morsel from the period two hundred years later gives a clear picture of the modus operandi of the revenue department: when the Türkic Kaganate took over the control of the Caucasus, it organized a census, and imposed detailed taxes on each productive activity. The Türks did not instantaneously learned Armenian, Georgian, Adyge, and other 360 languages of the Caucasus; they utilized the existing taxation system and the existing administration for an effective operation.

When the Avars in 558 took over from the Western Huns, they took over the Huns' djien system, adjusted for the current conditions. When the Bulgars split from the Avars in 630, they likewise took over the Avars' djien system, also adjusted for the current conditions. By that time, the Eastern Slavs were firmly integrated with the Türkic Avars and Bulgars, and were their major source of crude manpower, the Slavic folklore retained a memory of the Avar dominance. The Khazar Kaganate took over the Bulgar djien system at about 680, and operated it, within their sphere, for 200 years; the western part was operated by Avars. As fairly noted S.Pletneva, Bulgars remained a main body and administration of the Khazar Kaganate, the Khazars themselves were a miniscule minority, in essence being a branch of Bulgars. With a split of the Khazar Kaganate into the northwestern Rus Kaganate ruled by Germanic Vikings, and the remaining Khazar Kaganate, the old Hunnic djien system was split three-way, Avar, Rus, and Khazar. In the following 200 years, 800 to 1,000, the Rus gradually encroached on the Khazar possessions, taking one djien district after another, cutting off the Khazar and Bulgar access to their kyshtyms, and trying to prevent attempts to double taxation. In 922 the northeastern Bulgars split from the Khazar Kaganate, retaining their kyshtyms, and after 970's they effectively took over the remnants of the Khazar Kaganate.

When Kangars and Badjnaks were forced to migrate to the N.Pontic at about 890's, though they could capture the the Magyar ranges, they had to accommodate the power to be, the Khazar Kaganate, to avoid harassment. As it turned out, their reliance on their strength, and unwillingness to pacify Khazars did not do them any good, Khazars enlisted Oguzes to subdue Kangars and Badjnaks, which drove them further west, into Atelkuzu, southern Galicia, and northern Danube Bulgaria. The Oguz field army, nominally subordinated to Khazars, was equally indisposed to recognize the growing power of the Rus or ia, fending off Rus attempts to gain, and Bulgarian attempts to restore control of the N.Pontic population. The power vacuum was filled by Kimaks, who joined their Oguz allies and extended their pastures to the Dnieper. The Kimaks, who did not owe any allegiance to neither Khazars, nor Bulgars, nor Ruses, co-existed with their Rus northern neighbor, cooperated with Itil Bulgars, recognizing their grandfather clause rights, and found a healthy balance with all the people of the N.Pontic and Caucasus. The tribes led by Kimaks became known under a version of their leaders' name, Kumans and Kuns, and under a name of their main tribe, the Kipchak. Apparently, after disintegration of the Khazar Kaganate, the old Hunnic djien system used by the Khazar Kaganate also waned in hiatus, the loosely bound together Kipchaks did not impose themselves as new masters of the land, and did not take over the Khazar djien system.

With the above foreword, the facts described by S.Pletneva, in contrast with the paradigm she advanced, fit neatly into the global historical picture. No new Kipchak superethnos came on the world stage, no drastic new ethnic blends developed in a generation or many generations; the Kipchak elite heavily intermixed with the Rus elite, but aside from that spot, the autonomous life of the local tribes, and interlacing of various local tribes in the N.Pontic and Caucasus continued unchanged from the Western Hun state. S.Pletneva also legitimized a heretofore forbidden name “Kipchak“, opening a floodgate for overt publication in the former Soviet Union of scientific and historical materials.

The new ethnic (i.e. political) association that was developing in the steppes in Europe received a new name: Kipchaks (in the original “Polovetses“). That was a name Ruses called them, “calquing“ a self-name of the new hordes (i.e. people). Following the Ruses, some European peoples began to call them: Poles, Czechs, Germans (“Plavtsy“, “Flaveins“), Hungarians (“Paloch“). However, Hungarians also called them Kuns-Kumans just like did the Byzantines and (Danube) Bulgars, who frequently encounter them.

How can be explained the different names of the same ethnic group? Not improbable is a hypothesis of some researchers who believe that in the N.Pontic (in the original “southern-Russian steppes“) in the 11th-12th centuries were forming not one, but two closely related ethnoses: Kuns-Kumans, headed by one or several Kipchak hordes (tribes?), and Polovetses, united around the hordes (tribes?) of the Shary Kipchaks. Kumans occupied the lands west of Dnieper, they much more often than Polovetses encountered Byzantines and other western states, and consequently in their chronicles usually appeared Kumans (quite probably, even in cases when they actually encountered Kipchak Polovetses).

