Turkmen (t) Türkmän; a. al-Turkumān, al-Turkmāniyyūn, al-Tarākima; p. Turkmānān) a term used collectively for Turkictribes distributed over much of the Near and Middle East and Central Asia from mediaeval to modern times.


A number of modern studies have taken up this question, rejecting the Persian popular etymology of Türk-mānand “similar to the Türks”, already proposed by al-Bīrūnī (cf. Golden 1992, 213) and al-Kās̲h̲g̲h̲arī [q.v.] in his Dīwān lug̲h̲āt al-turk (tr. Dankoff 1984, ii, 363) and repeated by later authors including Ras̲h̲īd al-Dīn Ṭabīb. Similarly, Abu ʾl-G̲h̲āzī Bahādur Ḵh̲ān explains in his S̲h̲ad̲j̲ara-yi Tarākima that the Tād̲j̲īks first called the Türkmen who had settled in Mā warāʾ al-nahrTürks. With time, their features changed tore-semble more those of the local (i.e. Iranian) population. Therefore the Tād̲j̲īks gave them the name Türkmen , with the meaning “resembling the Türks, Türk-like”, but that the common people were unable to pronounce Türk-mānand and therefore said Türkmen (ed. Ölmez 1996, 170, tr. 251). G. Doerfer states that türkmän is obviously a derivation from türk “ruling people > Turk” with män as a kind of augmentative suffix (see Türkische und mongolische Elemente im Neupersischen, ii, Wiesbaden 1965, no. 892, with further references). Golden (1992, 212-13) similarly views the term as “deriving from Türk + Turk. -men (a suffix of strengthening)”.

The term Türkmen is used by Muslim historians, geographers and other authors writing within the sphere of the Sald̲j̲ūḳid empire and its successor states for those of the tribal federation of the Og̲h̲uz/G̲h̲uzz (q.v., see also F. Sümer, art. Oǧuzlar, in (A)—which included non-Og̲h̲uzic elements—that had become Muslims. However, by the Mongol period the appellation Türkmen had completely superseded that of Og̲h̲uz (W. Barthold, art. Turkomans, in EI 1). More pointedly, Golden (1992, 212) suggests that, initially, the term Türkmen was possibly not an ethnonym but a technical term denoting Islamised Turkic populations, including the Og̲h̲uz. He draws attention to the possibility of a pre-Sald̲j̲ūḳ history of the term referring to a Sogdian (8th century) and a Chinese (9th century, cf. also Barthold 1962, 79-80) source. The following citations from some of the earliest Muslim texts that refer to the Türkmen as Islamised Og̲h̲uz follow Golden(1992, 212-13, cf. also Barthold 1962, 77-120). The geographer al-Muḳaddasī (fl. 4th/10th century), who visited Ḵh̲urāsān, is considered the first Muslim source to refer to “the Turkoman who have converted to Islam through fear” and to “the sovereign of the Turkoman” (Aḥsan al-taḳāsim, 274-5, tr. B.A. Collins and M.H. al-Tai, 274-5). The scientist al-Bīrūnī al-Ḵh̲wārazmī (d. 440/1048), who knew the region well, mentions in his K. al-Ḏj̲amāhir fī maʿrifat al-d̲j̲awāhir (ed. Krenkow 1936, 205) that the Og̲h̲uz call “any Og̲h̲uz who converts to Islam” a Türkmen. Al-Marwazī (d. after 514/1120), a physician at the Sald̲j̲ūḳcourt, writes in his Ṭabāʾiʿ al-ḥayawān, which includes sections on human geography, that some of the Og̲h̲uz when they came into contact with Muslim countries converted to Islam, then being called Türkmen (ed. Minorsky 1942, 18/29). Al-Kās̲h̲g̲h̲arī describes the Ḳarluḳs [q.v.] as a “tribe of the Turks. They are nomads, not Og̲h̲uz, but they are also Turkman” (tr.Dankoff 1982, i, 353), but also says “Oguz—a tribe of the Turks; the Turkmän” (ibid., i, 101) and “türkmän. They are the Oguz” giving a long story about the encounter of their original 22 tribes (ibid., i, 101-2) with Ḏh̲u ʾl-Ḳarnayn [q.v.], including the etymology mentioned above (ibid., ii, 362-3).


Pre-Mongol period.

