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Crimean Tatars and Noghais in Turkey

Henryk Jankowski*

The present paper is a short report of the fieldwork done between August 31 and September 30, 1997, as well as June 13 and July 7, 1998, in Turkey in the regions inhabited by the Crimean Tatars and Noghais. [1] The main goal of the fieldwork was to collect language material for a Tatar- English dictionary which was planned to be compiled in the future. The paper includes notes on the Tatar [2] and Noghai populations, figures, distribution, language varieties and a few further aspects of ethnicity and culture.

1. Historical background

As is known, the links between the Crimea, the adjacent hordes and Turkey, from which they were more or less dependent, were close through the centuries. Turks immigrated to the Crimea, where they settled on the southern coast of the peninsula, and many Tatars went to Turkey, either for education or to seek refuge. A mass emigration started after the Russian annexation of the Crimea in 1783. As Fisher (1978: 78) estimated, in the years 1783-1784 about 8, 000, and in 1785-1788 about 100,000 Crimean Tatars left their homeland. The next large emigration wave succeeded in the 1860s, when 181,177 individuals emigrated (Sekerinskij 1988: 91). The exodus continued until the revolution and the proclamation of the Soviet Union. Under the communist regime, in 1918-1941, only a small number of Tatar landowners were allowed to leave the country as unwanted, but it is unknown how many people fled the Crimea illegally. On the basis of various accounts, Sel (1996: 12) estimates the number of refugees in 1785 – 1800 to be approximately 500,000. He says that in 1815, 1818 and 1829 an additional 200,000, and then in the 1860s 227,627 individuals abandoned the Crimea. His figures outnumber those provided by Sekerinskij.

Tatars went to Turkey either directly by sea or across Dobrudja, the present day Romania and Bulgaria. Not all the refugees settled in Turkey. Some remained in Dobrudja. Nowadays about 45,000 Tatars, in addition to as many Turks, live in Romania (Jankowski 1991: 81). Ülküsal (1987: 25) provides a number of 150,000 Turks and Tatars, but he does not specify the period and also includes the current Bulgarian Dobrudja from which no reliable figures are available [3].

Earlier studies provided either estimates or made use of Russian documents, so their findings must have been inexact. More recently historians started work on Ottoman documents; e.g. Saydam (1997) examined the period 1858 – 1876 after the Russian-Turkish war, and Erkan (1996) studied the subsequent 1878 – 1908 years.

Tatars and Noghais share many traits and it is impossible to make a clear distinction between these groups. Very instructive is their own, quite popular view that Noghais form a specific ethnic group within Tatars, as it is the case in the Crimea and Dobrudja. Naturally there are also different feelings. On the one hand, some Tatars, mainly those who perceive themselves more as Turks than as Tatars, deny links with Noghais and their language, insisting that the latter are distinct and their language is unintelligible. On the other hand, some Noghais, although being aware of their close links with Tatars and the similarity of languages, claim that they have nothing in common with the Crimea, that they came from “Moscow,” “the Caucasus,” “Volga” or “Kuban.” Mrs Damakan Ünal, an old Noghai woman, now living with his son in Ankara, told me that “we are not Crimeans, who call us Kubanshyl [or Kubansil, that is people from the Kuban river, H.J.].”[4] However, as it turned out many times, the claims of the respondents should be treated cautiously, [5] for their knowledge of the past and history is very poor. Interestingly, they confuse facts or, in most cases, say that they know nothing about their past, whereas they remember pieces of their oral literature quite well. Whatever the ethnic roots, later history had brought Noghais and Tatars together. Paradoxically, jokes told against each other point to close mutual links. The above mentioned Damakan Ünal reported that “The Crimeans call us at eti asagan aram Nogay ‘sinful Noghais who eat horse meat.” [6] Or,

a Tatar says to a Noghai:
Nogay, Nogay nögerek
Arabasi tögerek
Nogaylarga ne kerek
Bir araba kok kerek.

‘Noghai, Noghai friendlish,
His cart is roundlish
What does the Noghai need?
He needs a cart of dung’.

The Noghai replies:
Kirim, Kirim kirilgay
Bir tesikke tigilgay
Kasik berseñ kañkayir
Sömüs berseñ soñkayir.

‘Cracked, cracked Crimea,
Scrapped to a ditch,
Give him a spoon, he wants more,
Give him a ladle, he’s smug’.

2. Crimean Tatar population in Turkey at present

No reliable figures are available. The Emel activists provide a number of 6 million, and Sel says “at least 4 to 5 million” (Sel 1996: 12). These figures are not more than estimates. Tatars calculate it by taking one million immigrants as a starting point and multiplying this number by the birth rate in the span of the last hundred years. Careful analysts deem this to be overestimated [7].

The most compact area inhabited by Tatars is the Eskisehir province. The Tatar activists reported that it is difficult to compute the number of Tatar population, as elsewhere in Turkey, for the official census does not include minorities. They said that the number of Tatar residents may be around 150,000 individuals there, including those in the city. However, they stressed that these figures are approximate. At present Tatars in Eskisehir province inhabit 33 villages. The other region of compact Tatar population is Polatli, with 11 villages. Noghais live in seven villages near the shores of Tuz Gölü. Two out of the 33 Eskisehir villages are Noghai, but these Noghais are much more influenced by the surrounding Tatars than the Noghais of Tuz Gölü. In addition to this, there are some minor regions where Tatars live in either two or three villages, or in a district of a city, and also in a few isolated settlements. With the ongoing process of migration from villages to large cities and growing outflow of people from villages, Tatars are spreading throughout the country. This, however, implies disintegration and hardly any new compact districts arise. Naturally, elderly people try to keep in touch, but the old entourage is inevitably lost. What follows is a list of Tatar villages in Eskisehir district: [8]

