Tun Baga Tarkhan

Tun Baga Tarkhan — was the fourth leader of Uyghur Khaganate.

Tun Baga Tarkhan
Khagan of Uyghurs
PredecessorBögü Qaghan
SuccessorKülüg Qaghan
BornYàoluógé Dùnmòhè (藥羅葛顿莫賀)
c. 737-742
Died790 (at age of 48~53)
SpousePrincess Xian'an (咸安公主)
Regnal name
Alp Kutlugh Bilge Qaghan (𐰞𐰯∶𐰸𐰆𐱃𐰞𐰍∶𐰋𐰃𐰠𐰏𐰀∶𐰴𐰍𐰣)
Brave, Blessed, Wise Qaghan
Posthumous name
Bögü Bilge Tengri Qaghan (𐰋𐰇𐰏𐰇∶𐰋𐰃𐰠𐰏𐰀∶𐱅𐰭𐰼𐰃∶𐰴𐰍𐰣)
HouseYaglakar clan
FatherChabish Tegin (车毗尸特勤)


There is an uncertainty regarding Tun Baga Tarkhan's relation to ruling Yaglakar clan. His father's name is absent from Chinese documents. However an epitaph was recently found in 2010 in Xian belonged to one of Uyghur princes, Prince Gechuai (Old Turkic: 𐰴𐰺𐰃∶𐰲𐰆𐰺∶𐱅𐰃𐰏𐰤, romanized: Qarı čor tegin,[1] 葛啜王子),[2] who died of cold fever on 11 June 795 and was buried on 28 June 795. Luo Xin, historian at Peking University, proposed that he was in fact a younger brother of Yaoluoge Dunmohe.[3] Epitaph stated Prince's father's name as Chabish Tegin (车毗尸特勤), Luo Xin established him as the prince who fought against An Lushan in 757. So, according to him, Tun Baga Tarkhan was a nephew to Bögü Qaghan, as well as grandson of Bayanchur. Li Bi also considered him as cousin of Bögü Qaghan.[4]


His exact birth date is unknown. He earlier participated in Uyghur army against An Lushan under military title Alp Tutuq in 757. He was a chief minister in Uyghur court and perhaps one of supporters of Pugu Huai'en's revolt in 764-765.[5] However he later switched to Tang side after his death. His uncle Khan Tudun was also a minister. He was a fervent anti-Manichaean, therefore adoption of Manichaeism by Bögü was unfavorable according to him. Bögü's new plan on invading Tang dynasty due to pressure from Manichaean clergy caused him to establish his own anti-war faction. He appealed to khagan, saying:[6]

The Tang is a great state and it never betrayed us. Last year we invaded Taiyuan and seized several tens of thousands of sheep and horses. We could count that a great victory. But because our way back was difficult and obstructed, by the time we reached our home, we were suffering from wounds, were tired and almost exhausted. If we mobilise our forces again and do not gain a victory, how will we return at all?

Unable to accomplish his task, he murdered Bögü and his followers among him in 779/780, went on to declare himself a qaghan.


He was invested with Chinese title Wuyi Chenggon Qaghan (Chinese: 武義成功可汗; lit. 'Warlike, righteous and merited qaghan') from Emperor Dezong on 28 July 780. His first order was to repeal protection of Manicheans and Sogdians living in China. This also rendered Uyghurs in China defenceless. His uncle Tudun was thus murdered on 7 September 780. His body was brought back to Uyghur capital in 782 when the embassy was greeted by Tun Baga's new chancellor (İl Ögesi in Old Uyghur) Inanchu Bilge (頡千逝斯) of Xiedie (𨁂跌) clan, who would later rise to be an important member of khaganate. Tun Baga demanded blood money from Dezong in order to not to start a war later.

Marriage to Princess Xian'anEdit

As an effort to obtain an alliance, Tun Baga sent an emissary to Tang China for a marriage proposal on 2 October 787. Emperor Dezong hated the Uyghurs, ever since several of his attendants were tortured and killed by Bögü Qaghan in 762 while he was still a prince and therefore refused. Only after repeated attempts by Li Bi that that grudge should not be borne against the current khagan as well as repeated analyses of how crucial the Huige alliance would be did Emperor Dezong agree — particularly after Li Bi, who had strong friendships with both khagan and the Uyghur chancellor Inanchu Bilge extracted promises from khagan to submit to Tang as a subject as a matter of formality. Emperor Dezong was pleased, and subsequently, the treaty was cemented with the betrothal of Emperor Dezong's daughter Princess Xian'an to khagan. Marriage ceremony was well documented in New Book of Tang. Delegation of men consisted of 1000 people and was headed by chancellor Inanchu Bilge, women delegation was led by Kutluk Bilge Konchuy, khagan's younger sister. Qaghan also asked Emperor to change Chinese name for Uyghurs - Huihu (回鶻) to Huihe (回紇). He also received a new Chinese title Changshou Tianqin Qaghan (Chinese: 長壽天親可汗; lit. 'Long living, Heaven blessed Qaghan') along with the princess who was created Zhihuiduan Zhengshou Xiaoshun Khatun (Chinese: 智慧断征收孝顺可敦; lit. 'Wise, graceful, upright, long-lived, filial and obedient khatun')[5] on 30 November 788.


He died in December 789 and succeeded by his son. According to Luo Xin, he as posthumously renamed Bögü Bilge Tengri Qaghan (Old Turkic: 𐰋𐰇𐰏𐰇∶𐰋𐰃𐰠𐰏𐰀∶𐱅𐰭𐰼𐰃∶𐰴𐰍𐰣).[3]


He was married to Princess Xian'an, daughter of Emperor Dezong of Tang on 30 November 788. He had at least two sons from other wives:

  1. Külüg Qaghan - Ruled Uyghur Khaganate in 790
  2. Another son whose name was not preserved.

He also had at least two younger brothers:

  • Prince Gechuai (or Qari Chor) - born in 776, died in 795 in Chang'an.
  • Apa Chor (was alive in 795)


  1. ^ Rybatzki, Volker; Kuosheng, Wu (2014). "An Old Turkic Epitaph in Runic Script from Xi'an (China). The Epitaph of Qarï čor tegin". Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft. 164 (1): 115–128. ISSN 0341-0137. JSTOR 10.13173/zeitdeutmorggese.164.1.0115.
  2. ^ Hayashi, Toshio. "EPITAPH OF AN UIGHUR PRINCE FOUND IN XI'AN". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b Xin, Luo (2013). "Chinese of Karı Çor Tigin Inscription and the Genealogy of Karı Çor Tigin". International Journal of Turkish Literature Culture Education. 2/2 (2): 62–78. doi:10.7884/teke.187. ISSN 2147-0146.
  4. ^ Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 233.
  5. ^ a b Mackerras, Colin. (1972). The Uighur Empire according to the Tʻang Dynastic Histories. A study in Sino-Uighur relations 744-840 ([2d ed.] ed.). Canberra: Australian National University Press. ISBN 0708104576. OCLC 624702.
  6. ^ New Book of Tang, vol. 217a