Prayer Profile
The Karakalpak of Uzbekistan

[IMAGE] The 475,000 Karakalpaks ("Kara" meaning black, and "Kalpak" meaning hat) live primarily in northwestern Uzbekistan. It is believed that they are the descendants of a mixture of Iranians and Mongolians.

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?
Agriculture dominates the Karakalpak economy, and all cultivated land is irrigated. Cotton is the major crop, accounting for at least 65% of the usable land and up to 90% of the country's income.

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 Karakalpaks are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafite branch. "Sunni," is derived from the Islamic term, sunnah, which means "well-trodden path." It is believed that the correct path is that of the majority. Therefore, the tradition of the Sunni is political conformism.

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?
An estimated 66% of all Karakalpaks have hepatitis, typhoid, or throat cancer as a result of the Aral Sea pollution. One out of ten babies dies before its first birthday, and 83% of the children have some long term medical condition.

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.

Prayer Points

  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Karakalpaks bound.
  • Pray that the Lord will send Christian medical teams to work among the Karakalpaks.
  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Uzbekistan and share Christ with the Karakalpaks.
  • Pray that the non-religious Karakalpaks will begin searching for the Truth.
  • Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the 47 known Christians.
  • Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Karakalpak language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Karakalpaks towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray for a clean water source for the Karakalpaks.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Karakalpaks by the year 2000.

See also the following Group:
The Karakalpak of Central Asia

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Karakalpak
  • Country: Uzbekistan
  • Their language: Karakalpak
  • Population: (1990) 424,600
    (1995) 474,900
    (2000) 527,800
  • Largest religion: Muslims (Hanafites) 78%
    Nonreligious 19%
    Atheist 2.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 47
  • Scriptures in their own language: None
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 1
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 85,500 (18%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 14,300 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 71,200 (15%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 389,400 (82%)
  • Country: Uzbekistan
  • Population: (1990) 20,420,200
    (1995) 22,843,000
    (2000) 25,383,200
  • Major peoples in size order: Northern Uzbek 71.3%
    Russian 8.3%
    Tajik 4.7%
    Kazak 4.0%
    Tatar 2.3%
  • Major religions: Muslims 74%
    Nonreligious 12%
    Atheists 9.2%
  • Number of denominations: 22

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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