Yakub Beg of Yettishar

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Yakub Beg
Champion Father of the Faithful (اتالیق غازی)
Emir of Yettishar
Born1820 (1820)
Piskent, Kokand (present-day Uzbekistan)
DiedMay 1877 (aged 56–57)
Korla, Yettishar (present-day China)
Chinese name
Alternative Chinese name
Uyghur name
Uyghurمۇھەممەت ياقۇپ بېك
Persian name
Persianمحمد یعقوب بیگ
Uzbek name
UzbekЁқуб Бек / Yoqub Bek

Muhammad Yakub Beg[a] (c. 1820 – 30 May 1877), later known as Yakub Padishah,[b][1] was the Kokandi ruler of Yettishar (Kashgaria), a state he established during his invasion of Xinjiang from 1865 to 1877.[2] He was recognized as Emir of Yettishar by the Ottoman Empire and held the title of "Champion Father of the Faithful".[3][4]

Spelling variants[edit]

In English-language literature, the name Yakub Beg has also been spelt as Yaqub Beg, Yakoob Beg[5] or Yaʿqūb Beg.[6] Authors using Russian sources have also used the spelling Yakub-bek.[7] A few publications in English written by Chinese authors transcribe his name as Āgǔbó, which is the pinyin transcription his name in Chinese, 阿古柏, a shortened form of Chinese: 阿古柏帕夏; pinyin: Āgǔbó Pàxià.

The first name, Muhammad, is subject to the usual variations in spelling. Yaʿqūb is an Arabic analogue of Jacob, and Beg is a Turkic noble title. His noble title Beg was later elevated to Padishah after his rise to power.[1] He was also given the title Atalıq Ghazi (Chagatay: اتالیق غازی, romanized: Ataliq Ghazi, lit.'Champion Father of the Faithful') by the Emir of Bukhara in 1866, and the Ottoman Sultan granted him the title of Emir.[8]


Beg's ethnic background is uncertain. According to his biographer D. C. Boulger, Beg was a Tajik and a descendant of Timur. However, this claim is self-contradictory: as a Tajik, Beg would have had to have a link on his mother's side in order to be considered Timur's offspring, but Timur was actually a Turco-Mongol from the Barlas tribe.[clarification needed] Korean historian Hodong Kim suggests the claim of descent from Timur was an unsupported fabrication intended to glorify Beg's genealogy by ascribing his descent to both Timur and Genghis Khan.[9]

According to the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, Yakub Beg was ethnically a Tajik.[10] British surveyor Thomas George Montgomerie stated that, although he was a Tajik whose native tongue was Tajiki Neo-Persian, he rarely spoke anything but the local Turkic dialect once his rule over Kashgaria began.[11]

According to H. Bellew, a member of the British embassy, Beg's physiognomy reflected Turkic features rather than Tajik ones:[9]

The face has the general outlines of the Tatar physiognomy, with its asperities softened and rounded by Uzbak blood, and presents a broad full countenance without wrinkle or a scam, and with less of commanding weight than of sensual passion in its expression.

— H. Bellew

Beg's forefathers had lived in the mountainous part of Karategin before moving to Dehbid, near Samarkand. Beg's father, Pur Muhhammad,[c] was born in Samarkand and completed his education in Khojent, later working as a qadi (a judge) at Piskent. He married a local qadi as his second wife. She gave birth to his son Yakub Beg in 1820.[9]


Early life[edit]

Yakub Beg was born in the town of Pskent, in the Khanate of Kokand (now in Uzbekistan).[12] At a young age, he was orphaned, and was thereafter raised by his uncle.[13]


Beg's lax lifestyle worried his uncle who sent him to Tashkent to become a weaver. However, Beg quickly became bored and returned to Piskent where he obtained a minor job under the general Ghadai Bai.[14]

He later worked under the governor of Khojent, Muhhammad Karim Khaska. When Aziz Bacha was appointed as the governor of Tashkent, Muhhammad Karim Khaska was transferred to the Khanate of Kokand along with Beg, but Kashka was soon assassinated by Musulman Quli. This juncture caused Beg to seek service in cavalry under Bacha. Kilauchi's governor Nar Muhhammad married Beg's sister around this time. In 1847, Nar Muhhammad succeeded Kashka as governor of Tashkent, and Beg was appointed as Beg of Chinaz. Around 1849, he was transferred and appointed as commander of Ak-Mechet, primarily owing to his brother-in-law's influence.[15] Beg soon amassed a large fortune. He was involved in the complex factional shifts of the Khanate of Kokand. The internal rivalry between Musalman Quli who was the Mingbashi at the time and Nar Muhhammad led to a clash in 1852 where Quli fled, and one of Nar's allies Utambai became Mingbashi. Beg was subsequently recalled back to Tashkent where he was promoted to the rank of military officer with the title of Baturbashi.[16]

