Nogays - Orientation



Identification. The Nogays are a Turkic nationality living in the northern Caucasus foreland: in the Nogayskiy District ( raion ), in parts of the Babayurtovskiy, Tarumovskiy, and Kizlyarskiy districts, and in the Daghestanian fishing villages of Glavsulak and Glavlopatin; in the Neftekumskiy, Mineralovodskiy (aul Kanglï), and Kochubeevskiy (aul Karamurzinskiy) districts of the Stavropol (Stavropol'skiy) Krai; in the Adïge-Khabl'skiy and Khabezskiy districts of the Karachay-Cherkess Autonomous Oblast (AO) (subordinate to the Stavropol Krai); and in the Shelkovskiy District of the Chechen and Ingush Republic. Nogays also live in cities such as Khasavyurt, Makhachkala, and Cherkessk. Official and scholarly publications sometimes include the Nogays as one of the "peoples of Daghestan" rather than describing them separately.

The Nogays of Stavropol are known in the literature as the "Ak Nogays" (White Nogays), a Soviet-era designation; the eastern Nogays were traditionally called the "Qara (Kara) Nogays" (Black Nogays), and the Nogays of the Kuban simply as the "Nogays."


Location. The steppeland between the Terek and Kuma rivers, known traditionally as the "Nogay steppe" (its western part is also known as the "Achikulak steppe"), is the most important area of compact settlement by the Nogays and covers an area of approximately 25,000 square kilometers located at approximately 43°75.5′-45° N and 45°-46°40.5′ E. Nogays living here are surrounded on all sides by Russians; their other neighbors include Kalmyks (Qalmïqs) to the north, Ukrainians and Turkmen (Trukhmen) to the northwest, and Chechens to the south. Other smaller areas of Nogay settlement are located at approximately 43°55.5′-44° N and 46°80.5′-47°90.5′ E in Daghestan. Here there are Russians to the north and Kumyks (Qumïqs) to the south, in some areas, and in other areas all around them except where there are Avars to the southeast and southwest. Additional small areas of Nogay settlement are farther west, at approximately 44°20.5′-45° N and 41°-42° E in the Karachay-Cherkess AO and the Stavropol Krai. Another village, Kanglï, is located at approximately 44°20.5′ N and 43° E. The Nogays living in the Karachay-Cherkess AO and this part of the Stavropol Krai are surrounded on all sides by Russians and Ukrainians; two areas of settlement in the southeastern part of this location, nearer to Cherkassk, have Circassians (Cherkess) as southern neighbors. Those Nogays who lived along the lower Volga (the Nogays of Astrakhan) and in the Crimea had assimilated to the local population by early this century. Descendants of Nogay emigrants of the nineteenth century live in Romania, Turkey, and elsewhere.

The Nogay steppe has a marked continental climate. Annual rainfall here ranges from 20 to 34 centimeters. In Kizlyar, just south of the Nogay steppe, the mean mid-January temperature is —2.3° C, and in mid-July it is 24.3° C. Winters are generally cool, with regular freezing rain or wet snow. Occasional severe snowstorms with hurricane-intensity winds are accompanied by temperatures that can dip to —35° C and snowdrifts that can be as high as 2 meters; such winters threaten the survival of livestock. Summers are sunny and dry. Summer temperatures can rise to over 40° C, and occasionally there is no rainfall during an entire summer. In the spring and summer hot winds sometimes bring duststorms that are damaging to crops. In the northern part of the Nogay steppe there are 160 to 180 frost-free days, and in the south the number of frost-free days rises to 220.


Demography. The Nogay population has been increasing steadily even though Nogays living in proximity to Kumyks are considered assimilated to them. According to the preliminary results of the 1989 Soviet census, the Nogays number 75,564, an increase of 26.9 percent over the 1979 figure of 59,546. The 1979 figure itself was a 15.4 percent increase over the 1970 figure of 51,784. In 1970, 41.9 percent of the Nogays lived in the Daghestan ASSR, 43.3 percent in the Stavropol Krai, 10.7 percent in the Chechen-Ingush ASSR, 2.1 percent in the Karachay-Cherkess AO, and the remaining 2 percent elsewhere in the Caucasus or in Central Asia.


Linguistic Affiliation. The Nogays speak a Turkic language of the Northwestern or Kipchak Group of the Turkic languages. The language has been classified as belonging to the Aralo-Caspian or Kipchak-Nogay Subgroup, which also includes Karakalpak and Kazakh. Other Kipchak Turkic languages closely related to Nogay include Karachay-Balkar, Kirghiz, Kumyk, Crimean Tatar, and Kazan Tatar; many other Turkic languages are also mutually intelligible with Nogay. There was no separate Nogay literary language in the pre-Soviet period, although some Nogays knew the Arabic script. During this period the smaller Turkic peoples with no separate literary tradition were familiar with other Turkic languages written in the Arabic script, such as Ottoman Turkish, Azeri, Chagatay, and, later, Tatar and Kazakh. In 1928 two separate Nogay literary languages, Kara Nogay and the so-called Ak Nogay, were established using the Latin script. The Cyrillic alphabet was adopted in 1938 for a single Nogay literary language.


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