Kayı (tribe)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tamga of Kayı, which its ongon represents the bow and arrow according to Mahmud al-Kashgari
Regions with significant populations
Turkey, Turkmenistan[1]
Turkish, Turkmen
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Oghuz Turks

The Kayı or Kayi tribe (Karakhanid: قَيِغْ romanized: qayïγ or qayig; Turkish: Kayı boyu, Turkmen: Gaýy taýpasy) were an Oghuz Turkic people and a sub-branch of the Bozok tribal federation. In his Dīwān Lughāt al-Turk, the 11th century Kara-Khanid scholar Mahmud al-Kashgari cited Kayı as of one of 22 Oghuz tribes, saying that Oghuz were also called Turkomans.[2] The name Kayı means "the one who has might and power by relationship" and the Turkmen proverb says that "people shall be led by Kayı and Bayat tribes" (Turkmen: Il başy - gaýy-baýat).[3]


In his history work Shajara-i Tarākima, the Khan of Khiva and historian, Abu al-Ghazi Bahadur, mentions Kayı among the 24 ancient Turkmen (Oghuz Turkic) tribes, direct descendants of Oghuz Khagan. Oghuz Khagan is a semi-legendary figure thought to be the ancient progenitor of Oghuz Turks. Kayı translates as "strong". In his extensive history work “Jami' al-tawarikh” (Collection of Chronicles), the statesman and historian of the Ilkhanate Rashid-al-Din Hamadani also says that the Kayı tribe comes from the oldest of Oghuz Khan's 24 grandchildren who were the patriarchs of the ancient Oghuz tribes, and the name Kayı means "powerful".

Soviet Sinologist and Turkologist Yury Zuev based on the analysis of tribal names and tamgas from Tang Huiyao, identifies a number of ancient Central Asian Turkic tribes as Oghuz-Turkmen tribes, one of them is the Kay tribe, whom Chinese knew as 奚 (< MC *γiei). After examining Chinese sources & consulting the works of other scholars (Pelliot, Minorsky), Zuev proposes that the Kay had belonged to the proto-Mongolic Xianbei tribal union Yuwen Xiongnu and that Kay had been ethnic and linguistic relatives of the Mongolic-speaking Khitans, prior to being known as an Oghuz-Turkmen tribe by the 9th century.[4] Likewise, Hungarian scholar Gyula Németh (1969) links Kayı(ğ) to the (para-)Mongolic Qay/, whom Tibetans knew as Dad-pyi and Göktürks knew as Tatabï; however, Németh's thesis is rejected by Mehmet Fuat Köprülü among others. Later on, Németh (1991) proposes that Mg. Qay is derived from Tk. root qað- "snowstorm, blizzard"; nevertheless, Golden points out that Qay has several Mongolic etymologies: ɣai "misfortune", χai "interjection of grief", χai "to seek", χai "to hew".[5][6]

Even so, Köprülü rejects scholarly attempts to link the formerly Mongolic Qay/Xi to the Oghuz Turkic tribe Qayı(ğ); he points out that Kashgari's Dīwān Lughāt al-Turk distinguished the Qay tribe from the Qayığ branch/sub-tribe of the Oghuz-Turkmen tribe.[7][8]


Selçukname variant Kayı tamga.

According to Ottoman tradition, Osman I, the founder of Ottoman Empire, was a descendant of the Kayı tribe.[9][10][11][12] This claim has, however, been called into serious question by many modern historians. The only evidence for the Ottomans' Kayı descent came from genealogies written during the fifteenth century, several centuries after the life of Osman. More significantly, the earliest genealogies written by the Ottomans did not include any reference to Kayı descent at all, indicating that it may have been fabricated at a later date.[13]

Coin of 500 old manats (2001) depicting monument to Ertuğrul Ghazi of the Kayi tribe in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The famous Oghuz-Turkic folk narrator, soothsayer and bard Gorkut-ata (Dede Korkut) belonged to the Kayı tribe.[14] In the 10th century, the Central Asian Oghuz Yabgu State was headed by supreme leaders (or Yabghu) who belonged to the Kayi tribe.[15]