In the wake of the conquests of the Og̲h̲uz/Türkmen under the leadership of the Sald̲j̲ūḳfamily and during the period of its rule (5th-6th/11th-12th centuries), large numbers of Türkmen not only joined the Sald̲j̲ūḳ armies but also migrated as tribal groups from their habitat in the periphery of the Islamic world (i.e. the area bordered by the Ural and Irtysh rivers, the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea and the lower Syr-Darya valley) to northern Persia, Ād̲h̲arbayd̲j̲ān, Asia Minor, ʿIrāḳ, Syria, the Ḥid̲j̲āz and even North Africa. Some of these groups became settled and merged with the local populations, while the majority continued a nomadic or semi-nomadic way of life preserving tribal structures. (For details of these developments, see g̲h̲uzz and sald̲j̲ūḳids, with references.) Modern scholarship has underlined the enormous impact of these migrations on the political, economic, social and cultural structure of the central Islamic lands with their predominantly Iranian and Arab populations. A further effect was the beginning of the lasting Turkification of Ād̲h̲arbayd̲j̲ān and Anatolia. Attention is also drawn to the fact that, due to their historical role, we are better informed about the Türkmen than on any other Turkic people of the Middle Ages.

When central Sald̲j̲ūḳrule collapsed and regional successor states were established, in most cases by members of the Sald̲j̲ūḳ family or its close associates [see atabak], Türkmen tribal groups continued to form their major reservoir of warriors, since the migration of Türkmen from Central Asia continued. Moreover, already during the height of Sald̲j̲ūḳ power a number of principalities had emerged in the borderlands of the empire whose leaders were not members of the Sald̲j̲ūḳfamily but were Türkmen tribal chiefs, e.g. the Dānis̲h̲mendids [q.v.] in eastern Anatolia, who played an important role in the conflicts of the 6th/12th century between Crusaders, Byzantines and Sald̲j̲ūḳs. The Mengüček [q.v.] principality to the east of the Dānis̲h̲mendids and that of the Saltuḳ Og̲h̲ullari̊ [q.v.] around Erzurum were each annexed by the Rūm Sald̲j̲ūḳ sultan before the Mongol conquest. Of more consequence was the Salg̲h̲urid [q.v.] dynasty, founded by members of the Salur [q.v.] tribe, in Fārs, and the ruling family of the Artuḳid [q.v.] principality which belonged to and derived its strength from the Döger [q.v.] tribe of the Bozoḳbranch (see below) of the Türkmen. It continued to hold its own in the Mārdīn and Āmid (Diyārbakr) region up to the beginning of the 9th/15th century.

No reliable information is available about the number and tribal composition of Türkmen who remained in Central Asia. In the early 5th/11th century the region of the Balk̲h̲ān [q.v.] mountain ranges east of the Caspian sea became a place of retreat for the Og̲h̲uz and other Turkic tribes, while the Mangi̊s̲h̲lak [q.v.] peninsula further north is already mentioned as such in the 4th/10th century. In the second half of the 6th/12th century, a certain number of Türkmen settled in eastern Ḵh̲urāsān without, however, gaining any political importance, partly due to the rise of the Ḵh̲wārazms̲h̲āhs [q.v.]. In the 7th/13th century, the Mongol conquests led to the large-scale expulsion into different directions, or incorporation into the Mongol army, of Türkmen living along the main route of military operations in Transoxania and Ḵh̲urāsān. In this way, a second wave of Türkmen, uprooted from a nomadic, semi-nomadic or settled way of life, again reached the central Islamic lands, and this wave was to change their political, ethnic and socio-¶ economic structure even more thoroughly than the earlier one set into motion by the Sald̲j̲ūḳ conquests.

Mongol and post-Mongol period.

Particularly successful politically were those Türkmen who made Anatolia, Armenia, Kurdistān and northern Syria their new home, soon to create small domains of semi-independent rule. While earlier studies based on Mamlūk, Persian, Ottoman and European sources furnished mainly political and socio-economic information concerning these Türkmen principalities (beyliks), more recent studies have also focused on their individual contribution to culture, particularly to the development of literature, art and architecture within the former territories of the Byzantine empire, now reduced to the northwestern part of Anatolia, that of the moribund Rūm Sald̲j̲ūḳ state under the overlordship of the Il-Ḵh̲ans [q.v.] and of the northern borderlands of the Mamlūk empire. However, the history of the major Türkmen amīrates of Anatolia is still not very well explored. This is partly due to the complicated situation regarding sources, e.g. the loss or lack of written sources connected to the way of life of the ruling Türkmen élite and its supporting tribes, as opposed to the settled Muslim and Christian subjects, and to subsequent Ottoman rule, with its different state ideology, which superseded that of the Türkmen beyliks.

