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SHOKAN UALIKHANOV – Institute of History and Ethnology named after Sh. Sh. Ualikhanov


Shokan (Muhammad-Khanapia) Chingissovich   Ualikhanov(November 1835 – 10 April 1865) –  prominent scientist-ethnographer, geographer, traveler, folklorist and educator-femocrat.


Chokan Chingissovich Valihanov was born in November 1835 in the village of Kusmuryn Amankaragay district, (now the village Kuntimes, Sarykol area district, Kostanay region, Kazakhstan) in the family of senior Sultan Chinghis Valikhanov (1811-1895). At birth, the boy was given the Muslim name Muhammad-hanafiya. Later coined by his mother Zeynep Shormanova the affectionate nickname Chokan turned then to the universally recognized name. His childhood was spent in picturesque places – Kusmurun and Syrymbet.

The ancestors of Ch. Valikhanov belonged to the ancient Sultan’s family of Genghis Khan – descendants of Genghis Khan.  His great-grandfather Abylay was the Khan of the Middle Zhuz of the Kazakh Horde. The eldest son of Abylay Khan Vali – the last Khan of the Middle Zhuz – was Chokan’s grandfather, from whom he got his name.

Chokan’s father Chinghis was born from the younger wife of the Khan Vali – Aiganym, who after the death of her husband became the head of the Khan’s family. An intelligent, far-sighted and educated woman for that time gave her son an excellent education: Genghis graduated from the school of the Siberian linear Cossack army in Omsk, which gave a completed secondary education. Genghis was one of the first Kazakhs, who mastered Russian language in addition to Eastern literacy [1,11].

Genghis Valikhanov was elected to the post of senior Sultan of Aman-Karagay (Kusmurun) district six times in a row, having held this post for a total of twenty years. In 1835, after the abolition of Amankaragay district Ministry of Chinghis Valikhanov moved to the family estate in Syrymbet, built in 1824 on the orders of Alexander I, in recognition of Khan Vali, who took Russian citizenship. There he expects his new appointment – the position of adviser to the regional Board of Siberian Kazakhs, which he enters in 1854, with a place of work in Omsk. Academician Alkey Margulan notes that although parents of Chokan remained in Kusmurun, Chokan spent most of his childhood in Syrymbet, in the Kokchetav district, the house is grandmother’s [2,14].

Here is how the officer of the General staff A. K. Gaines describes the estate: “The Wintering of Chinghis (father of Ch. Valikhanov) lies from the present place of nomadism in 10 versts. Two picturesque mountains, covered with forest, close his estate; swept down the rocky slope, we saw a few houses in the taste of our landlords average hands, and in the middle of the mosque. In the middle of the house occupied by Genghis and his wife, the decoration comes to the landlord … ” [3].

Aiganym, Chokan’s grandmother, played a big role in his spiritual development. She told him old Kazakh legends, legends, parables, gave wise sayings. According to biographers, Chokan as a child about three years studied in Kusmurun, madrasah Muslim literacy, where he mastered the basics of Arabic writing, studied Oriental languages, acquainted with medieval literature. In the summer these classes may have continued in Syrymbet.   

  From early childhood Chokan showed a strong thirst for knowledge, enthusiastically listened to the elders, telling historical legends. He was allowed to be present at conversations of steppe biys and to listen to songs of akyns. One of Chokan’s childhood hobbies was drawing, sketches from nature. He learned this art from Russian artists-topographers and surveyors, who lived for a long time in the Kusmurun fortress, in the family of Valikhanov [4,19]. Initially, he used ink and pencil, but later began to draw and watercolor. Thus, Chokan’s works became the first images of the Kazakh steppe made by its native inhabitant. Drawing sharpened his powers of observation, at the same time it met his aesthetic needs, because at an early age he made the first records of the Kazakh folk epic in Kusmurun, which may well have helped the visualization of events on paper.

            In the future, he makes a habit of portraying in his diaries what he saw around him, and kept it for life. Among the extensive materials collected by Chokan Valikhanov, a significant place is occupied by his pencil and ink sketches, which depict the flora and fauna of the places of his stay, reproduced the types of inhabitants of Kyrgyzstan and East Turkestan and their occupations. In his albums he sketched ethnographic subjects and genre subjects, drew plans, schemes and routes. They seem to continue the sketches in the diary entries, made as if carelessly, but very accurately. The exiled Decembrists, who often stayed in their house, played an important role in the formation of his worldview. They awakened in the curious boy a genuine interest in science, literature and art, as well as Western democratic values.

In General, the family homestead in Syrymbet was built by Russian builders, wrote General staff officer, researcher A. Gaines, “in the taste of the landlord mediocre”, the decoration of the Central house also looked like the landlord is a body, mirrors, chandeliers, sconces, silk drapes, “sheathed a thin, but wide agramant”, Chinese vases, lamps, sofa and so on [5,13]. The family lived in Syrymbet only in winter, and in summer they roamed on pastures (summer station), first away from the Syrymbet, in the upper reaches of the Ishim river, near later, the tracts Saumalkol’, Sogenal, Akzhar, near the village of Kokchetav.   