According to Soviet archaeologist and ethnographer Sergey Tolstov, part of the Kayi tribe moved in the Middle Ages from Central Asia to modern day Ukraine, they are known in the Old Russian Chronicles as kovuy and kaepichi as one of the tribes that formed the Turkic tribal confederation called the Black Klobuks,[a] who were allies of the Rurik dynasty of the Rus' Khaganate;[17] Golden however considers the Kaepichi to be descendants of the Mongolic or para-Mongolic Qay instead.[18][19]

Legacy of the Kayi tribe[edit]

Soviet and Russian linguist and turkologist A. V. Superanskaya associates the Kayı tribe with the origin of the name of the city of Kyiv;[20] however, Canadian Ukrainian linguist Jaroslav Rudnyckyj connects the name Kyiv to the Proto-Slavic root *kyjь, which should be interpreted as meaning 'stick, pole' as in its modern Ukrainian equivalent Кий; therefore, the toponym should in that case be interpreted as 'palisaded settlement'.[21]

In Anatolia, twenty seven villages bear the name of Kayı.[22]

In Turkmenistan, the Kayı tribe is one of the main divisions of the Gökleň Turkmens living in the Balkan velayat and consists of the following clans: adnakel, ak kel, alatelpek, bagly, barak, burkaz, ganjyk, gapan, garabalkan, garawul, garagol, garagul, garadaşly, garakel, garga, garyşmaz and others. The Kayı are also a subtribe of the Bayat Turkmens of the Lebap velayat.[23]


The name and logo of the İyi Party (İyi means Good in Turkish) of Meral Akşener is inspired by the seal of the Kayı tribe.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ It is unclear whether the Chornyi Klobuki are related to the Karakalpaks of today.[16]


