72. East coming to West
[could not find a suitable epigraph
Since the beginning of the political dialogue between the Khan of the Junior Kazakh Zhuz Abulkhair, who expressed his desire to enter Russian citizenship, and the St. Petersburg Court, the development of Russian-Kazakh trade relations has not been considered as a priority task. Geopolitical issues came first. Abulkhair Khan asked St. Petersburg to establish a Russian fortress city on the territory of the Migest of the Younger Zhuz to protect from neighbors and strengthen its authority in the steppe. Russia sought to take control of vast steppe spaces in order to establish a trade caravan route to India through Central Asia. The economic potential of the Kazakh steppes was judged by the traditional economy of the population that occupied them. Initially, the organizers of the Orenburg Expedition (A state institution that was responsible for organizing trade with the peoples of Central and Central Asia and their further accession to Russia; later renamed into Orenburg Commission) only planned to exchange horses from Kazakhs, if these horses are fit for the military service.
The first step was to build in 1714 an exchange yard on the steppe side two versts from the Yaik (Ural) River (on small river Ori, hence “Orenburg”) intended for trade with Kazakhs and Central Asian merchants. In the same year, the government instructed the Orenburg Commission to organize the purchase of camel wool from Kazakhs, necessary for domestic industry. But it was not possible to organize wide trade with the Kazakhs in the city built at the mouth of Ori: the newly built and sparsely inhabited city, which did not yet have a developed domestic market, located also far from the nearest settlements, from where they could receive the exchange of products of cattle farming of Kazakhs and goods of Russian craft, had little chance of attracting the attention of Russian and Central Asian merchants. However, the activities of the Orenburg expedition to develop the south-eastern expanses, as well as the activity of the Dzungarian Khanate, forced the Kazakhs of the Younger and Middle Zhuz to move closer to the border with Russia with a resulting increased trade. Still the site of Orenburg was not convenient and in 1718 it was moved to its present location with the old site renamed into “Orsk fortress”.
The new Orenburg became the main center of the Russian-Kazakh trade but the Kazakhs, primarily the Junior Zhuz, preferred to trade not in one Russian city, but with their closest neighbors, Yaik Cossacks, from whom they could also get all the necessary goods without special migrated to Orenburg. The Russian government wasn't quite happy with that because the Yaik Cossacks enjoyed benefits without paying trade duties to the treasury, so their trade with the Kazakhs did not bring income to the state. The leadership of the Orenburg Commission suspected that the Yaik Cossacks did not specifically announce goods that were exchanged from Kazakhs not only in their town, but also in other places, so as not to pay duties to the state. Therefore, it appealed to the College of Foreign Affairs for advice on how to stop duty-free bargaining of the Cossacks on the Yaitskaya line. The government could not completely ban border trade, as it would infringe on the interests of the Cossacks. It remained to be regulated in such a way as to respect the interests of both Cossacks and the state. On February 15, 1718, a decree followed, according to which Yaik Cossacks were allowed to trade without paying duties only in their settlements.
On August 20, 1719, by a nominal decree to Prince V. A. Urusov (the head of Commission) was ordered to take preferential duties on goods that will be sold in Orenburg. In order to develop Orenburg trade, duties were established "against foreigners trading in Astrakhan with a decrease", namely three percent from the ruble. At first, it was recommended to choose a Burmist and ratman from the first-guild merchants of Kazan province to serve in Orenburg. Russian merchants who voluntarily enlisted as part of the Orenburg merchants were ordered to be forced to build their houses on a regular basis, but only after Orenburg itself has settled. Bukhara merchants who arrived in Orenburg, but wished to go with their goods to other Russian cities, were allowed to be released, taking a toll from them. Gradually, the artificial measures (higher bread prices in the Cossack towns on the Yaik, etc.) had been introduced to channel all Kazakh trade exclusively to Orenburg where the government could tax it.
At the same time the measures had been taken to develop agriculture on the Russian side to guarantee an easy bread supply: developing habit to eat bread was considered a good way to attach Kazakhs to the Russian Empire.
Edit: Limiting trade to Orenburg caused protests from the merchants of Astrakhan and even from the Kalmyks with a resulting paper war between Orenburg administration and Governor of Astrakhan.
Eventually, a more flexible approach got an upper hand and the trade was allowed not only to the Orenburg merchants but also to those of Astrakhan and to the Kalmyks.
The main places of trade between Kazakhs and Russia were the border fortresses of Orenburg, Troitsk, Petropavlovsk, Omsk, Semipalatinsk and Ust-Kamenogorsk. Kazakhs supplied livestock, products from cattle breeding raw materials and fur to the market. The bulk of the imported Russian goods were factory products. There were a number of features in Kazakh-Russian trade:
1. Trade was of an exchange nature, as the Kazakhs had very little money in circulation. The trading unit was, sec (an year old ram).
2. Trade was inequivalent. In the shortest possible time, Russian traders could make a large fortune. For example, for 18 meters of canvas, which cost about 75 kopecks, Russian traders received a horse and a bull. The latter were resold in Russia for 12-15 rubles.
