Their ethnical affinities have been much discussed; but it is most probable that they were of the Turki stock, as were the Huns, their later western representatives.
The former comprised several dynasties of mixed Turki and Iranian race, but was wanting in coherency.
A theory which seems plausible is that which assumes them to have been a heterogenous collection of Mongol, Tungus, Turki and perhaps even Finnish hordes under a Mongol military caste, though the Mongolo-Tungus element probably predominated.
Badakshan proper is peopled by Tajiks, Turks and Arabs, who speak the Persian and Turki languages, and profess the orthodox doctrines of the Mahommedan law adopted by the Sunnite sect; while the mountainous districts are inhabited by Tajiks, professing the Shiite creed and speaking distinct dialects in different districts.
Two periods may be distinguished, namely the Turki (120o-1526) and the Mogul empire.
The mainstay of the Ottoman dynasty is the Asiatic portion of the empire, where the Mahommedan religion is absolutely predominant, and where the naturally vigorous and robust Turki race forms in Asia Minor a compact mass of many millions, far outnumbering any other single ethnical element and probably equalling all taken collectively.
Of these tribes the most numerous are the Modaunlu, Khojehvand and Abdul Maleki, originally of Lek or Kurd stock, besides branches of the royal Afshar and Kajar tribes of Turki descent.
The language of the Kirghiz is Turki and their religion that of Mahomet.
West of the Indus the dialects approach more to Persian, which language meets Arabic and Turki west of the Tigris, and along the Turkoman desert and the Caspian.
The Turki tribes, occupying western Mongolia, are among the least civilized of human beings, and it is chiefly to their extreme barbarity and cruelty that our ignorance of central Asia is due.