Talk:Khan (title)

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Issue with the Introduction[edit]

"The word is believed to be a derivation of Kohen, the Hebrew word for high priest, or some say Khagan (though that apparently means 'khan of khans'). It was known in Europe since the 13th century, when Mongol hordes overran Eastern and Central Europe, e.g. Latin chanis, Greek kanes, Old French chan, Jewish "Cohen," recorded in English circa 1400. The Hebrew origin of the word is attributed to the Assyrian conquest and expulsion of the Israelites in 722 B.C.E. to what is today Afghanistan, with the Pashtuns (or "Pathans") being their genetic descendants. The term made its way East from there." First off, the second sentence doesn't make sense. Secondly, proposing a Hebrew origin of a word used by north central asian nomads is a little absurd. The claim that the Pashtuns are the "genetic descendants" is not only irrelevant to the article, it's also likely wrong, as I've read no paper on population genetics that supports this-- I'll be convinced otherwise if the author can provide an academic source for these claims. In anycase, provide SOURCES. D.E. Cottrell 21:12, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

It's so absurd, unsourced ridiculous and impossible that I removed it. Anybody wishing to reinstate any such claims, please source with authoritative (as per modern scholarship, not as per religious faith) material, and discuss it first. --Svartalf 10:58, 7 September 2006 (UTC)


original question[edit]

I don't understand this paragraph:

"This title was probably first used by Rouran; maybe the Xianbei used it earlier. At that time it was pronounced Khaghan. The gh sound later weakened and disappeared becoming Khaan in Modern Mongolian. The Secret History of the Mongols clearly distinguishes Khaghan and Khan: only Genghis and his descendants are called Khaghan ("Khan of Khans"); other rulers are referred to as Khan."

So Khan was pronounced Khaghan. It later became Khaan. So they are the same thing. But Khagan and Khan are distinct: Khagan is for Genghis Khan and his descendants; Khan is for other rulers. So the terms Khaghan and Khan coexisted or not? This unsigned query was posted on 17:18, 14 September 2004 by user:Euyyn

<Any ideas about the Khans serving the Madras Regiment of the British India Army. Were they called Madrasi Pathans? Were they descendents from Afghanistan? Any inputs? This unsigned query was posted on 14:52, 7 April 2005 by user:Manzoorkhan

(1) Answer to question number 1. Yes. Khaghan and Khan did coexist. They both are different words. Khaghan later evolved into Kha'an (Two syllable word. It is pronounced as Kha An), and is commonly written as Khaan. On the other hand Khan is a single syllable word. So, Khaan and Khan are two different words.

(2) Answer to question number 2. Highly unlikely. Khan is used indiscriminately as a surname among Indian Muslims. Just using Khan does not mean one is descended from Afghans. This unsigned comment was posted on 22:11, 29 September 2005 by user:Khakhan

Why are there no references to tracing the origin of "Khan" to Hebrew origin? As the poster above said, this sounds like some unproven theory. Are you Westerners that confused because "Khan" resembles 'Cohen' or 'Kahn' or other versions of Hebrew names??? The Khans of Central and South Asia have more of a CLEARLY ESTABLISHED link to Mongols and Turks, than Hebrews. Unless the current Hebrew tribes are of Turkish/Mongol origin, which is also an unproven theory. 'This unsigned comment was posted on 07:19, 7 September 2006 by user:

'"Khan" and "Khanate" redirect here.'[edit]

The disambiguation text at the very top says, "Khan" and "Khanate" redirect here. But this is the "Khan" article (that's the title!) so of course "Khan" redirects here. I'll remove "Khan" from it. Comrade4·2 04:17, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

Agh, never mind, there's some weird template I've got to mess around with, and I'm not going to bother with it.

