Kimek (Kimeg) people that lived in the western section of the Turkish Homeland in the Middle Ages constitute an ancient and a large Turkish nation. They had also established a state that survived since the middle of the century VIII until the middle of the century XI. Although the history and lifestyle of these people were of great importance for the researches about the Turkish history, they have not been investigated thoroughly yet.
There are very rare native historical resources in which Kimek people had lived. The archaeological researches carried out in the region are insufficient and the literary historical resources have not been obtained or found yet. There is not any information pertaining to Kimek Country. Similarly, there cannot be found any information about Kimek people or the other tribes connected to this tribal union within the inscriptions in the period of Kok-Turk state (century VIII).
The foreign resources pertaining to the neighbouring regions have not been scanned and reviewed in details. The Chinese people had lived in the direction of northeast far away from them. However, according to the records in the Palace Almanacs, we have observed that the Chinese people were familiar with Kimek people. Within some ancient records that we have obtained so far, there is some information in the Islamic geographical works pertaining to the centuries IX and X. These data and information are not cited in an organised manner with details. They are composed of a little knowledge compiled from the merchants and travellers.
Among the geography works that were written in the Western Turkestan in the centuries of X and XI, fairly comprehensive information was obtained from the work of “Hudûdül’-Alem” (982) written by an unknown author and the work of “Zeynü’l Ahbar” (1050) written by Abdülhayy Gerdizî. In addition, there are also some news about the preceding century within these two works. In the following centuries, there are some information obtained from the works titled as “Tebâyiü’l – Hayavân” (1120) written by Şerefüzzeman Tahir Mervezi who was the Seljuk palace doctor, “Mücmelü’t-Tevarih” (1126) that was written by an unknown author and “Şecere-i Ensab” (1206) that was written by Fahreddin Mübarek-shah.
However, all the records within these works stated above do not provide sufficient information about the historical events and the lifestyle in the Kimek country. Therefore, we do not have the opportunity to reveal the clear history of Kimek people.
Name of Kimek
The formation and root of this tribal name was not studied upon in details. The name of Kimek is not included within the work titled as “Dîvanü Lügat’it-Türk” (1074) that was written by Kasgarli Mahmud Bey. The The spelling of “Kimak” (both of them with the letter of kef) in the Arabic script must have certainly been “Kimek (Kimäk)” in the Turkish pronunciation. It is not considered appropriate that the late Prof. Dr. Z.V. Togan read it with the pronunciation of Kimak or Kemak.
The tribal name of Kimek (Kimäk) may have been derived from the word of “Kimeg” that was the first form of the word of Kime (keme) with the meaning of “ship”. As it has been known, they had lived on both sides of the Ertish (Irtish) River. Therefore, their name may have been attributed by their neighbours in reference with the ships that they used in order to pass over this large river. We know that the name of the animals or materials that were used in that way have been attributed to the tribes within the Turkish tribology. As a matter of fact, the tribes named as “Kanglı” or “Kayıg” that resembled to this name in form have been recorded in the ancient resources.
We cannot clearly indicate the first homeland of Kimek people and the organisation of the ethnical union of these people. We have observed them on both sides of the central bank of Irtish River and mostly in the eastern section of this river in the stage of the history. This place was the western section of the Turkish Homeland. The first homeland of Kimek people may have also been this place. Maybe they had dispersed from the Altay Mountains that are located in the east of Irtish River and came into this region. Since there were some other Turkish tribes on the banks of the Irtish River in the beginning of Turkish antiquity, this second possibility seems most likely.
One of our resources, Gerdizi (1050) dealt with the “epic of the settlement in the homeland of Kimek people” related with this nation that has not been studied and investigated yet. According to his brief explanations; “The nation of Tatars passed away and two sons were left from this nation. The elder son established dominion as the sovereign. The younger one titled as Şad got jealous of him and he was involved in a struggle with his brother. When he was defeated, he got afraid. He took one of the concubines that he loved with him and he fled from his brother. He came to a region with a large river, abundant trees and lots of preys. Both of them pitched a large tent and spent the night there. They would hunt every day, eat the meats of their preys and stitch clothes from the skins of sable, red squirrels and stoats.