Eskisehir province

a) Eskisehir district
-Boyacioglu (partly Tatar)
-Kireçköy, Tat. Kires (5 Tatar households remaining)
-Karaçay, Tat. Karasay (34 Tatar households, 1 Kurd, 1 Manav) [9]

b) Alpu district
-Gökçeoglu, Tat. Kökse(uli) (partly Tatar)
-Fevziye, Tat. Pevziye [10]
-Güneli, former Mâmure (45 Tatar households, 10-15 of which from Konya, the other immigrants from the Crimea) [11]
-Aktepe, Tat. and Nog. Ripkiye (Noghai village, few Noghais remained)
-Isikören, former Arapkuyusu (Noghai village)
-Güroluk, the other name Kizilsuvat
-Çukurhisar (partly Tatar)
-Esence, former Yellice (half the population is said to be Noghai, 40 households belong to Tatars) [13]

c) Mahmudiye district [14]
-Mesudiye, former Taslihüyük ~ Tasliköy
-Serefiye, Tat. Serepiye (Tatars from the Crimea)
-Fahriye, Tat. Pahriye
-Hamidiye, Tat. Amidiye ~ Amdiye (partly Tatar)
-Akyurt, former Lütfiye, Tat. Lütpiye
-Güllüce, former Hayriye, Tat. Ayriye

d) Sivrihisar district
-Ortaklar (partly Tatar)
-Yaverören, Yâverören [15]
-Karakaya (partly Tatar)

e) Çifteler district, Tat. Sipteler
-Ilicabasi, Tat. Olca [16]
-Hayriye, Tat. Ayriye, former Söngülük [17]
-Zaferhamit (partly Tatar)
-Yildizören, former Mecidiyeköprüsü (partly Tatar) [18]

f) Seyitgazi district
-Yenikent, the other names Yeniköy, Tat. Cañköy

As said above, the second area of compact Tatar population is Polatli in the Ankara province with eleven villages. The study of this dialect is most advanced. Firstly, there is an unpublished doctoral thesis by Özen (1975) on the phonology and morphology of Polatli dialect. We also find language samples and a glossary annexed to this work. Secondly, Zühal Yüksel, who herself is of Polatli origin, and the only Tatar in Turkey who works on Turkish Crimean Tatar, has published a study on the dialect on the basis of texts recorded in six villages (Yüksel 1989) [19]. Lastly, Cengiz Evirgen, born in Taspinar, a resident of Polatli, has composed a handwritten glossary of his ethnolect. Although compiled by a non-professional, this glossary may be helpful in research.

Ankara province

Polatli district:
-Karakaya [20]
-Karakuyu [21]
-Karayavsan [22]
-Taspinar [23]
-Tatliköyü [24]
-Tirnaksiz [25] (now Sakarya)

Outside the borders of the administrative unit, but quite close to the city there is another Tatar village called:

A Tatar population can also be found in other villages, e.g. Yassihüyük (near the antic Gordion) and Üçpinar, to which Tatars moved in recent times. Many Tatars live now in Polatli, where they work and study. The Noghai villages are located south of Ankara, near the shores of Tuz Gölü, where the road forks towards Konya and Aksaray. This area is administratively subdivided between Ankara and Konya provinces. Noghais in this region occupy a distinct position in that they do not identify themselves with the Crimea and Crimean Tatars, though they are aware of the similarity of their languages. The local language is deeply influenced by Tatar.

Konya province

Kulu district
-Bogazören, former Köstengil
-Agilbasi, former Mandira
-Seyitahmetli, pronounced Seydametli

Ankara province

a) Sereflikoçhisar district
-Akin, pronounced Agin, with 232 inhabitants in 75 households
-Sekerköyü, called Seker, and by some Noghais, also Seker
-Dogankaya, also Karakaya and Abdülgedigi.

b) Ankara district
-Ahiboz, pronounced Ayboz ~ Aboz (partly Noghai) [26]
-Taspinar [27]
-Günalan, the other name Koloz ~ Holos [28]

c) Bâlâ district
-Ahmetçayiri [29]

d) Haymana district
-Cingirli (once a Noghai village, now Noghai families live in four households) A few families are said to dwell in Börüdelik village in Cihanbeyli district (Konya province).

Aksaray province

Aksaray district
-Alaca, former Hamidiye. [30]
Teberdar (1994: 27) reports that Crimean Tatar is still spoken by a handful of elderly people in Ayranci Bucagi. She places this locality west of Eregli district, east of Karaman district, south of Karapinar, and north of Mersin district.

Crimean Tatar villages are also reported to be located in southern Turkey near Adana, in Ceyhan district: Çakaldere, Toktamis, Küçük Kirim and Büyük Kirim. I have not visited them, for I was told that there Crimean Tatar had been completely forgotten. [31] There is no evidence of language maintenance in a few localities in Kirikkale province, east of Ankara. The Tatar villages there are in Keskin (Yoncali, Polatyurtu and Üçkuyu) as well as in Karakeçili district (Sulubük). See Için (1994: 26-27). Ersoy and Aydin (1998) claim that Tatar and Noghai are well preserved in Dariözü, Kaman district of Kirsehir province. Furthermore, one Tatar village, Derince, is to be found in Gebze district of Kocaeli (Izmit) province. In the past, there were three Tatar villages near Istanbul: Izzettinköy, Sazlibosna and Imrahor. However, nowadays only a few individuals of elder generation in Sazlibosna still speak the language. We have found no Tatars in Imrahor, which was absorbed by the uncontrolled suburbs of Istanbul and transformed into a huge gecekondu locality.

At present most Tatars live in townships and cities to which their villages are close, where they can find work and school. Their integration varies from district to district. At new places, Tatar is only spoken at home, predominantly by elderly people.

In 1997, I visited eleven villages of Eskisehir province: Karaçay, Güneli, Aktepe, Esence, Serefiye, Yildizören, Mesudiye, Isikören, Ilicabasi, Karakaya and Yaverören, and in 1998 three other villages: Kalkanli, Aksakli and Cañköy (Yenikent). Initially, I did not plan extensive work in Polatli because this area was quite well studied before. However, people in Eskisehir told me that Polatli is small, compact and thereby the language is better preserved there than elsewhere. I finally decided to visit this region and verify these opinions. What I found was quite the opposite. All the villages looked uninhabited, houses half forsaken, and no sign of life. Tatars, dwelling in the city, only occasionally visit their former abodes in the countryside. The assimilation seems to be much stronger there than in Eskisehir, probably because of the short distance from Ankara (one hour drive) and unfavourable agricultural conditions.

Among the Tatar villages near Ankara, I visited Ballik and Taspinar (not to be confused with Taspinar in Polatli district), where it was hard to meet anybody able to speak Tatar. With the exception of Kirkkuyu, whose inhabitants I met in the closest township Kulu, I visited all the Noghai villages. Lastly, my study has included Izzettinköy, Sazlibosna and Imrahor, and a small village Kalecikkaya near Alacahüyük, in the Çorum province. In addition, I have worked with my informants in all cities and townships mentioned, that is Eskisehir, Alpu, Mahmudiye, Çifteler, Polatli, Kulu, Ankara and Istanbul.

