Glottocode: kalm1243, ISO 639-3: xal

According to historic chronicles, Mongolian ethnic groups like Naiman, Kereyid, Barghud, Öölöd (Dzungar), Khoid, Baatud, Buriad, Torghuud, Dörböd, Khoshuud, among others, periodically founded tribal unions (confederations) under the common name of Derben Oirad (Four Oirat). The first union was concluded between 1437 and 1502, the second between 1502 and 1637 and the last one between 1637 and 1758 (Kitinov 2016: 54). In the 17th century, a number of Oirat tribes expanded their territory and established the Torghuud (Kalmyk) Khanate on the lower Volga River, Dzungarian Khanate on vast lands between Balkhash Lake and the Altai Mountains, and Khoshuud Khanate on the plain around Kukunor Lake (Qinghai), east of the Tibetan highlands.

Due to a paucity of accurate sources with regards to the number of Oirat Mongolian populations in their countries of residence, it has so far been impossible to establish their exact number today. Depending on the source, the population of Oirat Mongolians worldwide is estimated at between 600,000 – 700,000. Officially, 183,372 Kalmyk people live in the Russian Federation (The Russian Federation Census of 2010), 172,000 Oirats (with the other Mongolian ethnic groups) reside in Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region of China (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Bureau of Statistics, 2006) and 222,268 people belonging to the ethnic groups Dörvöd, Bayad, Uriankhai, Zakhchin, Torguud, Uuld, Khoton, Myangad and Khoshuud are settled in Western Mongolia (National Statistical Office of Mongolia 2016).

Settlements represented in our collection