Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Turki, the proper national name of the so-called Tatars, who form the western division of the "Mongolo-Tatar" race. [TATAR.] The term Turk, as an ethnical designation, is traceable, in its mutilated Chinese form (Tu-kiu), back to the 2nd century B.C., when a people of that name dwelt in the Altai region. Here they gradually rose to great power, and in the 1st century of the new era their name had already reached Europe, the Turcae being mentioned both by Pomponins Mela (i. 19) and by Pliny (vi. 7). The Hiung-nu and the On-Uighurs, founders of vast but unstable empires, were all of Turi stock, as were also the bulk of Attila's hordes: "the Huns, whom we commonly call Turks" (G. Theophanes, 8th century). In 569 Sinjibu, Kha-Khan ("Great King") of the Altai Turks, received an embassy from Justin II. of Constantinople, and ever since that time the Turks, under one name or another, have maintained almost uninterrupted relations, hostile or friendly, with the nations of the West, overthrowing the Byzantne Empire (1453) and penetrating up the Danube to the very gates of Vienna (1683). The Turki type, originally Mongolic, had at an early period been profoundly modified by contact with peoples of Finnish race, whence the frequent mention of "red hair," "green eyes," and "white complexion" in the Chinese records. During their later migrations westward many (Avars, Magyars, Osmanli) became largely assimilated in physique to the Caucasic type, so that at present most of the western turks are scarcely to be distinguished from the surrounding Iranian and European peoples of Aryan speech; but the Turki language betrays their Mongol descent, while the Mongolic type itself is still conspicuous amongst the Kirghiz, Siberian "Tatars," Uzbegs, most Turkomans, Kashgarians, and Yakuts. In their native steppes the Turki peoples remain essentially nomad pastors (Kirghiz, Turkomans, etc.), but in arable lands they have become excellent agriculturists (the settled Turki communities of Persia and Asia Minor). In religion most remain essentially Shamanists, though all, except the Yakuts and a few other "Orthodox Christians," are nominally Mohammedans, whereas their Mongol kinsfolk are, with few exceptions, nominal Bddhists. The Turki language, a typical member of the Ural-Altaic family (q.v.), is spoken with some dialectic diversity, throughout a great part of North-East, Central, and Western Asia, in the Balkan Peninsula, the Caucasus, the Volga basin, and a few other parts of European Russia. Most of the dialects are uncultivated, but those of the historic peoples (Chagatai, Osmanli, Kazan, Krim, and other Russian Tatars) have all been reduced to written form, using the Arabic alphabet, which is ill-adapted for the purpose. The peoples of Turki speech are somewhat thinly distributed over their vast domain of severaol million square miles, and probably do not number altogether more than about thirty millions. The form three distinct groups, with several subdivisions, as under. (1) EASTERN GROUP, comprising the so-called "Tatars" of the Yenesei and Siberia, the Yakuts of the Lower Lena basin, with detached settlements on the Sea of Kohotsk; the Taranchi, Machins, Dungans, and others of Chinese Turkestan (Kashgaria, Kulja, Zungaria); the Yegurs and Daldi of Kansu (North-West China). (2) CENTRAL GROUP, comprising the Kirghiz (Kara-Kirghiz or Buruts, Kirghiz-Kazaks, and Kara-Kalpaks), of the West Siberian steppes, the Pamir Uplands, and Lower Volga; the Hor-pa of the Tibetan plateau; the Uzbegs, Kipchacks, Tiuruks, and others of Russian Turkestan, Bokhara, Khiva, and Afghan Turkestan; the Bashkirs, Chuvashes, Meshcheriaks, and other mixed Finno-turki peoples of Turki speech in the Volga and Ural basins. (3) WESTERN GROUP, comprising the Turkomans of Transcaucasia, Persia, and Asia Minor; the Nogai Tatars of the Caucasus, the Crimea, and Kazan; the settled Turki peoples of Azarbaijan (Persia) and Asia Minor; the Osmanli of Turkey in Europe. (Klaproth, Remusat, Berezine, Vambery, and especially H.H. Howorth, The So-called Tatars of Russia and Central Asia.)