We can only admire the shallowness of these Russian-grown Turkologists, who tend to jump into a pool before they learn to swim. Ironically, the solution lies in front of our eyes, these are not two fictitious people, but the same people called, in one case, by the name of a leading (dynastic) tribe of the coalition, Kimaks-Kuns-Kumans, and in the other case by the Slavic translation of the Türkic name Shary (Kipchaks), “pale, yellow“. Provided that a substantial majority of the Rus were Türkic Suvarian and Bulgarian tribes, and that a bi-linguality was a requirement for survival, the word Polovetses was not even a translation, it was totally synonymous with Shary, like “table (tabula)“ and “board (baurd)“ in today's English. What could be simpler and more self-evident, how much ignorance and narcissism can these professors and academicians expound before waking up from a permanent daze? Mind you, they keep teaching their kids all they know.

Two centuries later we observe exactly the same phenomena: Mongols in the west are called Mongols, but in the east they are called Tatars. Juchi, and then Batu, were given a 4,000 strong Mongol army; the rest of their manpower, over 100,000 strong,  were largely Türkic tribes generically called or headed by Tatars. Kipchaks and Tatars were kindred people, as was demonstrated by the episode with Subetei army; in the west Mongolo-Tatars were called Mongols, after their leading tribe, in the east they were called Tatars after the ethnicity of the army. No need to invent a formation of two new ethnic entities.


The Kipchak's pastures were located east of the Kuman pastures. Their territory is very precisely defined by the distribution of the stone sculptures, apparently typical only for the Shary-Kipchaks. The earliest Kipchak (in the original “Polovetses“) statues, analogous to the Kipchak statues of the 10th-11th centuries, are located in the basin of the middle and lower course of the Severski Donets and in the Northern Azov steppes. They are stele-like flat sculptures with faces and some figure details (breast, hands, a vessel in the hands, and so forth), drawn on a flat surface or depicted by a low relief. The statues, like in eastern Kipchak hordes (i.e. villages), were installed equally for men and women. The construction of ancestor sanctuaries (in the N.Pontic) is already an evidence that the nomads transitioned from an invasion stage to a second stage of pasturing, which is known to be distinguished first of all by some stabilization and order in pasturing along certain routes, with permanent points for winter stay and summer encampment. In turn, the stabilization means the end of a difficult and restless period of the “findings a native land“.

We do not know details of the Donets-Azov area Shary-Kipchaks' life in the first decades of their arrival to the new pastures, which they probably occupied in 1020's. As a rule, the written sources of the adjacent countries tell nothing about that dark period of settling and formation of the nomadic society: the contemporaries were not excited about the inner events of the steppe federations. Naturally, the first observations appear when a developed association starts searching for a vent for the accumulated energy. Usually this venting consists of an attack on a nearest neighbor. For the Kipchaks, such a neighbor became the Rus.

In the 1060, Kipchaks made a first attempt to plunder the rich Rus lands. Svyatoslav Yaroslavich of Chernihiv with his retinue managed to defeat a four times greater army of Kipchaks. Many Kipchak's soldiers were killed and drowned in the river Snovi, their leaders were captured, apparently with almost no resistance. “...Their Princes were taken with (bare) hands“, wrote a chronicler (PSRL, II, p. 161). The route was complete.

However, already at the end of the January - beginning of February 1061 “came Polovetses for the first time with war to the Rus land... That was a first evil for the Rus land from the nasty godless enemies; their prince was Sokal...“ (PSRL, II, p. 152).

The circumstance that with Kipchaks fought in those years the Chernihiv and Pereyaslavl Princes Svyatoslav and Vsevolod, apparently points to the attack of the Kipchaks, bordering the Rus in the southeast, i.e. they were coaching somewhere in the Donetsk steppes.

The following attack from the same southeast side is noted in the annals under a year 1068. This time at a small river Lte (in the Pereyaslavl princedom) Kipchaks were met by the joined forces of “triumvirate“, the regiments of Izyaslav, Svyatoslav n Vsevolod Yaroslaviches (each of them ruled over an independent petty principality). However, they also were defeated by Kipchaks. After that event, it became clear that a new terrible danger has hung over the Rus land.

