Turkestan, also spelt Turkistan (literally "Land of the Turks" in Persian), refers to an area in Central Asia
Central Asia
between Siberia
to the north and Tibet, India
and Afghanistan
to the south, the Caspian Sea to the west and the Gobi Desert
Gobi Desert
to the east.


1 Etymology and terminology 2 History 3 Overview

3.1 Chinese influence

4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading

Etymology and terminology[edit] Of Persian origin (see -stan), the term "Turkestan" (ترکستان) has never referred to a single national state.[1] Iranian geographers first used the word to describe the place of Turkic peoples.[2] "Turkestan" was used to describe any place where Turkic peoples lived.[1] Anatolia
during Ottoman rule was referred to as Turkestan
by Ottoman writers.[citation needed] On their way southward during the conquest of Central Asia
Central Asia
in the course of the 19th century, the Russians took the city of Turkestan (in present-day Kazakhstan) in 1864. Mistaking its name for that of the entire region, they adopted the name of "Turkestan" for their new territory.[2][3] As of 2015[update], the term labels a region in Central Asia
Central Asia
which is inhabited mainly by Turkic peoples, but the regions also contained peoples who were not Turkic, such as the Tajiks, and excluded some who were. It includes present-day Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan
and Xinjiang
also known as East Turkestan[4] or Chinese Turkestan.[5][6]Often, the Turkic regions of Afghanistan
and Russia
( Tatarstan
and parts of Siberia) are included as well. History[edit] Further information: History of Central Asia The history of Turkestan
dates back to at least the third millennium BC. Many artifacts were produced in that period, and much trade was conducted. The region was a focal point for cultural diffusion, as the Silk Road
Silk Road
traversed it. Turkestan
covers the area of Central Asia
Central Asia
and acquired its "Turkic" character from the 4th to 6th centuries AD with the incipient Turkic expansion. Turkic sagas, such as the Ergenekon legend, and written sources such as the Orkhon Inscriptions
Orkhon Inscriptions
state that Turkic peoples
Turkic peoples
originated in the nearby Altai Mountains, and, through nomadic settlement, started their long journey westwards. Huns
conquered the area after they conquered Kashgaria
in the early 2nd century BC. With the dissolution of the Huns' empire, Chinese rulers took over Eastern Turkestan.[7] Arab forces captured it in the 8th century. The Persian Samanid
dynasty subsequently conquered it and the area experienced economic success.[7] The entire territory was held at various times by Turkic forces, such as the Göktürks
until the conquest by Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
and the Mongols
in 1220. Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
gave the territory to his son, Chagatai and the area became the Chagatai Khanate.[7] Timur
took over the western portion of Turkestan
in 1369 and the area became part of the Timurid Empire.[7] Eastern portion of Turkestan
was also called Mogulistan, and continued to be ruled by descendants of Genghis Khan. Overview[edit]

Flag of Turkestan

Known as Turan
to the Persians, western Turkestan
has also been known historically as Sogdiana, Ma wara'u'n-nahr (by its Arab
conquerors), and Transoxiana
by Western travellers. The latter two names refer to its position beyond the River Oxus
when approached from the south, emphasizing Turkestan's long-standing relationship with Iran, the Persian Empires and the Umayyad
and Abbasid
Caliphates. Turkestan
is roughly within the regions of Central Asia
Central Asia
lying between Siberia
on the north; Tibet, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran
on the south; the Gobi Desert
Gobi Desert
on the east; and the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
on the west.[8] Oghuz Turks
Oghuz Turks
(also known as Turkmens), Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Khazars, Kyrgyz, Hazara and Uyghurs
are some of the Turkic inhabitants of the region who, as history progressed, have spread further into Eurasia forming such Turkic nations as Turkey
and Azerbaijan, and subnational regions like Tatarstan
in Russia
and Crimea
in Ukraine. Tajiks and Russians form sizable non-Turkic minorities. It is subdivided into Afghan Turkestan
Afghan Turkestan
and Russian Turkestan
Russian Turkestan
in the West, and Xinjiang
(previously Chinese Turkestan) in the East. Chinese influence[edit]