No pop culture reference?[edit]

I would have thought that the existence of the name "Khan" in pop culture would be mentioned in this article (due to the huge influence of Star Trek on western society). I know I myself traveled to Wikipedia hoping to find information on the Star Trek Khan, but there was none to be had. 15:30, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

see Khan Noonien Singh Guss2 08:21, 30 November 2006 (UTC)


Jadoon is a Pashtun tribe, but where their dynasty were, or that had been existing somewhere? What we have heard and read about few of the dynasties like Khilji dynasty, Lodhi dynasty, Swati dynasty and few more amongst pashtuns. Take care. Haider 22:01, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

Moved from article[edit]

An alternative theory to the Mongol origin for this term in South Asia is that it could possibly have come to this area with the invasion of Northern Persia, Afghanistan and Gandhara, in Northern India, by the Epthalite Huns lasting from circa 450 to 550 CE. The Epthalites introduced the feudal tenure in Pathan areas, of which fertile Gandhara formed the base. It is believed that this word was the title of Epthalite princes, as it was of all Hunnish and Khazar tribes; and many believe that "KHAN!" is actually the Persian corruption of the word "HUN!" itself. From northwestern India and Persia this name later spread to the rest of the Indian subcontinent, as it was from these regions that Islam got introduced to the Indian subcontinent, whose rulers for almost a millennium were Central Asian Muslims. Reasoning for the theory of Hunnish origin for "Khan" in Pathan culture also lies in the fact that many Pathan "Khan families" have Hunnish physical features, that can be attributed to the their influence. (Though local legends abound, attributing these to the Greek influence under Alexander who invaded this place, that seems highly improbable, aside from perhaps the Kalash or other regional South Asian tribes that have direct traditions of Greek ancestry dating back to the time period (see: Gill (clan)). Greek features are also not entirely the same as general Central Asian physical features, with prominent differences being the brow and shape of the nose as well as eye and hair color being lighter in indigenous peoples of the region. See the book "The Pathans", by Sir Olaf Caroe in this regard).

Sir Olaf Caroe, the only source cited here, was apparently [1] a British governor of an Indian province, and his book was published in 1958. He is/was not an expert in history, and the info can't be up to date. Parts of the text sound oddly old-fashioned, especially the discussions of race, and it's hard not to laugh at this statement:

Many believe that "KHAN!" is actually the Persian corruption of the word "HUN!" itself"

-- 12:08, 22 May 2007 (UTC) The following part was immediately before the above:

N.B: As far as the Pathan association with the term Khan is concerned, it goes very deep. The word is used by them as a coutesy title for any rural aristocratic landowner, or for tribal and village notables in most areas. It is also the formal social term by which such classes here have styled themselves since time immemorial. Moreover, it forms a suffix to the name of almost 80% of all classes of Pathans, and though it can't be really defined as a surname, many now use it as such.

Seems to come from the same source as the above. The part about "since time immemorial" sounds unprofessional, to say the least, and the text seems to describe realities from fifty years ago or something.-- 21:48, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

The Muslim rajput issue is contested as the Khan title was only given, by Mughal, Afghan and Turkic rulers of India, to those Muslim notables who had been deserving of some reward, as did the British later in the form of Khan Bahadur. In the case of Muslim Rajput aristocrats this was to done to take the place of Singh (which was the usual upper class appelation). There are also instances of this happening to Hindu Rajas also. This does not mean that this is either correct or should be accepted for ordinary folk claimimg to be rajput and adding Khan as surname. Taj Mohammed Khan Tanoli, 4 July, 15:58

If thats the case then why are your alleged ordinary folk calling them Khan also? It's even taken as a surname in the south east asian continent, so who are you to claim such ridiculous bias? Go away, this sock puppet of yours has also been found out Mumtaz.--Raja 15:51, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

unclear statement[edit]

I removed the following statement from the article: "The Mongolian title of the Qing emperors, Bogd Khan, would later be transmitted to the Russians in late 17th century.[1]" The problem is that it's not made clear (to me, at least) whether the Mongolians began to call the Russian czar 'Bogd Khan', or whether the Russians began to call the Chinese emperor "Bogd Khan". I guess it would be a trivial matter if I spoke Russian, but I don't. Yaan 14:56, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Sorry to go a bit but there is a comment above re: rajputs and their former appelation of Singh.I have read in many places that the true rajputs i.e. those in their real home in Rajputana still have Singh as their last name to denote high status.

Regarding the Singh/Sen (trans. Lion) part, you are utterly wrong. Raja Prithviraj Chauhan, ruler of Ajmer, Raja Jai Chand Rathore to name but two of the most powerful Rajasthani Rajput kings, NEVER had the singh name. In fact it was cemented for use only by the Hindu Mewar Sesodia Rajputs. Some others followed or declined it's use, reserving only Pal (protector), Dev (Deity like), Sena (army), etc to denote their aristocratic qualities. In fact, the royal Muslim Jarral Rajputs used Sen/Singh for centuries together with Muslim 1st names! Singh is not, never was, never will be a title at all, it's an appelation, which today even the name Khan currently is for Afghans and South Asians. How can a single tribe have 4000 Khans in it?!

