The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a people living in the Khakass Autonomous Oblast and parts of the Tuva ASSR and Krasnoiarsk Krai. The Khakass number 70,000 (1979 census). The Khakass language is one of the Turkic languages.

Before the October Revolution of 1917, the Khakass were known by the general names of Minusinsk and Abakan Tatars or Turki; they had no self-designation. They were divided into five clan-tribal groups—Kachintsy, Sagaitsy, Bel’tirs, Koibaly, and Kyzyltsy—which, in turn, were divided into families. These groups voluntarily became part of the Russian state in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Their main occupations were seminomadic stock raising and hunting; the subsidiary occupation was primitive land cultivation. The social relations were characterized by inequality of property and exhibited elements of class differentiation.

Under the colonial policies of tsarism, the culture and way of life of the Khakass were extremely backward. Literate people were few. The religion of the people was shamanism, although formally the Khakass were considered Russian Orthodox. The ethnic composition of the Khakass was formed in the 17th and 18th centuries as a result of the intermixing of the Enisei Kirghiz with other Turkic, Samoyed, and Ketic groups. The consolidation process, begun in the 18th century, was completed during the Soviet period, when the Khakass received their governmental structure and common name. The rural population is employed in farming and stock raising on kolkhozes and sovkhozes. A working class has formed, employed chiefly in the mining industry and in rail transport. A national intelligentsia has also emerged. Newspapers, textbooks, political works, and fiction are published in the Khakass language.


Narody Sibiri. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
Potapov, L. P. Proiskhozhdenie i formirovanie Khakasskoi narodnosti. Abakan, 1957.




the language of the Khakass. Khakass is spoken primarily in Khakass Autonomous Oblast and in parts of Sharypovo Raion (Krasnoiarsk Krai) and the Tuva ASSR. According to the 1970 census, there are more than 55,800 speakers of Khakass.

Khakass belongs to the Uighur group of the Eastern Hun branch of the Turkic languages. It has three dialects: Sagai, Kacha, and Kyzyl; the standard language is based on the first two of these dialects. Khakass has 17 vowels, including long vowels, and 24 consonants. The hardness or softness of consonants in indigenous Khakass words is determined by the vowel: back vowels demand a hard consonant, and front vowels demand a soft consonant. Hardness and softness are not phonemic and are therefore not indicated in the writing system. Khakass has an expiratory accent, ordinarily fixed on the last syllable.

Khakass exhibits all the grammatical features of the Turkic languages. The lexicon includes Mongolian and Russian words and a few Arabic and Persian elements. A Cyrillic script was adopted in 1926, and a Latin script in 1929. Since 1939, Khakass has been written in a Cyrillic script.


Karpov, V. G. “Khakasskii iazyk.” In lazyki narodov SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966.
Dialekty khakasskogo iazyka: Ocherki i materialy. Abakan, 1973.
Grammatika khakasskogo iazyka. Moscow, 1975.
Khakassko-russkii slovar’. Moscow, 1953.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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