Among the more well-known Türkmen principalities of Anatolia are those of the Ṣarūk̲h̲ān around Manisa and the Aydi̊n-Og̲h̲lu in the hinterland of Izmir, of the Mentes̲h̲e Og̲h̲ullari̊ on the southwestern coast, of the Germiyān Og̲h̲ullari̊ with their centre in Kütahya, the Hamīd Og̲h̲ullari̊ and Tekke Og̲h̲ullari̊ around Eǧridir and Antalya, the Ḳaramān-Og̲h̲ullari̊ with their centre in Konya, the Ḏj̲andar Og̲h̲ullari̊ between Sinop and Kastamonu, of the Ḏh̲u ʾl-Ḳadr (Dulg̲h̲adi̊r) Og̲h̲ullari̊ and the Ramad̓ān Og̲h̲ullari̊ [q.vv.] in southeastern Anatolia (for an overview, see I.H. Uzunçarşi̇li̇, Anadolu beylikleri 4, Ankara 1988). It should not be forgotten that the Ottoman empire had likewise its roots in a Türkmen principality founded by the eponymous ʿOt̲h̲mān I [q.v.] in the northwestern corner of Anatolia.

Most of these principalities have in common the period of their origin as quasi-independent domains in the 1330s and 1340s, in the wake of the demise of the Rūm Sald̲j̲ūḳ sultanate and the fact that they were finally incorporated into the Ottoman empire in the period of Sultans Murād II (824-55/1421-51) and Meḥemmed II (855-86/1451-81 [q.vv.]). In central Anatolia, the powerful Ḳaramān beylik constituted a serious threat to Meḥemmed II’s bid for supremacy until 865/1461. In southeastern Anatolia, the Ḏh̲u ʾl-Ḳadr Og̲h̲ullari̊ with their centre in Marʿas̲h̲, and the Ramad̓ān Og̲h̲ullari̊ around Adana, were able to resist the Ottomans, under Mamlūk protection, until Selīm I succeeded in defeating them in 921/1515. A large part of the Ḏh̲u ʾl-Ḳadr tribesmen entered S̲h̲āhIsmāʿīl Ṣafawī’s [q.v., see also ṣafawids and īlāt] service and became one of the constituents of his Ḳi̊zi̊l-bās̲h̲ [q.v.] troops, along with other Türkmen tribes such as the Ustād̲j̲lū, Rūmlū, S̲h̲āmlū, Takkalū, Afs̲h̲ār, Ḳād̲j̲ār, Warsāḳ and Bahārlū. However, beginning with S̲h̲āhʿAbbās I (995-1038/1587-1629) the predominant role of the ḳi̊zi̊l-bās̲h̲ Türkmen in the Ṣafawid central administration and provincial government was more and more reduced. By conserving their traditional way of life, in particular their seasonal migrations, the Türkmen tribal federations continued to evade, even confront, state authority both in the Ottoman empire and in Persia down to the first half of the 20th cen-¶ tury (for an overview, see Planhol 1993, passim). It must also be borne in mind that it was in this atmosphere of Ottoman-Ṣafawid confrontation (10th/16th century) that the religious syncretism which developed among the Türkmen in Sald̲j̲ūḳ times on the basis of practices and beliefs brought from Central Asia, and entered Sunnī and S̲h̲iʿī Islam, led to the formation of a new heterodox creed in Anatolia, Alevism (cf. several studies in Alevism in Turkey and comparable syncretistic religious communities in the Near East, ed. K. Kehl-Bodrogi, B. Kellner-Heinkele and A. Otter-Beaujean, Leiden 1997).

Of more political consequence than the Anatolian Türkmen beyliks were the states founded by the Ḳara Ḳoyunlu and AḳḲoyunlu Türkmen tribal confederations respectively. At times even serious rivals of the Tīmūrids, Mamlūks and Ottomans, they gained momentum with the re-migration of Türkmen to the east, essentially to Persia, from the 8th/14th till the beginning of the 10th/16th centuries. The AḳḲoyunlu (q.v.; the best study on them is J.E. Woods, The Aqqoyunlu. Clan, confederation, empire, Minneapolis and Chicago 1976) dominated eastern Anatolia and western Persia from the mid 8th/14th century until the conquest of these regions by the Ṣafawid S̲h̲āhIsmāʿīl in 907-8/1501-3. Their leading clan was the Bayi̊ndi̊r [q.v.], which claimed as its eponymous ancestor one of the 24 grandsons of Og̲h̲uzḴh̲ān, who were considered as the founders of the legendary 24 Og̲h̲uz tribes. Their most successful ruler, Uzun Ḥasan (871-83/1466-78 [q.v.]), made Tabrīz his capital after gaining the upper hand over the rival Ḳara Ḳoyunlu (q.v.; see also F. Sümer, Kara-Koyunlular 3, Ankara 1992). At the height of its power under Ḏj̲ihān S̲h̲āh (843-72/1439-67), the Ḳara Ḳoyunlu empire comprised eastern Anatolia, Armenia, ʿIrāḳand most of Persia.

