Turkmens ( tk|, , , ;
historically the Turkmen), also known as Turkmen Turks ( tk|Türkmen türkleri, ), are a Turkic ethnic group
native to Central Asia
, living mainly in Turkmenistan
, northern and northeastern regions of Iran
. Sizeable groups of Turkmens are found also in Uzbekistan
, and the North Caucasus
). 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
, and Salar
In the early Middle ages
, Turkmens called themselves Oghuz
, and in the Middle Ages
they took the ethnonym
. In Byzantine
, then in the European sources, and later in the American tradition, Turkmens were called Turkomans
, in the countries of the Near
and Middle East
- Turkmens, as well as Torkaman
; in Kievan Rus
- Torkmens; in the Duchy of Moscow - Taurmen; and in the Tsarist Russia
- Turkoman and Trukhmen.
, Qara Qoyunlu
, Aq Qoyunlu
are also believed to descend from the Turkmen tribes of Qiniq
, Yiva, Bayandur
The term ''Turkmen'' is generally applied to the Turkic tribes that have been distributed across the Near
and Middle East
, as well as Central Asia, from the 11th century to modern times. Originally, all Turkic tribes who belonged to the Turkic dynastic mythological system and/or converted to Islam
, Oghuz Turks
, etc.) were designated ''"Turkmens"''. Only later did this word come to refer to a specific ethnonym. The current majority view for the etymology of the name is that it comes from ''Türk'' and the Turkic emphasizing suffix ''-men'', meaning "'most Turkish of the Turks' or 'pure-blooded Turks.'" A folk etymology
, dating back to the Middle Ages and found in al-Biruni
and Mahmud al-Kashgari
, instead derives the suffix ''-men'' from the Persian
suffix ''-mānind'', with the resulting word meaning "like a Turk". While formerly the dominant etymology in modern scholarship, this mixed Turkic-Persian derivation is now viewed as incorrect.
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
Türkmens were mentioned near the end of the 10th century A.D in Islamic literature
by the Arab geographer al-Muqaddasi
in ''Ahsan Al-Taqasim Fi Ma'rifat Al-Aqalim''. In his work, which was completed in 987 A.D, al-Muqaddasi writes about Turkmens twice while depicting the region as the frontier of the Muslim possessions in Central Asia.
Earlier references to Türkmen might be ''trwkkmˀn'' (if not ''trkwmˀn'' "translator"), mentioned in an 8th-century Sogdian letter and 特拘夢 ''Tejumeng'' (< MC ZS
''), another name of Sogdia
, besides ''Suyi'' 粟弋 and ''Sute'' 粟特, according to the Chinese encyclopedia Tongdian
. However, even if 特拘夢 might have transcribed ''Türkmen'', these "Türkmens" might be Karluks
instead of modern Türkmens' Oghuz-speaking ancestors. Zuev
(1960) links the tribal name 餘沒渾 ''Yumeihun'' (< MC *''iʷо-muət-хuən'') in Tang Huiyao
to the name Yomut
of a modern Turkmen clan.
Towards the end of the 11th century, in ''Divânü Lügat'it-Türk
'' (Compendium of the Turkic Dialects), Mahmud Kashgari
uses “Türkmen” synonymously with “Oğuz”. He describes Oghuz as a Turkic tribe
and says that Oghuz and Karluks were both known as Turkmens.
The modern Turkmen people descend 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
. Famous historian and ruler of Khorezm
of the XVII century Abu al-Ghazi Bahadur
links the origin of all Turkmens to 24 Oghuz tribes
in his literary work "Genealogy of the Turkmens
In the 7th century AD, Oghuz tribes had moved westward from the Altay mountains
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 Sogdia
n peoples and lived as pastoral nomads until being conquered by the Russians in the 19th century.
Migration of the Turkmen tribes
from the territory of Turkmenistan and the rest of Central Asia in the south-west direction began mainly from the 11th century and continued until the 18th century. These Turkmen tribes played a significant role in the ethnic formation of such peoples as Anatolian Turks
, Turkmens of Iraq
, as well as the Turkic population of Iran
. To preserve their independence, those tribes that remained in Turkmenistan were united in military alliances, although remnants of tribal relations remained until the 20th century. Their traditional occupations were farming, cattle breeding, and various crafts. Ancient samples of applied art
(primarily carpets and jewelry) indicate a high level of folk art
is commonly found in Siberia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia. This haplogroup forms a large percentage of the paternal lineages of Turkmens.
