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Turkestan, also spelt as Turkistan, literally means "Land of the Turks".
The term Turkestan is of Persian (ترکستان) origin and was believed to have never been in use to denote a single nation although it was at one time ruled by an Emperor. It was first used by Persian geographers to describe the place of Turkish peoples. After Persia had been considerably weakened by its defeat in 1857, Imperial Russia stepped up its campaign to wrest full control over the Central Asian region from Persian dominance and on their way southward, the Russians took the city of Turkestan (in present day Kazakhstan) in 1864. Mistaking its name for that of the entire region, they adopted the appellation of "Turkestan" for their new territory. Today the term is used to describe a region which is inhabited mainly by Turkic peoples in Central Asia. It includes present-day Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang. Many would also include Turkic regions of Russia (Tatarstan & parts of Siberia) as well.
Turkestan was at one time ruled by Emperor Gustasp (believed to be either Hystaspes (father of Darius I) or Darius I). Additional documents indicate that Turkestan's history dates back to at least the third millennium BC. Many artifacts were produced in that period, and much trade was conducted. The region was a focal point for cultural diffusion, as the Silk Road traversed it. Turkestan covers the area of Central Asia and acquired its "Turkic" character from the 4th to 6th centuries AD with the incipient Turkic expansion.
Turkic sagas, such as the Ergenekon legend, and written sources such as the Orkhon Inscriptions state that Turkic peoples originated in the nearby Altay Mountains, and, through nomadic settlement, started their long journey westwards. Huns conquered the area after they conquered Kashgaria in the early 2nd century BC. With the dissolution of the Huns' empire, Chinese rulers took over Eastern Turkestan. Arab forces captured it in the 8th century. The Persian Samanid dynasty subsequently conquered it and the area experienced economic success. The entire territory was held at various times by Turkic forces, such as the Göktürks until the conquest by Genghis Khan and the Mongols in 1220. Genghis Khan gave the territory to his son, Chagatai and the area became the Chagatai Khanate. Timur took over the area in 1369 and the area became the Timurid Empire.
Known as Turan to the Persians, western Turkestan has also been known historically as Sogdiana, Ma wara'u'n-nahr (by its Arab conquerors), and Transoxiana by Western travellers. The latter two names refer to its position beyond the River Oxus when approached from the south, emphasizing Turkestan's long-standing relationship with Iran, the Persian Empires and the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates.
The regions of Central Asia lying between Siberia on the north; Tibet, British India (now Pakistan), Afghanistan, and Iran on the south; the Gobi Desert on the east; and the Caspian Sea on the west. Oghuz Turks (also known as Turkmens), Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Khazars, Kyrgyz, Hazara and Uyghurs are some of the Turkic inhabitants of the region who, as history progressed, have spread further into Eurasia forming such Turkic nations as Turkey and Azerbaijan, and subnational regions like Tatarstan in Russia and Crimea in Ukraine. Tajiks and Russians form sizable non-Turkic minorities.
Russian and Chinese influence
The region of the Seres is a vast and populous country, touching on the east the Ocean and the limits of the habitable world, and extending west nearly to Imaus and the confines of Bactria. The people are civilised men, of mild, just, and frugal temper, eschewing collisions with their neighbours, and even shy of close intercourse, but not averse to dispose of their own products, of which raw silk is the staple, but which include also silk stuffs, furs, and iron of remarkable quality.
— Henry Yule, Cathay and the Way Thither
- Gladys D. Clewell, Holland Thompson, Lands and peoples: the world in color: Volume 3, page 163. Excerpt: Never a single nation, the name Turkestan means simply the place of Turkish peoples.
- Central Asian review by Central Asian Research Centre (London, England), St. Antony's College (University of Oxford). Soviet Affairs Study Group, Volume 16, page 3. Excerpt: The name Turkestan is of Persian origin and was apparently first used by Persian geographers to describe "the country of the Turks". It was revived by the Russians as a convenient name for the governorate-general created in 1867 and the terms Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, etc. were not used until after 1924.
- Annette M. B. Meakin, In Russian Turkestan: a garden of Asia and its people, page 44. Excerpt: On their way southward from Siberia in 1864, the Russians took it, and many writers affirm that, mistaking its name for that of the entire region, they adopted the appellation of "Turkestan" for their new territory. Up to that time, they assure us Khanates of Bokhara, Khiva and Kokand were known by these names alone.
- Encyclopadea Britannica. Turkistan. Retrieved: 24 August 2009.
- Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press Retrieved: 26 May 2012.
- "Turkistan", Encyclopædia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite.
- Encyclopadea Britannica. Turkistan retrieved-18 march,2010
- V.V. Barthold "Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion" (London) 1968 (3rd Edition)
- René Grousset "L'empire des steppes" (Paris) 1965
- David Christian "A History Of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia" (Oxford) 1998 Vol.I
- Svat Soucek "A History of Inner Asia" (Cambridge) 2000
- Vasily Bartold "Работы по Исторической Географии" (Moscow) 2002
- English translation: V.V. Barthold "Work on Historical Geography" (Moscow) 2002
- Baymirza Hayit. “Sowjetrußische Orientpolitik am Beispiel Turkestan.“ Köln-Berlin: Kiepenhauer & Witsch, 1956
- Hasan Bülent Paksoy Basmachi: Turkestan National Liberation Movement
- The Arts and Crafts of Turkestan (Arts & Crafts) by Johannes Kalter.
- The Desert Road to Turkestan (Kodansha Globe) by Owen Lattimore.
- Turkestan down to the Mongol Invasion. by W. BARTHOLD.
- Turkestan and the Fate of the Russian Empire by Daniel Brower.
- Tiger of Turkestan by Nonny Hogrogian.
- Turkestan Reunion (Kodansha Globe) by Eleanor Lattimore.
- Turkestan Solo: A Journey Through Central Asia, by Ella Maillart.
- Baymirza Hayit. “Documents: Soviet Russia's Anti-Islam-Policy in Turkestan.“ Düsseldorf: Gerhard von Mende, 2 vols, 1958.
- Baymirza Hayit. “Turkestan im XX Jahrhundert.“ Darmstadt: Leske, 1956
- Baymirza Hayit. “Turkestan Zwischen Russland Und China.“ Amsterdam: Philo Press, 1971
- Baymirza Hayit. “Some thoughts on the problem of Turkestan” Institute of Turkestan Research, 1984
- Baymirza Hayit. “Islam and Turkestan Under Russian Rule.” Istanbul:Can Matbaa, 1987.
- Baymirza Hayit. “Basmatschi: Nationaler Kampf Turkestans in den Jahren 1917 bis 1934.” Köln: Dreisam-Verlag, 1993.
- Mission to Turkestan: Being the memoirs of Count K.K. Pahlen, 1908-1909 by Konstantin Konstanovich Pahlen.
- Turkestan: The Heart of Asia by Curtis.
- Tribal Rugs from Afghanistan and Turkestan by Jack Frances.
- The Heart of Asia: A History of Russian Turkestan and the Central Asian Khanates from the Earliest Times by Edward Den Ross.