Thematic Lexical Groups Representing Material And Spiritual Culture In The Cadiasker Defters


The paper studies the texts of the records of the Sharia courts of the early 17th – mid 18th centuries and the lexical units presented in them, representing the material and spiritual culture of the Crimean Tatars and their systematization in the form of thematic groups reflecting the main directions of the life of the Crimean Khanate of this period. The analysis of the lexical system within thematic groups allows systematizing the material, identifying the spheres and frequency of the use of various types of vocabulary and studying them in various aspects. The determination and study of thematic groups, their comparison with modern equivalents allows showing the evolution of morphological, lexical and semantic components of the Crimean Tatar language. The historical vocabulary presented in the work can be a source of replenishment of existing gaps in the Crimean Tatar terminological system of various fields of knowledge. The authors determined 11 thematic groups reflecting kinship and family relations, professional and craft, socially-marked and zoonymic vocabulary, measures of length and weight, household items, clothes and accessories, tools, vehicles and names of monetary units, names of administrative units and their parts. According to the author of the translation and transliteration of the Cadiasker notebooks, the Sijil language is basically of Ottoman nature. In thematic groups, there are many Arabic and Persian borrowings. Along with this, the analysis of the vocabulary presented in the zoonymic and everyday groups allows stating that they use a large number of Türkic lexemes characteristic of the Kipchak-Chagatai language.

Keywords: Cadiasker defters, Crimean Khanate, thematic group


In the context of scientific description of any language, documents of a business and legal nature of various time periods are of great interest, since they reflect the state of the language system at the time of the creation of a source. Moreover they allow establishing the laws of its development, obtaining new information about the vocabulary. During the study of the historical vocabulary of the Crimean Tatar language, both dictionaries of various periods and other written monuments of this period can be used as basic sources (Abu, 1931; Drımba, 2000; Kerimov, 2016). One of such sources is the arabographic handwritten books of the Crimean Khanate of the 17th–18th centuries, known as the “Cadiasker Notebooks” – regulatory documents, proceedings of registration books of the Sharia courts of the Crimean Khanate.

Problem Statement

The determination and classification of terminological, conceptual and common (everyday) vocabulary presented in the Cadiasker Notebooks is the main task of the study, which allows composing a linguistic picture of the Crimean Khanate, making this material available to study in historical, linguistic and cultural aspects. For the Crimean Tatar language, it is also important that the historical vocabulary presented in the work allows replenishing existing gaps in the modern terminological system of various fields of knowledge.

The handwritten books of the Crimean Khanate have always provoked scientific interest, including Crimean Tatar researchers. Their works describe the social life of the medieval city and its residential quarters, the life of the Muslim community, confessional relations and the judicial system (Abibullayeva, 2015; Kadyrov, 2019; Seydametov & Nafieva, 2019). The history of the study of court books is described in more detail in the work of Rustemov (2015). Despite the popularity and existence of research on this source, it was not possible to fully study the materials contained in it for a long time. Until recently, it was largely inaccessible to researchers. In order to read and translate the manuscript, specialists in the Arabic script and at the same time in the terminology of law were necessary (Kerim, 2017). For the first time he transliteration and translation of the proceedings of the Sharia courts of the Crimean Khanate into Russian was carried out and published by the candidate of philological sciences Rustemov in (2017).

It is necessary to note that a team of historians and philologists worked on the publication of the research: Kyrymly, Kerimov, Abdulvapov, Chegertma. The work, having great historical and philological value, consists of 335 translated and transliterated texts of the proceedings of the Sharia courts of the 17th–18th centuries. It has a dictionary of Arabic terms (it can also be qualified as an explanatory dictionary), as well as translations and comments, illustrative material in the form of tables with toponymic and other names found in the texts of court decisions and resolutions – sijiles, original handwritten texts. Due to this publication, today it becomes possible to make up the most complete picture of legal, economic and social relations of the population of the Crimean Khanate, its culture, religious beliefs and the way of life of society in general, as well as to obtain extensive information about the linguistic picture of that period and compare it with the modern lexical composition of the Crimean Tatar language.

Research Questions

The paper studies the types of thematic groups, the main directions of the life of the Crimean Khanate and their structure as well as genetic characteristics of individual units included in a particular group, correspondence of the selected units to the lexical equivalents of the modern Crimean Tatar language.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the paper is to determine and classify thematic layers of vocabulary in the Cadiasker Notebooks, which are an important source for the reconstruction of the historical development of the Crimean Tatar language. Moreover they allow getting a systematic understanding of the linguistic picture of the world of the Crimean Khanate of the 17th–18th centuries.

