KAZAKHS

SAMER COSSACK | MARCH 22, 2016

The Kazakhs (also spelled Kazaks or Qazaqs) are a Turkic people who mainly inhabit the northern parts of Central Asia (largely Kazakhstan, but also found in parts of Uzbekistan, China, Russia, and Mongolia).

Kazakhs were one of the nations most severely affected by the Soviet famine of 1932–33, with 37% of the total population dying.

Kazakh was a common term throughout medieval Central Asia, generally with regard to individuals or groups who had taken or achieved independence from a figure of authority.

The Kazakhs probably began using this name during either the 15th or 16th centuries. There are many theories on the origin of the word Kazakh or Qazaq. Some speculate that it comes from the Turkish verb qaz (to wander), because the Kazakhs were wandering steppemen; or that it derives from the prototurkic word khasaq (a wheeled cart used by the Kazakhs to transport their yurts and belongings).

Another theory on the origin of the word Kazakh (originally Qazaq) is that it comes from the ancient Turkic word qazğaq, first mentioned on the 8th century Turkic monument of Uyuk-Turan. According to the notable Turkic linguist Vasily Radlovand the orientalist Veniamin Yudin, the noun qazğaq derives from the same root as the verb qazğan ("to obtain", "to gain"). Therefore, qazğaq defines a type of person who seeks profit and gain.

The national flag of Kazakhstan has a gold sun with 32 rays above a soaring golden steppe eagle, both centered on a sky blue background; the hoist side displays a national ornamental pattern in gold; the blue color is of religious significance to the Turkic peoples of the country, and so symbolizes cultural and ethnic unity; it also represents the endless sky as well as water; the sun, a source of life and energy, exemplifies wealth and plenitude. The sun's rays are shaped like grain, which is the basis of abundance and prosperity. The eagle has appeared on the flags of Kazakh tribes for centuries and represents freedom, power, and the flight to the future.