Shahi Tegin, Tegin Shah or Sri Shahi (ruled 680-739 CE, known to the Chinese as 烏散特勤灑 Wusan Teqin Sa "Tegin Shah of Khorasan") was a king of the Turk Shahis, a dynasty of Western Turk or mixed Western Turk-Hephthalite origin who ruled from Kabul and Kapisa to Gandhara in the 7th to 9th centuries.[4]

Tegin Shah
Majestic Sovereign
Shahi Tegin 728 CE.jpg
Coin of Tegin Shah towards the end of his reign.
Obverse: Crown with tridents and lion head.[1] Brahmi inscription around (starting 11:00): sri-hitivira kharalava parame – svara sri sahi tiginadeva karita ("His Excellency, Iltäbär of Khalaj, worshipper of the Supreme God, His Excellency the King, the divine Lord Tegin had minted this coin"). Inside, Bactrian inscription: σρι Ϸανο Sri Shaho (His Excellency the King").[2]
Reverse: Portrait of the Iranian fire god Adur. Pahlavi inscription (starting 12:00) hpt-hpt t’ ("[year] 77") tkyn’ hwl’s s’n MLKA ("Tegin, King of Khorasan").[3] The date is in the post-Yazdegerd III era, and corresponds to 728 CE, attributing it to the reign of Tegin Shah.[2]
Turk Shahi King
Reign680-739 CE
PredecessorBarha Tegin
SuccessorFromo Kesaro


Kabulistan was the heartland of the Turk Shahi domain, which at times included Zabulistan[5] and Gandhara.

During their rule, the Turk Shahi were in constant conflict against the eastward expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate.[4] About 650 CE, the Arabs captured Sistan, and started to attack Shahi territory from the west.[4] They captured Kabul in 665 CE, but the Turk Shahis were able to mount a counter-offensive and repulsed the Arabs, taking back the areas of Kabul and Zabulistan (around Ghazni), as well as the region of Arachosia as far as Kandahar.[4]


In 680 CE, Shahi Tegin succeeded Barha Tegin.[6] The Arabs again failed to capture Kabul and Zabulistan in 697-698 CE, and their general Yazid ibn Ziyad was killed in the action.[4]

In 719/20 CE, the Tegin of Kabulistan (Tegin Shah) and the Iltäbär of Zabulistan sent a combined embassy to the Chinese Emperor of the Tang Dynasty in Xi'an to obtain confirmation of their thrones.[7][8] The Chinese emperor signed an investiture decree, which was returned to the Turk rulers:[7]

In the seventh year of the Kaiyuan reign [719 CE], [Jibin dispatched] envoys to the [Tang] court, who offered up a book of an astrological text, secret medical recipes, together with foreign medecines and other things. An imperial edict was issued to bestow on the king [of Jibin] the title Geluodazhi Tele [for "Tegin"].

— Old Book of Tang, Book 198.[7][8][9]

The word "Geluodazhi" in this extract (Chinese: 葛罗达支, pronounced in Early Middle Chinese: kat-la-dat-tcǐe), is thought to be a transliteration of the ethnonym Khalaj.[10] Hence Tegin Shah was "Tegin of the Khalaj".[10] This title also appears on his coinage in Gupta script, where he is named "hitivira kharalāča", probably meaning "Iltäbär of the Khalaj".[10] In 720 CE, the ruler of Zabulistan (謝䫻, xieyu) also received the title Gedaluozhi Xielifa (Chinese: 葛達羅支頡利發), Xielifa being the known Chinese transcription of the Turkish "Iltäbär", hence "Iltäbär of the Khalaj".[11] Overall, it seems that the Turk Shahi rulers were Khalaj Turks.[12]

Tegin Shah abdicated in 739 CE in favour of his son Fromo Kesaro and sent an embassy through Central Asia in 719 CE:[4][a]

In the 27th year [of Kaiyuan, ie 739 CE], the king Wusan Tela Sa [for Khorasan Tegin Shah] submitted a memorial requesting that due to his old age, his son Fulin Jisuo may succeed him on the throne. The emperor agreed and dispatched an envoy in order to confer the king's title on him through an imperial edict.


