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This article is about diaspora of the medieval tribe. For the medieval tribe and modern Mongol descendants, see Khereid.

The Qaraei, Kerey, or Kara Tatar (Qarai, Qaray, Karai,Garai, Gharaei, Ghara Tatar, Qara Tatar, Kazakh: Керей, Tatar: къарай, Hebrew: כרי‎, Chinese: 克烈. Arabic: قارئ‎, Persian: قرایی‎, Persian: قرائی‎, Persian: قرا تاتار‎, Turkish: كرايلر, Turkish: Kara Tatar, Turkish: Küyin Tatar) are an ethnic group who live between the Altay Mountains and the Carpathian Mountains, in Central Asia, the Middle East, Transcaucasia and Eastern Europe. They are the greatest tribe in the Middle Juz of the Kazakh nation.

They are known as Qaraei, Gharaei, Gharaee, Garai in USA, Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, as Qara Tatar in Turkey, Iran and former USSR and also as Garayeli and Garayelu in Iran.



The name of the Qaraei people derives from the Mongolian word Kara, which means black. The term originally was used to refer to the Kara Tatar Black Tatars, various clans and tribes such as Tatars, Keraits, and Tayichiud who resided in Mongolia and Central Asia. They arrived in the Middle East as part of the Mongol Army when their chief Baiju was the Mongol Commander who invaded Transcaucasia, Anatolia and parts of Persia. In Turkey they mixed with the native population of Sivas, Kayseri who were Turkmen, while Timur who had invaded the Ottoman Empire moved some 40,000 of them to (Damghan and Torbat-e Heydarieh in Khorasan and also his capital Samarqand). In Persia they mixed with the native population and thus adopted Persian customs and language. As part of the Ottoman Army under their chiefs Minnet Bey and Minnetoglu Mehmed-beg they settled in (Filibe, Bulgaria) and conquered Bosnia.


Emergence of the Kara Tatar[edit]

Qara Tatar legend trace their ancestry back to Nimrod whom they make into a descendant of Salm son of Fereydun, an idea which may have been introduced through ecclesiastical conversion made among proto-Turkic tribes before Babai the Great and their subsequent adoption of Islam. Today the Qara Tatars and Qaraei, Garai, Gharaei are scattered across the three continents of Asia, Europe and America. They primarily live in Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey, though in the past they lived in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Crimea, Tatarstan and the Balkans.

It is believed that the so-called Qara Tatars (meaning Black Tatars) were descendants of the Toquz Tatar clans (meaning Nine Tatar) who in 740 A.D. united with the Oghuz Turkic tribes and rebelled against their overlords the Gok Turks (meaning Blue Turks) during the reign of the Gok Turk Khaghan, Kul Tegin, whose military commander Mojilian Shad (later known as Bilge Khan was the one who crushed the rebels at the Battle of Aghu. As a result of this defeat, the Oghuz and Toquz Tatars moved to the eastern lands. They settled along the lower end of the Kerulen river and west of Lake Buir, close to the Mongolian-Chinese border. Red (Kyzyl, i.e. Southern) and also white (Xwar i.e. Western) hordes were known among the proto-Turkic tribes which included the Blue (Gok, i.e. Eastern) and Black (Kara i.e. Northern) hordes.

Their name Qara Tatar (Black Tatar) was first given to them by the Chinese, which was Heitata, due to their dark features and black hair color. This name was used to distinguish them from the other Tatars who had fair skin and red hair color. YAP signature Haplogroups found among men in their populations indicate an Arabian origin.

The Qara Tatars were not a major power in Central Asia and the Mongolian steppes until the 12th century. From the time of their settlement in Mongolia, they were ruled by the Uighurs, Kirghiz, Kara Khitans and the Chinese. However, in the 12th century they became a powerful tribal group who posed a threat to the Jurchen's Jin Empire, and other Mongol clans such as the Keraits, Naimans and Kara-Khitans.

