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The Turkmens (Şablon:Lang-tk) are a Turkic people located primarily in Central Asia, in the state of Turkmenistan, as well as in Iran, Afghanistan, North Caucasus (Stavropol Krai), and northern Pakistan. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Eastern Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages. Examples of other Oghuz languages are Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai, Gagauz, Khorasani, and Salar.<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref>


Originally, all Turkic tribes that were not part of the Turkic dynastic mythological system (for example, Uigurs, Karluks, Ethans and a number of other tribes) were designated "Turkmens". Only later did this word come to refer to a specific ethnonym. The etymology of the term derives from Türk plus the Sogdian affix of similarity -myn, -men, and means "resembling a Türk" or "co-Türk".<ref>Yu. Zuev, "Early Türks: Essays on history and ideology", Almaty, Daik-Press, 2002, p. 157, Şablon:Listed Invalid ISBN</ref> A prominent Turkic scholar, Mahmud Kashgari, also mentions the etymology Türk manand (like Turks). The language and ethnicity of the Turkmen were much influenced by their migration to the west. Kashgari calls the Karluks Turkmen as well, but the first time the etymology Turkmen was used was by Makdisi in the second half of the 10th century AD. Like Kashgari, he wrote that the Karluks and Oghuz Turks were called Turkmen. Some modern scholars have proposed that the element -man/-men acts as an intensifier, and have translated the word as "pure Turk" or "most Turk-like of the Turks".<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref> Among Muslim chroniclers such as Ibn Kathir, the etymology was attributed to the mass conversion of two hundred thousand households in 971 AD, causing them to be named Turk Iman, which is a combination of "Turk" and "Iman" إيمان (faith, belief), meaning "believing Turks", with the term later dropping the hard-to-pronounce hamza.<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref>

Historically, all of the Western or Oghuz Turks have been called Türkmen or Turkoman;<ref name="locorigins"> Glenn E. Curtis, ed. "Origins and Early History", Turkmenistan: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1996. pg. 13</ref> however, today the terms are usually restricted to two Turkic groups: the Turkmen people of Turkmenistan and adjacent parts of Central Asia, and the Turkomans of Iraq and Syria.

During the Ottoman period these nomads were known by the names of Türkmen and Yörük or Yürük (Türkic "Nomad", other phonetic variations include Iirk, Iyierk, Hiirk, Hirkan, Hircanae, Hyrkan, Hyrcanae, the last four known from the Greek annals).<ref>M.Zakiev, "Origin of Türks and Tatars", p.474 on, Moscow, "Insan", 2002, ISBN 5-85840-317-4 Şablon:Ru icon</ref> These names were generally used to describe their nomadic way of life, rather than their ethnic origins. However, these terms were often used interchangeably by foreigners. At the same time, various other exonym words were used for these nomads, such as 'Konar-göçer', 'Göçebe', 'Göçer-yörük', 'Göçerler', and 'Göçer-evliler'. The most common one among these was 'Konar-göçer' – nomadic Turcoman Turks. All of these words are found in Ottoman archival documents and carry only the meaning of 'nomad'.

The modern Turkmen people descend, at least in part, from the Oghuz Turks of Transoxiana, the western portion of Turkestan, a region that largely corresponds to much of Central Asia as far east as Xinjiang. Oghuz tribes had moved westward from the Altay mountains in the 7th century AD, through the Siberian steppes, and settled in this region. They also penetrated as far west as the Volga basin and the Balkans. These early Turkmens are believed to have mixed with native Sogdian peoples and lived as pastoral nomads until the Russian conquest of the 19th century.<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref>



Signs of advanced settlements have been found throughout Turkmenistan including the Djeitun settlement where neolithic buildings have been excavated and dated to the 7th millennium BCE.<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref> By 2000 BCE, various Indo-European peoples began to settle throughout the region, as indicated by the finds at the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. Notable early tribes included the nomadic Dahae (a.k.a. Daoi/Dasa), Massagetae and Scythians. The Achaemenid Empire annexed the area by the 4th century BCE and then lost control of the region following the invasion of Alexander the Great, whose Hellenistic influence had an impact upon the area and some remnants have survived in the form of a planned city which was discovered following excavations at Antiocheia (Merv). The Parni, a Dahae tribe came to dominate the region, and established the Parthian Empire, which also later fractured as a result of invasions from the north.