Research Methods

According to the research purpose, the authors selected the lexical units from the Cadiasker defters. During the analysis and comparative study, the materials attached to the above mentioned source, the dictionary and tables as well as the comments of the compiler were used.


In this paper, the following number of thematic groups is distinguished, on the basis of which an idea of the language, life and culture of the population of the Crimean Khanate can be formed:

In this group, the following layers of vocabulary can be determined:

1) Lexical units denoting direct and lateral relationship:‘mother’, baba ‘father’,‘son’, /‘daughter’, ‘elder brother’,‘younger sister / brother’, ‘younger sister’,‘child’;

2) Marital relationships:‘male spouse’, /‘female spouse’,‘son-in-law, groom’, ‘dughter-in-law, sister-in-law’, ‘stepbrothers and stepsisters’; ‘wife’s brother’, as ‘stepfather’. The components of some synonymous pairs presented in this group are hybrid in their genetic characteristics, being either common Türkic lexemes, Arabic or Persian borrowings (for example,‘mother’, /‘spouse’). Some Arabic borrowings (‘mother’,‘son’,‘daughter’, ‘daughter-in-law, sister-in-law’,‘male spouse’, ‘female spouse’) are a part of the archaic vocabulary in the modern language. Türkic borrowings‘mother’,‘father’,‘son’, ‘daughter’ ‘elder brother,‘younger sister / brother’ ‘male spouse’, ‘wifes’ brother’ are actively used in the modern language.

The specified thematic group is dominated by lexemes denoting professional vocabulary related to the process of coining: ‘mint coin marker’, ‘mint presser’, ‘mint template maker’, ‘mint miller of coin blanks’,‘coin cutter’,‘fire keeper, controlling the temperature of the fire in the smelter at the mint and supplying air with bellows’.

In addition, in this thematic series there are the names of the crafts and the people involved in them that most actively developed during this historical period in the Crimea: /‘leather tanner’,‘tailor’, ‘marble carver’ ʻ specialists on inscriptions (on fountains, tombstones),‘woodcarver, wall painter’,‘subworker’. There is one lexeme in the work that calls a specialist in the designation of tamgas: ‘tamga manufacturer (brand)’, and two lexemes related to everyday life, rest and entertainment:‘owner of a bathhouse’,‘hunter, trainer of dogs for hunting’.

Since during this period the paperwork was actively developing, there was a need for literate specialists. In the proceedings there is (), denoting the profession of a clerk. In addition, along with this lexeme, the phrase ‘scribe, calligrapher’, is used which testifies to the parallel use of Turkic lexemes in paperwork and jurisprudence.

Many components of the studied thematic group represent the realities of the XVII–XVIII. They are historicisms and are not included in the active composition of the modern Crimean Tatar language.

3. In this group, the following subgroups can be distinguished:

1) lexemes denoting high social status:‘Prince of the Turkic state’,‘Crown Prince’, ‘ruler, first class official’,‘ruler, wealthy and authoritative person’,‘princess, daughter of khan’;

2) military hierarchy: ‘official, guarantor’,‘Janissary unit commander’,‘military and administrative rank’, ‘army officer above colonel’;  

3) court hierarchy:‘initially – a military judge, later the highest judicial title’, ‘judge’, ‘court bailiff’,‘lawyer, someone's representative’, ‘bailiff in sharia court’;

4) average social status:‘nobleman’,‘lord’,‘lord, well-dressed, educated city dweller’, ‘merchant, dealer’,‘village headman’;

5) low social status: ‘worker, farm laborer’, ‘female slave’,‘male slave set free’, ʻ cossack ʼ, ʻslaveʼ, in the second meaning of this word ʻobjects of the ruler, doing the day's workʼ.

