This paper argues that until 1680s, the Oirat political culture in the upper Irtysh area was based on the leadership of Khoshut clan rather than Jungars, as it is believed nowadays. Ablai Taiji of the Khoshut nobility, the founder of the Buddhist monastery Ablai-kit, inherited and pursued a policy of cooperation with Muscovy in an attempt to profit from its trade with China. Over the course of 1670s, under pressure from his brother, Ablai lost his domains and was defeated by his enemies. To construct this narrative, this paper engages in critical analysis of diverse archival sources and existing historiography.
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
. But the meaning of
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
in written and oral sources.