Ephthalites, Huns, and Göktürks came in a long parade of invasions. Finally, the Sassanid Empire based in Persia ruled the area prior to the coming of the Muslim Arabs during the Umayyad Caliphate by 716 CE. The majority of the inhabitants were converted to Islam as the region grew in prominence. Next came the Oghuz Turks, who imparted their language upon the local population. A tribe of the Oghuz, the Seljuks, established a Turko-Iranian culture that culminated in the Khwarezmid Empire by the 12th century. Mongol hordes led by Genghis Khan conquered the area between 1219 and 1221 and devastated many of the cities which led to a rapid decline of the remaining Iranian urban population.

The Turkmen largely survived the Mongol period due to their semi-nomadic lifestyle and became traders along the Caspian, which led to contacts with Eastern Europe. Following the decline of the Mongols, Tamerlane conquered the area and his Timurid Empire would rule, until it too fractured, as the Safavids, Khanate of Bukhara, and Khanate of Khiva all contested the area. The expanding Russian Empire took notice of Turkmenistan's extensive cotton industry, during the reign of Peter the Great, and invaded the area. Following the decisive Battle of Geok Tepe in January 1881, Turkmenistan became a part of the Russian Empire. After the Russian Revolution, Soviet control was established by 1921 as Turkmenistan was transformed from a medieval Islamic region to a largely secularized republic within a totalitarian state. By 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan achieved independence as well, but remained dominated by a one-party system of government led by the authoritarian regime of President Saparmurat Niyazov until his death in December 2006.


Şablon:Main Turkmen (Latin: Türkmençe, Cyrillic: Түркменче) is the language of the titular nation of Turkmenistan. It is spoken by over 5,200,000 people in Turkmenistan, and by roughly 3,000,000 people in other countries, including Iran, Afghanistan, and Russia.<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref> Up to 30% of native speakers in Turkmenistan also claim a good knowledge of Russian, a legacy of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union.

Turkmen is not a literary language in Iran and Afghanistan, where many Turkmen tend towards bilingualism, usually conversant in the countries different dialects of Persian, such as Dari in Afghanistan. Variations of the Persian alphabet are, however, used in Iran.


Dosya:Turkmen man with camel.jpg
A Turkmen man of Turkmenistan in traditional clothes by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, around 1910.<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref><ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref><ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref>
Dosya:MSU V2P2 - Hunter with caracal.png
Turkmen hunter with caracal in Repetek, eastern Karakum (January, 1958)

Genetic studies on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) restriction polymorphism confirmed that Turkmen were characterized by the presence of local Iranian mtDNA lineages, similar to the Eastern Iranian populations, but high male Mongoloid genetic component observed in Turkmens populations with the frequencies of about 20%.<ref>1 Russian Journal of Genetics, Mitochondrial DNA Polymorphism in Populations of the Caspian Region and Southeastern Europe</ref> This most likely indicates an ancestral combination of Turkic and Iranian groups that the modern Turkmen have inherited and which appears to correspond to the historical record which indicates that various Iranian tribes existed in the region prior to the migration of Turkic tribes:


Bode, C.A. "The Yamud and Goklan tribes of Turkomania". Journal of the London Ethnological Society, vol. 1, 1848, pp. 60–78.



Culture and society

Nomadic heritage

Before the establishment of Soviet power in Central Asia, it was difficult to identify distinct ethnic groups in the region. Sub-ethnic and supra-ethnic loyalties were more important to people than ethnicity. When asked to identify themselves, most Central Asians would name their kin group, neighborhood, village, religion or the state in which they lived; the idea that a state should exist to serve an ethnic group was unknown.<ref name="Adrienne Lynn Edgar 2007 18">Şablon:Cite book</ref>

Most Turkmen were nomads and were not settled in cities and towns until the advent of the Soviet government. This mobile lifestyle precluded identification with anyone outside one's kin group and led to frequent conflicts between different Turkmen tribes. In collaboration with the local nationalists, the Soviet government sought to transform the Turkmen and other “backward” ethnic groups in the USSR into modern socialist nations that based their identity on a fixed territory and a common language.

