The Oguz or Ghuzz Turks (Middle Turkic: ٱغُز, romanized: Oγuz, Ottoman Turkish: اوغوز, romanized: Oġuz) were a western Turkic people that spoke the Oghuz branch of the Turkic language family. In the 8th century, they formed a tribal confederation conventionally named the Oghuz Yabgu State in Central Asia. The name Oghuz is a Common Turkic word for "tribe". Byzantine sources call the Oghuz the Uzes (Οὐ̑ζοι, Ouzoi). By the 10th century, Islamic sources were calling them Muslim Turkmens, as opposed to shamanist or Buddhist. By the 12th century this term had passed into Byzantine usage and the Oghuzes were overwhelmingly Muslim. The term "Oghuz" was gradually supplanted among the Turks themselves by Turkmen and Turcoman, (Ottoman Turkish: تركمن, romanized: Türkmen or Türkmân) from the mid 10th century on, a process which was completed by the beginning of the 13th century.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Before 11th century: Turkestan|
Yedisan · Crimea
(Sunni · Alevi · Bektashi · Twelver Shia)
Shamanism · Tengrism
|Related ethnic groups|
|Azerbaijanis · Turkmens · Turkish people|
The Oghuz confederation migrated westward from the Jeti-su area after a conflict with the Karluk allies of the Uyghurs. Today, a percentage of the residents of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are descendants of Oghuz Turks and their language belongs to the Oghuz group of the Turkic languages family. Kara-Khanid scholar Mahmud al-Kashgari wrote that of all the Turkic languages, that of the Oghuz was the simplest. He also observed that the Oghuz had been separated for so long from the eastern Turks, that the language of the Turks in the east could be clearly distinguished from the language of the Oghuz and Kipchak further west.
In the 9th century, the Oghuzes from the Aral steppes drove Bechens from the Emba and Ural River region toward the west. In the 10th century, they inhabited the steppe of the rivers Sari-su, Turgai, and Emba to the north of Lake Balkhash of modern-day Kazakhstan. A clan of this nation, the Seljuks, embraced Islam and in the 11th century entered Persia, where they founded the Great Seljuk Empire. Similarly in the 11th century, a Tengriist Oghuz clan—referred to as Uzes or Torks in the chronicles of Rurikid Kievan Rus'—overthrew Pecheneg supremacy in the steppes of Rus' Khaganate. Harried by another Turkic people, the Kipchaks, these Oghuz penetrated as far as the lower Danube, crossed it and invaded the Balkans, where they were struck down by an outbreak of plague, causing the survivors either to flee or to join the Byzantine imperial forces as mercenaries (1065).
The Oghuz seem to have been related to the Pechenegs, some of whom were clean-shaven and others of whom had small 'goatee' beards. According to the book Attila and the Nomad Hordes, "Like the Kimaks they set up many carved wooden funerary statues surrounded by simple stone balbal monoliths." The authors of the book go on to note that "Those Uzes or Torks who settled along the Russian frontier were gradually Slavicized, though they also played a leading role as cavalry in 1100- and early 1200-era Russian armies, where they were known as Black Hats... Oghuz warriors served in almost all Islamic armies of the Middle East from the 1000s onwards, in Byzantium from the 800s, and even in Spain and Morocco." In later centuries, they adapted and applied their own traditions and institutions to the ends of the Islamic world and emerged as empire-builders with a constructive sense of statecraft.
Linguistically, the Oghuz belong to the Common Turkic speaking group, characterized by sound correspondences such as Common Turkic /-š/ versus Oghuric /-l/ and Common Turkic /-z/ versus Oghuric /-r/.Within the Common Turkic group, the Oghuz languages share these innovations: loss of Proto-Turkic gutturals in suffix anlaut, loss of /ɣ/ except after /a/, /g/ becoming either /j/ or lost, voicing of /t/ to /d/ and of /k/ to /g/, and */ð/ becomes /j/.
Apart from the Seljuks, dynasties of Khwarazmians, Qara Qoyunlu, Aq Qoyunlu, Ottomans and Afsharids are also believed to descend from the Oghuz-Turkmen tribes of Begdili, Yiva, Bayandur, Kayi and Afshar respectively.
The Ottoman dynasty, who gradually took over Anatolia after the fall of the Seljuks, toward the end of the 13th century, led an army that was also predominantly Oghuz. The Ottomans proved to be superior to other local Oghuz Turkish states. Ahmed Bican Yazıcıoğlu, in early 15th century, traced Osman's genealogy to Oghuz Khagan, the legendary ancient ancestor of Turkic people, through his eldest grandson of his eldest son, so giving the Ottoman sultans primacy among Turkish monarchs.