3. Ethnicity of Tatars in Turkey

The population involved in my study may be subdivided into Tatars, Noghais and Gypsies. Tatar population is the largest. They call themselves Tatar, e.g. Men Tatarman ‘I am Tatar’, their language Tatarca. They immigrated either from Dobrudja or Crimea. Only a few people came to Turkey from other countries, e.g. one as ex-German soldier from Germany. Irrespective of the place of origin and habitation, the majority of them regard themselves as Tatars or Crimeans and consider themselves to be one nation. For only a few, being a Turk in a broader sense was more important.

As for Noghais, there is a difference between the Noghai population of Eskisehir and that of Tuz Gölü. The former do not normally differ from Tatars either linguistically or anthropologically, for typical Mongoloid traces may be present in both Tatars and Noghais. They merely differ from the neighbouring Tatars in that they are called Noghais and so they call themselves. There are no significant social differences between those Noghais and Tatars. The latter group is different. What is most important is their distinct ethnic consciousness. It is quite interesting that despite the similarity of the languages no close social ties are visible. Tatars do not know of them, either.

The relationship between Tatars and Noghais who are in contact is nationally unmarked. No derogatory, offensive approach was manifest. [32] The position of Gypsies, who predominantly live in Alpu, is different. They live in a separate district of the township. When talking about themselves with the outsiders, they say they are Tatars. Tatars warned me against addressing Gypsies by the term Gypsy, which they allegedly do not accept. Gypsies and Tatars are in contact on business affairs and do not normally invite each others for feasts and social events. The relations between both ethnic groups are good. I was encouraged by Tatars to go to Gypsies and talk to them, for they are believed to maintain the Tatar language very well.

4. Language

The examined population can be described as linguistically homogenous within the groups discussed above. The spoken languages of Eskisehir Tatars and Noghais do not differ too much. However, the language of poetry performed by Noghais shows some distinctive features characteristic of Noghai. The Noghai traits are more evident in the everyday speech of Tuz Gölü Noghais.

Currently the majority of people are bilingual. Only the elders say their Turkish is not good, but in fact they communicate in Turkish fairly well. Tatars are gradually shifting from Tatar to Turkish. The communicative situation is typical of language shift. As it is the case cross- linguistically, the generation of grandmothers and grandfathers have the best command of language. They normally speak Tatar while talking to each other and their children. Their children, that is people from forty to fifty years old and more, many of them are also retired, prefer Turkish unless they address their parents, to whom they predominantly talk in Tatar. Their children and grandchildren speak only Turkish, both in conversation with each other and with their parents, except for some common Tatar expressions, greetings and meal names, although many of them understand Tatar. It depends on the family setting, how much time they spend in the villages during vacations etc. It is worth noting that even those grand- and grand-grandparents whose command of Turkish is limited, try to talk to the youngsters in Turkish, explaining that they do so in order not to have Tatar impede them at schools.

Naturally, language preferences also depend on social factors. Educated people are more assimilated than traders, craftsmen and workmen. Only some of them prefer to speak Tatar. I have met only a few families whose language of communication was Tatar. Members of these families usually address other Tatars also in Tatar, expect for the youngsters who use Turkish while talking to their peers who do not speak Tatar and hardly understand it.

Not a single Tatar, including teachers, did make any effort to stop or to reverse the language shift. There are neither schools nor other institutions to provide Tatar language courses. In this situation, nobody has seen any need to think of textbooks, dictionaries or other devices for language teaching.

As a result, Tatar is only spoken at home and between Tatars of older generation. It does not have any written standard. The shift to Turkish is voluntary and not imposed by any political option. Tatars say they do not have another alternative and do not want their children to be hindered in their professional career as they themselves once were. According to Bayar and Bayar, people leave the villages so that their children could attend better schools. At present, this is not only a choice, but also a “must”, because with the departing young population, the schools closed. [33] Nobody regrets this, for the standard of teaching in village schools was reportedly very low. The majority of young Tatars and Noghais do not return to their villages after graduation.

Tatar and Turkish are similar languages, especially in the current situation of Tatar being deeply penetrated by Turkish as a more prestigious, dominating language. During conversation, all kinds of switch are allowed and encountered. The switch may be limited to one word, phrase, sentence, but it may include a longer topic. There are numerous copies from Turkish, both semantic and pragmatic. Tatar with the least traces of the influence of Turkish is encountered in the conversation of the elders, undisturbed by television and other people who do not speak Tatar. In villages, the elder Tatars address the local non-Tatars also in Tatar, which they normally understand, some even reply in Tatar. However, an unknown person would only be addressed in Tatar after it turned out that she or he is Tatar. Similar attitudes can be observed among Noghais.

There is a common opinion that the present-day Crimean Tatar is much different from the local dialect. Cases of unintelligibility are frequent. Tatars say that the best Tatar language is spoken in Dobrudja, for it is influenced by neither Russian (as in the Crimea) nor Turkish (as in Turkey). Of course, this opinion is somewhat illusive, although it is true that the past migrations from the Crimea to Dobrudja basically involved the northern and central part of the peninsula and Kerch where the spoken language was quite distinct from the southern Crimea. To prove this, we may point to the case of Ayranci Bucagi. (See above.)

In short, it must be said that the language shift is an ongoing and inevitable process. It affects all aspects of everyday life and activities. The remnants of the Tatar language will live as long as the remnants of culture (discussed in the next section) will exist, e.g. the Tatar kitchen. [34] The Tatar language may survive in songs and sayings performed at festivals and on the scene.

5. Culture

Despite rapid assimilation, a Tatar village differs from a Turkish one. The villages do not have a standard layout, a few villages resemble Crimean settlements, and the unique one is that of Serefiye, which imitates the layout of a modern Crimean village. The farmyards, always fenced, are very wide, and living houses and outbuildings large. Sheds for livestock are detached from the living houses. The houses, however, are built of the same material as Turkish houses, that is of mud brick, and have roofs covered with earth or tile. [35] The interior and arrangement of many houses do not differ from those of Turkish houses. National clothes are not preserved. People wear what is available in the country. Few Tatar women are veiled, but head covering, especially among older women, is common. [36] Tatars reported to me that their grandfathers had brought agricultural devices, machines and technologies unknown here and that the local people had learned from them how to plant and cultivate new crops.

The Tatar kitchen is different from the Turkish one. They make a lot of pastry and doughy meals, which is probably a Slavic influence from the Crimea and a Romanian one from Dobrudja. The Tatar kitchen seems to be one of the most resistant, and even expansive components of the Tatar culture. Tatar dishes are offered in a number of restaurants and bars in Eskisehir and are very popular. The beverages are the same as the Turkish ones. The Turkish yogurt is called katik, and the yoghurt drink ayran or cazma. Tea is offered in the Turkish style, except for the Noghais at Tuz Gölü, who also drink genuine Noghai tea from bowls, called nogaysay or ayaksay.