The Soviet-led standardization of the Turkmen language, education, and projects to promote ethnic Turkmen in the industry, government and higher education had led growing numbers of Turkmen to identify with a larger national Turkmen culture rather than with sub-national, pre-modern forms of identity.<ref name="Adrienne Lynn Edgar 2007 261">Şablon:Cite book</ref> Before the Soviet era, a proverb stated that the Turkmen’s home was where his horse happened to stand. After gaining independence from the Soviet Union, Turkmen historians went to great lengths to prove that the Turkmen had inhabited their current territory since time immemorial; some historians even tried to deny the nomadic heritage of the Turkmen.<ref name="Adrienne Lynn Edgar 2007 264">Şablon:Cite book</ref>

Turkmen lifestyle was heavily invested in horsemanship and as a prominent horse culture, Turkmen horse-breeding was an ages old tradition. In spite of changes prompted by the Soviet period, a tribe in southern Turkmenistan has remained very well known for their horses, the Akhal-Teke desert horse – and the horse breeding tradition has returned to its previous prominence in recent years.<ref>Embassy of Turkmenistan-History & Culture, The Akhalteke Horse of Turkmenistan</ref>

Many tribal customs still survive among modern Turkmen. Unique to Turkmen culture is kalim which is a groom's "dowry", that can be quite expensive and often results in the widely practicedŞablon:Citation needed tradition of bridal kidnapping.<ref name="Turkmen Society">Turkmen Society</ref> In something of a modern parallel, in 2001, President Saparmurat Niyazov had introduced a state enforced "kalim", which required all foreigners who wanted to marry a Turkmen woman to pay a sum of no less than $50,000.<ref name="telegraph.co.uk">Philip Sherwell, Price of loving a Turkmen girl is now $50,000, The Telegraph, July 22, 2001</ref> The law was abolished in March 2005.<ref name="rferl.org">Gulnoza Saidazimova, Turkmenistan: Marriage Gets Cheaper As Turkmenbashi Drops $50,000 Dollar Foreigners' Fee, Radio Free Europe, June 10, 2005</ref>

Other customs include the consultation of tribal elders, whose advice is often eagerly sought and respected. Many Turkmen still live in extended families where various generations can be found under the same roof, especially in rural areas.<ref name="Turkmen Society"/>

The music of the nomadic and rural Turkmen people reflects rich oral traditions, where epics such as Koroglu are usually sung by itinerant bards. These itinerant singers are called bakshy and sing either a cappella or with instruments such as the two-stringed lute called dutar.

Society today

Dosya:Female Visitors, Merv (5730558119).jpg
Women in Turkmenistan in 2011

Since Turkmenistan's independence in 1991, a cultural revival has taken place with the return of a moderate form of Islam and celebration of Novruz (an Iranian<ref name="Meri">Josef W. Meri, Jere L. Bacharach, "Medieval Islamic Civilization: L-Z, index ", Taylor & Francis, 2006. pp 605: "Buyid rulers such as Azud al-Dawla resusciated a number of pre-islamic Iranian practices, most notably the titular of shahanshah (king of kings) and the celebration of the Persian New Year</ref> tradition) or New Year's Day.

Turkmen can be divided into various social classes including the urban intelligentsia and workers whose role in society is different from that of the rural peasantry. Secularism and atheism remain prominent for many Turkmen intellectuals who favor moderate social changes and often view extreme religiousity and cultural revival with some measure of distrust.<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref>

Self-proclaimed President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov was largely responsible for many of the changes that have taken place in modern Turkmen society. Niyazov made nationalism an important element in Turkmenistan, while contacts with Turkmen in neighboring Iran and Afghanistan have increased. Significant changes to the names of the cities as well as calendar reform were introduced by President Niyazov as well. The calendar reform resulted in renaming months and days of the week from Persian or European-derived words into purely Turkmen ones, some of them eponymously related to the president or his family. The policy was reversed in 2008.<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref>

The five traditional carpet designs that form motifs in the country's state emblem and flag represent the five major Turkmen tribes.

Turkmen in Iran

Şablon:See also Turkmen rulers, successively of the Black Sheep Turkomans and White Sheep Turkomans, ruled much of Persia and surrounding countries before Shah Ismail I defeated them to begin the Safavid dynasty in 1501. Tabriz was their usual capital. There remains a relatively small population identifying as Turkmen in modern Iran.

