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Title: Jüz  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: History of Kazakhstan
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Approximate areas occupied by the three Kazakh jüzes in the early 20th century. Green represents the Junior jüz, orange represents the Middle jüz and red represents the Great jüz.
Location of various modern Jüz tribes in Kazakhstan, after M.S.Mukanov[1]

A jüz (Kazakh: жүз) is one of the three main territorial divisions in the Kypchak Plain area that covers much of the contemporary Kazakhstan. Variably, a jüz is believed to be a confederation or alliance of Kazakh nomads. Kazakh legends tell that ancestry of the three main Kazakh jüzes derived from three brothers.

Contemporary Kazakh clans

The meaning and origins of the jüz formations have been subject to different interpretations. Some researchers argued that originally jüz corresponded to tribal, military alliances of steppe nomads that emerged around mid-16th century after the disintegration of the Kazakh Khanate. Others proposed that jüz are geographical ecological zones separated by natural boundaries. Nomads adopted to these geographical zones and developed nomadic migration routes within the natural boundaries. According to Kazakh legends, the three jüzes originated from the children and grandchildren of the three sons of the mythical forefather of Kazakhs. Another version of the legend asserts that the three jüzes were the territorial inheritances of the three sons of the mythical founder father. In Kazakh language, "jüz" means "hundred" or "face"; in Arabic, "jüz" refers to "section", "division".

Historically, the Great jüz (Kazakh: Ұлы жүз, Ulı jüz; Russian: Старший жуз, Starshiy zhuz) or Senior Century nomads inhabited the northern lands of the former Chagatai Ulus of the Mongol Empire, in the Ili River and Chu River basins, in today's South-Eastern Kazakhstan and China's Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture (northern Xinjiang). It was also called Uysun jüz. The Great jüz representatives were known for their skills in governing and uniting all other nomadic tribes into one country. Kazakhstan's ruling elite, including current president Nursultan Nazarbayev, former First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan Dinmukhamed Konayev, as well as famous poet Jambyl Jabayev are representatives of the Great juz.

The Middle jüz (Kazakh: Орта жүз, Orta jüz; Russian: Средний жуз, Sredniy zhuz) or Middle Century nomads nomadized in the eastern lands of the former Jochi's Ulus, in Central, Northern and Eastern Kazakhstan. It was also known as Argyn jüz. Kazakhstan's famous poets and intellectuals, including Abay Qunanbayuli, Akhmet Baytursinuli, Shokan Walikhanuli and Alikhan Bokeikhanov were born in the Middle jüz territories.

The Junior jüz (Kazakh: Кiшi жүз, Kişi jüz; Russian: Младший жуз, Mladshiy zhuz) or Junior Century nomads occupied the lands of the former Nogai Khanate in Western Kazakhstan. It was also called Alshyn jüz. They were known for their fierce warriors.

Each jüz contains a number of clans, which share a presumed genealogy of forefathers going back to the presumed ancestor. Each clan is divided into smaller groups down to the smallest lineage. As Kazakhs practice exogamy, each individual is expected to know his ancestors up to the seventh forefather ("Zhety Ata"). Marriage within Zhety Ata was considered to be incest taboo.

Great jüz

There have been several attempts to determine the exact names and nature of top level clans throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, different studies created vastly different names and population numbers for the steppe clans. Although disputed, generally accepted names of the first order Great jüz or Uisun clans are:

Middle jüz

Junior jüz

The Junior jüz consisted of three groups:

See also


  1. ^ Mukanov M.S., "Ethnic territory of Kazakhs in 18 - beginning of 20th century", Almaty, 1991, Муканов М. С. "Этническая территория казахов в 18 – нач. 20 вв. Алма-Ата, 1991 (Russian)
  • Svat Soucek, "A History of Inner Asia". Cambridge University Press (2000). ISBN 0-521-65704-0.
  • Genealogy of the Kazakhs (Kazakh) (Russian)
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