HOTANS OF KYRGYZ ORIGIN: “KYRGYZ” ETHNONIMS AND TOPONIMS IN MONGOLIA1

Oljobay KARATAYEV

A small Turkish-speaking group, called Hoton, live in Ulangom region in Mongolia, today. Originally they regard themselves close to the Kyrgyz people, and they number more than 10.000. They are in a process of Mongolization, but they are still Muslims. Ethnically Hotons cannot be associated with the Uighurs of Hoten region in Eastern Turkistan, because they accept themselves as Kyrgyz: “We are Kyrgyz, grandchildren of Kün-ker”. “Kün-Ker” means “Turk” in Tibetian language. Different from the Oirats of Mongolian origin, Hotons are agriculturalists. According to scientists, Hotons migrated to this territory at the time of the Zhungars (Oirats). The ethnonym of “Kyrgyz” is used as “hirkis” and “herhis” among Halhals, which are the biggest Mongolian group. It is no coincidence that the Hyargas-Nuur Lake in Western Mongolia carries the very name, Hyargas. In the scientific literatüre, there is an archeological term, hereksur. This term might have been originated from herges-uur meaning “Kyrgyz home” or gerges uur meaning “Kyrgyz graveyard”. Mongols call old graveyards by these names. These issues give information about the ancient ages of the Kyrgyz people and about their influence on the ethno-history of the Oirat-Mongols.

Keywords: Hotons, Kyrgyz, Ethnic Group, Mongolia, Hirgis, Herhis, Ethno-History.