Kara-Khanid Khanate

Kara-Khanid Khanate

Infobox Former Country
conventional_long_name = Kara-Khanid Khanate
common_name = Kara-Khanid Khanate
continent = Asia
region = Central Asia
status = Empire
government_type = Monarchy
capital = Kashgar
religion = Islam
year_start = 840
year_end = 1212
p1 = Uyghur Empire
flag_p1 =
s1 = Mongol Empire
s2 = Great Seljuk Empire
flag_s1 =
flag_s2 =

title_leader = Kara Khan

:"This article refers to the Turkic state Kara-Khanid Khanate (also designated as Qarakhanids). For the Khitan Khanate, see Kara-Khitan Khanate."

Kara-Khanid Khanate was a Turkic Khanate founded by the Karakhanids or Qarakhānids, also called the "Ilek Khanids" ( _tr. Karahanlılar, _zh. 黑汗, _zh. 桃花石), who were a Turkic dynasty. The Khanate ruled Transoxania in Central Asia from 840-1211. [http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9062103 Encyclopædia Britannica] ] Their capitals included Kashgar, Balasagun, Uzgen and then again Kashgar. The name of the state comprises two Turkish words, "Kara" and "Khan". "Kara" means "black" in Turkish, indicating nobility, and "Khan", actually "Kağan", is a Turkish title given to the ruler of a state like Hakan, Tanhu, Yabgu, and İlbey.


Early history

Despite continuity from the first Uyghur Empire and affinity with the Kara-Khojas, the Kara-Khanids claimed descent from the legendary Afrasiab dynasty.Fact|date=March 2007 The use of the vertical Uyghur script among Muslim Turks extended well into Timurid times in western Turkistan, and well into Manchu times in some enclaves in eastern Turkistan. The Anatolian Turkish beyliks in Ilkhanid times and early Ottoman times still retained scribes trained in the vertical script in order to do transactions with the Timurids. These scribes were called "bakshy", a name possibly of Chinese origin, meaning "great scholar", one of the titles of the Confucian soldier-scholar Yelu Dashi, or of Sanskrit origin.

The nomadic elements of the Kara-Khanid and Kara-Khitan states, the Karluk and Naiman hordes, laid the foundation for the modern Kypchak Turkic-speaking cultures of the Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Tatars. The Muslim, Persianized, sedentary elements of the Kara-Khanid culture are preserved today among the Tajik, Uzbek, Afghan, Hui and Uyghur nations, two of which speak Chagatay Turkic languages.

Early migrations

A branch of the Uyghurs migrated to oasis settlements of Tarim Basin and Gansu, such as Gaochang (Khoja) and Hami (Kumul) and set up a confederation of decentralized Buddhist states called Kara-Khoja. Others, occupying western Tarim Basin, Ferghana Valley, Jungaria and parts of Kazakhstan bordering the Muslim Khwarazm Sultanate, converted to Islam no later than 10th century and built a federation with Muslim institutions called Kara-Khanlik, whose princely dynasties are called Kara-Khanids by historians.

In 999 Harun (or Hasan) Bughra Khan, grandson of the paramount tribal chief of the Uyghur-Karluk confederation, occupied Bukhara, the Samanid capital. The Samanid domains were split up between the Ghaznavids, who gained Khorasan and Afghanistan, and the Karakhanids, who received Transoxania; the Oxus River thus became the boundary between the two rival empires. During this period the Kara-Khanids were converted to Islam.

Early in the 11th century the unity of the Kara-Khanid dynasty was fractured by constant internal warfare. In 1041 Muhammad 'Ayn ad-Dawlah (reigned 1041–52) took over the administration of the western branch of the family, centred at Bukhara. After the rise of the Seljuks at the end of the 11th century in Iran, the Kara-Khanids became nominal vassals of the Seljuks. Later they would serve the dual suzerainty of both the Kara-Khitans to the north and the Seljuks to the south.

With a decline in Seljuk power, the Kara-Khanids in 1140 fell under domination of the rival TurkicFact|date=June 2008 Karakitai confederation, centred in northern China. 'Uthman (reigned 1204–11) briefly reestablished the independence of the dynasty, but in 1211 the Karakhanids were defeated by the Khwarezm-Shah 'Ala' ad-Din Muhammad and the dynasty was extinguished.

Famous Kara-Khanid rulers

:"See also: Kara-Khanid rulers"Historically influential Kara-Khanid rulers include Mahmoud Tamgach of Kashgar. After the defeat of the Khitan dynasty by the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) in Northern China, the great Khitan mandarin Yelu Dashi escaped from China with a small band of Khitan soldiers, recruited warriors from Tangut, Tibetan, Karluk, Kara-Khoja, Naiman areas and marched westward in search of asylum.