It is plausible that the term khan was applied when some of these people, on becoming Muslims decided that Khan was a good name to adopt given that Afghans, Mughals and Turks, as conqurors were also known as Khans. The rajputs of Mewat only have the name khan added to their leaders name and that Khanzada is literal translation of rajput - as Khan is term coming from the west of the subcontinent it should be seen in reality for the those people who came as outsiders and in turn subjugated natives including Gujjars,Jats and Rajputs throughout northwestern and northern India. The vast Indinan subcontinent, Bollywood film industry and also in Bengal (Bangladesh) see Khan as inherently as Afghan and refer to anyone who is considered as such as Khan Sahib.

Unfortunately, Afghans, Pashtuns NEVER used the word or title Khan before the 14th century. Pathans were subjugated first of all by the real Mongolian Khans. Shahabuddin Ghauri, Mahmud of Ghazni, Sabuktigin, Kutub udin Aibak, Bahlol Lodhi, Ibrahim Lodhi, all Turkic and Northern region warlords, yet no Khan title? Strange. The Mongolian/Turkic warlord and world conqueror Amir Timur never used the word Khan, out of awe for the great Chingiz Khan. Nor did he ever donate the title to any Afghan warlords he subjugated on his way through to get to Delhi. So where did the Pathans recieve it? So they obviously assumed it, same as other North Indian tribes. So again your comment about subjugated tribes assuming titles more befits primarily the 1st of the subjugated, the Pathans. Oh, and by the way, Salman Khan is neither Pathan nor referred to as Khan Sahib, so you are clearly wrong here too!

Let me quote an entry under Khan in Hobson-Jobson: an AngloIndian Dictionary 'Khan.....properly of those claiming Pathan descent.' This is in the Indian context and is not to applied to other regions such as Turkic states in the Central Asian region etc. In northern Iran where those with Turkic heritage predominate the name Khan is also not uncommon. User:Nazar Rabbi 16:53, 27 July 2007

The quote you provide is inherently wrong since there are many more vastly powerful tribes who also use Khan more famously than the so called Pathans ever did. In fact,the Sarangal Gakhars of Hazara have even their own established estate called Khanpur (trans. Khan's land) and they have a reigning Sultan called Sultan Erij Zaman Khan. He is neither Pathan, nor a Rajput, yet has had the name Khan in his clan for many centuries pre Babur's conquor of India. Incidentally Babur recorded a Muslim Rajput tribe with the chief's name as Sanghar Khan. The Khakha Rajput warlords of Kashmir who fought off the Sikh invasions, were led by Raja Ghulam Ali Khan. The current reigning Sultan of Watli Kusuk is Sultan Raja Azmat Hayat Khan. The last District Nazim of Jhelum for decades was Nawabzada Iqbal Medhi Khan. The patriotic upriser against the Colonial Raj of India, General Shah Nawaz Khan was a Muslim Rajput. The close ally of Mughal Emperor Humayun, Sultan Adam Khan, chief of the Adamal sept of Gakhars was also a non Pathan, non Afghan resident. The young boxer Amir Khan is also a Muslim Rajput.
Get your facts right before making naive and ill informed "points" Mumtaz.--Raja 22:11, 11 August 2007 (UTC)


I moved the article Khan to Khan (title). Since there are a lot of uses for the word "Khan," it seemed logical to have the article Khan redirect to the page Khan (disambiguation). I hope that's OK with everyone else. —Crazypersonbb 23:00, 23 October 2007 (UTC)


Khang vs the Chinese Wang[edit]

Is there a linguistic relationship between Khan and the chinese Wang, as Wang means king in chinese (王), and khan obviously has a similar meaning? This anonymous comment was posted on 18:35, 4 July 2006 by user:''

Khan vs. Chinese Han[edit]

I don't suppose there is any connection between the Altaic word and the Chinese ethnicity?--Adoniscik (talk) 05:20, 2 January 2008 (UTC)


The word Khan (orig.: Ḫān) is of Mongolian origin and was later adopted by other Altaic and Non-Altaic nomads.