Notwithstanding the disappearance of national cultural tradition, many elder Tatars remember the characteristic Tatar songs, siñs. These short verses were basically pronounced or sung by a girl and a young man in the form of a dialogue, but also by the elders, especially at feasts, gatherings, ceremonies, or just for fun on other occasions. Normally a young man begins and a girl replies. [37] Although my informants said that siñs were invented by gifted performers, the comparison of the recorded material with the siñs known from the Crimea, Uzbekistan and Dobrudja has shown that most verses are identical. Another genre of the oral literature are riddles, Tatar tapmasa, Nogay cumak. The fairy tale, Tatar masal, Nogay ertegi, and epic stories, destans, are almost completely forgotten. I was able to record short pieces of epic from only three performers in Polatli, Ilicabasi and Eskisehir. [38] Equally rare is mani, a form typical of the southern Crimea, a Turkish import. As is evident, the common Tatar literary tradition, which existed for centuries, is disappearing now with rapid changes in life, migrations and intensive contacts with the standard Turkish culture.

Apart from the elders, who are now the basic population of villages, many families live a double life. Probably the most common model of this is the following. The middle generation live in the village in summer, spring and autumn, as long as there is work in the fields. The children come to the village only for the summer vacations and go back to cities in September when schools open. While in the city, they are with their grandparents, who look after them. Naturally, short mutual visits are frequent, especially if the distance between a village and a city is not long. In winter, also those Tatars who do not keep livestock go to the city and come back in spring.

At present, many Tatars are educated. There are doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, businessmen, people active in all professions. The intellectuals and wealthy families do not separate themselves from the other Tatars, many of them help those who need support. The esteem for the elders is general. In addition to general factors which underlie depopulation of villages, there are specific ones. [39] It seems that only those villages will survive in which the problem of watering the plants is solved. Although farmers complain that the operating of watering machines is very costly, they gain good profits. The other Tatar villages have no alternative and will disappear.

Tatars and Noghais are sunnite Muslims. There is one imam of Tatar origin in Eskisehir, but he does not speak Tatar in the mosque; he even preaches in Turkish. I was also acquainted with a Noghai imam, but I did not have the opportunity to listen to his service. Thus I do know what language he speaks at a service, in addition to Arabic, which is the traditional language of the obligatory prayer. The other imams were Turks, one Kurd.

In the villages, Tatars are farmers, but few of them keep livestock. Sheep breeding seems to be more popular with Noghais than Tatars, but the shepherds are usually Turkmens. In contrast to Turkish and Kurdish women, the Tatar women do not work in the fields. I met a few Tatars who employed non-Tatar women. Tatars told me it would be a shame for a Tatar if his wife or other female relative worked in the field. However, women have much work to do around the house. The Tatar Gypsies do not deal with agriculture at all. They said that they earn money from crafts. From others I learned that also from their pedlar’s job. [40]

A guest invited to a house in a village has a dinner with the head of the house, [41] although the other members of family are present. After dinner or lunch all members of family, male and female, drink tea or cazma. Outside the house Turkish customs apply. In most villages there is a pub, kahve, visited only by men. At wedding feasts, men and women sit and dance separately in the yard. The elders sit and talk inside the houses, unmarried youngsters dance together. However, when, in Yesildon, I wanted to go and see them, people told me that this was not accepted. It seems that Turkish raki is served at the feasts upon the preferences of the bridegroom. No heavy drinks are available in a kahve.

Among the rural population, Tatars and Noghais marry mostly Tatar and Noghai girls, respectively, although marriages with Turks also occur. There are also marriages between Tatars and Noghais, but never between them and Gypsies or Kurds. On the basis of oral communications, we may say that formerly mixed marriages were uncommon.

There are evidently more distinctive features between Noghais and the local Turks than in the case of Tatars. Firstly, Tatars use the same names as Turks, whereas Noghais have still preserved a few specific Noghai names, unknown among Tatars and Turks, e.g. female names Boldukan, Damakan,[42] the male name Keldimurat. Secondly, the elders still remember the names of the Noghai calendar of animal cycle. Thirdly, in the old cemeteries in Köstengil (Bagazören) and Seyitahmetli there are many gravestones with inscribed clan signs called tamga. Fourthly, there are remnants of old tribal tradition, i.e. all elder people and many young Noghais know their tribe. Some of them are from Zhetisan (Zhestan — Zhetisan), some from Yedishkul (cetiskul), and some from Zhemboyluk (Zhomboiluk — Zhemboiluk) tribe. [43]

6. Tatar and Noghai organizations

The major Tatar association is Kirim Türkleri Kültür Yardimlasma Dernegi (Association of Culture and Support for the Crimean Turks.) This association has local departments throughout the western and central Turkey. In addition, there are two organizations known because of their publications as Emel and Kirim. It seems that the former is more concentrated on the Crimea, whereas the latter is more involved in the issues of other Turkic peoples, the closely affiliated Kipchaks, such as Volga Tatars, Bashkirs, Kumuks, Karachais, Malkars, Noghais, Kazakhs and Kirghiz. There are more political dividing lines between Emel and Kirim. However, both groupings equally regard the Crimea as their homeland and many activists recall that their primary goal is to return to the homeland. They closely follow Crimean events, keep in touch with Crimean Tatars and support Crimean organizations.

Noghais were organized in an association in Ankara, chaired by Mr Celalettin Erbay. This association was dissolved and a new one, chaired by Mr Musa Ünal, was created.


[1] My sincere thanks go to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for granting me a fellowship and financing my study, as well as to the American Research Institute in Turkey for assistance. It is also my pleasant duty to thank Mr Erol Uluçay from the Association of Culture and Support for the Crimean Turks in Eskisehir, Mr Cengiz Evirgen from Polatli and the Turkish Noghais, Mr Musa Ünal, Sami Nogay and Celalettin Erbay from Ankara, Ahmet Sütbas from Akin, and to all my Tatar and Noghai friends who generously offered me their knowledge, time, cars, food and lodging. A Polish version of this paper has appeared in Rocznik Tatarów Polskich (Journal of Polish Tatars), vol. 6, 2000, 118-126.

