"Qipchaq" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Qipchaq, Iran.
History of the Turkic peoples
Pre-14th century
Turkic Khaganate 552–744
  Western Turkic
  Eastern Turkic
Khazar Khaganate 618–1048
Xueyantuo 628–646
Great Bulgaria 632–668
  Danube Bulgaria
  Volga Bulgaria
Kangar union 659–750
Turgesh Khaganate 699–766
Uyghur Khaganate 744–840
Karluk Yabgu State 756–940
Kara-Khanid Khanate 840–1212
  Western Kara-Khanid
  Eastern Kara-Khanid
Gansu Uyghur Kingdom 848–1036
Kingdom of Qocho 856–1335
Pecheneg Khanates
Kimek Khanate
Oghuz Yabgu State
Ghaznavid Empire 963–1186
Seljuk Empire 1037–1194
  Seljuk Sultanate of Rum
Kerait khanate 11th century–13th century
Khwarazmian Empire 1077–1231
Naiman Khanate –1204
Qarlughid Kingdom 1224–1266
Delhi Sultanate 1206–1526
  Mamluk dynasty
  Khilji dynasty
  Tughlaq dynasty
Golden Horde | [1][2][3] 1240s–1502
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) 1250–1517
  Bahri dynasty
  Ottoman Empire 1299-1923

The Kipchak (also spelled Qipchaq,Kypchak, Kupchak,[4] Kıpçak, or Qıpçaq) were a Turkic[5] nomadic people. Originating in the Kimek Khanate, they conquered large parts of the Eurasian steppe during the Turkic expansion of the 11th and 12th centuries together with the Cumans, and were in turn conquered by the Mongol invasions of the early 13th century. The Cuman-Kipchak confederation was a predecessor of the Kazakh Khanate and, later, modern-day Kazakhstan.[6]


The Kipchaks described their name as meaning 'hollow tree', as it was, according to them, inside a hollow tree that their original human ancestress gave birth to her son.[7]

Their name appears occasionally transliterated in other languages, such as Arabic: قفجاق, Qifjāq; Persian: قبچاق, Qabčāq/Qabcâq; Georgian: ყივჩაყები, Qivçaqebi; Turkish: Kıpçak; Crimean Tatar: Kıpçaq, Karachay-Balkar: Къыпчакъ, Qıpçaq; Uzbek: Qipchoq, Қипчоқ/قىپچاق; Uyghur: قىپچاق, Qipchaq/Қипчақ; Kazakh: Қыпшақ, Qıpşaq; Kumyk: Къыпчакъ, Qıpçaq; Kyrgyz: Кыпчак, Qıpçaq; Nogai: Кыпчак; Chinese: 欽察/钦察, Qīnchá.

They are called Polovtsy in Russian and Ukrainian and similar names in other Slavic languages.


Kipchak portrait, 12th century, Luhansk

The Kipchaks were a tribal confederation that originally settled on the River Irtysh, possibly connected to the Kimäks. According to Ukrainian anthropologists, Kipchaks had racial characteristics of Caucasians and Mongoloids, namely a broad flat face and protruding nose. Researcher E. P. Alekseeva drew attention to the fact that European Kipchak stone images have both Mongoloid and Caucasoid faces. However, in her opinion, Kipchaks, who settled in Georgia in the first half of the 12th century, were predominantly Caucasoid in appearance with some admixture of Mongoloid traits. They were already joined by Cumans, who had originated east of the Yellow River.[8] In the course of the Turkic expansion they migrated into Siberia and further into the Trans-Volga region.[9] Eventually they occupied a vast territory in the Eurasian steppe, stretching from north of the Aral Sea westward to the region north of the Black Sea, establishing a state known as Desht-i Qipchaq.. Cumans expanded further westward, by the 11th century reaching Moldavia, Wallachia, and part of Transylvania.

In the late 11th and early 12th centuries, the Cumans and Kipchaks became involved in various conflicts with the Byzantines, Kievan Rus', Hungarians (Cuman involvement only), and the Pechenegs (Cuman involvement only), allying themselves with one or the other side at different times. In 1089, they were defeated by Ladislaus I of Hungary, and again by Knyaz Vladimir Monomakh of the Rus in the 12th century. They sacked Kiev in 1203.

