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Predominantly Sunni Islam.

other Turkic peoples

The Kyrgyz (also spelled Kirgiz, Kirghiz) are a Turkic ethnic group found primarily in Kyrgyzstan.



There are several etymological theories on the ethnonym "Kyrgyz."

The word "Kyrgyz" is derived from the Turkic word "forty", with -Iz being an old plural suffix, referring to a collection of forty tribes.[3]

Kyrgyz also means "imperishable", "inextinguishable", "immortal", "unconquerable" or "undefeatable", presumably referring to the epic hero Manas who, as legend has it, unified undefeated forty tribes against the Khitans. This version has an obvious popular appreciation. Historical evidence for many conflicts with other peoples also supports this theory. The Chinese transcription "Tse-gu" (Gekun, Jiankun) allows to restore the pronunciation of the ethnonym as Kirkut (Kirgut) and Kirkur (Kirgur). Both forms go back to the earliest variation Kirkün (Chinese Tszyan-kun) of the term "Kyrgyz" meaning "Field People", "Field Huns". The term Kirkün went through a notable evolution: Kirkün (Kirgün) = Kirkut (Kirgut) = Kirkur (Kirkor, Kirgur) = Kyrkyz (Kyrgyz). The evolution is traced well chronologically. The semantic connection between kün (gün) and gür is a chronologically consecutive development of the concept kün = "female progenitor" = her offsprings = "tribe" = "a people" at the last stage coincides with the gür = "people", like in the Khitan title Gurkhan. Application of affixes of plurality "t" - "r" - "z" in the ethnonym Kirkun shaded the initial sound, and then also the meaning, making its roots enigmatic. By the Mongol epoch, the initial meaning of the word Kirkun was already lost, evidenced by differing readings of the earlier reductions of the Uanshi. The change of ethnonym produced a new version of an origin, and the memory about their steppe motherland, recorded in Uanshi, survived only as a recollection of the initial birthplace of forty women. Subsequently, however, that recollection was also lost.[4] Kir-kis means "leader of the people with boars totem". kis,kas[-er],khiz,khuz, khi, khion (hunn) means boar.

In the 18th and 19th century European writers used the word "Kirghiz" (the early Anglicized form of the contemporary Russian "киргизы") to refer not only to the people we now know as Kyrgyz, but also to their more numerous northern relatives, the Kazakhs. When distinction had to be made, more specific terms were used: Burut (буруты), Kara-Kirghiz (кара-киргизы) or "Dikokamenni Kirghiz" (дикокаменные киргизы) for the Kyrgyz proper, and Koisaks for the Kazakhs.[5][6]

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