Orda (organization)

Orda (organization)

An orda (also orda, ordu, ordo, ordon) or horde was an historical sociopolitical and military structure found on the Eurasian Steppe, usually associated with the Mongols. This entity can be seen as regional equivalent of a clan or a tribe. Some successful ordas gave rise to khanates.

While the Slavic term, ordo, and western, horde, were in origin a borrowing from the Mongol term ordo for "camp, headquarters", the original term did not carry the meaning of a large khanates such as the Golden Horde. These structures were contemporarily referred to as ulus ("nation" or "tribe"). It was only in the Late Middle Ages that the Slavic usage of orda was borrowed back into the Turkic languages.[clarification needed]



Mongol ordo

Mongol ordo on the move

Etymologically, the word "orda" comes from the Mongolian word ordo,[1] or Turkic "orta", which means side, section, tent or direction.[2] translated as "camp" or "palace, tent".[3] and thence "seat of power"[4] or "royal court".[5][6]

Within the Liao Empire of the Khitans, the word ordo was used to refer to a nobleman's personal entourage or court, which included servants, retainers, and bodyguards. Emperors, empresses, and high ranking princes all had ordos of their own, which they were free to manage in practically any way they chose.

The Kazakh language name the division of an army was jüz "hundred.[7]

Genghis Khan's encampment.

William of Rubruck described the Mongol mobile tent as follows:

The dwelling in which they sleep is based on a hoop of interlaced branches, and its supports are made of branches, converging at the top around a small hoop, from which projects a neck like a chimney. They cover it with white felt: quite often they also smear the felt with chalk or white clay and ground bones to make it gleam whiter, or sometimes they blacken it. And they decorate the felt around the neck at the top with various fine designs. Similarly they hang up in front of the entrance felt patchwork in various patterns: they sew onto one piece others of different colours to make vines, trees, birds and animals. These dwellings are constructed of such a size as to be on occasions thirty feet (9 metres) across: I myself once measured a breadth of twenty feet (6 metres) between the wheel tracks of a wagon, and when the dwelling was on the wagon it protruded beyond the wheels by at least five feet on either side. I have counted twenty-two oxen to one wagon, hauling along a dwelling, eleven in a row, corresponding to the width of the wagon, and another eleven in front of them. The wagon's axle was as large as a ship's mast, and one man stood at the entrance to the dwelling on top of the wagon, driving the oxen.
William of Rubruckc. 1220 - c. 1293[8]
...we saw a vast city on the move with its inhabitants, with mosques and bazaars in it, the smoke of the kitchens rising in the air (for they cook while on the march), and horse drawn wagons transporting the people. On reaching the camping place they took down the tents from the wagons and set them on the ground, for they are light to carry, and so likewise they did with the mosque and shops.
Ibn Battuta1331-1332[9]

Slavic orda

The Mongol word via Tatar passed into East Slavic as orda (орда), and by the 1550s into English as horde, probably via Polish and French or Spanish. The unetymological initial h- is found in all western European forms and was likely first attached in the Polish form horda.[10]

It should be noted that the Russian word orda could refer to a large political entity (as in Golden Horde) but also to smaller army camps.[dubious ][11][6]

Mongol Empire

The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia (1911) defined orda as "a tribe or troop of Asiatic nomads dwelling in tents or wagons, and migrating from place to place to procure pasturage for their cattle, or for war or plunder."[12]

Merriam-Webster defined horde in this context as "a political subdivision of central Asian people" or "a people or tribe of nomadic life".[13]

Ordas would form when families settled in auls would find it impossible to survive in that area and were forced to move. Often, periods of drought would coincide with the rise in the number of ordas. Ordas were patriarchal, with its male members constituting a military. While some ordas were able to sustain itself from their herds, others turned to pillaging its neighbors. In subsequent fighting, some ordas were destroyed, others assimilated. The most successful ones would, for a time, assimilate most or all other ordas of the Eurasian Steppe and turn to raiding neighboring political entities; those ordas often left their mark on the history, the most famous of them being the Golden Horde of the latter Mongol Empire.[14]