Grugni ''et al.'' (2012) found Q-M242 in 42.6% (29/68) of a sample of Turkmens from Golestan
, Iran. Di Cristofaro ''et al.'' (2013) found Q-M25 in 31.1% (23/74) and Q-M346 in 2.7% (2/74) for a total of 33.8% (25/74) Q-M242 in a sample of Turkmens from Jawzjan
. Karafet ''et al.'' (2018) found Q-M25 in 50.0% (22/44) of another sample of Turkmens from Turkmenistan. Haplogroup Q have seen its highest frequencies in the Turkmens from Karakalpakstan
) at 73%.
A genetic study on the mitochondrial DNA
) haplogroups of a Turkmen sample describes a mixture of mostly West Eurasian lineages and minority of East Eurasian lineages. Turkmens also have two unusual mtDNA markers with polymorphic characteristics, only found in Turkmens and southern Siberians.
Turkmens belong to the Oghuz tribes
, who originated on the periphery of Central Asia
and founded gigantic empires
beginning from the 3rd millennium BC. Subsequently, Turkmen tribes
founded lasting dynasties in Central Asia, Middle East
that had a profound influence on the course of history of those regions. The most prominent of those dynasties were the Ghaznavids
. Representatives of the Turkmen tribes of Ive and Bayandur were also the founders of the short-lived, but formidable states of Kara Koyunlu
and Ak Koyunlu
Turkmens that stayed in Central Asia largely survived unaffected by 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, the bulk of Turkmen tribes found themselves under the rule of the Russian Emperor
, which was formalized in the Akhal Treaty
between Russia and Persia. After the Russian Revolution
control was established by 1921, and in 1924 Turkmenistan became the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic
gained independence in 1991.
Culture and society
The Turkmen of Turkmenistan
, like their kin in Uzbekistan
, and Iran
are predominantly Muslim
s. According the U.S. Department of State's ''International Religious Freedom Report'' for 2019,
According to U.S. government estimates, the country is 89 percent Muslim (mostly Sunni), 9 percent Eastern Orthodox, and 2 percent other. There are small communities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Shia Muslims, Baha’is, Roman Catholics, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and evangelical Christians, including Baptists and Pentecostals. Most ethnic Russians and Armenians identify as Orthodox Christian and generally are members of the Russian Orthodox Church or Armenian Apostolic Church. Some ethnic Russians and Armenians are also members of smaller Protestant groups. There are small pockets of Shia Muslims, consisting largely of ethnic Iranians, Azeris, and Kurds, some located in Ashgabat, with others along the border with Iran and in the western city of Turkmenbashy.
[ ''This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.'' ]
The Turkmen adopted Islam between the 12th and 14th centuries. Sufi orders like the Yasawiya
greatly contributed to the conversion of the Turkmens to Islam.
The great majority of Turkmen
readily identify themselves as Muslims
and acknowledge Islam
as an integral part of their cultural heritage. The country of Turkmenistan encourages the conceptualization of “Turkmen Islam,” or worship that is often mixee with veneration of elders and saints, life-cycle rituals, and Sufi practices.
Since Turkmenistan’s independence saw an increase in religious practices and the development of institutions like the Muftiate and the building of mosques, today it is often regulated.
The government leadership of Turkmenistan often uses Islam to legitimize its role in society by sponsoring holiday celebrations such as iftar dinners during Ramadan and presidential pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. This sponsorship has validated the country’s two presidents (Nyýazow and Berdimuhamedow) as pious Turkmen, giving them an aura of cultural authority.
The Russian Academy of Sciences has identified many instances of syncretic
influence of pre-Islamic Turkic
belief systems on practice of Islam among Turkmen, including placing offerings before trees.
The Turkmen word ''taňry'', meaning "God", derives from the Turkic ''Tengri'', the name of the supreme god in the pre-Islamic Turkic pantheon.
