Esegels (aka Izgil (Old Turkic: 𐰔𐰏𐰠), Äsägel, Askel, Askil, Ishkil, Izgil) were an Oghur Turkic dynastic tribe in the Middle Ages who joined and would be assimilated into the Volga Bulgars.

Numerous records about Esegels in sources and works of many languages across the span of the Eurasia left numerous variations of their name.[1] M. Räsänen suggested Uralo-Altai etymology of this word: Es-kil, Es-gil "Old city",[2] Gumilyov initially linked the Izgils to the Sijie (思结) of the Toquz Oghuz;[3][4] only to later re-identify Izgils with Xijie (奚結), another Tiele tribe.[5][6] However, Zuev (2002) distinguished Izgil (> Ch. *a-siək-kiet 阿悉結 > Axijie, a Western Tujue tribe according to Chinese sources[7][8][a]) from Igil (> Ch. *ɣiei-kiet 奚結 > Xijie, a Tiele tribe[10]) though Zuev controversially links the Igils 奚結 to the Bulgarian clan Uokil and the Indo-European-speaking Augaloi[11] in Transoxania.[12]

Róna-Tas proposes an Iranian origin: Western Old Turkic Askil, Äsägäl < äθägäl < haθyaka arya "the very aliens" (cf. Ossetian æcægælon < æcægæ + ælon).[13] However, Tatár (2012) disagrees that Ossetian æcægælon was cognate with Äskäl, as the expected Hungarian cognate to Ossetian would have been **Æčgæl (Hg. **Ecsgel), not székely, the Székely people's endonym which, in Tatár's opinion, might have developed from Äskil with these sound-changes: loss of first vowel before or after another vowel's appearance between /s/ & /k/, not in Hungarian but in a foreign source language. Tatár reconstructs *Äskil as the Western Turkic tribe's endonym, containing Turkic plural and generalizational suffix -GIl[14] and Iranian tribal name As; she proposes that the As had been originally part of Iranian-speaking Massagetae and joined the Alans in the 1st century CE, yet one group later split from the Iranian-speaking As community, became allies or subjects of the Turks and subsequently Turkicized as Äskils, only to later become enemies of the Second Turkic Khaganate.[15] Tatár also remarks that if székely had developed from æcægæl (even in a Turkic source language and not Hungarian), "the Volga Bulgarian Äskils and the Székelys must be of different origin because æcægæl is not the source of Askil."[16]

Zuev proposes connections with the Āxījiē of the Nushibi half of the Ten Arrows tribal confederation of the Western Turkic Khaganate, and the Xionite personal name Askil/Askel, as mentioned in the Chronography of Theophanes the Confessor (760–818):

"the same month (July 563) ambassadors of Askil/Askel, the king of Hermihions (Greek Ερμηχιονιονων; Lat. Ermechionorum), a tribe living among barbarians near the ocean, came to Constantinople".[17]

Zuev (2004)[18] summarized scholarly opinions on the link between Izgils and Turkic-speaking tribes mentioned by sources in Chinese:

A Chinese annalistic account in New Book of Tang about the Western Turkic Khaganate in 651 CE listed five west tribes collectively as Nushibi (弩失畢) and noted that Kül-Irkin (闕俟斤 Què-sìjīn), the leader of first tribe, Āxījiē (阿悉結), (whom Zuev identifies as Esegels) "was most prosperous and strong, the number of his soldiers reached several tens of thousands".[22][23]

Arab ambassador Ibn Fadlan, who visited Itil (Volga) banks in the 921–922, mentioned in his journal the Bulgarian tribe Askel, besides the Bulgars proper, the Suvars (Savan), the Bersula, and the Barandzhar.[24][25] Persian ethnographer Ahmad ibn Rustah listed three branches of the Volga Bulghars: "the first branch was called Bersula, the second Esegel, and the third Oghuz".[26] The ancient ruins of the city belonging to the Askel tribe are located in Aşlı[27]

Among other writers who mentioned Esegels, the Persian “Geography“ of 982 named Ishkils as one of three Bulgarian tribes, who were constantly conflicting among themselves.[28] Gardizi, the author of the composition Zain al-ahbar (mid-11th century), wrote: "Between possessions of Bulgars and possessions of Eskels, who also belong to Bulgars, is a Magyar area. These Magyars are also a Türkic tribe".[29] Constantine Porphyrogenitus wrote that endoethnonym of the "Magyar Türks" was Savartoiaskaloi, i.e. Savart (Suvar/Sabir) and Eskel.[30] Zuev summarized that "It is held that Eskels (Esegels) merged with Hungarians (Magyars). Zuev proposes that the ethnographic group Székely (also known as Szekler) are Esegels' descendants."[31] However, Róna-Tas rejected identification of Esegels with Székely, as well as the link between the names Esegels and Chigils, on historical and phonological grounds.[32]


