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Sogdia
Sogdia
or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian civilization that at different times included territory located in present-day Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
such as: Samarkand, Bukhara, Khujand, Panjikent
Panjikent
and Shahrisabz. Sogdiana was also a province of the Achaemenid
Achaemenid
Empire, eighteenth in the list on the Behistun Inscription
Behistun Inscription
of Darius the Great (i. 16). In the Avesta, Sogdiana is listed as the second best land that the supreme deity Ahura Mazda
Ahura Mazda
had created.[2] It comes second, after Airyanem Vaejah, "homeland of the Aryans", in the Zoroastrian book of Vendidad, indicating the importance of this region from ancient times.[3][4] Sogdiana was conquered by the Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
in 328 BC and later formed part of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
and Sasanian Empire. The Sogdian states, although never politically united, were centred on the main city of Samarkand. Sogdiana lay north of Bactria, east of Khwarezm, and southeast of Kangju
Kangju
between the Oxus (Amu Darya) and the Jaxartes (Syr Darya), embracing the fertile valley of the Zeravshan (ancient Polytimetus).[5] Sogdian territory corresponds to the modern provinces of Samarkand
Samarkand
and Bokhara in modern Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
as well as the Sughd
Sughd
province of modern Tajikistan. During the High Middle Ages, Sogdian cities included sites stretching towards Issyk Kul
Issyk Kul
such as that at the archeological site of Suyab. Sogdian, an Eastern Iranian language, is no longer a spoken language, but its direct descendant, Yaghnobi, is still spoken by the Yaghnobis of Tajikistan. It was widely spoken in Central Asia
Central Asia
as a lingua franca and even served as one of the Turkic Khaganate's court languages for writing documents. Sogdians also lived in Imperial China
Imperial China
and rose to special prominence in the military and government of the Chinese Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
(618–907 AD). Sogdian merchants and diplomats traveled as far west as the Byzantine Empire. They played an important part as middlemen in the trade route of the Silk
Silk
Road. While originally following the faiths of Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
and Manichaeism
Manichaeism
from Persia, Buddhism
Buddhism
from India, and Nestorian Christianity
Nestorian Christianity
from West Asia, the gradual conversion to Islam among the Sogdians and their descendants began with the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana
Transoxiana
in the 8th century. The Sogdian conversion to Islam
Islam
was virtually complete by the end of the Samanid Empire
Samanid Empire
in 999, coinciding with the decline of the Sogdian language, as it was largely supplanted by Persian as well as Turkic languages.

Contents

1 Name 2 History

2.1 Prehistory 2.2 Achaemenid
Achaemenid
period 2.3 Hellenistic period 2.4 Central Asia
Central Asia
and the Silk
Silk
Road 2.5 Trade and diplomacy with the Byzantine Empire 2.6 Sogdian merchants, generals, and statesmen of Imperial China 2.7 Arab Muslim conquest of Central Asia

3 Language
Language
and culture

3.1 Art 3.2 Language 3.3 Clothing 3.4 Religious beliefs

4 Commerce and sex trade 5 Modern historiography 6 Notable Sogdians 7 Diaspora areas 8 See also 9 References

9.1 Citations 9.2 Sources

10 External links

Name[edit]

Detail of a copy of the Ambassadors' Painting from Afrasiyab, Samarkand, showing men on a camel, 7th century AD

Oswald Szemerényi devotes a thorough discussion to the etymologies of ancient ethnic words for the Scythians
Scythians
in his work Four Old Iranian Ethnic Names: Scythian – Skudra
Skudra
– Sogdian – Saka. In it, the names provided by the Greek historian Herodotus
Herodotus
and the names of his title, except Saka, as well as many other words for "Scythian," such as Assyrian Aškuz and Greek Skuthēs, descend from *skeud-, an ancient Indo-European root meaning "propel, shoot" (cf. English shoot).[6] *skud- is the zero-grade; that is, a variant in which the -e- is not present. The restored Scythian name is *Skuda (archer), which among the Pontic or Royal Scythians
Scythians
became *Skula, in which the d has been regularly replaced by an l. According to Szemerényi, Sogdiana (Old Persian: Suguda-; Persian: سغد‎ Soġd; Tajik: Суғд, سغد Suġd; Chinese: 粟特 Mandarin sùtè; Ancient Greek: Σογδιανή) was named from the Skuda form. Starting from the names of the province given in Old Persian
Old Persian
inscriptions, Sugda and Suguda, and the knowledge derived from Middle Sogdian that Old Persian -gd- applied to Sogdian was pronounced as voiced fricatives, -γδ-, Szemerényi arrives at *Suγδa as an Old Sogdian endonym.[7] Applying sound changes apparent in other Sogdian words and inherent in Indo-European he traces the development of *Suγδa from Skuda, "archer," as follows: Skuda > *Sukuda by anaptyxis > *Sukuδa > *Sukδa (syncope) > *Suγδa (assimilation).[8] History[edit] Further information: Transoxiana, Turkestan, History of Central Asia, History of Uzbekistan, and History of Tajikistan Prehistory[edit] Further information: Indo-Iranians

Centuries before the conquest of Sogdiana by the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
of Persia, Sogdiana possessed a Bronze Age
Bronze Age
urban culture that was gradually displaced by the Indo-European migrations
Indo-European migrations
of the Iron Age. This large-scale migration included Eastern Iranian speaking peoples such as the Sogdians.[9] The original Bronze Age
Bronze Age
towns appear in the archaeological record beginning with the settlement at Sarazm, Tajikistan, spanning as far back as the 4th millennium BC and then at Kök Tepe, near modern-day Bulungur, Uzbekistan, from at least the 15th century BC.[10] Achaemenid
Achaemenid
period[edit]

Sogdians on an Achaemenid
Achaemenid
Persian relief from the Apadana
Apadana
of Persepolis, offering tributary gifts to the Persian king Darius I, 5th century BC

Achaemenid
Achaemenid
ruler Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
conquered Sogdiana while campaigning in Central Asia
Central Asia
in 546–539 BC,[11] a fact mentioned by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus
Herodotus
in his Histories.[9] Darius I
Darius I
introduced the Aramaic
Aramaic
writing system and coin currency to Central Asia, in addition to incorporating Sogdians into his standing army as regular soldiers and cavalrymen.[12] A contingent of Sogdian soldiers fought in the main army of Xerxes I
Xerxes I
during his ultimately failed invasion of Greece in 480 BC.[4][13] A Persian inscription from Susa
Susa
claims that the palace there was adorned with lapis lazuli and carnelian originating from Sogdiana.[4]

Left image: a gold coin of Diodotus, c. 250 BC Right image: a barbaric copy of a coin of Euthydemus I, from the region of Sogdiana; the legend on the reverse is in Aramaic
Aramaic
script.