These two episodes point to a scenario that was the “first war“ was detention and plunder of a Kipchak embassy delegation, sent with a proper escort to the nearest metropolitan city Karajar, future Chernihiv, 51.5°N 31.3°E (both “Black head“ or “Black headquarters“, compare Bulanjar/Belendjer/Varachan = bülün + jar = warrior + head = “Army headquarters“; semantically Karajar may mean “Western headquarters“, indicating a center east from the Askal/Bashtu/Shambat/Mankerkan/Kyiv-Karajar area). In response, Kipchaks sent a military detachment to free the captives and demand a satisfaction, which ended up in a “second war“. The real story and the terms of the settlement were doctored out of the chronicles, leaving a puzzling chain of events. The Karajar was a center of Suvars, after whom the Slavs named the river “Sever's Donets“:  “Severski Donets“. The Kyiv-Chernigiv rivalry for supremacy lasted for centuries; already in the Rus realm, Chernigiv remained a Türkic Suvar domain that did not require any interpreters for communication with Kipchaks. Another Suvar city, called Suvar, housed refugees from the Suvar domain, and was located 100 km from the Bolgar city. The reference to the “rich Rus lands“ must be a self-deprecating sarcasm.

Map showing location of the Bulgar cities at around 1,000 AD
Immediately before Kipchaks supplemented Oguzes

Synchronously with the Kipchak's community also developed the western branch of the Kipchak conquest: the Kuman branch. They went through the same processes as the (eastern) Kipchaks. Possibly, they were more complicated than for the (eastern) Kipchaks, because of a greater number of the Badjanaks and Oguzes coaching in the steppes in the Dnieper-Dniester  interfluvial, who gradually joined in the new association that was forming there. The absence of the stone sculptures does not allow us to establish archeologically a fact of stabilization, a nomads' transition to the second stage of the nomadic economy. About its completion we can only judge by a message of the Rus annals about an attack of the Kipchaks on the Rus' right bank of the Dnieper. It happened in 1071: “...Polovetses  fought at Rostovets and at Neiatin“ (PSRL, II, p. 164). Both of these small towns were located in the western part of the Ros area, in the area on the left bank of the Ros, a right tributary of the Dnieper. We shall recall that on the right bank of the Ros was an enormously large forest that made the river almost inaccessible from the steppe along its whole course. To get to the river was possible only by the road running along Dnieper to the mouth of Ros, or by looping around the forest from the west, almost at the river Bug (Buh). Probably, the attack of 1071 was conducted by some Kuman horde (i.e. detachment) that captured land along the Bug (Buh), where the Badjanak's horde Iavdiertim was coaching earlier. A following raid, probably by the same horde (i.e. tribe) already belongs to the end of the 11th century: in the 1092, during a hard for the Rus droughty summer, “a great army came from the Polovetses from everywhere“, and it is specifically mentioned that in the Ros area were taken the western small towns, Priluk and Posechen. Besides, in the same year these Kipchaks (Kumans?), after concluding a military alliance, or being hired, participated in a campaign of the prince Vasilek Rostislavich “against the Lyahs“ (at that time, the Lyahs were Czechs in Moravia, and the migrant Czechs in future Poland; later, only the Poles retained that moniker; Kipchak participation in a joint campaign of a Rus Prince against his fellow Princes points to at least good relations between the Rus and Kipchak principalities; that does not exclude private retribution or punishment for a cause just in the Kipchak eyes).

The Ros area, a natural island in the steppes, played an outstanding role in the steppe history. S.A.Pletneva provided a sketch of its archeological history. If the area was not ravaged by the mining efforts of the archeological explorations of the 19th c. colonial army and later venturers, the area could have been a world-class open-sky historical preserve. It retained traces of practically all steppe powers of the European steppes from about 7th c. BC to the 10th c. AD, and it may be the Ros area that the Scythians called Yer, Land (of the ancestors), called by Herodotus Herra, a sacred land of the Scythians where they buried their ancestors, mentioned in the story about the Darius campaign of 516-513 BC. Some kurgans may have belonged to the pre-historical time before the Cimmerians and Scythians, who used the already existing kurgans for secondary burials (termed by the disappointed explorers “empty“ or “cenotaph“ kurgans, because they did not find the main burial containing tons of gold).

Ros area

Vasilko Rostislavich was not a first of the Rus Princes who started using for his purposes the military potential of the steppe-dwellers, who are always ready for fight and robbery (somewhat funny to hear negatives about robberies coming from a country that stole 1/6th of the world, and tried to steal more).

Ïîëîâöû âåäóò â ïîëîí èçíåìîãàþùèõ ðóññêèõ ïëåííèêîâ. Ìèíèàòþðà (Êåíèíãñáåðã, äèïëîìàòè÷åñêè þôèìèçèðèâàííóé â Ñîâåòñêîì íàó÷íîì ëèíãî â) Ðàäçèâèëëîâñêîé ëåòîïèñè

Kipchaks carry exhausted Rus captives. Miniature of (Keningsberg, diplomatically euphemized by Soviet scientific lingo to) Radzivill annals

First it was done by Oleg Sviatoslavich in the 1078, who fled from Vsevolod Yaroslavich to the Tmutarakan (Tamia-Tarkhan) and then “brought...the nasties to the Rus land“ (PSRL, II, p. 191). The Vsevolod regiments were crushed, and “there many were killed“. Further, this adventurous prince, figuratively named in the “Tale about Igor's campaign“ Oleg Gorislavich, repeatedly brought Kipchaks to the Rus. Significantly, during the whole 12th century his descendants especially willingly had Kipchak relatives and, having numerous relatives among them, constantly called for their participation in internecine conflicts.

