Development of trade in Southern Kazakhstan in the second half of the XIX — early XX centuries

Trade was one of the most important areas of the economy of South Kazakhstan, which provides income and means of living for most of the population. Research and generalization of archival and published materials on the history of trade development in southern Kazakhstan in the second half of the XIX–XX centuries shows that the conquest of the South of Kazakhstan by the Russian Empire contributed to certain change in the entire social life of the region, which also affected the trade industry. During the period under review, due to the colonial policy of tsarism, industry did not receive its true development. There was an intensive process of turning the region into a source of raw materials and a market for finished products of the metropolitan industry. South Kazakhstan's trade relations with Russia and Central Asia led to the formation of the Kazakh trade bourgeoisie, but the process of its consolidation was slow. Russian capital dominated the domestic and foreign markets. Local merchants sold their goods at lower prices, which was a consequence of the tsarist colonial policy in Central Asia.


Trade in South Kazakhstan was one of the most important areas of the economy, providing wages and means of life for the majority of the population.

By the nature of trade turnover, the trade of Kazakhstan was composed of / 330 /:

  1. domestic trade between separate parts of the region, with a view to local consumption;
  2. goods exchange between Kazakhstan and other parts of the empire, mainly with European Russia, and partly with the Caucasus and Siberia;
  3. foreign trade with border states.

Socio-economic changes in South Kazakhstan, including those influenced by the growing importance of various forms of trade, contributed to the formation of the internal market.

The turnover of domestic trade in Kazakhstan was significant, and the number of persons engaged in trade was very large, but both of them are difficult to accurately measure. Trading was carried out exclusively sedentary population, and mainly the Kazakhs, who had great trading skills. Thus, a huge mass of the population was engaged in trade, but the turnover of each commercial enterprise was insignificant, which is typical of domestic trade. After the conquest of Kazakhstan by Russia as a result of the region being drawn into the all-Russian commodity circulation, some cities began to play the role of shopping centers of a group of regions and a number of regions. In the southern region such centers of trade were Turkestan, Chimkent, Sairam [1; 3]. By virtue of the prevalence of handicraft production over factory here, a large role in the trade turnover belonged to products of the handicraft industry.

Methodology and research methods

Methodological bases of writing the article are documents on the development of the national history of Kazakhstan, on the works of Kazakhstani historians and economists. The main source in the study of the topic was information gleaned from state archives.

Interesting data were found while studying the funds of the Historical Department of the Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The collections of this archive contain materials related to the history of the development of trade relations of pre-revolutionary Turkestan.


Domestic trade in South Kazakhstan was very extensive, but not by the number of capital in circulation, but by the number of markets and traders. Bidding took place in bazaars, which often existed even in the smallest villages, such as Chilik, Icahn.

Kazakhs, in need of trade points, often turned to the regional administration with requests to open such. So, in May, residents of Ikana kishlak addressed the head of Turkestan district with a request to establish market days in the form of fairs in their village. The county head, reporting on this to the military governor of the Syrdarya region (only he allowed the official opening of one market or another), wrote that «... market day to the village of Icahn, instead of Friday, be appointed on Sundays» [2; 8].

Often the permission to open bazaars was only a formal act, as in the villages and without it, the traditional trade exchange between the sedentary and nomadic people took place. For example, in 1885, when the residents of Suzak asked to open a bazaar, there were already 30 shops in the village and the neighboring Kazakhs brought cattle and grain here [3; 1], and the settled population — handicrafts.

In large cities, where thousands of people lived and more, fairs were organized twice a week, in small towns and villages — once. In internal trade, mainly, there were relations between the sedentary and nomadic population. On this occasion, Academician V. Bartold wrote in his work «The History of the Cultural Life of Turkestan»: «For the cultural regions of Central Asia, trade with nomadic Turks has always been of great economic importance.