They led this lifestyle until seven persons titled as İmi, İmek, Tatar, Balandır (Bayandur), Hıfçak (Kipchak), Lankaz and Aclad from Tatar tribe came into their region. They had tried to look for a pasture in order to put the saddle horses of their effendi to pasture in the grasslands. Therefore, they had come to this region. When the concubine saw them, she said, “Er! Tüş!” (Get down!). Therefore, that river was named as Ertus (Irtish). When they recognised the concubine, they got down from their horses and pitched their tents. When his attendants got much more crowded, Sad hunted much more preys and put them up as a host. These people stayed with them until winter.
When the snow fell, they could not return. Since there were abundant pastures, they spent the whole winter there. When, the snow melted and the weather got much better, they sent one of them to the quarters of Tatar people in order to forward news. When that man arrived to the place of Tatars, he found that everywhere was destroyed and the people had abandoned the place. Actually, the enemy had penetrated into this region, and despoiled and annihilated all the people. Those that had survived from this annihilation came down from the hills and they met with him. Then, all of these people were sent to Irtish. They recognised Sad as their chief in that region. When the others heard of this news, they gathered together and they stayed in the service of Sad for a long time. When they reproduced, they got dispersed to the surrounding mountains and they constituted the seven tribes that were mentioned above.
When Sad was standing in the side of Irtish with some of his attendants, he heard a voice calling, “Hey Sad, give me a hand”. When he bent down to the sea, he could not see anything but a hair. He went into the sea and caught that hair. This was his wife, Hatun. He asked him, “How did you fall down to the water?” The woman explained, “A monster caught me from the side”. Kimek people considered that river as a sublime river and they worshipped in it. They said that this water was the God of Kimek. They also entitled Sad with the title of “Tutug” (nickname?) since he was not afraid going into the water when he heard of that voice”.
This short description of Kimek epic indicates and reveals that this epic has similar characteristics with the other Turkish epics and there was some ancient historical information within the elements of this epic. Another significant characteristic was the interpretation of the public sayings about the names of the places. Kimek people were also included within the history of the epic of Persians that were their close neighbours apart from their own epic. Actually, the name of this nation was cited within the ancient epics of the Persians that were the neighbours of Kimek people beyond Turan country. The famous poet Tuslu Firdevsi (935?-1020?) had compiled the Persian rumours and created his great masterpiece titled as “Şehname” (Poetical History). In this work, it was cited that Afrasyab (Alp Er Tunga) who was the great ruler of Turan was defeated by Iran Ruler Keyhusrev and he retreated and that he went to Kimek country and to the region called as “Derya-yi Kimek” (Sea of Kimek).
In the Century VII
In this century, it has been understood that the Kimek people lived in the north west of the Altay Mountains and in the central banks of Ertiş (Irtish) River. Under these circumstances, they must have been under the domination and within the boundaries of the Kok-Turk Khanate. In the course of the century, the Western Kok-Turk Khanate would start to decline. Therefore, the tribes under the domination of this state would advance towards independency and they would attain their self-determination and government. Meanwhile, the Turgis State would be established with the centre of Çu river basin towards the end of the century.
In the Century VIII
Until the middle of the century, the basin of Ili was under the domination of Turgis people that constituted a tribe of the Western Turks. The Turgis Khanate had been established in the end of the preceding century. The field of domination of these states must have extended to the central basins of Irtish River. However, we do not have any information about the Turgis-Kimek relations. On the other hand, the name of “Ertiş” (Irtish) was cited for several times within the inscriptions written in the first half of the century that constituted the native resources of the period of Gok Turk State. However, there is not any information about the people that lived in the banks of this river within these resources.
In the middle of the century, the Arabian and Chinese armies that were the two invader armies extending towards the east and the west encountered. Both of them were involved in a struggle for domination over the region. Karluk people who lived in the south of Kimek people took side with the Arabians in the great war that took place near Talas in the summer of the year of 751.Therefore, Chinese people were totally defeated and they retreated. However, the Arabian commander could not establish dominion in the region. Thus Karluk people established dominion in the region that was called as Talas region extending in the west of Isık Lake. Some of the tribes in that region abandoned their pastures to this new sovereign and they had to retreat towards the northwest. As a result of the gradual development of Karluk people, the Turgis State was totally dissolved in the years of 765. Therefore, the river basin of Çu was annexed to the borders of Karluk people. On the other hand, the Kok-Turk Khanate in the east had collapsed as a result of the raids organised by Uighur, Karluk and Basmil people in the years of 745s.