[2] I refer to the Crimean Tatars as ‘Tatars’, as they normally call themselves. See also section 3, below. One has to note that there is one single Volga Tatar village in the Eskisehir province ­ Osmaniye, whose inhabitants are also called Tatar and their language Tatar. Although I met a few Tatars from Osmaniye, I shall not deal with them, for they form a distinct national group. In addition, much work was done on them by both Tatar and Turkish scholars, and one monograph has been published in Turkey by Fatma Özkan (1997).

[3] The first edition of his book came out in 1940 in Romania, and the second in 1966 in Ankara.

[4] The same was recorded by Ersoy and Aydin (1998: 31) among Noghais in Dariözü.

[5] Similarly, Ersoy and Aydin (idem, p. 31-32).

[6] Naturally, the respondents denied that.

[7] Also overestimated are the figures provided by some earlier Tatar authors for the population the Crimean Chanate. Ülküsal claims it had a population of 4 to 5 million (1980: 37).

[8] The official Turkish terms for administrative units are il and ilçe ‘province’ and ‘district’, but elderly people commonly use the old Ottoman words vilayet and kaza.

[9] More on the village, see in Gence (1995: 28-30), according to whom it was founded in 1882 by the immigrants from the Crimea, and the Karatay city and district in Romania.

[10] The village was reportedly founded in 1901 by Tatars from Kezlev and Kerch in the Crimea, see Karas (1995: 17-19).

[11] More on the village, see in Uygur (1995: 26-31).

[12] The village was founded in 1897 by the Crimean Tatars. See Karas (1996: 40-42).

[13] More on the village, see in Karas (1997: 37-38); Noghais are not mentioned.

[14] Much detailed information on the localities of Mahmudiye can be found in Tezcan (1982). According to this author, the major village is Hamidiye (founded in 1890 by the Crimean Tatars), which in 1980 had a population of 1, 251, while Taslihüyük (founded in 1900 by the Crimean Tatars) was inhabited by 719, Serefiye (founded in 1903 by the Crimean Tatars) by 201, Fahriye by 162, Güllüce (with the immigrants from both Crimea and Dobrudja) by 132, and Tokatmecidiye (founded in 1884 by immigrants from both Crimea and Dobrudja) by 149 residents. Akyurt (former Lütfiye) was founded in 1887 by ten settlers from Crimea and Dobrudja, who were followed in 1915 by immigrants from Dobrudja and later by a few families from Bulgaria (Tezcan 1982: 27-101).

[15] More on the village, see Aygördüler and Aygördüler (1997: 37-41); the village is said to be founded in 1895 – 1897 by Tatar settlers from the Crimea.

[16] Sak, who described the village (1995: 23-24), says that it was founded in 1874 and inhabited by Tatars from the Crimea, Romania, Bulgaria, and also from other localities in Turkey. He does mention the Tatar name of the village.

[17] According to Karas (1994: 24-30), who provides the old name of the village, Süngülyük, it was founded in 1902 by Tatars from Akmechet and its surroundings.

[18] In Karas’s opinion (1995b: 33-36), the village was founded in 1904-1905 by Tatars from various regions of the Crimea.

[19] Material presented and analysed in this study was recorded in Tatlikuyu, Karakuyu, Karayavsan, Karakaya, Taspinar and Tirnaksiz. It is to be noted that nowadays Turkish students of linguistics start studying the minorities and their languages. During my fieldwork in Eskisehir, Ms Arzu Taner from Erzincan recorded Tatar stories and songs for her MA thesis. At Gazi University in Ankara, Ms Dilek Ergönenç, working on Noghais, started examining the local Noghai dialect. She confirmed that she was surprised when she learned that there are Noghais in Turkey who are able to speak their language.

[20] See Yüksel (1994a: 24-28).

[21] See Yüksel (1996: 30-34).

[22] See Yüksel (1994b: 30-34).

[23] See M. Yüksel (1993: 31-34).

[24] See Yüksel (1998: 26-31).

[25] See Bayar and Bayar (1993: 35-36).

[26] In Bavbek’s opinion (1993: 8), the village has been in existence since 1860.

[27] According to Bavbek (ibid), the village was founded by Tatar settlers who came from Romania between 1306 – 1324 (i.e. 1890 – 1908).

[28] In Bavbek’s view (ibid), Günalan was founded in 1908 by immigrants from Romania. This village, like Taspinar and Ballik, being located in the attractive area adherent to Ankara on the lake Gölbasi, is undergoing a rapid process of urbanization and change of inhabitants.

[29] On the village, see Elmaci (1996: 30-31).

[30] On the village founded in 1899, see Dogan and Gökdemir (1995: 39-40). Since Tatars who settled in this village came from southern Crimea, their language, very similar to Turkish, was quickly replaced by Turkish. Only a few elder people are reported to remember their native language.

[31] As in Ayranci Bucagi, the inhabitants were reported to originate from the southern Crimea where Tatar is very close to Turkish. See also the preceding footnote.

[32] This is not applicable for the activists in large cities whose political and ethnic views may differ significantly.

[33] Akin was the only village visited in which a school was open for children.

[34] A good parallel is the preservation of some meal names among Polish-Lithuanian Tatars, (dzajma and bielusz, kinds of pie filled with meat etc.), whose ethnic language was finally replaced with the local Slavic languages by the end of the 16th century.

[35] One has to note that the Eskisehir region was inhabited by few Anatolian Turks. The core people were Manavs, and along with Tatars and Noghais there lived Turkmens (Yürüks) and Turkish immigrants from Bulgaria, the Macirs ( muhacir ’emigrant’). Now the forsaken villages and houses are being settled by Kurds coming from the eastern provinces. In contrast to all the others, Tatars do not like them. They accused the Kurds of thefts, something absolutely non-existing among native Anatolian population, Tatars and Noghais. Some regional Tatar communities do not allow the Kurds to settle in their villages.

[36] Tatar and Noghai communities living in small and scattered settlements are apparently more receptive to Turkish influence. For instance, Tatars in Kalecikkaya, a locality situated far away from the compact Tatar areas, are as conservative as the neighbouring Turks. The girls and women did not look at me while walking in the village. They wear head scarfs as conservative Turkish girls, the so-called türbanli kizlar, do.

[37] I could not record any songs similar to Nogay beyitleri or ‘Noghai songs’ that I heard in the recitation of one performer at the Tatar national festival tepres in 1995 in Karakaya.

[38] Two of them are Cantemir brothers who, as they said, learned a longer poem in Romania in their childhood.

[39] See above, section 4, and footnote 28.

