Juz is Meaning, definition and history

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Juz is Meaning, definition and history
Juz is Meaning, definition and history

Kazakhstan is a state belonging to both Europe and Asia, with a population of over 18 million people. The country of the Baikonur cosmodrome and rare animals such as the snow leopard and goitered gazelle. A country with virgin nature and a rich history, which still has many "white spots". And one of the most interesting and little-studied questions for historians is the question of the zhuzes of the Kazakhs. Do you know what it is?

Kazakhstan on the world map

What is zhuz? Distinctive Features

Zhuz is a specific form of unification of the Kazakhs, which has developed historically. There were three in total. Senior, Middle and Junior, and among themselves they divided almost the entire territory of modern Kazakhstan, capturing a small part of neighboring states. Zhuzs had their own distinctive features: internal ethnic unity, isolated territory, tribal ties, traditions and customs.

The opinion of historians about the period of the emergence of zhuzes

Causes, internal structure, organization - all this causes a lot ofcontroversy and conflicting opinions. The views of historians also diverge on the period of occurrence of such a phenomenon as zhuzes of the Kazakhs.

Linguist Sarsen Amanzholov, one of the founders of Kazakh linguistics, adheres to the version about their appearance in the 10-12th centuries, even before the unification of the Mongols and Turks into a single Turkic-Mongolian empire

Soviet orientalist Vasily Bartold, Islamic scholar and Arabist, considers the 16th century to be the time of the emergence of zhuzes.

Historian Chokan Valikhanov associated the emergence of zhuzes with the period of the collapse of the Golden Horde.

Russian ethnographer and orientalist Nikolai Aristov, on the other hand, attributed the creation of zhuzes to the period of Dzungar raids.

Orientalist Tursun Sultanov, noting the scarcity of information, more likely attributed the time of the emergence of zhuzes to the second half of the 16th century - in his opinion, it was during this period that the system of uluses was transformed into a system of zhuzes.

Juzes of Kazakhstan

There is a Kazakh proverb:

Give the Senior Zhuz a staff and let him graze cattle, give the Middle Zhuz a feather and let him settle disputes, give the Younger Zhuz a spear and send it to the enemy.

Pretty curious, isn't it?

There were three Kazakh zhuzes in total. We have already mentioned them. Senior ("Uly Zhuz"), Middle ("Orta") and Junior ("Kishi"). The elder occupied the territory of Semirechye and South Kazakhstan. Middle - the territory of Central Kazakhstan A The younger Kazakh zhuz was located on the territory of Western Kazakhstan.

Interesting fact! The elder was not the largest in terms of territory or numbers. Hegot its name because of the seniority of the genera included in it.

Kazakhs in battle

Zhuzes existed as different khanates with their rulers, customs and family ties. But at the same time, the inhabitants never forgot that in general they are a single people, they did not arrange wars among themselves, and when threatened by an external enemy, they united their forces.

Features of education

What features of upbringing and behavior were adopted in associations that were called zhuz? This, for example, is a feature of raising sons. Traditionally, children were “divided” as follows: the eldest son was given to his grandparents “for education”, the middle son grew up with his parents and later remained in this family, helping until old age, but the youngest was raised for the army. From childhood, the younger sons knew about their destiny and learned those skills that could be useful on the battlefield - fencing, archery and more.

Kazakh on a horse

Each member of this community had to perfectly know both the zhuzes and the clans that inhabited it. Knowing your family tree is a sacred duty for all inhabitants from a very young age.

To know “by heart” all relatives up to the tenth generation and beyond is not a whim of the elders. The fact is that in zhuzs any, even the most distant relative, could count on all kinds of help, no matter at what moment he turned to his own for it. The importance of kindred mutual assistance is a distinctive feature of the worldview.


Kazakh national outfit

In zhuzes strictlythe rule "no closer than seven knees" was observed in marriages. Spouses could not be from the same clan - the Kazakhs strictly followed the exogamy of marriages, not allowing ties between relatives. Violation of this norm was strictly punished, as a rule, by the death pen alty.


South-Kazakhstan, Dzhambul and the south of Almaty region are all the former Senior Zhuz. These are the lands of South Kazakhstan, Semirechye and even partially the territory of modern western China.

The Syrdarya and Ili rivers flow through these territories. The main tribes that lived on these lands and are the basis of the Senior Zhuz are Dulats, Albans, Kanly, Zhalairs, Uysuns, Suans. By the beginning of the 20th century, the population was about 1 million people.

This zhuz is the last of the three that ended up in the Russian Empire. Moreover, he still had to compete with the Kokand Khanate - in the truest sense of the word. Yes, and a diplomatic war for Semirechye also had to be arranged, but with China.

If the tribes of the Middle and Little zhuzes were nomadic, then the Senior zhuz was distinguished by the presence of settled Kazakhs.

Painted Kazakhs

The we alth of the Senior Zhuz is uranium deposits. In recent years, Kazakhstan has become a leader in its production, greatly increasing production.