Given the absence of any named satraps (i.e. Achaemenid
Achaemenid
provincial governors) for Sogdiana in historical records, modern scholarship has concluded that Sogdiana was governed from the satrapy of nearby Bactria.[14] The satraps were often relatives of the ruling Persian kings, especially sons who were not designated as the heir apparent.[9] Sogdiana likely remained under Persian control until roughly 400 BC, during the reign of Artaxerxes II.[15] Rebellious states of the Persian Empire took advantage of the weak Artaxerxes II, and some, such as Egypt, were able to regain their independence. Persia's massive loss of Central Asian territory is widely attributed to the ruler's lack of control. However, unlike Egypt, which was quickly recaptured by the Persian Empire, Sogdiana remained independent until it was conquered by Alexander the Great. When the latter invaded the Persian Empire, Pharasmanes, an already independent king of Khwarezm, allied with the Macedonians and sent troops to Alexander in 329 BC for his war against the Scythians
Scythians
of the Black Sea region (even though this anticipated campaign never materialized).[15] During the Achaemenid
Achaemenid
period (550–330 BC), the Sogdians lived as a nomadic people much like the neighboring Yuezhi, who spoke Bactrian, an Indo-Iranian language closely related to Sogdian,[16] and were already engaging in overland trade. Some of them had also gradually settled the land to engage in agriculture.[17] Similar to how the Yuezhi
Yuezhi
offered tributary gifts of jade to the emperors of China, the Sogdians are recorded in Persian records as submitting precious gifts of lapis lazuli and carnelian to Darius I, the Persian king of kings.[17] Although the Sogdians were at times independent and living outside the boundaries of large empires, they never formed a great empire of their own like the Yuezhi, who established the Kushan Empire (30–375 AD) of Central and South Asia.[17] Hellenistic period[edit] Further information: Wars of Alexander the Great, Chronology of the expedition of Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
into Asia, and Hellenistic civilization

Left image: The Sampul tapestry, a woolen wall hanging from Lop County, Xinjiang, China, showing a possibly Greek soldier from the Greco-Bactrian kingdom
Greco-Bactrian kingdom
(250–125 BC), with blue eyes, wielding a spear, and wearing what appears to be a diadem headband; depicted above him is a centaur, from Greek mythology, a common motif in Hellenistic art[18] Right image: painted clay and alabaster head of a Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
priest wearing a distinctive Bactrian-style headdress, Takhti-Sangin, Tajikistan, 3rd–2nd century BC

A now independent and warlike Sogdiana, led at first by Bessus, the Achaemenid
Achaemenid
satrap of Bactria
Bactria
and claimant to the throne after assassinating Darius III
Darius III
in his flight from the Macedonian Greek army,[19][20] formed a border region insulating the Achaemenid Persians from the nomadic Scythians
Scythians
to the north and east.[21] The Sogdian Rock
Sogdian Rock
or Rock of Ariamazes, a fortress in Sogdiana, was captured in 327 BC by the forces of Alexander the Great, the basileus of Macedonian Greece and conqueror of the Persian Achaemenid Empire.[22] Oxyartes, a Sogdian nobleman of Bactria, had hoped to keep his daughter Roxana
Roxana
safe at the fortress of the Sogdian Rock, yet after its fall Roxana
Roxana
was soon wed to Alexander as one of his several wives.[23] Roxana, a Sogdian whose name Roshanak means "little star",[24][25][26] was the mother of Alexander IV of Macedon, who inherited his late father's throne in 323 BC (although the empire was soon divided in the Wars of the Diadochi).[27] After an extended campaign putting down Sogdian resistance and founding military outposts manned by his Macedonian veterans, Alexander united Sogdiana with Bactria
Bactria
into one satrapy. The Sogdian nobleman and warlord Spitamenes (370–328 BC), allied with Scythian tribes, led an uprising against Alexander's forces. This revolt was put down by Alexander and his generals Amyntas, Craterus, and Coenus, with the aid of native Bactrian and Sogdian troops.[28] With the Scythian and Sogdian rebels defeated, Spitamenes was allegedly betrayed by his own wife and beheaded.[29] Pursuant with his own marriage to Roxana, Alexander encouraged his men to marry Sogdian women in order to discourage further revolt.[23][30] This included Apama, daughter of the rebel Spitamenes, who wed Seleucus I Nicator and bore him a son and future heir to the Seleucid throne.[31] According to the Roman historian Appian, Seleucus I named three new Hellenistic cities in Asia after her (see Apamea).[31][32] The military power of the Sogdians never recovered. Subsequently, Sogdiana formed part of the Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, a breakaway state from the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
founded in 248 BC by Diodotus I, for roughly a century.[33][34] Euthydemus I, a former satrap of Sogdiana, seems to have held the Sogdian territory as a rival claimant to the Greco-Bactrian throne; his coins were later copied locally and bore Aramaic
Aramaic
inscriptions.[35] The Greco-Bactrian king Eucratides I may have recovered sovereignty of Sogdia
Sogdia
temporarily. Finally the area was occupied by nomads when the Scythians
Scythians
and Yuezhis overran it around 145 BC. From then until about 40 BC the Yuezhi
Yuezhi
tepidly minted coins imitating and still bearing the images of the Greco-Bactrian kings Eucratides I
Eucratides I
and Heliocles I, yet soon afterwards they began minting unique coins bearing the faces of their own rulers as a prelude to asserting themselves as a world power under the Kushan Empire.[36] The American historian Homer H. Dubs offered the suggestion that a lost legion from the Roman army
Roman army
of Crassus
Crassus
that fought at Carrhae encountered and even fought a Chinese army of the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
in the region:

... [In 36 BC a] Han expedition into central Asia, west of the Jaxartes River, apparently encountered and defeated a contingent of Roman legionaries. The Romans may have been the enslaved remnants of Crassus' army, defeated by the Parthians
Parthians
and forced to fight on their eastern frontier. Sogdiana (modern Bukhara), east of the Oxus River, on the Polytimetus River, was apparently the most easterly penetration ever made by Roman forces in Asia. The margin of Chinese victory appears to have been their crossbows, whose bolts and darts seem easily to have penetrated Roman shields and armour.[37]

However, this interpretation has been disputed by scholars such as Schuyler V. Cammann.[38] Central Asia
Central Asia
and the Silk
Silk
Road[edit] Main articles: Sino-Persian relations
Sino-Persian relations
and Cities along the Silk
Silk
Road

Left image: a Sogdian silk brocade textile fragment, dated c. 700 AD Right image: and a Sogdian silver wine cup with mercury gilding, 7th century AD

Left image: A Chinese Eastern Han
Eastern Han
(25–220 AD) ceramic statuette of a Sogdian caravan leader of the Silk
Silk
Road, wearing a distinctive Sogdian cap Right image: A grey pottery figurine of a Sogdian groom, Chinese Tang Dynasty, 7th century AD

