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Қазақ хандығының 550 жылдығына арналған «Мәңгілік ел» халықаралық ғылыми-практикалық конференциясы

Kazakhstan: one time, one place, one destiny
The 550 years of Kazakh Khanate

Ermanno Visintainer

The end of the "Cold War" and the fall of the Berlin Wall, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union caused a seismic-tectonic wave, a tsunami in the world of politics that followed the creation of more than two dozen new independent states in Europe and Asia, including Kazakhstan, located together with other post-Soviet countries. As noted the President Nursultan Nazarbayev in His recent book, "G-Global, the world of the XXI century".

Kazakhstan, in fact, has become an independent Country in a difficult, complex time. Nevertheless, two decades ago, in March 1992, the Central Asian Country was unanimously accepted as a UN member.

Since Its Independence, the Country has taken a series of steps on the new international scenario that led to establish Itself in recent years as political and economic epicentre of a huge and unstable region, which is Central Asia, becoming an emerging power on the international theatre, an Eurasian pole with realistic planetary prospects.

The author of this destiny is the President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who, the fruits of this renewed Independence, summarizes as follows, noting that Kazakhstan has realized objectives as: statehood, national economy, civil society, social harmony, regional leadership and international prestige, just in time of crisis, through:

  1. A strong and successful state
  2. A robust process of democratization and liberalization
  3. Harmony and peace among different social, ethnic and religious groups
  4. The national economy. Its role in the international division of the work
  5. A strong social policy which ensured the stability and harmony in the country
  6. A country recognized by the world community
  7. Its active role in supporting the regime of nuclear non-proliferation
  8. A Strategy Kazakhstan-2030.

Last year, on 17th January 2014, in a message entitled: "Қазақстан жолы - 2050: Бір мақсат, бір мүдде, бір болашақ" (The Way of Kazakhstan - 2050: a common goal, a common interest and a common future) , he referred to Kazakhstan as «Mäñgi El» or «Mäñgilik El» "Eternal Country", enclosing concepts as "Mäñgilik Ğwmır and Mäñgilik Bola şaq" i.e. by using the attribute of eternity both for the people and for the Country 's future.

The concept of Immortal Earth (Mäñgilik El) is the basis of the Strategy "Kazakhstan -2050", the fundamental political course of the nation. It is more difficult to maintain the independence that conquer it.

Then He added:

In "The Way of Kazakhstan - 2050" addressed to the Kazakhistani people, the idea of "Mäñgilik El" of the Turks, belonged to our ancestors has been declared as a national idea of the people.

And in Kazakhstan there is an on going debate about the genesis of Its own Statehood, so much so that we are gathered here to commemorate an important event:

the 550th anniversary of the foundation of the Kazakh Khanate (Қазақ Хандығы - Qazaq Xandığı), starting from 1465, with the two creators, Kerey Janibek Khan and Khan.

A theme contained also in the message of President Nursultan Nazarbayev “Нұрлы жол - Nurlı Jol”, The shining, radiant Way.

As reported by the historian and military, Muhammad Haydar Dughlat (1499-1551) in his work, the " Târikh-i-Rashîdî ", originally Kazakhs were amalgamated with the Uzbek tribes under the leadership of Abulkhayr Khan (1412-1468) descendant of Genghis, through the firstborn Jö či. However the two leaders, Kerey and Janibek, descendants, in turn, of Urus Khan and the Mongolian Sovereign, decided to separate themselves from Abulkhayr Khan, beginning the Kazakh dynasties.

With the formation of the Kazakh Khanate began therefore the history of modern Kazakhstan, debuted an independent history, sui generis, in a word: Kazakh, ie not representative of one of the many faces of the Turkic world and even a projection forward of the time belonging to the Golden Horde.

Therefore Kerey Khan and Janibek Khan are now two statesmen that represent milestones in the history of the Country.

They could be defined the architects of an embryonic Kazakh Identity, of the Statehood of "Mäñgilik El". Two figures, two heroes of the identity national myth.