The birth rate is high here, many Uzbeks and Kyrgyz are happy to move here.

Now the city of Alma-Ata with a population of more than one and a half million people is located on the territory of the former zhuz.

Fun fact: most of the leadership positions in the country, a significant part of the ruling elite -people from the Senior Zhuz. The most striking example is President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

President of Kazakhstan Nazarbayev


In other words, Orta-zhuz is the largest of the Kazakh zhuzes in terms of territory. It occupied mainly the north and east of the country, as well as its central part. If we consider this zhuz in the context of modern Kazakhstan, then we are talking about such areas as Kustanai, Akmola, North Kazakhstan, Pavlodar, East Kazakhstan, Karaganda. And also part of Alma-Ata and Dzhambul regions.

The rivers Irtysh, Ishim and Tobol flowed through the territory of the Middle Zhuz. 6 main tribes lived in it: Argyns, Naimans, Kipchaks, Konyrats, Kereis and Uaks. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the total population of the Middle Zhuz was about 1 million 300 thousand people.

If we talk about the accession of the Middle Zhuz to Russia, then the year 1739 turned out to be important. This year, a congress of Kazakh sultans was held in Orenburg; 27 foremen were present from the Middle Zhuz. At this congress, the sultans swore allegiance to the Russian Empire, and part of the Middle Zhuz became part of it. But not everything went smoothly, some of the khans challenged this decision, and as a result, the final accession of the Middle Zhuz dragged on until the middle of the 19th century.

Considering the territory of the Middle Zhuz in modern conditions, one can see that in addition to the indigenous population - Kazakhs and Russians - Chechens, Ukrainians, Germans, Tatars now also live on these lands. Karaganda and Astana are the largest cities located on this territory.


This zhuz occupied the territory of modern Aktuba, West Kazakhstan, Atyrau, Mangyshlak regions and partly - Kyzylorda region. If you look at the map, then this is the western part of Kazakhstan from the Urals to the Caspian Sea. The main rivers flowing through the lands are the Syrdarya and Yaik.

The junior zhuz of Kazakhstan for the most part consisted of three tribal unions - alimuls, bayuls and zhetyru. These are three main groups, each of which, in turn, included smaller ones - the Alimul group included 6 more genera, the Baiul group - 12, and the Zhetyru group - 7 genera. By the beginning of the 20th century, the number exceeded 1 million 100 thousand people.

If we consider the accession of zhuzes to Russia, then it was the youngest who joined first and of his own free will. The 18th century turned out to be generally difficult for Kazakhstan, the warlike neighbors of the Dzungars from the East devastated the lands, negatively affected the economic life of the Kazakhs, they needed a strong patron. In 1726, the senior khan sent a petition to Russia for patronage. The adoption of the Younger Zhuz into the empire took place in 1731 after the signing of the corresponding decree by Empress Anna Ioannovna.

The largest city on the modern territory is the city of Akhtubinsk with a population of over 370 thousand people. In addition to Kazakhs and Russians, representatives of the Korean nation now live in these parts.

The territory occupied by the Junior Zhuz is the land of arid steppes resembling a desert. But in this desert there are resources that are strategically important for Kazakhstan - oil, chromium anduranium.

Zhuz in modern Kazakhstan

To date, in percentage terms, the inhabitants of Kazakhstan are divided as follows: 35% - residents of the Senior Zhuz, 40% - residents of the Middle and 25% - the Younger.

Kazakh girls

Also in Kazakhstan there are two small, but revered by the majority of Kazakh population groups:

  1. Tore are direct descendants of Genghis Khan.
  2. Kozha are the descendants of the first Arabs who brought Islam to the steppes of Kazakhstan.

These two groups are the so-called "white bone". They are considered the ancient aristocracy of the Kazakhs.

Modern Kazakhstan tries not to emphasize the differences between zhuzes, and even better - to completely erase the differences between them. But things are not going very well - after all, this is the history of the country for several hundred years, and the adherence to traditions in the Kazakh steppe is very high.

It is significant how officials from the highest echelons of power try to negate the importance of origin from any zhuz. As an example, we can take the statement of presidential adviser Yermukhamet Yertysbayev:

I don't even know what kind of zhuz I am. I am Kazakh. The twenty-first century, and we think in terms of the era of the Mongol-Tatar invasion.

The significance of zhuzes in the history of Kazakhstan

The presence of zhuzes definitely played an important role in the history of the entire state. First of all, it was thanks to them that the Kazakh ethnos was so well preserved. The fact that the customs, language, culture and traditions of the ancient Kazakh society have survived to this day -for good reason. China, the Central Asian khanates, and Russia put pressure on the country. All this could have a depressing effect on the ethnic group and culture of the Kazakhs. But it was thanks to the zhuzs that this unique culture was not lost.

It should also be understood that the Kazakhs occupied a rather large territory. It was problematic to manage it effectively from any one center, and in other periods of time it was impossible. The presence of respected zhuzes helped preserve the country for posterity in the form in which we see modern Kazakhstan now.

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