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The Kangju Kingdom.

Historical tours over the Silk way of Kazakhstan.

"Through it ran the middle track of the Great Silk Route. Along it, trade centers and caravan stations flourished. The Europeanized word Caravanserail comes from this cultural area. The word means caravan palace, or caravan court. In fact, many of them bore features of а palace, since remainders of walls surrounding them have been found and can still be seen in the steppes and desert oases"

Silk Road Tours in Central Asia to Taraz.

The Kangju Kingdom had rich etnic and cultural links not only with the Southern and Eastern parts of the region, but also in the West and Nortwest. In 138 B.C. the ambassadorial caravan of Emperor Wudi, headed by the Chinese duke and ambassador, Zhang Qian, departed from the capital of Han's China to the mysterious countries of the West.
Upon returning to his native country after 13 years of travelling he wrote a report that told of the Kangju kingdom, where Zhang Qian had stayed in the ruler's headquarters. The duke wrote that the cities of the state were located 832 kilometres northwest of the Wusun ruler's residence, on the Issyk-Kul Lake shore.
Scientists later established that the Wusun's domains were located in Semirechye and Kangju kingdom in the Syr Darya valley. Chinese authors who travelled with Zhang Qian described Kangju as a large state whose cities were inhabited by nomadic tribes.
According to them, the power of the Kangju ruler stretched to the northern shores of the Caspian Sea, to the steppe land of the Yancai domain. In the north, tribes from the forest of the Ural area paid tribute to Kangju with furs.
The kingdom gained control as far as the Tashkent oasis where it controlled 'five lesser kings'. Kangju existed between the second century B.C. and fifth century A.D. with its capital, Beitian City, located halfway along the Syr Darya River.
This was not, however, the permanent residence of the state ruler as he had a summer residence as well. The Kangju kingdom had rich ethnic and cultural links not only with the southern and eastern parts of the region, but also in the west and northwest. Its links with the population of south Kazakhstan, the Aral Lake area, can be traced back to the bronze epoch, and from the second part of the Vth century B.C. connections can be found with the Sarmats of the Volga region and the South Ural area.
By this time the ancient caravan road was formed, part of the Great Silk Way that linked Central Asia and Kazakhstan with the Orenburg steppes, the modern Bashkiria region, and passed through the western part of the Syr Darya delta.
There are still ruins of former Kangju settlements and cities to be found with hillocks that cover 0.5 to 100 hectares with heights from 3 to 20 metres. These include Kok-Mardan and Dzhuvantobe on the Arys River, Sidak in the Turkistan oasis and a group of ancient settlements in the lower reaches of the Syr Darya River with ruins of citadels and the ruler's residences and temples.
Archaeologists have learnt about the domestic life of Kangju's inhabitants from necropolises (large cemeteries and burial grounds) around the settlements: ceramic vessels, wooden tableware, dishes, bowls, mugs, cups and even metal cauldrons were found in the burial vaults. In addition to tableware, the burial stocks also include weapons, various tools, harnesses and decorations.
The Kangju people had diverse weapons: daggers, swords, bows, arrows, lances, etc. People were buried with their weapons, such as swords or daggers, regardless of their gender. Interestingly, the burial places of mother and child also had weapons, such as daggers and arrows.
A lot of dress fragments, such as headdresses and footwear, were also found in the burial places. The fabric tells us a lot about the local textile industry and the trade links of this region.
Scientists have reconstructed the women's dresses, which turned out to be quite elegant and brightly coloured. Apparently the Kangju women handled horses very well. One of the burial mounds had an embroidered leather tippet for the horsewoman styled as a felt cloak.
These women wore small bright hats and were real women of fashion. Their clothes were decorated with amber buttons from the Baltic states, cornelian buttons from India and glass from Syria and Egypt.
They wore chalcedonic type gems from Iran and bracelets from eastern and central Europe. They enjoyed wearing beads; in fact, the discovery of Dzhety-Asar beads is considered unique as it combines beads of different origins, for instance, Baltic amber and Indian stones, Mediterranean corals and Caucasian jet.
The glass beads were the most sought after, as glass production schools were very popular at the time. Interestingly, local women were buried with a mandatory toiletry kit consisting of items such as a bronze mirror in a case made of fabric or leather and sometimes decorated with gold-plated festoons, a small iron knife, large river shells often with a remainder of ochre or chalk inside, a piece of chalk, a wooden comb, bronze or iron tweezers, a make-up kit, toilet vessel, an iron awl with a wooden or bone handle and paint for dyeing eyebrows and eyelashes. As a rule the toiletry kits were held in braided wooden baskets with lids, woolen, linen or leather handbags, or wooden caskets.
Presumably, the dead needed it to look after themselves in another life. Archaeologists also discovered in the Dzhety-Asar houses over 2,000 Iranian stones - gems of Parthian and Sasanid origin carved in almandine, chalcedony in different colours, cornelian and mountain crystal.
It is most probable that gems symbolized the privileged status of their owners - a sort of personal stamp. Gems from Dzhety-Asar's burial places date back to the 3rd-5th centuries A.D.
Some of these things came here as a result of trade, some as a result of armed marches. Scientists found that by the beginning of our era the Kangju kingdom included regions of the lower and mid Syr Darya, thus Kangju is one of the first states in the territory of Kazakhstan.
There is also a well-known Kazakh tribe called Kangly, which may be a sign of their ancient ethnic and cultural links with the people of Kangju.

Authorship:
Karl Baipakov. Magazine ""Tengri 2, 2011.