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Western Turkic Khaganate

The Western Turkic Khaganate or Onoq Khaganate (Chinese: 西突厥; pinyin: Xi tūjué) was a Turkic khaganate formed as a result of the wars in the beginning of the 7th century (AD 593–603) after the split of the Göktürk Khaganate (founded in the 6th century in Mongolia by the Ashina clan) into the Western khaganate and the Eastern Turkic Khaganate.The Western Turkic Khaganate was subjugated by the Tang Empire in 657

Onoq ("Ten Arrows")
Western Turkic Khaganate

Greatest extent of the Western Turkic Khaganate after the Battle of Bukhara
Greatest extent of the Western Turkic Khaganate after the Battle of Bukhara
CapitalNavekat (summer capital)
Suyab (principal capital)
Common languagesTurkic
Zurvanite Zoroastrianism[2]
Historical eraEarly Middle Ages
• Turkic Khaganate founded
• Göktürk civil war, Western Turkic Khaganate founded
• Conquest by Tang dynasty
630[3]3,500,000 km2 (1,400,000 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Turkic Khaganate
Protectorate General to Pacify the West
Oghuz Yabgu State
Khazar Khaganate
Kangar union
History of the Turkic peoples
History of the Turkic peoples
Pre-14th century
Turkic Khaganate 552–744
  Western Turkic
  Eastern Turkic
Khazar Khaganate 618–1048
Xueyantuo 628–646
Great Bulgaria 632–668
  Danube Bulgaria
  Volga Bulgaria
Kangar union 659–750
Turk Shahi 665–850
Turgesh Khaganate 699–766
Uyghur Khaganate 744–840
Karluk Yabgu State 756–940
Kara-Khanid Khanate 840–1212
  Western Kara-Khanid
  Eastern Kara-Khanid
Ganzhou Uyghur Kingdom 848–1036
Qocho 856–1335
Pecheneg Khanates
Kimek confederation
Oghuz Yabgu State
Ghaznavid Empire 963–1186
Seljuk Empire 1037–1194
  Sultanate of Rum
Kerait khanate 11th century–13th century
Khwarazmian Empire 1077–1231
Naiman Khanate –1204
Qarlughid Kingdom 1224–1266
Delhi Sultanate 1206–1526
  Mamluk dynasty
  Khalji dynasty
  Tughlaq dynasty
Golden Horde | [4][5][6] 1240s–1502
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) 1250–1517
  Bahri dynasty

At its height, the Western Turkic Khaganate included what is now Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and parts of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Russia.

The ruling elite or perhaps the whole confederation was called Onoq or "ten arrows", possibly from oğuz (literally "arrow"), a subdivision of the Turkic tribes. A connection to the earlier Onogurs, which also means 'ten tribes', is questionable.

The khaganate's capitals were Navekat (the summer capital) and Suyab (the principal capital), both situated in the Chui River valley of Kyrgyzstan, to the east from Bishkek. Tong Yabgu's summer capital was near Tashkent and his winter capital Suyab.

Turkic rule in Mongolia was restored as Second Turkic Khaganate in 682.



Summary: The first Turkic Khaganate was founded by Bumin in 552 in Mongolia and quickly spread west toward the Caspian. Within 35 years the western half and the Eastern Turkic Khaganate were independent. The Western Khaganate reached its peak under Tong Yabghu Qaghan (618–630). After Tong's murder there were conflicts between the Dulu and Nushibi factions, many short-lived Khagans and some territory was lost. From 642 the expanding Tang dynasty Chinese began interfering. The Tang destroyed the Khaganate in 657–659.