So Chokan’s childhood took place in the steppe, among the people that already at an early age determined the main features of his spiritual warehouse – he developed early and sometimes reasoned like an adult. Young Chokan took great pleasure in falconry. From an early age Shokan showed great love for national poetry and folklore. Already as a child he recorded several variants of steppe poems “Kozy Korpesh – Bayan Sulu”, “Er Kokshe”, etc. is No accident that 12 years Chokan was known as a connoisseur of the steppe traditions and customs. To the early dropping out in Omsk he already was well prepared boy.

Years of the most intensive spiritual formation of Chokan’s personality are connected with Omsk cadet corps, which was considered at that time one of the best educational institutions in Western Siberia, where at the age of 12 he was sent to study. From the first years of study of the young cadet allocated diligence in study and strict discipline. During his studies, he became friends with G. N. Potanin, who later became an outstanding Russian scientist and public figure. Chokan studied military and General subjects with great interest. Here he significantly deepened his knowledge in the field of Oriental languages. He excelled many of his peers in school. His friend and fellow student G. Potanin wrote about it this way: “… Chokan developed quickly and went far ahead of his comrades..”[6,91].

Chokan excitedly read the works of prominent Russian and foreign poets and writers A. S. Pushkin, M. Y. Lermontov, N. In. Gogol, Charles Dickens, etc., there has developed a circle of friends, which included his mentors and classmates in the face of orientalist N. F. Kosteleckiy, historian P. V. Gosiewski, publicist, researcher of the history of the peoples of Siberia and Kazakhstan N. M. Yadrintsev and other.

            In 1853, at the age of 18, Chokan graduated from the cadet corps and was released as a cornet in the army cavalry, then appointed an officer of the 6th cavalry regiment of the Siberian Cossack army. Chokan in the 6th cavalryman squad served formally, in fact he was retained by the Governor-General of Western Siberia, and a year later was appointed adjutant General Gustav Gasfort, then ran the Western Siberia and North-Eastern regions of Kazakhstan. At the same time the line of the Main Directorate of the region Chokan has been assigned the post of officer on special assignments. This period of Chokan’s life is full of acquaintances with the advanced people of Russia, who by the will of fate found themselves in Siberia. Chokan was also closely acquainted with the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, who served hard labor in the Omsk fortress – the first acquaintance of the young Sultan with the writer occurred in 1854 in Omsk.

           At that time the Imperial power planned to attach peacefully to the Russian Empire the Senior Zhuz of Kazakhs, that is the region of southern Kazakhstan and Semirechye which are under strong political influence of the Kokand khanate. The solution to the problem was to engage a group of officers, in which the leading role played by K. Gutkowski, M. Khomentovsky, M. Peremyshelsky and knowing the language and culture of the local aboriginal Valikhanov.  Thus, in 1854-1857. Chokan takes an active part in the decision on the accession of the Kazakhs of the Elder Zhuz and the Kyrgyz tribes Bugu, Sarybagysh and Soltu to Russia. At the same time, he began to study the spiritual culture of these peoples.   

            In 1855 Chokan took part in the trip of General G. Gasfort and made a great trip to Central Kazakhstan, Semirechye and Tarbagatai. It marked the beginning of a deep scientific study Valikhanov history of the Kazakh people and their way of life. In the same year he took part in a major military-scientific expedition organized under the leadership of Colonel M. Khomentovsky. Chokan two months was among the Kyrgyz, in the basin of lake Issyk-Kul. There he solved the problem of reconciliation of Kyrgyz clans Bugu and Sarybagysh, at the same time collected different information, mainly studying the legends and language of the Kyrgyz, took part in the survey of Issyk-Kul, as a result of which the new map was changed the shape and contours of its shores, collected ornithological and entomological collection, made a herbarium, studied the flora and fauna of Semirechye and Issyk-Kul. By results of business trip the young cornet was encouraged by an award, and in 1856 it is awarded the following rank of the Lieutenant.

         In the beginning of 1856, Ch. Ch. Valikhanov visited Kuldzha. Along the way, he visited a number of border crossings in Western China. Chokan was provided with instructions from the Ministry of foreign Affairs, which stated: “… to Act in all things in consultation with the Consul in Kulja…”. “Our main goal is to achieve a solution to the case with China in a friendly way and quickly restore the interrupted trade relations … In the case of the Chinese demand-to enter into negotiations about our borders with China”. Thus, Valikhanov had to perform a complex diplomatic mission related to the resolution of disputed border issues and the establishment of normal trade relations with China. This important Commission was executed by him excellently. After a series of meetings with Chinese dignitaries in Kulja, it was possible to establish trade relations and restore friendly relations between the two States. According to A. K. Gaines, Valikhanov’s trip to Kuldzha laid the Foundation for the”Tarbagatai Treaty and the opening of the Consulate in Kuldzha and Chuguchak”. Ch. Valikhanov stayed in the Kuldzhinsky region for about three months, then, with the onset of late autumn, he returned to Omsk. [7].