3. Very low quality goods were received in the Kazakh steppe. On this occasion, the famous Russian researcher of the XVIII century P. Pallas wrote the following: "Kyrgyz residents are not very skillful in trading and take a lot of thin goods and all sorts of little things when exchange, so Russian merchants receive great profit from them." This, however, was not just a stupidity or a luck of the skills: on the Eastern end the Dzungars forbade selling to the Kazakhs any metal items so the Russian merchants used the situation to their advantage and then, again, while some manufactured item could be very cheap in Russia, so was a ram among the Kazakhs.
The start was not too encouraging. The rulers of Khiva and Bukhara more once sent to Peter the embassies with the offers of trade and even submission but, with a never-ending political turmoils of the region these offers meant nothing because both the rulers and the attitudes had been changing all the time. Another negative factor was a low level of the Russian competence regarding the region. Combination of these factors led to a disastrous Khiva expedition of 1717, which ended up with a death of almost 7,000 from the diseases, starvation and at the hands of the locals. After this all attempts of the Khiva rulers to restore relations had been ignored.
Ruler of Bukhara sent an embassy to Moscow but a Russian envoy sent to Bukhara had to flee due to hostility of the locals.
But the interest was too big to abandon the idea. It was just a matter of finding the workable solution and while the “khanates” were generally reluctant to allow the infidels to penetrate their territory, their merchants had been quite willing to travel all the was to the Russian border and, if permitted, even within Russia itself.
Raw cotton, cotton threads, silk, wool fabrics, varnish, multicolored paints, scribble, fox skins, as well as tea were exported from the Emirate of Bukhara and other Central Asian khanates. Compared to Iranian and Indian fabrics in Russia, there was especially a great demand for Central Asian fabrics, which were durable, simple and cheap.
Silk, cotton and linen materials brought from Bukhara were also in great demand among the general population living along the coasts of the Volga River to the city of Kazan and to the Siberian regions. In these places, Bukhara traders had large revenues from this trade. In order to expand trade ties and convenient exchange goods between the cities of Central Asia Bukhara, Khiva, Kokand and Tashkent, the Russian state has built the necessary market areas and caravanserai in Orenburg and Troitsk.
For the first time in 1720-21, a trade caravan of Russian traders with military protection was sent from Orenburg to Tashkent. In this caravan there were major Tatar
 traders selling various goods of Russian and European production.
“Russian” traders had to involve local traders in trading at fairs in Orenburg. Five months later, Orenburg traders returned with collected valuable information about Tashkent and other cities of Central Asia.
By 1725, trade relations between the khanates of Central Asia and Russia had reached such a level that all costs of managing the Orenburg region were covered by taxes collected from various products sold in the markets of Orenburg by visiting merchants from Central Asia. Bukhara merchants, together with various goods, also brought gold and silver to Orenburg for exchange for Russian-made goods.
Soon, at the suggestion of the Collegium of Foreign Affairs of Russia, the Senate adopted a resolution that Russian goods should be sold in the markets of Orenburg not for gold and silver, but to exchange various goods of Central Asian production. In 1728, various cotton fabrics, softly processed black and gray karakul  skins were brought from Bukhara, and grapes of good and sweet varieties, peaches, apples, pears, dried fruits, as well as gold and silver were brought from Tashkent.
Despite the recommendations of the Board, the import of gold coins minted in the Emirate of Bukhara, Iran and India continued as commercial products. 1 Indian coin cost 6 rubles, 1 Bukhara gold tanga was estimated at 2 rubles 70 kopecks. At the same time, Bukhara merchants, as well as on other goods, did not pay tax on gold and silver. Trade in Bukhara-made fabrics of shintz, silk and semi-silk also had been steadily increasing.
In order to create convenient conditions for traders in Central Asia, on February 12, 1727, the Governor of Orenburg has set stable prices for different products in the markets. According to the new pricing, "1 pood of light red paint was evaluated for 250 rubles, 1 pood of dark blue indigo paint for 60 rubles, red and other colors of wool fabric from 3 rubles 60 kopecks to 4 rubles, half-wool from 2 rubles 80 kopecks to 3 rubles 20 kopecks, cotton raw materials for 10-15.
The treasury of the Russian state received a good income from trade with Bukhara. For example, from 1725 to 1754, the state treasury of the Orenburg province received funds in the amount of 1,038,952 rubles from trade, and 176,980 rubles from taxes for products from Central Asia. Various goods in the amount of 5,957,426 rubles were exported to Central Asia from Orenburg. And goods in the amount of 5,047,113 rubles were exported to Orenburg from Central Asia
However, attempts by Russian traders to establish direct trade relations with the Bukhara Emirate, Khiva and Kokand Khanates were unsuccessful.
 The infidels were not welcomed to Bukhara but the fellow-Muslims were OK.
 Very young or even fetal Karakul lambs are prized for pelts. Newborn karakul sheep pelts are called karakul.
The newborn lambs have a tight, curly pattern of hair. The lambs must be under three days old when they are killed, or they will lose their black color and soft, tightly wound coils of fur. Below is an example of a karakul hat (