Turkestan, also spelt Turkistan (literally "Land of the Turks" in
Persian), refers to an area in
Central Asia between
Siberia to the
north and Tibet,
Afghanistan to the south, the Caspian Sea
to the west and the
Gobi Desert to the east.
1 Etymology and terminology
3.1 Chinese influence
4 See also
6 Further reading
Etymology and terminology
Of Persian origin (see -stan), the term "Turkestan" (ترکستان)
has never referred to a single national state. Iranian geographers
first used the word to describe the place of Turkic peoples.
"Turkestan" was used to describe any place where Turkic peoples
Anatolia during Ottoman rule was referred to as
Ottoman writers.
On their way southward during the conquest of
Central Asia in the
course of the 19th century, the Russians took the city of Turkestan
(in present-day Kazakhstan) in 1864. Mistaking its name for that of
the entire region, they adopted the name of "Turkestan" for their new
As of 2015[update], the term labels a region in
Central Asia which is
inhabited mainly by Turkic peoples, but the regions also contained
peoples who were not Turkic, such as the Tajiks, and excluded some who
were. It includes present-day Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan,
Xinjiang also known as East Turkestan or
Chinese Turkestan.Often, the Turkic regions of
Tatarstan and parts of Siberia) are included as well.
Further information: History of Central Asia
The history of
Turkestan dates back to at least the third millennium
BC. Many artifacts were produced in that period, and much trade was
conducted. The region was a focal point for cultural diffusion, as the
Silk Road traversed it.
Turkestan covers the area of
Central Asia and
acquired its "Turkic" character from the 4th to 6th centuries AD with
the incipient Turkic expansion.
Turkic sagas, such as the
Ergenekon legend, and written sources such
Orkhon Inscriptions state that
Turkic peoples originated in the
nearby Altai Mountains, and, through nomadic settlement, started their
long journey westwards.
Huns conquered the area after they conquered
Kashgaria in the early 2nd century BC. With the dissolution of the
Huns' empire, Chinese rulers took over Eastern Turkestan. Arab
forces captured it in the 8th century. The Persian
subsequently conquered it and the area experienced economic
success. The entire territory was held at various times by Turkic
forces, such as the
Göktürks until the conquest by
Genghis Khan and
Mongols in 1220.
Genghis Khan gave the territory to his son,
Chagatai and the area became the Chagatai Khanate.
Timur took over
the western portion of
Turkestan in 1369 and the area became part of
the Timurid Empire. Eastern portion of
Turkestan was also called
Mogulistan, and continued to be ruled by descendants of Genghis Khan.
Flag of Turkestan
Turan to the Persians, western
Turkestan has also been known
historically as Sogdiana, Ma wara'u'n-nahr (by its
Transoxiana by Western travellers. The latter two names refer to
its position beyond the River
Oxus when approached from the south,
emphasizing Turkestan's long-standing relationship with Iran, the
Persian Empires and the
Turkestan is roughly within the regions of
Central Asia lying between
Siberia on the north; Tibet, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and
Iran on the
Gobi Desert on the east; and the
Caspian Sea on the
Oghuz Turks (also known as Turkmens), Uzbeks, Kazakhs,
Khazars, Kyrgyz, Hazara and
Uyghurs are some of the Turkic inhabitants
of the region who, as history progressed, have spread further into
Eurasia forming such Turkic nations as
Turkey and Azerbaijan, and
subnational regions like
Crimea in Ukraine.
Tajiks and Russians form sizable non-Turkic minorities.
It is subdivided into
Afghan Turkestan and
Russian Turkestan in the
Xinjiang (previously Chinese Turkestan) in the East.
Restaurant of a Uyghur expat in Istanbul, Turkey
A summary of Classical sources, largely Pliny and Ptolemy, on the
Seres, the Greek and Roman name of China, gives the following account:
The region of the Seres is a vast and populous country, touching on
the east the Ocean and the limits of the habitable world, and
extending west nearly to Imaus and the confines of Bactria. The people
are civilised men, of mild, just, and frugal temper, eschewing
collisions with their neighbours, and even shy of close
[conversation], but not averse to dispose of their own products, of
which raw silk is the staple, but which include also silk stuffs,
furs, and iron of remarkable quality.