         In 1857, Cg. Valikhanov again made a trip to the Alatau Kirghiz, this time to monitor the progress of Affairs in parts of Western China, adjacent to the southern border of Russian possessions, in connection with the unrest in Kashgar. This trip was for the Kazakh scientist essentially a trial step before his famous expedition to Kashgar. During the mission, the young researcher first drew attention to the famous Kyrgyz epic “Manas”. The results of Chokan’s three travels were his travel essays “Diary of a trip to Issyk-Kul”, “Western province of the Chinese Empire and the city of Kulja” and “Notes on the Kyrgyz”.

          The winter of 1856 Chokan holds only in a regional archive of Western Siberia, where digging deep into all the Eastern sources relating to Kyrgyz. February 27, 1857 Ch. Valikhanov on the recommendation of P. Semenov-Tyan-Shan elected to the full members of the Russian geographical society, which meant recognition of the merits of the young Kazakh scientist.

             In 1858-1859 he made his famous trip to Kashgaria, which gave him the fame of a brave traveler.  After Marco Polo and the Jesuit Goes, he was the first to enter Kashgaria. Having studied the geography, history, political structure, culture and life of this almost unknown country in Europe, Ch.Valikhanov made a significant contribution to the scientific study of East Turkestan. This trip was very dangerous – because of the ongoing national liberation war of the indigenous peoples of this region against the Chinese government for a number of years there was no stable power, and the country was in turmoil, flavored with suspicious attitudes of local authorities to everything foreign.

           The journey to Kashgar was not only of scientific importance. Chokan also had to collect precious information for Russia about the current state of East Turkestan and explain the reasons for the troubles that took place at that time in the region. In the future, on the basis of the materials received by the expedition, it was supposed to develop a common policy towards the countries of Central Asia. In geopolitical terms, the possibility of limiting the political and economic influence of the UK, which has possessions in India and is strengthening its presence in the region, was considered. Therefore, the expedition was planned by two main departments of the Empire-the foreign Ministry in the person of its Asian Department and the General staff of the armed forces of Russia, which gives reason to believe that the main purpose of the expedition caravan equipped by them was to collect materials of an intelligence nature.

          Chokan spent about six months in Kashgar (from October 1, 1858 to mid-March 1859). During this time, he managed to get acquainted with the city and to explore the country of Six cities (Altyshar, which included the cities of Kashgar, Aksu, Uch-Turfan, Janisar, Yarkend and Khotan). In addition to Kashgar, Chokan managed to visit Yarkend, but could not reach Khotan due to the aggravated political situation. Valikhanov first found out the circumstances of the death of a German geographer and employee of the British company “East India” Adolf Schlagintweit, a student of Alexander Humboldt, who had penetrated into Kashgaria a year earlier and beheaded by the local authorities.

             The situation prevailing in Kashgar during the stay of Ch. Valikhanov can be found in the “Report on the journey to Kashgar Lieutenant Valikhanov”, which says:”… Lieutenant Valikhanov lived in Kashgar for 5 months, visited the surrounding cities, managed to learn a lot and notice. There are only 15,000 Chinese troops in all six cities of East Turkestan. Natives do not perform military service. The soldiers are armed with bows and arrows, and only a small part with guns; there is almost no Artillery at all. These people smoke opium and are weak and incapable of serious resistance. In revolts, the Chinese immediately shut themselves up in their clay fortresses and do not leave them until the revenue arrives from somewhere. Caravans are constantly attacked, and Chinese troops, in response to a request for assistance, say: “it is not good to Fight!”and don’t move. Vital supplies for troops are short everywhere.

          The hatred of the natives towards the Chinese is irreconcilable and no wonder: Chinese officials plunder and insult the people, take away goods for nothing; Every Chinese considers himself entitled to beat a Kashgar who, when meeting him in the street, will not get off his horse. In General, the state of East Turkestan is the most deplorable and, in addition, hopeless due to the hostility of different parties, which does not allow the people to unite to overthrow the hated yoke” [8].

           During the visit to Kashgar Chokan acquired a number of rare Oriental manuscripts, was a numismatic collection, a herbarium, a collection of rocks, collected miscellaneous relics: ancient letters, pieces of applied and decorative folk art, art pottery, etc. March 11, 1859, he went back, and on 12 April of the same year arrived in the strengthening of Verny (modern Almaty). The trip to Kashgar took a total of ten months and fourteen days. Having rested here about one and a half months, he returned to Omsk where he was engaged in processing of the collected materials.

