Traditional Nobility of Turkestan

The traditional noble class of Turkestan are collectively known as the Aq Süyük, or "White Bone".  According to ancient customary law, the distinguishing mark of the Aq Süyük is the ability to trace descent from Çıņğıs Xan (Genghis Khan).  If you can trace male-line descent from the Turko-Mongol warlord, you are ipso facto Aq Süyük; if you cannot, you are Qara Süyük ("Black Bone"), a commoner.
This having been said, even some of the most prominent Aq Süyük families have had to play fast and loose with their precise ancestry in order to make their claims clear.  It is not wise to make this accusation publically or directly to a member of the nobility, unless you have no love for your health, but in many cases it is more or less common knowledge.
One interesting feature of the Turkestani nobility system is that it is a primarily lineage-based rather than land-based system.  In other words, a Baı is a Baı of the lineage of X-great-ancestor, rather than being connected to a territory as in European peerages, where you have, for example, the Earl of Rutland or the Duke of Brandenburg.  The Xans are something of an exception to this, but they are still legally recognised on a lineage or dynastic basis rather than a territorial one.

Noble Titles

The different titles of nobility recognised by the Turkestani government are as follows:

  • Ilxan:  The Ilxan (sometimes "Ilkhan") is the elected monarch of Turkestan.  Those eligible for election include all members of the Aq Süyük and all sitting members of the Keņes, whether they are of the White or the Black Bone.  While the Ilxanate is not technically an herditary noble title, in practice, its role and prestige make it amount to the same thing.  See here for more details.
  • Xan:  The various old city-states and nomadic tribal alliances ("Jüz") were each ruled in the pre-Tsarist period by their own leaders - the Xans (or "Khans").  While in modern Turkestan the actual rule has been taken out of the hands of these traditional leaders, the titles still exist as a nominal dignity and their Aq Süyük holders are awarded great respect.  The strange half-royal status of these leaders is hedged about by customary deference and a number of legal protections, and most Turkestanis would not change any of this hedge of custom.
  • Emir:  The pre-Tsarist ruler of the city-state of Buxara was styled Emir rather than Xan, but the title was and is considered equivalent to a Xanate.
  • Mırza:  Sons of either the Ilxan, the Emir of Buxara or one of the other Xans are given the title Mırza.  This title is not hereditary, though see "Sultan" below.
  • Xenem:  As the sons of the Ilxan, of the Emir of Buxara, or of the other Xans, are called Mırza, so their daughters are given the title Xenem ("Khenem", or occasionally "Khenim").  Like the title Mırza for a son, it is not hereditary.
  • Sultan:  In pre-Tsarist Turkestan, "Sultan" was the title given to male-line descendents of Xans who were not in the direct line of succession, and was almost, but not quite, interchangeable with Mırza.  In modern usage, the direct offspring of a Xan are Mırzas (and Xenems), one of whom will probably succeed their father.  The remainder pass the title of Sultan on to their own successor.
  • Baı:  The lowest Aq Süyük title is that of Baı, sometimes rendered "Bey" or "Bek".  This title takes in all members of the White Bone who are not a Xan, Emir or Sultan.  In practice, there are gradations or levels within the title of Baı, but these are based mostly on the personal prestige of the title-holder.

Other Titles:

Technically Qara Süyük, but considered almost Aq Süyük by default, the lowest two titles of Turkestani traditional nobility are as follows:
  • Bii:  Qara Süyük leaders were traditionally known as Biis, but between the Qurultaı government, the Snorist regime and the modern post-Snorist period, the title has more or less been tacked on to the Aq Süyük at the bottom.  In pre-Tsarist times, the Biis would sometimes eclipse Beks and even Sultans in prestige and personal power, but with the title being virtually added to the White Bone, this is unlikely to happen again.
  • Bahadır:  Great warrior-heroes of Turkestan in the past were given the title Bahadır (sometimes "Bahadur", "Bahatır" or even "Batır").  In modern Turkestan, the title is used as a non-hereditary epithet to honour recipients of the highest military decorations of Turkestan: the Order of Glory, the Ring of Eagles and the Heart of Iron.