As a result of these successive events that took place in the Eastern and Western Turkestan, the political status quo changed in the Central Asia. In this period, Kimek people must have attained their independence and established their state in the middle of the century VIII. We know that they constituted a nation composed of several tribes. Considering the news about this situation and the similar Turkish states of the same period, it has been understood that this state had the characteristic of a union composed of large nomadic tribes. This tribal union had established an organisation in the level of “Hakanlı” (ruler) in respect of state government. The most crowded tribe of this union may have been composed of Kipchak people.
The oldest news about the Kimek State had been obtained from the Arabian envoy.In the course of the collapse of Emevi State and the emergence of Abbasi State, Bahroğlu Temîm (Temîm b. Bahr el-Muttavvi’î) was sent as an envoy to Toguz-Oguz Khan by the caliph. This envoy had arranged a report. In his report, he stated that he had seen the Kimek people and he dealt about their rulers and the nomadic life that they led in that period (760-800?). In the last quarter of this century, we have learned that the Oguz people moved from their places in the Selenge region of the Eastern Turkestan towards the west. Therefore, they had been the neighbours of Kimek people in Kara (Black) and Ak (White) Irtish regions for a specific period. We have learned about this information from the news pertaining to the period of Abbasi Caliph Mehdi (775-785) in the Arabian resources. The Arabian historian, Ali el-Mes’ûdî had mentioned about the collaboration of Oguz, Karluk and Kimek people and their struggle against the Pecenek people.
According to him, the aforesaid tribes had attacked to Pecenek people that lived between the north of the Lake Aral and the Caspian Sea and the tribes named as Peçni, Bacgird (Bashkurd) and Nugerde. There were Kipchak and Oguz people who lived in the east of these Pecenek people. As a result of this cruel steppe fights, Pecenek people were defeated. Then, they would abandon their pastures (and homelands) and retreat towards the west. Therefore, we will observe the Pecenek people in the region among the Eastern Europe, the Northern Caucasus and the Caspian Sea in the further periods.
As it can be understood from this news, the Oguz people who had come to the west had united with the tribes that were their old relatives. Then, they started struggles and fights against the aforesaid tribes in order to find a settle in a homeland. This steppe fights came to an end when the Oguz people settled in their new regions in the end of the century VIII or in the beginning of the century IX. Most of the Pecenek people started to immigrate towards Europe. However, the small tribes that stayed in their old paces would join to the Oguz nation that newly penetrated into this region. We have observed these people within the 24 tribal order pertaining to Oguz people in the further periods.
In the Century IX
In the course of this century, the great Kimek State survived in the banks of the Irtish River and in the northeastern provinces of today’s Kazakhstan in a much more dispersed manner. While the Islamic geographers compiled the first information from the Central Asia, there were various Turkish nomadic tribes that had not adopted the religion of Islam and that lived in the northeast of the Western Turkestan. The geographers stated that there was a great Turkish nation called as Kimek that lived in the banks of the Irtish River and in the vast steppe lands that were located in the north east of Oguz (Guz) people. They also indicated that Kimek people had established dominion over the regions that extended towards Idyll and Kama Rivers in the west. Under these circumstances, it has been understood that, Oguz State, Kimek State and Khirghiz Bey Principality was located in the north of Turkestan within the direction from the west towards the east respectively.
The Czech scholar, D.A. Rasovsky that studied upon the issue of Kuman-Kipchak also alleged that the Kimek tribe that lived between Irtish and Ural in the centuries IX and X were Kuman people in origin. He also alleged that Kipchak people constituted one of their tribes and the name of Kipchak was generally used as the name of Kimek people since the century X. This issue will be discussed in details below. I will state in brief that this allegation pertaining to the aforesaid scholar is not coherent.
In the Century X:
In the tenth century, the Kimek Khanate maintained its existence in the form of a great nation in the Southern half of the Western Siberia. Kipchak people that constituted one of the tribes in this union had expanded in the region extending towards Yayik (Ural) River in the western section of Kimek country. Their neighbours included Khirghiz people in the east, Karluk people in the southeast, and Oguz people in the southwest. In the second half of the century, the borders of the Kimek State had expanded towards the district of Savran located on the banks of Seyhun River in the south and the springs of the White Idyll River in the west.