Central Asia

Owing to the lack of historical evidence, it is not possible to prove direct continuity from the Og̲h̲uz/Türkmen of Sald̲j̲ūḳtimes to the post-Mongol Türkmen. Very little information is also available for the Tīmūrid period. The history of the modern Türkmen tribes can only be traced from the 10th/16th century onwards, when they slowly moved from their retreat in the western fringes of modern Turkmenistan (Mang)s̲h̲lak peninsula, Üst Yurt plateau, Balk̲h̲ān mountains, Ḳaraḳum desert) in an eastern and southeastern direction to the agricultural oases (Ḵh̲wārazm, the Murg̲h̲āb valley). This movement was probably caused by a growing desiccation of the steppe and the pressure exerted by stronger neighbours like the Ḳalmuḳs, the Ḳazak̲h̲s [q.vv.] and the Persians (cf. Bregel 1981). The rule of Abu ʾl-G̲h̲āzī Bahādur Khān (1054/1644-5 to 1074/1664), S̲h̲aybānid ruler of Ḵh̲īwa and historian of the Türks and Türkmen, was likewise marked with frequent expeditions against the Türkmen tribes of Ḵh̲wārazm, the Ḳaraḳum desert and the Mang)s̲h̲lak peninsula, leading to the temporary submission of some of them (Abu ʾl-G̲h̲āzī, S̲h̲ad̲j̲ara-yi türk, ed. and tr. P.I. Desmaisons as Histoire des mongols et des tatares par Aboul-Ghâzi Béhâdour Khân, St. Petersburg 1871-4, ed. 297-372, tr. 318-50). According to Abu ʾl-G̲h̲āzī’s own words, he composed his history of the Türkmen people, the S̲h̲ad̲j̲ara-yi tarākima (“The family tree of the Türkmen”), in 1071/1660-1, because Türkmen scholars, s̲h̲eyk̲h̲s and beks who had heard that he was an expert on history asked him to do so in replacement of the numerous Og̲h̲uz-nāmas which they considered as worthless (ed. Ölmez, 109, tr. 232). This history clearly mirrors the historical traditions and legends of the Og̲h̲uz that had earlier been recorded by ¶ Ras̲h̲īd Dīn in his Ḏj̲āmiʿ al-tawārīk̲h̲ (see Die Geschichte der Oġuzen des Ra“īd ad-Dīn, tr. K. Jahn, Vienna 1969). In addition, Abu ʾl-G̲h̲āzī’s work adds events that probably have to be placed mostly within the 9th/15th century.

According to Abu ʾl-G̲h̲āzī, Og̲h̲uzḴh̲ān divided his descendants into the senior Bozoḳand the junior Üčoḳ division of tribes. He mentions in his work the Bayat, Bigdili, Dodurga, Döger, Ḳarḳi̊n and Ḳayi̊, which are traditionally considered as belonging to the Bozok (right wing) division, and the Ava, Bayi̊ndi̊r, Bečene, Bügdüz, Čavuldur, Čepni, Eymür, Igdir, Ḳara Ivli, Ḳi̊ni̊ḳ, Salur and Üregir belonging to the Üčoḳ(left wing) division. The Teke as well as the Ersari̊ [q.v.] are represented as connected to the Salur, and the Yomut and Göklen [see göklän] are not mentioned at all (ed. Ölmez, index). These tribes began to move into the oases of Ḵh̲wārazm and southern Turkmenia only by the middle of the 11th/17th century. The Ersari̊ and one part of the Yomut began to become sedentary farmers by the end of that century, as did the Čavuldur (Čawdor [q.v.]) and Teke from the beginning of the 12th/18th century onwards (Bregel 1981, 32-6).

