Learn more about Tajiks
- This article is about the Central Asian Persians known as Tajiks. Refer to Persian people regarding ethnic Persians in Iran. And refer to Tajiks in China regarding the Tajik population of China.
|Total population||c. 16.5-28.5 million|
|Regions with significant populations|| Afghanistan:|
8,400,000<ref>CIA - The World Factbook - Afghanistan</ref>
|Language||Persian (varieties of Dari and Tajik)|
|Religion|| Predominately Muslim. <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th> <td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">Other Iranian peoples
Tājīk (Persian: تاجيک ; UniPers: Tâjik; Cyrillic: Тоҷик) is a term generally applied to Persian-speaking peoples of Iranian origin living east of Iran. The traditional Tajik homelands are inpresent-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and the Xinjiang province of China.
Alternative names for the Tajiks are Fārsī (Persian), Pārsīwān (Persian-speaking), and Dīhgān (literally "village settlers", in a wider sense "urban"; in contrast to "nomadic" or "tribal" — only used in southern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan)<ref>M. Longworth Dames/G. Morgenstierne/R. Ghirshman, "Afghānistān", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Online Edition</ref>.
 Application of the term
Like the rest of the Iranian peoples, and also the Indic, Dard, and Nuristani peoples, the Tajiks descend from the Indo-Iranians (Aryans) and trace their roots back to Iranian peoples<ref>Library of Congress Country Studies - Tajikistan - Historical & Ethnic Background - 1996</ref> who settled in Central Asia as early as 2500 years ago.
The Tajiks trace their more immediate ancestry to the East Iranian-speaking Bactrians, Sogdians, Parnians, and possibly Scythians, which means that the main ancestors of the Tajiks did not speak Persian, the Southwestern Iranian language known as Farsi in Iran, Dari in Afghanistan, and Tajik elsewhere in Central Asia. The Tajiks' adoption of Persian was precipitated by the expansion of the Persian Sassanid Empire and its subsequent overthrow by the Muslim Arabs, which sent large numbers of Persians fleeing to Central Asia, and even China. Many Persians also entered the region as converted Muslim warriors, and settled in the conquered lands. As a result of the many waves of Persian migration (Muslim and non-Muslim), in addition to their East-Iranian ancestry, the Tajiks also have an important ethnic Persian ancestry. According to Iranologist Richard Nelson Frye, the Persian migration to Central Asia is to be considered the beginning of the modern Tajik nation, and ethnic Persians as the main ancestors of modern Tajiks<ref>Richard Nelson Frye, "Persien: bis zum Einbruch des Islam" (original English title: "The Heritage Of Persia"), German version, tr. by Paul Baudisch, Kindler Verlag AG, Zürich 1964, pp. 485-498</ref>.
There are other Persian-speaking peoples in Central Asia such as the Hazara and Aimak, who originated from the Mongol expansions of the 13th century and only subsequently adopted the Persian language. The Mountain Tajiks or Pamiris of the Badakhshan region in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan as well as the group usually known as "Tajik" in China's western Xinjiang region are actually a collection of over a dozen small Eastern Iranian groups who have merged with the Tajiks.
 Origin of the term
The origin of the term "Tajik" is somewhat unclear. Today, most historians believe that the word "Tajik"—first mentioned by the Turkish historian Mahmoud Al-Kāshgharī—is an old Turkish expression referring to all Persian-speaking peoples of Central Asia who are of Iranian origin. Alternatively, some believe that it is a term of Eastern Iranian origin, which may have initially been applied by the inhabitants of Central Asia to the Arab conquerors of the region, and that its etymology is linked to the Arab tribe of Tayy. From the 11th century it came to be applied principally to Iranians<ref>M.E. Subtelny, "The Symbiosis of Turk and Tajik" in B.F. Manz (ed.), Central Asia in Historical Perspective, (Boulder, Col. & Oxford), 1994, p. 48</ref>. However, it is hard to establish the use of the word before the Turkic conquest of Central Asia, and since at least the 15th century it has been used by the region's Iranian population to distinguish themselves from Turks. Persians in Iran living in the Turkish-speaking parts of the country call themselves "Tajik", something remarked upon in the 15th century by the poet Mir Ali Sher Nawa'i of Herat <ref> Ali Shir Nava'i Muhakamat al-lughatain tr. & ed. Robert Devereaux (Leiden: Brill) 1966 p6</ref>. In addition Tibetans call all Persians (including those in Iran) Tajik.
