Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Kazakhs are a central Asian people who live mainly in the Republic of Kazakhstan and in the Xinjiang Uigur autonomous Region of China. The Kazakhs constitute over 60 percent of the population of Kazakhstan. Their language, Kazakh, is a Turkic language most closely related to Kirgiz and Tatar. Traditionally, the Kazakh were migratory pastoralists who lived in yurts in summer and adobe houses in winter. Their main diet consisted of meat and dairy products from the family herds supplemented by a variety of grains. In recent times most Kazakh have become settled agriculturalists. Traditional Kazak society was organized along descent group lines which played significant roles in regulating marriages, land rights, and religious ceremonials.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Asia --Central Asia




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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF World Cultures collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number

The RQ02 collection covers a wide variety of ethnographic topics, with a time span covering a period from approximately 1821 to 2005. For a general overview of Kazak ethnography, see Forde (1934, no. 11), and Svanberg (1999, no.13). Other major topics discussed are: Kazak social institutions in Hudson, (1938, no. 2); the impact of the Russian conquest of Kazakhstan on native judicial customs in Grodekov (1899, no. 4); kinship systems and kinship terminology in Arghynbaev (1984, no. 9); and land use changes among the Kazak in two townships in western China in Bedunah and Harris (2005, no.10). Other subjects of subjects of ethnographic interest in this collection are: an examination of the Kazak intellectual elite (Odgaaard & Simonsen, 1999, no. 14; an examination of the resurgence of feasting and gift-giving among Kazak households in the post-Soviet era (Werner, 1999, no. 15); migration patterns in western Mongolia (Eitzen, 1999, no. 16); and spirituality and Muslim life among the Kazaks in the city ot Turkistan, in southern Kazakstan.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

John Beierle


Ayan –revelation– Use REVELATION AND DIVINATION ( 787)

Aymag –province– Use PROVINCES ( 635)

Bata –blessings– Use PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES ( 782)

Biis –judicial officials– Use LEGAL AND JUDICIAL PERSONNEL ( 693)


Hordes –political and territorial divisions– Use TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY ( 631)

Ishan –title given to holy men during Russian occupation– Use PROPHETS AND ASCETICS ( 792)

Jüz –territorially based tribal federation– Use TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY ( 631)

Kalym –bride price– Use MODE OF MARRIAGE ( 583)

Krye –spiritual force believed to live in a person– Use ANIMISM ( 774)

Nawrïz –Central Asian New Year– Use ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL ( 796) and/or SPECTACLES ( 541)

Negdal –cooperative herding group under socialism– Use COOPERATIVE ORGANIZATION ( 474) with PASTORAL ACTIVITIES ( 233)

Ordas –hordes– Use TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY ( 631)

–tribal lineage– Use LINEAGES ( 613)

Sum –district– Use DISTRICTS ( 634)

Taypas –clans– Use SIBS ( 614)

Tüs –dreaming– Use REVELATION AND DIVINATION ( 787)

Uruk –tribal group composed of several phratries and twenty of more clans– Use TRIBE AND NATION ( 619)

White bones/black bones Use CLASSES ( 565)

Zylu –mutual aid among kin– Use MUTUAL AID ( 476) with KIN RELATIONSHIPS ( 602)

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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