Chinese Archives Shed Light on Kazakh History, Bilateral Ties

ASTANA – At a mid-September briefing at the Central Communications Service (CCS) on the “People in the Flow of History” programme, scientists from Suleimenov Oriental Studies Institute presented the results of an archaeological exhibition to China.

Scaled research on national history was launched in Kazakhstan, where more and more international contacts established to study world archives and archaeological excavations and conferences are taking place.

From June to September, 23 scientists have been abroad, and the most fruitful trip was to the Institute of Oriental Studies to the Chinese cities of Beijing and Xi’an. During a month of work in the largest archives of the PRC, the scientists collected many documents on the history of Sino-Kazakh relations, Nestorian monuments and ancient epitaphic monuments of Turkic tribes related to Kazakh history and culture.

According to Meruert Abusseitova, head of the Institute’s department, doctor of historical sciences, the archives of the PRC contain a wealth of material – written documents, archaeological finds, artifacts that could shed light on the external-political and socio-economic history of the Kazakh Khanate during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The archival documents contain information on the interaction of the Kazakh state not only with China, but also with Russia, Kokand and Khiva.

“They have brought 283 volumes with more than 72 thousand copies of the documents covering the period from the end of 1730 to mid-1911,” Abusseitova said.

Under the “People in the Flow of History” programme, an agreement was extended between the Suleimenov Institute of Oriental Studies and the First Historical Archive of China for Kazakh scientists to continue research in order to identify new materials on the history and culture of Kazakhstan.

Among the recovered documents, the correspondence of Kazakh khans and sultans with Chinese rulers that unveil the history of relations between the two states is of particular interest. There are letters of Bolat Khan, Wali Sultan and even correspondence of Abylai Khan with Qin Emperor Qianlong.

According to Abusseitova, these materials are of particular relevance in view of the upcoming 300th anniversary of Abylai Khan. The discovered correspondence gives details on the exchange of ambassadors, appointments, information of a more private character – wishes, greetings and others. Unfortunately, Qianlong’s response letters to Abylai Khan were lost.

In Xi’an, historians came across epitaphed monuments of ancient Turks and Nestorians monuments dated to the sixth through fourteenth centuries. Similar findings have already been made in Zhetysu (Semirechye) region in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia, but in China they were first discovered by Kazakh scientists.

Comparative analysis of the monuments will give more clues to the Kazakhs’ ethno genesis, the history of religions, the origin of the ancient Turkic script and language, evolution of the Turkic Kaganate, ethnic structure and geographic dispersal of nomadic peoples, not only in Kazakhstan but also in Central Asia.

With such a wealth of documents in hand, scientists have a lot of work ahead in systemizing, cataloging and translation. The unique materials will enter the school and university textbooks, monographs will come out as well.

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