"Научный аспект №1-2019" - Гуманитарные науки

The role of Kurmanzhan Datka in the history of the Kyrgyz people

Омурзакова Турсунай Омурзаковна – кандидат исторических наук, доцент, директор Института гуманитарных и региональных исследований Южного отделения Национальной академии наук Кыргызской Республики.

Аннотация: В статье даётся информация о сложном периоде XIX в. в истории кыргызского народа, а также политической деятельности Курманжан Датки в это время.

Abstract: In this article information is given on the difficult period of the nineteenth century. In the history of the Kyrgyz people, as well as about the political activities of Kurmanzhan Datki at this difficult time.

Ключевые слова: Курманжан датка, Алымбек Датка, Кудояр хан, Музаффар эддин, К.П. фон Кауфман, Ферганская долина, Кокандское ханство, Российская империя.

Keywords: Kurmanzhan Datka, Alymbek Datka, Kudoyar Khan, Muzaffar eddin,K.P. Von Kaufmann, Ferghana valley, Kokand Khanate, Russian empire.

There is not a single nation in the world whose fate would not be determined by individuals. At all times there were people who did what they considered their moral duty and what others then called a feat. People who were noticed by history and who fell into its annals can be conditionally divided into two categories: those who belong to their century, their epoch, and those mentioning of whom immediately brings us into history, regardless of time and region.

Proceeding from this aspect of the problem, it is necessary to fully disclose the activities of the major leaders of the Kyrgyz tribes who played a certain role in historical destiny of the Kyrgyz people. Among them, the figure of Kurmanzhan Datka, an outstanding woman of the East, known back in the nineteenth century as the “Alai queen” stands out [1].

Her husband, Alymbek Datka, was a prominent political and statesman of the Kokand Khanate, who was killed by the enemies in 1862. After her husband's death, she independently ruled (1862-1876) the Alay Kyrgyz, having a great influence among the inhabitants of the Fergana Valley. She was ruling dignifiedly, maintaining proper relations with Khans of the Central Asia and rulers of other neighboring nations. She used to conduct the negotiations with them on an equal footing, having mastered the eastern diplomatic etiquette. Contemporaries respected her for wise and far-sighted decisions. The people under her control lived in a stable peaceful environment, without fear for their lives, without fear of threats, outrages and attacks from outside.

Russian and foreign travelers, orientalists, officers of the General Staff of the Russian Empire, military leaders and officials of the colonial authorities who visited the South of Kyrgyzstan used to pay a visit to Kurmanzhan Datka. It was important for them to know the position of an influential ruler of "restless", freedom-loving Kyrgyz.

The representatives of European civilization, who received, as a rule, brilliant education, used to get so deeply impressed by wisdom and state mind of the Alay queen that they used to consider it their duty to share it not only in scientific journals but also in individual works. Articles about her were published in Russian, French, German, English, Polish editions [2].

Her firm character and independent view of everything happening in the surrounding Muslim world, where the unequal treatment towards women prevailed, used to cause surprise and interest of the public not only in Asia, but also in Europe.

“After the death of Alymbek (1862) - wrote the governor of Ferghana region K. Abaza - using the absence of the ruler in Alay, Kokand Khan announced Alay nomads his subjects and overlaid them tribute, but Datka shook off this yoke and forced the Kokand Khan Kudoyar to sign a charter in which he recognized her as the legitimate ruler of Alay [3]. Bukharian Emir Muzaffar, Kashgarian Khan Yakubbek, Kokand Khan Kudoyarov used to treat her with respect and once a year used to send to Alay their ambassadors with rich gifts”. [4]

In 1864, the Bukharian Emir Said-Muzaffar Eddin passed with an army to Osh. Kurmanzhan, maintaining the diplomatic etiquette, met him friendly and hospitably, but Emir told her dissatisfiedly: “Why are you with an open face in front of me, don’t you know that according to Sharia a woman should not show her face?” She answered the question with a question: “I am also familiar with the canons of Sharia, but would your mother hide her face from you?” Emir realized that she was rumored about not for nothing as she really was an extraordinary personality. Kurmanzhan struck Emir with her wisdom and ingenuity. Thus, she did not allow the Bukharian Emir to conquer her lands.

The pre-revolutionary Russian press reported that Bukharian Emir Said Muzaffar Eddin, support of Islam, learning about her influence on the Kyrgyz, contrary to Muslim tradition, gave her the honorary title of Datka, supplying her with the proper title and presenting the gifts [5].

It was a rare event in the history of Muslim countries, they wrote. Then Kudoyar Khan arranged an official reception for the woman ruler, confirmed her Datka title and the right of full ruling over the southern Kyrgyz. She is the only woman of the East, who was awarded the high rank of Datka twice.

“Datka is a rank corresponding to our general's” - wrote lieutenant-general of the Russian army M.A. Terentyev - “and in Farsi "Datka" is a title meaning “looking for justice” [6]. Ch. ValiKhanov points out that “Datka” is the most honorable title, which ranks fourth in the royal court” [7]. All this raised the authority of Kurmanzhan even higher, and she was talked about in the neighboring countries.The nomadic Kyrgyz population of Alay was living freely and independently.

Bukharian Emir, Kokand Khan, Kashgar Khan - all the Central Asian Khans used to respect her. Envoys used to arrive annually from Bukhara, Kashgar and Kokand with gifts. The glory of her wise rule spread far beyond the Kokand and Karategin - wrote B.L. Tageev.

A special period in the political activity of Kurmanzhan Datka began with the conquest of Turkestan by the Russian Tsarism. After the annexation of the Kokand Khanate to Russia, the Pamir-Alay Kyrgyz tried to maintain their independence. Using any case such as the court fight in Kokand, war with other states, the Pamir-Alay Kyrgyz often used to go out of obedience of Khan and Khan's power actually was not extending over the nomadic Kyrgyz.

