Karakitai

Karakitai

 

(also Karakhitans—Black Kitai, or Black Khitans), the name given by medieval authors to the Khitans, a people of the Mongol group who arrived in Middle Asia after the defeat of their empire (whose tributary from the early 11th century was the Chinese kingdom) in 1125 by the Jurjen (Jurchen) tribes, and a large group of Khitans (16, 000 families) who had settled there earlier. Between the mid-12th and early 13th centuries all of the Karakitai over the age of 18 served in the army of the gurkhans from the Khitan family of Ye-lü Ta-shih, whocreated the Karakitai State. The Karakitai raised livestock in the valleys of the Chu and Talasa rivers. Feudal relations, with vestiges of the patriarchal tribal system, prevailed among the Karakitai, although women had considerable rights. The Karakitai were Buddhists, although they made sacrifices to thesky, the earth, and their ancestors. The Karakitai subsequently merged with neighboring Turkic peoples, which is evidenced in the names of tribes and families (kin groups) among the Kirghiz, Kazakhs, and Kara-Kalpaks.


Karakitai

 

(Karakhitan), a feudal state in Middle and Central Asia (c. 1140–1213), with its capital at Khusyordo (Bala-saghun) on the Chu River.

Karakitai (Black Cathay) was founded by Ye-lü Ta-shih, a member of the family that ruled over the empire of the Khitans, one of the Mongol peoples. In 1124, Ye-lü took the title gurkhan (chief of a federation of tribes). After the Jurjens (Jurchens) destroyed the Khitan empire in 1125, he fled with a group of his followers to the north. After conquering all of Turkestan with the help of the Khitans who had settled there earlier, he became emperor in 1141. The gurkhans coined their own money in the Khitan fashion but otherwise exerted little influence on the economic and internal life of the region. Their activity was limited to the collection of taxes and tribute from their vassals (Balkh, Khwarazm, Kao-Ch’ang). Twice Karakitai was ruled by women. The state stretched from the Amu Darya and Lake Balkhash to the Kunlun Mountains and the uplands of the Pei Mountains. The fall of Karakitai is linked to the seizure of eastern Turkestan by the Mongols and the arrival of the Naimans, who had fled from the Mongols. The Naimans imprisoned the gurkhan in 1211. In 1218 they themselves were subjugated by Genghis Khan.

REFERENCES

Bartol’d, V. V. “Ocherk istorii Semirech’ia.” Soch., vol. 2, part 1. Moscow, 1963.
Kozhemiako, P. N. Rannesrednevekovye goroda i poseleniia Chuiskoi doliny. Frunze, 1959.
Istoriia Kirgizii, vol. 1. Frunze, 1963.
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