In Kazakhstan’s history and culture, there are many pages that are commonly called “white spots”. Vague guesses that a wealth of literature in the Kipchak language by the will of fate and circumstances has been lost for centuries were confirmed thanks to the preserved medieval manuscript materials, as well as the works of Kazakh, Russian, and Armenian scholars of Turkism of the 20th century.
According to medieval manuscripts from Yerevan’s Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts (Matenadaran), from the middle of the 12th century until the end of the 17th century, in Eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, and Moldova), as well as in southwestern provinces of the Russian Empire, the Armenian-Kipchak language existed where Kipchak words were written using the letters of the Armenian alphabet.
Kipchaks have been assimilated by almost all ethnic groups of Central Asia (especially by Kazakhs and Kyrgyz), and their language formed the basis of Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Crimean Tatar, Bashkir, Karachay-Balkar, Nogai, Kumyk, and some other languages.
According to Kazakh scientist-Turkologist Alexander Garkavets, in the 12th-15th centuries, up to 40 thousand Kipchaks lived on the territory of the Armenian Highlands. They were forced to leave their native steppes during the Mongol invasion and found refuge on Armenian soil.
Kipchaks have even become part of the Armenian military garrison. They have lived very compactly in the northern and northwestern regions of the modern Republic of Armenia for more than 200 years. Here, they have gradually adopted the Christianity of the Armenian Church, assimilating with the local population.
Alexander Garkavets is also the author of the famous work “The Kipchak written heritage, part one”, which includes five psalters, all the epistles of Apostle Paul, nine prayer books, two collections of lives, three law books, three trial codes, works on didactics, theosophy, history of religion, astrology, medicine, calendars, documents, protocols ships, dictionaries of the 16th-17th centuries, and much more.
“He who gives seeds to sowers and bread for food will send plentitude to your crops and will grow the fruits of your truth. And, having become rich in everything, many will thank God with us to show generosity on any occasion.”
These words were written in Armenian letters in the Kipchak language in one of the written monuments left by the Armenian Kipchaks who have spoken, written, and prayed in Kipchak.
However, the book of Garkavets is only a small part of what the Armenian Kipchaks left behind. Now, he is working on the second volume on the monuments of the Kipchak written heritage.
As a result of migration processes, most of the Armenian Kipchaks ended up in Eastern Europe where Kipchak monuments with tens of thousands of pages of Armenian-letter writings are preserved.
According to Russian Orientalist, Turkologist, and academician Agafangel Krymsky, around the 14th century, colonies of Armenian Kipchaks appeared in Western Ukraine (Galicia, Volyn, and Podolia). In Kamianets-Podilskyi (Khmelnitsky region of Ukraine), 33 voluminous books in the Kipchak language, again written in Armenian letters, have been preserved.
Krymsky suggested that, for example, in order to speak with God in their native language, the Armenian Kipchaks translated psalms (“songs of praise”) and most Christian prayers from Armenian, Greek, and also Latin into the Kipchak language. And in order to administer justice, the Armenian Kipchaks translated Mkhitar Gosh’s “Lawcode” (“Datastanagirk”) into their native Kipchak language, adding many new articles to it and compiling a procedural code for their needs.
Up to now, epigraphic monuments have been preserved in the north and northwest of the Republic of Armenia, which testify to the Kipchak presence in the territory of the Armenian Highlands. In Armenia, there still is a very beautiful church called Kipchakavank (“Kipchak monastery”), and not far from it is the village of Harich which used to be called Kipchak (until 1947).
Moreover, topographic evidence has also been preserved. For example, in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia, there is the Kasakh waterfall which is located on the river of the same name. For more than 300 years, the city of Kasakh has existed in northwestern Armenian Highlands, serving as the capital of the Kazakh Sultanate in the 18th century. Unfortunately, as a result of administrative-territorial demarcations in the 20th century, the Kasakh region together with Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhichevan became part of the Azerbaijan SSR.
Despite the decree of President N. Nazarbayev “On the transition of the Kazakh language to the Latin alphabet”, discussions related to this issue are still ongoing in Kazakhstan.
In addition to parliamentarians and members of the government, linguists, historians, and public figures also joined the discussion on this issue. However, speaking about the new alphabet, one should remember their own history – namely, that the first book in the world in Kipchak was written more than 400 years ago with the help of Armenian writing that for Kipchaks became the key towards enlightenment and world civilization.
Perhaps it is worth returning exactly to the Armenian letters which not only connected the Kpchaks with the enlightened world but also very harmoniously combined with modern Kazakh phonetics? Perhaps, for the modern Kazakh language, Armenian writing is a storehouse that will contribute to the renaissance of Kazakhstani culture? Introduced by Mesrop Mashtots at the beginning of the 5th century, the Armenian script became an invaluable source for the Kipchaks, allowing them to preserve the Kipchak language and culture in the history of mankind.