“In 1876, when the Kokand Khanate was conquered by the Russian troops, she decided not to submit to the power of the Russians and to defend the freedom of the Kyrgyz. Several encounters took place in the mountains of the small Alay, where the Kyrgyz fought “with desperate perseverance,” B. Tageev described in his book “The Pamir Campaign”. “When the Kokand Khanate was conquered by the Russian troops, and when the city of Andizhan fell before the all-conquering “white general”, an uprising broke out in Alay. The mountain population of Alay began to boil and vibrate, and the gangs of brave warriors began to be replenished with new forces. [8].

General-Governor of Turkestan K.P. Von Kaufmann was formally forced to admit that “never before in the Central Asia the Russians have experienced such a long and stubborn struggle - we encountered with such an energetic fighter for the first time” [9].Considering the influence of Datka on the Kyrgyz, General M.D. Skobelev ordered the Major Ionov to find the ruler of the Alay and enter into negotiations with her.

She came to the General accompanied by her son Kamchybek and grandson Myrzapayaz. Descriptions of the conversation between Kurmanzhan Datka and the General are preserved in the pre-revolutionary literature. “Skobelev expressed great honor to meet with her through an interpreter.” “Tell Datka, - Skobelev addressed to the interpreter Baitakov, who was standing there, - “I am very glad to see her in good health and I hope she will come to the peace and submit to Russia, using her immense influence on the nomadic population. I've heard a lot about her wise rule and the respect she earned from the neighboring Khans, so I'm sure that Datka will understand the uselessness of the hostile attitude toward Russians.” In conclusion, he said: “Tell her that she, like a mother, can be proud of her sons. Abdyldabek piously performed his duty to his people and escaped only when it was pointless to struggle. But let her know that the Russians know how to appreciate the courage of their enemies. Then, the General M. Skobelev personally put on an honorable gown on Kurmanzhan Datka” [10]. This was the description of the events of the meeting of Kurmanzhan Datka with the General provided by the officer of the Russian army, journalist L. Tageev.

Calling her sons heroes who performed their duty to their people, M. Skobelev highly appreciated the “enemies”. He gave the General's word to ensure that her sons and all the Kyrgyz will be fully safe if they return to peaceful life. Kurmanzhan Datka sent her dzhigits around Alay with the order to freely return to their villages and nomad camps. Her sons Mamytbek, Baatyrbek, Asanbek obeyed and returned to their native places on Alay, “only Abdyldabek did not listen to his mother's exhortations, did not return to Alay, and left to Mecca.”

Thus, thanks to the authority of Kurmanzhan Datka, the Kyrgyz of the south became a part of Russia without much bloodshed. This is the merit of Kurmanzhan, the outstanding daughter of the Kyrgyz people.

Pre-revolutionary authors unanimously noted Kurmanzhan Datka's talent as a diplomat. When meeting with the foreign representatives and military rulers, she negotiated with dignity. She used to solve the most complex issues of mutual relations objectively and fairly. Kurmanzhan Datka possessed a perfect diplomatic etiquette, she had eloquence, deep logic of thinking, extensive knowledge in all spheres of political and social life of that time, which was a contradictory and complex epoch. Therefore, it was not for nothing that Russian generals who served in the Tsarist army in the Central Asia called Kurmanzhan “the Alay Queen". Kurmanzhan Datka was known in Russia as an influential politician of the Kyrgyz people.

Representatives of the Tsarist administration of Turkestan region tried to render Kurmanzhan Datka due honors. The Russian Emperor Alexander II did not ignore her. By the Special Imperial Decree dated April 1, 1881, Kurmanzhan Datka was given a lifetime state pension of 25 rubles. Another time the emperor gave her an expensive ring with a precious stone. All this was a kind of recognition of the role of Kurmanzhan Datka as a state and political figure.

For a long 96 years of life Kurmanzhan Datka outlived eight General-Governors of Turkestan and with each of them she used to maintain business relations for peace on the Kyrgyz land. Among themwere: M.D. Skobelev, M.E. Ionov, K.P. Kaufmann, N. Korolkov, B.A. Vrevsky, S.M. Dukhovky and others.

Kurmanzhan Datka was a political and state figure of her time and her era de jure and de facto.


  1. Yuvachev I. P. Kurban-Zhan Datha, Kara-Kyrgyz Queen of the Alay. Historical Herald, 1907, No. 12.
  2. Taube A. Alay Tsaritsa. // The Transcaspian Review. -1902, No. 124., Felix Rocca. Pamir and Alay Kyrgyz. Bishkek, 1992. p. 349., B.L. Tageev. Pamir campaign. // Historical Herald. 1898, Vol. 73. No. 7, p. 130., K.K. Abaza. The conquest of Turkestan. St. Petersburg, 1902, p. 249, and so on.
  3. Abaza K.K. The conquest of Turkestan. - St. Petersburg, 1902, p. 219.
  4. Tageev B.L. Pamir campaign. Historical Herald. - 1898. Vol. 73, - p. 111-138
  5. Yuvachev I. P. Kurban-Zhan Datha, Kara-Kyrgyz Queen of the Alay. Historical Herald, 1907, No. 12. - p. 966.
  6. Terentyev M.A. History of the conquest of the Central Asia. Collected works in 3 volumes, - St. Petersburg, 1906, Vol. 1 - p. 248, Vol. 2 - p. 412.
  7. Valikhanov Ch.Ch. Collected works. Vol. 3, Alma Ata, 1985. - p. 379.

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