We already saw that “Sviatoslav“ (“Saint Slav“ in Slavic, his Türkic name was Barys, i.e. Lion) was nowhere close to a Slav or a Norman, he was a Türkic prince, his wife was a Türkic princess, his father-in-law was a Türkic prince, his children were Türkic princes. As far as the Karajar/Chrnigiv dynasty was concerned, its dynasty was a Türkic dynasty.

In the message about the events of 1078 our interest is that the Kipchaks, who undoubtedly participated in them, were coaching on the banks of Donets or in the Azov steppes, i.e. these were the Shary-Kipchaks, because Oleg was passing through their pastures on the way to Tmutarakan and back.

From the records about first encounters with Kipchaks we see that Ruses called the newcomer nomads, who came in the beginning of the 11th century, Kipchaks, irrespective of the location of their hordes (centers? villages? pasturing routs?), on the Bug (Buh) or on the Donets. Much later, already in the 12th century, chroniclers even specifically wrote that Kipchaks were also called Komans, but they did not indicate which, the western, the eastern, or all of them, they called by this double name. Generally, it follows from the annals that all Kipchaks were Kumans and vice-versa. It is quite possible that in the 12th century it was that way, at least from the Rus chronicler point of view. However actually, especially in the beginning of their history, the division in Eastern European steppes probably was quite real and notable, though certainly, Kumans, Kipchaks and the groups of Badjanaks, Oguzes, Bulgars and other ethnoses that joined their hordes (tribal union?), constantly intermixed with each other, went on the common campaigns, concluded common peace treaties, and, naturally, were indistinguishable for a stranger, in the eyes still of a contemporary little used to them.

Whatever is the case, we can confidently state, that by the 1060's has ended the period of “obtaining the native land“ for the Shary-Kipchaks, who occupied the lands along Donets, the lower Don, and Azov steppes, and probably a little later, by the beginning of 1070's has ended this period for the Komans (Kumans, Kuns), who were coaching in the steppes previously occupied by the Badjanak four western hordes (tribal unions?).

Both divisions relatively organized their internal relations and economy, and begun their foreign policy with attacks on the Rus borderlands. Significantly, that immediately was settled another aspect of the mutual relations with the Rus , a conclusion of military alliances. It was a fault of the Rus Princes, much inclined to political intrigues and adventures, that Kipchaks repeatedly attacked and successfully plundered defenseless, conflicting with each other Rus princedoms.

Chapter 4.

Tribal unions. "Great Princes“

By the end of the 11th century has ended the process of consolidation of the isolated Kipchak's hordes (tribal unions?) coaching on Donets and in the Azov steppes,. The lands were strictly divided between several hordes (tribal unions?). Each of them owned large tracts of land, stretched in a meridional direction, from Donets to Sea of Azov. Apparently, the winter quarters of these hordes (tribal unions?) were on the seacoast. Because the Kipchaks did not store hay for the winter, they had to structure their pastoral routs to stop for the winter in suitable places, where cattle could easily get the dry grass from under snow. By the sea and in the valleys of numerous rivers and rivulets were plenty of natural “storehouses of hay“ (well dried under the sun and wind tall and nutritious grass stalks) for forage. In the spring, after fishing season, after calving and fawning of cows and sheep, started a slow movement upstream the rivers to the Donetsk lowlands, also full of a high-quality grass, where for the summer months Kipchaks stopped in certain summer encampments, and then by the same route, pasturing the cattle on the regrown by the autumn grass, they went downstream to the winter camps. 

Not only each horde (tribe?), but also for its smaller divisions the Khan allocated parcels of land that had to include winter shelter, summer pastures, and a coaching route between them.

What were these subdivisions? First of all they were the so-called kurens (Türkic küran 1. crowd, tribe, detachment; 2. bakery), an association of several, mainly patriarchal, related families, substantially identical the extended-family communes of agricultural peoples, the Rus annals call such kurens clans.  entered into A horde (tribe?) consisted of many kurens, and they could belong (and certainly in fact belonged) to several ethnoses: from Bolgars up to Kipchaks and Kumaks, though all of them together the Ruses called Kipchaks (in the original “Polovetses“).