Most merchants did not travel the entire Silk Road
Silk Road
but would trade goods through middlemen based in oasis towns such as Khotan
Khotan
or Dunhuang. The Sogdians, however, established a trading network across the 1500 miles from Sogdiana to China. In fact, the Sogdians turned their energies to trade so thoroughly that the Saka
Saka
of the Kingdom of Khotan
Khotan
called all merchants suli, "Sogdian", whatever their culture or ethnicity.[39] Sogdian contacts with China
China
were initiated by the embassy of the Chinese explorer Zhang Qian
Zhang Qian
during the reign of Emperor Wu (r. 141–87 BC) of the former Han dynasty. Zhang wrote a report of his visit to the Western Regions
Western Regions
in Central Asia
Central Asia
and named the area of Sogdiana as "Kangju".[40]

Left image: Sogdian men feasting and eating at a banquet, from a wall mural of Panjakent, Tajikistan, 7th century AD Right image: Detail from another wall mural from Panjakent, 7th century AD, showing tigers attacking a man riding a war elephant

Following Zhang Qian's embassy and report, commercial Chinese relations with Central Asia
Central Asia
and Sogdiana flourished,[41] as many Chinese missions were sent throughout the 1st century BC. In his Shiji published in 94 BC, Chinese historian Sima Qian
Sima Qian
remarked that "the largest of these embassies to foreign states numbered several hundred persons, while even the smaller parties included over 100 members ... In the course of one year anywhere from five to six to over ten parties would be sent out."[42] In terms of the silk trade, the Sogdians also served as the primary middlemen between the Chinese Han Empire and the Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
of the Middle East and West Asia.[43] Sogdians played a major role in facilitating trade between China
China
and Central Asia
Central Asia
along the Silk
Silk
Roads as late as the 10th century, their language serving as a lingua franca for Asian trade as far back as the 4th century.[44][45]

Left image: Sancai-glazed figurine depicting a Sogdian holding a wineskin, Chinese Tang dynasty, c. 675–750 AD Right image: ceramic figurine of a Sogdian merchant in northern China, Tang Dynasty, 7th century AD

Left image: Sogdian coin, 6th century, British Museum Right image: Chinese-influenced Sogdian coin, from Kelpin, 8th century, British Museum

Subsequent to their domination by Alexander the Great, the Sogdians from the city of Marakanda (Samarkand) became dominant as traveling merchants, occupying a key position along the ancient Silk
Silk
Road.[46] They played an active role in the spread of faiths such as Manicheism, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism
Buddhism
along the Silk
Silk
Road. The Chinese Sui Shu (Book of Sui) describes Sogdians as "skilled merchants" who attracted many foreign traders to their land to engage in commerce.[47] They were described by the Chinese as born merchants, learning their commercial skills at an early age. It appears from sources, such as documents found by Sir Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
and others, that by the 4th century they may have monopolized trade between India and China. A letter written by Sogdian merchants dated 313 AD and found in the ruins of a watchtower in Gansu
Gansu
was intended to be sent to merchants in Samarkand, warning them that after Liu Cong of Han Zhao
Han Zhao
sacked Luoyang
Luoyang
and the Jin emperor fled the capital, there was no worthwhile business there for Indian and Sogdian merchants.[13][48] Furthermore, in 568 AD a Turko-Sogdian delegation travelled to the Roman emperor in Constantinople
Constantinople
to obtain permission to trade and in the following years commercial activity between the states flourished.[49] Put simply, the Sogdians dominated trade along the Silk Road
Silk Road
from the 2nd century BC until the 10th century.[39] Suyab
Suyab
and Talas in modern-day Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
were the main Sogdian centers in the north that dominated the caravan routes of the 6th to 8th centuries.[50] Their commercial interests were protected by the resurgent military power of the Göktürks, whose empire was built on the political power of the Ashina clan and economic clout of the Sogdians.[51][52][53] Sogdian trade, with some interruptions, continued into the 9th century. In the 10th century Sogdiana was incorporated into the Uighur Empire, which until 840 encompassed northern Central Asia. This khaganate obtained enormous deliveries of silk from Tang China
China
in exchange for horses, in turn relying on the Sogdians to sell much of this silk further west.[54] Peter B. Golden writes that the Uyghurs
Uyghurs
not only adopted the writing system and religious faiths of the Sogdians, such as Manichaeism, Buddhism, and Christianity, but also looked to the Sogdians as "mentors" while gradually replacing them in their roles as Silk Road
Silk Road
traders and purveyors of culture.[55] Muslim geographers of the 10th century drew upon Sogdian records dating to 750–840. After the end of the Uyghur Empire, Sogdian trade underwent a crisis. Following the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana
Transoxiana
in the 8th century, the Samanids resumed trade on the northwestern road leading to the Khazars
Khazars
and the Urals
Urals
and the northeastern one toward the nearby Turkic tribes.[52] During the 5th and 6th century many Sogdians took up residence in the Hexi Corridor
Hexi Corridor
where they retained autonomy in terms of governance and had a designated official administrator known as a sabao, which suggests their importance to the socioeconomic structure of China. The Sogdian influence on trade in China
China
is also made apparent by a Chinese document which lists taxes paid on caravan trade in the Turpan
Turpan
region and shows that twenty-nine out of the thirty-five commercial transactions involved Sogdian merchants, and in thirteen of those cases both the buyer and the seller were Sogdian.[56] Trade goods brought to China
China
included grapes, alfalfa, and Sassanian silverware, as well as glass containers, Mediterranean coral, brass Buddhist images, Roman wool cloth, and Baltic amber. These were exchanged for Chinese paper, copper, and silk.[39] In the 7th century the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang
Xuanzang
noted with approval that Sogdian boys were taught to read and write at the age of five, though their skill was turned to trade, disappointing the scholarly Xuanzang. He also recorded the Sogdians working in other capacities such as farmers, carpetweavers, glassmakers, and woodcarvers.[57] Trade and diplomacy with the Byzantine Empire[edit] Further information: First Perso-Turkic War, Byzantine–Sasanian wars, Byzantine silk, Sogdian warriors, Sino-Roman relations, Byzantine-Mongol alliance, and Europeans in Medieval China Historical knowledge about Sogdia
Sogdia
is somewhat hazy during the period of the Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
(247 BC – 224 AD) in Persia.[58][59] The subsequent Sasanian Empire
Sasanian Empire
of Persia
Persia
conquered and incorporated Sogdia as a satrapy in 260,[58] an inscription dating to the reign of Shapur I noting that its limits formed the northeastern Sasanian borderlands with the Kushan Empire.[59] However, by the 5th century the region was captured by the rival Hephthalite
Hephthalite
Empire.[58] Shortly after the smuggling of silkworm eggs into the Byzantine Empire from China
China
by Nestorian Christian
Nestorian Christian
monks, the 6th-century Byzantine historian Menander Protector writes of how the Sogdians attempted to establish a direct trade of Chinese silk with the Byzantine Empire. After forming an alliance with the Sasanian ruler Khosrow I
Khosrow I
to defeat the Hephthalite
Hephthalite
Empire, Istämi, the Göktürk
Göktürk
ruler of the Turkic Khaganate, was approached by Sogdian merchants requesting permission to seek an audience with the Sassanid king of kings for the privilege of traveling through Persian territories in order to trade with the Byzantines.[43] Istämi refused the first request, but when he sanctioned the second one and had the Sogdian embassy sent to the Sassanid king, the latter had the members of the embassy poisoned.[43] Maniah, a Sogdian diplomat, convinced Istämi to send an embassy directly to Byzantium's capital Constantinople, which arrived in 568 and offered not only silk as a gift to Byzantine ruler Justin II, but also proposed an alliance against Sassanid Persia. Justin II
Justin II
agreed and sent an embassy to the Turkic Khaganate, ensuring the direct silk trade desired by the Sogdians.[43][60][61] It appears, however, that direct trade with the Sogdians remained limited in light of the small amount of Roman and Byzantine coins found in Central Asian and Chinese archaeological sites belonging to this era. Although Roman embassies apparently reached Han China
China
from 166 AD onwards,[62] and the ancient Romans imported Han Chinese silk while the Han-dynasty Chinese imported Roman glasswares as discovered in their tombs,[63][64] Valerie Hansen
Valerie Hansen
(2012) wrote that no Roman coins from the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
(507–27 BC) or the Principate
Principate
(27 BC – 330 AD) era of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
have been found in China.[65] However, Warwick Ball (2016) upends this notion by pointing to a hoard of sixteen Roman coins found at Xi'an, China
China
(formerly Chang'an), dated to the reigns of various emperors from Tiberius
Tiberius
(14–37 AD) to Aurelian
Aurelian
(270–275 AD).[66] The earliest gold solidus coins from the Eastern Roman Empire
Roman Empire
found in China
China
date to the reign of Byzantine emperor Theodosius II
Theodosius II
(r. 408–450) and altogether only forty-eight of them have been found (compared to thirteen-hundred silver coins) in Xinjiang
Xinjiang
and the rest of China.[65] The use of silver coins in Turfan persisted long after the Tang campaign against Karakhoja
Tang campaign against Karakhoja
and Chinese conquest of 640, with a gradual adoption of Chinese bronze coinage over the course of the 7th century.[65] The fact that these Eastern Roman coins were almost always found with Sasanian Persian silver coins and Eastern Roman gold coins were used more as ceremonial objects like talismans confirms the pre-eminent importance of Greater Iran in Chinese Silk Road
Silk Road
commerce of Central Asia
Central Asia
compared to Eastern Rome.[67] Sogdian merchants, generals, and statesmen of Imperial China[edit] Further information: Ethnic groups in Chinese history, Ethnic minorities in China, and Western Regions

