Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Place and Role of the Biy Council and People's Assembly in the Traditional Kazakh Society of the XVIII-XIX Centuries (Following the Data of the Pre-Revolutionary Russian Historiography)

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Place and Role of the Biy Council and People's Assembly in the Traditional Kazakh Society of the XVIII-XIX Centuries (Following the Data of the Pre-Revolutionary Russian Historiography)

Article excerpt


This work is aimed at studying the issue of representation of degree of biys' influence on the khan authority, including one performed through the Byi councils and people's assemblies, by the Russian pre-revolutionary researchers of the traditional Kazakh society. Biys in Kazakh steppes were not only the judges, but also served as clan leaders and were the driving force of the Kazakh society. Their role can be traced in on the works by the pre-revolutionary researchers of the region. Pre-revolutionary sources of the XVIII-XIX centuries show that all the issues of the inner and outer policy of the Kazakh clans were solved by the biys. Here we should point out the fact that such a strong position of biys is characteristic not only for the times of decay of khan authority in the steppe (the second half of the XVIII century), but also for the period of a quite strong centralized authority of the Tauke-khan era. Some sources call the Tauke-khan era the "golden century". He shared his authority for many issues with biys and didn't take any serious measures for the Kazakh steppe administration without biys' advice. The degree of biys' influence of the khan authority can be traced in the question of a khan election, which vividly illustrates the force and significance of the biy-batyr class while his electing. Analysing the works of the pre-revolutionary researchers which explain these institutions almost completely, the author make a conclusion that such government authorities allowed controlling the khan's activity and decisions in such a way that no important conclusion could be made regardless of the people's interests. In the conclusion the author summarises that the biy council and people's assembly gradually decline their importance while the Kazakh grounds entering Russia.

Keywords: biy council, biys, people's assembly, administration, Kazakh society

1. Introduction

The history of the traditional nomadic societies has always attracted the attention of scientists. We can observe the interest of both Russian and foreign scientists in early historic period and on the modern stage (Herodotus, 1972; Olcott, 1981; Saray, 1982; Litvinskii, 1989; Singer, 1989; Kradin, 2001; Bocharo, 2013). Among the questions which awoke the most vivid interest of the researchers are the problems of authority institutions functioning in the nomadic societies, including the Kazakh community.

2. Methods

One of the requirements to the researchers of the modern history is the transfer from the descriptive style to the methodological analysis of the historiographical facts, from the simple affirmation of the historical events to the comparative analysis of the material which allows to reveal the problems in the theme of investigation, these of that sides of the historical process which due to different momentary or other reasons are left beyond the scientist's vision. The requirement is to make an objective comparison and basing on it to define the prospects of the future investigations aimed at the continuation of knowledge in the scientific idea development.

The article uses general scientific and special methods of historic and historiographical investigation. These include the methods of objectivity and comparison analysis.

The objectivity in the historiographical investigation is one of the most important conditions for the sources analysis. A researcher uses it as a mean which allows to completely eliminating the biased attitude while interpreting and evaluating facts. As a consequence, the principle of objectivity gives a researcher an opportunity to fully study the historic processes and phenomena, which lead to the authentic scientific results.

One of the main methods, used by the author of this article, is the method of comparative analysis. This method leads to the mutual benefit for the society as well as to the development of the history on new bases. This is connected with the fact that one and the same questions of the historic development of Russia and Kazakhstan (such as biys institution), as well as the problem of Kazakhstan's annexation to Russia, Russian-Kazakh relationships and so on have different interpretations and forms of expression both in Russia and Kazakhstan. …

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