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The Keraites
Keraites
(also Kerait, Kereit, Khereid ; Mongolian: Хэрэйд) were one of the five dominant Turkic[1] or Turco-Mongol tribal[2][3] confederations (khanates) in the Altai-Sayan region during the 12th century. They had converted to the Church of the East (Nestorianism) in the early 11th century and are one of the possible sources of the European Prester John
Prester John
legend. Their original territory was expansive, corresponding to much of what is now Mongolia. Vasily Bartold
Vasily Bartold
(1913) located them along the upper Onon and Kherlen rivers and along the Tuul river.[4] They were defeated by Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
in 1203 and became influential in the rise of the Mongol
Mongol
Empire, and were gradually absorbed into the succeeding Turco- Mongol
Mongol
khanates during the 13th century.

Contents

1 Name 2 History

2.1 Origins 2.2 Khanate 2.3 Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
and dispersal

3 Nestorian Christianity

3.1 Conversion account

4 Legacy 5 See also 6 References

Name In modern Mongolian, the confederation is spelled Хэрэйд, (Khereid). In English, the name is primarily adopted as Keraites, alternatively Kerait, or Kereyit, in some earlier texts also as Karait or Karaites.[5][6] One common theory sees the name as a cognate with the Mongolian хар/khar and Turcic qarā for "black, swarthy". There have been various other Mongol
Mongol
and Turcic tribes with names involving the term, which are often conflated.[7] According to the early 14th-century work Jami' al-tawarikh
Jami' al-tawarikh
by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, Mongol
Mongol
legend traced the clan back to eight brothers with unusually dark faces and the confederation they founded. Kerait was the name of the leading brother's clan, while the clans of his brothers are recorded as Jirkin, Konkant, Sakait, Tumaut, Albat.[8] Other researchers also suggested that the Mongolian name Khereid may be an ancient totem name derived from the root Kheree (хэрээ) for "raven".[9] History Origins The Keraites
Keraites
first enter into history as the ruling faction of the Zubu
Zubu
confederacy, a large alliance of tribes that dominated Mongolia during the 11th and 12th centuries and often fought with the Liao Dynasty of northern China, which controlled much of Mongolia
Mongolia
at the time. It is unclear whether the Keraites
Keraites
should be classified as Turkic or Mongol
Mongol
in origin. According some historian Keraits speaking Turkic[10][11] the names and titles of early Keraite leaders suggest that they were speakers of a Turkic language, but coalitions and incorporation of sub-clans may have led to Turco- Mongol
Mongol
amalgamation from an early time.[12][13] They are first noted in Syriac Church records which mention them being absorbed into the Church of the East
Church of the East
around AD 1000 by Metropolitan Abdisho of Merv. Khanate After the Zubu
Zubu
confederacy broke up, the Keraites
Keraites
retained their dominance on the steppe right up until they were absorbed into Genghis Khan's Mongolian state. At the height of its power, the Keraites
Keraites
khanate was organized along the same lines as the Naimans
Naimans
and other powerful steppe tribes of the day. A section is dedicated to the Keraites
Keraites
by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani (1247–1318), the official historian of the Genghisid court in Persia, in his Jami' al-tawarikh
Jami' al-tawarikh
(c. 1300).[14] The people was divided into a "central" faction and an "outer" faction. The central faction served as the khan's personal army and was composed of warriors from many different tribes with no loyalties to anyone but the Khan. This made the central faction more of a quasi-feudal state than a genuine tribe. The "outer" faction was composed of tribes that pledged obedience to the khan, but lived on their own tribal pastures and functioned semi-autonomously. The "capital" of the Keraite khanate was a place called Orta Balagasun, which was probably located in an old Uyghur or Khitan fortress.[citation needed] Markus Buyruk Khan, was a Keraite leader who also led the Zubu confederacy. In 1100, he was killed by the Liao Dynasty. Kurchakus Buyruk Khan was a son and successor of Bayruk Markus, among whose wives was Toreqaimish Khatun, daughter of Korchi Buiruk Khan of the Naiman. Kurchakus's younger brother was Gur Khan. Kurchakus Buyruk Khan had many sons. Notable sons included Toghrul, Yula-Mangus, Tai-Timur, Bukha-Timur.[citation needed] In union with the Khitan they became vassals in the Kara-Khitai
Kara-Khitai
state.[citation needed]

Depiction of Wang Khan as "Prester John" in Le Livre des Merveilles, 15th century.