           In St. Petersburg they waited impatiently until Chokan had finished his report, which took quite a long time, because he had to describe everything from memory. Chokan arrived in the capital of the Empire at the end of 1859, where he was left for scientific studies. He was assigned to the Asian Department of the foreign Ministry. Thus, he was transferred from the military Department to the system of the foreign Ministry, but with the abandonment of the army cavalry. This is stated in the order signed by Emperor Alexander II. By the highest command, the merits of the scientist-traveler were also marked by his transfer to the rank of staff captain, the award of the order and a monetary award. 

Evidence that Chokan knew and European languages, is the message of P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky that Chokan being in St. Petersburg, under his influence, attended lectures at the University and well mastered the French and German languages [9].

          The Petersburg period is a bright page in the biography of Valikhanov. It was a time filled with interesting events, favorite work, friendly communication. Besides being surrounded by the advanced Russian intelligentsia, closely following the successes of the young scientist-traveler, Chokan in these years with special force could show his extraordinary talent and knowledge: he worked in several institutions – in the Military scientific Committee of the General staff, the Asian Department, the Geographical society and at the same time attended lectures at the University. He worked at the higher school for academic studies at the Asian Department, where he taught Turkic languages for people traveling to Central Asia. On behalf of the Military scientific Committee, he compiled maps of Central Asia and East Turkestan. Under his editorship was prepared: “the Map of the space between lake Balkhash and the mountain range of Alatau”, “Reconnaissance of the Western part of Zailiyskiy region”, “plan of the city of Kulja”, “map of the Western edge of the Chinese Empire,” etc. They laboriously studied old maps in different languages. All this gives grounds to consider Ch. Valikhanov the first Kazakh surveyor and cartographer.

The dank climate of the capital adversely affected the weak lungs and the health of Chokan Valikhanov undermined in travels and he was forced to go home on the advice of doctors. The famous Russian writer, journalist M. N. Ivlev follows describes the sudden departure of center of Chingisov family from St. Petersburg home: – “At the end of may 1861 from St. Petersburg, the Imperial capital of Russia, went to Central Asia crew. In it was a seriously ill young man of Asian appearance in the uniform of a Russian officer. He was the son of the senior Sultan of Kushmurun district and one of the distant descendants of the “shaker of the universe” – the terrible Genghis Khan-the staff captain of the Russian army Chokan Valikhanov. By his twenty-five years, he was already the most famous scientist and traveler in Russia, the first to make a dangerous and adventurous journey that opened the world to the hitherto unknown Kashgaria and safely returned. In the capital, he left interesting work on mapping Asia in the Main headquarters, leaving friends and acquaintances, among whom were writers, poets and scientists – F. M. Dostoyevsky, A. N. Maikov, J. P. Polonsky, A. N. Pleshcheyev, V. V. Krestovsky, P. P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, A. N. Beketov, E. P. Kovalevsky, and others…”[10].

          A bit to heal at home and wanting to benefit their people and to protect him from the arbitrariness of Russian officials and the local nobility, in 1862 Valikhanov nominates its candidate for the office elected the senior Sultan of Atbasar district, but was defeated. Omsk officials did not approve the Sultan who won the election. About his unsuccessful attempt to participate in the elections to the senior sultans, he States in a letter to F. M. Dostoevsky, dated October 15, 1862:

      “My dear friend, Fyodor Mikhailovich. …I thought somehow to become a Sultan, to devote myself to the benefit of compatriots, to protect them from the officials and despotism of the rich Kirghiz. At the same time, I thought most of all about how to show my countrymen by example how an educated Sultan-ruler can be useful for them…to this end, I agreed to be elected to the senior sultans of the Atbassar district, but the choice was not without various bureaucratic tricks. These gentlemen, both regional, and command, completely revolted against it. You understand why. Regional would lose several thousand which they pulled off from the senior Sultan, and ordered, really if I was the Sultan, it would be necessary to go on the world…It should be noted, however, that on my side of all the Russian authorities was only one G. Gutkovsky, who at that time corrected the post of Governor and held elections. The bureaucracy begins to incite the feelings of the rich and ambitious Horde and scare them that if Valikhanov be Sultan, then all will be bad, he supposedly held notions about equality…; floated and the fact that I don’t believe in God and Mohammed consist in a personal feud. Russian majors (as the Kirghiz call all Russian officials), it is clear that such things, acting on the people of semi-savage and devoted to their customs, could not remain without consequences, especially when they came from the Russian majors)…

         So, are the two parties: one, consisting of four townships of Saganelidze, generation wild and wandering about Kokand borders. This wild bunch does not want to have a Sultan of a man who is the head, not clean-shaven, and, moreover, is not making ablution five times a day; banality Express the fear that if I do the Sultan, then I’m all Kyrgyz give to the soldiers, and the children in their school. So they are impressed. The other party, which is devoted to me, consists of the three parishes of the old subjects, and of all the sultans of the district. The election before that night, the opposing party attends the Governor’s Secretary, Bavarian German… I am triumphant In the elections. I’m elected by majority vote. I have a 25 and my opponent Saganelidze 14.