We know that the Rus chroniclers, more familiar with Kipchaks then other European chroniclers, already in the end of the 11th century clearly detected their “Princes“. To the names of some of them they were adding a steppe equivalent of the Rus title kniaz, the “kan“ for a Khan: Tugorkan, Sharukan. The Khans obviously were the heads of the hordes (tribe?), however it should be remembered that each Khan simultaneously was also a head of the kuren, because that was required by the structure of the Kipchak society and its economy: the Khan was coaching within the framework of the socioeconomic division accepted in the steppes. It should be noted that the names of many heads of kurens ended with the word “opa“, “oba“, “epa“ from the root of the ancient Turkic word designating “dwelling“, “stan“ (Urusoba, Altunopa and others) (a cluster of Slavic and Russian words are derivatives from this ancient Türkic word: “byt, obitat, obitel, obyvatel“ etc.; the same root as in English via Latin habitat and its cognates). In addition to them, the annals mention a mass of Kipchak's soldiers (ordinary participants of raids), and the records from the beginning of the 12th century note two more social categories obviously standing at the lowest rungs in the nomadic society: “valetry“ and “bound“. The first are probably ordinary, poor, but free members of the kurens; the bound were war captives (domestic slaves), the services of which were used by the nomads of the Euroasian steppes till the 19th century inclusive.

The organization of the raids against the Rus and farther campaigns to the Byzantium and Bulgaria demanded permanent military alliances of the Khans of separate hordes (tribes? tribal unions?). Thus, the need to increase the military potential has led to formation of the unions of the hordes (unions of tribal unions?), the first large steppe associations. Actually, they had no official bodies. Nevertheless the Khan, chosen to head such association at a congress of nobility, apparently possessed a great power. Mainly, this power consist in absolutism in his right to conduct foreign policy of the union, a conclusion of the peace treaties, but the main task was certainly organization of robbing campaigns (not to mention the main task of defense from the Rus raids and robberies). The more rigidly a Khan conducted his line, the more talented he was as the political leader and commander, the stronger was his authority over the kurens and ails of the hordes (armies?). According to the Rus annals, we can with sufficient dole of of probability to state that, first, Ruses called such heads “Great Princes“, and the Kipchaks called such heads Kaans, i.e. Khans of Khans, and secondly, the activity of the Kipchak “Great Princes“ became especially hard-felt for the Rus after the 1090's (The S.Pletneva's Kaan is a Turkic Kagan with a silent “g“: Kaĝan, typical for Oguz Turkish and Oguz Kazakh languages; the same pronunciation was noted among the Ogur Bulgars, indicating a late borrowing from the Oguz dialects, which should be expected because the Bulgars came to the Eastern Europe with the first wave of the Huns, in the 1st c. AD, before the emergence of the term “Kagan“ among the eastern Turkic dialects around the 2nd c. AD. The Slavic people must have acquired the word Kagan from the Ogur Avars or Ogur Khazars, because the Greek record gives a hard “g“: Rus Kagan, not a Rus Kaĝan. The title “Rus Kagan“ may have been first taken by a head of the Suvar clan Baryn, Alabuga (“Motley Ox“), who in the 882 submitted to the troops of the Viking Ingvar, aka Igor I the Old, and may surrendered his title to the conqueror, a la Türkic custom).

Which of the 11th century Kipchak's khans were noted especially often and with exceeding feeling of antipathy by the Rus annals? These are Bonyak and Tugorkan. Not without a reason both of them bacame firmly ingrained in the Rus folklore as the sworn enemies of Ruses. Bonyak appears in western Ukrainian tales and songs under a name of Bunyaka the Mangy, chopped off whose beheaded head rolls on the ground and destroys anything alive on its way (Kuzmichevsky, 1887), and Tugorkan is mentioned many times in Rus tales, being called there Tugarin or Tugarrin the Snake (Rybakov, 1963, p. 85).

The earliest news about these khans we find not in the Rus annals, but in the composition of the Byzantine Princess. Anna Comnena, who wrote about the life and deeds of her father, emperor Alexius I Comnenus  (Anna Comnena, p. 233-240). She calls them Maniak and Togortak. Academician V.G.Vasilievsky thought that the identification of these Khans with Bonyak and Tugorkan does not raise any doubts (Vasilievsky, 1908) (Anna Comnena records interchangeability of “b/m“ found in some Türkic languages; apparently his name was pronounced both ways; the interchangeability is completely transparent to the native speakers, like “tomato/toh-mah-toh“ - “tomato/tu-mey-tow“ in English).