In the beginning of the century, Kitan people (K’itan, Kitay, Khitay), a Mongolian tribe that came out of the northeastern China established a state (916). As a result of this event, some of the Turkish tribes started to withdraw towards the west. Kitan hordes invaded the basin of Selenge River in the year of 924 and they also penetrated into the city of Karabalik (Kara-Balsagun). In the course of their raids, Khirghiz people that had been in those regions since the year of 840 were exiled and repulsed from those places. Khirghiz people who went to the steppe lands of Upper Kem (Yenisey River) and Kobdo region repulsed the Turkish tribes in those regions towards the west.
The expansion of Kimek people towards the west continued in the middle of the century. The tribes in the western sections established dominion in the southwestern regions of Ural Mountain Range and in the valleys of Çim (Emba) and Yayik (Ural) Rivers. Meanwhile, they reached to the coasts of the Caspian Sea. According to the Geographer, Istahri (933-51), Isil (Atil, Idyll?) River constituted the border between Kimek and Guz (Oguz) people. V. Minorsky had alleged that this river was today’s Kama River. According to this incomprehensible allegation, where will we place Oguz people in the Eastern Europe? Actually, Turks have named the places that they newly encountered with the names resembling their former homelands. Therefore, Atil/Itel was one of these places and it must have been one of the rivers in the Western Siberia.
According to the recent researches, the Turkish tribes that lived in the Central Asia in the century X were distributed as follows: Sari-(Uighur) people in the region of Nahşan in the most east, Karahanli Khanate in the west of Sari Uighur people and in the region that extended towards Kashgar, Turkmen and Karluk people in the basin of Isik, Kimek people in the region extending towards Altay Mountains in the north, Khirghiz people in the east of Kimek people and Kipchak people in the west of Kimek people and in the basin of Tobol-Isim, and Oguz people in the south of Kipchak people and in the region between Irtish-Seyhun-Yayik.
There is a section reserved for Kimek people within the work titled as Hudûdü’l-Âlem (982). In this section, it was stated that their rulers were called as “Hakan” (Ruler). This record indicates clearly the independent state of the Kimek people and the characteristic of this state. This work provides information about the Kimek country and the lifestyle of Kimek people. We have learned from this work that Kimek, Karluk and Yagma people had organised raids against the district of “C.mliketh” that was under the domination of a Yabgu (ruler) from Tokuz-Oguz people in the southeast.
In the Century XI:
Kimek and Kipchak people that continued to advance towards the southwest established dominion in the central and lower banks of Seyhun River. Kipchak people who had been in the basin of Lower Irtish-Isim Tobol had reproduced and expanded to a much wider area. Meanwhile, it can be thought that they entered into the regions of Khazar people that were their neighbours in the west.
In the beginning of the century, Kitan people started to organise their raids towards the west. Meanwhile, the migrations of Kuman people from their first homelands towards the west are attributed to this pressure of Kitan State in the Northern China. As it was quoted by Şerefüzzemân Tâhir Mervezî (1120?), Kun people got afraid of Kitay people and they migrated. Kay people that followed them behind drove them to the farther regions. They repulsed the Sari people, they repulsed Turkmen people, they repulsed Oguz people and they repulsed Pecenek people away from the regions. Then, they captured their homelands. At the same time, Pecenek people that lived in the Aral-Caspian region were surrounded with Khazar people in the north, Kipchak people in the east and Oguz people in the south. The departure of Turks from China in the years of 1012-13 that was described within the work titled as Ibn el-Esir must have been the arrival of these Kun and Sari (Uighur) people into the homeland of Turkmen people.
