Siberian Khanate

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Siberian Khanate


(also Siberian Yurt, Siberian Kingdom), a feudal state that arose in the late 15th century. In the 13th and 14th centuries the territory of the future Siberian Khanate, called Ibir, was part of the Jochi Ulus and later of the Sheibanid Ulus and Tiumen’ Khanate. After the murder in 1495 of Ibak, the khan of Tiumen’, Mahmud, a descendant of Taibuga (an ally of Genghis Khan), became the head of a new political alliance of Tatar uluses [an ulus was a union of several families], called the Siberian Khanate after the name of his main headquarters, Sibir’ (Kashlyk). The Siberian Khanate bordered on Perm’ Land, the Kazan Khanate, the Nogai Horde, the Kazakh Khanate, and the Teleut lands in the Irtysh steppes. In the north it extended to the lower reaches of the Ob’, and in the east it bordered on the Skewbald Horde.

The Siberian Khanate was inhabited by Turkic-speaking tribes, including Kipchaks, Argyns, Karluks, Kangly, and Nai-mans, collectively called Siberian Tatars in some sources. Also living in the area were the Khanty, Mansi, Trans-Ural Bashkirs, and other peoples who had reached various stages of development. The bulk of the population was composed of “black people” (kara khalk), who were obliged to pay the khan a yearly tribute, chiefly in furs, and to supply warriors for the feudal militia. The Siberian Tatars engaged in nomadic livestock raising, farming, and such crafts as pottery-making, fur dressing, spinning, weaving, and the smelting and working of metals. In the north, hunting, fishing, and reindeer breeding were also important.

Feudal relations coexisted with vestiges of patriarchal-clan relations. In the central part of the khanate, the khans and feudal aristocracy owned pastures and sources of water. The development of feudal relations was promoted by the emerging feudal aristocracy’s acceptance of Islam, which became the official religion. The khanate was headed by a khan, who was elected by the Tatar feudal lords—murzas, beks, and tarkhans. The state structure was semimilitary; the khanate was divided into administrative units similar to the Russian hundreds, which were headed by murzas. The administrative and military bases of the khan’s authority were the small fortified towns of Kyzyl-Tura (Ust’-Ishim), Kasim-Tura, Iavlu-Tura, and Tontur. Along with the Muslim feudal law (shari’a) and the yasas (code of Genghis Khan), norms of customary law prevailed.

Trade, controlled by merchants from Bukhara, played an important role. The khanate maintained commercial ties with Middle Asia, Rus’, the Nogai Horde, the Kazan Khanate, Mongolia, and western China. The main exports were fur, hides, fish, mammoth tusks, and wool.

In the first half of the 16th century, the khanate was subjected to devastating raids by southern nomads (Nogais, Uzbeks, and Kazakhs). Ediger, a descendant of Taibuga, declared himself a vassal of Moscow in 1555. Seizing power with the aid of the Nogais, Kuchum, a protégé of the Sheibanids (Shajbanids), severed the relations with Moscow in 1572 and thereafter opposed Russia. In 1582 the khanate was dealt its first serious blow by Ermak’s cossack detachment, which captured the capital of the khanate, Kashlyk, and opened the way for the khanate’s incorporation into Russia. In the late 1580’s and 1590’s, a number of Russian forts were built on the territory of the khanate, among them Tiumen’ (1586), Tobol’sk (1587), Berezov (1593), and Obdorsk (1595).

Kuchum and his army migrated to the south and continued to resist Russian detachments until 1598. The last khan was Kuchum’s son Ali, whose authority extended only over the nomad territory along the upper reaches of the Ishim, Irtysh, and Tobol rivers. The incorporation of the khanate into Russia accelerated the development of feudal relations among the peoples of Western Siberia, contributed to the growth of their productive forces, and promoted their closer association with the Russian people.


Isloriia Sibiri s drevneishikh vremen do nashikh dnei, vol. 1. Leningrad, 1968. Pages 353–72. (With bibliography.)


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