Left image: kneeling Sogdian donors to the Buddha
Buddha
(fresco, with detail), Bezeklik Thousand Buddha
Buddha
Caves, near Turpan
Turpan
in the eastern Tarim Basin, China, 8th century Right image: the stone tomb gate and couch of An Jia (安伽), a Northern Zhou
Northern Zhou
(557–581 AD) period Sogdian nobleman,[68] excavated from Chang'an
Chang'an
(modern Xi'an), China; An Jia held the title of Sar-pav of Tongzhou prefecture and was in charge of commercial affairs of foreign merchants from Middle Asia, who made businesses in China; the stone gate is flanked by two lions and the horizontal tablet is carved with a sacrificial scene in accordance with Zoroastrianism

Aside from the Sogdians of Central Asia
Central Asia
who acted as middlemen in the Silk Road
Silk Road
trade, other Sogdians settled down in China
China
for generations. Although many Sogdians had fled Luoyang
Luoyang
following the collapse of the Jin Dynasty's control over northern China
China
in 311 AD, some Sogdians continued living in Gansu.[48] Sogdian families living in Gansu created funerary epitaphs explaining the history of their illustrious houses. For instance, a sabao (萨保, from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
sarthavaha, meaning caravan leader)[60] from Anxi (wester Sogdiana or Parthia) who lived in Jiuquan during the Northern Wei
Northern Wei
(386 – 535 AD), was the ancestor of An Tugen, a man who rose from a common merchant to become a top ranking minister of state for the Northern Qi
Northern Qi
(550 – 577 AD).[47] Valerie Hansen
Valerie Hansen
asserts that around this time and extending into the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
(618 – 907 AD), the Sogdians "became the most influential of the non-Chinese groups resident in China," settling throughout Chinese territory, marrying Chinese women, purchasing land, with newcomers living there permanently instead of returning to their homelands in Sogdiana.[47] They were concentrated in large numbers around Luoyang
Luoyang
and Chang'an, but also Xiangyang
Xiangyang
in Hubei, building Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
temples to service their communities once they reached the threshold of roughly 100 households.[47] From the Northern Qi
Northern Qi
to Tang periods, the leaders of these communities, the sabao, were incorporated into the official hierarchy of state officials.[47] Their burial practices blended both Chinese forms such as carved funerary beds with Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
sensibilities in mind, such as separating the body from both the earth and water.[69]

Two Buddhist monks on a mural of the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha
Buddha
Caves near Turpan, Xinjiang, China, 9th century AD. Albert von Le Coq
Albert von Le Coq
(1913) assumed the blue-eyed, red-haired monk was a Tocharian,[70] modern scholarship however identified similar Caucasian figures of the same cave temple (No. 9) as ethnic Sogdians,[71] who were a minority in Turpan
Turpan
during the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
in 7th–8th century and Uyghur rule (9th–13th century).[72]