Their most famous leader was Temujin Uge who in the autumn of 1167 was captured by Genghis Khan’s father Yesükhei. Thus Yesükhei named his newborn son (i.e. Genghis Khan) Temujin after the name of the captive chieftain. In 1196 Genghis Khan, together with his ally Wang Khan, the chieftain of the Kerait, began to launch attacks on the Tatar clans of the Lake Buir and Kerulen River and the Abakan Tatars. Megujin Se Ulte, who was the Khagan of the Qara Tatars and son of Temujin Uge, was defeated and killed at the Battle of the river Ulja. The Mongols massacred every teenage and adult male Tatar, keeping only women and children alive.

However, Genghis Khan adopted a four-year-old Tatar prince who had golden ear rings. The boy, Shiqi Khutuqu, became a fearless commander in Genghis Khan’s army and played a major role in the wars against the Khwarezmian Empire of Persia and the Chinese Jin Empire. By 1202 all the Tatar tribes had come under the Mongol realm.

13th to 15th century[edit]

In the years between 1230 and 1243, Qara Tatars as members of the Mongol army swept through Afghanistan and Persia, and after the defeat of the Seljuqs of Rum at the Battle of Kosedag in 1243, settled in Anatolia to supervise the Seljuqs who were now Mongol vessals. Their most famous leaders were Baiju Noyan, chief commander of Mongol army in Persia and Anatolia (1241–1246), and his son Samagar Noyan, who was the Governor-general of Anatolia (c.1265–1274, 1277–1284) for the Ilkhan Mongol ruler of Persia, Abaqa. Arab Noyan Samaghar's son was the first Muslim Qara Tatar; he was Governor of Sivas (c.1284–1300s) for the Ilkhanid ruler Sultan Mahmud Ghazan.

After the Ilkhanid period, the Qara Tatars in Anatolia came under the Eretna Emirate in Kayseri and subsequently under Kadi Burhan al-Din state in Sivas. Muruvvet Bey (c.1370s-1398), chieftain of the Qara Tatars in Sivas, was a close friend of Kadi Burhan al-Din and fought against his own son-in-law Qara Osman of the Ak Koyunlu Horde who had their capital in Diyarbakir.

In 1394, Qara Tatar territories came under Ottoman rule. However, Sultan Bayezid I could not hold these territories long as a new threat came from the east. In the year 1402, when Tamerlane defeated the Ottoman army at the Battle of Ankara and captured the Ottoman Sultan Yildirim Bayezid I, the Qara Tatars who were in the service of the Ottomans and had played a major role in Tamerlane’s victory by siding with him, were now rewarded as some of them remained in Anatolia as powerful tribes while others were moved to Khorasan in today’s Iran and Samarqand, Tamerlane’s capital in modern Uzbekistan, and given territories to live in.

16th to 20th century[edit]

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Qara Tatars started to call themselves Qaraei and served in the Safavid Persian Army. Throughout this period they were scattered across Iran and Afghanistan by the Safavid Shahs who feared their power.

However, when Nader Shah became the Emperor of Persia in 1735, he gathered some of the Qara Tatars from across Persia, approximately 4,000 families and settled them in Khorasan in Torbat-e Heydarieh and Khaf townships and made Najafaliqoli Khan Qara Tatar as their chief. From this time their power grew which then from (1802–1816) under Sardar Eshaq Khan Qaraei-Torbati and subsequently under his son Sardar Mohammad Khan Qaraei-Torbati (1823–1829) had formed an independent Khanate in Khorasan who posed a threat to the ruling Qajar Dynasty of Persia.

By 1925 when Reza Shah Pahlavi came to power, the tribal lifestyle of the Qaraei changed. The Qaraei were no longer a tribal people and had become city dwellers.

List of rulers[edit]


Kara Tatar Noyans and Beys[edit]

Turkish: Samagar : İsim olarak da kullanılır. Küyin (Kara) Tatar boyundan Samagar Noyan’ın adıdır. (A. Erol),[1] see also: Franco-Mongol alliance

  • Qutu Noyan, c.1277, grandson of Baiju.
  • Arap Noyan, Governor of Konya, Kayseri (c.1295), son of Samagar Noyan.
  • Ishbugha Noyan, Governor of Amasya
  • Teberruk Bey
  • Mulay Noyan, Governor of Diyarbakir (d.1312)

Ottoman Military Chiefs and Sancaks[edit]

  • Muruvvet Bey(d.1398?), Governor of Kirsehir (c.1398)