Nevertheless, today, a question that arises categorical and imperative regards the name itself of Kazakhstan, or if, speaking of statehood, it had existed before the name or the concept.

Regarding the suffix "-stan", contained in the name designating the "Kazakhstan", there was a discussion, a year ago, about the President's proposal to remove this ending, a persianism that unites It and confuses with others Central Asian states, but especially neighbouring countries speaking other languages such as, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

An idea is to rename the Country "Qazaq Eli - Қазақ Елі" or "Kazakh nation". "Qazaq Eli" in pure Kazakh. Just like Deutschland, Germany in German or Finland and Thailand8; as well as countless other examples spread on the planet.

An alternative to the purist expression "Qazaq Eli" could have been " Mäñgi El " or "Mäñgilik El" "Eternal Country". Expression that would be unusable because present in the name of Mongolia. A name but has a sacred meaning, a leitmotif that runs through the entire history of the Country and that, similar to a source of clear water, has its primary source in a distant past.

The same name with Mongolia prevents Kazakhstan to use that definition.

This leads us to identify the historical causes.

The creation of the concept of Mäñgilik El

But what exactly does the term Mäñgilik El, beyond mere translation: "Eternal Country"?

First Mäñgilik El is a polysemantic concept because it has cosmological, geopolitical and ideological connotations and implications, at the same time. It starts firstly by uranian monotheism of the steppe, which is the precursor of Islam in Central Asia. The concept of Mäñgilik El is a hypostasis of Mäñgilik Täñgri, or the '"Eternal Tengri", of which man and land were the epiphanies.

It, since prehistoric times of Asia has experienced a singular fortune enough to be used across the Eurasian continent, from the borders of China to southern Russia, from Kamchatka to the Sea of Marmara.

Tengri, this god of the ancient Turks was characterized by the attributes of üzä, high kök, cerulean, mäñgi eternal, and küč powerful.

  1. The first idea of Mäñgilik El is described in the ancient monuments of Orkhon. In summary, the essential character of these ancient Turkic-monuments, first of all, is represented by the yearning for freedom, redemption and independence. The same Lev Gumilev, in his exegesis of the Orkhon-Yenisei inscriptions, was of the opinion that they weren’t mere runic epitaphs but compositions having a political purpose: "In the texts of the three inscriptions is an appeal to all the subjects of the nations administered by the Turks, in order to convince them on the transparency of their rulers. The same existence of such a style demonstrates the power given to the word in the old-Turkish culture". Two are the protagonists of these monuments: Tonyuquq and Kül Tegin. A hero, this latter, to whom is also dedicated a museum at the "Lev Gumilev" University of Astana. He could be called an architect of the heroic-geopolitical dimension of statehood of " Mäñgilik El".
  2. The second idea is contained in the philosophical works: Al-Mâdinat ul fazîla (The city of virtue) and Kitāb al-Siy āsa al-Madaniyya, al-Mulaqqab biMab ādi‘ al-Mawj ūdāt,, known as the "Treaty on the principles of being", by Al-Fârâbî, Al-defined Al-Mu'allim al-Thani or Magister secundus after Aristotle, in particular for the theoretical and methodological approach to this idea. His theory of the "perfect city", although being a platonic inspiration, of Greek-Hellenistic imprint, answers however, to the aspirations of a philosophical and mystical Islamic philosopher. It is declined in terms of political-social and virtuous practice, full of synergy and solidarity, aimed at instilling among those inhabitants of the "City of Virtue", values such as kindness and understanding and mutual support, friendship, peace, education, happiness. His "policy" is based on his cosmology and psychology, and it is inseparable. Hence his notion of "perfect town" embraces all the earth inhabited by men. The dominant figure is the leader of the Ideal City who is a Wise-legislator. In short, a model projected into the future, as Astana. He could be called an architect of the philosophical dimension of statehood of "Mäñgilik El".
  3. And third idea is inherent in the Qutadgu Bilig or " "The Wisdom which brings Happiness" by Yusuf Balasaghuni13. There is no lack of evidence about a real thematic continuity between the Orkhon Inscriptions and the same Qutadgu Bilig. The poem can be counted as an allegory belongs to the genre of "Fürstenspiegel" or "mirror for princes", as full of aphoristic poetry addressed to the principles in order to give moral lessons. The central theme is the quest of the ethical-religious ideal, as already indicated by the title, according to the explanation by the same author, understood about the meaning of "happiness" "bliss". Yusuf Balasaghuni could be called an architect of the mysticalliterary dimension of statehood of " Mäñgilik El".