Qipchaq massacre[edit]

In late 1852, Muhammad Khudayar Khan, taking advantage of the disunity between the nomadic Qipchaqs and wishing to end their interference in the politics of the Khanate, attempted a coup. The rival Qipchaqs, Nar Muhhammad and Quli were both captured and executed. According to Vladimir Nalivkin, Beg conspired against the Nar and allied himself with Khudayar, however the veracity of this claim is doubtful. Many Qipchaqs were massacred, and this led to an end of the domination of the Qipchaqs over Khokand. There is some uncertainty as to the whereabouts of Beg between 1852 and 1864. In 1864, however, he helped defend Tashkent during the first Russian attack.[17]

Invasion of Xinjiang[edit]

Yakub Beg

Initial conquest[edit]

As a result of the Dungan Revolt (1862–77), by 1864, the Chinese held only the citadels of Kashgar and a few other places. The Kyrgyz, or Kazakh Sadic Beg, entered Kashgar but were unable to take the citadel and were sent to Tashkent as a Khoja to become ruler. Burzug Khan, the only surviving son of Jahangir Khoja, left Tashkent with six men. He joined by Yakub Beg, left Kokand with 68 men, and crossed the border of China in January 1865. Sadic Beg, defeated by Yakub Beg, was driven beyond the mountains. Yakub went southeast to Yarkand, the largest town in the region, and was driven out by an army from Kucha. He next besieged the Chinese at Yangi Hissar for 40 days and massacred the garrison. Sadic Beg reappeared, was defeated, and talked into becoming an ally. Invaders from Badakshan were also talked into an alliance. A Dungan force from Kucha and eastward arrived at Maralbeshi and was defeated with 1,000 of the Dungans joining Yakub Beg. Yarkand had decided to submit to Burzug Khan and his great vizier. In September 1865, the second in command and 3,000 men surrendered, converted to Islam, and joined Yakub Beg. The commander refused and blew himself up along with his family; the commanders of Yarkand and Kulja had done the same. An army of rebels from Kokand arrived and joined Yakub. Later in the year, Burzug Khan and Yakub went to Yarkand to deal with a disturbance. The Dungan faction suborned Yakub's Dungans and he was reduced to a few hundred men. Burzug drew off to a separate camp, Yakub defeated the Dungans, Burzug Khan fled to Kashgar and declared Yakub a traitor. The religious leaders supported Yakub, and Burzug was seized in his palace. He was confined for 18 months, exiled to Tibet, and later found his way to Kokand. In little more than a year, Yakub had become master of Kashgar, Yarkand, and Maralbashi, areas stretching roughly from the western end of the Tarim Basin to as far as the Yarkand River.[citation needed]

The Tarim Basin was conquered by Beg, who was viewed as a Khoqandi foreigner and not as a local.[18]

Yakub Beg of Yettishar is located in Xinjiang
Jade Gate
Jade Gate
Yangi Hissar
Yangi Hissar
Jade Gate
Jade Gate
Map of places of Yakub Beg, about 800 miles wide.

Later reign[edit]

The Khan of Kokand had some claim over Barzug Khan as a subject, but did nothing in practice. Yakub entered into relations and signed treaties with the Russian Empire and Great Britain, but failed in trying to get their support for his invasion.[19]


Yakub Beg's rule was unpopular among the natives, with one of the local Kashgaris, a warrior and a chieftain's son, commenting: "During the Chinese rule there was everything; there is nothing now." Trade also declined.[20] Yakub was disliked by his Turkic Muslim subjects, burdening them with heavy taxes and subjecting them to a harsh interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.[21][22]

Korean historian Kim Hodong points out the fact that his disastrous and inexact commands failed the locals and they, in turn, welcomed the return of Chinese troops.[23] Qing dynasty general Zuo Zongtang wrote that "The Andijanis are tyrannical to their people; government troops should comfort them with benevolence. The Andijanis are greedy in extorting from the people; government troops should rectify this by being generous."[24]

Map titled Chinese Empire & Japan by John Bartholomew & published, in 1893 by John Walker and Co Ltd, London in The Handy Reference Atlas of the World depicting the International Boundary of India with East Turkistan on the Kuen Lun Range & depicting Kukalang & Hindutash Passes, & the Raskam Tract adjoining the Kuen Lun Range in northern Kashmir & the Karakash River in Kashmir as part of India and depicting the provinces of Bengal, Nepal, Assam including the Assam Himalaya, and Kashmir as part of India prior to 1947