For nomads, these trade relations were even more necessary than for the cultural population; it was even more difficult for nomads to do without the works of the cultural industry supplying them with clothing than for the cultured population without products of steppe cattle breeding; therefore, nomads, like everywhere else, drove their herds to market these products to the borders of cultural regions, not waiting for merchants from these regions to come to the steppe to buy livestock, meat, wool, etc. But the cultural population also got great benefits from trade with nomads».

The well-known orientalist A.Yu. Yakubovsky also noted with regular trade links between nomads and sedentary people: «Everywhere where agricultural and nomadic societies lived in the neighborhood during the feudal era, military raids after booty gave way to peaceful trade communication. The history of Central Asia, Mongolia, China is full of facts of this kind» [4; 28].

The trade of nomadic and settled areas was based on the mutual social division of labor, therefore it was mutually beneficial, stimulated the enhanced development of each of these regions in its industry, and ultimately led to a gradual increase in the productive forces of both [5; 188].

Trade between nomadic, semi-nomadic and sedentary peoples was carried out both in cities and towns, where there were bazaars, and directly in the nomads. In the first case, commodity producers could directly communicate and exchange their agricultural products and handicraft products without the mediation of merchants and traders, in the second, it was mainly carried out with their participation.

The nomadic Kazakhs for various reasons, including for commercial and business purposes, also constantly communicated with the urban population, visiting cities and towns close to their nomad camps, especially on market days. Urban artisans from the sedentary population, producing goods, also took into account the demand for them of the nomadic and semi-nomadic population and were guided by it.

«The history of the Kazakh SSR» describes three main types of trade: traveling-exchange, fair, stationary (shops, shops, warehouses). In South Kazakhstan, all three types of trade took place.

Handicraft production became increasingly active in trade. In it, the proportion of products and raw materials intended for sale increased. In this case, the craftsman already acts as a small commodity producerartisan.

The development of individual crafts was associated with the supply to the market of goods needed by farmers.

The social structure of various branches of handicraft production of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. was heterogeneous. Here there were industries that were at the level of domestic fishing; satisfying the needs of families, whose products entered the market a little and only by chance; those that can be considered a craft when the work was custom-made; and industries that have turned into small-scale commodity production without wage earners and with hired labor force that put products on the market.

It should be noted that if artisans sold their products through an intermediary, then handicraft industries were directly connected with the market. However, in the conditions of the Southern region, as well as the whole of Kazakhstan, such a distinction was not always clearly expressed, and handicraftsmen in their pure form almost did not exist. Most often they included artisans, i.e. those who worked for customers-consumers.

In the study period, new forms of trade developed in South Kazakhstan — fairs, giving a large trade turnover. «In the second half of the XIX century, fairs played a prominent role in the qualitative change in domestic trade. The turnover of fairs in the steppe regions of Kazakhstan increased at a particularly rapid pace» [6; 30].

Fairs created a certain system of market relations between separate regions of Kazakhstan. Fairs played a huge role in the economy of the region, being a long time with the main focus of exchange.

Along with small and medium fairs in the south of Kazakhstan there were several fairs with millions of turns. Thus, the Aulie-Ata Fair was one of the large, central fairs in the south of Kazakhstan, which gave a turnover of about one million rubles.

Only in 1894 did Russian merchants buy 6,100 poods at this fair. lamb wool, over 1500 pounds. goat fluff, up to 500 poods. camel hair and 100 pounds. hair lassos [7]. As the senior aksakal of the Aulie-Ata Fair in 1916 noted, «the turnover of this year's fair is twice as large as in the past and previous years» [8; 6], which indicates an increase in the needs of the All-Russian market.

During the study period, trade in South Kazakhstan was mainly monetary in nature, and Russian money was in circulation. However, in some remote areas, trade with the nomadic population sometimes still had an exchange character.