[40] According to Memi  1996: 7-22), Crimean Gypsies were organized in the castes of musicians (çalgicilar), goldsmiths (altincilar, quyumcilar), basket weavers (sepetçiler) and bear keepers (ayuvcilar). Literature on this ethnic group is very scarce.

[41] However, when in 1998 I visited a few families for the second time, they treated me as a friend, and we ate together with women.

[42] These names are absent from the list of names annexed to the standard Noghai-Russian dictionary by Baskakov (1963).

[43] More exactly, these are tribe confederations. The Crimean Noghais call those tribal units tabin, whereas the clans are identified with the names of clan signs, e.g. Ay Tamga ‘Moon mark’, and Ergenek Tamga ‘arch mark’.


AYGÖRDÜLER, Muammer, Ergin AYGÖRDÜLER. 1997. “Yâverören Köyü”, Emel 222 (1997), 37-41.

BASKAKOV, N. A. (ed.). 1963. Nogajsko-russkij slovar’. Moskva: Gosudarstvennoe Izdatel’stvo Inostrannyx i Naucnyx Slovarej.

BAVBEK, Osman. 1993. “Kirim’dan Anadoluya Göçler Hakkinda Yazili ve Sözlü Belgeler”, Kirim 2 (1993), 7-8.

BAYAR, Hamdi, Kemal BAYAR. 1993. “Sakarya (Tirnaksiz) Köyü”, Emel 198 (1993), 35-36.

DOGAN, Hikmet, Ahmet GÖKDEMIR. 1995. “Hamidiye (Alaca) Köyü”, Emel 210 (1995), 39-40.

ELMACI, Ekrem. 1996. “Ahmetçayiri Köyü”, Emel 214 (1996), 30-31.

ERKAN, Süleyman. 1996. Kirim ve Kafkasya Göçleri (1878-1908). Trabzon: Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi.

ERSOY, Ümit, Tutku AYDIN. 1998. “Dariözü Köyü”, Emel 225 (1998), 31-34.

FISHER, Alan. 1978. The Crimean Tatars. Stanford: Hoover.

GENCE, Behçet. 1995. “Karaçay Köyü”, Emel 209 (1995), 28-30.

IÇIN, Recep. 1994. “Yoncali (Göztepe) Köyü”, Emel 200 (1994), 26-27.

JANKOWSKI, Henryk. 1991. “A török-tatár kisebség Romániában”, Keletkutatás 1991,1, 81-86.

KARAS, Ertugrul. 1994a. “Hayriye Köyü”, Emel (205), 24-30.

———————– 1994b. : “Yildizören Köyü”, Emel (208), 33-36.

———————– 1995. “Fevziye Köyü”, Emel (207), 17-19.

———————– 1996. “Yesildon Köyü”, Emel (212), 40-42.

————————1997. “Esence (Yellice) Köyü”, Emel 223 (1997), 37-38.

MEMI , Re id. 1996. “Zabytoe plemja”, Kasevet 25 (1996), 22-27.

ÖZEN, Ahmet. 1975. A Descriptive Study of the Phonology and Morphology of Crimean Tatar. Ankara [unpublished doctoral thesis, the University of Hacettepe].

ÖZKAN, Fatma. 1997. Osmaniye Tatar Agzi. Ankara: TDK.

SAK, Cengiz. 1995. “Ilicabasi Köyü”, Emel 206 (1995), 23-24.

SAYDAM, Abdullah. 1997. Kirim ve Kafkas Göçleri (1856-1876). Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu.

SEKERINSKIJ, S. A. 1988. “Iz ètniceskoj istorii Kryma i Severnoj Tavrii (vtoraja polova XVI – nacalo XX v.”, Sovetskaja Tjurkologija 4 (1988), 87-97.

SEL, Ünver. 1996. “Kirim, Kirim Tatari ve Anadoluya Göç”, Kirim 14 (1996), 11- 12.

TEBERDAR, Esra F. 1994. 1994. “Ayranci Bucagi”, Emel 204 (1994), 27-28.

TEZCAN, Erhan. 1982. Eskisehir Mahmudiye Ilçesi. Eskisehir.

UYGUR, Emel. 1995. “Mâmure (Güneli) Köyü”, Emel (211), 26-31.

ÜLKÜSAL, Müstecip. 1980. Kirim Türk-Tatarlari. (Dünü – Bugünü – Yarini). Ankara.

————————— 1987. Dobruca ve Türkler. Ankara: Türk Kültürünü Arastirma Enstitüsü.

YÜKSEL, Münir A. 1993. “Taspinar Köyü”, Emel 199 (1993), 31-34.

YÜKSEL, Zühal. 1989. Polatli Kirim Türkçesi Agzi. Anakara: Türk Kültürünü Arastirma Enstitüsü.

———————- 1994a. “Karakaya Köyü”, Emel 201 (1994), 24-28.

———————- 1994b. “Karayavsan Köyü”, Emel 203 (1994), 30-34.

———————- 1996. “Karakuyu Köyü”, Emel 213 (1996), 30-34.

———————- 1998. “Tatlikuyu Köyü”, Emel 224 (1998), 26-31.

*Henryk Jankowski is professor and head of the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Languages, and Chair of Oriental Studies at the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland, where he received his Ph.D. in 1986. In addition to his native Polish, he is fluent in English, Hungarian, Turkish and Crimean Tatar, and has a good familiarity with other Turkic languages such as Kazakh, Kirghiz and Noghai. The author of nearly ninety publications relating to Turkic studies, Professor Jankowski has been particularly interested in Tatars in Crimea, Turkey and Poland.

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Nogai language

Nogai language

Ногай тили (Nogay tili)

Spoken in:




Total speakers:


Language family:

Altaic[1] (controversial)

Language codes

ISO 639-1:


ISO 639-2:


ISO 639-3:


Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.

Nogai (also Nogay or Nogai Tatar), is a Turkic language spoken in southwestern Russia. Three distinct dialects are recognized: Qara-Nogay (Black or Northern Nogay), spoken in Dagestan; Nogai Proper, in Stavropol; and Aqnogay (White or Western Nogay), by the Kuban River, its tributaries in Karachay-Cherkessia, and in the Mineralnye Vody District. Qara-Nogay and Nogai Proper are very close linguistically, while Aqnogay shows more differences.

Nogai is generally classified into the Kypchak-Nogay branch of Kypchak Turkic. This family also includes Crimean Tatar, Karakalpak in Uzbekistan, Kazakh in Kazakhstan, and Kirgiz in Kyrgyzstan.