Turkmen in Afghanistan

Dosya:Afghanistan ethnic groups 2005.jpg
CIA map showing the territory of the settlement of ethnic groups and subgroups in Afghanistan (2005)

Turkmen are another Sunni Turkic-speaking group whose language has close affinities with modern Turkish. They are of aquiline Mongoloid stock. The Afghan Turkmen population in the 1990s was estimated at around 200,000. Turkmen also reside north of the Amu Darya in Turkmenistan.<ref name="lcweb2.loc.gov">US Library of Congress Country Studies-Afghanistan: Turkmen</ref> The original Turkmen groups came from east of the Caspian Sea into northwestern Afghanistan at various periods, particularly after the end of the nineteenth century when the Russians moved into their territory. They established settlements from Balkh Province to Herat Province, where they are now concentrated; smaller groups settled in Kunduz Province. Others came in considerable numbers as a result of the failure of the Basmachi revolts against the Bolsheviks in the 1920s.<ref name="lcweb2.loc.gov"/> Turkmen tribes, of which there are twelve major groups in Afghanistan, base their structure on genealogies traced through the male line. Senior members wield considerable authority. Formerly a nomadic and warlike people feared for their lightning raids on caravans, Turkmen in Afghanistan are farmer-herdsmen and important contributors to the economy. They brought karakul sheep to Afghanistan and are also renowned makers of carpets, which, with karakul pelts, are major hard currency export commodities. Turkmen jewelry is also highly prized.<ref name="lcweb2.loc.gov"/>

Turkmen of Stavropol Region of Russia

In the Stavropol Region of southern Russia, there is a long established colony of Turkmen. They are often referred to as Trukhmen by the local ethnic Russian population, and sometimes use the self-designation Turkpen.<ref name="eki.ee">The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire. Eki.ee. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.</ref> According to the 2010 Census of Russia, they numbered 15,048, and accounted for 0.5% of the total population of Stavropol Region.

The Turkmens are said to have migrated into the Caucasus in the 17th century, in particular in the Mangyshlak region. These migrants belonged mainly to the Chaudorov (Chavodur), Sonchadj and Ikdir tribes. The early settlers were nomadic but over time a process of sedentarization took place. In their cultural life the Trukhmens of today differ very little from their neighbours and are now settled farmers and stockbreeders.<ref name="eki.ee"/>

Although the Turkmen language belongs to the Oguz group of Turkic languages, in Stavropol it has been strongly influenced by the Nogai language, which belongs to the Kipchak group. The phonetic system, grammatical structure and to some extent also the vocabulary, have been somewhat influenced.<ref>http://www2.lingfil.uu.se/afro/turkiskasprak/IP2007/Johanson2006Cauc.pdf</ref>

Demographics and population distribution

A Turkmen girl and baby from Afghanistan
Dosya:Senior Citizen in Ashgabat.jpg
A Turkmen man from Turkmenistan

The Turkmen people of Central Asia live in:


  • Pakistan, where as of 2005, as per the official Pakistani census and UN estimates, there remain approximately 110,000 Turkmen refugees in Pakistan, largely in the North-West Frontier Province, Balochistan and in the country's urban centres of Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. The actual numbers could be up to 250,000 as many have avoided being counted for fear of being deported and have intermixed into Pakistan's cosmopolitan social dynamic. A few hundred Turkmen and Kyrgyz refugee families living in Pakistan were given asylum in Turkey in the 1980s. Apart from these, Karlugh Turks also reside in Pakistan who came with Timur in 1472 AD and formed a Turki Shahi dynasty that ruled the state of Hazara (NWFP) as Pakhli Sarkar for more than 200 years (1472–1703); currently these Karlugh Turks reside mainly in three districts of Hazara, Mansehra (Jabori, Pakhli), Abbottabad (Banda Phagwarian), Haripur (Mankeria, Pharhari, Nartopa). These Karlugh Turks are mingled with locals and are Pakistani nationals, however they maintained their identity as Turk Rajputs. Raja Amanullah Khan Turk (deceased) of Haripur Mankerai was speaker of the NWFP assembly from March 1985 to 1988.
  • Turkey, where most Turkmens have integrated into sedentary life over the centuries through Seljuk and Ottoman periods. A considerable nomadic Turkmen group called Yörük still maintain their lifestyle in Anatolia and parts of the Balkans.