The old urban centers of South Kazakhstan: Turkestan, Chimkent, Sairam and many villages located in their neighborhoods were a place of active trade. In 1867, in Turkestan, there were 1600 small and large shops [9; 150]. The report on the state of Turkestan County for 1880 states: «All major and more or less capital trade in the county is concentrated in the city of Turkestan, where there are 4 caravanserais and up to 550 shops; in villages, however, trade is very insignificant and it mainly uses first-priority items» [10; 29]. The city of Turkestan with the surrounding areas has become one of the largest transshipment bases of Russian-Central Asian trade. About 12 thousand camels loaded with various goods passed through it annually [11; 21]. In addition, Turkestan was a major center for trade in cattle, leather and wool [12; 152].

«The total turnover of capital in the trade actually in the city of Turkestan was 200–250 p.; in the county it is no more than 60–70 rubles» [11; 21]. Merchants from Tashkent, Kokand, Bukhara and other cities of Central Asia came to the crowded bazaar of the city of Turkestan, brought mostly silk and paper fabrics, carpets, blankets, bathrobes, etc. All this was traded for sheep, in small quantities for agricultural products (millet, barley, wheat) and Russian-made goods. In addition, a lively camel trade was conducted at the Turkestan market, attracting buyers from different countries, and especially from Bukhara [13; 9].

Rural markets are increasingly associated with the urban in the process of forming the domestic market. Thus, traders from Chimkent sold in the rural markets products of the town's artisans and factory goods, and at the same time purchased agricultural products necessary for the urban population and raw materials for craft and industrial establishments.

Craftsmen, as small producers in small towns, limited themselves to selling their products in a small local market, sometimes directly communicating with consumers. This contributed to the lower stage of development of commodity production.

With the release of the products of artisans into a wide market, a figure of the buyer appeared, who became, as it were, an intermediary between the producer and consumer of the craft products. Particularly increased the role of buyers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Buying handicrafts at low prices, they sold them, wandering from one bazaar to another, from one area to another with a big profit for themselves.

The mechanism of interaction of farms specializing in certain areas of social production (cattle breeding, agriculture, handicrafts) has evolved over many centuries. Traders from Tashkent, Bukhara, Kokand and other cities flooded the steppe with handicraft products, and leather, wool and live cattle in return met the needs of Central Asian markets. The ethnoterritorial and cultural-historical affinity with the population of Central Asia stimulated the ever-increasing commodity exchange within the South Kazakhstan.

Many Syr Darya Kazakhs also actively participated in trade operations. In 1856, General Osmolovsky wrote about that «Kirghiz Syr Darya brought to Bukhara rams, Armenian, cattle skins, felts, ribbons for kibitki and baskura, and from there mostly wheat flour, mats, coarse calico, paper and silk material were exported bathrobes, carpets, fruit, etc.» [10; 35].

In the first half of the 19th century, with the annexation of the territory of Southern Kazakhstan to the Kokand Khanate, Uzbek traders from Tashkent, Kokand, Namangan, Andijan, Margilan, Khojent, Bukhara and Khiva began to arrive in Chimkent.

In the second half of the XIX century. Chimkent already had quite large bazaars and turned into a rather significant trading center. Goods from the neighboring Kazakh regions (Sairam, Karabulak villages, Mankent), especially livestock and livestock raw materials, also came here. «The main trade of sedentary residents of the Chimkent region is carried out with the Kirghiz of the region».

In 1864, there were 500 shops in Chimkent alone [5; 195]. The role of Chimkent as a shopping center in the south of Kazakhstan has increased more and more after its incorporation into the Turkestan General Governorate.