According to the law, the senior Sultan is elected: first, the sultans and Kirghiz, who have ranks or have served in positions in the district for 9 years; secondly, the Sultan is approved by a majority vote; and, thirdly, the senior Sultan is elected primarily from the sultans. My opponent is a simple Kirghiz, it would be absolutely nothing, but he is an illiterate man and has been on trial more than once…the Governor says that “hope Mr. Valikhanov,” I think; still would not hope when the law is on my side. But my opponent does not lose heart, but knows from experience that money can do everything, last winter he carried to Omsk 3 thousand rubles and released two prisoners. This helped him Secretary, and the Secretary tells him now: collect money and send people in Omsk – you Khan.  Money goes to Omsk. Although I read a lot of diatribes, but this time I thought-the scoundrels will be ashamed, because I’m not just anyone. Pride was overcome. Suddenly hear from Gutkowska that the trip Saganelidze remained without success, and that the Governor General doesn’t want you for anything to say… Valikhanov” [11].

          In 1863 Ch. Ch. Valikhanov conceived to create a major historical and ethnographic study “on the Kyrgyz steppe and the Kirghiz” and developed a detailed plan of the monograph. He wanted to give the Russian and world science objective work, revealing the spiritual wealth of the Kazakh people with their oral literature, and prevelage prevailed in Europe about the idea of nomadic peoples as “savage hordes of wild savages.” But, observing an arbitrariness and domination of feudal-Bai top of the Kazakh society, a difficult situation of working masses, the scientist couldn’t work quietly and fruitfully.

            In 1862-1864 he took an active part in the life of Kazakh society, led an active struggle against the Kazakh aristocracy and reactionary bureaucracy, defended the interests of the poor, -was the project of education, administrative and judicial reform, which, in his opinion, had to curb the feudal lords and improve the situation of the working masses. So hard work he led despite tuberculosis, eroding his body.

         Soon Ch. Valikhanov leaves for Omsk, where he takes part in the work of the legal Commission of the regional Board and dealt with the issues of the Kazakh judicial reform. In the spring of 1864 Chokan was invited to the military expedition of General Chernyaev, whose task was the annexation of southern Kazakhstan to Russia. Valikhanov was specially sent to ensure negotiations with the local population. However, according to Soviet historians, General Chernyaev committed a series of brutal actions that angered a group of advanced officers, including Chokan, after the capture of the fortress of Aulie-Ata (the current city of Taraz). In July, 1864 Chokan with that group comes back to Verny. Academician A. Margulan connects this act of officers with the trend among Siberians who were carried away by the idea of “Siberian autonomism”.

              In Omsk at this time began the suppression of separatist fermentation, so due to the situation Chokan decided not to return to Omsk. Some chatanooga claim that he was in the Right in connection with a special mission for operational monitoring of the unrest in the border areas of Xin Jiang. Anyway he is coming from Loyal to the aul Tezek – senior Sultan of the Kazakhs kind Alban, which marries his sister Isery. Archival documents, including a lively correspondence between the Center and the chief Latascha County and Kazakhs of the Senior Zhuz General G. Kolpakovsky, where we are talking about the progress of the Dungan revolt in Western China, the unrest among the local population of East Turkestan, including the sentiments among the Kazakhs of Semirechie given to understand that Chokan, being in the border with China Altyn-Emel, perform special tasks of Imperial administration, there is a fairly extensive network of agents, which he himself once called “the Agency», that is, the border place where he lived became a link between Russia and Xinjiang. Recent surveys show that he could leave Saguisag group in connection with the outbreak in those days, the rebellion of the Dungans in Urumchi. In any case, a few months before his death, he was listed in the service of the General staff and the Asian Department. There is also information that Chokan Chernyaev was presented to the rank of captain, for the difference in the Affairs of Kokand.

            Staff captain of the Russian army and Kazakh Sultan Chokan Chingissovich Valikhanov died in the village of Tezek at the Altyn-Emel pass, the current Almaty region on April 10, 1865, before he reached thirty years of age. According to the official version, he could not restore his undermined health, which can be proved by his last letter from the village of Tezek to his father, where he writes:”…Tired, no strength, all dried up, only bones left, soon I will not see the light. I shall never see my dear family and friends again; there is no means of doing so. This will be my last letter. Goodbye, hugs to all.”