The Encyclopaedia Iranica writes:

  • "... The Avars [...] are without doubt the first Mongolian group to be historically attested [...] They were the first to use the title [Ḫān] for the supreme ruler ..." - K.H. Menges, „Altaic people“, Encyclopaedia Iranica, v, S. 908–912, Online Edition (LINK)

Grousset writes the same thing:

  • "... Khagan was the old Juan-juan - therefore Mongol - title, afterward adopted by the kings of the T'u-chüeh Turks, destroyers of and successors to the Juan-juan empire ..." - R. Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia, Rutgers University Press, 1988, S. 585, (LINK)

The word Khatun (orig.: Ḫātun) has a totally different etymology and is of Indo-European origin. It was first used in Sogdian and was brought to the Altaic nomads through the Hephthalites who were also Indo-Europeans. Along with the word Yabghu, Khatun is one of the most important proofs for very early contacts between Indo-European tribes (Scythians, Massagetes, Tocharians) and Altaic nomads (Turkic peoples, Mongols, etc).

The Encyclopaedia of Islam writes:

  • "... Khātūn, a title of Soghdian origin borne by the wives and female relations of the T'u-chüeh and subsequent Turkish rulers. It was employed by the Saldjuks and Khwārazm-Shāhs and even by the various Chingizid dynasties. It was displaced in Central Asia in the Tīmūrid period by begüm, which passed into India and is still used in Pakistan as the title of a lady of rank. ..." - J.A. Boyle, Khātūn“, Encyclopaedia of Islam, Online Edition; Brill, 2006

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 16:14, 2008 February 8 --Latebird (talk)

The sources you cite are just one side of the medal, and by no means reflect any scientific consensus. The article Rouran is much more careful about it: It has sometimes been hypothesized that the Rouran are identical to the Eurasian Avars who later appeared in Europe. In other words, things are not quite as obvious as you would like them to be. Labelling them as "Mongolian" is also highly suspect. They seem to be counted among the proto-Mongolic people, but the term "Mongols" only appears in historical records many centuries later. Because of all that uncertainty and contradictions in the sources, I'm going to revert your sweeping changes to the article. You are welcome to discuss individual points on the talk page, and after reaching some kind of consensus implement them one by one in the article. But please don't put the entire article on its head just because nobody has found the time to answer to your claims here. --Latebird (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 01:58, 1 March 2008 (UTC)
I know that the case is still not clear, but judging from the sources sites, it is the general consensus. The Encyclopaedia Iranica, which is being published by the Cambridge University and is being edited by Ehsan Yarshater, is the standard reference work for oriental and Iranian studies (a comparable work is the famous Encyclopaedia of Islam).
Your note about the word "Mongol" is correct, but the same goes to "Turkic" which was formerly only the name of the ruling tribe within the Göktürk Empire. It was later adopted by many related and non-related nomads.
for now, we should stick to the version of Enc. Iranica and the Enc. of Islam, which are two authoritative scholastic sources. At least, we should keep the references in the article instead of reverting to a version which is very obviously wrong (i.e. the claim that "Khatun" is the female form of "Khan", which is totally untrue; "Khatun" has Indo-European origins, like the Turkish titles Yabghu and Bey). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:13, 1 March 2008 (UTC)
PS: I have slightly changed the first sentence of the article to make it more transparent. I took out the word "Mongolian" and replaced it with "Altaic-speaking nomadic tribes of Inner Asia". What do you think? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:23, 1 March 2008 (UTC)
Since the origin of the term has nothing even remotely to do with Islam or Iran, I don't see how two publications specifically catering to those topics can be authoritative on the matter. And if you "know that the case is still not clear", then claiming consensus is nonsensical. Even Grousset is uncertain. The actual citation in the background notes on page 543 (the book on Google doesn't have 585 pages) goes: It has been pointed out that the titles of Khagan and khan were Juan-juan - and therefore, it seems, Mongol titles. This too is by no means an autorative reference. Let's stick to what we know, and keep the speculations out of Wikipedia. --Latebird (talk) 23:58, 1 March 2008 (UTC)
I think you are misinterpreting the role of the Encyclopaedia of Islam and Encyclopaedia Iranica. As for the rest: if the case is not clear, then why claim that the word is "Turkic" (as the article did previously)?! The current intro says:
  • ...Khan (sometimes spelled as Xan, Han, Ke-Han; original pronounciation: khān[1], Ch:大汗) is an Inner Asian title for a sovereign or military ruler, first used by the medieval Altaic-speaking nomadic tribes living to the north of China....
This is perhaps the most NPOV version.
I don't know about the rest of the Encyclopaedia Iranica, but the specific article by K.H. Menges we're talking about here (better link) is of very inadequate quality. It was written in the early 70ties and large parts of it were probably already outdated by then. It it also full of misleading oversimplifications and a number of other inaccuracies, presenting concepts as "fact" that other authors at best accept as hypotheses. In short, this article is not a reliable source. But since you're the sock of a banned user anyway, I don't think further discussion with you will lead anywhere. In fairness though, your last suggestion does make some sense, since it seems to be unknown which type of language the Rouran actually spoke (if their confederation spoke a single language at all). --Latebird (talk) 05:49, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
Quotations from scholars regarding Iranica —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:36, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
So what? That specific article is still crap. --Latebird (talk) 06:02, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

