Turkmen are another Sunni Turkic-speaking group whose language has closeaffinities with modern Turkish. They are of aquiline Mongoloid stock. The AfghanTurkmen population in the 1990s is estimated at around 200,000. Turkmen alsoreside north of the Amu Darya in Turkmenistan. The original Turkmen groups camefrom east of the Caspian Sea into northwestern Afghanistan at various periods,particularly after the end of the nineteenth century when the Russians movedinto their territory. They established settlements from Balkh Province to HeratProvince, where they are now concentrated; smaller groups settled in KunduzProvince. Others came in considerable numbers as a result of the failure of theBasmachi revolts against the Bolsheviks in the 1920s.
Turkmen tribes, of which there are twelve major groups in Afghanistan, basetheir structure on genealogies traced through the male line. Senior memberswield considerable authority. Formerly a nomadic and warlike people feared fortheir lightening raids on caravans, Turkmen in Afghanistan are farmer-herdsmenand important contributors to the economy. They brought karakul sheep toAfghanistan and are also renowned makers of carpets, which, with karakul pelts,are major hard currency export commodities. Turkmen jewelry is also highlyprized.
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