               Assessing the activities of Chokan Valikhanov on behalf of the Russian geographical society and scientists from Russia, outstanding scientist-orientalist I. I. Veselovsky wrote about him: “As the brilliant meteor has flown above a field of Oriental studies, a descendant of Kirghiz khans and at the same time Russian army officer Chokan Valikhanov Chingissovich. Russian Orientalists unanimously recognized in his person a phenomenal phenomenon and expected from him great and important revelations about the fate of the Turkic peoples, but the premature death of Chokan deprived us of these hopes. In less than thirty years, he did what others could not do in their entire lives. ” [12] 

               His friend, the great Russian writer and thinker F. Dostoevsky spoke about him: “His name will not disappear in the history of the Kirghis-Kaisaks and Kara-kirghis, his name will be in the memory of two peoples.”  Russian publicist, writer and public figure, researcher of Siberia and Central Asia N. M. Yadrinzev, which Ciocan was friendly, also responded to the death of Chokan: “Last autumn in the Trans-Ili region died of the Kirghiz Sultan of Chokan Valihanov, known for their daring journey to Kashgar, a city in Western China… there’s nothing We find more decent to honor the memory of Chokan Valikhanov like to wish Kyrgyzstan not so long to wait for the second Valikhanov, as Buryats had to wait for the second Dorji Banzarov. Of course, there are the best conductors of European civilization and humanity among the foreigners, by the foreigners. Therefore, we are always ready to sympathize with the appearance of educated foreigners, and their death is considered a flagrant injustice of fate ” [13].

            Considering the drawings, sketches Botanica, it becomes clear how talented he was an artist when it is necessary skillfully to convey the sheet routes of their expeditions with a firm hand of the military surveyor: the greatest value of his topographical works is that based on them were then produced accurate maps of Central Asia, not alleged how to Valikhanov was satisfied with the science. According to geographers, the map of Central Asia made by Chokan on the pages of one of his diaries is of interest. This was the first reliable map of Kashgaria and the areas bordering it. The second property inherent in the scientist-traveler is the knowledge of languages. Chokan was the first polyglot Kazakh who mastered several European languages in addition to Oriental languages. At the time of the Sultan’s children, according to tradition, had to learn several Oriental languages, or, as they say, to know the languages of seven peoples. As can be seen from archival materials, he was always engaged in Oriental languages, well learned Arabic, Farsi and Central Asian Koine-Chagatai dialect.  

           It is believed that during his stay in Kulja Chokan began to study Uighur, later in Kashgar he will master this language perfectly [14]. As it`s seen, Chokan from the first steps in science was based on the study of the full history of the Kazakhs and the desire to point out the mistakes and shortcomings in the world Orientalism, which implied a comprehensive study of other related peoples of Central Asia and East Turkestan, where his fate threw him. All of this, ultimately must were result in capital historical-ethnographic study “About Kirghiz steppes and Kirghiz”, plan this monograph he developed detail. Thus, Chokan wanted to give the Russian and world science objective work, revealing the spiritual wealth of the Kazakh people with their oral literature, and refutes prevailed in Europe about the idea of nomadic peoples as “savage and indiscriminate hordes of savages” [15].  At the same time, observing the life of his people and the Central Asian peoples, he sought the causes of their backwardness and the way to raise their socio-economic life. Apparently it gave the American Professor E. Olurdu to consider CH a pioneer in the collection of materials of the Kazakh steppe.

           Especially significant are the merits of Ch. Valikhanov in the study of the history of the Senior Zhuz. As you know, until the mid-nineteenth century science was dominated by a misconception, made by travellers of the XVIII century that the Senior Zhuz and Kyrgyz are one particular people distinct from Kazakhs. In 1855-1859 he Chokan, the result of careful field research, collecting significant materials showed the fallacy of this opinion. In “Essays Dzungaria”, he made the following extremely important scientific conclusion: “Ending your ethnographic notes on Buruts and Uisuns [the Kyrgyz and the Kazakhs of the Senior Zhuz], I think it necessary to notice, that one should not mix these two completely different people… Even Humboldt and Richter … thought that Buruts make up a Large Kaisak Horde, and that this Horde must be distinguished from Low to Medium. But this was a great mistake on the part of the venerable luminaries of science. Large, Medium and Small Kirghiz-Kaisak Horde are one nation, “Kazak”, which is different from that of the Kyrghyz, called Buruts by Chinese, and  wild stone Kirghiz or Black Kirgiz by Russians. These two nations differ in language, origin, customs… ” [16]. Thus, Chokan for the first time in science applied the historical name of the Kazakh people, consigned to oblivion by Orientalism until 1925.

 Modern researchers, such as Corresponding Member of NAS RK, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor Abusseitova and Doctor of Historical Sciences Zharas Ermekbaev in the article “Chokan Valikhanov: research and speculation”, noted that  “…Chokan Valikhanov’s short life left many “white spots” in his biography, which became the object of discussion disputes in books, articles, Newspapers and magazines. Until now, biographers and bibliographers argue about the date and place of birth, trips to Paris, quarrels with Colonel Chernyaev and his departure to the village of Sultan Tezek, the causes of sudden death. Some aspects of life Ch. Ch. Valikhanov gained an aura of mystery and turned into myths. So, about the date and place of birth of Chokan Valikhanov, there is another view from P.P.  Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, G. N. Potanin, Kh Yarovoy etc., considering the year of Chokan’s birth as 1837, which is not the same as officially announced 1835. On the question of the birthplace of Chokan Valikhanov, the disputes among local historians and history lovers still do not cease. Basically, they appear on the pages of regional and national newspapers in connection with the anniversaries of the scholar” [17 ].