552-575: Western expansion: The Gokturks and Mongols were the only two empires to rule both the eastern and central steppe. The Gokturks were the first steppe empire to be in contact with three great agrarian civilizations: Byzantium, Persia and China. Their expansion west from Mongolia is poorly documented. Gumilyov [7] gives the following. Bumin gave the west to his younger brother Istami (553-75). 1. The campaign probably began in the spring of 554 and apparently met little resistance. They took Semirechye and by 555 had reached the Aral Sea, probably on a line from the lower Oxus, across the Jaxartes, north of Tashkent to the western tip of the Tian Shan. They drove before them various peoples: Xionites, Uar, Oghurs and others.[8] These seem to have merged into the Avars whom the Gokturks drove across the Volga in 558. (These people crossed the western steppe and reached Hungary by 567.) 2. The Turks then turned southeast. At this time the Ephthalites held the Tarim Basin (or had just lost it to the Turks?), Ferghana, Sogd, Bactria and Merv, with the Persians at approximately their present border. Khosrow I made peace with the Byzantines and turned on the Ephthalites. Fighting started in 560 (?dates uncertain[9]) after the Ephthalites murdered a Turk ambassador to the Shah. The Persians won a victory in 562 and the Turks took Tashkent. In 565 the Ephthalites were defeated at Qarshi and withdrew to Bactria where fragments remained until the Arab conquest. The Turks demanded the tribute formerly paid to the Ephthalites and when this was refused, crossed the Oxus, but thought better of it and withdrew. In 571 a border was drawn along the Oxus,[10] the Persians expanding east to Afghanistan, while the Turks gained the Sogdian merchant cities and their control of the silk road. 3. Around 567-576 (sources differ) the Turks took the area between the Caspian and Black Seas. 4. In 568 they took part of Bactria.

Tang Dynasty's conquest of Western Turks

575-630: Ishtami was followed by his son Tardush (575-603). About 581 he intervened in the eastern Gokturk civil war. In 588/89 Turks were defeated by Persians near Herat. In 599-603 he gained the eastern half of the Khaganate, but after his death the two halves were definitely split. Heshana Khagan (603-611) was driven out of Dzungaria and then defeated by Sheguy (610-617), Tardush’s grandson, who conquered the Altai, reconquered Tashkent and raided Ishfahan. His brother Tong Yabghu Qaghan (618-630) was the greatest Khaghan. He ruled from the Tarim basin to the Caspian, met Xuanzang (probably), sent men to fight the Persians south of the Caucasus and sent his son Tardush Shad to fight in Afghanistan. In the year of his death the Chinese overthrew the Eastern Khaganate in Mongolia. He was murdered by his uncle Külüg Sibir (630) with Dulo support. The Nushibi put Tong’s son Irbis Bolun Cabgu (631-33) on the throne. The Nushibi rebelled and enthroned Dulu Khan (633-34) who was followed by his brother Ishbara Tolis (634-38). There was a Dulu-Nushibi conflict and Yukuk Shad (638-42), son of the final eastern Khagan, was brought in. The factions quarreled and the Nushibi and Emperor Taizong of Tang enthroned Irbis Seguy (642-51). The Chinese demanded part of the Tarim Basin and then seized part of it until the war was stopped by Taizong’s death. Irbis was overthrown by Ishbara Qaghan (Ashina Helu) (651-58) who, after about six years of war, was captured by the Chinese. See Conquest of the Western Turks. After this there were several puppet Khagans. In 679-719 the old Gokturk capital of Suyab was one of the Four Garrisons of Anxi. The Chinese remained in the area until the time of An Lushan’s rebellion (756).

Turks and ByzantinesEdit

This needs special treatment because of the importance of Byzyantium and the better documentation.[11]Istämi ruled from a winter camp near Karashar. The westward expansion can be reconstructed as follows: 552: Turks conquer Mongolia, 555: Aral Sea(probably); 558: Volga by defeating the Avars; 557–565: Turks and Persians crush Hephthalites, Turko-Persian border along the Oxus which lasted several decades; 564: Tashkent; 569 brief war with Persia. 567–71 north Caucasus, 576 Black Sea raid.