Turkish: Anadolu'da Kara Tatar denilen Mogollarin reisi Mürüvvet Bey de Kirsehir'i zapt edip Sivas emiri Kadi Burhaneddin'e teslim etti. [2]


Ilkhans of Qara Tatar & Qaraei Tribe[edit]

Name Image Title Start term End term Seat Note
Kazem Beg Qara Tatar
(Persian: کاظم بیک قراتاتار‎)
ilkhan of Qara Tatar tribe 1728 Merv He was murdered in battle against Nadir Shah in 1728.[3]
Sarukhan Qara Tatar
(Persian: ساروخان قراتاتار‎)
ilkhan of Qara Tatar tribe 1728 Merv Appointed by Nadir Shah as Chieftain of the tribe after death of Kazem Beg.
Name Image Title Start term End term Seat Note
Ali Qoli Khan Qaraei
(Persian: علی قلی خان قرایی‎)
ilkhan of Qaraei tribe Zaveh Chieftain of the tribe, he was succeeded as ilkhan by his son Mozaffar Khan.
Mozaffar Khan Qaraei
(Persian: مظفر خان قرایی‎)
ilkhan of Qaraei tribe Zaveh Chieftain of the tribe during reign of Nader Shah Afshar.
Haji Mohammad Beg Qaraei
(Persian: حاجی محمد بیک قرایی‎)
ilkhan of Qaraei tribe Zaveh a Qaraei Chieftain in Afsharid dynasty army (d.1745). He was set up by Nader Shah Afshar, sent to a battle where he would eventually die.
Najaf Qoli Khan Qara Tatar
(Persian: نجفقلی خان قراتاتار‎)
ilkhan of Qaraei tribe Zaveh He was murdered by his own kinsmen.
Eshaq Khan Qaraei-Torbati
(Persian: اسحاق خان قرایی‎)
ilkhan of Qaraei tribe 1816 Zaveh son-in-law of Najaf Qoli Khan. Governor Torbat-e Heydarieh (c.?-1816); Mashhad (c.1813). Commander-in-Chief of Khurasan, Vizier of Khurasan, father-in-law of Khurasan governor Mohammad Vali Mirza Qajar. He was executed by the order of Fath Ali Shah.[4]
Mohammad Khan Qaraei-Torbati
(Persian: محمد خان قرایی‎)
ilkhan of Qaraei tribe 1816 1833 Dowlatabad, Khorasan son of Eshaq Khan, He was also Governor of Ghurian (1813–1816);Mashhad(1829). Imprisoned in Tabriz.
  • Minor Khans
Name Image Title Start term End term Seat Note
Mohammad Ali Khan Qaraei
(Persian: محمد علی خان قرایی‎)
Zaveh a Qaraei Chieftain in Safavid dynasty army, c.1729
Baqer Khan Qaraei
(Persian: باقر خان قرایی‎)
Zaveh a Qaraei Chieftain in Safavid dynasty army, c.1729
Amir Khan Qaraei
(Persian: امیر خان قرایی‎)
Dowlatabad, Khorasan also appointed Governor of Mashhad (c.1749) by Noor Mohammad Afghan on behalf Ahmad Shah Durrani.
Hassan Khan Qaraei 1775 Dowlatabad, Khorasan brother of Amir Khan. He was murdered by a Prince Nasrollah Afshar, great-grandson of Nader Shah Afshar.
Hassan Ali Khan Qaraei-Torbati 1815 1816 Torshiz eldest son and heir to Eshaq Khan Qaraei-Torbati, also Governor of Soltanabad, Khorasan(1816). He was executed by the order of Fath Ali Shah.
Yousef Ali Beg Qaraei-Torbati 1803 1813 Ghurian nephew of Eshaq Khan.
Hossein Ali Khan Qaraei-Torbati 1816 1818 Zaveh fourth son of Eshaq Khan Qaraei-Torbati.
Lutf Ali Beg Qaraei-Torbati 1818 1821 Mahmoudabad, Khorasan eldest son Hasan Ali Khan.
Navab Khanoom Qara Tatar Jafarabad, Khorasan daughter of Najaf Qoli Khan and wife of Eshaq Khan.
Amin Khan Beg Qara Tatar Roshtkhar son of Najaf Qoli Khan.
Yaqoub Khan Qaraei-Torbati Abdullahabad, Khorasan son of Mohammad Khan.
Hossein Ali Khan Qaraei-Torbati Abdullahabad, Khorasan son of Yaqoub Khan. Governor of Abdullahabad (c.1874)
Allah Qoli Khan Qaraei-Torbati Tun a son of Mohammad Khan's Arab wife
Soltan Ali Khan Qaraei aka Haji Khan Yavar Roshtkhar a major in Persian Army.
Zolfaqar Khan Qaraei Roshtkhar a descendant of Eshaq Khan's son Ahmad Khan. He was one of the Khans in Roshtkhar region from the early 1900s til the 1930s. He was known as Emad-ul-Mamalik.
Abolfazl Khan Qaraei Roshtkhar a descendant of Eshaq Khan's son Ahmad Khan. He was one of the Khans in Roshtkhar region from circa early 1900s. He was a cousin of Zolfaqar Khan.
  • Princely Families
Name Image Father Mother Note
Jafar Qoli Mirza Qajar
(Persian: جعفر قلی میرزا قاجار‎)
Mohammad Vali Mirza Qajar daughter of Eshaq Khan Qaraei-Torbati a commander in Persian Army during the war with the Turkmens. Battle of Merv 1860. Governor of the tribes of Baharlu, Nafar and Inalu 1859.
Mohammad Hasan Mirza Qajar
(Persian: محمد حسن میرزا منتصرالملک‎)
Jafar Qoli Mirza Qajar Commander of Persian Cossacks and Police at Mashhad 1894–1895, Governor of Turbat-i-Haidari 1895 and 1902–1908, President Mashhad Municipality 1908.
Qahreman Mirza Qajar
(Persian: قهرمان میرزا قاجار‎)
Hasan Ali Mirza Qajar daughter of Eshaq Khan Qaraei-Torbati his father was Shoja os Saltaneh. He is ancestor of Qahreman, Qahremani and Shojania families of Khorasan. He was Governor of Sabzevar.