— Henry Yule, Cathay and the Way Thither
In the Persian epic Shahnameh,
Turkestan are regarded as the
same, and the Khan of
Turkestan is called the Khan of Chin.
Islamic story which is set in China, may have been
referring to Turkestan.
Muslim writers like Marwazī wrote that
Transoxania was a former part
of China, retaining the legacy of Tang Dynasty's rule over
In ancient times all the districts of
Transoxania had belonged to the
China [Ṣīn], with the district of Samarqand as its
centre. When Islam appeared and God delivered the said district to the
Muslims, the Chinese migrated to their [original] centers, but there
remained in Samarqand, as a vestige of them, the art of making paper
of high quality. And when they migrated to Eastern parts their lands
became disjoined and their provinces divided, and there was a king in
China and a king in Qitai and a king in Yugur.
Muslim writers viewed the Khitai, the
Uighur kingdom and Kashgar
as all part of "China" culturally and geographically, with the Muslims
Central Asia retaining the legacy of Chinese rule in Central Asia
by using titles such as "Khan of China" (تمغاج خان) (Tamghaj
Khan or Tawgach) in Turkic and "the King of the East in China" (ملك
المشرق (أو الشرق) والصين) (malik al-mashriq (or
al-sharq) wa'l-ṣīn) in Arabic, which were titles of the Muslim
Qarakhanid rulers and their Qarluq ancestors.
The title Malik al-Mashriq wa'l-Ṣīn was bestowed by the 'Abbāsid
Caliph upon the Tamghaj Khan, the Samarqand Khaqan Yūsuf b. Ḥasan.
Afterwards, coins and literature had the title Tamghaj Khan appear on
them, which continued to be used by the Qarakhanids, the
Transoxania-based Western Qarakhanids and some Eastern Qarakhanid
monarchs. Therefore, the Kara-Khitan (Western Liao)'s usage of Chinese
things such as Chinese coins, the Chinese writing system, tablets,
Chinese art and other items from
Chinese culture such as
porcelein, mirrors, and jade was designed to appeal to the local
Central Asian Muslim population, since the Muslims in the area
Central Asia as former Chinese territories and viewed
China as prestigious. Western Liao's rule over Muslim
Central Asia reinforced these Muslims' view that
Central Asia was a
Chinese territory. For example,
Turkestan and Chīn (China) were
identified with each other by Fakhr al-Dīn Mubārak Shāh, with China
being identified as the country where the cities of Balāsāghūn and
Kashghar were located.
The Liao Chinese traditions and the Qara Khitai's clinging helped the
Khitai avoid Islamization and conversion to Islam. The Qara
Khitai used Chinese and Central Asian features in their administrative
Although in modern
Urdu Chin means China, Chin referred to Central
Asia in Muhammad Iqbal's time, which is why Iqbal wrote that "Chin is
ours" (referring to the Muslims) in his song Tarana-e-Milli.
The Tang Chinese reign over Qocho and Turfan and the Buddhist religion
left a lasting legacy upon the Buddhist Uyghur
Kingdom of Qocho
Kingdom of Qocho with
the Tang presented names remaining on the more than 50 Buddhist
temples with Emperor Tang Taizong's edicts stored in the "Imperial
Writings Tower " and Chinese dictionaries like Jingyun, Yuian, Tang
yun, and da zang jing (Buddhist scriptures) stored inside the Buddhist
temples and Persian monks also maintained a Manichaean temple in the
Kingdom., the Persian Hudud al-'Alam uses the name "Chinese town" to
call Qocho, the capital of the Uyghur kingdom.
The Turfan Buddhist Uighurs of the
Kingdom of Qocho
Kingdom of Qocho continued to
produce the Chinese
Qieyun rime dictionary and developed their own
pronunciations of Chinese characters, left over from the Tang
influence over the area.