The Oxus frontier gave the Western Turks control of the Sogdian merchant cities. As a Chinese general complained:

 "The Turks themselves are simple-minded and short-sighted and dissention can easily be roused among them. Unfortunately, many Sogdians live among them who are cunning and insidious; they teach and instruct the Turks."

Sinor saw the Byzantine alliance as a Sogdian scheme to benefit themselves at the expense of the Turks. A related fact is that the Eastern Turks were extracting a large amount of silk as booty from the Chinese which had to be marketed westward. Before 568 Maniakh, a leading merchant, was sent to the Sassanian Persians to open up trade. This was refused, apparently to restrict trade with the Byzantines. The members of a second embassy were, it is said, poisoned. In 569 Turk armies invaded Persia, failed near Merv and peace was restored in 571. (In 588–89 (First Perso-Turkic War) a raid into Bactria failed.)

Maniakh now proposed to bypass the Persians and re-open a direct route north of the Caspian. If trade on this route later increased (uncertain) it would have benefited Khorezm and the Black Sea cities and might have had something to do with the later rise of the Khazars and Rus’. The first embassy reached Constantinople in 563. In 568 Maniakh led a second embassy, the object being trade and an alliance against the Avars and Persians. Maniakh returned with the Byzantine official Zemarchus, who left an important account of the Turks. In 576 Valentinus led a mission to a Turxanthos whose camp was west of the Caspian. Valentinus wanted action against the Persians and Turxanthos complained that Byzantium was harboring the Avars. Valentinus then went east to meet Tardu. What caused this hostility is not clear. In 576–77 a Turk general called Bokhan and an Utigur called Anagai captured the Crimean Byzantine town of Panticapaeum and failed at a siege of Chersonesus. This marks the westernmost extent of Turk power.

The alliance was revived in the 620s during the last great Byzantine-Persian war before the Arab conquests. In 627 Tong Yabghu Qaghan sent out his nephew Böri Shad. The Turks stormed the great fortress of Derbent on the Caspian coast, entered Azerbaijan and Georgia, did a good bit of looting and met Heraclius who was besieging Tiflis. When the siege dragged on, the Turks left and Heraclius went south and won a great victory over the Persians. The Turks returned, captured Tiflis and massacred the garrison. A Turk general, Chorpan Tarkhan then won most of Armenia for the Byzantines. See Third Perso-Turkic War. What the Turks gained from this is not clear.

The Onoq or ten tribesEdit

For the origin of the Onoq two contradicting accounts are given:[12][13]

In the beginning [after 552], Shidianmi [Istämi] followed the Shanyu [Qaghan] and commanded the ten great chiefs. Together with their 100,000 soldiers, he marched to the Western Regions and subdued the barbarian statelets. There he declared himself as qaghan, under the title of ten tribes, and ruled them [the western barbarians] for generations.

— Tongdian, 193 and Jiu Tangshu, 194

Soon [after 635], Dielishi Qaghan [of the Western Göktürks] divided his state into ten parts, and each was headed by one man, together they made up the ten she [shad]. Every she is given an arrow by him, thus they were known as the ten arrows. He also divided the ten arrows into two factions, each consisted of five arrows. The left [east] faction consisted of five Duoliu (Duolu) tribes, headed by five chuo [qur] separately. The right [west] faction consisted of five Nushibi (Ch. 弩失畢) tribes, headed by five sijin [irkin] separately. Each took command on one arrow and called themselves as the ten arrows. Thereafter, each arrow was also known as one tribe, and the great arrow head as the great chief. The five Duolu tribes inhabited to east of Suiye [water] (Chu River), and the five Nushibi tribes to the west of it. Since then, they called themselves as the ten tribes.

— Tongdian, 193 and Jiu Tangshu, 194

The first statement dates their origin back to the beginning of the First Turkic Qaghanate with Istämi, younger brother of Tumen (Bumen), who had brought with him the ten tribes probably from the Eastern Qaghanate at Mongolia and left to the west to expand the Qaghanate. The exact date for the event was not recorded, and the shanyu here referred to might be Muhan Khan.