The Turkmen language features a multitude of euphemisms for "wolf", because of a belief that speaking the actual word while tending a flock of sheep will invoke a wolf's appearance.
[ Demidov cites the Turkmen proverb, "Gurt agzasan, gurt geler" (Mention the wolf, the wolf comes), in explaining why the original Turkic word for wolf, ''böri'', is virtually never used.]
In other examples of syncretism, some infertile Turkmen women, rather than praying, step or jump over a live wolf in order to assist them in getting pregnant, and children born subsequently are typically given names associated with wolves alternatively the mother may visit shrines of Muslim saints.
the future is divined by reading of dried camel dung by special fortune teller
Turkmen (Latin: Türkmençe, Cyrillic: Түркменче) is the language of the 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
, and Russia. Up to 30% of native speakers in Turkmenistan also claim a good knowledge of Russian
, a legacy of the Russian Empire
and Soviet Union
The Turkmen language is closely related to Azerbaijani
and Crimean Tatar
, sharing common linguistic features with each of those languages. There is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between these languages. A handful of specific lexical and grammatical differences formed within the Turkmen language as spoken in Turkmenistan, Iran and Afghanistan, after more than a century of separation between the people speaking the language; mutually intelligibility
, however, has been preserved.
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.
Turkmen literature comprises oral compositions and written texts in old Oghuz Turkic
languages. Turkmens have joint claims to a great number of literary works written in Old Oghuz Turkic and Persian
in 11-12th centuries) languages with other people of the Oghuz Turkic origin, mainly of Azerbaijan
. This works include, but are not limited to the Book of Dede Korkut
and others. The medieval Turkmen literature was heavily influenced by Arabic
and Persian, and used mostly Arabic alphabet
There is general consensus, however, that distinctively Turkmen literature originated in 18th century with the poetry of Magtymguly Pyragy
, who is considered the father of the Turkmen literature. Other prominent Turkmen poets of that era are Döwletmämmet Azady
(Magtymguly's father), Nurmuhammet Andalyp, Abdylla Şabende, Şeýdaýy, Mahmyt Gaýyby and Gurbanaly Magrupy.
In the 20th century, Turkmenistan's most prominent Turkmen-language writer was Berdi Kerbabayev
, whose novel ''Decisive Step'', later made into a motion picture directed by Alty Garlyyev
, is considered the apotheosis of modern Turkmen fiction. It earned him the USSR State Prize for Literature in 1948.
The musical art of the Turkmens is an integral part of the musical art of the Turkic peoples
. The music of the Turkmen people is closely related to the Kyrgyz
and Kazakh folk forms
. Important musical traditions include traveling singers called ''bakshy
'', who sing with instruments such as the two-stringed lute
Other important musical instruments are gopuz
, and gyjak. The most famous Turkmen bakshys are those who lived in the 19th century: Amangeldi Gönübek, Gulgeldi ussa, Garadali Gokleng, Yegen Oraz bakshy, Hajygolak, Nobatnyyaz bakshy, Oglan bakshy, Durdy bakshy, Shukur bakshy, Chowdur bakshy and others. Usually they narrated the woeful and gloomy events of the Turkmen history through their music. The names and music of these bakshys have become legendary among the Turkmen people, and passed orally from generation to generation.
The Central Asian classical music tradition muqam
is also present in Turkmenistan. In the 20th century, Danatar Ovezov
began composing classical music using Turkmen themes, and that classical expression of Turkmen motifs and melodies reached its apotheosis in the compositions of Nury Halmammedov
Characteristics of traditional Turkmen cuisine are rooted in the largely nomadic nature of day-to-day life prior to the Soviet period coupled with a long local tradition, dating back millennia before the arrival of the Turkmen in the region, of white wheat production. Baked goods, especially flat bread ( tk|çörek) typically baked in a tandoor
, make up a large proportion of the daily diet, along with cracked wheat porridge ( tk|ýarma), wheat puffs ( tk|pişme), and dumplings ( tk|börek). Since sheep-, goat-, and camel husbandry are traditional mainstays of nomadic Turkmen, mutton, goat meat, and camel meat were most commonly eaten, variously ground and stuffed in dumplings, boiled in soup, or grilled on spits in chunks ( tk|şaşlyk) or as fingers of ground, spiced meat ( tk|kebap). Rice for plov
was reserved for festive occasions. Due to lack of refrigeration in nomad camps, dairy products from sheep-, goat-, and camel milk were fermented to keep them from spoiling quickly. Fish consumption was largely limited to tribes inhabiting the Caspian Sea shoreline. Fruits and vegetables were scarce, and in nomad camps limited mainly to carrots, squash, pumpkin, and onions. Inhabitants of oases enjoyed more varied diets, with access to pomegranate-, fig-, and stone fruit orchards; vineyards; and of course melons. Areas with cotton production could use cottonseed oil and sheep herders used fat from the fat-tailed sheep. The major traditional imported product was tea.
