Ishbara Qaghan

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Ishbara Qaghan
Ashina Shetu
Sixth Qaghan of the Turkic Khaganate
SuccessorBagha Qaghan
SpousePrincess Qianjin (大义公主)
Full name
Il Kül Shad Bagha Ishbara Qaghan
FatherIssik Qaghan

Ishbara Qaghan (Old Turkic: 𐰃𐱁𐰉𐰺𐰀𐰴𐰍𐰣, Ϊšbara qaγan,[1] 沙缽略可汗/沙钵略可汗, Pinyin: shābōlüè kěhàn, Wade-Giles: sha-po-lüeh, personal name: 阿史那攝圖/阿史那摄图, āshǐnà shètú, a-shih-na she-t'u) (before 540 – 587) was the first son of Issik Qaghan, grandson of Bumin Qaghan, and the sixth khagan of the Turkic Khaganate (581–587)[2]. The old Turkish name Seto or Shetu means white dragon. It was a cultural act to give this name to a boy, when a family member has dreamed about this white dragon.

As prince[edit]

He was appointed by Taspar khagan as lesser khagan in east.[3]


He was appointed to the throne after resignation of Amrak, by the high council as the legal resolution to the crisis created by his uncle Taspar Qaghan who had bequeathed the title of khagan to his nephew Talopien (son of Muqan Qaghan). This act violated the traditional system of inheritance from oldest brother to youngest brother and oldest son to youngest. Immediately after his appointment, the legal basis of his power was contested by the erstwhile heir Talopien, Jotan, and Tardu. This highly unstable situation quickly became a smoldering civil war, which the Sui Chinese took advantage of in every way possible to weaken the Göktürks.

Khagan married Princess Qianjin of Northern Zhou and accepted refugees from the Chen Dynasty, two moves that were undertaken to legitimize his authority. One of the envoys in his wife's escort was the spy/ambassador Zhangsun Sheng. He managed to become a friend of Ishbara, and spent many years with the Turks. His knowledge about the customs and institutions of the Gokturks was of great importance for the Sui Empire.

In order to end the civil war Ishbara finally acknowledged the Sui Dynasty as his overlord[4].In the end Ishbara succeeded in saving the khaganate, albeit at the price of losing his sovereignty. In 587, both Ishbara Qaghan and Apa Qaghan died.


He was married to his uncle's widows Princess Qianjin of Northern Zhou. Issue:

  • Tulan Qaghan
  • Yami Qaghan
  • Kughechen Tegin (庫合真特勒) - Ambassador to China in 585.[5]
  • Jutan Tegin (褥但特勒) - Ambassador to China in 593.[5]


  • Christoph Baumer, History of Central Asia, v2, p174-206 (full history of the Turkic Khaganate)


  1. ^ Kultegin’s Memorial Complex, TÜRIK BITIG
  2. ^ Lovell, Julia (2007). The great wall: China Against the World, 1000 BC - AD 2000. Grove Press. p. 354. ISBN 978-0-8021-4297-9.
  3. ^ Ahmet., Taşağil (1995–2004). Gök-Türkler. Atatürk Kültür, Dil, ve Tarih Yüksek Kurumu (Turkey). Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi. ISBN 975161113X. OCLC 33892575.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  4. ^ Nikolayeviç., Gumilev, Lev (2002). Eski Türkler. Batur, Ahsen. İstanbul: Selenge Yay. ISBN 9757856398. OCLC 52822672.
  5. ^ a b Mau-Tsai., Liu (2006). Çin kaynaklarına göre Doğu Türkleri. İstanbul: Selenga yayınları. ISBN 9758839438. OCLC 213301904.


  • The Turks / editors, Hasan Celal Güzel, C. Cem Oğuz, Osman Karatay. Other author Güzel, Hasan Celâl. Oğuz, Cem. Karatay, Osman, 1971- Ocak, Murat. Imprint Ankara : Yeni Türkiye, 2002. ISBN 975-6782-55-2 (set)
Ishbara Qaghan
Preceded by
Taspar Qaghan
Khagan of the Turkic Khaganate
Succeeded by
Bagha Qaghan