  1. ^ In imperial Chinese historiography, Tūjué 突厥 was reserved for Göktürks, their splinter groups, and politically associated groups, not all Turkic peoples[9]


  1. ^ Golden P.B., "Khazar studies. Historico-philological inguiry into the origins of the Khazars", Vol. 1, Budapest, Akadémiai Kiadó, 1980
  2. ^ Räsänen M. "Uralaltaische Wortforschungen" // STUDIA ORIENTALIA, 18–3, 1955, p. 5, in Golden P.B., "Khazar studies", p. 241
  3. ^ Gumilyov, L. (1964) Ancient Turks. p. 265. (in Russian)
  4. ^ Golden, Peter B. (1992). An Introduction to the History of the Turkic People. Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden. p. 143
  5. ^ Old Book of Tang, Vol. 199b Tiele
  6. ^ Gumilyov, L. (2009) Searches for an Imaginary Kingdom: The Legend of the Kingdom of Prester John. p. 340 (in English; translated by R.E.F. Smith). Russian original; quote: "Изгили (кит. Сицзе [= pinyin Xijie])"
  7. ^ Tongdian vol. 199 "Beidi 6: Tujue B"
  8. ^ Old Book of Tang vol. 194 "Tujue B: Western Tujue"
  9. ^ Lee, Joo-Yup (2016)."The Historical Meaning of the Term Turk and the Nature of the Turkic Identity of the Chinggisid and Timurid Elites in Post-Mongol Central Asia". Central Asiatic Journal 59(1-2): p. 103-105 of pp. 101–32.
  10. ^ Old Book of Tang, Vol. 199b Tiele
  11. ^ Blažek, V. & Schwartz, M. "Tocharians: Who they were, where they came from, and where they lived" in Tocharian Studies: Works 1 (2011), p. 119
  12. ^ Wang Pu, "Summary review of Tang dynasty, 618–907 (Tang Huiyao)", Shanghai, 1958, ch. 72, p. 1307, in Yu. Zuev, "Early Türks: Sketches of history and ideology" (2002), p. 45
  13. ^ Róna-Tas, András "Bayan and Asparuh. Nine Notes on Turks and Iranians in East Europe", Turcologia 105, Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden (2016). pp. 65-78
  14. ^ Alyılmaz, Semra. "On Plurality Category and Teaching in Turkish" in Journal of Education and Training Studies, Vol. 5, No. 9; September 2017
  15. ^ Tatár, Maria Magdolna. "Red Huns and Hungarian Székelys: Etymological Remarks to the Tradition" in Hsiung-nu Empire and the Study of Ancient Mongolian History. Published by Institute of History, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulaanbataar. 2012. pages 32-38 of 31-43
  16. ^ Tatár (2012). p. 38
  17. ^ Zuev Yu.A. "The Strongest Tribe". Historical And Cultural Relations Between Iran And Dasht-i Kipchak in the 13-18th c.c. Materials of International Round Table, Almaty, 2004 ISBN 9965-699-14-3. p. 33 (in Russian)
  18. ^ Zuev (2004) p. 45, 47-48
  19. ^ Zuev (2002) Early Turks: Essays of history and ideology, Almaty, Daik-Press, 2002, p. 145, 250
  20. ^ Zuev (2004). p. 59
  21. ^ Old Book of Tang, Vol. 194b
  22. ^ Zuev (2004) p. 47, with reference to
  23. ^ Ouyang Xiu, "Xin Tang shu (History of Tang dynasty", 618–907, New Edition)], Peking, Bo-na, 1958, Ch. 215b, p. 1506, f. 56
  24. ^ Kovalevsky A.P. "Ahmed ibn Fadlan's book on travel to Volga in 921–922", Kharkiv, 1956, p. 139 (Translation)
  25. ^ Rorlich, A zade-Ayşe (1986). "2. The Bulgar State". The Volga Tatars: A Profile in National Resilience. Hoover Institution Press Publication (Book 339). Hoover Institution Press; 1st edition.
  26. ^ Publications of the Folk-lore Society. Folk-lore Society. 1889.
  27. ^ D. Dimitrov (1987). "Sabirs, Barsils, Belendzheris, Khazars". Prabylgarite po severnoto i zapadnoto Chernomorie. Varna. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  28. ^ Minorsky V., "Hudud al-'Alam" (The regions of the World, London, 1937, p. 162)
  29. ^ Bartold W., "Extracts from Gardizi composition "Za ahbar" //Collection of Works, vol. 5. Moscow-Leningrad, 1973, p. 37, 58
  30. ^ Vasari I., "Runic systems of the Eastern Europe script" // Altaica 2, Moscow, 1998, p. 37
  31. ^ Zuev (2004) p. 34
  32. ^ Róna-Tas, András. "Bayan and Asparuh. Nine Notes on Turks and Iranians in East Europe", Turcologia 105, Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden (2016). pp. 65-78