The Argyn (Kazakh: Арғын) clan is a constituent of the Kazakh ethnicity. The present-day Argyns of Kazakhstan are generally regarded as descended from a nomadic people known as the Basmals and both names are said to mean "mixed tribe". The Argyn are a component, of the Orta jüz (Орта жүз; "Middle Horde" or " Middle Hundred"). Kazakhs historically consisted of three tribal federations: the Great jüz (or Senior jüz), Middle jüz, and Little jüz (or Junior jüz).
There is evidence for the Argyns' mixed origins in three facts. Firstly, while modern Argyns speak Kazakh, the Basmals were reported to have their own language. Secondly, the Argyns appear to be genetically linked to peoples of the Caucasus and dissimilar to most Kazakhs. Thirdly, the Basmals were first recorded in an area that is now in western China, and still home to a Kazakh minority.
Recent genetic research has suggested that the Argyns have prehistoric links to the neighbouring Madjar minority, peoples of the Caucasus and modern Iranians. Five individuals out of a sample of six Argyn males were found to belong to Haplogroup G1.
The Basmals were part of the First Turkic Khaganate during the 6th century. In the year 720 CE they were reported to be concentrated at Beitin (probably Bei Tun), near Gucheng (Qitai), in the Bogda Shan range.
In the 11th century, Mahmut Kashgari listed the Basmyls as one of three bilingual cultures affiliated to Turkic polities. Kashgari listed the location of Turkic peoples from the borders of Greece to the borders of China in the following sequence: Bechen (Pechenegs), Kyfchak (Kipchak), Oguz, Yemek (Kimek), Bashgyrt (Bashkirs), Basmyl, Kai, Yabaku, Tatars, and Kyrgyz. He noted that the Kai, Yabaku, Tatar, and Basmyl were bilingual, speaking both Turkic and their own languages, whereas the Kyrgyzes, Kypchaks and Oguzes had their own Turkic languages, and the languages of the Yemeks and Bashkirs are close to them.
The Argyns are probably the "Argons" mentioned by Marco Polo in a country called "Tenduc" (probably Tangut) during the 13th century. Polo reported that this clan who had "sprung from two different races: to wit, of the race of the Idolaters of Tenduc and ... the worshippers of Mahommet. They are handsomer men than the other natives of the country, and having more ability, they come to have authority; and they are also capital merchants."
- Gumilev L.N., "Ancient Türks", (Russian):Древние тюрки
- 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)
- M. Zakiev, Origin of Türks and Tatars, pp. 69, 192, Moscow, Insan, 2002, ISBN 5-85840-317-4 (Russian)
- Biro, A. Zalan, A., et al., (2009). "A Y-Chromosomal Comparison of the Madjars (Kazakhstan) and the Magyars (Hungary)". Amer. J. of Physical Anthr. 139 (3): 305–10. doi:10.1002/ajpa.20984. PMID 19170200.
- S. Kudayberdy-Uly, "Family tree of Türks, Kirgizes, Kazakhs and their Khan dynasties", Alma-Ata, Dastan, 1990.
- Tszychji tuntszyan; cited by Zuev Yu.A., Horse Tamgas from Vassal Princedoms (translation of 8-10th century Chinese Tanghuyao), Kazakh SSR Academy of Sciences, Alma-Ata, 1960, p. 104, 132 (Russian)
- Marco Polo, 1920, (transl. Henry Yule; ed. by Henri Cordier The Travels of Marco Polo, Book 1, Chapter 59 (1920)), London, John Murray.