Actually, Kilan people that concluded a state of peace with China in the year of 1004 turned firstly towards Kora and then Gobi. In the latter region, they advanced against Uighur people in the year of 1009 and they captured the Western Kansu and the cities of Kan-çov and Suçov from Uighur people. In the year of 1017, Kitan hordes penetrated into the Kasghar region and the zone of Isik Lake that were within the borders of the Karahanli State. According to the resources of the period, Kilan people had started to invade the Karahanli State in the form of a community composed of 300 thousands of people (possible total population of nearly two millions). Some of their vanguards approached to the place with the distance of eight-day journey to the capital city of Balasagun that was located in the west of Isik Lake. This slow raid and invasion caused the reappearance of a great tribal migration among the Turkish tribes in the Central Asia. The nomadic Kitan people had attacked to the homelands of the Turkish tribes as best as they could and these attacks caused a terrible depression actually. Therefore, the Turkish people drove one another away from their lands and thus, a great migration occurred.
According to the Hungarian scholar, Karoly Czegledy, Kun and Sari people who came to the southwestern Siberia drove Uz people away to the more west. They joined with some of Kipchak people and they started to use the name of Kuman for the first time in history. However, this tribal name of “Kuman” is still used among some other ethnical communities that lived in small groups in the far east of the aforesaid region. Therefore, doesn’t is show that they had survived even before they arrived in this region? The definite issue about the matter of Kuman people is that they had taken some of the Kipchak people on their way that had reproduced for their pastures and they brought them to the vast steppe lands that extended in the north of the Crimea. It has been understood that Kuman and Kipchak people that were seen in the Eastern and Central Europe since the year of 1050 could not blend as a single tribe although they had established a tribal union since there were various different characteristics pertaining to these two communities.
The great tribal migration that took place in the first half of the century XI affected the Kimek community in a negative manner. A terrible depression was observed in the tribal union and the union got dissolved. It has been understood that the struggles and conflicts within the country increased towards the middle of the century and the rebellions against the central government that was on the verge of decline went up. On the other hand, Kipchak people that possessed a high population endeavoured to establish dominion over the neighbouring tribes. Furthermore, some of them started to immigrate towards the west. All these events must have dissolved the Kimek State. The dissolution of the tribal union and the collapse of the central government took place all of a sudden and the name of the Kimek State and nation was on the verge of being forgotten event in the second half of the century. Kipchak people that constituted the most crowded tribe replaced Kimek people. This last issue may be considered as the establishment of dominion by Kipchak people who had stayed in the land over the tribal union through their superior number of population. All of the tribes in the Kimek country were submissive to Kipchak people.
Kasgarli Mahmud Bey from the country of the Karahanli State had completed his work titled as “Dîvanü Lügati’t-Türk” in the second half of the century; however, he had not dealt with the Kimek people in his work. In this work, only Yimek (Yemek) people from Kimek tribal union that lived in the banks of Irtish River were introduced and it was stated that these people constituted a “cif” (tribe) of Kipchak people. However, Kasgarli added the following statement to this information: “According to us, they are Kipchak people; however, the Kipchak Turks consider themselves as a different tribe”. This brief explication reminds some important issues: Kimek tribal union had been totally dissolved and that uniting name was forgotten at all. Maybe only Kipchak people and Yimek people had stayed in their places. The Kipchak community that was very crowded may have considered themselves as a superior tribe different from the others.
Kimek nation had come into existence as a result of the integration of several Turkish tribes like the other nations that resembled to it. As a consequence of the dissolution that took place in the middle of the century XI, we have observed that some of the tribes of this union survived all alone or joined into the other tribal unions. Kipchak people that constituted the most crowded tribe of the union had expanded towards the western Siberian steppe lands and to the north of the Caspian Sea. Some of these people extended towards the central Europe together with Kuman people. Then, they established a new state composed of the tribal union in that region. Those who had stayed in their places maintained their existence until the foundation of the new ethnical communities in the century XV.
The state of affairs pertaining to Yimek people was the same as that of Kipchak people. Some of them stayed in their regions while some of them passed to the Eastern Europe together with Kipchak people. According to the news provided by Muhammed Nesevi (1241), we have learned that Yimek people had came down to the banks of Seyhun River in the century of XII and they got in the service of Harezmshah State in that region. They had played important roles in some of the military expeditions and victories of this state.
Minhac Cuzecani who explained the military expedition of Harezmshah Muhammed in the year of 1218 stated that he had chased after the Kangli Leader, Kadir Khan and he went to the region of Yugur town in the north in the course of this pursuit. This Kadir Khan was from Yimek people and he was the son of Safaktan-oglu Tatar Yusuf. According to the information pertaining to the beginning of the century XIV, we have observed that some of the Yimek people that had gone to Europe were among the Kipchak people in the Golden Horde State in the further periods.
