Kul Tigin (Old Turkic:, Kultegin, (闕特勒/阙特勤, Pinyin: quètèqín, Wade-Giles: chüeh-t'e-ch'in, AD 684–731) was a general of the Second Turkic Khaganate. He was a second son of Ilterish Qaghan, the dynasty's founder, and the younger brother of Bilge Kaghan, the fourth kaghan. Tigin means something like prince.
During the reign of Qapagan Khaghan, Kul Tigin and his older brother earned reputation for their military prowess. They defeated Yenisei Kirghiz, Turgesh, and Karluks, extending the Kaganate territory all the way to the Iron Gate (Central Asia) south of Samarkand. They also subjugated all nine of the Tokuz Oguz tribes.
Upon the death of Qapagan Khaghan, his son Inel Qaghan attempted to illegally ascend to the throne, defying the traditional Lateral succession law, but Kül-Tegin refused to recognize the takeover. He raised an army, attacked, and killed Inel and his trusted followers. He placed his elder brother Bilge Khagan on the throne, and took the title of Shad, an equivalent of commander-in-chief of the army for himself.
In 731 Kül-Tegin fell ill and died. A stele in memory of Kul Tigin, which included inscriptions in both the Turkic and Chinese, was erected at his memorial complex at the present site of Khöshöö-Tsaidam-2. Kül-Tegin is also mentioned in the inscription erected in memory of his older brother Bilge Kagan at the neighbouring site of Khöshöö-Tsaidam-1.
Prince Kül-Tegin descended from the Gold (Kagan's) clan of the Ashina ruling family called Shar-Duly (Middle Persian zarr duli "Golden bird Duli", i.e. "Golden/Red Raven"). All royal Oguzes traced their descent from this mythical bird Dulu/Tulu. The headdress on the glabella part of Kül-Tegin sculpture in the Husho-Tsaidam enclave (Orkhon, Northern Mongolia) carries a bird with wings spread like an eagle, personifying a Raven.
- Talat Tekin, A Grammar of Orkhon Turkic. Indiana University Uralic and Altaic Series, vol. 69 (Bloomington/The Hague: Mouton, 1968)
- 新疆维吾尔自治区民族事务委員会、新疆民族辞典， 乌鲁木齐：新疆人民出版社，1995 [Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous District Minority People's Committee, Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Xinjiang Minority Peoples, Ürümqi: Xinjiang People's Publishing Company, 1955]