Regions with significant populations
 Russia 2,892[1]
Related ethnic groups

The Kumandins also known as the Kumandy, Kumanda, Qumandy and Qumanda are a people indigenous to Central Asia. They reside mainly in the Altai Republic of the Russian Federation.

According to the 1926 census, 6,335 Kumandins lived within the territory of Russia. In the 2010 census, the number was only 2,892, but possibly the 1926 census included some related peoples. Some Kumandins, living on the banks of the Biya River, from the Kuu River downstream, almost to the city of Biysk, and along the lower course of the river Katun River, by 1969 were conflated with the ethnic Russian population.[2]


Omeljan Pritsak claimed that kuman- in the name of the Kumandins is identical in meaning to the names given to other Turkic peoples, such as Kipchak and Polovets (a Slavic term for Cumans).[3][4]

However, the seoks (tribes) of the Kumandins have varying origin myths; L. Potapov proposed that they were originally a federation of peoples from different backgrounds: nomadic steppe pastoralists (such as the Cumans), taiga hunters (Chuvash), deer pastoralists (Nenets), and fishers (Tatars).[5]

"[The] Kumans belonged to the Kuman-Kipchak confederation (Polevetses of the Rus annals, Comans of Byzantine sources, Folban of German annals) [and] during the period from the end of the 800s to 1230s CE spread their political influence in the broad steppes from Altai to Crimea and Danube. Irtysh with its adjoining steppes (at least below the lake Zaisan) was in the sphere of that confederation. Members of the confederation undoubtedly also were the ancestors of the present Kumandy and Teleuts, which is evidenced by their language that like the language of the Tobol-Irtysh and Baraba Tatars belongs to the Kypchak group."[6]

By the 17th century, the Kumandins lived along the river Charysh, near its confluence with the river Ob. A subsequent relocation to the Altai was driven by their unwillingness to pay yasak (financial tribute) to the Russian sovereign.[7] N. Aristov linked the Kumandins – and the Chelkans – to the ancient Turks, "who in the 6th-8th CC. CE created in Central Asia a powerful nomadic state, which received ... the name Turkic Kaganate".[8][9]

Potapov regarded the Kumandins as being related anthropologically to the Uralic peoples, and suggested that they were phenotypically more Caucasoid and less East Asian than the Altaians proper.[10] This subjective impression has been borne out, to an extent by genetic research suggesting that most Kumandir males belong to subclades of "West Eurasian" Y-DNA haplogroups such as R1b or N.[11] However, a majority of mitochondrial DNA lines belonged to the North East Asian haplogroups C or D.

Six seoks have been identified:[12]

Kumandin seok names Proposed ethnolinguistic links PeriodNote
Soo (So) possibly a proto-Turkic people; tribal names similar to Soo – the Sogo, Soko, Soo, and Soky – have been recorded among the Khakas and Yakuts before 4th century [4][4][13]
Kubandy possibly part of the Kangar confederation ; Cumans 7th century [14]
Tastar possibly also part of the Kangar confederation, Cumans and/or Ases 7th century [15]
Diuty (Chooty) possibly Tele/Teleuts (part of the Türkic Kaganate) 6th to 8th centuries [16]
Chabash (Chabat) possibly Chuvash unknown [5]
Ton (Ton-Kubandy) possibly a Nenets tribe, Tongjoan (Altays) and/or Tongak (Tuvinians) 12th century
(The Secret History of the Mongols [15]

An ancient Turkic legend recorded in the Chinese Zhoushu annals (周書, 636 CE) tells of the origin of the ancestors of the ancient Türks from a state or possession named So, located "north of the Hun country" (which, in this case, apparently meant Mongolia).[14][17][18][19]

The name of the seok Ton is explained as an ethnonym that reflects their economic specialization, as a word meaning "deer" and "reindeer breeder".[20] The remote ancestors of this Kumandy seok Ton were reindeer breeders, reflected in Kumandy hunting legends and fairy tales, for example about milking deer (which is attributed to the Kumandy's mountain spirits). The memory about breeding and milking reindeer belongs to some remote historical ancestors of a part of Kumandy; they can be explained by participation in the Kumandy ethnogenesis of the southern Nenets tribes, who cultivated riding deer, typically used not only for transport but also for food and dress.

See also



  1. Russian Census 2010: Population by ethnicity (Russian)
  2. Potapov (1969), p. 21
  3. Pritsak O., "Stammesnamen und Titulaturen der altaischen Volker. Ural-Altaische JahrMcher", Bd. 24, 1952, Sect. 1–2, pp. 49–104
  4. 1 2 3 Potapov (1969), p. 58
  5. 1 2 Potapov (1969), pp. 47, 62, 54, 60
  6. Potapov (1969), p. 59
  7. Potapov (1969), pp. 56–69
  8. Aristov N. A., Notes on ethnic composition of Türkic tribes and nations//Olden Times Alive, 1896, v. 3–4, p. 341
  9. Potapov (1969), pp. 14, 53
  10. Potapov (1969), p. 19
  11. Dulik, MC; Zhadanov, SI; Osipova, LP; Askapuli, A; Gau, L; Gokcumen, O; Rubinstein, S; Schurr, TG (2012). "Mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome variation provides evidence for a recent common ancestry between Native Americans and Indigenous Altaians". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 90: 229–46. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2011.12.014. PMC 3276666Freely accessible. PMID 22281367.
  12. W. Radloff "Aus Sibirien", Bd. 1, p. 212
  13. Pritsak О. "Das Abakan- und Čulymtürkische und das Schorische"//Jean Deny et al. (Hrsg.): Philologiae Turcicae Fundamenta, Wiesbaden, 1959, p. 600
  14. 1 2 Potapov (1969), p. 54
  15. 1 2 Potapov (1969), p. 60
  16. Potapov (1969), pp. 14, 59
  17. N. Aristov asserted: "The tribal possession So, lying to the north of the Hun country, i. e. from the present Mongolia, should be on the northern side of Altai mountains, for its southern slopes were part of the Hun lands... From that, with sufficient reliability can be concluded that the legendary forefather of the Turks descended from the tribe So that lived in the northern Altai, and that the clan So is a small remainder of that, probably not such a small tribe during prehistoric times". " Aristov N.A., Notes on ethnic composition of Türkic tribes and nations//Olden Times Alive, 1896, Vol. 3-4, p. 279
  18. Liu Mau-tsai, "Die chinesischen Nachrichten zur Geschichte der Ost-Türken", vol. 1, pp. 5–6, vol. 2, pp. 489–490, Wiesbaden, 1958
  19. Potapov (1969), p. 53
  20. Potapov (1969), pp. 60, 61


  • Potapov, Leonid P. (1969). Ethnic composition and origin of Altaians. Historical ethnographical essay. St. Petersburg. 
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