Bayandur people who constituted another tribe in the union were not possibly a crowded and widespread tribe. These people joined into the Oguz nation. Bayandurlu people that were among the Oguz people rushed towards Turkey in the further periods. The Akkoyunlu lineage from Bayandurlu tribe would establish a state including the Eastern Anatolia and Azerbaijan in the beginning of the century XV.
We do not have any information about the state of affairs pertaining to the other tribes of the Kimek tribal union pursuant to the dissolution. There was not the tribal name of Kimek among the Turkish tribes and branches that lived in the Central Asia in the century XIX and in the beginning of the century XX.
As it can be understood from our resources, the Kimek country covered the vast steppe lands within the Western Siberian savanna.The central tributary of the Irtish River constituted the main centre of the country. While the population of the tribes in the union increased, the borders started to expand in the same proportion. We can find some information that determines the borders of this Turkish country within the petty records of the Islamic geographers.
The geographer, Muhammed el-Mukaddesî states that the Southwestern border of this country passed near the districts of Saban and Saglcan in the basin of Seyhun River in the century X. Of these districts, Savran was a district that looked out over Oguz (Guz) and Kimek countries. Saglcan was a big and rich town that was surrounded with city walls and located in the border of Kimek country. According to the records of Ibn Havkal, it has been supposed that this border extended towards the spring of Ak- Idyll River in the West.
As it was stated clearly in the resources, the Kimek nation was composed of a tribal union. This union was certainly consisted of several tribes and branches. However, we cannot find any information about the tribal order, the names and classifications of all the groups and branches within the Kimek nation. According to Hudud (982), the Kimek country was composed of eleven (twelve including the region of Ruler, if any) regions (Province). In case that each of these regions pertained to the tribes that formed the nation, it must have been accurate that the number of the regions was equal to the number of the big tribes in the union. However, Gerdizi (1050) had given the names of seven tribes in the beginning of Kimek epic that he must have quoted from an ancient resource. Uniting both of these records, we can consider that the Kimek tribal union was composed of seven tribes in the beginning; and this number increased to twelve with the annexations in the further periods.
According to the epic quoted by Gerdizî, the tribal names that were derived from the roots of personal names were as follows: İmi-Eymi-İmey, İmek-Emek (Yimek), Tatar, Balandur (Bayandur), Khıfçak (Kipchak), Lankaz-Lanıkaz, Aclad (?), In this epic, Kimek people are shown as a branch that got separated from the Tatar people. On the other hand, this second tribe is considered within the Kimek tribal order (3.). Maybe a family from Tatar people had gone to the fore and established this tribal union that was composed of various tribes.
Kipchak people who remained within this union for a long time established dominion in the vast steppe lands that extended from the Western Siberia towards the Central Europe in the further periods. We know that Kipchak people had established another state composed of tribal union with Kuman people. This tribe had an important place within the ethnical organisations before and after the Golden Horde State. Kasgarli Mahmud Bey was familiar with Yimek people about which we have only little information. Pursuant to the dissolution of the union, they had come down to the banks of Seyhun River and they were seen among the Kipchak people within the Golden Horde State.
We cannot exactly know the tribes that may have joined to the Kimek tribal union in the further periods. However, one of the three regions within Kimek country was named as “Kirgizkhan”. Considering this name, it has been understood that a Khirghiz tribe had joined to this union. The Kangli tribe that lived in the region neighbouring Oguz people and that were observed with Kipchak people in the further periods may have also joined to this union. As a matter of fact, their homeland was so close to the lands of Kipchak people.
Upon the dissolution of the Eastern Kok-Turk and Turgis States, they got disappeared from the stage of the history. Afterwards, we know that Kimek people established a state like the other Turkish tribes that declared their independence. Well, what kind of a quality did this state have? Actually, there were two types of states among Turks during the first era of Turkish history.
The first one of these states was a “Tribal principality” that was composed of a few tribes. The other state was at the level of “a state with ruler” (Hakanli) that was composed of the union of big tribes. The latter one constituted the state that dominated an extensive region pursuant to the annexation of various big tribes and that was based on a single dynasty with the state government by aristocracy. In respect of the state characteristics, the latter one is a much more deep-rooted state with much more extensive organisation and a greater domination.