  After Chokan’s death in Altyn-Emel, a vaulted tomb of burnt brick was built on his grave by the forces of his relatives. Later, in 1881, at the Mazar on behalf of the Governor-General of Turkestan K. Kaufman, architect P. Zenkov was a marble slab with an inscription that reads: “Here lie the remains of staff-captain of Chingissovich Chokan Valikhanov, who died in 1865.  At the request of the Turkestan Governor – General Kaufman of the 1st, the scientists of the merits of Ch, put this monument to Lieutenant General of Kolpakovskiy 1881году”. In 1989 the marble slab was replaced with its copy, and the original can be seen in the exposition Of the Museum-memorial complex “Altyn-Emel”.

Over time, the Mazar collapsed, it was accidentally discovered in 1945, for the identification of the body was exhumed, it belonged to the Kazakh, but buried for some reason not in a shroud, according to Muslim tradition, and in the uniform of an officer of the Russian army. In 1958, a five-meter obelisk of pink granite was erected on this place, which worthily immortalizes the memory of Chokan. The obelisk is crowned with a hemisphere of the globe, symbolizing travel. On the face of the bronze Korolev Valikhanov. At the foot is a marble slab with a memorable epitaph. The obelisk is a popular place to visit for the population and many tourists.


Chokan Valikhanov left behind a vast scientific and literary legacy. During his short life, he managed to write a number of works on the history, geography and Ethnography of the peoples of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, as well as a significant number of works on social and political topics. He was a well-formed major scientist with an encyclopedic mindset, who was able to put in a new way a number of issues in contemporary science. In 1854 he studied in Central Kazakhstan a number of architectural monuments, and in Semirechye made a record of legends and legends of Kazakhs of the Senior Zhuz. In his second expedition he studied the ancient settlements of the Semirechensk region, collects collections of ancient coins, makes sketches from nature, rock paintings, stone statues, including the mausoleum of Bayan Sulu and Kozy Korpesh on the Ayaguz river.

All of these investigations resulted in such wonderful research on the history and Ethnography of the Kazakh people, as well as articles concerning socio-political relations in the Kazakh steppe as “Ablay”, “Armament of Kirghiz in ancient times and their military armor”, “Shauna-Batyr”, “the wandering Kirghiz”, “Traces of shamanism among the Kirghiz”, “About Moslem in steppe”, “note on judicial reform” and others.

Chokan was keenly interested in traditions, literature, history of the peoples of the East. In his scientific trips, expeditions, he records folk songs and epics in the country, collects legends and stories. An important result of his trip was the discovery to the scientific world and the General public of the greatest monument of Kyrgyz oral art, numbering half a million lines — the epic “Manas”. He was the first researcher who recorded and subsequently translated into Russian the individual chapters of the epic.

Chokan’s secret visit to Kashgaria, at that time still a closed country for Europeans, where he studied the economic and political structure of the region, collected a lot of materials on its history and Ethnography, allowed to raise the achievements of Russian science and education to new heights. As a result of this expedition, he wrote a report “on the state of Altyshar, or six Eastern cities of the Chinese province of Nan Lu (Little Bukhara)”, which was highly appreciated by Orientalists in Russia and abroad, and soon reprinted in English.

Research on Valikhanov was published in the proceedings of the Russian Geographical society, also came out in Berlin (1862), London (1865) and entered in the 6th and 7th volumes (1878 – 1879) 19-volume French global geography (1A Nouvelle geographie universelle”) Elise Reclus. 


In honor of Valikhanov streets of many Kazakh cities and settlements are named.  He built monuments in Almaty, Kokshetau, Semey, Pavlodar, Omsk (Russia), his name is the Institute of history and Ethnology MES RK, state University in Kokshetau, cadet corps of the Ministry of defense, located in Shchuchinsk. In Kokshetau the State University named after Chokan, and annual “Chokan readings” are taking place.

In Syrymbet village, Aiyrtau district, North Kazakhstan region the Museum was opened and the estate of Valikhanov family “Syrymbet” was reconstructed. On September 20, 1985 to the 150th anniversary of Ch. Valikhanov in the Shokan village, Kerbulak district of Almaty region there was established a Museum-memorial complex “Altyn-Emel”. Next to the Museum, on a hill, there stands a monument to Ch. Valikhanov by Russian artists: Julian Rukavishnikov (sculptor) and Nikolai Milovidov (architect). In the 1950-1970s and in the mid-1980s, under the scientific guidance of Acad. A. Marghulan there was carried out the publication of selected works by Ch. Valikhanov.

