A Women Leader and Kyrgyz Nomadic Society: Ethnographic Re-consideration of Life of Kurmanjan Datka in the 19th-Century Silk Road


Kurmanjan Datka (1811-1907) is the most famous woman leader in Kyrgyz history who was dubbed “the Queen of the Alai Mountains” in the 19th century. Kurmanjan Datka was born in 1811 in a nomadic Muslim family in the Alai region, southern Kyrgyzstan. She left her first husband breaking Kyrgyz traditions and fled back to her family. Afterward, she married Alymbek Datka (1800-1863), a ruler of the Alai Kyrgyz tribes. After his assassination, she succeeded him as the first women leader of southern Kyrgyz tribes. She played a significant role in building diplomacy to protect her people from the Russian Empire's colonization of the Kyrgyz territories. The research explores not only her life history and political career but also contemporary consciousness about Kurmanjan Datka from three different aspects below; 1. Ethnographic analysis of the uniqueness of her life, figure, and socio-political roles from the nomadic animal pastoralists’ context. 2. Oral history documentation from her direct descendants in Osh, and the southern Kyrgyz. 3. Reevaluation of youth consciousness and her influences in contemporary Kyrgyz society, especially for women. Then, the research tries to re-evaluate her strong mind, will, and decision as implications for the solution of today’s gender issue and women empowerment in Silk Road societies. The presence of Kurmanjan Datka, the woman leader in the late 19th century, is very implicative as if an inserting light that will potentially bring about a socio-historical turn of the gender minds and old traditions in the Islamic and nomadic society across the Silk Road.

Author Information
Takuya Soma, Kyoto University, Japan
Aizada Tynyeva, American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan
Yumi Takahashi, American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan

Paper Information
Conference: ACAS2023
Stream: Central Asian Studies

This paper is part of the ACAS2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Soma T., Tynyeva A., & Takahashi Y. (2023) A Women Leader and Kyrgyz Nomadic Society: Ethnographic Re-consideration of Life of Kurmanjan Datka in the 19th-Century Silk Road ISSN: 2187-4735 The Asian Conference on Asian Studies 2023: Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2187-4735.2023.11
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2187-4735.2023.11

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon