Karaims - a living nation
For Comenius bilateral school project
“Cultural bridge between Nevsehir and
Trakai”
2012
One of the topics of the project-
Karaim ethnic minority which
both Lithuania and Turkey
share
Main Karaim communities in the
world are in:
Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine,
Turkey, France, USA and
Israel
History


From linguistic and ethnogenetic point of
view Karaims belong to the oldest Turkish
tribes – Kipchaks.
The history of Karaims is connected with
Lithuania for the past 600 years. The Great
Duke of Lithuania Vytautas, after one of the
marches to the Golden Horde steppes,
brought from Crimea several hundreds of
Karaims and settled them in Lithuania.
Karaims in Trakai

Karaims were settled in Trakai between two
castles of The Great Duke of Lithuania,
present Karaim Street. Trakai has always
been the community's administrative and
spiritual centre in Lithuania. Karaims
themselves began to hold it not only a
homeland, but as fatherland, too.
Karaim street in old town of
Trakai
Vytautas the Great
Vytautas and Karaims

There are a bunch of poetic works and
songs about Vytautas in the Karaim
language in which he is named Vatat Bij
(“the King crushing his enemies”), about the
town of Trakai and the beauty of Lithuania.
These highly appreciated, intimate and even
sacred topics have already become symbols
to the Karaims.
Karaims and Lithuania



The Karaims were loyal to the Lithuanian
rulers, protected their castles, practiced
medicine, and worked as translators.
They served as warriors and honest
servants.
Karaim community were given self
governing right in XV century and were
under authority of elected vaitas of Trakai.
Language


Karaim language is of the western Kipchak
group (Karachai, Kumyk, the Crimean
Tartar) belong to a Turkic subfamily, which,
in its turn, is considered as a part of the
larger Altaic family. The Karaim language
exists in three historically established
dialects - those of Trakai, Halich-Lutsk and
of the Crimea.
Karaim prayers are read in Hebrew
language
Word formation samples




sav - well, healthy
sav-uch- to get better, recover (the stem
sav + the verb suffix -uch)
sav-uch-tur- to cure (savuch- + the verb
suffix -tur)
sav-uch-tur-uv- the cure (savuchtur- +
the noun suffix -uv)
Folklore

It all was created during the several
centuries and in different geographical
latitudes. Lithuanian Karaims' folklore
that is still alive in the community today
has come from the ancient days, when
they lived among various Turkic, Persian
and Arabian tribes.
Religion

The Karaim religion Karaism is actually a
pure faith of the Old Testament which
dogmas are built on truth written in Bible,
that does not accept any authorities
commenting on these holy texts orally or
in written. The name of the religion itself
(Karaism) reflects its meaning. It derives
from the word 'kara' which in Arabic and
Hebrew languages means 'to read',
Karaim prayer house Kenessa in
Trakai
Karaim Kenessa in Istanbul
Literature

The two parts of this heritage - religious
and secular works - are closely related
and complement each other. Religious
literature comprises anthems, ritual
hymns, odes and laments. Secular
genres are poems, ballads, songs, poetry
for children and plays for amateur
performances. There are also numerous
translations of poetry into Karaim.
Important Karaim people
Firkovich, Abraham (17861874)
He was the central figure of the Karaite
National Movement and the most
important collector of Karaite
manuscripts. He was born in Poland, has
visited Holy Land. In the years 18311832
he transferred his collecting activity to
Istanbul and published a book "Avnei
Zikkaron" about Karaim heritage.
Karaim cuisine
The Karaims safeguard
Trakai famous town,
They taste krupnik
In the Kings Castle.
They live friendly,
Eat fat soup;
Snatch kybyn
Till it is still hot.
Karaims have future as a nation!
Resources:
www.karaim.eu
www.wikipedia.org
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