Yelu Dashi was accommodated by the hospitable Tangut Western Xia Kingdom and the Buddhist Kara-Khojas. However, he was shut out by the Muslim Kara-Khanids near Gulja and Kashgar. Enraged, he subjugated Karakhanid states one by one and set up the Kara-Khitan suzerainty in Balasagun on the Irtysh River. Several military commanders of Kara-Khanid lineages such as the father of Osman of Khwarezm, escaped from Kara-Khanid lands during the Kara-Khitan invasion. In 1244, upon the invitation of the Egyptian Mamluks, Osman of Khwarezm marched on Jerusalem and liberated the holy city, on behalf of Islam, from the Crusaders.

Kara-Khitan Invasion

The Kara-Khitan Khanate, though harsh on the Muslim Karluk-Uyghurs, did not dispossess all of the Kara-Khanid domains. Instead, the Khitans (most of them were actually Naimans, Tanguts and Karluks speaking the same Turkic language as the Kara-Khanids) retreated to the northern steppes and had the Kara-Khanids act as their tax-collectors and administrators on Muslim sedentary populations (the same practice was adopted by the Golden Horde on the Russian Steppes). The Kara-Khitans even incorporated Kara-Khanid Muslim generals such as Muhammad Tai, who surrendered to the Naiman usurper Kuchlug at the end of the Kara-Khitan Dynasty. Kuchlug, the last ruler of the Kara-Khitan Dynasty, was especially harsh on the Muslim populations under his suzerainty. He went so far as to forcing conversions from Islam to Buddhism, the dominant religion of the ruling Kara-Khitans. The elite Kara-Khitans and their Naiman soldiers, on an interesting note, were very often Nestorian Christians, as suggested by the Syriac names of the Gur-Khans (Emperors), who at the same time had Confucian titles and patronized Buddhist establishments. Kuchlug's Naimans were perhaps heavily Nestorian Christian. The reason for force conversions into Buddhism was perhaps due to the underdevelopment of Nestorian institutions, making it unsuitable on sedentary domination.


In the early 13th century Kara-Khitan ruler Kuchlug, a sworn foe of Genghis Khan, was crushed by the advancing Mongol army along with his Kara-Khitan military state. His vassals, the Kara-Khanids, offered meager resistance to the Mongols. Kuchlug put and end to western part of Kara-Khanid state in 1211. Also, Khwarezmian Empire demolished western part of her in 1212.


It is perhaps because of the similarities between Kara-Khanid and Kara-Khoja cultures that during the Yuan and Ming periods former Kara-Khoja and Xixia lands were populated by converts to Islam indistinguishable from Chagatay and Timurid lands. These Turkic Muslims under Chinese influence later adopted the Chinese language while still maintaining extensive trade relations with Turkestan. They were designated "Hui" in Chinese, obviously derived from "Huihui" or "Huihu", an archaic transliteration of "Uyghur". The Kara-Khanid culture started as a literate tradition, with a body of Muslim subjects recorded in the vertical Sogdian script of the first Uyghur Empire.

The Islamized Karluk princely clan, the Balasaghunlu Ashinalar (the Kara-Khanids) gravitated toward the Persian Islamic cultural zone after their political autonomy and suzerainty over Central Asia was secured during the 9-10th century. As they became increasingly Persianized (to the point of adopting "Afrasiab", a Shahnameh mythical figure as the ancestor of their lineage), they settled in the more Indo-Iranian sedentary centers such as Kashgar, and became detached from the nomadic traditions of fellow Karluks, many of whom retained the Nestorian-Mahayana-Manichaean religious mixture of the former Uyghur Khanate.


Kara-Khanid legacy is arguably the most enduring cultural heritage among coexisting cultures in Central Asia from the 9th to the 13th century. The Karluk-Uyghur dialect spoken by the nomadic tribes and turkified sedentary populations under Kara-Khanid rule branched out into two major branches of the Turkic linguistic family, the Chagatay and the Kypchak. The Kara-Khanid cultural model that combined nomadic Turkic culture with Islamic, sedentary institutions spread east into former Kara-Khoja and Tangut territories and west and south into the subcontinent, Khorasan (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Northern Iran), Golden Horde territories (Tataristan) and Turkey. The Mongol Chagatay, Timurid and Uzbek states and societies inherited most of the cultures of the Kara-Khanids and the Khwarezmians without much interruption.

See also

*Uyghur people


External links

* [http://www.frontiernet.net/~lett1/crusades.html Crusades]

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