Turkestan (literally meaning "Land of the Turks") is a region in
Central Asia, which today is largely inhabited by Turkic peoples. It has been referenced in many Turkic and Persian sagas and is an integral part of Turan(though Turan dwarfs Turkestan in area). Oghuz Turks(also known as Turkmens), Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Khazars, Kyrgyzand Uygurs are some of the Turkic inhabitants of the region who, as history progressed, have spread further into Eurasia forming such Turkic nations as Turkeyand Azerbaijan, and subnational regions like Tatarstanin Russiaand Crimeain Ukraine. Tajiksand Russians form sizable non-Turkic minorities.
It is subdivided into
Afghan Turkestan, Russian Turkestanand Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (also known as Chinese Turkestan, East Turkestanor Uyghuristan) in the People's Republic of China. The Tian Shanand Pamir ranges form a rough division between the latter two.
Turkestan has a rich history, dating back to the third millennium BC. Many artifacts were produced in that period, and much
tradewas conducted. The region was a focal point for cultural diffusion, as the Silk Roadtraversed it.
Turkestan covers the area of
Central Asiathat corresponded to eastern Scythia, Transoxaniaand Greater Khorasanin Antiquity, and acquired its "Turkic" character from the 4th to 6th centuries AD with the incipient Turkic expansion.
Turkic sagas, such as the "Ergenekon" legend, and written sources such as the
Orkhon Inscriptionsstate that Turkic peoples originated in the nearby Altay Mountains, and, through nomadic settlement, started their long journey westwards.
Successive external powers have held the region.
Greeks, under Alexander the Great, held the area from 327 BC to 150 BC. Hunsconquered the area after they conquered Kashgariain the early 2nd century BC. With the dissolution of the Huns' empire, Chinese rulers took over Eastern Turkestan"Turkistan", " Encyclopædia Britannica2007 Ultimate Reference Suite."] . Arabforces captured it in the 8th century. The Persian Samaniddynasty subsequently conquered it and the area experienced economic success.
The entire territory was held at various times by Turkic forces, such as the
Göktürksuntil the conquest by Genghis Khanand the Mongolsin 1220. Khan gave the territory to his son, Chagataiand the area became the Chagatai Khanate.
Turanto Iranians, western Turkestan has also been known historically as Sogdiana, "Ma wara'u'n-nahr" (by its Arabconquerors), and Transoxianaby Western travellers. The latter two names refer to its position beyond the River Oxuswhen approached from the south, emphasizing Turkestan's long-standing relationship with Iran, the Persian Empires and the Umayyadand Abbasid Caliphates.
Russian and Chinese influence
The region became part of the
Russian Empirein the 1860s, and is thus sometimes called Russian Turkestanor the Туркестанский Край ("Turkestanskii Krai"). After the Russian Revolution, a Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republicof the Soviet Unionwas created, which was eventually split into the Kazakh SSR( Kazakhstan), Kyrgyz SSR( Kyrgyzstan), Tajik SSR( Tajikistan), Turkmen SSR( Turkmenistan) and Uzbek SSR( Uzbekistan). After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these republics gained their independence.
Eastern Turkestan, also known as Chinese Turkestan, was called the
Western Regionsin Chinese historic records. Turkestan experienced Chinese influence long before Russian influence. The first Chinese military campaigns in Turkestan dates to the Battle of Loulanin the 2nd century BC. From then on, Turkestan was alternately controlled by the Chinese and/or other nomads like the Tujue. The Protectorate of the Western Regionsand the Anxi Protectoratewere areas of Chinese rule. Turkic peoples, such as Uyghurs started to settle in Turkestan from the 8th century on. It was conquered by the Qing Dynastyin the mid-18th century and was named 新疆, " Xinjiang" (Postal spelling: "Sinkiang"), meaning "new frontier". It was taken over by the Republic of Chinaand then the People's Republic of Chinaby which it is now administered as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region(zh-cp|c=新疆维吾尔自治区|p=Xīnjiāng Wéiwú'ěr Zìzhìqū).
V.V. Barthold"Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion" (London) 1968 (3rd Edition)
René Grousset"L'empire des steppes" (Paris) 1965
*David Christian "A History Of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia" (Oxford) 1998 Vol.I
Svat Soucek"A History of Inner Asia" (Cambridge) 2000
Vasily Bartold"Работы по Исторической Географии" (Moscow) 2002
**English translation: V.V. Barthold "Work on Historical Geography" (Moscow) 2002
Baymirza Hayit. “Sowjetrußische Orientpolitik am Beispiel Turkestan.“ Köln-Berlin: Kiepenhauer & Witsch, 1956
* Baymirza Hayit. “Documents: Soviet Russia's Anti-Islam-Policy in Turkestan.“
Düsseldorf: Gerhard von Mende, 2 vols, 1958.
* Baymirza Hayit. “Turkestan im XX Jahrhundert.“
Darmstadt: Leske, 1956
* Baymirza Hayit. “Turkestan Zwischen Russland Und China.“
Amsterdam: Philo Press, 1971
* Baymirza Hayit. “Some thoughts on the problem of Turkestan” Institute of Turkestan Research, 1984
* Baymirza Hayit. “Islam and Turkestan Under Russian Rule.”
Istanbul:Can Matbaa, 1987.
* Baymirza Hayit. “Basmatschi: Nationaler Kampf Turkestans in den Jahren 1917 bis 1934. "
Köln: Dreisam-Verlag, 1993.
Zeki Velidi Togan
* [http://www.turkistanim.org Welcome to East Turkistan]
* [http://www.hunmagyar.org/turan/ethno.html Ethnographic maps of Turkestan]
* [http://news.xinhuanet.com/zhengfu/2003-06/12/content_916306.htm History and Development of Xinjiang]
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