Home Articles Brief history of Kyrgyz and Kyrgyzstan - from Yenisey to Tien...

Brief history of Kyrgyz and Kyrgyzstan – from Yenisey to Tien Shan

I’m not a historian or politician and find it hard to write about things that you can easily read on Wikipedia or other sources, that’s why I simply tried to use different sources to combine information that can help you get an idea about the history of Kyrgyzstan.

The territory of Kyrgyzstan, as well as all of Central Asia, is one of the earliest centers of human civilization. Archaeologists’ work shows that primitive man existed here since the Stone Age. The history of the Kyrgyz and the land of Kyrgyzstan goes back more than 2,000 years. Even though the country is isolated by its mountainous location, it had an important role as part of the historical Great Silk Road trade route.

The first state formation on the territory of modern Kyrgyzstan emerged in the II century BC, when the southern agricultural areas of the country were included in the state Parkan. In the IV-III centuries BC Kyrgyz ancestors were part of powerful tribal alliances of nomads who quite seriously annoyed China. It was at that time that the construction of the Great Wall of China began. In the II-I centuries BC, the Kyrgyz tribes left the Huns (Xiongnu) and moved to Yenisei.

There they formed their first state, the Kyrgyz Khanate which became the center of the Yenisei Kyrgyz, and the formation of their culture. There arose the first ancient Turkic runic script. Some runic inscriptions on stone monuments are still preserved.

The invasion of Central Asia by the Mongols in the 13th century ruined the territory of Kyrgyzstan, costing its people their independence and their written language. The son of Genghis Khan, Juche, conquered the Kyrgyz tribes of the Yenisey region, who by this time had become disunited. For the next 200 years, the Kyrgyz remained under the Golden Horde, Chagatai Khanate and the Dzungars that succeeded that regime. Freedom was regained in 1510, but Kyrgyz tribes were overrun in the seventeenth century by the Kalmyks, in the mid-eighteenth century by the Manchus, and in the early nineteenth century by the Uzbeks.

In the mid-eighteenth century the Kyrgyz developed certain tribal relations that have prevailed into the 20th century. At the head of each clan stood an Elder – Aksakal (“White bear”). The elders of various tribes formed a tribal council. Small tribes were led by Manaps (chiefs). Even now, every Kyrgyz knows the name of his tribe, and every Kyrgyz asks the region you are from and the name of the tribe. Sometimes, it happens that you come from the same tribe and you know that you are one family even if you have no connections.

The process of joining Kyrgyz lands to Russia began in the mid-1850s. Resisting the brutal power of Kokand Khans and desiring to be free from this dependence, the Kyrgyz tribes in fact like many others, were willing to accept Russia if only to find freedom from Kokand. Thus, in 1855-1863 the Tsar’s troops retook the territory of North Kyrgyzstan from Kokand and annexed it to the Russian Empire. Przhevask outpost was founded there.

South Kyrgyzstan (together with Fergana and northern Tajikistan) was also annexed to the Russian Empire as a Semirechenskaya region in 1876 after thedefeat of the Kokand Khanate.

The Russian government tried not to interfere into the life of Kyrgyz and other Central Asian people until the First World War when Russia needed human resources to fight for the Russian land. For this purpose, an order to mobilize the population into trench work was issued. The Kyrgyz protested and as a result attacked the Russian immigrants who lived on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. The rebellion was brutally suppressed. Thus, part of our people fled to China. There, on the territory of the border province Xinjiang they formed the Kizilsy-Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture that still exists.

In 1924 the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Region was founded within the Russian USSR as Soviet power was established in the region in 1918. Russians used the term Kara-Kyrgyz until the mid-1920s to differ Kyrgyz from the Kazakhs, who were also referred to as Kyrgyz. It became the Kirghiz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1926 and it was registered as a full Union Republic of the USSR on December 5, 1936.

Kyrgyzstan experienced considerable cultural, economic, educational, and social change in the 1920s. As an example, gender equality was proclaimed in 1917, polygamy and dowry (a price for bride) were prohibited by law. During this time literacy increased, and a standard literary language was introduced. Our language belongs to the Kipchak Turkic group of languages. Arabic-based alphabet was introduced in 1924, which was replaced by Latin script in 1928. Later, in 1941, Cyrillic script was adopted that we use nowadays.

1990 saw the beginning of democratic movements in Kyrgyzstan. In October of the same year the democratic coalition succeeded to held elections, in which noted academic Askar Akayev, the first President of the Republic, was elected. On 31st of August in 1991, less than two weeks after the coup in Moscow, the government proclaimed the independence of the Kyrgyz Republic.

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