They were finally crushed by the Mongols in 1241. During the Mongol empire, Kipchaks constituted a majority of the Kipchak Khanate comprising present-day Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, and were called the Golden Horde – the westernmost division of the Mongol empire. After the fall of the Mongol Empire, the Golden Horde rulers continued to hold Saraj until 1502.

The Cumans fled to Hungary, and some of their warriors became mercenaries for the Latin crusaders and the Byzantines. Members of the Bahri dynasty, the first dynasty of Mamluks in Egypt, were Kipchaks/Cumans; one of the most prominent examples was Sultan Baybars, born in Solhat, Crimea. Some Kipchaks served in the Yuan dynasty and became the Kharchins.

Language and culture

The Kipchaks and Cumans spoke a Turkic language (Kipchak language, Cuman language) whose most important surviving record is the Codex Cumanicus, a late 13th-century dictionary of words in Kipchak, Cuman, and Latin. The presence in Egypt of Turkic-speaking Mamluks also stimulated the compilation of Kipchak/Cuman-Arabic dictionaries and grammars that are important in the study of several old Turkic languages.

Some Kipchaks and Cumans are also known to have converted to Christianity, around the 11th century, at the suggestion of the Georgians as they allied in their conflicts against the Muslims. A great number were baptized at the request of the Georgian king David IV, who also married a daughter of the Kipchak khan Otrok. From 1120, there was a Kipchak national Christian church and an important clergy.[10] Following the Mongol conquest, Islam rose in popularity among the Kipchaks of the Golden Horde.[11]

When members of the Armenian diaspora moved from the Crimean peninsula to the Polish-Ukrainian borderland at the end of the 13th century, they brought Kipchak, their adopted Turkic language, with them.[12]

During the 16th and 17th centuries the Turkic language among the Armenian communities of the Kipchak people was Armeno-Kipchak. They were settled in the Lviv and Kamianets-Podilskyi areas of what is now Ukraine.[13]

Modern times

The modern Northwestern branch of the Turkic language is often referred to as the Kipchak branch. The languages in this branch are mostly considered to be descendants of the Kipchak language, and the people who speak them may likewise be referred to as Kipchak peoples. Some of the groups traditionally included are the Karachays, Siberian Tatars, Nogays, Bashkirs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Volga Tatars, and Crimean Tatars. There is also a village named Kipchak in Crimea. Kypshak is one of the constituent tribes of the Middle Horde confederation of the Kazakh people. The name Kipchak also occurs as a surname in Kazakhstan. Some of the descendants of the Kipchaks are the Bashkirian clan Qipsaq.[14]

See also


  1. Marshall Cavendish Corporation (2006). Peoples of Western Asia. p. 364.
  2. Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (2007). Historic Cities of the Islamic World. p. 280.
  3. Borrero, Mauricio (2009). Russia: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. p. 162.
  5. Encyclopædia Britannica Online -Kipchak
  6. Vásáry, István, Cumans and Tatars: Oriental military in the pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185-1365, (Cambridge University Press, 2005), 6; "..two Turkic confederacies, the Kipchaks and the Cumans, had merged by the twelfth century.".
  7. Julian Baldick, Animal and Shaman: Ancient Religions of Central Asia, p.55.
  8. István Vásáry (2005) "Cumans and Tatars", Cambridge University Press.
  9. Carl Waldman; Catherine Mason (2006). Encyclopedia of European Peoples. Infobase Publishing. pp. 475–. ISBN 978-1-4381-2918-1.
  10. (Roux 1997, p. 242)
  11. Islamic Civilization
  12. An Armeno-Kipchak Chronicle on the Polish-Turkish Wars in 1620-1621,Robert Dankoff, p. 388
  13. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland - Page 85 by Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland
  14. Муратов Б.А., Суюнов Р.Р. ДНК-генеалогия башкирских родов из сако-динлинской подветви R1a+Z2123//Суюнов Р.Р. Гены наших предков (2-е издание). Том 3, серия «Этногеномика и ДНК-генеалогия», ЭИ Проект «Суюн». Vila do Conde, Lidergraf, 2014, — 250 c., илл., Португалия (Portugal), С.15-77


Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kipchaks.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/14/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.