Right at the beginning of the 1090's, the Byzantine empire has reeled under the blows of the Badjanak's hordes (army) which earlier retreated to the Balkans under a pressure of Kipchaks. At first allowed (involuntarily) by the Byzantine only in the lands on the northern borders, the Badjanaks, who apparently could not fit into the land allocated to them, moved to the main territory of the empire, ravaging and plundering the open settlements and poorly fortified small towns. Alexius Comnenus  turned for help to the whole “Christian world“, because the Byzantine armies even under his personal command but could cope with the Badjanaks. Not the Christian sovereigns helped Alexius, but only the Kipchaks, who came to Byzantine headed by Khan Bonyak and Khan Tugor (Türkic, Sl. Tugorkan). The Emperor received the Kipchak military leaders with imperial generosity. He showered them with gifts, trying to assure them in any way in his gratitude, and to establish allied relations. Significantly, both sides, i.e. Byzantines and Kipchaks, did not trust each other. At a first look at the Kipchak's camp, Alexius was taken “with despair and fear“, because he easily imagined that Kipchaks would join Badjanaks and would destroy a tiny army of the emperor. And the Kipchaks were well informed about the perfidy of the Byzantine rulers, and consequently for some time were afraid to enter in close contact with them. Khan Bonyak, for example, in the beginning totally refused all Alexius's invitations to visit him in the camp of the Byzantine army, mindful of the treachery and captivity. Notwithstanding that Alexius at the conclusion of the military alliance “demanded from Kuman leaders oaths and hostages“, for several days he did not even dare to join at the battlefield the Badjanaks and Kipchaks (Kumans), being afraid that during a fight the soldiers of both peoples speaking the same language would  agree among themselves and together will assail the Byzantines. Only after a categorical request of the Kipchaks, who declared that in case of further delays they will begin independent actions, the king appointed a day for a battle. It ended with a full route of the Badjanaks, and at night after the battle, the (the fearless, very Christian, and highly civilized) Byzantines savagely slaughtered 30 thousand captives (mostly women and children). Frightened with the wild cruelty of that night, Kipchaks took their share of the booty, abandoned their allies, and quickly retreated to the Danube. There, on the banks of the Danube, they were defeated by the Hungarian army of the king Laslo (Ladislaus) and left to the Dnieper area steppes which were already becoming indigenously theirs.

This sad 1090's episode of the Besenyo history was retold innumerable times from the Byzantine angle, a few times from other angles, and brought again by S.A. Pletneva from the  Kipchak angle. Unfortunately, there is no source that tells about  Besenyos themselves. From the story of Anna Comnenus we can guesstimate that Badjanaks were settled in an immense tabor of 20 thousand carts, arranged in a ring for the defense, and accompanied by the herds of, say, 100,000 sheep and 200,000 horses, plus maybe some camels and cows. Most of the 60 thousand population, including women, were called for the defense in the face of the imminent mortal danger. A retreat was not an option, the cavalry of the Kipchaks and even the weakling Byzantines were far superior to the flocks of sheep and cows. The only option Badjanaks had was to stand fast defending their indefensible tabor. We do not know the name of the unfortunate tribe, and therefore we can't trace its anabasis. Once the defense line of the mobile fortification was broken, the remaining population was left to the mercy of the attackers, 30,000 mostly women and children representing from 40 to 60 percent of the total tribe. The normal horde (army) of the tribe would then be estimated from 7,000 to 10,000 mounted archers and warriors of the legendary Badjanak fortified wagons. In a total mobilization that number would triple, to 20,000 or 30,000 defenders. This gives us the feeling for the Byzantine force, in order of magnitude of 5,000 to 10,000 soldiers, and the forces of the Khan Bonyak and Khan Tugor of 5,000 to 10,000 mounted archers each, since the Byzantines could not assault alone the fortified camp, but the joined forces of the Khan Bonyak and Khan Tugor could. To stage all their herds in the vicinity of the  fortified camp, Badjanaks had to spread them over considerable territory, making the whole occupied tribal area 20 to 30 km deep. In the prologue to the assault, some clans may have evacuated away from the danger, and in the epilogue some considerable numbers have also escaped from the the massacre zone. A close study of the events preceding the massacre may disclose the fate of the ruling clan, the future fate of the tribe, and the lasting impact on the 1,000,000-strong Badjanak people.

We can imagine that the remnants of the fortified camp remained for a long time, serving the surrounding population as a scavenger source for carts, wheels, harnesses, jewelry, smith tools, looms, pottery craft, and any other utensil of the self-supporting nomadic culture, and slowly drifting off to a forgotten past.