This layer of vocabulary is very diverse, mainly in cases related to the division of inheritance and in divorce proceedings. The work contains a large number of names of draft animals and domestic (large and small) livestock, which indicates the active development of cattle breeding in the Crimea. The species and colors, age and sex characteristics of animals are described in detail. This set of vocabulary is represented by the following semantic fields:

: /‘horse’, ‘donkey’,/ ‘ox’, ‘camel’. It is necessary to note that a large number of names of horses and oxen are given in the work as well as various characteristics of these animals: by age characteristics: ‘yearling, one-year-old foal’,‘newborn foal under one year old; names of horses by sex: ‘жеребец’, ‘young, not foaled, mare without age determination’; ‘two-year-old foaled mare’, horse coat color:‘chestnut’,‘pied’,‘sorrel’‘dun’, () ‘gray’, px coat color:‘black ox’, ‘brown ox’ etc. This is evidence that horse breeding occupied a special place in the economic, military and other spheres of the ancestors of the Crimean Tatars for centuries.

Cattle are represented by three lexemes: ‘cow’, ‘calf’, ‘calf’. During the division of property, the external features and physical condition of each of these animals are described in detail. ‘gray spotted calf’,‘light brown calf’, ‘big brown cow’,‘long-horned brown calf’,‘crooked calf’, къысыр къонъур сыгъыр ‘pregnant brown cow’ etc.

Among the names of small ruminants, only one name is found‘sheep’. The texts also specify the physical condition of the specified animal: ‘barn sheep’, ‘sheep with lambs’, ‘sheep without lambs’.

It is necessary to note that in the study there are also single names of wild animals living in the forests of the Crimea: ‘roe deer’,‘forest marten’.

Almost all the lexemes included in this thematic group are active in the modern Crimean Tatar language, although they are forgotten due to the limited study and functioning of the language for half a century and the extinction of a group of words associated with traditional forms of life from the active vocabulary (Emirova, 2017). For example, we can say that most of the lexemes describing the species and colors, age and sex characteristics of animals are practically not used in modern speech.

In this study, this thematic group is represented by the following lexemes:

– a measure of arable land containing 800 fathoms in length, 12.5 in width (Rustemov, 2017).(in modern Crimean Tatar language) – the initial meaning of the lexeme is the length of the arm from the fingertips to the shoulder as a measure of length (Shemseddin, 2010). is a score for bulk materials. It is an abbreviated name of the kilogram, kilo or kile. Its size was different in different regions. In Turkey it was a measure of bulk solids equal to 35–37 liters (Brokgauz & Efron, 1895).

(окъкъа in modern Crimean Tatar language) – a measure of weight equal to 400 dirhams. In modern Crimean Tatar language and its dialects, the lexeme is used in the meaning of kilogram to indicate the weight of solid and free-flowing substances, as well as in the meaning of to indicate the volume of liquid substances (Karakhan, 2012).– originally is an Arab silver coin, introduced at the end of the 7th century. The name is an Arabicized version of the Greek word “драхма”. – ancient Asian weight unit for measuring cereals and liquids (it contains from 2 to 8) (Shemseddin, 2010). As the examples show, this thematic group includes lexemes of various origins.

In this thematic group, the following subgroups can be distinguished:

1) names of dishes and kitchen utensils: ‘caldron’ ( ‘сщззук caldron’, ‘iron caldron’, ‘iron kettle’, ‘hanging kettle’), ‘cooker’ (‘cooker handles’), ‘goblet’ ( ‘silver goblet’, ‘little goblet’),‘copper pan with lid ’ ( ‘porcelain sakhan’,‘standing sakhan’),‘tray’ ( ‘wooden tray’, ‘copper tray’), ‘tray’, ‘bowl for fruits and snacks’, ‘jug’, ‘soup ladle’,‘mug’ ( ‘mugwith handling’,‘shakh's mug’ – mug with a wide bottom and narrow neck, ‘roaster, frying pan, baking sheet’ ( ‘baking roaster’,асы ‘kebab roaster’, ‘frying pan’, ‘khalva sheet’, ‘tripod sheet’),‘knife’; 2) household items:‘round table on short legs’, ‘table’,‘pillow’ ( ‘tightly padded seat back cushion’, ‘velvet pillow’, ‘embroidered pillow’), ‘woolen bedcover’,‘cradle sham’,‘wall or bed cover’, ‘trunk box’ ( ‘bone trunk box’, ‘cane trunk box’),‘carpet’,‘carpet’, ‘bedding’, ‘quilted sitting bedding’,‘rug, fabric rug’; 3) hygiene items:‘washing tub’ ( ‘portable washing tub’,‘bath house tub’,‘wash basin’, ‘jug with lid, handle and spout’ ‘hair pick’,‘hand towel’; 4) fabric items:‘fabric’,‘sateen’, ‘velvet’; 5) other items:‘lock’, ‘scissors’, ‘wooden headstock, spindle counterweight’, ‘lamp’,‘tub, barrel’.

