Yukuk Shad

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Irbis Dulu Qaghan
Qaghan of the Western Turkic Khaganate (Dulu faction)
Reign634 - 642 (as Dulu khagan)
642 - 653 (as Kunduz ruler)
PredecessorIshbara Tolis
SuccessorAshina Helu (as khagan)
Zhenzhu Yabgu (in Kunduz)
BornAshina Yugu
IssueZhenzhu Yabgu
FatherIllig Qaghan

Yukuk Shad (r. 638–642, died 653) (full title: Irbis Dulu Qaghan, Chinese: 乙毗咄陆可汗) reigned in the final days of the Western Turkic Khaganate. His name Yukuk means Snow Leopard according to Gumilov[1] and while Gabain claims it means "venerable".[2]

Early days[edit]

He was the son of Illig Qaghan, ruler of the Eastern Turkic Khaganate and spent his early years there. In 627, he was assigned to suppress a rebellion around Tien shan but was defeated and fled.

Invitation from the West[edit]

After the death of Tong of the Western Turkic Khanate in 628, the central authority of the khagans among the West Turks was challenged by the leaders of the ten tribes collectively known as Onok.[3] However there was also a competition between the two wings of Onok; i.e., the Dulu and the Nushibi . Ishbara Tolis who became the khagan in 634 tried to increase his authority by the support of Nushibi. But his camp was raided and he had to escape to Fergana (in modern Uzbekistan).[4] But even after his escape, the leaders of the ten tribes preferred a khagan from the Ashina house to maintain the delicate balance between the two wings. Yukuk’s name was proposed by a certain Tun Tudun. Yukuk whose father’s territory had long been lost readily accepted the invitation. But it soon turned out that although he was welcome by Tulu, Nushibi tribes opposed him.

Yukuk as a khagan[edit]

After a civil war between the two wings of the Onok, Ili River became the border line between the Nushibi (the south of the river) and the Dulu (north of the river) by the Ili river treaty in 638. Yukuk assumed the title Irbis Dulu Khagan and became the khagan of the north side. By 641, Yukuk consolidated most tribes between the Ili River and Siberia (including those not a part of Onok group) under his rule. Still he wanted to control southern side as well. He managed to have Ishbara Tolis murdered in 639. Ishbara's successor El Kulug Shad (乙屈利失乙毗可汗) he died soon and followed by Irbis Ishbara Yabgu Khagan (ruled 640–641) who sent governors to the Tarim Basin, Tashkent, Samarkand and Bactria.[5] Yukuk soon managed to have him murdered as well.[6]

He then conquered Tuhuoluo (吐火羅, may be the same people as Tocharians), he attacked Yiwu in 642, which had by now been converted into Tang's Yi Prefecture (伊州), although his attacks were repelled by the Tang general Guo Xiaoke (郭孝恪).

In 642, he began to suffer dissent within, as he was said to have hoarded the spoils from attacks on Kangju and Mi (米, a state on the Amu Darya) and refused to divide them with his subordinates — and when one of his generals, Ashina Nishou (阿史那泥熟) nevertheless seized some, Ashina Yugu executed him, causing Ashina Nishou's subordinate Huluwu (胡祿屋) to rebel. The rebels sought aid from Tang, and Emperor Taizong created El Kulug Shad's son as Irbis Sheguy khagan. Yukuk initially prevailed in battle against Yipishekui Khan, but the rebels refused to submit despite the defeats, and Yukuk eventually withdrew and took up position in former Tuhuoluo territory.

Later years[edit]

New khagan initially attacked Yukuk and forced him to escape to Isfijab (Sayram in modern Kazakhstan). They further laid a siege on Isfijab . But although Yukuk got no help from Tulu tribes he managed to defeat them. After this victory, Yukuk tried to regain Tulu support. But Tulo leaders rejected his proposal. Yukuk, feeling insecure without tribal support, escaped to Kunduz (in modern Afghanistan) in 642[7]. He spent the rest of his life in Kunduz and died in 653. His heir was Zhenzhu Yabgu, who was one of the last representatives of the family. But his authority was limited to a single city.


  1. ^ Nikolayeviç., Gumilev, Lev (2002). Eski Türkler. Batur, Ahsen. İstanbul: Selenge Yay. pp. 273–275. ISBN 9757856398. OCLC 52822672.
  2. ^ 1901-1993., Gabain, Annemarie von, (1974). Alttürkische Grammatik (3. Aufl ed.). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3447015144. OCLC 1655044.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. ^ Sina Akşin (ed.)-Ümit Hassan: Osmanlı Devletine kadar Türkler Cem Yayınevi, İstanbul, 2009 ISBN 975-406-563-2 p.634 (in Turkish)
  4. ^ S.G.Klyashtorny-TI.Sultanov:Türkün Üçbin yılı (trans Ahsen Batur) Selenge Yayınları, İstanbul2003, ISBN 975-8839-03-9 p 104 (in Turkish)
  5. ^ Baumer, History of Central Asia, 2,205
  6. ^ 1912-1992., Gumilev, L. N. (Lev Nikolaevich), (2002). Drevnie ti︠u︡rki. Sankt-Peterburg: SZKĖO "KRISTALL". ISBN 9785950300318. OCLC 319803222.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  7. ^ Lev Nikolayeviç Gumilev: Eski Türkler (trans:D.Ahsen Batur), Selenge Yayınları, İstanbul, 2002, ISBN 975-7856-39-8 pp.273-275 (in Turkish)
Yukuk Shad
Preceded by
Ishbara Tolis
Khagan of the Western Turkic Khaganate
Succeeded by
Irbis Seguy