Ahmad Fanakati

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Ahmad Fanākatī or Banākatī (Persian: احمد فناکتی / احمد بناکتی‎; before 1242 - 1282) was a Persian [1] Muslim from Kara-Khitan Khanate who was finance minister of Kublai Khan's Yuan Dynasty. He became known as a chief administer under Kublai and is credited with successfully establishing the financial system of the Mongols. He was considered to be a "villainous minister" in dynastic histories because of his perceived corruption.[2]

Life & Career[edit]

Ahmad Fanākatī came from Fanākat (or Banākat), a town on the upper Syr Darya in Central Asia, under the rule of the Kara-Khitai until they were conquered by the Mongol Empire.[2][3][4]

Ahmad obtained employment under Kublai through Empress Jamui Khatun, who had known him before her marriage. To her court he was originally attached but we find him already in high financial office in 1264.[1]

Trusted by Chabi Khatun, Kublai's favorite wife, Ahmad was entrusted with state finances in 1262. He was successful in managing the financial affairs of Northern China and brought huge tax revenues to Kublai's new government.

In 1270, he assumed the full power of the new financial department named Shangshusheng (Chinese: 尚書省, "Department of State Affairs"), which had equal status with the administrative department named Zhongshusheng (Chinese: 中書省, "Central Secretariat").

After the conquest of the Song Dynasty in 1276, he entered the financial matters of Southern China. He prepared a state monopoly in salt, which came to account for a large portion of state income. In his 20-year term of office, he created his strong faction with his clan and Muslims from Central Asia.

Ahmad's tax system gained a bad reputation from the Chinese because it was ruthlessly operated and considerably differed from traditional Chinese systems. Ahmad was reputed for his rapaciousness.[5] He abused his position to gather riches for himself.[6]

Marco Polo recorded his name as "Bailo Acmat (Achmac)".[7] and he mentions that Ahmad had 25 sons and accumulated great wealth. [8]

In 1271, the new financial department (Shangshusheng) was absorbed into Zhongshusheng. While holding the financial affairs, he started intervening in state administration. It heightened tension with the rival faction that included Crown Prince Zhenjin (Chinese: 真金), Antong (Chinese: 安童), the head of Zhongshusheng and other Mongol aristocrats, and Chinese bureaucrats. The death of his political patron Chabui Khatun in 1281 made the situation critical; Ahmad was assassinated by Wang Zhu and Gao Heshang (Kao Ho-chang[9]) in the next year and his faction fell from power.

Although Ahmad's assassins were executed, after Kublai Khan heard all the complaints about Ahmad's corruption from his enemies, Kublai then ordered Ahmad's body to be taken from his tomb and desecrated by being eaten by dogs, and then using chariot wheels to smash the bones to pieces.[10][11]

Kublai also ordered Ahmad's sons to be put to death.[12]

Influence[edit]

Ahmad is usually portrayed as an evil bureaucrat in traditional Chinese records: his corruption and tyranny are emphasized. In contrast, the Jami al-Tawarikh positively evaluates his assistance to Kublai's administration. The recent Mongolian studies also tend to make positive reference to his role in establishing the dynasty's unique financial system.

In popular culture[edit]

Ahmad Fanakati is portrayed by Mahesh Jadu in the Netflix series Marco Polo.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sir Henry Yule (1903). The book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian: Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East. vol. 1. p. 421. 

    Ahmad obtained employment under Kublai through Empress Jamui Khatun, who had known him before her marriage. To her court he was originally attached but we find him already in high financial office in 1264.

    He was finally destroyed by a combination against him while the Khan was absent with Crown Prince Chen Chin, on a visit to Shang Tu.

    Rev W.S. Ament (Marco Polo in Cambaluc, p 105) writes: No name is more execrated than that of Ah-ha-ma (called Achmath by Polo), a Persian, who was chosen to manage the finance of the Empire.

  2. ^ a b Rossabi, Morris, ed. (2013). Eurasian Influences on Yuan China. Volume 15 of Nalanda-Sriwijaya series. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 20. ISBN 9814459720. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Lane, George (2013). "CHAPTER 1 Whose Secret Intent?". In Rossabi, Morris. Eurasian Influences on Yuan China. Volume 15 of Nalanda-Sriwijaya series. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 20. ISBN 9814459720. Archived from the original on 24 April 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Avery, Martha (2003). The Tea Road: China and Russia Meet Across the Steppe. 五洲传播出版社. p. 29. ISBN 7508503805. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Horesh, Niv (2013). Chinese Money in Global Context: Historic Junctures Between 600 BCE and 2012. Stanford University Press. p. 58. ISBN 0804788545. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Liu, Xinru (2001). The Silk Road in World History. Oxford University Press. p. 116. ISBN 019979880X. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Rashīd al-Dīn (1971). The Successors of Genghis Khan. translated by John Andrew Boyle. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 12. ISBN 0-231-03351-6. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Jonathan Neaman Lipman (1998). Familiar strangers: a history of Muslims in Northwest China. University of Washington Press. 
  9. ^ Rashīd al-Dīn (1971). The Successors of Genghis Khan. translated by John Andrew Boyle. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 12. ISBN 0-231-03351-6. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Avery, Martha (2003). The Tea Road: China and Russia Meet Across the Steppe. 五洲传播出版社. p. 30. ISBN 7508503805. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Lipman, Jonathan Neaman (1998). Familiar strangers: a history of Muslims in Northwest China. University of Washington Press. p. 32. ISBN 0295800550. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Atwood, Christopher P. "Ahmad Fanakati." Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc. https://web.archive.org/web/20140319014941/http://www.fofweb.com/History/HistRefMain.asp?iPin=EME005&SID=2&DatabaseName=Ancient+and+Medieval+History+Online&InputText=%22semuren%22&SearchStyle=&dTitle=Ahmad+Fanakati&TabRecordType=Biography&BioCountPass=2&SubCountPass=17&DocCountPass=0&ImgCountPass=0&MapCountPass=0&FedCountPass=&MedCountPass=0&NewsCountPass=0&RecPosition=2&AmericanData=&WomenData=&AFHCData=&IndianData=&WorldData=&AncientData=Set&GovernmentData= (accessed July 29, 2014).

Further reading[edit]

  • Khubilai Khan - His Life and Times by Morris Rossabi, (1988) (USA) Ref. pages 179-184, 190-195, 205, 212.