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Türgesh Khaganate
Status Khaganate
Capital Balasagun/Suyab
Türgesh Kagans  
• 699-706
Üch Elig
Historical era 7th–8th centuries
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Western Turkic Khaganate
Second Turkic Khaganate
Uyghur Kaganate
History of the Turkic peoples
History of the Turkic peoples
Pre-14th century
Turkic Khaganate 552–744
  Western Turkic
  Eastern Turkic
Khazar Khaganate 618–1048
Xueyantuo 628–646
Great Bulgaria 632–668
  Danube Bulgaria
  Volga Bulgaria
Kangar union 659–750
Turk Shahi 665–850
Turgesh Khaganate 699–766
Uyghur Khaganate 744–840
Karluk Yabgu State 756–940
Kara-Khanid Khanate 840–1212
  Western Kara-Khanid
  Eastern Kara-Khanid
Ganzhou Uyghur Kingdom 848–1036
Qocho 856–1335
Pecheneg Khanates
Kimek confederation
Oghuz Yabgu State
Ghaznavid Empire 963–1186
Seljuk Empire 1037–1194
  Sultanate of Rum
Kerait khanate 11th century–13th century
Khwarazmian Empire 1077–1231
Naiman Khanate –1204
Qarlughid Kingdom 1224–1266
Delhi Sultanate 1206–1526
  Mamluk dynasty
  Khalji dynasty
  Tughlaq dynasty
Golden Horde | [1][2][3] 1240s–1502
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) 1250–1517
  Bahri dynasty
  Ottoman Empire 1299–1923

The Türgesh, Turgish or Türgish (Old Turkic: Türügesh,[4] 突騎施/突骑施, Pinyin: tūqíshī, Wade–Giles: t'u-ch'i-shih) were a Turkic tribal confederation of Dulu Turks believed to have descended from the Turuhe tribe situated along the banks of the Tuul River. They emerged as an independent power after the demise of the Western Turkic Khaganate and established a khaganate in 699. The Turgesh Khaganate lasted until 766 when the Karluks defeated them. The Türgesh survive as an ethnonym in the name of seok (modern tribe) Tirgesh among Altaians.[5]


Among the Dulu Turks were the Chebishi (车鼻施), who were related to the Qibi tribe. The Qibi were dispersed shortly after the defeat of chief Gelang. In the east they were put under the rule of a tudun (吐屯) named Ashina Hubo (阿史那斛勃), who became known as the Chebi Kagan. According to the epigraphy of Qibi Song (契苾嵩), a Tiele mercenary in the service of the Tang dynasty (730), the origins of the Qibi can be traced to the Khangai Mountains prior to their presence in the Bogda Mountains during the 6th century. They were related to the Jiepi (解批) of Gaoche, who were situated east of the Fufuluo.[6]


Foundation of the Turgesh Khaganate[edit]

Prior to the Turgesh Khaganate, the Turgesh were ruled by Tutuk, a commander of the Talas district and the town of Balu, the name of which symbolizes some sacred relation to a divine or heavenly sphere. The first Turgesh Kaghan Üch Elig (Chinese transcription means "black substance") was a leader of a Manichaean consortium known as yüz er "hundred men". He established the Turgesh Khaganate in 699. In 706 his son Saqal succeeded him. Both khagans had a church rank of Yuzlik.

Saqal attacked the Tang city of Qiuci (Kucha) in 708 and inflicted a defeat on the Tang in 709. However Saqal's younger brother Chenu rebelled and sought military support from Qapagan Khaghan of the Second Turkic Khaganate in 708. Qapaghan Khagan defeated the Turgesh in 711 and killed both Saqal and Chenu.[7] The defeated Turgesh fled to Zhetysu. In 714 the Turgesh elected Suluk as their khagan. Turgesh was then recognized as a vassal by Tang.