Geographic distribution[edit]

Original homeland[edit]

Towns and cities of their habitat is unknown, roughly along the lower Kerulen river along the Mongolian-Chinese border. Also see Kereit.

Former Persia[edit]


The Qaraei in Iran are scattered. They live in the provinces of Khorasan, Yazd, Kerman, Fars and West Azerbaijan.

According to a recent census, current nomadic tribal Qaraei population in Iran is 1,740 household or a total of 7,780 people, mostly reside in Kerman province and Hormozgan province.[5]

In Khorasan province, they lived as tribal people in Torbat-e Heydarieh and its districts (Dowlatabad; Roshtkhar; Rabat Baba Qodrat), Khaf, Kashmar, Mahmudabad (Khorasan) in Torbat-e-Jam, Soltanabad (Khorasan) in Torshiz. They had their own Qaraei Khanate with each district or town ruled by a khan while the main khan resided in Torbat-e Heydarieh.

In Yazd province, they lived as tribal people in Tabas, Tun and Taft. They had their own Qaraei Khanate ruled by two khans, one in Tabas and the other in Tun. They are descendants of Allah Qoli Khan, son of Mohammad Khan. His mother was the daughter of Amir Hasan Khan Zangooyi-Sheybani-Tabasi, the powerful chieftain of the Zangooyi clan of the Arab Sheybani tribe of Tabas. The Qavami are one of the Qaraei clans of Tun.

In Kerman province, they lived as nomadic tribal people who switched their place of living accordingly to Summer or winter seasons. Their summer quarter stretched from the Kana Sorkhòi mountain pass, on the Kerman-Saidabad (Sirjan) road, down to the neighborhood of Balvard. Their winter quarters were in the Ayn-al-Bagal region, across the salt lake from Saidabad. According to Encyclopædia Iranica, in 1957 they comprised some 420 households and their tiras (clans) were: Tela Begi, Kurki, Abbasi, Beglari, Haydari and Yar-Ahámadi. The village of Tangu was their headquarters.