· 1 History
· 2 Alphabet
o 2.1 Arabic alphabet
o 2.2 Latin alphabet
o 2.3 Cyrillic alphabet


The Nogai, descended from the peoples of the Golden Horde, take their name and that of their language from the grandson of Genghis Khan, Nogai Khan, who ruled the nomadic people west of the Danube toward the end of the 13th century.
Originally, the Nogai written language was based on the Arabic alphabet. In 1928, the Latin alphabet was introduced. This orthographic system was compiled by the Nogay academic A. Dzhanibekov (Canibek), following principles adopted for all Turkic languages.
In 1938, a transition to the Russian alphabet began. The orthography based on the Latin alphabet had allegedly been an impediment to learning Russian.
The rise of the Soviet Union and the establishment of autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics (ASSRs) in the 1950s separated Nogai speakers into small enclaves in the Dagestan ASSR, the Chechen-Ingush ASSR and the Stavropol District. At the same time, the teaching of Russian took precedence over teaching native languages, and resultingly the number of speakers began to decline. Recent estimates place the number of Nogai speakers at about 80,000.
In 1973, two small Nogai-language newspapers were being published, one in Karachay-Cherkessia and another in the Dagestan Autonomous SSR (Ленин йолы), but because of poor communications these papers did not reach Nogai villages.
Nogai is now part of the school curriculum from the 1st to the 10th year in the Nogai District of Dagestan. It is also taught at the Karachayevo-Cherkess Pedagogical School and the national branch of the Pedagogical Institute.


Arabic alphabet

Before 1928 the alphabet used for the Nogai language was based on the Arabic alphabet. It included all the letters of the Arabic plus the additional symbols

ڮ, ۇ, ۋ, پ, ںُ, چ, ژ , گ

for the specific sounds of the Nogai. This alphabet was not widespread.

Latin alphabet

In 1928 the Nogail alphabet based on Latin as part of the Soviet-wide Latinization campaign. A. Sh. Dzhanibekov, a high school teacher was the author of this alphabet.

A a

B в

Ç ç

D d

E e

Ә ә

G g

Ƣ ƣ

I i

K k

L l

M m

N n

N̡ n̡

O o

Ө ө

P p

Q q

R r

S s

Ş ş

T t

U u

Y y

J j

Ь ь

Z z

V v

The letters were added in 1931 C c, I̡ ı̡, F f, H h, X x, Ƶ ƶ; в 1933S̷ s̷. In 1936 letters Ç ç, Ә ә, H h, I̡ ı̡ were excluded from the alphabet.

Cyrillic alphabet

The Nogai alphabet based on Cyrillic was created in 1938. It included all of the Russian alphabet letters except Ё ё), and also the digraphs Гъ гъ, Къ къ, Нъ нъ. The digraphs Оь оь, Уь уь were added in the same year. In 1944 the digraphs Гъ гъ, Къ къ were excluded from the alphabet. The last reform of the Nogai alphabet took place in 1950, when it attained the current form.

А а

Аь аь

Б б

В в

Г г

Д д

Е е

Ё ё

Ж ж

З з

И и

Й й

К к

Л л

М м

Н н

Нъ нъ

О о

Оь оь

П п

Р р

С с

Т т

У у

Уь уь

Ф ф

Х х

Ц ц

Ч ч

Ш ш

Щ щ

Ъ ъ

Ы ы

Ь ь

Э э

Ю ю

Я я





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Nogai Khan

Nogai Khan

Nogai Khan (died 1299), also called Kara Nogai (Black Nogai), was a Khan of the Golden Horde and a great-grandson of Genghis Khan. His father was Baul/Teval Khan, the 7th son of Jochi. His name is also spelled Nogay and Nogaj.

He was a nephew of Berke Khan, and under his uncle, he became a powerful and ambitious warlord. In his later years, Berke began to delegate more and more responsibility to his promising nephew. Nogai first appears as a battle commander in the late 1250s, leading the second Mongol raid against Poland and plundering Kraków and other cities. In 1262, during the civil war between Berke and Hulagu Khan, Nogai’s army surprised the invading forces of Hulagu at the Terek river. Many thousands were drowned, and the survivors fled back into Azerbaijan. In 1265, Nogai led his army across the Danube, sending the Byzantine forces fleeing before him, and devastated the cities of Thrace. In 1266, the Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, anxious to make an alliance, gave his illegitimate daughter Euphrosyne Palaeologina to Nogai as a wife. That same year, Nogai lost an eye fighting his brother-in-law, Abaqa Khan, in Tiflis. In 1284 he led an unsuccessful attack against Hungary where he was beaten off by the Hungarian royal army Under Ladislaus IV and subsequently ambushed by the Szekely. He also participated in the unsucessfull third raid against Poland in 1287 alongside with Telubuga.

Despite his power and prowess in battle, Nogai never attempted to seize the khanate for himself, preferring to act as a sort of kingmaker. He served under Berke, Mengu-Timur, Tuda-Mengu, Talabuga, and Tokhta. This last khan proved to be more headstrong than the others, and he and Nogai began a deadly rivalry. By this time, Nogai effectively had control of the western-most sections of the Golden Horde.

Nogai was killed in battle in 1299 at the Kagamlik, near the Dnieper against fellow Mongols. Because of his feud with Tokhta Khan, he was too dangerous to be kept alive. His head was brought to Tokhta Khan, who was offended that a mere Russian soldier had slain the mighty khan. He had the Russian put to death since “a commoner is unfit to kill a king.”

His son by Euphrosyne, Chaka, became tsar of Bulgaria, and Nogai’s name was borne by the Nogai Horde, who ruled east of the Ural mountains.


* Saunders, J.J. The History of the Mongol Conquests, 2001


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Nogai Horde

Nogai Horde

The Nogai Horde was the Tatar horde that controlled the Caucasus Mountain region after the Mongol invasion. The Nogai Horde developed as a synthesis of Turkic Kipchaks with the Mongols who conquered them. Their descendants today are known as the Nogais.

Their khanate, named after Nogai Khan (d. 1299) and established by Edigu (d. 1419), included the regions extending from the Volga to Irtish Rivers, and from the Caspian Sea towards the Aral Sea. Its capital was the city of Saraycik, located along the Yaik (Ural) River which was the eastern border of their territory, separating them from the Kirghiz-Kazakhs.

The main element of the Khanate’s people was composed of Kipchak groups, just as in the Crimean, Astrakhan and Siberia Khanates. Among these tribes, the Mangit people — supposedly a Mongol tribe that had become Turks — had a privileged status.

