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Suluk (Türgesh khagan)

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Suluk,[1] Sul-lu[2] or Sulu was a Turkic tribe leader and a warlord who defended Transoxiana against Umayyad Arab armies in the early 8th century (?-738).

Türgesh khagan
Reign716 - 738
SuccessorKut Chor
IssueKut Chor


The Türgesh were a Turkic tribe (or a group of tribes) around Transoxiana. Although their territory was a part of the Turkic Khaganate, defeat of Western Turkic Khaganate by Tang China in 658 resulted in creation of puppet khaganates under Jimi system. Türgesh chieftains Wuzhile and Suoge were able to declare independence after rebellion of Ashina Tuizi. However, after Ilterish Khagan re-established the Turkic Khaganate in 681, competition to control the Silk Road caused tension between the Khaganate and Türgesh khans. At the beginning of the 8th Century, Türgesh were subjugated by the Turkic Khaganate, but this was not long lasting.

Early ReignEdit

He was a chor serving under Suoge before Battle of Bolchu. After Suoge's defeat, Türgesh migrated to south of Zhetysu valley. During Qapaghan Qaghan's death and Kul Tegin's coup they used the opportunity to reassert independence and chose Suluk, a Black Türgesh chieftain to be their supreme leader in 715[3] or 716.[4] However as in Suoge's case, he was not acknowledged as a khagan by Tang. Ashina Xian was appointed "Shixing Qaghan" and Suluk was created his subordinate general with titles "Great General of the Left Wing of the Forestial Army" (左羽林軍大將軍) and "Grand Military Commissioner of Jinfang" (經略大使金方) by Xuanzong.[5] However, this caused a rift between two and soon Suluk defeated Xian on June and July in 717, besieged Aksu and Uch Turfan. He declared himself as khagan during August or September. Xuanzong had to accept Suluk's independence and created him Duke of Shunguo (順国公) in 718 and Zhongshun Khagan (Chinese: 忠順可汗; literally: 'Loyal and Obedient Khagan') in 719.[6]

Struggle against UmayyadsEdit

With his eastern flank secured, beginning by 721, Suluk fought against the Arab armies for ten years. Backed by other local powers (including the Sogdians) against the invading Umayyads, his operations were generally hit and run operations [7] and his manoeuvres were aimed at the depriving the invading army of water. His army was much smaller than that of Arabs. But unlike Arabs, they were at home in the deserts of the area. His success in the deserts gained him fame. Many times the Arab army had to withdraw to find fresh water (Day of Thirst in 724, but also the Battle of the Defile in 731). He was known by Arabs as Abū Muzāhim ("Father of the Competition").[8]

Later reignEdit

He had a conflict with Du Xian in 726. When Princess Jiaohe sent messengers and 1,000 horses to Du's headquarters to sell horses, the messengers read of an order from her, as princess—and Du responded by angrily stating, "How dare an Ashina woman issue me an order?" He caned the messengers and detained the horses, which largely died in a few subsequent snowstorms. In late 726, after Du left his office, Suluk attacked Tarim Basin, causing much damage, and Suluk withdrew only after he heard that Du had been made chancellor.

He attacked Beshbaliq unsuccessfully 27 October 735, however was crushed heavily by Tang armies. He was forced sent his envoy Ulu Tarkhan (胡禄达干) to make peace. This was a serious blow to his prestige.

Another defeat at Battle of Kharistan in 737 sealed Suluk's fate. He was killed in 737 or 738 by Baga Tarkhan, one of his relatives .[9][10]


The death of Suluk caused a civil war, which divided the Türgesh into two rival factions: the Yellow Türgesh who supported Baga Tarkhan and Black Türgesh who supported Kut Chor.

Bilge Khagan, the last of the able Turkic khagans, was already dead and with the death of Suluk, Transoxiana was opened to Arabic conquest. Around this time there was a power shift in the Caliphate, as the Umayyad dynasty was supplanted by the Abbasid dynasty. The policy of the Abbasid Caliphs was more peaceful than that of the Umayyads and Arab control of Transoxiana was limited to the occupation of a few forts.


He had three wives:[7]



  1. ^ Christopher I. Beckwith, Empires of the Silk Road: a history of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the present, Princeton University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-691-13589-2, p. 113.
  2. ^ Hasan Celāl Güzel, Cem Oğuz, Osman Karatay (ed.), The Turks: Middle Ages, Yeni Türkiye, 2002,[page needed]
  3. ^ History of civilizations of Central Asia. Dani, Ahmad Hasan., Masson, V. M. (Vadim Mikhaĭlovich), 1929-, Harmatta, J. (János), 1917-2004., Litvinovskiĭ, B. A. (Boris Abramovich), Bosworth, Clifford Edmund., Unesco. (1st Indian ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. 1992–1999. p. 346. ISBN 8120814096. OCLC 43545117.CS1 maint: others (link) CS1 maint: date format (link)
  4. ^ Zizhi Tongjian, vol 211
  5. ^ Saito, T. 1991, Rise of the Türgish and Tang's Abandonment of Suiye. Shiteki 12: 40–43 (in Japanese)
  6. ^ Cefu Yuangui, vol 964, p. 11343
  7. ^ a b L.M.Gumiliev:Eski Türkler (Translation:D.Ahsen Batur), Selenge Yayınları, İstanbul, 2003, ISBN 975-7856-39-8 pp.429-431
  8. ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. (1993-03-28). The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia: A History of the Struggle for Great Power Among Tibetans, Turks, Arabs, and Chinese During the Early Middle Ages. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691024693.
  9. ^ S.G.Klyashtorny-T.I.Sultanov: Türkün üç bin yılı (trans:Ahsen Batur), Selenge yayınları,İstanbul,2003, ISBN 975-8839-03-9 p 109
  10. ^ Melek Tekin: Türk Tarihi, Milliyet yayınları, 1991, İstanbul

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