What about the Encyclopedia of Islam article, is that also "crap" just because it disproves your POVs?

It was cited by a permanently banned user, so my judgement of its merits doesn't matter. --Latebird (talk) 05:32, 8 March 2008 (UTC)
The Menges artical seems in line with much of the thought prevailent today, well at least, to me it does. In other words it doesn't seem out dated. With that said I don't see it having much bearing on the question of the origins of the female titles.Diddymc23 (talk) 20:54, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
And which modern scholarly sources can you cite to support your claim of "thought prevailent today"? --Latebird (talk) 13:24, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
Strike "thought prevailent today" if you like and consider that our account of history is not immutable and as you know the meaning of artefacts and primary sources are subject to interpretation. I don't know what thought even amonst scholars is prevailent today. I don't think it matters; and the burden is on you to site sources to defend your claims regarding the artical from EI. I will site sources in any case, soon. Pls be patient.Diddymc23 (talk) 18:43, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Göktürk Empire is not "Turkish"[edit]

Pan-Turkist and Turkish nationalistic users all over Wikipedia claim all empires and all history and all people as Turkish. Several of them are pushing for POVs on this article. One such POV is labeling the Göktürks as a "Turkish Empire".

See the article Göktürks, the are from Central Asia, not Turkey. Admins should watch out for such nationalistic POV pushing on Turkic related articles. Turkish and Turkic are very different meanings.

"Turkish" and "Turkic" are different, the former is a subgroup of the latter, but ultimately these words exists in English only. In Turkish (it's probably the same in other Turkic languages), there is a single word for these two, "Türk", and there is no way to know who it refers to without further explanation.--Mttll (talk) 16:06, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

That's only partially correct. The Göktürk Empire was a heterogeneous confederation of different nomadic tribes, some of the Altaic, some Indo-European, some maybe of other origins. It's name is derived from the Chinese t'u-chüeh, "Turks", the name applied to the Ashina, the leading clan of the empire. There is much debate about the origins of this tribe. They may have been original Turkic-speakers. But there is also the possibility that they were remnants of previous Indo-European nomads (Scythians) who later adopted the language of their Turkic subjects (the first known inscriptions of the Gökturks are written in Soghdian, and - with the exception of "Khan" - all of their royal and military titles were of Indo-European Iranian origin). However, I agree with you that there is no direct link between the Gökturks and modern Turks (with the exception of linguistics). Tājik (talk) 12:59, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Aqthar Jan[edit]

Aqthar Jan belongs to one of the famous KHAN family.Hails from the Pathan culture. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:56, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Ghenghis Khan did not convert to Islam[edit]

Someone wrote:

After Genghis' conversion to Islam and eventually his death, the empire would soon start a process of gradual disintegration, with his successors initially preserving the title "khan".....

First of all, this is not true, and secondly, you did not add any reference that supports your wild claims.Ghengis Khan died as pagan and he was buried in a pagan manner. To claim that he was Muslim seems to be yet another effort by pan turkish nationalistic elements to paint him modern "turkish", but honestly this is utter bullshit (sorry for the language). If nobody has any objections, I will remove that part. Also I do not see the point why the live of any particular Khan needs to be discussed in such detail. This article should just describe the title "Khan". (talk) 03:52, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

This is obviously nonsense and I've removed it. --Latebird (talk) 07:14, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
    • ^ Hsu, 1990, Rise of Modern China 4th Edition