Pursuant to the submission of the Kazan and Astrakhan Khanates to Russia (1552-1557), the Nogay Khanate was divided into several entities. Those in the north of the Caucasus were called “Küçük Orda” (Small Horde), and those within the environs of Emba Lake were called “Altiul Ordası”. Those who remained under the domination of Ismail Khan were united under the collective name of the “Great Nogay Horde”, and recognised the domination of Ivan IV (1555-1557).

Later, the Nogais were supplanted to Dagestan. In the 17th century, Kalmyks were settled in former Nogay Horde lands, and this area is still known as Kalmykia.


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The Nogai People, (also written as Nogay, Noghai, sometimes called Caucasian Mongols), are a Turkic people group, and an important ethnic group in the Daghestan region who speak the Turkic Nogai language. The Nogai are descendants of Kipchaks who mingled with their Mongol conquerors and formed the Nogai Horde.


* 1 Features
* 2 Nogai divisions
* 3 History
* 4 Present inhabitations
* 5 External links


They have scant beard growth, and are shorter than most people of the Caucasus. The average height for males is 160 cm. They often have almond-shaped eyes, flat faces, high noses, and sometimes blue eyes.

Nogai divisions

From the sixteenth century until their removal in the mid-nineteenth century the Nogais were divided into the following sub-groups (west to east along the Black Sea coast of present-day Ukraine):

* Bucak Nogais inhabited the area from Danube to Dniester.
* Cedsan (Jedsan) Nogais inhabited the land from Dniester to Bug.
* Camboyluk (Jamboyluk) Nogais inhabited in the lands from Bug to the beginning of Crimean peninsula.
* Cedişkul (Jedishkul) Nogais inhabited the north of Crimean peninsula.
* Kuban Nogais inhabited the north of Sea of Azov around Prymorsk (previously Nogaisk).


Main article: Nogai Horde

The name Nogai is derived from Nogai Khan, a general of the Golden Horde.

The Nogai Horde supported the Astrakhan Khanate, and after the conquest of Astrakhan in 1556 by Russians, they transferred their allegiance to the Crimean Khanate. The Nogais protected the northern borders of the khanate, and through organized raids to the northern steppes prevented Slavic settlement. Many Nogais migrated to the Crimean peninsula to serve as khan’s cavalry and settling there they contributed to the formation of the Crimean Tatars. However, Nogais were not only good soldiers, and lived on booty. They had considerable agricultural skills. The Nogais mastered skills of growing grain and irrigating on the dry steppes they inhabited. They cultivated spring wheat and drought resistant millet. They raised various herds and migrated seasonally in search of better pastor for their animals. Nogais were proud of their nomadic traditions and independence looking down to the settled people.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the ancestors of the Kalmyks, the Oirats, migrated from the steppes of southern Siberia on the banks of the Irtysh River to the Lower Volga region. Various reasons have been given for the move, but the generally accepted answer is that the Kalmyks sought abundant pastures for their herds. They reached the lower Volga region in or about 1630. That land, however, was not uncontested pastures, but rather the homeland of the Nogai Horde. The Kalmyks expelled the Nogais who fled to the northern Caucasian plains and to the Crimean Khanate, areas under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Some Nogai groups sought the protection of the Russian garrison at Astrakhan. The remaining nomadic Turkic tribes became vassals of Kalmyk Khan. After the Russian annexation of Crimea, the Nogai pastoral land was occupied by the Slavic settlers, since the Nogais did not have permanent residence.

After confiscating the land previously belonged to Nogais, the Russian government forced Nogais to settle through various methods, such as burning their tents and limiting their movement of freedom. The Russian General Suvorov slaughtered several thousands of rebellious Kuban Nogais in 1783. Several Nogai tribes took refugee among the Circassians in this period. Several other Nogai clans began to emigrate to the Ottoman Empire in great numbers. The Nogais followed two routes. An estimated 7,000 Nogais of the Bucak and Cedsan Hordes settled in Dobruja before 1860. Most of these Nogais later re-migrated to Anatolia. However, the great exodus of the Nogais took place in 1860. Many clans from Camboyluk and Kuban Hordes moved westwards to southern Ukraine, and wintered with their co-ethnics there in 1859. They emigrated either through Feodosia or Kerch ports or crossing via Buçak steppes to Dobruja. 50,000 of the roughly 70, 000 Nogais of the Kuban and adjacent Stavropol region left Russia for the Ottoman Empire at this period. They induced the Nogais of Crimea (who lived in the districts of Evpatoria, Perekop and in the north of simferopol) and southern Ukraine for emigration too. 300,000 Crimean Tatars (which included the nogais) left Crimea in the year 1860. Similarly, 50,000 Nogais disappeared from southern Ukraine by 1861. Other Nogai clans emigrated directly from Caucasus to Anatolia, together with the Circassians.

Present inhabitations

In the 1990s, 65,000 were still living in the Northern Caucasus, divided into Ak (White) Nogai and Kara (Black) Nogai tribal confederations. During the Soviet period, they did not have administrative-territorial recognition, which retarded their national development. Nogais have lived within the territories of Daghestan, Chechnia, and Stavropol district. In Daghestan, they concentrated in the Khasavyurt region. without legal recognition, the Nogais of North Caucasus are under the danger of assimilation to neighbouring Russian, Circassian and Kumuk people.

A few thousand Nogais live in Dobruja (today in Romania), in the town of Mihail Kogălniceanu (Karamurat) and villages of Lumina (Kocali), Valea Dacilor (Hendekkarakuyusu), Cobadin (Kubadin).

An estimated 90,000 Nogais live in Turkey today, mainly settled in Ceyhan/Adana, Ankara and Eskisehir provinces. The Nogai language (close to Kazakh) is still spoken in some of the villages of Central Anatolia – mainly around the Salt Lake, Eskişehir and Ceyhan. To this day, Nogais in Turkey have maintained their cuisine: Üken börek, kasık börek, tabak börek, şıy börek, köbete and Nogay şay (Nogai tea – a drink prepared by boiling milk and tea together with butter, salt and pepper). There are still people living in Dobruja speaking Nogai language.

Some Nogais are also living in Amman, Jordan, mainly in an agriculture area called Wadi El Sir. They immigrated from Turkey to Wadi El Sir during the Ottoman era to support the Turkish army in the late 19th century during the Turkish occupation of Arabia. The Jordanian Nogai now communicate in Arabic, since Arabic was adopted as the official language of Jordan instead of Turkish. Jordanian Nogais mixed with Arab Jordanian and become part of the society but yet they believe that they are different.


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