Beside Yusuf Balasaghuni is located Ahmed Yassawi, where the concept of "Mäñgilik El" is modulated through an Islam that is the handover from the ancient pre-Islamic beliefs of the Turks towards that institutionalized religion whose, the mysticism Ahmed Yassawi is its synthesis. Therefore, towards the modern Kazakhstan with the policies supporters of the interreligious and intercultural dialogue wanted by the President Nursultan Nazarbayev. He could be called an architect of the spiritual dimension of statehood of "Mäñgilik El".

Genesis of the "Kazakh" ethonym

The ethnonym "Kazakh" is possible to find in literary sources of the countries in possession of a written historical tradition that had established relations with the Kazakhs. Sources that include works written in Chinese, Arabic, Persian, Byzantine, Russian, Mongolian and Turkic, where because of transliteration the ethnonym "Kazakh" was transcribed in various ways, such as: asa, kasa, hasa, haysak, kosok, gasag, hasik, kasok, kasak, kazsak, et alia.

Defining exactly when the ethnonym arose from the history is not possible. The fact is that its etymology is embedded in its most remote recesses. The historians have put forward several hypotheses about it.

The scholar Aleksander Bern štam, endorsing the thesis of Radlov, Vambery, Bartold, Samoylovi č and Marr about the genesis of the term "Kazakh", reiterates being an etymology emerged from a combination between kaspii and sak, i.e. Caspians and Saka, who later took the meaning of "free, courageous independent, irreducible".

However, at this point arises the question of a first syncope of identity occurred with the Mongol conquest of Central Asia, which led to an osmosis between the nomadic Mongolian tribes an the Turkic peoples. An amalgam from which the first tribes were determined to achieve the creation of an own Khanate, of an own Mäñgilik El. Such political-ideological planning by Genghis Khan and his successors, led the Turks to a short circuit of identity, to a national process of disidentification, in short to obliterate the use of their own ethnonym. Therefore they began, at least nominally, to mongolize themselves, considering the fact most authoritative and prestigious.

If the today’s Independence, on the one hand, represents the end of a centuries-old yoke, began with the founding of the Khanate of Kerey and Janibek Khan, persisted with Ablai and the wars against Dzungarians, at the time of succeeding Khanates, then continued in the tsarist era and persisted in the Soviet era. On the other hand, releases Kazakhstan from the subordinate regional position, owned until that time, forced in chain mail of subordination to another country and blocked by Its own narrow geopolitical position, automatically projecting It on the Eurasian and international scenarios.

Nazarbayev is the modern face of the Kazakh Identity, the historical figure who redeems the Kazakh people from foreign domination and founded a completely new Statehood.

Similarly to that fateful and symbolic year 1465, of which today marks the 550th Anniversary, when the two guides of the reintroduced Kazakh Statehood and Identity, Kerey and Janibek Khan, began the process of ethnogenesis releasing what would become the current Kazakhs from the first syncope due to the Mongolian assimilation.