Economic life of the Kazakhs of the south of Kazakhstan and the Tashkent oasis, the bazaars of Tashkent, located in close proximity to areas of nomadic cattle breeding and has long specialized in the production of products intended for marketing to the surrounding Kazakh population, including those made from raw materials, played a huge role. derived from the Kazakhs themselves, for example, raw leather. Trade relations of the population of South Kazakhstan with neighboring Asian regions were most actively carried out through the city of Aulie-Atu. Its proximity to one of the largest markets of the Turkestan region — Tashkent, directly connected by rail with Russia and Fergana, contributed to the creation of a major regional center for domestic and international trade. The petitions of large traders and livestock producers from 1889 to the Ministry of Internal Affairs about the opening of the annual spring fair in the city of Aulie-Ata, mainly for buying and selling livestock, have been preserved. The establishment of fairs in the city, in the opinion of cattle producers, will attract «a huge confluence of merchants and benefit not only the local population, but also non-resident traders» [14; 2]. The advantages of livestock trade in Aulie-Ata were provided by the most important moment: «If the herds are not sold during the fair, then the remains of the cattle dealer can sell on daily bazaars and, moreover, there are grazing places in the city» [15; 11]. Obviously, the main product at the Aulie-Ata Fair was cattle, fat, wool, leather, etc. «These products are traded all year round» [16; 51]. It also actively conducted grain trade. Although its turnover was inferior to the transactions of livestock producers, its importance was great, as the process of deepening the economic ties of the nomadic and sedentary population of the Turkestan region was going on.

In 1899–1900 in the Aulie-Ata district of the Syrdarya region there were 247 merchants, of which 171 Kazakh, three Russians, two Tatars and 71 Uzbek.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Kazakhs of South Kazakhstan are increasingly to the all-Russian market. Russian merchants were regular guests of the markets of South Kazakhstan, especially Aulie-Ata.

In the second half of the XIX century russian merchants, having arrived in South Kazakhstan, took in their hands the key points in the cities and towns that connected the local market with the all-Russian one. «The Russian merchants willingly purchased from Kazakhs felts, hair cords, wool bags, harness and exported these products to Russian cities. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. at fairs and city markets, felts, Armenian, ropes, saddles, bridles and other handicrafts were sold annually for hundreds of thousands of ru- bles». In 1867, the Turkestan press noted that: «Merchants, both Russian and Asian, selling cattle on auls, leave with goods that are needed for Kirghiz in autumn and winter, or send their clerks with felts there».

The cities of Chimkent and Turkestan are more inclined to the markets of the Fergana Valley, Tashkent and Kokand; Aulie-Ata was more often associated with the Semirechensk and Semipalatinsk regions.

Foreign trade, both import and export, was partly revived due to the fact that the Syrdarya region in its geographical position was a transit route for the exchange of goods between European Russia and South Kazakhstan on the one hand and Central Asian possessions on the other.

The subject of import from European Russia was manufactory, haberdashery and handicrafts, which go mainly to meet the needs of the Russian and non-indigenous population of the region in general. From Tashkent, Andijan, Namangan were brought: silk in yarn, felt mats, carpets, bathrobes, cotton fabrics and various small goods.

The conquest of Kazakhstan provided unlimited opportunities for young Russian capital, especially industrial and textile, in expanding markets.

However, it would be erroneous to assume that the widespread introduction of Russian calico on the market of South Kazakhstan during this period was accompanied by the elimination of handicraft weaving. Russian goods on the market could not force out handicraft production.

It should be noted in the Syrdarya region, as well as throughout Kazakhstan, in the second half of the XIX-first quarter of the XX centuries. Many branches of the handicraft industry, which supplied the land with essential goods, continued to retain their significance. This was explained, firstly, by the fact that factory products penetrated mainly into urban centers, and in the neighborhood, especially in remote areas, due to poor transportation (rural areas were poorly connected with the city) these products were almost the handicraftsman's products continued to dominate, without encountering serious competition from imported goods. Secondly, the local factory industry mainly worked not for the domestic market, but for export, supplying raw materials for Russian enterprises. Thirdly, the imported goods did not meet the demands of the local population everywhere. In addition, at first they were more expensive than local ones.

Craftsmen handicrafts better oriented on the market. They made the most necessary household items, often not amenable to replacement with factory-made items, such as carpets, tekemets, butchers, shoes and other specific household items, as well as tools for agricultural production.