One of our resources, Ali el-Mes’ûdî had mentioned about them as “Kimek Yabgu principality” in his works titled as “Murûc” (943) and “Tenbîh” (Warning) (956). The work titled as “Hudud” (Border) (982) was written in the same century and in a place near to this state. In this work, the title of Kimek ruler was stated as “Hakan” (Ruler). Gerdizi (1050) must have quoted from an ancient resource and he stated that their leader was called as “Baygu (Yabgu)” (Leader). According to these records, both of the titles either Yabgu (Leader) or Hakan (Ruler) indicate that the Kimek people had a state order with a Ruler.
As a matter of fact, it has been understood from the indicators of the Dedem Korkut Book that the Bayandur tribe had such a state organisation in the course of their existence within Oguz nation. Therefore, to state in brief, the state structure of Kimek people had the level of a state with a ruler (Hakanli). It was composed of the union that consisted of various big tribes. The state government had the quality of aristocracy and it was possessed by the Ruler’s dynasty and lineage. This big state had attached primary importance to the economy and justice of the tribes that led a nomadic life and bred stock. The persons from the dynasty of the Ruler and the beys of he tribes that constituted the union were dominant in the region.
Hudut introduces us with the state organisation of the Kimek State in a concise manner. According to the information that it provided, there was a ruler titled as “Hakan” (Ruler) who was the sovereign of the country. The country under the domination of the ruler was divided into eleven (maybe twelve including the region of the ruler) Provinces. Each province was governed by its own governor and therefore, there were eleven “amil” (governors) in the provinces. This governorship was hereditary and peculiar to the family of the governor. His post would be handed down to his sons through inheritance. It can be considered that each province was divided into tribes and branches.
There are some titles within the resources that give us information about the high-ranked governors of the Kimek State. We have also observed these titles in the Turkish States in the Middle Ages. The principal title is “Hakan” (Ruler). The former and original form of this title was “Kagan” (Khan) and this title was granted to the rulers of the independent states. The wife of Hakan that stayed in the palace was called as “Hatun” and this title was used in all of the Turkish states since the period of antiquity.
The titles of “Yangu” (Kimek epic, etc.) and “Sad” (Kimek epic) dated back to the ancient history. These titles were the official titles that the Ruler entitled to his close relatives in order to govern some section of the country that was under his own domination. However, these titles were sometimes considered as the senior and junior according to the places and periods. Another title that included a high-rank office was “Tutug” (according to a style of pronunciation: Totok) (Kimek epic and Mücmelü’t-Tevarih). This title was entitled to the military-civil governor of a region.
As it can be clearly understood from the information stated in the resources and the linguistic residuals that have survived until nowadays, the Kimek people spoke with the Turkish language. When the linguistic residuals that we have obtained are studied thoroughly in details, it can be understood that there were two dialects in the Kimek country. Most of the population in the country spoke with the Main-Turkish (Y-Turkish) language together with the neighbouring Oguz people. A group of the people that lived in the far northwest spoke with the dialect under the influence of Bulgarian Turkish (S-Turkish) language together with Kipchak people and some of the Yimek people.
Like in all the other Turkish states and tribes in the period of the antiquity, the religion of Kamlik (Shamanism) was dominant among the Kimek people. It has been known that they worshipped in the Sky (God) and they showed great respect to the Soul of the Ancestors and Fire. It has been understood from Kimek epic quoted by Gerdizi that the Kimek people had a “Cult for Water”. As it was stated in that epic, they had considered the Irtish River as their sublime God. As it was stated by Ishak ibn el-Huseyin (century XI), Kimek people would incinerate the corpse of the death people and they would throw the ashes to the big rivers (Irtish River). The famous Arabian traveller, Ebu Dulaf (Mis’ar b. Muhalhil, 941) informed that there was a Jade among Kimek people.
