photo: @ son-of-tengri /

The glorious dynasties of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom: the Assenites (with representatives Assen, Peter, Kaloyan, Ivan Assen II etc.), Shishmanovtsi (Mikhail Shishman, Ivan Alexander, Ivan Shishman, etc.) and Terterovtsi (Georgi I Terter, Theodore Svetoslav) - come from baptized kuman genera. The Assumevtsi's Cuman origin is restored philologically - the nickname or name of Tsar Assen I (1186 - 1196) is "Belgian", which according to the great Bulgarian linguist Stefan Mladenov comes from Cuman and means "knowing, wise, clever".


The Bulgarian Etymological Dictionary (item I) states that the name "Assen", similar to Boril, is of Cumanian origin. While the Cuman origin of Shishmanovtsi and Terterivtsi is attested in historical sources. Byzantine chronicler John Cantakuzin reports that the new Bulgarian Tsar Mikhail Shishman is descended "from the Moesian (ie Bulgarian) and Cumanian lineage". And the Terterovtsi belong to the ruler of the Kuman clan of Terterobes, their relatives being the Kuman Khan Kotyan and the Hungarian King Laszlo IV Kuhn (Kumanina), a nephew of Kotyan.


The Kumans are a nomadic Turkic-speaking tribe. They appeared in the Eastern European steppes in the XI century, in search of new pastures for their horses. Their raids in the Balkans are part of the so-called "The second great migration of peoples." Before them, Uzzas and Pechenegs had settled in Europe, and the Cumans were the third wave of Turkic nomadic tribes in these places. In 1054, Russian chronicles mention the Kuman hordes led by Bolush. From next year, for decades, the Cumans will fight the Russian princes, plunder and ravage the Russian lands.

Kumani - warriors from the steppe

photo: @ son-of-tengri /

In the Balkans, the Cumans were witnessed during the Byzantine rule in Bulgaria (1018 - 1185). They invade south of the Danube, plunder settlements and withdraw. Byzantium attracts them as mercenaries in their military campaigns. Cumans participated on the Byzantine side in the battle of Levunion in 1091 when the Pechenegs were defeated. After the Mongol invasion of Southeastern Europe, during the 30 - 40 of the XIII century, the Kuman raids became more frequent.

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The Cumans became loyal allies of the Bulgarians in the fight against the Byzantines and Latinos. On the Bulgarian side, Isaac II Angel fights 7 thousandth cavalry. In the Battle of Edirne 1205, King Kaloyan smashed the Crusaders with the key help of 14 thousands of Kumans. Again, the Kumans accompany King Boril in his military campaign in Thrace (spring of 1208). They also participated in the defeat of the Byzantines by Ivan Assen II at Klokotnitsa (9 March 1230).


We see that the Cumans have a very important place in Bulgarian history. But what are their lifestyles and traditions, what characterizes their power hierarchy, what are their beliefs and religious beliefs, what monuments are preserved from their habitation in our lands? Since some of the most important Bulgarian kings are descended from them, is it not appropriate for the Cumans in Bulgaria to speak and know much more? My opinion is that for various reasons they remain too far from the attention of lovers of Bulgarian history. Therefore, most important and curious things from ancient times will be mentioned in this text.


Cumans are known in the sources under different names - cumans, polovtsi, boiled water, zinc-cha. Cumans are called in Byzantine and Western sources, Polovtsian in Russian, and Qin-cha in Chinese. The eastern part of the Cumans is known among the Arabs and Persians as "kipchaks". The Cumans have a very long history: in the Chinese springs are known as early as the III - II centuries BC, and in the present-day Bulgarian lands they appeared only in the XI century. At the beginning of the second millennium, "Cumans became a powerful, capable and numerous ethnic entity" with great political influence and solid military potential. (Svetlana Pletnyova)

photo: @ son-of-tengri /

For centuries, they have inhabited the vast expanses of the Great Steppe, so beautifully described by NV Gogol: “Never had a plow passed through the endless waves of wild plants. (…) Nothing in nature could have been better. The entire earth's surface was a golden green ocean, sprayed with millions of different flowers. The air was filled with thousands of birds chirping. The hawks stood motionless in the sky, wings spread and eyes fixed in the grass. (…) Damn it, step you, how beautiful you are! ”(Taras Bulba, Gogol). The great steppe is the home of the kumans. Amidst the endless waves of this golden green ocean, they are constantly floating on their horses.


For the Kumans, the urban lifestyle is quite unusual. They live on their horses, feeding on livestock and looting. In addition to horses, they raise cattle and cattle. It is necessary to mention a significant difference between the Cumans and most of the other Turkic tribes. Anthropological studies indicate that Cumans are considered to be of the European race. The springs are described with light skin and blond hair. Perhaps the names Kuman and Kun are translated from "pale", "yellow" from there.


For the rest, the Cumans adhere to the Hun and Turkic traditions. The highest royal title to them is the khan, equivalent to the emperor of the Latin. He is followed by the Sultan, who holds the title of King of the West. The Quman "run" corresponds to the western "prince" and the "bey" to the baron. Information about the hierarchy in Kuman society and the Kuman language is derived from the Kuman Dictionary, created as early as the Middle Ages.

photo: @ son-of-tengri /

Cumans are Gentiles. Their rulers, (khans, sultans, and runners), along with political power, as elders of the community, are also burdened with priestly duties. The priest's khan heads the priesthood of the tribe, the shamans. Shamans must predict the future, heal and serve as intermediaries between good and evil spirits and people. Only the supreme shaman, who is known in the kumans as 'kam', is able to communicate with the 'higher powers', who drive away people's diseases.


Their funerals are often accompanied by human sacrifices. Byzantine Nikita Honiath tells of a Quman funeral involving ordered captives, who, after being scourged, are hanged to be sacrificed to the Quman demons. Franciscan monk Wilhelm de Rubruck (13th c.) Also witnessed a Kuman funeral. From the four sides of the funerals, he sees high pillars of total 16 horse skins (4 for every direction in the world) suspended on high pillars. Before them the mourners gather to drink kumis and eat horse meat.


Some researchers point out that the Kuman (and Pechenek) funeral ritual in the Bulgarian lands is characterized by post-mortem trepanation (punching the skull of a dead person with a solid object), while the Pro-Bulgarian one - an artificial deformation of the skull. And this is the main difference between the Kuman and the Proto-Bulgarian pagan necropolises. The dating of the Kuman, of course, is later, XII - XIII centuries. It includes graves from Pliska, Plovdiv, Sofia, Dyadovo and Golden Field.


During the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, the Cumans took part not only in the greatest Bulgarian military victories, but were also founders of the Bulgarian dynasties. Nevertheless, it is good to recall that, although with Kuman blood, the Asenevtsi, Terterots, and Shishmanovtsi were Bulgarian boyars, and later Bulgarian royal families. The reason is that during the Middle Ages, "Bulgarian" meant first and foremost an "Orthodox Christian". Orthodox Christian Bulgarians (among them the Asenevtsi, Terterots and Shishmanovites) are considered European civilizations, while the Gentile Cumans are part of the nomadic tribal community born under the sky of the Great Steppe.

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