Map of Transoxiana in the 8th century

In 719 Tang dynasty sent Suluk Suyab to govern.[8]

In 720 Turgesh forces led by Kül-chor defeated Umayyad forces led by Sa'id ibn Abdu'l-Aziz near Samarkand.[9]

In 722 Suluk married the Tang Princess Jiaohe.[9]

In 724 Caliph Hisham sent a new governor to Khorasan, Muslim ibn Sa'id, with orders to crush the "Turks" once and for all, but, confronted by Suluk on the so-called "Day of Thirst", Muslim hardly managed to reach Samarkand with a handful of survivors, as the Turgesh raided freely.[10]

In 726 the Turgesh attacked Qiuci (Kucha).[8]

In 727 the Turgesh and the Tibetan Empire attacked Qiuci (Kucha).[8]

In 728 Suluk defeated Ummayad forces while aiding the Sogdians in rebellion and took Bukhara.[10]

In 731 the Turgesh defeated the Umayyads again in the Battle of the Defile.[11]

In 735 the Turgesh attacked Ting Prefecture (Jimsar County).[12]

In the winter 737 Suluk, along with his allies al-Harith, Gurak (a Turco-Sogdian leader) and men from Usrushana, Tashkent and Khuttal attacked the Umayyads. He entered Jowzjan but was defeated by the Umayyad governor Asad at the Battle of Kharistan.[8]


Following his defeat Suluk was murdered by his relative Kül-chor. When Suluk was killed the Kara and Sary (Black and Yellow) Turgesh began a civil war. Kül-chor of the Sary Turgesh vanquished his rival Tumoche of the Kara Turgesh. In 740 Kül-chor submitted to the Tang dynasty but rebelled anyway when he killed the Turgesh puppet sent by the Tang court in 742. He was then defeated and executed by the Tang in 744. The last Turgesh ruler declared himself a vassal of the recently established Uyghur Khaganate. In 766 the Karluks conquered Zhetysu and ended the Turgesh Khaganate.[13]


  1. ^ Marshall Cavendish Corporation (2006). Peoples of Western Asia. p. 364. 
  2. ^ Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (2007). Historic Cities of the Islamic World. p. 280. 
  3. ^ Borrero, Mauricio (2009). Russia: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. p. 162. 
  4. ^ Bilge kagan’s Memorial Complex, TÜRIK BITIK
  5. ^ Baskakov N.A., "Dialects of Taiga Tatars, Taba-kishi. Texts and translations", Moscow, 1965, p.9
  6. ^ Xue, "A History of Turks", p. 641-642.
  7. ^ Yu. Zuev, "Early Türks: Essays on history and ideology", Almaty, Daik-Press, 2002, p. 207, 209, 239, ISBN 9985-4-4152-9
  8. ^ a b c d Bregel 2003, p. 18.
  9. ^ a b Golden 1992, p. 140.
  10. ^ a b Asimov 1998, p. 25.
  11. ^ Shaban 1979, p. 113.
  12. ^ Bregel 2003, p. 19.
  13. ^ Asimov 1998, p. 33.


  • Asimov, M.S. (1998), History of civilizations of Central Asia Volume IV The age of achievement: A.D. 750 to the end of the fifteenth century Part One The historical, social and economic setting, UNESCO Publishing 
  • Barfield, Thomas (1989), The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China, Basil Blackwell 
  • Bregel, Yuri (2003), An Historical Atlas of Central Asia, Brill 
  • Golden, Peter B. (1992), An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples: Ethnogenesis and State-Formation in Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia and the Middle East, OTTO HARRASSOWITZ · WIESBADEN 
  • Millward, James (2009), Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang, Columbia University Press 
  • Shaban, M. A. (1979), The ʿAbbāsid Revolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-29534-3 
  • Xiong, Victor (2008), Historical Dictionary of Medieval China, United States of America: Scarecrow Press, Inc., ISBN 0810860538 
  • Xue, Zongzheng (薛宗正). (1992). Turkic peoples (突厥史). Beijing: 中国社会科学出版社. ISBN 978-7-5004-0432-3; OCLC 28622013

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