There was a patriarchal domination in Kimek houses (families). This was the case for all Turkish tribes in the period of antiquity. It has been observed that principally two lifestyles were dominant among Kimek people. Most of the population led a nomadic lifestyle. Kimek people who lived in woodlands in the northern sections had fairly settled lifestyles. These settled people who were very few in numbers were occupied with mostly hunting as a means of subsistence. Those out of these settled people were occupied with stockbreeding (shepherds) and they subsisted themselves from the animal products. Therefore, the main economy of the Kimek State was based on stockbreeding and the animal products obtained from the animals bred.
I have stated that one of the means of subsistence was hunting. The Kimek people would hunt fur animals such as sable (semmur), stoats, red squirrels, etc. Mervezi stated that they would set off for hunting fur animals in the snowy days of the winter. Hunting was the main means of subsistence for the settled Kimek people and the auxiliary means of subsistence for the nomadic people. The main means of subsistence pertaining to this crowded community was stockbreeding. They would breed herds of animals and they would lead an economical life based on all sorts of animal products. The total wealths of the families were composed of these herds of animals and cattle. As it was stated by Gerdizi, there were thousands of wild horses on the upper banks of the Irtish River. Kimek people would catch these horses with lassos and they would domesticate them. Similarly, this resource states that they did not have any camels and the camels that were brought to the region did not live for long in that region.
It was too difficult to protect the crowded herds of animals and cattle bred by nomadic Kimek people under the hard weather conditions in the winters. In the years when they had established good relations with Oguz people, they would take their herds of cattle and pass to the side of Oguz people in the season of winter. Ak tag (Ok tag) that was located near to the Oguz land was a region where they brought their saddle horses in the dry cold of the winter.
Since they were stockbreeders, the nomadic Kimek people led a half-nomadic life between two specific regions that were called as summer pastures and winter residences. They would wander about the pastures, watery grasslands and meadows in the summers. They would take shelter under large nomadic tents as required by this lifestyle. They had various shelters ranging from big nomadic tents made of seal and small tents. In the snowy days of the winter, they would stay in the valleys that were protected from the cold and in the winter residences in the side of the rivers. They had made wooden water tanks under the ground there. When the waters got frozen in the severe days of the cold weather, they would get use of this water for themselves and for their animals.
The author of the work titled as Hudud stated that the dressing styles of Kimek people and Khirghiz people were exactly the same. This identity is natural since this dressing style was composed of the elements suitable for the characteristics required by the nomadic lifestyle. It was also stated that Kimek people used skis for gliding over snow. Kasgârlı Mahmûd Beg introduced a fabric called as “Kemek (single orifice)”. Dresses suitable for the winter would be stitched with this fabric that was made of cotton and with strips. Kipchak people would also sew raincoats from this coat. This name may have been “Kimekler” as a fabric peculiar to Kimek people. While the fabric was made of wool in the past, it may have been made of cotton in the century XI. It can be considered as a separate evidencing document that Kipchak people from the Kimek nation had also used this fabric.
The principal foods that Kimek people would eat were the foodstuff that they obtained from their animals. They would eat mutton, beef and horsemeat with large amounts and they would drink the milks of these animals. The meat and milk of the animals that grew fat in the summer pastures were the best nutrition. They would dry and keep the meat and eat it in the winter. This technique of drying the meat must have been in the type of “preserve of dried meat” that is made today. Milk and the drinks made of milk were considered among their drinks. Kimek people would drink the mare’s milk and the fermented drink that was made of this milk was called as “kımız” (Kumis). Kumis is a drink with highly nutritive value.
It has been understood that Kimek people had trading relations with various nations and particularly with their neighbours. They would transact the trade of livestock animals and products (meat, skin, spring wool, carpet, textile fabrics, etc.) with the neighbouring countries. Furthermore, they would also export the furs that they obtained from the fur animals hunted. In return to these materials, they would buy the other needs that they required from the foreign nations. It can be considered that the medium of trade was the exchange of goods rather than money. We know that the Muslim merchants had travelled within the Turkish homelands far and away from the main highways such as Oguz, Kimek and Khirghiz provinces, etc. under difficult conditions for months. They dealt in these regions with trade and opened markets. These merchants were the newsagents of the Islamic geographers. It is another significant issue that these merchants would travel in these provinces within a robust safety. Gerdizi and Mervezi stated that there was not any salt in the country of Kimek people and they imported it from the foreign states. This material was so valuable for them that they were ready to exchange it with sable skin coats.