It is necessary to note that the studied thematic group is the most numerous and diverse in terms of the number of subgroups and their constituent components. The lexical units presented in it indicate the richness and variety of household items and hygiene.

In the specified thematic group, national clothing and its accessories are presented. According to its purpose, it can be divided into rain, outwear and underwear clothes: ‘waterproof raincoat shirt’, ‘rain coat’,‘caftan’,‘clothing resembling a jacket made of coarse fabric’, ‘type of pants cut above or below knees’, ‘linen shirt’, ‘quilted robe’,‘fur coat’ ‘waistband’,‘belt’, ‘button’. For the most part these are types of outerwear. The predominant list of this type of objects is probably due to their greater value and significance for the heirs.

Moreover, it is necessary to note that the nationally marked colors, presented in the list of shared clothing items are predominantly green and red ( ‘green sateen caftan’, ‘green coat’,‘red coat’,‘red waistband’etc). Color coding played a significant role, especially in women's clothing.

‘drill’, ‘cutter’,‘adze’. It is necessary to pay attention to small number of names of tools relative to the total number of names of household items, which can probably be explained by the fact that during the division of property and the transfer of inheritance. More attention was paid to household items; tools and materials were inherited entirely from the workshop.

:‘arba’,‘buffalo cart’,‘horse-drawn carriage’. This group includes the main types of vehicles of that time, used both for the actual movement of people –, and owners associated with production activities –ʻlong cart for transportation of goodsʼ. The termis common to both types of vehicles and means ʻa cart for the transport of people and goods, drawn by horses or oxenʼ. The termis used only to indicate an ox-drawn vehicle and it is often found without a component.

The monetary units mentioned in the work are the names of both real coins of the Crimean Khan minting, and conditional ones, which served only for calculations (for example, ‘kurush’ – name of a silver coin in Ottoman Turkey). It is necessary to note that Crimea Girai made a reform by introducing new coins into circulation, which, according to their exchange rate, were 6 times higher than the previous ones (1 kurush before the reform Crimea Girai weighted 1.908 g. of pure silver, after the reform it was 11.45 g), (flüri) – the name of gold coins that first began to be minted in Florence (lat. Florentia) in 1252 (hence the name of the coin) and later began to be issued in other countries, 38, / – small silver coin of the Crimean Khanate (1 akche – before the Crimea Girai reform was 0.0191, after it was 0.1145) (Yakushechkin, 2012).

The most commonly used monetary dimension in texts amounted to 1.5 kurush, but there was no such coin neither in Crimea nor in Turkey – it meant the western thaler.

This thematic group includes five lexemes:‘settlement’, ‘village’, ‘small settlement’,‘quarter, part of a city, village’, ‘neighborhood of a city’. The lexemes, are actively used in the modern Crimean Tatar language. The lexemesand, denoting rural settlements, reflect the historical division of the peninsula into the steppe – Turkic part and the mountainous southern coast, which for a long time was part of the Byzantine Empire: the lexemeis of Turkic origin, outdated name of a rural settlement,is Greek.


Thus, 11 thematic groups were determined during this work. The analysis of the vocabulary presented in these groups allows stating that the Sijil language is basically Ottoman, in thematic groups there is a large number of Arabic and Persian borrowings, however, in some thematic groups (for example, zoonymic vocabulary, part of everyday vocabulary), Turkic lexemes are used, typical of Kipchak-Chagatai language. This feature is explained by the fact that, observing the norms of the official business style, the specifics of the speech of court participants, the common people who used the everyday language, in which the Kypchak vocabulary actively functioned, were also reflected in trial proceedings.

The main part of the vocabulary presented in the work is associated with material culture, as a large number of linguistic units are related to household vocabulary.

The largest number of units contains thematic groups, including zoonymic, everyday and socially marked vocabulary. The vocabulary presented in the Cadiasker defters can be considered as a term system that was intensively formed and developed. During the process of formation, thematic groups were determined in it, which were constantly replenished with new means of the expression of the concepts of various spheres of activity of the Crimean Tatars.


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29 November 2021

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Ganieva, E. S., Mazinov, A. S., & Mevliutova, A. (2021). Thematic Lexical Groups Representing Material And Spiritual Culture In The Cadiasker Defters. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in The Context of Modern Globalism, vol 117. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 588-595). European Publisher.