Y-DNA haplogroups of Turkmens

Recent studies on the Turkmens of Iran and Afghanistan suggest that haplogroup Q is the dominant Y-DNA in Turkmens. So far, there have been two detailed studies on the Y-DNA of Turkmens.

  • One research(Cristofaro et al.,2013) found that the Turkmens in Afghanistan have 31.1% Q-M25(currently Q1alb) and 2.7% Q1a3-M346(currently Q1a2)(Q total 25/74=33.8%), followed by R1a1a-M198(16.2%, also R1b 2.74%, R2 1.4%), J1c3-Page8(8.1%, also other various J 9.5%), N1b-P43(6.8%), G2a-P303(4.1%), L1a-M76(4.1%), and various subgroups of E1b1b 5.4%, O3(KL2, M134) 2.7%, C(M401) 1.4%, H(M69*) 1.4%.<ref name="Cristofaro2013">J D Cristofaro et al., 2013, "Afghan Hindu Kush: Where Eurasian Sub-Continent Gene Flows Converge", http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0076748</ref>
  • Another study(Grugni et al.,2012) found that 42.6%(29/68) of Iranian Turkmens(in Golestan) have haplogroup Q-M25(currently Q1a1b), followed by R1a1a-M198(14.5%, also R1b 4.3%, R2 1.4%), J1c3-Page8(5.8%, also other various J 8.8%), G2a(5.8%), L3-M357(5.8%), E1b1b(4.3%), NO*(2.9%, xN, xO), H(1.4%), T(1.4%).<ref>Viola Grugni et al.,2012, "Ancient Migratory Events in the Middle East: New Clues from the Y-Chromosome Variation of Modern Iranians", http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0041252. It seems that more correctly rounded frequency-figures might be 14.7%(instead of 14.5%), 5.9%(instead of 5.8%), 4.4%(instead of 4.3%), 1.5%(instead of 1.4%).</ref>
  • In 2015, Mongolian noble burials of the Yuan Dynasty were excavated in Shuzhuanglou Site(northernmost Hebei China, 700YBP), all 3 noble men buried being turned out to be haplogroup Q(subclade not analyzed). The principal occupant was turned out to be Gaodang-King Korguz(高唐王=趙王 阔里吉思). His mt-DNA is D4m2, two others' mt-DNA is A.<ref>Şablon:Cite journal</ref> Korguz(阔里吉思), a son of a princess of Kublai Khan(元世祖, son of Genghis Khan), was the King of Ongud tribe(汪古部). He died in 1298 and was reburied in Shuzhuanglou in 1311 by his son. (Not to be confused with Uyghur King Korguz who died in 1242.) Ongud tribe was a descendant of Shatuo tribe(沙陀族) which was a tribe of Gok-Turk(Western Turkic Khaganate) and was prominent in the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period of China, building 3 Dynasties. Korguz's two queens were all princesses of Yuan Dynasty(Kublai Khan's granddaughters). It was very important for Yuan Dynasty to maintain marriage alliance with Ongud tribe which had been a very principal assistant since Genghis Khan's period. About 16 princesses of Yuan Dynasty were married to kings of Ongud tribe.
  • Judging from these papers mentioned above and other history books, there is a high possibility that the ruling class of Gok-Turk was Y haplogroup Q, and the ruling clans of Oghuz Turks were Q1a1b-M25. Also, the royal family of Ashina(阿史那) clan that ruled Gok-Turk and Khazaria kingdom is maintained to be haplogroup Q1b.<ref>https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/ashina-royal-dynasty/about</ref> It is also plausible because Turk is a descendant of Xiongnu that was ruled by haplogroup Q. For example, in the ancient cemetery in Heigouliang(Xinjiang), which is known as the summer palace of Xiongnu king, 12 men were excavated, and all belong to Y haplogroup Q. Especially, all 4 Q1b men among them represent hosts of tombs.<ref>Y-Chromosome Genetic Diversity of the Ancient North Chinese populations, Li Hongjie, Jilin University-China, 2012</ref>(Xiongnu nobles/conquerors found in another ancient site are turned out to be Q-M3)<ref>Y chromosomes of ancient Hunnu people and its implication on the phylogeny of East Asian linguistic families. LL. Kang et al., 2013</ref>

See also




External links

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