The modern Uyghur linguist Abdurishid Yakup pointed out that the
Buddhists studied the
Chinese language and had Chinese
books such as
Qianziwen (the thousand character classic) and Qieyun
*(a rhyme dictionary) and it was written that "In Qocho city were more
than fifty monasteries, all titles of which are granted by the
emperors of the Tang dynasty, which keep many Buddhist texts as
Tripitaka, Tangyun, Yupuan, Jingyin etc."
Central Asia the Uighurs viewed the Chinese script as "very
prestigious" so when they developed the Old Uyghur alphabet, based on
the Syriac script, they deliberately switched it to vertical like
Chinese writing from its original horizontal position in Syriac.
The last major victory of Arabs in
Central Asia occurred at the Battle
of Talas (751). The
Tibetan Empire was allied to the Arabs during the
battle. Because the Arabs did not proceed to
Xinjiang at all, the battle was of no importance strategically, and it
was An Lushan's rebellion which ended up forcing the Tang Chinese out
of Central Asia. Despite the conversion of some Karluk Turks
after the Battle of Talas, the majority of
Karluks did not convert to
Islam until the mid 10th century, when they established the
Kara-Khanid Khanate. This was long after the
Tang dynasty was gone from Central Asia.
Barthold states that the
Islamic rule over
Transoxiana was secured at
the Battle of Talas. Turks had to wait two and a half centuries before
Transoxiana when the
Karakhanids reconquered the city of
Bukhara in 999. Professor
Denis Sinor said that it was interference in
the internal affairs of the
Western Turkic Khaganate
Western Turkic Khaganate which ended
Chinese supremacy in Central Asia, since the destruction of the
Western Khaganate rid the Muslims of their greatest opponent, and it
was not the
Battle of Talas
Battle of Talas which ended the Chinese presence.
Russian conquest of Turkestan
^ a b Gladys D. Clewell, Holland Thompson, Lands and Peoples: The
world in color, Volume 3, page 163. Excerpt: Never a single nation,
Turkestan means simply the place of Turkish peoples.
^ a b Central Asian review by Central Asian Research Centre (London,
England), St. Antony's College (University of Oxford). Soviet Affairs
Study Group, Volume 16, page 3. Excerpt: The name
Turkestan is of
Persian origin and was apparently first used by Persian geographers to
describe "the country of the Turks". It was revived by the Russians as
a convenient name for the governorate-general created in 1867 and the
terms Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, etc. were not used until after 1924.
^ Annette M. B. Meakin, In Russian Turkestan: a garden of Asia and its
people, page 44. Excerpt: On their way southward from
Siberia in 1864,
the Russians took it, and many writers affirm that, mistaking its name
for that of the entire region, they adopted the appellation of
"Turkestan" for their new territory. Up to that time, they assure us
Khanates of Bokhara,
Kokand were known by these names alone.
^ "San Jose News - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
Associated Press. 17 March 1934. Retrieved 2018-03-02. QUOTE: "More
than 2000 persons, including members of the British Consulate's staff,
were reported today to have been massacred at
Kashgar in Sinkiang,
Chinese Turkestan by fierce Tungan natives." The massacre, dispatches
from Tashkent said, came in a bloddy battle between rebels and the
military of the recently proclaimed 'independent government'."
^ Encyclopædia Britannica: Turkistan. Retrieved: 24 August 2009.
^ Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press: Turkestan. Retrieved:
26 May 2012.
^ a b c d "Turkistan",
Encyclopædia Britannica 2007 Ultimate
^ Encyclopadea Britannica. Turkistan retrieved-18 march,2010
^ Bapsy Pavry (19 February 2015). The Heroines of Ancient Persia.
Cambridge University Press. pp. 86–.
^ Bapsy Pavry Paulet, Marchioness of Winchester (1930). The Heroines
of Ancient Persia: Stories Retold from the Shāhnāma of Firdausi.
With Fourteen Illustrations. The University Press. p. 86.
^ Moon, Krystyn (2005). Yellowface. Rutgers University Press.
p. 23. ISBN 0-8135-3507-7.
^ Michal Biran (15 September 2005). The Empire of the Qara
Eurasian History: Between
China and the
Islamic World. Cambridge
University Press. pp. 99–. ISBN 978-0-521-84226-6.