Restaurant of a Uyghur expat in Istanbul, Turkey

A summary of Classical sources, largely Pliny and Ptolemy, on the Seres, the Greek and Roman name of China, gives the following account:

The region of the Seres is a vast and populous country, touching on the east the Ocean and the limits of the habitable world, and extending west nearly to Imaus and the confines of Bactria. The people are civilised men, of mild, just, and frugal temper, eschewing collisions with their neighbours, and even shy of close [conversation], but not averse to dispose of their own products, of which raw silk is the staple, but which include also silk stuffs, furs, and iron of remarkable quality. — Henry Yule, Cathay and the Way Thither

In the Persian epic Shahnameh, China
and Turkestan
are regarded as the same, and the Khan of Turkestan
is called the Khan of Chin.[9][10] Aladdin, an Arabic
story which is set in China, may have been referring to Turkestan.[11] Muslim writers like Marwazī wrote that Transoxania
was a former part of China, retaining the legacy of Tang Dynasty's rule over Transoxania:

In ancient times all the districts of Transoxania
had belonged to the kingdom of China
[Ṣīn], with the district of Samarqand as its centre. When Islam appeared and God delivered the said district to the Muslims, the Chinese migrated to their [original] centers, but there remained in Samarqand, as a vestige of them, the art of making paper of high quality. And when they migrated to Eastern parts their lands became disjoined and their provinces divided, and there was a king in China
and a king in Qitai and a king in Yugur. — Marwazī

Muslim writers viewed the Khitai, the Gansu
kingdom and Kashgar as all part of "China" culturally and geographically, with the Muslims in Central Asia
Central Asia
retaining the legacy of Chinese rule in Central Asia by using titles such as "Khan of China" (تمغاج خان) (Tamghaj Khan or Tawgach) in Turkic and "the King of the East in China" (ملك المشرق (أو الشرق) والصين) (malik al-mashriq (or al-sharq) wa'l-ṣīn) in Arabic, which were titles of the Muslim Qarakhanid
rulers and their Qarluq ancestors.[12][13] The title Malik al-Mashriq wa'l-Ṣīn was bestowed by the 'Abbāsid Caliph upon the Tamghaj Khan, the Samarqand Khaqan Yūsuf b. Ḥasan. Afterwards, coins and literature had the title Tamghaj Khan appear on them, which continued to be used by the Qarakhanids, the Transoxania-based Western Qarakhanids and some Eastern Qarakhanid monarchs. Therefore, the Kara-Khitan (Western Liao)'s usage of Chinese things such as Chinese coins, the Chinese writing system, tablets, seals, Chinese art
Chinese art
and other items from Chinese culture
Chinese culture
such as porcelein, mirrors, and jade was designed to appeal to the local Central Asian Muslim population, since the Muslims in the area regarded Central Asia
Central Asia
as former Chinese territories and viewed connections with China
as prestigious. Western Liao's rule over Muslim Central Asia
Central Asia
reinforced these Muslims' view that Central Asia
Central Asia
was a Chinese territory. For example, Turkestan
and Chīn (China) were identified with each other by Fakhr al-Dīn Mubārak Shāh, with China being identified as the country where the cities of Balāsāghūn and Kashghar were located.[14] The Liao Chinese traditions and the Qara Khitai's clinging helped the Qara Khitai
avoid Islamization and conversion to Islam. The Qara Khitai
used Chinese and Central Asian features in their administrative system.[14] Although in modern Urdu
Chin means China, Chin referred to Central Asia in Muhammad Iqbal's time, which is why Iqbal wrote that "Chin is ours" (referring to the Muslims) in his song Tarana-e-Milli.[15] The Tang Chinese reign over Qocho and Turfan and the Buddhist religion left a lasting legacy upon the Buddhist Uyghur Kingdom of Qocho
Kingdom of Qocho
with the Tang presented names remaining on the more than 50 Buddhist temples with Emperor Tang Taizong's edicts stored in the "Imperial Writings Tower " and Chinese dictionaries like Jingyun, Yuian, Tang yun, and da zang jing (Buddhist scriptures) stored inside the Buddhist temples and Persian monks also maintained a Manichaean temple in the Kingdom., the Persian Hudud al-'Alam uses the name "Chinese town" to call Qocho, the capital of the Uyghur kingdom.[16] The Turfan Buddhist Uighurs of the Kingdom of Qocho
Kingdom of Qocho
continued to produce the Chinese Qieyun
rime dictionary and developed their own pronunciations of Chinese characters, left over from the Tang influence over the area.[17] The modern Uyghur linguist Abdurishid Yakup pointed out that the Turfan Uyghur Buddhists
studied the Chinese language
Chinese language
and had Chinese books such as Qianziwen
(the thousand character classic) and Qieyun *(a rhyme dictionary) and it was written that "In Qocho city were more than fifty monasteries, all titles of which are granted by the emperors of the Tang dynasty, which keep many Buddhist texts as Tripitaka, Tangyun, Yupuan, Jingyin etc."[18] In Central Asia
Central Asia
the Uighurs viewed the Chinese script as "very prestigious" so when they developed the Old Uyghur alphabet, based on the Syriac script, they deliberately switched it to vertical like Chinese writing from its original horizontal position in Syriac.[19] The last major victory of Arabs in Central Asia
Central Asia
occurred at the Battle of Talas (751). The Tibetan Empire
Tibetan Empire
was allied to the Arabs during the battle.[20][21][22][23][24] Because the Arabs did not proceed to Xinjiang
at all, the battle was of no importance strategically, and it was An Lushan's rebellion which ended up forcing the Tang Chinese out of Central Asia.[25][26] Despite the conversion of some Karluk Turks after the Battle of Talas, the majority of Karluks
did not convert to Islam until the mid 10th century, when they established the Kara-Khanid Khanate.[23][24][27][28][29][30] This was long after the Tang dynasty was gone from Central Asia. Barthold states that the Islamic
rule over Transoxiana
was secured at the Battle of Talas. Turks had to wait two and a half centuries before reconquering Transoxiana
when the Karakhanids
reconquered the city of Bukhara in 999. Professor Denis Sinor
Denis Sinor
said that it was interference in the internal affairs of the Western Turkic Khaganate
Western Turkic Khaganate
which ended Chinese supremacy in Central Asia, since the destruction of the Western Khaganate rid the Muslims of their greatest opponent, and it was not the Battle of Talas
Battle of Talas
which ended the Chinese presence.[31] See also[edit]