Thus as Kerey and Janibek unified into one national identity paleo-Kazakh populations as Dughlat, Kangju, Kerayt, Wusun, Mangït, Qongïrat, Qïp čaq, Al čïn, Nayman15, Jalay, Koralas 16, etc., Nazarbayev with his social policies, from the Independence Day was able to amalgamate 140 distinct ethnic groups, including Kazakhs, Ukrainians, Kazakhs-Russian, Kazakh-Uighur, Kazakh-Korean, and others. Kazakhstan has, in fact, completed the institutional, social, economic and even noetic overtaking that made It inhomogeneous compared to belonging to that club of Central Asian -stans. It led to opt for a further Independence, an independence this time, of image, assuming a name more appropriate compared to the position gained on the international scenarios.

The time, therefore to replace the Persian suffix -stan of "Kazakhstan" with "Eli", changing it to "Qazaq Eli - Қазақ Елі" or "Kazakh nation", in pure Kazakh. From the Kazakh Khanate (Қазақ Хандығы - Qazaq Xandığı) to Kazakhstan, until Qazaq Eli. A tribute, however, to the two protagonists celebrated in this 550th Anniversary of the foundation of the Kazakh Khanate: Kerey Khan and Janibek Khan, who first extrapolated this ethnonym from the innermost recesses of history, from those above mentioned (qazğaq or kaz + sak ) at a time when they seemed to have been completely forgotten.

After the Independence from Mongol Uluses, from the aggressive expansionism of the Dzungarians, from the yoke, before Tsarist and then Soviet, therefore, Kazakhstan could also free Itself from a denomination that envelops it in a hug, sometimes ambiguous and misleading. An embrace, which because of certain homophones or antiquated genealogies, may preclude that extra leap ahead with the appropriate rhythms. And that would slow compared to a metahistorical project existent from the dawn of Its history, that destiny that should have been made somewhere in Eurasia or Central Asia, embodied in this place and in this time.

So to mark time compared to a planetary conjunction in which it is emerging triumphant on all fronts: the statehood, national economy, civil society and social harmony, regional leadership and international prestige. Besides that, to continue in the twenty-first century, with the development undertaken, preserving the achievements made over the years of Independence. To create before 2050 a prosperous society in a strong state, an evolved economy.

Nursultan Äbi şulı Nazarbayev, can be defined the modern face of the Statehood of the "Mäñgilik El". The historical figure that has allowed Kazakhstan to make the political-institutional, social, economic and even noetic overtaking. The figure who has torn it from the perspective of the narrow post-Soviet horizons where he was, projecting it into a way towards the future. That Way, or Nurlı Jol, which is radiant, shining, where the Country exercises a leading role on the global scene.

  1. N. NAZARBAYEV, G-Global. Il mondo del XXI secolo, Vox Populi, Pergine Valsugana 2014.


  3. Nursultan Nazarbayev, KAZAKHSTAN 2050, Roma, 2015.




  7. Dughlat Muhammad Haidar, The Tarikh-i Rashidi, A History of the Moghuls of Central Asia; An English, London, 1895, pp. 272-273. Kazakistan İlimler Akademesi, Abdul Vahab Kara, Eski ve Devirlerden günümüze Kazakistan ve Kazaklar, İstanbul 2007 p. 206.

  8. Even the name of Thailand, however, has its own native version, which is Prathet Thai or Muang Thai.

  9. Ermanno Visintainer, Ahmed Yassawi. Sciamano, sufi e letterato kazako, “Vox Populi”, Pergine Valsugana 2010. R.M. Mustafina, Islam i relikty dojslamskikh mirovozzrenčeskikh traditsij u kazakhov, Astana, 2010.

  10. Mircea Eliade, Istoria Credinţelor şi Ideilor Religioase, Bucure şti 2000, p. 478.


  12. Henry Corbin, Storia della Filosofia islamica, Milano, 1991, pp. 167-175.

  13. The Qutadgu-bilig was a work composed for the Qarakhanid dynasty. The book's title is indicative in order to reveal the contents of the book itself. Qutadgu means: "giving happiness", or "worthy of a king, royal".

  14. Bombaci Alessio, La Letteratura turca, Milano, 1969, p. 102.

  15. Mustafa Kalkan, Kırgızlar ve Kazaklar, İstanbul, 2006.


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