Áèòâà Ïîëîâöåâ î Ðóñè÷àìè. Ïîëîâöû ïîáåæäàþò, ïîýòîìó èõ ñòÿã ñòîèò è ðàçâåâàåòñÿ, à Ðóññêèõ (ò.å. ðóñîâ) íàêëîíåí ê çåìëå è êîíè ó íèõ âñå ïåðåáèòû. Ìèíèàòþðà (Êåíèíãñáåðã, äèïëîìàòè÷åñêè þôèìèçèðèâàííóé â Ñîâåòñêîì íàó÷íîì ëèíãî â) Ðàäçèâíëëîâñêîé ëåòîïèñè

Kipchak battle with Ruses. Kipchaks are winning, and their flag is standing and fluttering, ànd the Rus banner is leaning towards the ground and their horses are all destroyed. Miniature of (Keningsberg, diplomatically euphemized by Soviet scientific lingo to) Radzivill annals

In 1093 the Prince Vsevolod died, he continuously and generally successfully was repulsing from the Rus borders the Kipchak strikes. Hearing about the death of a hostile Prince, Kipchaks abandoned a planned retaliation campaign (in the original “plundering campaign“), decided to conclude a peace treaty with Rus. For that they sent ambassadors to Kiev to the Great Prince Sviatopolk Izyaslavich.

However, the Prince obviously miscalculated his forces, he allowed himself to go into a rage with straight talk of the ambassadors, and incarcerated them “in a cellar“, i.e. in an underground dungeon. Having learned about that, Kipchaks darted to the Ros area, besieged the main city of that border area, Torchesk, and started to plunder its vicinities. Only after that Sviatopolk began gathering an army, gathered only 800 people, and then the Sviatopodk's cohort, seeing the obvious difference of forces, advised him to ask for the help of his cousins. The chronicler tells about it: “Smart men told him: „... why are you arguing among yourselves? And the nasty people are ruining the Rus land““ (PSRL, II, p. 209). The reason is that the Prince Vladimir Vsevolodnch Monomah, who was then reigning in Chernigiv, dissuaded Princes and soldiers from a fight with Kipchaks: obviously, even with the joined forces of three Princes (Sviatopolk, Rostislav and Vladimir) were too weak for an open fight with Kipchaks. However, Sviatopolk with Kyivans insisted on a  “battle“.

The regiments moved south along the Dnieper area road, reached a mouth of Stugna, passed the Trepol and finally went crossed the border bulwark and there stopped between the bulwarks, waiting for Kipchaks. Kipchaks came, first sent a light cavalry archers, then took positions (“staked their flag“) opposite to the Rus regiments, and with all force fallen on Sviatopolk. When Sviatonolk regiments (puny 800 infantrymen are proudly called “regiments“, though they are less then a battalion) were defeated, Kipchaks fell on two other Princes, and also literally crushed them. The Ruses fled, at a crossing of Stugna (in the spring time) Rostislav drowned in the flooded rivulet. So ended the first stage of this long and pernicious for the Rus war. After the route of Rus armies, Kipchaks again returned to the Ros area to Torchesk and “made a great weep in our land and deserted our villages and our cities, and were fleeing from our enemies“, - the chronicler wrote down sadly. Sviatopolk was defeated again, Torchesk was taken, burnt, and the inhabitants (supposedly Oguzes, when the Ruses kicked out the Oguzes and occupied their city?) taken to captivity, to the forts. Sviatopolk faced a necessity to conclude a peace treaty with Kipchaks by all means. And finally, in 1094 not without difficulties he achieved a peace and “took a wife, Kipchak's Prince Tugorkan's daughter,“ (PSRL, II, p. 216) (Sviatopolk not so much married the daughter as he married Tugorkan: Tugorkan became his father-in-law, he became a son-in-law of Tugorkan, and be obedient son. In essence, the Great Prince of Ruses became a lesser prince of the Kagan Tugorkan. S. Pletneva does not stop to elucidate this minor event).

So for the first time on the pages of the annals was mentioned Tugorkan, a nearest compatriot of Bonyak. Quite possible that both khans united under their authority a few the western hordes (tribal unions?). Not without a reason Anna Comnena constantly calls them Kumans and, which is especially interesting, states that their language is the same as Badjanak language. Undoubtedly, the Türkic languages, like the Slavic languages, are similar one with another, but still all of them are different among different peoples and ethnoses. In this case it should be taken into account that the Badjanak and Kipchak languages even belong to the different language groups. The fact that Anna Comnena emphasizes the unity, instead of a similarity of the languages, is very important: Kumans could be speaking a Badjanak language, because many of the Badjanak-Oguz population joined the western hordes (tribal unions?) (It was Gyula Nemeth who independently established that the Badjanak language was a Kipchak language. No need for fancy theories of who is using whose language. Anna Comnena had a first-hand knowledge of the subject because the translation is of a prime importance in international relations, and the trust and mistrust of translator candidates is attended not with a less scrutiny then the negotiation itself).

Badjanak language, like other Türkic languages, was a subject of speculations and attempts to be attributed to Indo-European language family, not particularly because its lexicon contains common words with some of the Indo-European languages, since its lexicon is almost unknown, but because of the ripple effect that could bring its root language, Kangar, and its Chorasm and Sogdy versions into the Indo-European family, piggy-backing all the cultural attributes, like art, horsemanship, and burial traditions into the insatiable “Indo-European“ melting pot. The advocates of the Indo-European attribution, unless they feign that direct testimony does not exist, have to do a lot of extensive quasi-scientific tap-dancing to persuade that a language of one family belongs to a completely another family.

