The Oguz Turks are labeled by some historians as “the purest of Turks” in terms of race, language and culture. According to Lev Gumilev in his accredited work entitled 1,000 years around the Caspian, the Oguz in the anthropological (racial) category were Caucasoid (Europoid).
The majority of today’s Oguz Turks have light to dark skin tones and dark hair and eye colors, while lighter Europoid features including very light skin tones, blondish/brownish/reddish hair colors and light eye colors are evident in Azerbaijanis from the Republic of Azerbaijan and the northwestern region of Iran known as South Azerbaijan as well as the Turks of Turkey, Turkmens and other Oguz Turks. Elements of both Caucasoid and Mongoloid strains are evident in some.
Like most of the other Turkic peoples, the Oguz have a round skull formation, high cheek bones and straight hair.
The militarism that their empires were very well known for was rooted in their centuries-long nomadic lifestyle. In general they were a herding society with its military advantages that other societies did not have, which was mobility. Their social organization had a family-like structure which included statuses and roles. Alliances by marriage and kinship, and their systems of “social distance” based on family relationships were the connective tissues of their society.
In Oguz traditions, society was simply the result of the growth of individual families. But such a society also grew by alliances and the expansion of different groups normally through marriages. The shelter of the Oguz tribes was a tent-like dwelling, erected on wooden poles and covered with skin, felt, or hand-woven textiles, which is called a yurt.
Their cuisine included yahni (stew), kebabs, togya corbasi (a soup made from wheat flour and yogurt),
kimis (traditional drink of the Turks), pekmez (a syrup made of boiled of grape juice and helva made with cornflour), tutmac (noodle soup), yufka (flattened bread), katmer (layered pastry), chorek (ring-shaped bun), bread, clotted cream, cheese, milk and ayran, as well as wine.
Social order was maintained by emphasizing correctness in conduct as well as ritual and ceremony. Ceremonies brought together the scattered members of the society to celebrate birth, puberty, marriage, and death. Such ceremonies had the effect of minimizing social dangers and also of adjusting persons to each other under controlled emotional conditions.
Patrilineally related men and their families were regarded as a group with rights over a particular territory and were distinguished from neighbors on a territorial basis. Marriages were often arranged among territorial groups so that neighboring groups could become related. But this was the only organizing principle that extended territorial unity. Each community of the Oguz Turks was thought of as part of a larger society composed of distant as well as close relatives. This signified tribal allegiance. Wealth and materialistic objects were not commonly emphasized in Oguz society, and most remained herders and when settled, they would be active in agriculture.
Status within the family was based on age, gender, relationships by blood, or marriageability. Males as well as females were active in society, yet men were the backbones of leadership and organization. According to the Book of Dede Korkut which demonstrates the culture of the Oguz Turks, women were expert horse riders, archers, and athletes. The elders were respected as repositories of both secular and spiritual wisdom.
HOMELAND IN TRANSOXIANA
In the 8th century, the Oguz Turks made a new home and domain for themselves in the area between the Caspian and Aral seas, a region that is often referred to as Transoxiana, the western portion of Turkistan. They had moved westward from the Altay mountains through the Siberian steppes and settled in this region, and also penetrated into southern Russia and the Volga.
In his accredited work titled Divani Lugati’t-Turk, Mahmud of Kashgar, a Turkic scholar of the 11. century, described the “Karachuk Mountains” which are located just east of the Aral Sea as the original homeland of the Oguz Turks. The Karachuk mountains are now known as the Black Mountains, and they are adjacent to Syr Darya.
The extension from the Karacuk Mountains towards the Caspian Sea (Transoxiana) was called “Oguz Steppe Lands” from where the Oguz Turks established trading, religious and cultural contacts with the Abbasid Arab caliphate which was ruling lands to the south. This is around the same time that they first converted to Islam and renounced their Shamanist belief system. The Arab historians mentioned that the Oguz Turks in their domain in Transoxiana were ruled by a number of kings and chieftains.
It was in this area that they later founded the Seljuk empire, and it was from this area that they spread west into western Asia and eastern Europe during Turkic migrations from the 9th until the 12th century.
Oguz Turk dynasties include: Seljuks, Atabeks, Akkoyunlu, Karakoyunlu, Safavis, Afshars and Qajars (Gajars) and in Anatolia (Turkey) the Oguz Turks founded the Ottoman empire.
TURCOMAN AND TURKMEN
The terms “Turkmen” and “Turcoman” were often used as a designation for the Muslim-Oghuz Turks (Azerbaijanis, Turks of Turkey, central Asian Turks) in periods of history, and the ethnic name that the modern Turkmens of central Asia use to designate their nationality was formed later.
Although a term most commonly used for the Oghuz of central Asia, the name “Turkmen” or “Turcoman” once applied to Azerbaijanis and the Turks of Turkey as well, distinguishing between other Turks and non-Muslim Turks. Some western books which were written prior to the modern age use the terms “Turcoman” for the descendants of the Oghuz Turks who were not from the Turkmen nationality of central Asia which is one of the branches of the Oguz.
For example, it is written in many sources prior to the modern age that the largest component of the population of Azerbaijan is composed of “Turcoman tribes.” The “Turkmen” reference in history books
which is often used for Azerbaijanis and Turks of Turkey simply means “Muslim Turk” or “Muslim western Turk” which means Oguz Turk.
In Turkey the word Turkmen refers to nomadic Turkish tribes (all muslims) some of whom still continue this lifestyle.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica the name Turkmen is a synonym of Oguz which includes all the Turkish (Turkic) population who live to the southwest of Central Asia:
1. Turkey 2. Azerbaijan Republic 3. Azerbaijan of Iran 4. Turkmenistan 5. in other countries: a. Afghanistan b. Iraq, Syria and other Arab countries c. Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Gagavuz , Germany , Britan and many other European nations.
The Turkish historian Y. Oztuna presents almost the same definition to the name Turkmen. He calls Turkmen Oghuz or western Turkish populations:
1. Ottomans 2. Azerbaijan 3. Turkmen (Turkmenistan)
Oguz Turkish literature includes the famous Book of Dede Korkut which was UNESCO’s 2000 literacy work of the year, as well as the Oguznama and “Koroglu” epics which are part of the literacy history of Azerbaijanis, Turks of Turkey and Turkmens. The modern and classical literature of Azerbaijan, Turkey and central Asia are also considered the Oghuz literature, since it has been produced by their descendants.