  1. ^ Atanyýazov, Soltansha (1988). Словарь туркменских этнонимов [Dictionary of Turkmen Ethnonyms] (in Russian). ISBN 9785833800140.
  2. ^ Махмуд ал-Кашгари (Mahmud al-Kashgari) (1939). "Диван лугат ат-турк (Dīwān Lughāt al-Turk)" (in Russian). Москва-Ленинград (Moscow-Leningrad): АН СССР (USSR Academy of Sciences). Огуз — одно из тюркских племен (кабиле), они же туркмены...Второй (род) — Кайыг/(Oghuz - one of the Turkic tribes (kabile), they are also Turkmens. Second (clan) - Kayig)
  3. ^ Г.И.Карпов. Племенной и родовой состав туркмен. (G.I.Karpov. Turkmen tribal and clan composition) — Полторацк (Асхабад): Наркомвмутдел Туркменск. С. С. респ., 1925
  4. ^ Ю.Зуев (Yu.Zuyev) (1960). "Тамги лошадей из вассальных княжеств (Horse Tamgas from Vassal Principialities)". Алма-Ата/Alma-Ata: Издательство Академии Наук Казахской ССР (Academny of Science of the Kazakh SSR).
  5. ^ Golden, Peter B. (2006). "Cumanica V: The Basmils and Qipčaqs" in Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi 15: notes 24–25. p. 17 of 13-42
  6. ^ Golden, P.B. (2003) "Cumanica II: The Olberli (Olperli): The Fortunes and Misfortunes of an Inner Asian Nomadic Clan" in Nomads and their neighbours in the Russian Steppe note. 49 p. 17 of 5-29
  7. ^ Köprülü, Mehmet Fuad (2006) Early Mystic in Turkish literature translated by Leiser and Dankoff. 146-147
  8. ^ Maħmūd al-Kašğari. "Dīwān Luğāt al-Turk". (1982) Edited & translated by Robert Dankoff in collaboration with James Kelly. In Sources of Oriental Languages and Literature. Part I. p. 82-84, 101-102; Part II. p. 230
  9. ^ "Some Ottoman genealogies claim, perhaps fancifully, descent from Kayı.", Carter Vaughn Findley, The Turks in World History, pp. 50, 2005, Oxford University Press; Shaw, Stanford Jay. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Cambridge University Press, 1976, p. 306
  10. ^ "Ottoman Empire". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  11. ^ Atalay, Besim (2006). Divanü Lügati't - Türk. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi. ISBN 975-16-0405-2, Cilt I, sayfa 55.
  12. ^ Golden, Peter B. (1992). An Introduction to the History of the Turkic People. Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden. p. 358, 359
  13. ^ Kafadar, Cemal (1995). Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State. p. 122. That they hailed from the Kayı branch of the Oğuz confederacy seems to be a creative "rediscovery" in the genealogical concoction of the fifteenth century. It is missing not only in Ahmedi but also, and more importantly, in the Yahşi Fakih-Aşıkpaşazade narrative, which gives its own version of an elaborate genealogical family tree going back to Noah. If there was a particularly significant claim to Kayı lineage, it is hard to imagine that Yahşi Fakih would not have heard of it.
    • Lowry, Heath (2003). The Nature of the Early Ottoman State. SUNY Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-7914-5636-6. Based on these charters, all of which were drawn up between 1324 and 1360 (almost one hundred fifty years prior to the emergence of the Ottoman dynastic myth identifying them as members of the Kayı branch of the Oguz federation of Turkish tribes), we may posit that...
    • Lindner, Rudi Paul (1983). Nomads and Ottomans in Medieval Anatolia. Indiana University Press. p. 10. ISBN 9780933070127. In fact, no matter how one were to try, the sources simply do not allow the recovery of a family tree linking the antecedents of Osman to the Kayı of the Oğuz tribe.
  14. ^ "АБУ-Л-ГАЗИ->РОДОСЛОВНАЯ ТУРКМЕН->ЧАСТЬ 1". www.vostlit.info. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  15. ^ Росляков (Roslyakov), А. (A.) (1956). "Краткий очерк истории Туркменистана (до присоединения к России)" [A Brief Outline of the History of Turkmenistan (before accession to Russia)] (in Russian). Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: Turkmegosizdat. p. 70.
  16. ^ David Nicolle, Angus McBride (2001), Armies of Medieval Russia, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-85532-848-8
  17. ^ Толстов (Tolstov), Сергей (Sergey) (1947). "Города Гузов (историко-этнографические этюды)" [The Cities of the Ghuz (historical and ethnographic studies)] (in Russian). Moscow: Soviet Ethnography Journal.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Golden, Peter B. (1990). "The peoples of the south Russian steppes". In Sinor, Denis (ed.). The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia. Cambridge University Press. p. 279 of pp. 256–284. quote: "Similarly, the Qāy, or elements of them arrived in the Pontic steppes where the Rus' chronicles attested to their present as Kaepichi, i.e. 'sons of the Qay,' a russified of a tribal or clan name *Qay-oba."
  19. ^ Golden, Peter B. (2006). "Cumanica V: The Basmils and Qipchaqs" in Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi p. 16-17. quote: " The Qay (the Tatabı of the Türk inscriptions) are noted as Xi (奚 Late Middle Chinese xɦjiaj = Ġay/Qay), in Chinese sources, part of the larger Kumoxi grouping stemming from the Xianbei (*Särbi?), a grouping of people that is generally considered to be of 'Proto-Mongolic' or more probably Mongolic and/or 'Para-Mongolic' ethno-linguistic affiliations."
  20. ^ Lezina, I. N. (1994). Slovarʹ-spravochnik ti︠u︡rkskikh-rodoplemennykh nazvaniĭ: I.N. Lezina, A.V. Superanskai︠a︡ (in Kyrgyz). INION RAN. As ethnographers testify, ethnically "pure" peoples do not and cannot exist. On the contrary, new peoples arise from ethnic mixes of two or more peoples, usually assimilating the best features of each. There are many folk legends that the beginning of a nation was laid by two (or several) brothers ... Apparently, something similar lies behind the legend of Kiy, Schek, Horev and Lybed. The tribal name Kyy (Kiy) belonged to the ancient Turkic peoples. It is still present in the names of tribal structures of modern Turkic peoples.
  21. ^ Rudnyc'kyj, Jaroslav Bohdan (1962–1982). An etymological dictionary of the Ukrainian language. 2., rev. ed. Winnipeg: Ukrainian free acad. of sciences, pp. 660–663.
  22. ^ Еремеев (Yeremeyev), Дмитрий (Dmitriy) (1971). "Этногенез турок (Ethnogenesis of the Turks)". Google Books.
  23. ^ Atanyýazov, Soltansha (1988). Словарь туркменских этнонимов [Dictionary of Turkmen Ethnonyms] (in Russian). ISBN 9785833800140.
  24. ^ "The bow and two arrows". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2020-06-07.