After Kurchakus Buyruk Khan died, Ilma's Tatar servant Eljidai became the de facto regent. This upset Toghrul
Toghrul
who had his younger brothers killed and then claimed the throne as Toghrul
Toghrul
khan (Mongolian:Тоорил хан/Tooril khan) who was the son of Kurchakus by Ilma Khatun, reigned from the 1160s to 1203.[citation needed] His palace was located at present-day Ulan Bator and he became blood-brother (anda) to Yesugei. Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
called him khan etseg ('khan father'). Yesugei, having disposed of all Tughrul's sons, was now the only one in line to inherit the title khan. The Tatars rebelled against the Jin dynasty in 1195. The Jin commander sent an emissary to Timujin. A fight with the Tatars broke out and the Mongol
Mongol
alliance defeated them. In 1196, the Jin Dynasty awarded Toghrul
Toghrul
the title of "Wang" (king). After this, Toghrul
Toghrul
was recorded under the title "Wang Khan" (Ван хан/Van khan; Chinese: 王汗; pinyin: Wáng Hàn; also Ong Khan). When Timujin attacked Jamukha for the title of Khan, Toghrul, fearing Timujin's growing power, plotted with Jamukha to have Timujin assassinated. In 1203, Timujin defeated the Keraites, who were distracted by the collapse of their own coalition. Toghrul
Toghrul
was killed by Naiman soldiers who failed to recognize him as the former was fleeing from a defeat against Genghis Khan. Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
and dispersal Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
married his son Tolui
Tolui
to one of Toghrul's nieces, the Nestorian Christian Sorghaghtani Bekhi, the younger daughter of Tooril's brother Jakha Khambu. Tolui
Tolui
and Sorghaghtani Bekhi
Sorghaghtani Bekhi
became the parents of Möngke Khan
Möngke Khan
and Kublai Khan.[15] The remaining Keraites submitted to Timujin's rule, but out of distrust, Timujin dispersed them among the other Mongol
Mongol
tribes.[citation needed] Rinchin protected Christians when Ghazan
Ghazan
began to persecute them but he was executed by Abu Sa'id Bahadur Khan
Abu Sa'id Bahadur Khan
when fighting against his custodian, Chupan of the Taichiud
Taichiud
in 1319. Keraites
Keraites
arrived in Europe with the Mongol
Mongol
invasion led by Batu Khan and Mongke Khan. Kaidu's troops in the 1270s were likely mostly composed of Keraites
Keraites
and Naimans.[16] From the 1380s onward, Nestorian Christianity
Christianity
in Mongolia
Mongolia
was destroyed, on the one hand due to the Islamization under Timur
Timur
and on the other due to the Ming conquest of Karakorum. The remnants of the Keraits by late 14th century lived along the Kara Irtysh.[17] These remnants were finally dispersed in the 1420s in the Mongol-Oirat wars fought by Uwais Khan.[18] Mongolian Christians sought refuge under the leadership of Tokhtamysh,[citation needed] and they appear to have lost all contact with their mother church after the schism of 1552. Many were absorbed into other churches, some adopted Islam, while still others became Judaizers.[citation needed] Nestorian Christianity Main article: Christianity
Christianity
among the Mongols The Keraites
Keraites
were converted to Nestorianism, a sect of Christianity, early in the 11th century.[15][19][20] Other tribes evangelized entirely or to a great extent during the 10th and 11th centuries were the Naiman and the Ongud. Rashid al-Din, the official historian of the Mongol
Mongol
court in Persia, in his Jami al-Tawarikh
Jami al-Tawarikh
states that the Keraites
Keraites
were Christians. William of Rubruck, who encountered many Nestorians during his stay at Mongke Khan's court and at Karakorum
Karakorum
in 1254–1255, notes that Nestorianism
Nestorianism
in Mongolia
Mongolia
was tainted by shamanism and Manicheism
Manicheism
and very confused in terms of liturgy, not following the usual norms of Christian churches elsewhere in the world. He attributes this to the lack of teachers of the faith, power struggles among the clergy and a willingness to make doctrinal concessions in order to win the favour of the Khans. Contact with the Catholicos was lost after the Islamization under Timur