The decline of the Khanate of Ḵh̲īwa from the early 12th/18th century permitted to the Türkmenincreased political interference in Ḵh̲warazm. Under the Ḳungrāt [q.v.] dynasty, established in 1218/1804, the campaigns against various Türkmen tribes became one of the constants of Ḵh̲īwan politics. Temporarily subdued militarily, or often out of sheer need for victuals which were only to be had in the sedentary areas, the Türkmen were forced to send auxiliary troops to participate in Ḵh̲īwa’s campaigns against the rival Buk̲h̲āran emīrate. Continuous raids into the neighbouring Persian provinces and Persian punitive expeditions into Türkmen territory exhausted both sides. Nevertheless, the tribes were able to preserve a certain amount of autonomy. After fighting victoriously with Ḵh̲īwan and Persian armies between 1855 and 1861, they enjoyed for a short while independence. In the course of its colonial expansion into Central Asia, Russia first conquered Buk̲h̲ārā, Ḵh̲īwa, Ḵh̲oḳand [q.v.] and the eastern coast of the Caspian sea (1281-93/1865-76). The Türkmen, however, offered strong resistance for several years. In 1289/1881 the Russians stormed the fortress of Göktepe [q.v.] and in 1302/1884 they occupied Marw [q.v.]. From 1897-1917, “Transcaspia” was administered as part of the governorate-general of Turkestan (a good overview of these events is given by Yu. Bregel in EIr, art. Central Asia. vii, in vol. V, 193-203).

While in the 13th/19th century the three Uzbek khanates Buk̲h̲ārā, Ḵh̲īwa and Ḵh̲oḳand turned into despotic monarchies, with the Uzbek military caste adopting a more and more sedentary character, the social structure of the Türkmen tribes remained largely tribal. The authority of their elders (aḳ saḳal) rested not on dynastic power but on personal qualification (R. Meserve, A description of the position of Turkmen tribal leaders according to 19th century Western travellers, in Altaica Berolinensia, ed. B. Kellner-Heinkele, Wiesbaden 1993, 139-48; for an overview of the tribal composition and a non-conclusive estimate of population numbers for the 19th century on the basis of Western sources, see the art. Türkmenler by M. Saray in (A). However, the continuous process of breaking-up and reshaping of tribes (uruk) and subtribes (oymak) between the 17th and 19th centuries has not been sufficiently studied, although source materials are not lacking. The major chronicles for 13th/19th century Ḵh̲īwa, e.g. ¶ the Firdawsal-iḳbāl and its continuations, by Muʾnis (1192-1244/1778-1829 [q.v.]) and Āgahī (1224-91/1809-74 [q.v. in Suppl.]) contain large sections on the inter-relationship between Ḵh̲īwa and the neighbouring tribes (Firdawsal-iḳbāl, ed. Yu. Bregel, Leiden, etc. 1988; sections of the continuations tr. into Russian in Materiali̊ po istorii Turkmen i Turkmenii, ii ed. V.V. Struve et alii, Moscow-Leningrad 1938). An example of how detailed a result can be achieved by using indigenous chronicles and archival documents, in addition to travel, diplomatic and military reports (particularly Russian), is given by Yu. Bregel’ in his Ḵh̲orezmskie Turkemeni̊ v XIX veke, Moscow 1961.

Modern period.

Republic of Turkmenistan

In 1926 the Teke and Yomut formed more than 50% of the total Türkmen population (Bregel 1981, 35). Bregel puts forward a cautious estimate of population numbers for the various tribes in the 1920s (1981, 12-17). In 1989 the Türkmen constituted 72% of a population of 4.1 million inhabitants (R. Götz-U. Halbach, Politisches Lexikon GUS 3, 1996, 332 with further references to the most recent developments). The Republic of Turkmenistan [q.v.], founded in 1991, is the first independent state of the Central Asian Türkmen. It was established within the borders of the Turkmenskay̲a̲ SSR, founded by the Soviet régime in 1925. Only during the Soviet period did a sense of national identity begin to emerge alongside tribal and local loyalties. Smaller communities of Türkmen are also to be found in the other Central Asian republics, particularly in Uzbekistan (cf. M. Durdi̊ev and S. Kadi̊rov, Dunyädäki Turkmenler, Ashgabat 1991, 56-7).


The contemporary Türkmen population was estimated at several hundreds of thousands of ca. 2% of a population of 26.3 millions in 1967-9. Most of them are agriculturists settled close to the Iran-Turkmenistan border. They are predominantly the descendants of the Yomut and Göklen, related to the important tribal confederations of the southern Turkmenian plateau (Planhol 1993, 553-5).


