Khan of Heaven

Khan of Heaven or Tian Kehan, Celestial Khagan, Tengri Khan (Chinese: 天可汗; pinyin: Tiān Kěhán; Wade–Giles: T'ien K'ehan) was a title addressed to Emperor Taizong of Tang by various Turkic nomads.[1][2] It was first mentioned in accounts on May 20, 630 and again on October 24, 646, shortly after the Eastern Turkic Khaganate and Xueyantuo were annihilated by the Tang dynasty.[3][4]

The title Tengri Khagan also used to refer other Turkic rulers, both known as the Tengri Khagan (Chinese: 登里可汗 or 登利可汗) or Täŋridä qaγan (Chinese: 騰里可汗) to the Chinese, during the Second Eastern Turkic Khaganate (r. 739–741) and Uyghur Khaganate (r. 759–779) periods.[5]

It is not certain whether the title also applied to the rest of the Tang emperors, or to the empress regnant Wu Zetian, since the term "Kaghan" only referred to male rulers and Empress Wu had started her dominion in the Chinese court after the year 665 AD until the year 705 AD, which is after the title's first use by a Chinese emperor. However, two appeal letters from the Turkic hybrid rulers, Ashina Qutluγ Ton Tardu in 727, the Yabgu of Tokharistan, and Yina Tudun Qule in 741, the king of Tashkent, addressed the Emperor Xuanzong of Tang as Tian Kehan during the Umayyad expansion.[6][7]

A later letter sent by the Tang court to the Yenisei Kirghiz Qaghan explained that "the peoples of the northwest" had requested Emperor Taizong of Tang to become the "Heavenly Qaghan".[8]

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  1. ^ Liu, 79
  2. ^ Kenneth Scott Latourette (1964). The Chinese, their history and culture, Volumes 1-2 (4, reprint ed.). Macmillan. p. 144. Retrieved February 8, 2012. territories within his empire. He took the title "Heavenly Khan," thus designating himself as their ruler. A little later the Western Turks, although then at the height of their power, were badly defeated, and the Uighurs, a Turkish tribe, were detached from them and became sturdy supporters of the T'ang in the Gobi. The Khitan, Mongols in Eastern Mongolia and Southern Manchuria, made their submission (630). In the Tarim basin
  3. ^ Liu, 74-76
  4. ^ Skaff 2012, pp. 120-121.
  5. ^ Liu, 81-83
  6. ^ Bai, 230
  7. ^ Xue, 674-675
  8. ^ Michael Robert Drompp (2005). Tang China and the collapse of the Uighur Empire: a documentary history. Volume 13 of Brill's Inner Asian library (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 126. ISBN 90-04-14129-4. Retrieved February 8, 2012. the successes of Emperor Taizong of Tang and to his taking the title of "Heavenly Qaghan" at the request of "the peoples of the northwest" in 630/631. The letter goes on to describe how Taizong's envoy was sent to pacify the Kirghiz in 632/633 and how in 647/648 a Kirghiz chieftain came to the Tang court where he was granted titles, including commander-in-chief of the Kirghiz (Jian-kun). All of this implifed Kirghiz suboordination to Tang authority, at least in Chinese eyes. According to the letter, Kirghiz tribute had come to the Tang court "uninterruptedly" until the end of the Tianbao reign period (742-756) when Kirghiz contact with the Tang state was cut off by the rise of Uighur power in Mongolia.