Timur
(reigned 1370–1405), who effectively destroyed the Church of the East. The Nestorian Church in Karakorum was destroyed by the invading Ming dynasty
Ming dynasty
army in 1380. The legend of Prester John, otherwise set in India or Ethiopia, was also brought in connection with the Nestorian rulers of the Keraites. In some versions of the legend, Prester John
Prester John
was explicitly identified with Toghril.[15] But Mongolian sources say nothing about his religion.[21] Conversion account An account of the conversion of this Turkic people is given in the 12th-century Book of the Tower (Kitab al-Majdal) by Mari ibn Suleiman, and also by 13th-century Syriac Orthodox historian Bar Hebraeus where he names them with the Syriac word ܟܹܪܝܼܬ ("Keraith").[22][23] According to these accounts, in either AD 1007 or 1012, the Keraite khan lost his way during a snowstorm while hunting in the high mountains of his land. When he had abandoned all hope, a saint, Sergius, appeared in a vision and said, "If you will believe in Christ, I will lead you lest you perish." The king promised to become Christian, and the saint told him to close his eyes and he found himself back home (Bar Hebraeus' version says the saint led him to the open valley where his home was). When he met Christian merchants, he remembered the vision and asked them about the Christian religion, prayer and the book of canon laws. They taught him "the Lord's Prayer, Lakhu Mara, and Qadisha Alaha." The Lakhu Mara is the Syriac of the hymn Te deum, and the Qadisha Alaha is the Trisagion. At their suggestion, he sent a message to Abdisho, the Metropolitan of Merv, for priests and deacons to baptize him and his tribe. Abdisho sent a letter to Yohannan VI, the Catholicos or Patriarch of the Church of the East in Baghdad (63rd Patriarch after Saint Thomas). Abdisho informed Yohannan VI that the Keraite khan asked him about fasting, whether they could be exempted from the usual Christian way of fasting, since their diet was mainly meat and milk. Abdisho also related that the Keraite khan had already "set up a pavilion to take the place of an altar, in which was a cross and a Gospel, and named it after Mar Sergius, and he tethered a mare there and he takes her milk and lays it on the Gospel and the cross, and recites over it the prayers which he has learned, and makes the sign of the cross over it, and he and his people after him take a draft from it." Yohannan replied to Abdisho telling him one priest and one deacon was to be sent with altar paraments to baptize the king and his people. Yohannan also approved the exemption of the Keraites
Keraites
from strict church law, stating that while they had to abstain from meat during the annual Lenten fast like other Christians, they could still drink milk during that period, although they should switch from "sour milk" (fermented mare's milk) to "sweet milk" (normal milk) to remember the suffering of Christ during the Lenten fast. Yohannan also told Abdisho to endeavor to find wheat and wine for them, so they can celebrate the Paschal Eucharist. As a result of the mission that followed, the king and 200,000 of his people were baptized (both Bar Hebraeus and Mari ibn Suleiman give the same number).[12][24] Legacy After the final dispersal of the remaining Keraites
Keraites
settling along the Irtysh River
Irtysh River
by the Oirats
Oirats
in the early 15th century, they disappear as an identifiable group. There are various hypotheses as to which groups may partially have been derived from them during the 16th or 17th centuries. According to Tynyshbaev (1925), their further fate was closely linked to that of the Argyn.[25] The name of the Qarai Turks may be derived from the Keraites, but it may also be connected to the names of various other Central Asian groups involving qara "black".[26] Kipchak groups such as the Argyn Kazakhs
Kazakhs
and the Kyrgyz Kireis have been proposed as possibly in part derived from the remnants of the Keraites
Keraites
who sought refuge in Eastern Europe in the early 15th century.[27]

See also

List of medieval Mongol
Mongol
tribes and clans List of Mongol
Mongol
states

References

^ Michal Biran (2012). Chinggis Khan.  ^ Daniel H. Bays (2011). A New History of Christianity
Christianity
in China. John Wiley & Sons.  ^ Carter Vaughn Findley (2004). The Turks in World History. p. 87.  ^ V.V. Bartold in the article on Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
in the 1st edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam
Encyclopedia of Islam
(1913); see Dunlop (1944:277) ^ "History of the voyages and discoveries made in the north translated from the German of Johann Reinhold Forster
Johann Reinhold Forster
and elucidated by several new and original maps" p.141-142 ^ "A General History And Collection of Voyages And Travels, Arranged In Systematic Order: Forming A Complete History of The Origin And Progress of Navigation, Discovery, And Commerce By Sea And Land, From The Earliest ages to the present time." Robert Kerr (writer), section VIII.2. ^ "EAS 107, Владимирцов 324, ОСНЯ 1, 338, АПиПЯЯ 54-55, 73, 103-104, 274. Despite TMN 3, 427, Щербак 1997, 134." Tower of Babel Mongolian etymology database. ^ Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, Jami' al-tawarikh
Jami' al-tawarikh
cited after (in Russian) translation by L.A. Khetagurov (1952)[clarification needed] "It is said that in ancient times was the king; He had seven [eight] sons, all of them [were] swarthy. For this reason they were called Kerait. After a time, each of the branches, and the progeny of those sons got a special name and nickname. Until very recently, in Kerait was the name of one [tribal] branch, [i.e.] the sovereign one; the other sons became the servants of his brother, who was their sovereign, while they did not have sovereignty." ^ Хойт С.К. Кереиты в этногенезе народов Евразии: историография проблемы. Элиста, 2008. 82 с. ^ John Man (2014). Marco Polo: The Journey that Changed the World.  ^ Jane Burbank,Frederick Cooper (2011). Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference. p. 100.  ^ a b R. Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes, New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, 1970, p191. ^ Unesco. History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Volym 4. p. 74.  ^ "At that time they had more power and strength than other tribes. The call of Jesus - peace be upon him - reached them and they entered his faith. They belong to the Mongol
Mongol
ethnicity. They reside along the Onon and Kerulen rivers, the land of the Mongols. That land is close to the country of the Khitai. [The Keraites] are much at odds with many tribes, especially tribes of the Naiman." Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, Jami' al-tawarikh
Jami' al-tawarikh
cited after (in Russian) translation by L.A. Khetagurov (1952)[clarification needed] ^ a b c Li, Tang (2006). "Sorkaktani Beki: A prominent Nestorian woman at the Mongol
Mongol
Court". In Malek, Roman; Hofrichter, Peter. Jingjiao: the Church of the East
Church of the East
in China and Central Asia. Monumenta Serica Institute. Steyler Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH. ISBN 978-3-8050-0534-0. CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link) ^ Tynyshbaev (1925) ^ Tynyshbaev (1925) ^ Tynyshbaev (1925) ^ Hunter (1991).[page needed] Silverberg, Robert (1972). The Realm of Prester John. Doubleday. p. 12.  ^ Kingsley Bolton; Christopher Hutton (2000). Triad Societies: Western Accounts of the History, Sociology and Linguistics of Chinese Secret Societies. Taylor & Francis. pp. xlix–. ISBN 978-0-415-24397-1.  ^ Atwood, Christopher P. Encyclopedia of Mongolia
Mongolia
and the Mongol Empire. ISBN 0816046719.  ^ Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon ecclesiasticum (ed. and tr. J.B. Abbeloos and T.J. Lamy, vol. 3, coll. 279-81). See Hunter (1991).[page needed] ^ Bar Hebraeus Chron. Syr. (1286) 204/184 ^ Moffett, A History of Christianity
Christianity
in Asia pp. 400-401. ^ "The further fate of our Kerei is closely linked with the fate of Argyn, although they did not play such a large role as the Argyn. The Kerei [or at least the Achamail subgroup] participated in the campaign of Barak (1420) in Tashkent and Khujand. In 1723 the Kerei (as well as the Argyns) suffered relatively less than other peoples. In the wars of Muhammad Shaybani, there is mention of a tribe called Sakhiot, obviously the Kerei who had remained among the Uzbeks of Ferghana, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva." Tynyshbaev (1925) ^ G. Németh, A Hongfoglaló Magyarság Kialakulása, Budapest, 1930, 264-68, cited after P. Oberling, "Karāʾi", Encyclopedia Iranica, vol. XV, Fasc. 5 (2002), pp. 536–537. ^ Dunlop (1944:289), following Howorth, Unknown Mongolia
Mongolia
(1913).

