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After the formation of the Chagatay and Jochi Uluses the local Mongol nobility was converted to Islam and assimilated by the local Kirghiz and Kipchak Turkic nomads. When these Uluses were disintegrated into smaller hordes (Özbeg, Nogay, Kazak, Kirghiz, etc.), the Turkic-speaking Muslim nobility ruled the newly-formed new nomadic states. The epic tradition of these nomads underwent fundamental changes, and the heroes of the epic songs became the historical or legendary founders of the tribes. When the Oirat Mongols and Jungars attacked their territories during in 16th–18th centuries the Buddhist Oirats became the major enemies of the Muslim Turks who called them Kalmak . But the meaning of Kalmak is broader in the epic tradition of these Turkic peoples: it can mean Non-Muslim or enemy of all kind. The present article analyses the historical and cultural background of the word Kalmak in written and oral sources.

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