Kyrgyz - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Kinship and descent principles play the preeminent role in social organization. Kinship may be real or fictive; fictive kin include milk kin, people who were nursed by the same woman and are forbidden to marry each other. Differences in wealth were traditionally relatively small. The wealthy are expected to assist poorer kin materially.

Political Organization. Politics within the Kyrgyz ethnic group follows tribal lines. Each tribe, which is made up of clans, belongs to one of two large federations. The larger of the two federations, Otuz Uul (thirty sons) has two kanats (wings). The right wing (Ong Kanat) of the Otuz Uul is located in northern, western, and southern Kyrgyzstan. One of its member tribes is the Tagay, who are the political and intellectual leaders of the Kyrgyz people. The Tagay have thirteen clans. Other tribes within the right wing are the Adigine and the Mungush. The left wing of the Otuz Uul has eight clans. The other federation is the Ich Kilik, which is composed of ten major and several minor tribes. The tribes of the Ich Kilik live in the southern Ferghana Valley in southern Kyrgyzstan and in Tajikistan. Some of the left wing and Ich Kilik tribes are of Mongol origin.

The qualities traditionally necessary for leadership, which was a male role, are: possession of good character, observance of Islamic laws, courage in battle, success as a herdsman, wealth, membership in a large lineage, and a good oratorical ability.

In Soviet times, members of each kolkhoz belonged to the same clan, and local Communist party organizations were composed of people belonging to the same clan or tribe. Soviet political and economic structures simply incorporated indigenous social structure unchanged.

Since independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan has become a constitutional republic, with an elected president who acts as head of state. In April 1993 the first Kyrgyz constitution was ratified by the parliament.

Social Control. Within the oey, the head of the household exercises authority. Beyond the oey, but also governing its members' behavior, is the authority of Islamic law and Islamic courts, which is similar to that found in other Muslim areas.

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