To see the type of argumentation used for Besenyos by Prof. O.Pritsak click here.

After concluding a peace with the Rus, Kipchaks got on with organizing a new campaign against Byzantium. They were attracted by rich and relatively easy booty. The occasion for that was also found: for their help and support  turned to Kipchaks a political adventurer, a pretender to the Byzantine throne who claimed to be Constantine, a killed long time ago son of the emperor Roman-Diogenes. The Rus chronicler wrote in the record of 1095: “... Kipchaks went on Greeks with Devgenevich and fought with Greeks, and king Devgenevich was blinded“ (PSRL, II, 217) (this is a venomous paragraph that demonizes Kipchaks for no reason, just to spill some venom: “new campaign“ without an old campaign, ascribing lowly designs without any grounds, dismissing a cause that may be naive, but sincere. Kipchaks helped one emperor in his time of need, and then came another emperor knocking on their door. Per S.Pletneva, with her 20/20 rear vision, they had to shoo him off).

The campaign did not bring Kipchaks any good. More than half of the soldiers who set out to Byzantium have perished, and any booty was taken away from them in one of the battles with a pursuing imperial army. In the biography, the Princess Anna wrote about that with a great pleasure. However, despite of failure and losses, Kipchaks have not lost their fighting capacity. Their military leaders, khans Bonyak and Tugorkan also remained alive. A clear picture about the force of the military contingents headed by these Khans gives us an annalistic story about the events of 1095-1096.

While Bonyak and Tugorkan were fighting, plundering and intriguing in the Byzantine, on their house befell a trouble: in the spring of 1095 two Kipchak “possessors“ Itlar and Kitan came to Pereyaslavl to Vladimir Vsevolodich to conclude a peace treaty, and were killed by an order of the Prince, even before a start of the negotiations (what a nice way to describe a treacherous murder of the ambassadors, endemic to the primary Rus history: “the trouble just befell“. Mind you, the sworn on peace treaty between Rus and Kipchaks was barely two years old in 1095). At first, Vladimir was inclined to peace, and gave Kitan, who with military escort camped outside Pereyaslavl bulwark, his son Svyatoslav as a hostage. Itlar without a fear came to the city. Two of Vladimir's troopers, Slavyata and Ratibor, persuaded the Prince to murder both ambassadors (even the chronicler is ashamed of the events, and uses a scapegoat, two privates, to shield the bastard Prince). First, Vladimir sent some of his his cohorts with a small group of Oguz Türks (in the original “Torks“) to Kitan. They stole the little Svyatoslav, killed Kitan, and his whole escort. In the morning they also killed Itlar, who stayed overnight in the city. After that Vladimir and Svyatopolk (a minor allodial Prince and the Great Prince who swore an oath of peace) “went on the fort and took fort and captured cattle, and horses, and camels, and folk, and brought to their land“ (PSRL, II, p. 219). It was a first campaign of the Ruses in the steppe, and besides it ended successfully (this makes clear why S.Pletneva was first demonizing Kipchaks: to make the Rus treachery, banditry, and murder less odious. A double success, one from Dark Ages, one from Soviet time). Apparently, the mobile forts of Itlar and Kitan with their owners came close to the Rus borders. Without their leaders and soldiers, the population in the forts could not mobilize: neither to beat off an attack, nor to flee from the enemies into the steppe. In the description of this event is interesting the fact that Itlar and Kitan are never named by the chronicler with a mentioning of their titles. Even is abcent the prefix “opa“, typical in our assumption for the heads of the kurens. Apparently, they both were “koshers“, heads of large rich families belonging to noble clans (kurens) (“koshers“ is an English calque of Slavic “koshevoi/êîøåâîé“, which in turn is a calque of Türkic derivative from “koch“ ~ English "coach", like in a "coach car", a “kosher/coacher“ is a head of a coach train, a coach foreman). About that (supposition) testify the claims of Itlar and Kitan on independent foreign policy, in particular on a conclusion of a separate peace treaty with the Rus, and also a stay as a guest at a court of the Prince Oleg Sviatoslavich (in the Karajar/Cherihiv) of the Itlar son. Vladimir and Sviatopolk demanded have him turned over to them. “... Also you have Itlar's (son), either kill him, or turn him over, that is enemy of ours and the Rus land“, they said (PSRL, II, p. 219). Oleg refused fulfil the request of his cousins. “... And was between them hatred“, - concluded the chronicler.

In Russian
Kipchaks Contents
Huns Contents
Besenyos, Ogur and Oguz
Alans and Ases
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline
Seyanto Dateline