The Karakalpak of Uzbekistan
In the 11th century, a faction of the Karakalpaks joined the Seljuk tribe in their invasion south and west. In the 1200's, they became part of the "Golden Horde." During the 1500's, they became virtually independent, although definitely not united. Unfortunately, their independence was short lived. Over the next 200 years, they became subjects of the Dzungarians, the Bukharans, and the Kazaks. The Dzungarians forced them to flee in two directions. One group, the upper Karakalpaks, went up the Syr Darya River to the Ferghana Basin. The second, the lower Karakalpaks, moved closer to the Aral Sea.
What are their lives like?
For several decades the Soviet government diverted water from the tributaries of the Aral Sea and used it to irrigate the region's cotton fields. As a result, the sea has shrunk by at least 40%. Consequently, the water that does reach the sea is usually filled with fertilizer, sewage, and pesticides.
Today, most Karakalpaks live along the major rivers and irrigation channels. Some reside along the main railroad line, while others live along the old shoreline of the Aral Sea. Typically, homes in these areas are small clay-walled cottages with dirt floors.
Roughly 30% of the Karakalpaks live in cities or towns where they engage in light industrial activities. Most of them live in adobe mud houses.
In Karakalpak society, women and teenagers do most of the actual farming. The men spend a majority of their time in the local teahouses or playing chess.
Of the few girls who receive schooling, many withdraw at an early age to marry. Large families are the Karakalpak ideal. The nuclear family consists of as many as four generations in the same household.
Karakalpaks are known for their expertise in weaving. Unlike their neighbors, they adorn their homes and yurts (summer tents used by many of the rural people), luxuriously with decorative carpets, wall hangings, macramé, and wide-fringed belts. They are also recognized for their excellence in work with leather, wood, and bone. Their music reflects an ancient oral tradition and the native songs are diverse in type and theme.
What are their beliefs?
The Karakalpak Republic is also one of the major centers for the Sufi sect of Islam. Some Sufi Muslims are known for practicing self-hypnosis which is induced by frenzied dancing and chanting.
What are their needs?
Very few Karakalpaks have ever heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and among those who have heard, very few have responded. There are only 47 reported church members in the republic. Unfortunately, there are no Scriptures written in the Karakalpak language at this time.
See also the following Group:
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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