  1. ^ Alram, Michael (1 February 2021). Sasanian Iran in the Context of Late Antiquity: The Bahari Lecture Series at the University of Oxford. BRILL. pp. 16, Fig.24. ISBN 978-90-04-46066-9.
  2. ^ a b "The Countenance of the other (The Coins of the Huns and Western Turks in Central Asia and India) 2012-2013 exhibit: Chorasan Tegin Shah". Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. 2012–2013. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  3. ^ Kuwayama 1993, p. 395, Coin E.208.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Kim, Hyun Jin (19 November 2015). The Huns. Routledge. pp. 58–59. ISBN 978-1-317-34090-4.
  5. ^ "15. The Rutbils of Zabulistan and the "Emperor of Rome"". Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  6. ^ Vondrovec, Klaus. Coins, Art and Chronology II - The First Millennium C.E. in the Indo-Iranian Borderlands (Coinage of the Nezak). p. 183.
  7. ^ a b c d Alram, Michael; Filigenzi, Anna; Kinberger, Michaela; Nell, Daniel; Pfisterer, Matthias; Vondrovec, Klaus. "The Countenance of the other (The Coins of the Huns and Western Turks in Central Asia and India) 2012-2013 exhibit: 14. Kabulistan and Bactria at the Time of "Khorasan Tegin Shah"". Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Balogh, Dániel (12 March 2020). Hunnic Peoples in Central and South Asia: Sources for their Origin and History. Barkhuis. p. 104. ISBN 978-94-93194-01-4.
  9. ^ Original Chinese: 开元七年,遣使来朝,进天文经一夹、秘要方并蕃药等物,诏遣册其王为葛罗达支特勒。|url= |}}
  10. ^ a b c Balogh, Dániel (12 March 2020). Hunnic Peoples in Central and South Asia: Sources for their Origin and History. Barkhuis. p. 105. ISBN 978-94-93194-01-4.
  11. ^ Original Chinese in Cefu Yuangui, book 0964 冊府元龜 (四庫全書本)/卷0964 "九月遣使冊葛達羅支頡利發誓屈爾為謝䫻國王葛達羅支特勒為𦋺賔國王", simplified Chinese "九月遣使册葛达罗支颉利发誓屈尔为谢䫻国王葛达罗支特勒为𦋺賔国王", "In September [720 CE] ambassadors recorded that Gedalouzhi Xielifa Shiquer was enthroned as king of Zabulistan, Gedaluozhi Tele was enthroned as king of Jibin." see Inaba, Minoru (2010). From Kesar the Kābulšāh and Central Asia, in "Coins, Art and Chronology II The First Millennium C.E. in the Indo-Iranian Borderland". Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press. p. 452. ISBN 978-3700168850. also " 開元八年,天子冊葛達羅支頡利發誓屈爾為王。至天寶中數朝獻。" "In the eighth year of Kaiyuan (720), the Emperor approved the enthronement of Gedalouzhi Xielifa Shiquer. Their envoys came to the royal court several times until the Tianbao era (742–756)." in 稲葉穣, Inaba Minoru (2015). "From Caojuzha to Ghazna/Ghaznīn: Early Medieval Chinese and Muslim Descriptions of Eastern Afghanistan". Journal of Asian History. 49 (1–2): 100. doi:10.13173/jasiahist.49.1-2.0097. ISSN 0021-910X. JSTOR 10.13173/jasiahist.49.1-2.0097.
  12. ^ Inaba, Minoru. "From Kesar the Kābulšāh and Central Asia": 445. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ Original Chinese: 二十七年,其王乌散特勒洒以年老,上表请以子拂菻罽婆嗣位,许之,仍降使册命。"卷一百九十八 列传第一百四十八_旧唐书".


  1. ^ Martin 2011, p. 127:"He received this laudatory epithet because he, like the Byzantines, was successful at holding back the Muslim conquerors."


Preceded by Turk Shahis
680-739 CE
Succeeded by