Mahmud al-Kashgari bigraphy, stories - Linguists

Mahmud al-Kashgari : biography

1005 - 1102

Mahmud ibn Hussayn ibn Muhammad al-Kashgari ( - Maḥmūd ibnu 'l-Ḥussayn ibn Muḥammad al-Kāšġarī; ; ) was an 11th-century Muslim Uyghur scholar and lexicographer of Turkic languages from Kashgar.

His father, Hussayn, was the mayor of Barsgan, a town in eastern-southern part of Issyk Kul lake (nowadays village of Barskoon in Northern Kyrgyzstan's Issyk Kul region) and related to the Qara-Khanid ruling dynasty. Some modern writers think that his mother, Bibi Rābiy'a al-Basrī, was allegedly of Arab origin.


Some researchers think that Mahmud al-Kashgari died in 1102 at the age of 97 in Upal, a small city southwest of Kashgar, and was buried there. There is now a mausoleum erected on his gravesite. But some modern authors reject such a data, saying that the date of his death is just unknown.

He is claimed by Uyghur, Kyrgyz, and Kazakh nationalists as part of their respective ethnic groups.But some Uyghur authors consider him a member of their own ethnic group. Makhmud Kashghari himself considered the Uyghurs of his own time as the eastern neighbours of his country (the Qarakhanid khanate). See, for example, : "the Uzbeks, Uyghurs, and Kyrgyz all claim Mahmud al-Kashgari, the well-known 11th century scholar, as their own."

An oriental study university, situated in the capital city of Bishkek in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, was named after Makhmud Kashghari, in the 1990s.


Al-Kashgari studied the Turkic languages of his time and wrote the first comprehensive dictionary of Turkic languages, the ' (Arabic: "Compendium of the languages of the Turks") in 1072-74.Kemal H. Karpat, Studies on Turkish Politics and Society:Selected Articles and Essays, (Brill, 2004), 441. It was intended for use by the Caliphs of Baghdad, the new, Arabic allies of the Turks. Mahmud Kashgari's comprehensive dictionary, later edited by the Turkish historian, Ali Amiri,Ali Amiri, R. Mantran, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. I, ed. H.A.R. Gibb, J.H. Kramers, E. Levi-Provencal and J. Schacht, (E.J. Brill, 1986), 391. contains specimens of old Turkic poetry in the typical form of quatrains (Persio-Arabic rubāiyāt; ), representing all the principal genres: epic, pastoral, didactic, lyric, and elegiac. His book also included the first known map of the areas inhabited by Turkic-speaking peoples. This map is housed at the National Library in Istanbul.Roudik, Peter, The History of the Central Asian Republics, (Greenwood Press, 2007), 175. He advocated monolingualism and the linguistic purism of the Turkic languages, and held a belief in the superiority of nomadic people. Most of his Turkic-speaking contemporaries, however, were bilingual in Tajik, which was the prestige language of Central Asia, as well as its indigenous language before forced Turkification.

One of al-Kashgari's most famous poems relates to the Turko-Islamic conquest of the Buddhist, Tocharian Kingdom of Khotan:

We came down on them like a flood! We went out among their cities! We tore down the idol-temples, We shat on the Buddha's head!

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