In addition to being merchants, monks, and government officials, Sogdians also served as soldiers in the Tang military.[73] An Lushan, whose father was Sogdian and mother a Gokturk, rose to the position of a military governor (jiedushi) in the northeast before leading the An Lushan Rebellion (755 – 763 AD), which split the loyalties of the Sogdians in China.[73] The An Lushan
An Lushan
rebellion was supported by many Sogdians, and in its aftermath many of them were slain or changed their names to escape their Sogdian heritage, so that little is known about the Sogdian presence in North China
China
since that time.[74] Sogdians continued as active traders in China
China
following the defeat of the rebellion, but many of them were compelled to hide their ethnic identity. A prominent case was An Chongzhang, Minister of War, and Duke of Liang who, in 756, asked Emperor Suzong of Tang
Emperor Suzong of Tang
to allow him to change his name to Li Baoyu because of his shame in sharing the same surname with the rebel leader.[73] This change of surnames was enacted retroactively for all of his family members, so that his ancestors would also be bestowed the surname Li.[73] During the Tang and subsequent Five Dynasties and Song Dynasty, a large community of Sogdians also existed in the multicultural entrepôt of Dunhuang, Gansu, a major center of Buddhist learning and home to the Buddhist Mogao Caves.[75] Although Dunhuang
Dunhuang
and the Hexi Corridor were captured by the Tibetan Empire
Tibetan Empire
after the An Lushan Rebellion, in 848 the ethnic Han Chinese general Zhang Yichao (799–872) managed to wrestle control of the region from the Tibetans during their civil war, establishing the Guiyi Circuit
Guiyi Circuit
under Emperor Xuānzong of Tang (r. 846–859).[76][77] Although the region occasionally fell under the rule of different states, it retained its multilingual nature as evidenced by an abundance of manuscripts (religious and secular) in Chinese and Tibetan, but also Sogdian, Khotanese (another Eastern Iranian language native to the region), Uyghur, and Sanskrit.[78] From the Chinese surnames listed in the Tang-era Dunhuang
Dunhuang
manuscript Pelliot chinois 3319V (containing the following text: 石定信右全石丑子石定奴福延福全保昌張丑子李千子李定信), the names of the Nine Zhaowu Clans (or the "nine jeweled surnames" 昭武九姓),[72] the prominent ethnic Sogdian families of China, have been deduced.[79] Of these the most common Sogdian surname throughout China
China
was Shi (石, generally given to those from Chach, modern Tashkent), whereas the surnames Shi (史, from Kesh, modern Shahrisabz), An (安, from Bukhara), Mi (米, from Panjakent), Kang (康, from Samarkand), Cao (曹, from Kabudhan, north of the Zeravshan River), and He (何, from Kushaniyah) appear frequently in Dunhuang manuscripts and registers.[72][80] The influence of Sinicized and multilingual Sogdians during this Guiyijun (歸義軍) period (c. 850 – c. 1000 AD) of Dunhuang
Dunhuang
is evident in a large number of manuscripts written in Chinese characters
Chinese characters
from left to right instead of vertically, mirroring the direction of how the Sogdian alphabet
Sogdian alphabet
is read.[81] Sogdians of Dunhuang
Dunhuang
also commonly formed and joined lay associations among their local communities, convening at Sogdian-owned taverns in scheduled meetings mentioned in their epistolary letters.[82] Sogdians living in Turfan
Turfan
under the Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
and Gaochang
Gaochang
Kingdom engaged in a variety of occupations that included: farming, military service, painting, leather crafting and selling products such as iron goods.[72] The Sogdians had been migrating to Turfan
Turfan
since the 4th century, yet the pace of migration began to climb steadily with the Muslim conquest of Persia
Persia
and Fall of the Sasanian Empire in 651, followed by the Islamic conquest of Samarkand
Samarkand
in 712.[72] Arab Muslim conquest of Central Asia[edit] Main article: Muslim conquest of Transoxiana Further information: Asad ibn Abdallah al-Qasri

Left image: a lion motif on Sogdian polychrome silk, 8th century AD, most likely from Bukhara Right image: a caftan worn by a horseman along the Silk
Silk
Road, 8th–10th century AD, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Qutayba ibn Muslim
Qutayba ibn Muslim
(669–716), Governor of Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
under the Umayyad Caliphate
Umayyad Caliphate
(661–750), initiated the Muslim conquest of Sogdia during the early 8th century, with the local ruler of Balkh
Balkh
offering him aid as an Umayyad ally.[59][83] However, when his successor Al-Jarrah ibn Abdallah
Al-Jarrah ibn Abdallah
governed Khorosan (717–719), many native Sogdians, who had converted to Islam, began to revolt when they were no longer exempt from paying the tax on non-Muslims, the jizya, because of a new law stating that proof of circumcision and literacy in the Quran
Quran
was necessary for new converts.[59][84] With the aid of Turkic peoples, the Sogdians were able to expel the Umayyad Arab garrison from Samarkand
Samarkand
and Umayyad attempts to restore power there were rebuffed until the arrival of Sa'id ibn Amr al-Harashi (fl. 720–735). The Sogdian ruler (i.e. ikhshid) of Samarkand, Gurak, who had previously overthrown the pro-Umayyad Sogdian ruler Tarkhun
Tarkhun
in 710, decided that resistance against al-Harashi's large Arab force was pointless and thereafter persuaded his followers to declare allegiance to the Umayyad governor.[84] Divashtich
Divashtich
(r. 706–722), the Sogdian ruler of Panjakent, led his forces to the Zarafshan Range
Zarafshan Range
(near modern Zarafshan, Tajikistan), whereas the Sogdians following Karzanj, the ruler of Pai (modern Kattakurgan, Uzbekistan), fled to the Principality of Farghana, where their ruler at-Tar (or Alutar) promised them safety and refuge from the Umayyads. However, at-Tar secretly informed al-Harashi of the Sogdians hiding in Khujand, who were then slaughtered by al-Harashi's forces after their arrival.[85]

A Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
Chinese ceramic
Chinese ceramic
statuette of a Sogdian merchant riding on a Bactrian camel

The Umayyads fell in 750 to the Abbasid Caliphate, which quickly asserted itself in Central Asia
Central Asia
after winning the Battle of Talas (along the Talas River
Talas River
in modern Talas Oblast, Kyrgyzstan) in 751 against the Chinese Tang Dynasty. This conflict incidentally introduced Chinese papermaking to the Islamic world.[86] The cultural consequences and political ramifications of this battle meant the retreat of the Chinese empire from Central Asia. It also allowed for the rise of the Samanid Empire
Samanid Empire
(819–999), a Persian state centered at Bukhara
Bukhara
(in what is now modern Uzbekistan) that nominally observed the Abbasids as their overlords, yet retained a great deal of autonomy and upheld the mercantile legacy of the Sogdians.[86] Yet the Sogdian language gradually declined in favor of the Persian language
Persian language
of the Samanids (the ancestor to the modern Tajik language), the spoken language of renowned poets and intellectuals of the age such as Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
(940–1020).[86] So too did the original religions of the Sogdians decline; Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Manichaeism, and Nestorian Christianity disappeared in the region by the end of the Samanid period.[86] The Samanids were also responsible for converting the surrounding Turkic peoples
Turkic peoples
to Islam, which presaged the conquest of their empire in 999 by an Islamic Turkic power, the Kara-Khanid Khanate (840–1212).[87] During the early 13th century Khwarezmia was invaded by the early Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
and its ruler Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
destroyed the once vibrant cities of Bukhara
Bukhara
and Samarkand.[88] However, in 1370 Samarkand
Samarkand
saw a revival as the capital of the Timurid Empire. The Turko-Mongol ruler Timur
Timur
forcefully brought artisans and intellectuals from across Asia to Samarkand, transforming it not only into a trade hub but also one of the most important cities of the Islamic world.[89] Language
Language
and culture[edit] The 6th century is thought to be the peak of Sogdian culture, judging by its highly developed artistic tradition. By this point, the Sogdians were entrenched in their role as the central Asian traveling and trading merchants, transferring goods, culture and religion.[90] During the Middle Ages, the valley of the Zarafshan around Samarkand retained its Sogdian name, Samarkand.[5] According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, medieval Arab geographers considered it one of the four fairest regions of the world.[5] Where the Sogdians moved in considerable numbers, their language made a considerable impact. For instance, during China's Han dynasty, the native name of the Tarim Basin city-state of Loulan
Loulan
was "Kroraina," possibly from Greek due to nearby Hellenistic influence.[91] However, centuries later in 664 AD the Tang Chinese Buddhist monk
Buddhist monk
Xuanzang
Xuanzang
labelled it as "Nafupo" (納縛溥), which according to Dr. Hisao Matsuda is a transliteration of the Sogdian word Navapa meaning "new water."[92] Art[edit] The Afrasiab paintings of the 6th to 7th centuries in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
offer a rare surviving example of Sogdian art. The paintings, showing scenes of daily life and events such as the arrival of foreign ambassadors, are located within the ruins of aristocratic homes. It is unclear if any of these palatial residences served as the official palace of the rulers of Samarkand.[93] The oldest surviving Sogdian monumental wall murals date to the 5th century and are located at Panjakent, Tajikistan.[94] In addition to revealing aspects of their social and political lives, Sogdian art has also been instrumental in aiding historians' understanding of their religious beliefs. For instance, it is clear that Buddhist Sogdians incorporated some of their own Persian deities into their version of the Buddhist Pantheon. At Zhetysu, Sogdian gilded bronze plaques on a Buddhist temple show a pairing of a male and female deity with outstretched hands holding a miniature camel, a common non-Buddhist image similarly found in the paintings of Samarkand
Samarkand
and Panjakent.[95] Language[edit]

