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#113305 - Sat Nov 17 2001 10:28 AM Current Events and Geography
Ritch Offline
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Registered: Sat Aug 05 2000
Posts: 33
Loc: Lisle, IL U.S.A.
A Clan of 'Stans' by Fern Shen for the Washington Post

Getting confused about all these stans in Central Asia?

"Istan" is a Persian word meaning "place of." So Uzbekistan, for example, means "place of the Uzbeks." Many Central Asian towns and villages, as well as countries, have names ending with "istan."
But where do the beginnings of these country names come from? Usually from very old languages. Some are Turkic, the main group of languages spoken in that area. Others are Persian (also known as Farsi), the main language spoken in Iran, formerly Persia.
Until the 19th or 20th centuries, most of these "istan" places were not even formally recognized as countries.

UZBEKISTAN - Uzbek probably comes from two Turkic words: oz, which means "genuine" and bek, which means man. So, the word means "genuine man."" The Uzbeks are a mingling of ancient Iranian populations with nomadic Mongol or Turkic tribes that invaded the region between the 11th and 15th centuries. (Another possible explanation: the name refers to Oz Beg, a powerful Mongol khan, or king.)

KAZAKHSTAN - Kazakh is an Old Turkic word meaning "somebody who is independent and free." (The word traveled to Russia, where it was taken by the people who came to be known as Cossacks.) The Kazakhs are a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated to the region in the 13th century.

PAKISTAN - This name was made up in the 1930s when India's Muslims were trying to break away and form a separate Muslim country. (They succeeded in 1947.) P-A-K is an acronym for some of the regions the people claimed as part of their homeland: Punjab, Afghania and Kashmir. The country's founders also chose pak because it means pure, in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. So Pakistan means "the land of the spiritually pure."

AFGHANISTAN - Versions of word Afghan go back as far as 3rd century AD. Afghan may come from an 8th- or 9th-century Iranian emperor named Apakan. Tribes related to modern Afghans have been living in the region for many generations.
Afghanistan was a monarchy from 1747 to 1973.

TAJKISTAN - In Persian, taj means crown" and ik means "head," so tajik means "a person who wears a crown on his head." Tajiks are originally Iranian. (There are many Tajiks living in Uzbekistan. The 3 million Tajiks living in Afghanistan speak a dialect of Persian (known as Dari.)

TURKMENISTAN - In Turkic, turk refers to the Turks, an ancient people from that region. The word men means "I" or "me." So, Turkmen means "I am a Turk." The Turkmen were originally nomadic tribes, known as the Oghuz, who came from what is now Mongolia and southern Siberia.

KYRGYZSTAN - In Old Turkic means "40" and "yz" means "tribes", so the word means "40 tribes." The Kyrgyz may have lived in a part of Central Siberia and begun speaking a Turkic language by about the 9th century. http://www.centuryinter.net/midway http://www.history.navy.mil/midway.htm http://www.combinedfleet.com


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#113306 - Sun Nov 18 2001 12:15 AM Re: Current Events and Geography
thejazzkickazz Offline
Multiloquent

Registered: Fri Apr 14 2000
Posts: 3232
Loc: Utah USA
Excellent posting Ritch, very timely. I've always been fascinating about Central Asian history and culture...mostly from the perspective of a Chinese historian. I'm wondering if you have found any information on the Uyghurs who live primarily in the 'autonomous region' of Xinjiang in western China. The Uyghurs are currently fighting against the Chinese government in a separatist movement that has been deemed 'terrorist'. Any info on the origin of the term Uyghur? One more...what about the origin of the word Tatar? Anything on that? Thanks!

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#113307 - Sat Nov 17 2001 07:39 PM Re: Current Events and Geography
vikan Offline
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Registered: Thu Jan 18 2001
Posts: 403
Loc: Winter Park Florida USA  
Ritch, Very informative, I learned quite a bit, what a great use for this forum.
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#113308 - Thu Nov 29 2001 12:14 AM Re: Current Events and Geography
Ritch Offline
Participant

Registered: Sat Aug 05 2000
Posts: 33
Loc: Lisle, IL U.S.A.
Hi Jazz,
I'm new to this subject but here are a few things I've found:

Tatars
tätrz or Tartars tärtrz , Turkic-speaking peoples living primarily in Russia. They number about 5.5 million and are largely Sunni Muslims. The name is derived from Tata or Dada, a Mongolian tribe that inhabited present NE Mongolia in the 5th cent. First used to describe the peoples that overran parts of Asia and Europe under Mongol leadership in the 13th cent., it was later extended to include almost any Asian nomadic invader. Before the 1920s Russians used the name Tatar to designate the Azerbaijani Turks and several tribes of the Caucasus.

Internet sites on the Uyghurs:
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/1730/buh.html#history
http://www.uygur.org/enorg/history/uygurlar_kim.htm
http://www.uygurs.com/historyenglish.html


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#113309 - Sun Dec 02 2001 03:37 AM Re: Current Events and Geography
CellarDoor Offline
Multiloquent

Registered: Sat Feb 12 2000
Posts: 4893
Loc: Seattle
  Washington USA   
In a course I took on the Mongols last term, we read that while the Tatars were almost exterminated during the course of Genghis Khan's rise to power, their name was quickly adopted by Europeans to refer to all the nomadic warrior peoples of the Asian steppes. The appeal of the name was apparently its resemblance to the ancient Greek Tartarus - to the people they were invading, it certainly seemed appropriate that the invaders should literally come from Hell.
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#113310 - Sun Dec 02 2001 11:47 AM Re: Current Events and Geography
thejazzkickazz Offline
Multiloquent

Registered: Fri Apr 14 2000
Posts: 3232
Loc: Utah USA
Could posts Ritch and Cellar. I always thought the term 'Tartar' may have been derived from the Chinese. The Beijingers have a propensity for adding the -r sound at the end of words.

Which books did you read for that class CD? Some of my favorite books on Central Asia are 'The Empire of the Steps' by Rene Grousset (translated from the French), 'The Heartland' by Stuart Legg and 'The Mongols' by David Morgan. I also enjoyed Tim Severin's 'In Search of Genghis Khan' for an interesting layman's perspective. 'The Manchu Way' by Mark Elliot gives a great discription of Manchu rule over China. The most interesting modern perspectives on Central Asia probably come from Dru Gladney who has written books entitled 'Making Minorities...', 'Muslim Chinese...', and 'Ethnic Identity in China...'. He gives a fairly fresh perspective in viewing the ethnic milieu that is Central Asia, and provides us with crucial information regarding the very large Muslim minority in Western China, another 'hot' zone!


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#113311 - Sun Dec 02 2001 02:20 PM Re: Current Events and Geography
CellarDoor Offline
Multiloquent

Registered: Sat Feb 12 2000
Posts: 4893
Loc: Seattle
  Washington USA   
We did read David Morgan's The Mongols, which I thought was fantastic. I'd be interested in reading the other books you mentioned and I'll look for them in the library.

The class focused on the art and architecture sponsored by the Mongols, both in Mongolia and in the lands they conquered (with special emphasis on the Ilkhanate in Persia). There's some really gorgeous stuff. The book Timur and the Princely Vision by Thomas Lentz and Glenn Lowry is a detailed study of art in the time of Tamerlane (early 1500s), complete with full-color pictures. The rest of the reading consisted of articles from scholarly journals on Asian or Islamic art - as you can imagine, Mongol art is kind of a specialized and neglected field.

[ 12-02-2001: Message edited by: CellarDoor ]

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