Qing dynasty's campaign against Yakub Beg and his allies

His precise manner of death is unclear. The Times of London and the Russian Turkestan Gazette [uz] both reported that he had died after a short illness.[25] Historian Musa Sayrami stated that he was poisoned on 30 May 1877, in Korla by the former hakim (local city ruler) of Yarkand, Niyaz Hakim Beg, as part of a conspiracy with Qing Dynasty forces in Jungaria.[25] However, in a letter to the Qing authorities, Niyaz denied any involvement in the death of Yakub, claiming that the Kashgarian ruler had committed suicide.[25] Other sources also state that he was killed in battle with the Chinese.[26]

While contemporaneous Muslim writers usually explained Yakub Beg's death by poisoning, and the suicide theory was the accepted truth among the Qing generals of the time, modern historians, according to Kim Hodong, think that natural death (of a stroke) is the most plausible explanation.[25][27][28][29]

The exact date of Yakub's death is uncertain. Although Sayrami claimed that he died on 28 April 1877, modern historians think that this is impossible, as Nikolay Przhevalsky met him on 9 May. Chinese sources usually give 22 May as the date of his death, while Aleksey Kuropatkin thought it to be 29 May. Late May 1877 is therefore thought to be the most likely time.[25][30][31][32][33] Official sources from the US State Department and activists involved in the incident state that Yakub's sons and grandson had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment with a fund provided for their support.[34][35][36]


Night interview with Yakub Beg, King of Kashgaria, 1868

Rebiya Kadeer praised Yakub Beg.[37]


A son of general and politician Yulbars Khan was named after Yakub Beg.[38][39][40]

In media[edit]

Yakub makes an appearance in the second half of George Macdonald Fraser's novel Flashman at the Charge.[41]

Al Qaeda[edit]

Al-Qaeda ideologue Mustafa Setmariam Nasar praised Yakub and his establishment of educational institutions for Islam, and mosques called him "Attalik Ghazi" and a "good man" for his war against Buddhists and the Chinese.[42]

The Doğu Türkistan Haber Ajansı (East Turkestan News Agency) published an article from Al-Qaeda branch Al-Nusra Front's English language Al-Risalah magazine (مجلة الرسالة), second issue (العدد الثاني), translated from English into Turkish and titled Al Risale: "Türkistan Dağları" 2. Bölüm (The Message: "Turkistan Mountains" Part 2), which praised the Sharia implemented by Yakub and cited him as an upholder of Jihad, attacking the Qing.[43][44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ he was also known as Muhhammad Lațit