The second statement contributes it to Dielishi, who took over the throne in 635 and began to strengthen the state by further affirming the initial ten tribes and two tribal wings, in contrast with the rotation of rule between the Tumen (through Apa) and Istämi (through Tardu) lineages in the Western Qaghanate. Thereafter, the name "ten tribes" (十姓) became as a shortened address for the Western Turks in Chinese records. Those divisions did not include the five[14] major tribes, who were active further east of the ten tribes.[15][16]

The earlier tribes consisted of eight primary tribes ruled by ten chiefs-in-command, afterwards called the on (ten) oq (arrows) (十箭). They were the five[17] Duolu (咄陆) tribes, and the three[18] Nushibi (弩失毕) tribes. The relationships between the ten tribes and the ruling elites were divided into two groups. The more aristocratic Duolu tribes, who held the title qur, and the lower-rated Nushipi in west, who were probably initially made up of Tiele conscripts.[19][20] During the reformation the more powerful Nushipi tribes such as A-Xijie and Geshu were sub-divided into two tribal groups with a greater and lesser title under a fixed tribal name.

See alsoEdit

References and notesEdit

  1. ^ TURKO-SOGDIAN COINAGE, Larissa Baratova, "Encyclopedia Iranica", (July 20, 2005).
  2. ^ The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 3, part 1, ed. William Bayne Fisher and E. Yarshater, (Cambridge University Press, 2003), 621.
  3. ^ Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D." Social Science History. 3 (3/4): 129. doi:10.2307/1170959. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  4. ^ Marshall Cavendish Corporation (2006). Peoples of Western Asia. p. 364.
  5. ^ Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (2007). Historic Cities of the Islamic World. p. 280.
  6. ^ Borrero, Mauricio (2009). Russia: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. p. 162.
  7. ^ Ch III, IV.
  8. ^ Baumer has defeated Rouran and Ephthalites
  9. ^ The war is variously dated. 560-65 (Gumilyov,1967); 555 (Stark,2008, Altturkenzeit,210); 557 (Iranica,Khosrow ii); 558-61 (Iranica.hephthalites); 557-63 (Baumer, Hist.Cent.Asia,2,174) ; 557-61 (Sinor,1990, Hist Inner Asia,301; 560-563 (UNESCO,Hist.civs.c.a.,iii,143); 562-65 (Christian, hist. russia,mongolia,c.a.,252); ca 565 (Grousset,Empire Steppes, 1970,p82); 567 (Chavannes,1903, Documents, 236+229)
  10. ^ All sources have Oxus border; 571 Treaty is Gumulyov only.
  11. ^ This section from Baumer, Hist. Central Asia, vol. 2, 175–81; Christian, History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia, 248–57; Sinor, Hist Early Inner Asia, 301–05
  12. ^ Xue, "A History of Turks", p. 271, 300.
  13. ^ Wang, "Political Relationship Between the Chinese, Tibetan and Arab", p. 28.
  14. ^ 1. Chuyue (处月, later as Shato) 2. Chumi (处密) 3. Gusu (姑苏) 4. Bishi (畀失) 5. Geluolu (葛逻禄).
  15. ^ Xue, "A History of Turks", p. 271, 273, 275, 300–301.
  16. ^ Wang, "Political Relationship Between the Chinese, Tibetan and Arab", p. 29.
  17. ^ 1. Chumukun (处木昆) 2. Huluju (胡禄居) 3. Shesheti (摄舍提) 4. Tuqishi (突骑施) 5. Shunishi (鼠尼施).
  18. ^ 1. A-Xijie (阿悉结) 2. Geshu (哥舒) 3. Basegan (拔塞干).
  19. ^ Xue, "A History of Turks", p. 272, 314.
  20. ^ Wang, "Political Relationship Between the Chinese, Tibetan and Arab", p. 30–31.