Left image: The "Bugut" inscription of Mongolia, written shortly after 581 AD in the Sogdian alphabet,[96] and commissioned by the Turkic Khaganate to relate the history of their ruling Gokturk
Gokturk
khans Right image: a contract written in Chinese from the Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
in Turpan
Turpan
that records the purchase of a 15-year-old slave for six bolts of plain silk and five Chinese coins, dated 661 AD

The Sogdians spoke an Eastern Iranian language called Sogdian, closely related to Bactrian, Khwarazmian, and the Khotanese language Saka, widely spoken Eastern Iranian languages of Central Asia
Central Asia
in ancient times.[58][96] Sogdian was also prominent in the oasis city-state of Turfan
Turfan
in the Tarim Basin
Tarim Basin
region of Northwest China
China
(in modern Xinjiang).[96] Judging by the Sogdian Bugut inscription of Mongolia written c. 581, the Sogdian language
Sogdian language
was also an official language of the Turkic Khaganate
Turkic Khaganate
established by the Gokturks.[61][96] Sogdian was written largely in three scripts: the Sogdian alphabet, the Syriac alphabet, and the Manichaean alphabet, each derived from the Aramaic
Aramaic
alphabet,[97][98] which had been widely used in both the Achaemenid
Achaemenid
and Parthian empires of ancient Persia.[12][99] The Sogdian alphabet formed the basis of the Old Uyghur alphabet
Old Uyghur alphabet
of the 8th century, which in turn was used to create the Mongolian script
Mongolian script
of the early Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
during the 13th century.[100] The Yaghnobi people
Yaghnobi people
living in the Sughd
Sughd
province of Tajikistan
Tajikistan
still speak a dialect of the Sogdian language.[59][101] Yaghnobi is largely a continuation of the medieval Sogdian dialect from the Osrushana region of the western Fergana Valley.[102] The great majority of the Sogdian people assimilated with other local groups such as the Bactrians, Chorasmians, and in particular with Persians and came to speak Persian. In 819 the Persians founded the Samanid Empire
Samanid Empire
in the region. They are among the ancestors of the modern Tajiks. Numerous Sogdian cognates can be found in the modern Tajik language, although the latter is a Western Iranian language. Clothing[edit]

Left image: a male mannequin showing the medieval-era clothing for Sogdian men from Panjakent, Tajikistan
Tajikistan
National Museum, Dushanbe Right image: a female mannequin showing the medieval-era clothing for Sogdian women from Afrasiyab (Samarkand), Tajikistan
Tajikistan
National Museum, Dushanbe

Early medieval Sogdian costumes can be divided in two periods: Hephtalitic (5th and 6th centuries) and Turkic (7th and early 8th centuries). The latter did not become common immediately after the political dominance of the Gökturks
Gökturks
but only in c. 620 when, especially following Western Turkic Khagan Ton-jazbgu's reforms, Sogd was Turkized and the local nobility was officially included in the Khaganate's administration.[103] For both sexes clothes were tight-fitted, and narrow waists and wrists were appreciated. The silhouettes for grown men and young girls emphasized wide shoulders and narrowed to the waist; the silhouettes for female aristocrats were more complicated. The Sogdian clothing underwent a thorough process of Islamization in the ensuing centuries, with few of the original elements remaining. In their stead, turbans, kaftans, and sleeved coats became more common.[103] Religious beliefs[edit] Further information: Silk Road
Silk Road
transmission of Buddhism, History of Buddhism, Iranian religions, Persian mythology, Mar Ammo, and Religion in China
China
§ Zoroastrianism

Sogdians, depicted on a Chinese Sogdian sarcophagus of the Northern Qi Dynasty (550–577 AD)

Left image: An 8th-century Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
Chinese clay figurine of a Sogdian man wearing a distinctive cap and face veil, possibly a camel rider or even a Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
priest engaging in a ritual at a fire temple, since face veils were used to avoid contaminating the holy fire with breath or saliva; Museum of Oriental Art (Turin), Italy.[104] Right image: Chinese Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
era statues of Sogdian merchants

