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A traditional Kyrgyz Manaschi performing part of the Manas epic poem at a yurt camp in Karakol
Total population 4 million (est.)
Regions with significant populations Kyrgyzstan:
   3,350,000 (est)[1]

   144,000 [2]
   32,000 [3]
   11,000 [4]
   3,000 [5]

Language Kyrgyz
Religion Sunni Islam, Shamanism <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th>
<td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">other Turkic people</td>


Kyrgyz (also spelled Kirghiz) are a Turkic ethnic group found primarily in Kyrgyzstan.

There are several etymological theories on the name "Kyrgyz." First, the name Kyrgyz may mean "forty girls" (kyrk + kyz), a reference to the Manas epic unifying forty small tribes against the Chinese on one side and the Muslim expansion on the other. This is symbolized by the yellow sun in the center of the flag of Kyrgyzstan, which has 40 rays referring to forty Kyrgyz tribes. Next, a meaning of "forty tribes" (kyrk + uuz) which makes more direct sense. Finally, a meaning with totally different word formulation (kyrgys, adj.), meaning "imperishable", "inextinguishable" or "undying". This version has an obvious popular appreciation. Historical evidence for many conflicts with other peoples also supports this theory.


[edit] Origins

The first known homeland of the Kyrgyz was the upper Yenisey River and Sayan mountains of southern Siberia, in what is now modern Khakassia and Tuva. Their first appearance in written documents appears in the Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian (compiled 109 BC to 91 BC), as Gekun or Jiankun (鬲昆 or 隔昆) and, later, as part of the Tiele tribe.

The Kyrgyz were once under the rule of the Gokturks and Uyghur, the latter tribe being defeated and migrating to Xinjiang. [6]

[edit] The Kyrgyz in China

The Kyrgyz form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. There are more than 145,000 Kyrgyz in China.

They are found mainly in the Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture in the southwestern part of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, with a smaller remainder found in the neighboring Wushi (Uqturpan), Aksu, Shache (Yarkand), Yingisar, Taxkorgan and Pishan (Guma), and in Tekes, Zhaosu (Monggolkure), Emin (Dorbiljin), Bole (Bortala), Jinghev (Jing) and Gonliu in northern Xinjiang.

Several hundred Kyrgyz whose forefathers emigrated to Northeast China more than 200 years ago now live in Wujiazi Village in Fuyu County, Heilongjiang Province.

Anthropologically, the Kyrgyz are of Mongoloid Central Asian stock. They have dark skin and eyes and coarse dark hair, and beards. Their face is wide, the cheekbones are not very prominent. The Kyrgyz tend to be short, with the average male height being 162-164 cm. The Kyrgyz in tradition had green eyes, fair skin and red hair according to some Chinese sources, and although they have mixed thoroughly with other Turkic and Mongolian groups, some still have this complexion.

[edit] Religion

Most Kyrgyz are Muslims. Islam was first introduced by Arab traders who travelled along the Silk Road in the seventh and eight century, but was embraced superficially by the Kyrgyz. Muslim rituals, including circumcision, were grafted onto Shamanistic rituals, and the Kyrgyz prayed only when the Mullah came to conduct sermons.

In the 18th century, an orthodox form of Islam was introduced to the Fergana valley by the Uzbeks. Atheism, on the other hand, took root in the northern regions under Russian communist influence. As of today, Shamanism is still practiced alongside with Islam in the Central, and to a lesser extent the northern regions of Kyrgyzstan.

[edit] Notable Kyrgyz people

[edit] See also

[edit] References and Further Reading


de:Kirgisen es:Kirguiz (China) fr:Kirghizes ja:キルギス ka:ყირგიზები nl:Kirgizisch ug:قىرغىز ru:Киргизы fi:Kirgiisit tr:Kırgız zh:柯尔克孜族


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