Kerait


Kerait

The Keraits or Kereits ( _mn. Кэрэйд, "Kereid"; _kz. Керей) were a cluster of tribes in central Mongolia before the rise of the Mongol Empire. They lived in the area between the Orkhon and the Kherlen rivers, to the east of the Naimans.

The Kerait or Kerey is a Turkic tribe that was formed approximately between 3rd and 5th century and could be a part of Hun confederation. The Kerait tribe was named both mongolian and turkic by different accounts, though names and titles of Kerait rulers imply that they primarily spoke a Turkic language. But as a coalition of many subtribes they seem to have included elements of both turkic and mongol ancestries, which makes an unambiguous categorization difficult. [ [http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~aps1/graphics/101_Mongols.htm "The Mongol Century"] , Department of Asian Pacific Studies, San Diego State University] R. Grousset, "The Empire of the Steppes", New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press, 1970, p191.] [ [http://www.history.kz/Articles/kerey.php "Kereys"] , Files about origins of Kirgiz-Kaisak(Kazak) people, Muhamedzhan Tynyshbaev] [ [http://www.history.kz/Articles/kerey.php "Kereys"] , Genealogy of türks, kirgizes, kazakhs and ruling dynasties, Shakarim Qudayberdy-uly]

Nestorianism

The Kerait were converted to Nestorianism, a sect of Christianity, early in the 11th century. Other tribes evangelized entirely or to a great extent during the 10th and 11th centuries were the Naiman and the Merkit.

An account of the conversion of the Kerait is given by the 13th century Jacobite historian Gregory Bar Hebraeus. According to Hebraeus, in early 11th century, a Kerait king lost his way while hunting in the high mountains. When he had abandoned all hope, a saint appeared in a vision and said, "If you will believe in Christ, I will lead you lest you perish." He returned home safely. When he met Christian merchants, he remembered the vision and asked them about their faith. At their suggestion, he sent a message to the Metropolitan of Merv for priests and deacons to baptize him and his tribe. As a result of the mission that followed, the king and 20000 of his people were baptized. [Moffett, "A History of Christianity in Asia" pp. 400-401.]

The legend of Prester John, otherwise set in India or Ethopia, was also brought in connection with the Nestorian rulers of the Kerait. In some versions of the legend, Prester John was explicitly identified with Toghrul.

Wang Khan

The Kerait khan Toghrul was granted the title of Wang Khan (King) by the Jin Emperor in 1183. Toghrul is best known as patron and one of the early allies of Temüjin (later Genghis Khan), until they fell into disagreement over Temüjins growing power.

In 1203, Temüjin defeated the Kerait, who were distracted by the collapse of their own coalition. Toghrul tried to escape to the Naimans, but was killed by a Naiman warrior who didn't happen to recognize him. The remaining Kerait submitted to Temüjins rule, but out of distrust he dispersed them among the other Mongol tribes.

Individual figures still managed to get into influential positions, sometimes through marriage. Genghis Khan's eldest daughter-in-law was the Nestorian Kerait princess Sorghaghtani Beki. Four of her sons, most prominently Kublai Khan, became Great Khans at some time, founding several dynasties.

Modern times

The descendants of Kerait are a tribe within the Middle Juz of the Kazakh nation.

See also

* List of medieval Mongolian tribes and clans

References


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