Boyle, John Andrew, "The Summer and Winter Camping Grounds of the Kereit," Central Asiatic Journal 17 (1973), 108-110. Douglas Morton Dunlop, The Karaits of East Asia", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1944, 276–289. Hunter, Erica C. D., "The Conversion of the Kerait to Christianity
Christianity
in A.D. 1007," Zentralasiatische Studien 22 (1989/1991), 142–163. (in Russian) Khoyt, S.K., Кереиты в этногенезе народов Евразии: историография проблемы (" Keraites
Keraites
in the ethnogenesis of the peoples of Eurasia: historiography of the problem"), Elista: Kalmyk State University Press (2008). (in Russian) Kudaiberdy-Uly, Sh. (Кудайберды-Улы, Шакарим), КЕРЕИ "Родословная тюрков, киргизов, казахов и ханских династий" (trans. Бахыт Каирбеков), Alma-Ata, 1990. Németh, Julius, "Kereit, Kérey, Giray" Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher 36 (1965), 360–365. Togan, İsenbike, "Flexibility and Limitation in Steppe Formations: the Kerait Khanate and Chinggis Khan" in: The Ottoman Empire and its Heritage, Vol. 15, Leiden: Brill (1998). (in Russian) Tynyshbaev, M. (Тынышбаев, Мухамеджан), КЕРЕИ "Материалы по истории казахского народа", Tashkent, 1925. Borbone, Pier Giorgio. "Some Aspects of Turco- Mongol
Mongol
Christianity
Christianity
in the Light of Literary and Epigraphic Syriac Sources (Pier Giorgio Borbone) - Academia.edu". Pisa.academia.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 

v t e

Mongolic peoples

History

Timeline Mongolian Plateau States Rulers Slab Grave culture Ordos culture Proto-Mongolic language Medieval tribes Modern clans Mongolian nobility Writing systems Languages Soyombo symbol Religion

Ethnic groups

Eastern Mongols

Darkhad Dariganga Eljigin Khalkha Khotogoyd Sartuul

Western Mongols

Altai Uriankhai Baatud Bayad Chantuu Choros Dörben Oyrad Khoyd Khoshuud Khoton Kalmyk Oyrad Myangad Ӧlӧӧd Sart Kalmak Torguud Zakhchin

Northern Mongols

Buriad Barga Hamnigan

Southern Mongols

Abaga Abaganar Aohans Asud Baarin Chahar Eastern Dorbed Gorlos Kharchin Khishigten Khorchin Khuuchid Jalaid Jaruud Muumyangan Naiman Onnigud Ordos Sunud Tumed Urad Üzemchin

Other

Bonan Daur Dongxiang Mughal Moghol Monguor Khatso
Khatso
(Yunnan Mongol) Sichuan Mongo

.