The Royal Geographic Society
reported in 1882,
The food of the Tekkes /nowiki>''sic''/nowiki> consists of well-prepared pillaus and of game; also of fermented camels' milk, melons, and water-melons. They use their fingers in conveying food to their mouths, but guests are provided with spoons.
In sharp contrast to other Central Asian and Turkic ethnic groups, Turkmen do not eat horse meat, and in fact eating of horse meat is prohibited by law in Turkmenistan.
Conquest by the Russian Empire in the 1880s introduced new foods, including such meats as beef, pork, and chicken, as well as potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, and cucumbers, though they did not find widespread use in most Turkmen households until the Soviet period. While now consumed widely, they are, strictly speaking, not considered "traditional".
thumb|left|A Turkmen man of Central Asia in traditional clothes. Photo by Prokudin-Gorsky
between 1905 and 1915.
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. That said, most Turkmen could identify the tribe to which they belonged, though they might not identify themselves as Turkmen.
Most Turkmen were nomads until the 19th century when they began to settle the area south of the Amu Darya
. Many Turkmen became semi-nomadic, herding sheep and camels during spring, summer, and fall, but planting crops, wintering in oasis camps, and harvesting the crops in the summer and autumn. As a rule they did not settle 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
, particularly regarding access to water.
In collaboration with the local nationalists, the Soviet government sought to transform the Turkmen and other similar ethnic groups in the USSR into modern socialist nations that based their identity on a fixed territory and a common language. Prior to the Battle of Geok Tepe
in January 1881 and subsequent conquest of Merv in 1884, the Turkmen "retained the condition of predatory, horse-riding nomads, who were greatly feared by their neighbours as 'man-stealing Turks.' Until subjugated by the Russians, the Turkmens were a warlike people, who conquered their neighbours and regularly captured ethnic Persians for sale as slaves in Khiva. It was their boast that not one Persian had crossed their frontier except with a rope round his neck."
The Soviet-led standardization of the Turkmen language, education, and projects to promote ethnic Turkmen in industry, government and higher education led growing numbers of Turkmen to identify with a larger national Turkmen culture rather than with sub-national, pre-modern forms of identity.
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.
Turkmen lifestyle was heavily invested in horsemanship and as a prominent horse culture, Turkmen horse-breeding was an ages old tradition. Before the Soviet era, a proverb stated that the Turkmen's home was where his horse happened to stand. In spite of changes prompted during the Soviet period, the Ahal Teke tribe in southern Turkmenistan has remained very well known for its horses, the Akhal-Teke
''desert horse'' – and the horse breeding tradition has returned to its previous prominence in recent years.
Many tribal customs still survive among modern Turkmen. Unique to Turkmen culture is ''kalim'' which is a groom
", that can be quite expensive and often results in the widely practiced tradition of bridal kidnapping
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.
The law was repealed in March 2005.
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.
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 dutar
, a two-stringed lute
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
, the Persian New Year marking the onset of spring.
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 religiosity and cultural revival with some measure of distrust.
The five traditional carpet rosettes, called ''göl'' in Turkmen, that form motifs in the country's state emblem
, represent the five major Turkmen tribes
Sports have historically been an important part of Turkmen life. Such sports as horseback riding
have been praised in Turkmen literature. During the Soviet era
, Turkmen athletes competed in numerous competitions, including Olympic games
as part of the Soviet Union team
and, in 1992, as part of the Unified Team
After Turkmenistan gained her independence, new ways of establishing physical and sports movements in the country began to emerge. To implement a new sports policy, new multi-purpose stadiums, physical education and health complexes, sports schools and facilities were built in all regions of the country. Turkmenistan also has a modern Olympic village which hosted 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games
, and is unparalleled in Central Asia.
