Mahmud ibn al-Xuseyn ibn Muhamed Kashghari

Encyclopedic-Scientist, lexicographer, linguist, ethnographer, folklorist, geographer, historian, founder of Turkology


So far neither the date of birth, or the date of death of the great scientist are defined. It is also unknown when and where he wrote his essay, where he died. According to modern Western researchers, Kashghari came from ruling family of Karakhanids. At that time aristocratic origins allowed him to get an excellent upbringing and education.

According to researchers, Kashghari , having received a primary and higher education in his home town, continued to improve his  knowledge in the cultural centers of Central Asia – Bukhara, Samarkand and other cities. To complete his education, he went to Baghdad , where his idea of creating the  dictionary of Turkic languages was born.

The Main Scientific Works

The only extant Kashghari’s work is his essay “Divan lugat at -Turk”

(“Dictionary of Turkic Languages” ) . This work is a dictionary, the first in the history of the Turkic peoples, acquainting with their language the Muslim world. It was conceived as an evidence of the triumph of their culture and spirit. “Divan lugat at -Turk ” consists of eight chapters and covers about 7,000 words. For illustration, Kashghari incorporated his work with samples of poetry and wise sayings of Turks. A great collection of Turkic proverbs and verses noted in Kashghari’s works as illustrations to dictionary entries are considered as a pearl of a lexicon.

The richness of the content of Mahmud Kashghari’s dictionary is a unique work, that presents :

1) vocabulary indicating tribal affiliation ;

2) information on the resettlement of the Turkic tribes ;

3 ) classification of Turkic languages ​​;

4) information on Turkic historical phonetics and grammar

5) information on the history, geography, ethnography, folklore and poetry of Turks;

6) the oldest Turkic world map .

From the “Divan”, it is known that Kashghari, also the author of another work which is directly related to the first, “Kitabi Jawahir al- nahv fi lugat at -Turk ” – ” The Book of Treasures of the Turkic languages Syntax ​​.” However, this product has not been yet found.

Contribution to the World Science

The compilation of “Divan “, naturally, was preceded by many years of work on collecting linguistic, historical and ethnographic material. Materials collected by Mahmud Kashghari during his travels across the lands of the Turks, allowed him to cover a huge lexical richness in his work. Mahmud Kashghari’s  Dictionary is, in the fullest sense of the word, golden placers of curious and subtle observations on the phonetics, grammar and vocabulary of a number of Turkic languages​​, a unique composition , survived to our time, an invaluable  linguistic, ethnographic, folklore, geographic, historical information about the Turkic-speaking ethnic groups in the region .

“Divan lugat at -Turk” expanded the knowledge of Muslim science of the XI century, enriched its first encyclopedic information about the language and culture of the Turks.

It should be noted that Kashghari particularly paid attention to the most refined and pure dialect Hakaniyya in his dictionary, i.e. the language of Turkic peoples, established on the territory of Karakhanids , which became the nucleus of the Uzbek people. In this respect his work “Divan lugat at -Turk” is one of the most important sources for the history of the Uzbek language of Karakhanids era, which reflected its rich vocabulary. In addition, the merit of Kashghari is t-in the fact that he showed in his work the Turkish language is an elegant, expressive, and in this aspect, it is no worse than Arabic. It could be seen in his following words: “Turkic dialects are on par with the Arabic language, like two horses at the races”.

World Recognition

In the XX century Kashghari’s genial work “Divan lugat at-Turk”, through centuries after creation, became known worldwide as a source of knowledge whose value is being only increased over time. This work has gained fame far beyond the Muslim civilization, becoming the most valuable source of knowledge of humanity. To this day, “Divan” was translated into English, Russian, Uzbek, Turkish, Kazakh, Uygur and Chinese, and its facsimile was published.

Kashghari is considered as the first researcher of language, culture, ethnography and Turkic national history and also as an author of the Turkic Dictionary of Lexicography.