The Sogdians practiced a variety of religious faiths. However, Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
was most likely their main religion as demonstrated by material evidence. For instance, the discovery of murals depicting votaries making offers before fire-holders and ossuaries from Samarkand, Panjakent
Panjakent
and Er-Kurgan held the bones of the dead in accordance with Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
ritual. At Turfan, Sogdian burials shared similar features with traditional Chinese practices, yet they still retained essential Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
rituals, such as allowing the bodies to be picked clean by scavengers before burying the bones in ossuaries.[72] They also sacrificed animals to Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
deities, including the supreme deity Ahura Mazda.[72] Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
remained the dominant religion among Sogdians until after the Islamic conquest, when they gradually converted to Islam, as is shown by Richard Bulliet's "conversion curve".[105] The Sogdian religious texts found in China
China
and dating to the Northern Dynasties, Sui, and Tang are mostly Buddhist (translated from Chinese sources), Manichaean and Nestorian Christian, with only a small minority of Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
texts.[106] But tombs of Sogdian merchants in China
China
dated to the last third of the 6th century show predominantly Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
motifs or Zoroastrian-Manichaean syncretism, while archaeological remains from Sogdiana appear fairly Iranian and conservatively Zoroastrian.[106] However, the Sogdians epitomized the religious plurality found along the trade routes. The largest body of Sogdian texts are Buddhist, and Sogdians were among the principal translators of Buddhist sutras into Chinese. However, Buddhism
Buddhism
did not take root in Sogdiana itself.[107] Additionally, the Bulayiq monastery to the north of Turpan
Turpan
contained Sogdian Christian texts and there are numerous Manichaean texts in Sogdiana from nearby Qocho.[108] The reconversion of Sogdians from Buddhism
Buddhism
to Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
coincided with the adoption of Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
by the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
of Persia.[60] From the 4th century onwards, Sogdian Buddhist pilgrims left behind evidence of their travels along the steep cliffs of the Indus River
Indus River
and Hunza Valley. It was here that they carved images of the Buddha
Buddha
and holy stupas in addition to their full names, in hopes that the Buddha
Buddha
would grant them his protection.[109] The Sogdians also practiced the faith of Mani, Manichaeism, a faith that they spread to the Uyghurs. The Uyghur Khaganate
Uyghur Khaganate
(744–840 AD) developed close ties to Tang China
China
once they aided the Tang in suppressing the rebellion of An Lushan
An Lushan
and his Göktürk
Göktürk
successor Shi Siming, establishing an annual trade relationship of one million bolts of Chinese silk for one hundred thousand horses.[54] The Uyghurs relied on Sogdian merchants to sell much of this silk further west along the Silk
Silk
Road, a symbiotic relationship that led many Uyghurs
Uyghurs
to adopt Manichaeism
Manichaeism
from the Sogdians.[54] However, evidence of Manichaean liturgical and canonical texts of Sogdian origin remains fragmentary and sparse compared to their corpus of Buddhist writings.[110] The Uyghurs
Uyghurs
were also followers of Buddhism. For instance, they can be seen wearing silk robes in the praṇidhi scenes of the Uyghur Bezeklik Buddhist murals of Xinjiang, China, particularly Scene 6 from Temple 9 showing Sogdian donors to the Buddha.[71][111] In addition to Puranic cults, there were five Hindu deities
Hindu deities
known to have been worshipped in Sogdiana.[112] These were Brahma, Indra, Mahadeva (Shiva), Narayana, and Vaishravana; the gods Brahma, Indra, and Shiva
Shiva
were known by their Sogdian names Zravan, Adbad and Veshparkar, respectively.[112] Durga, a mother goddess in Shaktism, may be represented in Sogdian art as a four-armed goddess riding atop a lion.[112] As seen in an 8th-century mural from Panjakent, portable fire altars can be "associated" with Mahadeva-Veshparkar, Brahma-Zravan, and Indra-Abdab, according to Braja Bihārī Kumar.[112] When visiting Yuan-era Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China
China
during the late 13th century, the Venetian explorer and merchant Marco Polo
Marco Polo
noted that a large number of Christian churches had been built there. His claim is confirmed by a Chinese text of the 14th century explaining how a Sogdian named Mar-Sargis from Samarkand
Samarkand
founded six Nestorian Christian churches there in addition to one in Hangzhou
Hangzhou
during the second half of the 13th century.[113] Nestorian Christianity
Nestorian Christianity
had existed in China
China
earlier during the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
when a Persian monk named Alopen
Alopen
came to Chang'an
Chang'an
in 653 to proselytize, as described in a dual Chinese and Syriac language
Syriac language
inscription from Chang'an
Chang'an
(modern Xi'an) dated to the year 781.[114] Within the Syriac inscription is a list of priests and monks, one of whom is named Gabriel, the archdeacon of "Xumdan" and "Sarag", the Sogdian names for the Chinese capital cities Chang'an
Chang'an
and Luoyang, respectively.[115] In regards to textual material, the earliest Christian gospel texts translated (in fragments) from Syriac into Sogdian coincide with the reign of the Sasanian Persian monarch Yazdegerd II
Yazdegerd II
(r. 438–457) and were translated from the Peshitta, the standard version of the Bible
Bible
in Syriac Christianity.[116] Commerce and sex trade[edit] Further information: History of slavery in China

A Sogdian gilded silver dish with the image of a tiger, with clear influence from Persian Sasanian art
Sasanian art
and silverwares, 7th to 8th centuries AD

Silk
Silk
road figure head, probably Sogdian, Chinese Sui Dynasty (581–618), Musée Cernuschi, Paris

Slavery
Slavery
existed in China
China
since ancient times, although during the Han dynasty the proportion of slaves to the overall population was roughly 1%,[117] far lower than the estimate for the contemporary Greco-Roman world (estimated at about 15% of the entire population).[118][119] During the Tang period slaves were not allowed to marry a commoner's daughter, were not allowed to have sexual relations with any female member of their master's family, and although fornication with female slaves was forbidden in the Tang code of law it was widely practiced.[120] Manumission
Manumission
was also permitted when a slave woman gave birth to her master's son, which allowed for her elevation to the legal status of a commoner, yet she could only live as a concubine and not as the wife of her former master.[121] Sogdian and Chinese merchants regularly traded in slaves in and around Turpan
Turpan
during the Tang dynasty. In 639 a female Sogdian slave was sold to a Chinese man as recorded in an Astana
Astana
cemetery legal document written in Sogdian.[122] Khotan
Khotan
and Kucha
Kucha
were places where women were commonly sold, with ample evidence of the slave trade in Turfan
Turfan
thanks to contemporary textual sources that have survived.[123][124] In Tang poetry Sogdian girls also frequently appear as serving maids in the taverns and inns of the capital Chang'an.[125] Sogdian slave girls and their Chinese male owners made up the majority of Sogdian female-Chinese male pairings, while free Sogdian women were the most common spouse of Sogdian men. A smaller number of Chinese women were paired with elite Sogdian men. Sogdian man-and-woman pairings made up eighteen out of twenty-one marriages according to existing documents.[124][126] A document dated 731 AD reveals that precisely forty bolts of silk were paid to a certain Mi Lushan, a slave dealing Sogdian, by a Chinese man named Tang Rong (唐榮) of Chang'an, for the purchase of an eleven-year-old girl. A person from Xizhou, a Tokharistani (i.e. Bactrian), and three Sogdians verified the sale of the girl.[124][127] Modern historiography[edit] Further information: German Turfan
Turfan
expeditions and Albert von Le Coq In 1916 the French Sinologist and historian Paul Pelliot
Paul Pelliot
used Tang Chinese manuscripts excavated from Dunhuang, Gansu
Gansu
to identify an ancient Sogdian colony south of Lop Nur
Lop Nur
in Xinjiang
Xinjiang
(Northwest China), which he argued was the base for the spread of Buddhism
Buddhism
and Nestorian Christianity in China.[128] In 1926 Japanese scholar Kuwabara compiled evidence for Sogdians in Chinese historical sources and by 1933 Chinese historian Xiang Da published his Tang Chang'an
Chang'an
and Central Asian Culture detailing the Sogdian influence on Chinese social religious life in the Tang-era Chinese capital city.[128] The Canadian Sinologist Edwin G. Pulleyblank published an article in 1952 demonstrating the presence of a Sogdian colony founded in Six Hu Prefectures of the Ordos Loop
Ordos Loop
during the Chinese Tang period, composed of Sogdians and Turkic peoples
Turkic peoples
who migrated from the Mongolian steppe.[128] The Japanese historian Ikeda On wrote an article in 1965 outlining the history of the Sogdians inhabiting Dunhuang
Dunhuang
from the beginning of the 7th century, analyzing lists of their Sinicized names and the role of Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
and Buddhism
Buddhism
in their religious life.[129] Yoshida Yutaka and Kageyama Etsuko, Japanese ethnographers and linguists of the Sogdian language, were able to reconstruct Sogdian names from forty-five different Chinese transliterations, noting that these were common in Turfan
Turfan
whereas Sogdians living closer to the center of Chinese civilization for generations adopted traditional Chinese names.[72] Notable Sogdians[edit]