Trade relations of South Kazakhstan with Russia and the Central Asian khanates led to the formation of the Kazakh trading bourgeoisie, but the process of its consolidation was slow. On the domestic and foreign markets dominated the Russian capital. Local merchants sold their goods at lower prices, which was a consequence of the colonial policy of tsarism, carried out in Central Asia.

Nevertheless, with the penetration of capitalist relations in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There have been significant advances in the economies of the peoples of southern Kazakhstan. In the cities and large settlements, handicraft industrial enterprises arose, where hired workers worked. The development of handicraft production during the period under study allowed the Syrdarya Kazakhs to actively participate in trade operations.

Thus, being one of the trade centers of Kazakhstan, the Southern Region began to play an important role in the trade relations between Russia and the cities of Central Asia. Southern Kazakhstan not only supplied important raw materials for the metropolis, but became the main source of capital accumulation.

The development of trade, the expansion and deepening of commodity-money relations, especially in the production and processing of cotton, including handicraft production, contributed to drawing the Southern region, along with other areas of Kazakhstan, into the general turnover of developing Russian capitalism.


A detailed study of the issue would clarify the solution to another problem — the formation of the local bourgeoisie, entrepreneurs, would recreate experience in organizing small and medium-sized enterprises. This is very important today, when the emerging market mechanism is making its way in a painful competition with the previous form of economy.

A detailed study of the topic would help to illuminate some of the nuances of the continuity of historical and economic categories of the past and present, and should draw the attention of researchers to an expanded regional study of the problem.



  1. CGA RU [Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan]. F. I-1, Оp. 1, D. 694, L. 3.
  2. CGA RU [Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan]. F. I-17, Оp. 1, D. 1432, L. 8.
  3. CGA RU [Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan]. F. I-19, Оp. 1, D. 23543, L. 1.
  4. Grekov, B.D. (1950). Zolotaia Orda i eе padenie [Golden Horde and its fall]. Мoscow–Leningrad: Izdstelstvo AN SSSR [in Russian].
  5. Maduanov, S. (1996). Vzaimootnosheniia kazakhov s druhimi sosednimi narodami Tsentralnoi Azii v XVIII — nachale XX vv. [Relations between Kazakhs and other neighboring peoples of Central Asia in the XVII — early XX centuries]. Almaty [in Russian].
  6. Kasymbaev, Zh.K. (1979). Rol horodov Vostochnoho Kazakhstana v ukreplenii torhovykh otnoshenii s kochevymi kazakhami i russkim krestianskim naseleniem v nachale XX v. [Relations between Kazakhs and other neighboring peoples of Central Asia in the XVII — early XX centuries]. Izvestiia AN KazSSR — News of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR, 6, 30 [in Russian].
  7. Kirhizskaia stepnaia hazeta (1895; No. 30) [Kyrgyz steppe newspaper].
  8. CGA RK [Central State Archive of the Republic of Kazakhstan]. F. 146, Оp. 1, D. 107, L. 6.
  9. CGA RU [Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan]. F. I-17, Оp. 1, D. 627, L. 150.
  10. Teterevnikov, A.N. (1897). Ocherk o vnutrennei torhovle Kirhizskoi stepi [Essay on the Internal Trade of the Kyrgyz Steppe]. Saint Petersburg [in Russian].
  11. Zdzenickij, S.S. (1915). Zhivotnovodstvo v Syr-Darinskoi oblasti [Livestock in the Syr-Darya region]. Tashkent [in Russian].
  12. CGA RU [Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan]. F. I-17, Оp. 1, D. 627, L. 152.
  13. CGA RU [Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan]. F. 383, Оp. 1, D. 31, L. 9.
  14. CGA RU [Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan]. F. I-1, Оp. 16, D. 2200, L. 2.
  15. CGA RU [Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan]. F. I-17, Оp. 1, D. 20625, L. 11.
  16. CGA RK [Central State Archive of the Republic of Kazakhstan]. F. 119, Оp. 1, D. 1, L. 51.
Year: 2020
City: Karaganda
Category: History