Nomadic Culture

Mongolian camel caravan road

Camel caravans, which could cover distances from 30 to 40 kilometres a day, used to play a major role as a means of transport in the Mongolian economy and trade. Caravan leaders, whose living conditions were very hard and who had an important function in society, had to combine various skills with knowledge and experience. Caravan roads through Mongolia linked important commercial centres in the country with Chinese and Russian towns. Furthermore, they were used by European merchants for their trade with China.

Tomb structure and burial customs among the Turkish Peoples on the Silk Road

The first semi-nomadic Turkish tribes living north of the Chinese border used to inhabit cylindrical tents with dome-like roofs known as öy or üy, which are still in use in several areas along the Silk Road. The tombs of these early tribes bore a similar shape. They were originally made of metal and plaster, a structure which was later replaced by similar-looking stone constructions. Funerary rites and architecture spread from Central Asia along the Silk Roads to the Balkans, and they survived over many centuries until the Ottoman Empire.

The Central Asian Nomads and East-West Cultural Relations

Earlier states in the territory of modern Mongolia created a favourable condition for cultural interactions between the East and the West. Horse messenger service, which was developed by the nomad, and caravan transportation also contribute to such interaction.

The Silk Route of the Mongols

Ghengis Khan and his Mongol armies rose to power at the end of the twelfth century, at a moment when few opposing rulers could put up much resistance to them.  The vast Mongol empire he created stretched from China to Europe, across which the Silk Routes functioned as efficient lines of communication as well as trade.

Socio-economic Development: Food and Clothing in Eastern Iran and Central Asia

Knowledge of the food and clothing of medieval Central Asia is difficult to attain; it is only through sporadic mention in sources that we can accumulate a picture of the diet and dress of the people who lived in these regions.  Variations in climate, region, wealth and class all had a large effect on the daily lives and habits of the inhabitants of Central Asia, resulting in changing customs in societies from Iran through to Western China and Mongolia.

Northern Nomads

The tribes who inhabited the northern plains of Central Asia from the first to the fifth century AD were mainly nomadic or semi-nomadic, living as cattle-herders and stock breeders.  Amongst these tribes, the most important were the K’ang-chü, the Huns, the Hsien-pi and the Turks, to name but a selection. Shifting balances of power in Central Asia meant that these tribes often fought with each other, but they also traded goods and learnt new agricultural techniques from each other. 

The Nomads of Northern Central Asia after the Invasion of Alexander

Historical and archeological data reveal the complex history of the Transoxanian nomadic tribes in the fourth century BC to the second century AD. Powerful military tribes such as the K’ang-chu and the Wu-sun emerged, as well as the empires of the Parthians and the Kushans. These nomads also influenced the sedentary civilizations to east and west, by disseminating new ideas, cultures and technologies.

Society in Central Asia

Nomadic societies in sixteenth century Central Asia were highly structured and had strict hierarchies, as did the sedentary communities that inhabited the cultivated parts of the macro-region. The role of women within these societies varied largely depending on terrain, the type of economy practiced, and traditions of individual communities. Women in nomadic tribes, who were often required to assist in herding animals and building tents, had fewer restrictions over their dress and conduct than those who lived in urban communities.

Nomads and Azerbaijan

The history of Azerbaijan is intrinsically related to the movement of nomadic tribes in the region. Despite being sheltered to the north by the Caucasus Mountains, the country has been successively inhabited on numerous occasions throughout its history by nomadic tribes such as the Scythians, Bulgars, Huns, Turks, and finally the Mongols.

Mongol Nomadic Pastoralism

Ecological conditions governed the pattern of Mongol nomadic pastoral life. Competition for the control of resources, and the practicalities of life on the Mongolian Steppes determined the lifestyle, economy, and customs of nomadic tribes.  Exchanges of culture also took place between communities. Tribes looked to their neighbors (both nomadic and sedentary) to find solutions to problems, to learn new farming techniques or crafts, and ultimately to exchange knowledge and goods. 

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