In Fars province, the Qaraei lived as clans within the nomadic Qashqai tribal confederation that comprised Turkic, Arab and Tajik clans. There are clans by the name Qaraei in the Amala tribe, Eynalli (Inanlu) and Arab Jabbara tribes of the Khamseh tribal confederacy, and in the Bakesh tribe of the Mamasani tribal confederacy. Some Qaraei lived in the dehestan of Sar Ahan, near Bavanat, and in the dehestan of Abada Tashk, near Neyriz. It is believed that the Qaraei of Kerman and Fars were moved there from Khorasan during the Safavid period.

In West Azerbaijan province, the Qaraei lived as clans within the Shahsevan tribal confederations, near modern Urmia.



Some Qaraei tribes lived as clans within the Shahsevan tribal confederation in Mughan throughout the 17th century. When Nader Shah in 1740s recovered the lost Persian territories of the Caucasus, after he signed the treaty of Gyandzha with the Russians, two Qaraei Khans with the names of Islam Khan and Fath Khan who were commanders in the Persian army took governorship of Ganca.[6] They might have been Khorasani Qaraeis. Today there is nothing known about the Qaraei in Azerbaijan.


Under Eshaq Khan, the chief of the Qaraei tribe in Khorasan, the city of Ghurian came under Qaraei Khanate territory. Eshaq Khan made his nephew Yusef Ali Khan the chief in Ghurian.


Some Qara Tatars in 1402 were moved to Samarqand by Timur.

Former Ottoman Empire[edit]


In Turkey they are known as Kara Tatar, Küyin Tatar and Samagar Tatar. They are believed to be the descendants of Samagar Noyan, a Mongol commander under Abaqa Ilkhan who held the position of Governor-general of Anatolia from 1271–1276. They lived in cities and townships of Sivas(Sebastea), Kayseri (Caesarea), Iskillip, Kirsehir, Tokat and Amasya. After the collapse of the Ilkhanid Sultanate in 1337, the Kara Tatars lived as tribes under a chief with a title of bey. Their beys were vassals of Eretnids, Kadi Burhan al-Din Ahmed State, Ak Koyunlu Horde and Ottoman Sultans.


The Kara Tatars of Bulgaria were a result of force settlements by the Ottoman sultans. The first of these was the forced population settlement of the Crimean Tatars under their chief Aktav in 1393. The second was the forced population settlement of Tatars from Saruhan under their chief Pasayigitbey (Pasha Yegit Bey) in 1400, in Filibe (modern Plovdiv), both during the reign of Bayezid I (1380–1402). The third was the forced population settlement of Kara Tatars from Iskilip under their chief Minnet Bey to Konit Hisari (near Filibe) in 1418 during the reign of Mehmet I (1413–1421).


Minnetoglu Mehmed-beg bs:Minnetoglu Mehmed-beg was the Sancakbey of Bosnia.


  • The Kara Tatars ruled as a dynasty in Crimea and Kazan under the name of Giray Dynasty. The dynasty ruled in Crimea from their capital Baghchisaray from the 1440s until June 1792, when they were conquered by the Russians and also ruled in Kazan (Tatarstan) roughly between 1524 to 1551.

Former USSR[edit]

Kara Tatar are listed as an ethnic group of USSR. "The Kara Tatar call themselves the Qara Tatar and have also been known as the Nukrat Tatar. They are a small group of Volga Tatars who dwell on the Cheptsa River" [7]



Qaraei is one of the music sub-style(gusheh) of Afshari(dastgah) of Iranian traditional music.[8]

Carpet weaving[edit]

Qaraei are well known for their carpet weaving, specially Qaraei of Khorasan.


The Qaraei have adopted the language of the country they settled in. Thus they speak Persian and Azerbaijani in Iran, Dari in Afghanistan, Azerbaijani in Azerbaijan, Turkish and Turkmen in Turkey, Tajik and Uzbek in Uzbekistan, Russian in Russia, Ukrainian in Ukraine and Bulgarian in Bulgaria.


  1. ^ S-Ş
  2. ^ Yildirim Bayezid Dönemi
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ [2][dead link]
  5. ^ [3][dead link]
  6. ^ a b - KARAÚ÷I
  7. ^ REFERENCE: Ronald Wixman, The People of the USSR: An Ethnographic Handbook, 1984.
  8. ^ radif - dastgah - gusheh - magham

Further references[edit]