Based on this information, the name Tajik can also be considered a synonym for Persian. However, as a whole, Tajiks are a distinct group.
In the Turco-Persian culture of the conquerors Timur and Babur, the word "Tajik" referred to the Persian-speaking clerks who were schooled in Arabic. In the Safavid era, "Tajik" referred to the Persian administrators and nobles of the kingdom, linked to the so-called Qezelbāš movement.
In addition, the name Tajik, both for the people and for the nation itself, is a geographic reference to the crown (Taj) of the Pamir Knot.
As an alternative, the term Sart was also used as a synonym for Tajik in the medieval post Genghis Khan period, and thus for a Persian speaker.
Tajiks are the principal ethnic group in most of Tajikistan, as well as in northeastern Afghanistan and the Afghan cities of Kabul, Mazari Sharif, and Herat. In Uzbekistan the Tajiks are the largest part of the population of the cities of Bukhara and Samarqand, and are found in large numbers in the Surxondaryo Province in the south and along Uzbekistan's eastern border with Tajikistan. Historically, the ancestors of the Tajiks lived in a much larger territory in Central Asia, but have been displaced as waves of Turkic invaders moved into the region from the north and east.
Today, Tajiks comprise around 79.9% of the population of Tajikistan, and between 25-30% of the population of Afghanistan. Official statistics in Uzbekistan state that the Tajik community comprises 5% of the nation's total population. However, these numbers do not include ethnic Tajiks whose mother tongue is Uzbek, and Tajiks who, for a variety of reasons, declare themselves to be ethnic Uzbeks. Tajiks may make up closer to 15 to 30 percent of Uzbekistan's population.<ref>See for example the Country report on Uzbekistan, released by the United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor here.</ref>
There are an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Tajiks found in western Pakistan (NWFP), most being refugees from the Afghan war while others are native to various regions such as Chitral (see Wakhi language) and the Gilgit Agency.
Though Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz, Baghlan, Kapisa, Balkh, Jawzjan, Parwan, Kabul, Ghazni, Ghore, Farah and Herat are named as mainly Tajik inhabited areas in Afghanistan but Tajiks are living in almost all parts and provinces of Afghanistan. Upper and central parts of Laghman, Surkhrood in Nangarhar, Gardez in Paktia, Urgoon in Paktika, Toopkhana locality in Kandahar Provinces are of significant Tajik or Persian speaking population. However, in Logar, Wardak and Ghanzni Provinces in Afghanistan, more or less, one to tow-third of their population is comprised of Tajiks.
Source: Afghanistan census 1975.
