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Regions with significant populations
 Russia 2,892[1]
Related ethnic groups

The Kumandins (also Kumandy, Kumanda, Qumandy, Qumanda) are an indigenous people of southern Siberia. They reside mainly in the Altai Republic.

According to the 1926 census, in the territory of Russia lived 6,335 Kumandins. In the 2010 census, the number was only 2,892, but possibly the 1926 census included some related peoples. A part of Kumandy living on the banks of river Biya from river Kuu (Swan, Russ. "Lebed") downstream, almost to the city of Biysk, and also along the lower course of the river Katun by the present time (1969) conflated with the local Russian population.[2]

Ethnic background[edit]

In the 17th century, before migrating to Altai, Kumandy lived along the river Charysh, near its confluence with the river Ob. Their relocation was driven by their unwillingness to pay yasak tribute to the Russian sovereign.[3] N. Aristov linked Kumandy and their clan Chelkandy with the descendants of the ancient Turks, "who in the 6th-8th cc. CE created in the Central Asia a powerful nomadic state, which received in history a name Turkic Kaganate".[4][5]

The ancient Turkic legend recorded in the Chinese Zhoushu annals (周書, 636 CE) tells of the origin of the ancestors of the ancient Türks from a state or possession named So, located north of the Huns.[6][7] N. Aristov asserted: "The tribal possession So, lying to the north of the Hun country, i.e. from the present Mongolia, should be on the northern side of Altai mountains, for its southern slopes were part of the Hun lands... From that, with sufficient reliability can be concluded that the legendary forefather of the Turks descended from the tribe So that lived in the northern Altai, and that the clan So is a small remainder of that, probably not such a small tribe during prehistoric times".[8][9] The people of the seok Soky that amalgamated with Kumandy and Kachins (Качинцы) had common ancestors called Kumans; O. Pritsak stipulated that the term "Kuman" in the Kumandy name is identical to the (Russian) name Polovets and Kypchak [10][11] O.Pritsak also identified the Soo with the Sakha, a self-name of Yakuts, and with the ethnonym Sagai, Sakai [12]

The "Kumans belonged to the Kuman-Kipchak confederation (Polevetses of the Rus annals, Comans of Byzantine sources, Folban of German annals) during the period from the end of the 800s to 1230s CE spread their political influence in the broad steppes from Altai to Crimea and Danube. Irtysh with its adjoining steppes (at least below the lake Zaisan) was in the sphere of that confederation. Members of the confederation undoubtedly also were the ancestors of the present Kumandy and Teleuts, which is evidenced by their language that like the language of the Tobol-Irtysh and Baraba Tatars belongs to the Kypchak group." [13]

The name of the seok Ton is explained as an ethnonym that reflects their economic specialization, as a word meaning "deer" and "reindeer breeder". The remote ancestors of this Kumandy seok Ton were reindeer breeders, reflected in Kumandy hunting legends and fairy tales, for example about milking deer (which is attributed to the Kumandy's mountain spirits). The memory about breeding and milking reindeer belongs to some remote historical ancestors of a part of Kumandy; they can be explained by participation in the Kumandy ethnogenesis of the southern Nenets tribes, who cultivated riding deer, typically used not only for transport but also for food and dress.[14]

The Mongoloid admixture in their Caucasoid phenotype is much less pronounced than in the Southern Altaians. The Northern Altaians anthropologically belong to the Uralic type.[15] Ethnologically, the Kumandy seoks have their own origination myths, from which L. Potapov concluded that they are an amalgamation of people with different backgrounds: pastoral steppe nomads (Kumans), taiga foor hunters (Chabash/Chabat), deer pastoralists (Nenetses), and a fishing tribe (Tastars).[16]

Kumandy consisted of six seoks,[17] which L.Potapov identified ethnically:

No Kumandy Seok Name Annalistic Name Ethnic and linguistic affiliation Period Note
1 So So/Se/Sek/Saka Parental tribe of the Ancient Türks before 4th century [18]
2 Kubandy Kuman/Cuman/Kuban/Kun (Hung.) Appear after disintegration of the Kangar state 7th century [19]
3 Tastar Kuman/Cuman/Kuban/Kun (Hung.); Ases Appear after disintegration of Kangar state 7th century [20]
4 Diuty (Chooty) Tele/Teleuts Tele/Teleuts were members of the Türkic Kaganate 6th to 8th centuries [21]
5 Chabash (Chabat) Unknown Unknown Unknown [22]
6 Ton (Ton-Kubandy) Nenets tribe Altai-kiji seok Tongjoan, Tuvinian group Tongak of unknown extraction 12th century in "Secret history of Mongols" [23]

See also[edit]

  • Cuman people – Kumandins were originally Cumans who did not participate in the migrations to the west; they remained and mixed with other ethnic groups


  • Genetic study on the Kumandins [1]


  1. ^ Russian Census 2010: Population by ethnicity (Russian)
  2. ^ Potapov L.P., "Ethnic composition and origin of Altaians. Historical ethnographical essay", p. 21
  3. ^ Potapov, L. P., Ibid, pp. 56–59
  4. ^ Aristov N. A., Notes on ethnic composition of Türkic tribes and nations//Olden Times Alive, 1896, v. 3–4, p. 341
  5. ^ Potapov, L. P., Ibid, pp. 14, 53
  6. ^ Liu Mau-tsai, "Die chinesischen Nachrichten zur Geschichte der Ost-Türken", vol. 1, pp. 5–6, vol. 2, pp. 489–490, Wiesbaden, 1958
  7. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, p. 53
  8. ^ Aristov N.A., Ibid, Vol. 3-4, p. 279
  9. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, p. 54
  10. ^ Potapov L. P., Ibid, p. 58
  11. ^ Pritsak O., "Stammesnamen und Titulaturen der altaischen Volker. Ural-Altaische JahrMcher", Bd. 24, 1952, Sect. 1–2, pp. 49–104
  12. ^ Pritsak О. "Das Abakan- und Čulymtürkische und das Schorische"//Jean Deny et al. (Hrsg.): Philologiae Turcicae Fundamenta, Wiesbaden, 1959, p. 600
  13. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, p. 59
  14. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, p. 60, 61
  15. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, p. 19
  16. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, pp. 47, 62, 54, 60 respectively
  17. ^ W.Radloff "Aus Sibirien", Bd. 1, p. 212
  18. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, p. 58
  19. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, p. 54
  20. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, p. 60
  21. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, p. 14, 59
  22. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, p. 62
  23. ^ Potapov L.P., Ibid, p. 60