Face Music - History: Horsemen – Nomads
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P & C December 1998
- Face Music / Albi

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  • Oghuz
    8th to 11th century AC
- map sketch:
The Oghuz were one of the most important tribal conglomerates within the borders of the Göktürk Empire. Originally, they settled near the rivers Kerulen and Selenga. There was, however, founded an Uyghurian Empire including the Karluks, the Otuz-Oghuz and the Uyghurs, but within a relative short period of two years serious conflicts came to exist. These conflicts ended in the defeat of the Karluks who, consequently, were considered Uyghurian vasalls. In three rebellions taking place in 747-750, 752-753, 757-759 AC, also the Sekiz Oghuz revolted in Mongolia and the Altai area against the predominance of the Uyghurs - without any success, however. While the Karluks gained ascendancy in the Altai area and the territory at Talas/Tschü, the weaker Otuz Oghuz had to flee further towards the west (fleeing from the Karluks and the Uyghurs); they then settled at the Lake Aral and the Lower Syrdarja. According to Ibn al Athir, they arrived at Syrdaria in the years 775-783 AC, at the time of the caliph Al Mahdi. Here they founded a kind of community that consisted of 22-25 tribes and clans being subject to a Yabghu. The use of the title Yabghu points to the fact that the Oghuz, already as early as at the time of the Göktürks, had had a rather high social rank in the hierarchy of the tribal confederations. At about 889/93 AC they came into conflict with the Samanide Emir Ismael († 907 AC) who defeated the Otuz Oghuz as well as the Karluks. The Otuz Oghuz consequently drove the Pechenegs out of their territory at the river Ural in 889 AC. They continued their rather migrant nomadic life, with the yurt still being their typical form of housing. In the 11th century AC, the only loosely organised Oghuz tribes wandered across a huge area extending from Mongolia as far as the Caspian Sea. In this connection, they, again and again, came into conflict with the neighbouring tribes. Step by step, a part of these tribes were settling down and became traders and merchants.
- The Sekiz Oghuz migrated from Mongolia towards the south and settled down in the former Samanid territories (the areas Mawarannahr Transoxania, Khorasan, North and Central Iran). The Sekiz Oghuz Dukak Khan (Seljuk's father ) was given the title Temür-yalig ("the Iron Bow") by the Khazars, as he served as their mercenary. In 903 AC. Dukak died, and his son Seljuc became his successor; in contrast to his father, however, he wanted to serve Oghus-yabgu as a mercenary, and hence he was welcomed as a sort of foster son. But already in 997 AC. Seljuq refused to serve the Oghus-yabgu, and he even refused to pay his taxes. As a consequence, Oghus-yabgu considered a cruzade against his former protegé about 998/999 AC. This cruzade, however, was never realised, as Seljuq fled to Cend in 1000 AC and hence took up settlement outside of the Oghuz leader's sphere of control. There he founded his own dynasty – the later "Seljuqs" here started to establish their own Oghuz history.
- About 1054, another group of Oghuz (who were called "Uzoi", this is Uzen, by the Byzantine people) migrated to the Balkans, as a kind of van of the Kipchaks, where they were finally defeated and destroyed in 1065 AC.
- Muslim authors called tribal federations that had converted to the Islam as Turkmen. The denomination Turkmen, however, gradually substituted the denomination Oghuz at the time of the Mongolian invasion.

• The
Karluks initially settled at the eastward slopes of the Tianshan and had already in the 7th century been considered the predominant tribes in the Göktürk Empire. In the course of the collapse of the empire and its substitution through the Uyghurian Empire, they gradually migrated from the Changhai Mountains and the Altai towards the eastern shores of Lake Baikal and even farther into the Zhetysu area (in the 7th and 8th centuries). In the years 744/745 AC, they took sides with the Uyghurs and consequently became their partners in the revolts and rebellions taking place and bringing about the death of the leader of the Göktürks, Ozmysh, and later on the challenger of the Basmils. Their prince was given the title Yabghu (this is, prince). In 751 AC they participated in the battle at the Talas under the leadership of Yabghu Tun Bilge in alliance with the Arabs, and they were primarily responsible for their victory over the troops of the Tang dynasty. About 766 AC the Karluks assumed the role the Turgesh had played as the upper class of the nomads in Turkestan; they also occupied the cities Suyab (the former capital of the Türgesh) and Taraz. By this, they finally dominated the territories between Altai and Syrdaria, and they also pushed the Oghuz people farther west towards Lake Aral, these still being, however, dominated and repressed by the Uyghurs. In 791/92 AC the Karluks were considered allies of the Tibetian, and they tried, as their partners, to gain dominance over the eastern part of Turkestan. They were, however, defeated by the Uyghurs. During the reign of Caliph al-Ma‘mun there were realised many alliances and also battles with the Arab peoples in Central Asia. Finally the territories of the Karluks were integrated in the Uyghurian Empire following a rather massive attack led by the Uyghurian Khaqan Qut Bulmish (reigned from 808-21 AC, he even reached Syrdaria and there fought against the Arabs in the years 820/821 AC). But already in 840 AC they became independent again and even succeeded in acquiring some territories of Eastern Turkestan. According to later sources (Al-Marwazi), however, nine tribal groups founded a union under their leadership. But this federation was not very strong, and hence it was probably prone to numerous changes and alterations in the course of the time, this being proven by the existence of some further tribal names. Maybe even the Yaghma may be considered a part thereof; these were living scattered across various Turkestan territories, such as the Karluks, in the 10th century AC.
The Karluks had, as was rather common rule among nomad people, two princes ruling jointly: the "Arslan Qara Khaqan" in the east, and the "Bugra Qara Qagan" in the west. The western ruler Oghulchak Kadir Khan, for example, made war on the Samanids (893, 903-04 AC). In 893 he was defeated by Ismail I (reigned from 892–907 AC) who even reached the Talas and took many prisoners. (The first became proconsuls of the Tahyrides in Samarkand, Ferghana, Sasch and Herat in 819 AC). About 960 AC the Karluks, in general, converted to the Islam, and in 999 they occupied Buchara due to their converting to another religion. As a consequence, they were known as Kara-Khanids, the name given to their rulers. The Kara-Khanid state was destroyed in 1141 AC by the Khitans fleeing towards the west (the so-called Kara-Kitans), but they were successful in maintaining their culture and way of living in Buchara up to the year 1212 AC. Other groups revolted in the early 13th century (under the leadership of Arslan at Lake Balkhash) against the Kara-Kitans. These were absorbed by the Mongolian Empire about 1217/18 AC, in this way disappearing from history.

February - July 2009 – Albi - translated by Hermelinde Steiner – January 2010