 Physical characteristics
Physically, most Tajiks belong to the Mediterranean subgroup of the Caucasian race and sometimes with a slight Turco-Mongol influence. While the average Tajik has dark hair and eyes with medium to fair skin, light hair and eyes are not uncommon, particularly in mountainous regions such as Badakhshan. Some Tajiks in Central Asia show definite Turkic-Mongol admixture, while remote Mountain Tajiks appear to more closely resemble the populations that existed before the Turkic and Mongol invasions and migrations. A minority of Tajiks in Afghanistan also show traces of Turkic-Mongol ancestry (possibly derived from the Hazara and/or Uzbeks). In addition, Tajiks are often distinguished from the related Farsiwan by religion as opposed to appearance. The Tajiks, as a whole, are a somewhat eclectic population genetically and display a wide range of phenotypes.<ref>Library of Congress Country Studies - Afghanistan - Ethnic Groups - Tajik - 1997</ref>
The language of the Tajiks is Persian, also called Dari. The variety spoken in Tajikistan is called Tajiki. It is an Indo-European language, more specifically part of the Iranian language group. Tajik is an offspring of the Persian language, and belongs—along with Afghanistan's Dari—to the Eastern dialects of Persian. Historically, it was considered the local dialect of Persian spoken by the Tajik ethnic group in Central Asia, however Tajik has far fewer Arabic loan words than the Persian spoken in Iran. In Afghanistan Tajiks continue to use the Arabic script. However, when the Soviet Union imposed the use of the Latin script in 1928, and later the Cyrillic script, Tajik came to be considered a separate language in Tajikistan. The language remains greatly influenced by Russian because of political borders. A transcribed Tajik text can, in general, be easily read and understood by a speaker of the western dialect of Persian, and vice versa, and speakers of Tajik and the western Persian can readily converse with each other. The common origin of the two languages is underscored by the Tajiks' claim to such famous writers as Omar Khayyám, Firdausi and Rumi.
Russian is widely used in government and business in Tajikistan as well. Dari, as Afghan Tajiks call their Persian, has long been the language of commerce in Kabul. Though no official census has ever been made in Afghanistan, an estimated 15% people of Afganistan, after pashtoons 60% to 65% of the total population, are Tajiks. The following link provides a very useful insight about some of the unofficial censuses made over the years in Afghanistan:http://www.hewad.com/ethnic.htm
The great majority of Tajiks follow the Sunni form of Islam, although small Ismaili and Jafari Shia minorities also exist in scattered pockets. In Afghanistan, Tajiks who follow Jafari Shiism are called Farsi or Farsiwan (Persians). Additionally, small Tajik Jewish communities (known as Bukharan Jews) have existed since ancient times in the cities of Samarqand and Bukhara, and in smaller numbers in Herat, Kabul, and other Tajik centers.<ref>J. Sloame, "Bukharan Jews", Jewish Virtual Library, (LINK)</ref> Over the 20th century, the majority of these Tajik-speaking Jews emigrated to Israel and the United States, although many of these emigrants maintain ties with their homeland. Despite the advent of Christian missionaries to Central Asia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Tajik Christian population is virtually non-existent.
 Recent developments
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the civil war in Afghanistan both gave rise to a resurgence in Tajik nationalism across the region. Tajikistan in particular has been a focal point for this movement, and the government there has made a conscious effort to revive the legacy of the Samanid empire, the first Tajik-dominated state in the region after the Arab conquest.
 Tajiks in China
The Tajiks (Chinese: 塔吉克族, Pinyin: Tǎjíkèzú) are one of the 56 nationalities officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. This group with a population of 41,028 (2000), is located mainly in China's western Xinjiang region with 60% living in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County; some researchers view them as a collection of over a dozen small East Iranian ethnic groups that are related to, but distinct from, the Tajiks of Tajikistan.
 See also
 Notes & References
- Dupree, Louis. Afghanistan. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980
- Jawad, Nassim, Afghanistan: A Nation of Minorities, London: Minority Rights Group, 1992, ISBN 0-946690-76-6.
- World Almanac and Book of Facts 2003, ISBN 0-88687-882-9.
- Gawarjon [Gāo Ěrqiāng 高尔锵] (ed.): Tǎjíkè-Hàn cídiǎn 塔吉克汉词典. Tujik ziv – Hanzu ziv lughot (Tajik-Chinese dictionary; Chengdu, Sichuan minzu chubanshe 1996).
 External links
- Khorasan: History Of The Tajik Nation
- Uzbekistan: Ethnic Composition And Discrimination
- "Central Asian Jews." from The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire.
- The Tajik ethnic minority (China) (government website, in English)
- Ethnologue statistics on Eastern Farsi speakers. Statistics regarding Tajiki speakers.
- Geographic distribution of Tajiks world-wide
- Female Genetics
- Male Genetics (the origin of R1a1 is under question see) (see Genetics and Archaeogenetics of South Asia)ar:طاجيك