The Turkic Groups of Afghanistan

North of the Hindu Kush in Afghan Turkistan, a substantial number of people (perhaps 1.6 million) are descended from the Central Asian Turks who frequently invaded from the north. The most populous Turkish group in Afghanistan is the Uzbeks, who have broad, flat faces and lighter skin than the Pushtuns. They are farmers and stockmen, breeding the karakul sheep and an excellent type of Turkman horse. These people have kinsmen in the central republic of Uzbekistan. Many Uzbeks fled into northern Afghanistan in the 1920s to escape the suppression when the Soviet government was trying to stamp out their customs and Moslem religion.

Less numerous are the Turkmen, who live along the southern of the Amu Darya, and the Kirghiz, who live in the Wakhan Corridor. Most of he Kirghiz, a nomadic people who herd yaks, were driven out of their pastures by the Soviet Army in order to stop the passage of Chinese armaments. through the Wakhan Corridor. The Turkish tribes speak an archaic form of Turkish, and generally Persian as well. The men wear large, soft leather boots, belted cloaks, and turbans. They also wear greatcoats with sleeves long enough to envelop the hands in cold weather or store away small packages. the women wear long dresses in bright floral patterns over their leggings. The nomadic tribes of Afghan Turkistan still dwell in the yurt, a dome-shaped felt tent on a collapsible wooden frame typical in Central Asia.

 

(excerpts from "The Land and People of Afghanistan" by Mary Louise Clifford)


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