In the 1920s and 1930s, thousands of Türkmen immigrated into Afg̲h̲ānistān to avoid Sovietisation and collectivisation. Settling in the northernmost rural areas along the Soviet-Afghan border, they contributed an important new factor to Afghan economy as semi-nomadic karakul breeders and as carpet weavers. After 1978, the new régime recognised the languages of the larger minorities, among them the Türkmen, conceding publication and broadcasting in these languages. The Türkmen are considered the second largest group among the various Turkic ethnic groups (estimated at about 12% of a total population of ca. 14 millions in 1979) after the Uzbeks (E. Grötzbach, Afghanistan, Darmstadt 1990, 68, 73-5, 118/9; Planhol 1993, 596, 602).


There are no estimates available on the number of Türkmen in the Republic of Turkey, since they speak Turkish. There are Sunnī Muslim and Alevi Türkmen. Among the Sunnīs, the Avşar, Çepni [q.vv.], Bekdik and Hotami̇ş seem to be the more import-ant groups. They are widespread in western Anatolia (Afyonkarahisar) and central Anatolia (Kayseri, Sivas, Konya, Niǧde, Yozgat), and consider themselves as descendants of Og̲h̲uzḴh̲ān. They are endogamous and patrilinear. Among some Alevi Türkmen, group identity is rather based on religion than on common descent and origin in Central Asia. Again, the Çepni ¶ are listed among them, the Si̇raç, Barak, Nalci̇ and Tahtaci̇, but also tribal names derived from place names, like the Adali̇lar, Üsküdarli̇. They are widespread in western Anatolia (Bali̇kesir, Manisa, Izmir, Muǧla), but also to be found in the Gaziantep region. In the 1950s and 1980s, Türkmen families from Central Asia and Afg̲h̲ānistān emigrated to Turkey (see P.A. Andrews, Ethnic groups in the Republic of Turkey, Wiesbaden 1989, 63-8, 265-95, 593, with further references).

Syria and Lebanon

The descendants of the Türkmen tribes that moved into the Fertile Crescent beginning with the 5th/11th century are well-documented in the historical sources down to the 20th century. Although the majority of the large confederations of eastern Anatolia that had had their winter pastures since mediaeval times in the north of the Syrian desert (al-Ḏj̲azīra) had been resettled in the 12th/18th century by the Ottoman authorities to western and southwestern Anatolia (Planhol 1968, 235-40), European travellers in Greater Syria in the 19th century frequently report encounters with Türkmen. Areas with a compact Türkmen population or a strong minority existed in 1967, particularly south of the Turkish-Syrian border around Aʿzaz, Çoban Bey and Baer Bassit, and, as stock breeders, south of Kunaitra until 1967 (E. Wirth, Syrien, Darmstadt 1971, 179, 401, 417).

Next to nothing is known about Lebanon’s Türkmen inhabitants. However, in 1994 the ethnologist A. Nippa visited a Türkmen settlement near Baʿlabakk. This community calls itself ḳabīlat Suʿaydiyyīn and preserves a narrative of its origin that relates it vaguely to the Sald̲j̲ūḳs and Ottomans. They speak a Turkish idiom. Before the Syrian-Lebanese border was drawn in 1948 they circulated freely between the Bikāʿ and the Aleppo, Ḥamāt, Ḥims and Palmyra regions, where they had relatives. When the German photographer Hermann Burchardt visited the Türkmen of Baʿlabakk between 1893 and 1903, they were still nomads (A. Nippa, Lesen in alten Photographien aus Baalbek, Zürich [1996], 146-89).


Like Syria, modern ʿIrāḳhas a Türkmen minority that descends partly from the mediaeval Türkmen invaders, the northern Mesopotamian basin, over centuries serving as the winter pastures for the eastern Anatolian confederations. Today’s Türkmen settlements are to be found in the area with a Kurdish majority south of Kirkūk, Irbil and Mawṣil respectively. Population numbers are difficult to assess, since political interests are particularly complicated in regard to this area. According to official government statistics, Türkmen are estimated at somewhat less than 2% of a population of ca. 16.3 millions (1987). They speak a Turkish idiom, but are believed to be no longer tribally organised (see Irak: a country study, 4Washington D.C. 1990, 82, 85). Planhol (1993, 281, 766) mentions a Turkish estimate of 1.5 millions (1987) and an English one of 75,000 (1937).

(Barbara Kellner-Heinkele)

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