A minted coin of Khunak, king of Bukhara, early 8th century, showing the crowned king on the obverse, and a Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
fire altar on the reverse

Ethnic Yaghnobi children of Tajikistan; the Yaghnobi people
Yaghnobi people
speak a language that is a direct descendant of medieval Sogdian.[59]

Pranidhi scene, temple 9 (Cave 20) of the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, Turfan, Xinjiang, China, 9th century AD, with kneeling figures praying in front of the Buddha
Buddha
who Albert von Le Coq
Albert von Le Coq
assumed were Persian people
Persian people
(German: "Perser"), noting their Caucasian features and green eyes, and comparing the hat of the man on the left (in the green coat) to headgear worn by Sasanian Persian princes.[130] However, modern scholarship has identified praṇidhi scenes of the same temple (No. 9) as depicting Sogdians,[71] who inhabited Turfan
Turfan
as an ethnic minority during the phases of Tang Chinese (7th–8th century) and Uyghur rule (9th–13th century).[72]

Alexander IV of Macedon, the Basilius
Basilius
of Macedon, son of Alexander the Great and Roxana, the latter a daughter of the Sogdian nobleman Oxyartes,[23][24][25] making Alexander IV half-Sogdian An Lushan
An Lushan
(安祿山),[73] a military leader of Sogdian (from his father's side) and Tūjué origin during the Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
in China; he rose to prominence by fighting (and losing) frontier wars between 741 and 755. Later, he precipitated the catastrophic An Lushan
An Lushan
Rebellion, which lasted from 755 to 763 and led to the decline of the Tang dynasty. An Qingxu
An Qingxu
(安慶緒), son of An Lushan An Chonghui (安重誨), a minister of China's Later Tang An Congjin (安從進), a general of Later Tang
Later Tang
and China's Later Jin (Five Dynasties) An Chongrong (安重榮), a general of the China's Later Jin (Five Dynasties) Antiochus I Soter,[31] second king of the Seleucid Empire, who was half-Sogdian and Macedonian-Greek due to his maternal (Apama) and paternal (Seleucus I Nicator) lineage, respectively Apama,[31] daughter of Spitamenes (see below) and wife of Seleucus I Nicator, founder of the Seleucid Empire Azanes,[4] son of Artaios, who led a contingent of Sogdian troops in the Persian army of Xerxes I
Xerxes I
during the Second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC Divashtich,[131] 8th-century ruler of Panjakent Fazang,[132] Buddhist monk
Buddhist monk
of the 7th century, a colleague of Xuanzang Gurak,[84] 8th-century ruler of Samarkand Kang Senghui (康僧會),[133] Buddhist monk
Buddhist monk
of the 3rd century who lived in Jiaozhi
Jiaozhi
(modern-day Vietnam) during the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
period Kang Jing (康景)?- a possible Sogdian who worked at the Ming dynasty Mansion of the Prince of Qin (明朝藩王列表 (秦王系)) as a servant[134][135] Khaydhar ibn Kawus al-Afshin,[136] a general of the Abbasid caliphate and a vassal of the Abbasids as the prince of Osrushana during the 9th century Kaydar Nasr ibn 'Abdallah,[137] Abbasid governor of Egypt during the 9th century Li Baoyu (李抱玉),[73] formerly known as An Chongzhang (安重璋) and ennobled as Duke Zhaowu of Liang (涼昭武公), a general of the Chinese Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
who fought against the rebellion of An Lushan
An Lushan
and the Tibetan Empire Malik ibn Kaydar,[138] a 9th-century general of the Abbasid caliphate. Muzaffar ibn Kaydar, son of Kaydar Nasr ibn 'Abdallah (see above), and yet another Abbasid governor of Egypt during the 9th century Oxyartes,[23][24][25] Sogdian warlord from Bactria, follower of Bessus, and father of Roxana, the wife of Alexander the Great Roxana,[23][24][25][139] the primary wife of Alexander the Great during the 4th century BC Spitamenes,[28] a Sogdian warlord who led an uprising against Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
in the late 4th century BC Tarkhun,[84] 8th-century ruler of Samarkand

Diaspora areas[edit]

A community of merchant Sogdians resided in Northern Qi
Northern Qi
era Ye.[140] Turkic Khaganate
Turkic Khaganate
era Inner Mongolia.[141]

See also[edit]

Ancient Iranian peoples Buddhism
Buddhism
in Afghanistan Buddhism
Buddhism
in Khotan Étienne de la Vaissière History of Central Asia Iranian languages Margiana List of ancient Iranian peoples Philip (satrap) Poykent Sughd
Sughd
Province Tocharians Yaghnobi people Yagnob Valley Yazid ibn al-Muhallab

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ Jacques Gernet (31 May 1996). A History of Chinese Civilization. Cambridge University Press. pp. 286–. ISBN 978-0-521-49781-7.  ^ Mark J. Dresden (1981), "Introductory Note," in Guitty Azarpay, Sogdian Painting: the Pictorial Epic in Oriental Art, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, pp 2–3, ISBN 0-520-03765-0. ^ "Avesta: Vendidad (English): Fargard 1". Avesta.org. Archived from the original on 4 October 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2016.  ^ a b c d Mark J. Dresden (2003), "Sogdian Language
Language
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External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sogdians.

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Sogdia.

Sogdian on Interlinguae Xerxes II and Sogdianus IranicaOnline – SOGDIANA iii. HISTORY AND ARCHEOLOGY

v t e

Provinces of the Achaemenid
Achaemenid
Empire (Behistun / Persepolis / Naqsh-e Rustam / Susa / Daiva
Daiva
inscriptions)

Amyrgoi Arabia Arachosia Aria Armenia Assyria Babylonia Bactria Cappadocia Caria Carmania Caucasian Albania Chorasmia Cilicia Colchis Dahae Drangiana 1st Egypt / 2nd Egypt Eber-Nari Elam Kusha (Nubia) Gandhara Gedrosia Hyrcania Ionia Hindush Libya Maka Margiana Media Lesser Media Massagetae Parthia Persia Phoenicia Phrygia

Hellespontine Phrygia Greater Phrygia

Saka Samaritan Province Lydia Sattagydia Thrace Sogdia Yehud

See also Districts of the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
(according to Herodotus)

Coordinates: 40°24′N 69°24′E / 40.4°N 69.4°E / 40.4; 69.4

^ "A Mathematic Expression of Art: Sino-Iranian and Uighur Textile Interaction and the Turfan
Turfan
Textile Collection in Berlin Gasparini Transcultural Studies". Heiup.uni-heidelberg.de. 2014-01-03. Retrieved

.