  1. ^ a b Vambery, Arminius (1874). Central Asia and the Anglo-Russian Frontier Question. Books on Demand. p. 149. ISBN 978-3-368-82568-3 – via Google Books. Yakub-Beg, now of course Yakub-Padishah, is of Persian descent - i.e. in the Turkish language a Sart. (...) His birthplace was Pishad.
  2. ^ Olivieri, Chiara (2018). "Religious Independence of Chinese Muslim East Turkestan "Uyghur"". In Dingley, James; Mollica, Marcello (eds.). Understanding Religious Violence: Radicalism and Terrorism in Religion Explored Via Six Case Studies. Springer. ISBN 9783030002848.
  3. ^ "Atalik". Encyclopaedia of Islam: Supplement. Vol. 12. 1980. p. 98. ISBN 9004061673. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  4. ^ "Yakub Beg". Encyclopædia Britannica. 15 September 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  5. ^ Boulger 1878.
  6. ^ Kim 2004.
  7. ^ "Imperial Rivals: China, Russia, and Their Disputed Frontier", by Sarah C. M. Paine (1996) ISBN 1-56324-723-2
  8. ^ Boulger, page 118 and 220
  9. ^ a b c Kim 2004, p. 77.
  10. ^ Якуб-бек (Yakub-bek) in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1969–1978 (in Russian)
  11. ^ Montgomerie, Thomas George (1871). Report of "The Mirza's" Exploration from Caubul to Kashgar. pp. 171–172. Mahomed Yakub Beg, a native of the village of Pishkadh, between Tashkend and Kokhan, (...) is a Tajuk, and his native language is Persian, though he now seldom speaks anything but Turkish.
  12. ^ "Yakub Beg: Tajik adventurer". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  13. ^ Pevtsov, Mikhail Vasilyevich (1894). Journey to Kashgariya and Kun-Lun. p. 422 – via Google Books. Yakub-bek was born in Central Asia (city of Pskent, south of Tashkent). His father was Tadzhik. He was orphaned at an early age and was brought up by his uncle.
  14. ^ Kim 2004, p. 78.
  15. ^ Kim 2004, p. 79.
  16. ^ Kim 2004, p. 80.
  17. ^ Kim 2004, pp. 78–80.
  18. ^ James A. Millward (2007). Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang. Columbia University Press. pp. 117–. ISBN 978-0-231-13924-3.
  19. ^ Herbert Allen Giles (1898). A Chinese biographical dictionary, Volume 2. London: B. Quaritch. p. 894. Retrieved 13 July 2011.(STANFORD UNIVERSITY LIBRARY)
  20. ^ Demetrius Charles de Kavanagh Boulger (1878). The life of Yakoob Beg: Athalik ghazi, and Badaulet; Ameer of Kashgar. London: W. H. Allen. p. 152. Retrieved 18 January 2012.
  21. ^ Wolfram Eberhard (1966). A history of China. Plain Label Books. p. 449. ISBN 1-60303-420-X. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  22. ^ Linda Benson; Ingvar Svanberg (1998). China's last Nomads: the history and culture of China's Kazaks. M.E. Sharpe. p. 19. ISBN 1-56324-782-8. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  23. ^ Kim 2004, p. 172.
  24. ^ John King Fairbank (1978). The Cambridge History of China: Late Chʻing, 1800–1911, pt. 2. Cambridge University Press. pp. 221–. ISBN 978-0-521-22029-3.
  25. ^ a b c d e Kim (2004), pp. 167–169
  26. ^ "Central and North Asia, 1800–1900 A.D." metmuseum.org. 2006. Archived from the original on 14 December 2006. Retrieved 14 December 2006.
  27. ^ The stroke (Russian: удар) version e.g. here: N. Veselovsky (Н. Веселовский), Badaulet Yaqun Beg, Ataliq of Kashgar (Бадаулет Якуб-бек, Аталык Кашгарский), in «Записки Восточного отделения Русского археологического общества», No. 11 (1899).
  28. ^ George Curzon Curzon (2010). Problems of the Far East – Japan-Korea-China. READ BOOKS. p. 328. ISBN 978-1-4460-2557-4. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  29. ^ John Stuart Thomson (1913). China revolutionized. INDIANAPOLIS: The Bobbs-Merrill company. p. 310. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  30. ^ Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events, Volume 4. New York: TD. Appleton and company. 1880. p. 145. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  31. ^ Herbert Allen Giles (1898). A Chinese biographical dictionary, Volume 2. London: B. Quaritch. p. 894. Retrieved 13 July 2011.(STANFORD UNIVERSITY LIBRARY)[1]
  32. ^ Translations of the Peking Gazette. SHANGHAI. 1880. p. 83. Retrieved 12 May 2011.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)(Original from the University of California)REPRINTED FROM THE "NORTH-CHINA HERALD AND SUPREME COURT AND CONSULAR GAZETTE."
  33. ^ Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events, Volume 4. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1888. p. 145. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  34. ^ James D. Hague (1904). Clarence King Memoirs: The Helmet of Mambrino. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. p. 50. Retrieved 19 September 2016. Cruelty to Children Yakoob Beg.
  35. ^ "THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN.; CASE OF THE KINGMA CHILDREN--LETTER FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT". The New York Times. New York. 20 March 1880. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  36. ^ Jung Chang (2014). Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China. New York: Anchor. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-385-35037-2. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  37. ^ Rebiya Kadeer; Alexandra Cavelius (2009). Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China. Kales Press. pp. 6–. ISBN 978-0-9798456-1-1.
  38. ^ Thwaites, Richard (1986). "Real Life China 1978–1983". Rich Communications, Canberra, Australia. 0-00-217547-9. Retrieved 14 December 2006.
  39. ^ Michael Dillon (1 August 2014). Xinjiang and the Expansion of Chinese Communist Power: Kashgar in the Early Twentieth Century. Routledge. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-1-317-64721-8.
  40. ^ Andrew D. W. Forbes (9 October 1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: A Political History of Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949. CUP Archive. pp. 225–. ISBN 978-0-521-25514-1.
  41. ^ Ildikó Bellér-Hann (2008). Community matters in Xinjiang, 1880–1949: towards a historical anthropology of the Uyghur. BRILL. p. 74. ISBN 978-90-04-16675-2. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  42. ^ Mustafa Setmariam Nasar (aliases Abu Musab al-Suri and Umar Abd al-Hakim) (1999). "Muslims in Central Asia and The Coming Battle of Islam".
  43. ^ *"Al Risale : "Türkistan Dağları " 2. Bölüm". Doğu Türkistan Bülteni Haber Ajansı. Bahar Yeşil. 29 October 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  44. ^ Zelin, Aaron Y. (25 October 2015). "New issue of the magazine: "al-Risālah #2"". JIHADOLOGY: A clearinghouse for jihādī primary source material, original analysis, and translation service.


In literature[edit]

External links[edit]