Famous ordas (hordes) included:

  • the White Horde, formed 1226
  • the Blue Horde, formed 1227
  • the Golden Horde, a Tatar-Mongol state established in the 1240s
  • the Great Horde, remnant of the Golden Horde from about 1466 until 1502
  • the Nogai Horde, a Tatar clan situated in the Caucasus Mountain region, formed in the 1390s

Modern Kazakh tribes

The term is also used to denote separate Kazakh tribes (or grouping of tribes).[2] In modern day, there three different groupings are differentiated: the Lesser Horde (little jüz) in western Kazakhstan, the Middle Horde (middle jüz) in central Kazakhstan and the Greater Horde (great jüz) in southeastern Kazakhstan.[7]


  1. ^ Abbott Gleason (2009). A companion to Russian history. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 82–. ISBN 9781405135603. http://books.google.com/books?id=JyN0hlKcfTcC&pg=PA82. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Hasan Celāl Güzel; Cem Oğuz; Osman Karatay; Murat Ocak (2002). The Turks: Middle ages. Yeni Türkiye. http://books.google.com/books?id=OmFtAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  3. ^ Michael Burgan (August 2009). Empire of the Mongols. Infobase Publishing. pp. 12–. ISBN 9781604131635. http://books.google.com/books?id=du9IBqrbMcYC&pg=PA12. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Leo de Hartog (1996). Russia and the Mongol yoke: the history of the Russian principalities and the Golden Horde, 1221-1502. British Academic Press. ISBN 9781850439615. http://books.google.com/books?id=CANpAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  5. ^ Michael Kohn (1 May 2008). Mongolia. Lonely Planet. pp. 25–. ISBN 9781741045789. http://books.google.com/books?id=7JVGCF-MPB0C&pg=PA25. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Willem van Ruysbroeck; Giovanni di Piano Carpini (abp. of Antivari) (1900). The journey of William of Rubruck to the eastern parts of the world, 1253-55. Printed for the Hakluyt Society. pp. 57–. http://books.google.com/books?id=DmgMAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA57. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Svatopluk Soucek (2000). A history of inner Asia. Cambridge University Press. pp. 195–. ISBN 9780521657044. http://books.google.com/books?id=7E8gYYcHuk8C&pg=PA195. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  8. ^ Richard Hakluyt, Charles Raymond Beazley, Giovanni, Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, Hakluyt Society, Willem van Ruysbroeck, Geoffrey, William Lambarde, Bede, Ohthere, Wulfstan, John Dee, Florence, Saxo, Ives de Narbonne (2005). The texts and versions of John de Plano Carpini and William de Rubruquis. Printed for the Hakluyt society. 
  9. ^ Dunn, Ross E. (2005). The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-24385-4. 
  10. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition 1989th s.v. horde
  11. ^ Peter Neville; David Woodroffe (11 April 2006). A Traveller's History of Russia. Interlink Books. pp. 13–. ISBN 9781566566452. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZnzvKjNrqmgC&pg=PA13. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  12. ^ William Dwight Whitney; Benjamin Eli Smith (1911). The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia: The Century dictionary ... prepared under the superintendence of William Dwight Whitney ... rev. & enl. under the superintendence of Benjamin E. Smith. The Century co.. pp. 2883–. http://books.google.com/books?id=JQ_pAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA2883. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  13. ^ Merriam-Webster; Inc (2003). Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Merriam-Webster. pp. 1–. ISBN 9780877798095. http://books.google.com/books?id=TAnheeIPcAEC&pg=RA1-PA599. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  14. ^ Henry Hoyle Howorth (1 November 2008). History of the Mongols from the 9th to the 19th Century: Part 2 the So-Called Tartars of Russia and Central Asia. Cosimo, Inc.. pp. 1–. ISBN 9781605201344. http://books.google.com/books?id=hFc4mwsHZ7IC&pg=PA1. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 

See also

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