Turkmenistan supports the country's sports movements and encourages sports on a state level. While football
remains the most popular sport, such sports as Turkmen goresh, horseback riding and lately ice hockey
are also very popular among Turkmens.
is a well known Turkmen weightlifter
Turkmens in Iran
thumb|Turkmens in Iran
s are a branch of Turkmen people who live mainly in northern and northeastern regions of Iran. Their region is called Turkmen Sahra
and includes substantial parts of Golestan
province. Representatives of such contemporary Turkmen tribes
, Goklen, Īgdīr, Saryk
have lived in Iran since the 16th century, though ethnic history of Turkmens in Iran starts with the Seljuk conquest
of the region in the 11th century.
Turkmens in Afghanistan
The Afghan Turkmen population in the 1990s was estimated at around 200,000. The original Turkmen groups came from east of the Caspian Sea
into northwestern Afghanistan at various periods, particularly after the end of the 19th 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.
, 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.
Turkmens of Stavropol krai' of Russia
A long established Turkmen colony resides in Stavropol Krai
of southern Russia
. The local ethnic Russian
population often refers to them as Trukhmen, and these Turkmen sometimes use the self-designation Turkpen.
[The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire](_blank)
Eki.ee. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
According to the 2010 Census of Russia
, they numbered 15,048, and accounted for 0.5% of the total population of Stavropol Krai.
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 Chowdur (Russian variants Chaudorov, Chavodur), Sonchadj and Ikdir tribes. The early settlers were nomadic but over time became sedentary. In their cultural life the Trukhmens of today differ very little from their neighbours and are now settled farmers and stockbreeders.
Although the Turkmen language belongs to the Oghuz 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.
Demographics and population distribution
In 1911, the population of Turkmens in the Russian Empire was estimated to be 290,170, and it was "conjectured that their total number n all countries/nowiki> does not exceed 350,000".
In 1995, Turkmen academics estimated
...there are 125,000 Turkmen living in Uzbekistan, 40,000 in Russia and 22,000 in Tajikistan. The largest group of Turkmens is in Iran (850,000), Afghanistan (700,000), Iraq (235,000), Turkey (150,000), Syria (60,000), and China (85,000). In total, the number of Turkmens living abroad is about 2.2 million.
Today the Turkmen people of Central Asia and near neighbors live in:
* Turkmenistan, where some 85% of the population of 5,042,920 people (July 2006 est.) are ethnic Turkmen. In addition, an estimated 1,200 Turkmen refugees from northern Afghanistan currently reside in Turkmenistan due to the ravages of the Soviet–Afghan War and factional fighting in Afghanistan which saw the rise and fall of the Taliban.
* Afghanistan, where as of 2006, 200,000 ethnic Turkmen are concentrated primarily along the Turkmen-Afghan border in the provinces of Faryab, Jowzjan, Samangan and Baghlan. There are also communities in Balkh and Kunduz Provinces.
* Iran, where about 719,000 Turkmen are primarily concentrated in the provinces of Golestān and North Khorasan.
* Pakistan, to which somewhat fewer than 5,000 Turkmen fled from Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War. Today a small population of Turkmen resides in Peshawar, where they are mainly involved in the carpet business.
* Oghuz Turks
* Iranian Turkmens
* Turkmens in Afghanistan
* Turkmen Sahra
* Bacon, Elizabeth E. ''Central Asians Under Russian Rule: A Study in Culture Change'', Cornell University Press (1980). .
Turkmenistan Pages by Ekahau
Category:Ethnic groups in Turkmenistan
Category:Ethnic groups in Iran
Category:Ethnic groups in Afghanistan
Category:Ethnic groups in Russia
Category:Muslim communities of Russia
Category:Ethnic groups in the Middle East
Category:Peoples of the Caucasus
Category:Nomadic groups in Eurasia