^ Schluessel, Eric T. (2014). "The World as Seen from Yarkand: Ghulām
Muḥammad Khān's 1920s Chronicle Mā Tīṭayniŋ wā qiʿasi"
(PDF). TIAS Central Eurasian Research Series (9). NIHU Program Islamic
Area Studies: 13. ISBN 978-4-904039-83-0. Retrieved 22 June
^ a b Michal Biran (15 September 2005). The Empire of the Qara Khitai
in Eurasian History: Between
China and the
Islamic World. Cambridge
University Press. pp. 102–. ISBN 978-0-521-84226-6.
^ Although "Chin" refers to
China in modern Urdu, in Iqbal's day it
referred to Central Asia, coextensive with historical Turkestan. See
also, Iqbal: Tarana-e-Milli, 1910. Columbia University, Department of
South Asian Studies.
^ James A. Millward (2007). Eurasian Crossroads: A History of
Columbia University Press. pp. 49–.
^ TAKATA, Tokio. "The Chinese Language in Turfan with a special focus
Qieyun fragments" (PDF). Institute for Research in Humanities,
Kyoto University: 7–9. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
^ Abdurishid Yakup (2005). The Turfan Dialect of Uyghur. Otto
Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 180–.
^ Liliya M. Gorelova (1 January 2002). Manchu Grammar. Brill.
p. 49. ISBN 978-90-04-12307-6.
^ Bulliet & Crossley & Headrick & Hirsch & Johnson
2010, p. 286.
^ Bulliet 2010, p. 286.
^ Chaliand 2004, p. 31.
^ a b Wink 2002, p. 68.
^ a b Wink 1997, p. 68.
^ ed. Starr 2004, p. 39.
^ Millward 2007, p. 36.
^ Lapidus 2012, p. 230.
^ Esposito 1999, p. 351.
^ Lifchez & Algar 1992, p. 28.
^ Soucek 2000, p. 84.
^ Sinor 1990, p. 344.
V.V. Barthold "
Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion" (London) 1968
René Grousset "L'empire des steppes" (Paris) 1965
David Christian "A History Of Russia,
Central Asia and Mongolia"
(Oxford) 1998 Vol.I
Svat Soucek "A History of Inner Asia" (Cambridge) 2000
Vasily Bartold "Работы по Исторической
Географии" (Moscow) 2002
V.V. Barthold "Work on Historical Geography"
Baymirza Hayit. “Sowjetrußische Orientpolitik am Beispiel
Turkestan.“ Köln-Berlin: Kiepenhauer & Witsch, 1956
Hasan Bülent Paksoy
Hasan Bülent Paksoy Basmachi:
Turkestan National Liberation Movement
The Arts and Crafts of
Turkestan (Arts & Crafts) by Johannes
The Desert Road to
Turkestan (Kodansha Globe) by Owen Lattimore.
Turkestan down to the Mongol Invasion. by W. BARTHOLD.
Turkestan and the Fate of the Russian Empire by Daniel Brower.
Turkestan by Nonny Hogrogian.
Turkestan Reunion (Kodansha Globe) by Eleanor Lattimore.
Turkestan Solo: A Journey Through Central Asia, by Ella Maillart.
Baymirza Hayit. “Documents: Soviet Russia's Anti-Islam-Policy in
Turkestan.“ Düsseldorf: Gerhard von Mende, 2 vols, 1958.
Baymirza Hayit. “
Turkestan im XX Jahrhundert.“ Darmstadt: Leske,
Baymirza Hayit. “
Turkestan Zwischen Russland Und China.“
Amsterdam: Philo Press, 1971
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Turkestan Research, 1984
Baymirza Hayit. “Islam and
Turkestan Under Russian Rule.”
Istanbul:Can Matbaa, 1987.
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Jahren 1917 bis 1934.” Cologne: Dreisam-Verlag, 1993.
Mission to Turkestan: Being the memoirs of Count K.K. Pahlen,
1908–1909 by Konstantin Konstanovich Pahlen.
Turkestan: The Heart of Asia by Curtis.
Tribal Rugs from
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