   The award of NAS named after Ch. Valikhanov was established for outstanding achievements in the field of social and geographical sciences, as well as the state prize in the field of fine arts and architecture. A peak on the Northern slope of the Trans-Ili Alatau is named in his honor. Your scientific contribution to the study of the heritage of Chokan made by well-known scientists of Kazakhstan: historians, Orientalists, ethnographers, writers, journalists etc. The famous writer S. Mukanov wrote fiction trilogy “Flashed meteor” about the first Kazakh scientist, P. Markov wrote the novel “Running to the top”, the publicist Irina Strelkova wrote the  documentary book “Chokan Valikhanov” (series f), novelist-essayist Zharylkap Beisenbaiuly in the early 1970, made a foot walk along the Kyrgyz route center and wrote the book “Shokan son” (“In the footsteps of Chokan”), and in 2014 the expedition was in his Kashgar route. It was organized by Kazakhstan geographic society on the eve of the 150th anniversary of the trip of Chokan in Kashgar. The results of this expedition are reflected in the books of the participant of the expedition Ismailian Iminova “By caravan route of the great center” and “Journey to Altiero”.

The artistic and documentary films are dedicated to Valikhanov: “His time will come” (“Kazakhfilm”, 1957, Director M. Begalin, starring Nurmukhan Zhanturin), a multi-part film “Chokan Valikhanov” (1985, to Ch.Valikhanov’s 150th anniversary, Kazakhfilm, directed by A. Ashimov, starring Sagi Ashimov); documentary film “Man in Uniform” (2006, Director I. Gonopolsky). 

          In 1985, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Valikhanov was celebrated at the UNESCO level.


1 Valihanov Ch.Ch. Sobr. soch. v pjati tomah. T.І. izd. KSJe, Alma-Ata, 1984, str.11

2 Tam zhe, str.14

3 Gejns A.K. Puteshestvie po kirgizskim stepjam // Chokan Valihanov v

  vospominanijah sovremennikov. Alma-Ata, 1964, str.136

4 Valihanov Ch.Ch. Sobr.soch. v pjati tomah. T.І. izd. KSJe, Alma-Ata, 1984, str.19

5 Tam zhe, str.13 

6 Valihanov Ch.Ch. Sobr.soch. v pjati tomah. T.І. izd. KSJe, Alma-Ata, – 1984,str.91

7  Ch.Ch.Valihanov,rezhim dostupa  https://infosphere.top/viki/Ch.Valihanov/

8 Vypiska iz otcheta o puteshestvii v Kashgar poruchika Ch.Valihanova – Sobr.soch.

v 5 tomah. t.3. izd. KSJe, Alma-Ata, –1985,  str. 219-222.

9 Valihanov Ch.Ch. Sobr.soch. v pjati tomah. T.5. izd. KSJe, Alma-Ata, – 1985,str.241-242

10M.N.Ivlev«Puteshestvija stepnogo carevicha»,  CentrAzija-   Rezhim dostupa:

   ,https://centrasia.org/newsA.php?s t=1292241120

11 Pis’ma Ch. Valihanova,  Sob.soch. v pjati tomah.- t.5.  izd.KSJe.- S.151-152.

12 Valihanov Ch.Ch. Sobr.soch. v pjati tomah. T.І. izd. KSJe, Alma-Ata, 1984,str.79

13 Valihanov Ch. Ch. Sob. soch.v pjati tomah. Alma-Ata, 1985, t. 5.  str. 276–279.

14 Iminov I. Ch. Valihanov: missija v Kashgare: 155 let znamenitoj nauchnoj jekspedicii.

     Zhurnal «Madeni mұra», 2019 g. №4 str.186-189.

15 Je.Masanov., Vydajushhijsja uchenyj kazahskogo naroda Ch.Valihanov, Voprosy

     obshhej jetnografii i antropologii, str.62.

16 Tam zhe, str.64.

17  Ermekbaj Zh.A., Abuseitova M.K. « Chokan Valihanov: issledovanija i domysly

    // Sb. dokladov m\n NPK Istorija Kazahstana:  innov. koncepcii  i period-ja

      kak prioritet nauch. poznanija. 2 kn. Eltanym baspasy,Almaty, 2013. str. 22–30.

A copy of the diploma on the election of Ch. Valikhanov as full member of the Imperial geographical society

Valikhanov family estate – a house and a mosque

                               Feather grass steppe near the winter quarters of Valikhanov family

Flowering meadowsweet in the tract of Syrymbet

The monument to Ch. Valikhanov in the village of Chokan in Kerbulak district

The monument to Ch. Valikhanov in Omsk

        Ch. Valikhanov

View from the exposition of the memorial Museum of Ch. Valikhanov “Altyn-Emel”

Bust of Ch. Valikhanov by sculptor, people’s artist of Kazakhstan H. Nauryzbayev

                Ch. Valikhanov and F. Dostoevsky. The exposition of the memorial Museum

View of the monument to Ch. Valikhanov from the Museum.

 The original view of the grave of Ch. Valikhanov, drawn by his friend G. Potanin