East Turkestan South Turkestan Russian conquest of Turkestan


^ a b Gladys D. Clewell, Holland Thompson, Lands and Peoples: The world in color, Volume 3, page 163. Excerpt: Never a single nation, the name Turkestan
means simply the place of Turkish peoples. ^ a b Central Asian review by Central Asian Research Centre (London, England), St. Antony's College (University of Oxford). Soviet Affairs Study Group, Volume 16, page 3. Excerpt: The name Turkestan
is of Persian origin and was apparently first used by Persian geographers to describe "the country of the Turks". It was revived by the Russians as a convenient name for the governorate-general created in 1867 and the terms Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, etc. were not used until after 1924. ^ Annette M. B. Meakin, In Russian Turkestan: a garden of Asia and its people, page 44. Excerpt: On their way southward from Siberia
in 1864, the Russians took it, and many writers affirm that, mistaking its name for that of the entire region, they adopted the appellation of "Turkestan" for their new territory. Up to that time, they assure us Khanates of Bokhara, Khiva
and Kokand
were known by these names alone. ^ "San Jose News - Google News Archive Search". Associated Press. 17 March 1934. Retrieved 2018-03-02. QUOTE: "More than 2000 persons, including members of the British Consulate's staff, were reported today to have been massacred at Kashgar
in Sinkiang, Chinese Turkestan
Chinese Turkestan
by fierce Tungan natives." The massacre, dispatches from Tashkent said, came in a bloddy battle between rebels and the military of the recently proclaimed 'independent government'."  ^ Encyclopædia Britannica: Turkistan. Retrieved: 24 August 2009. ^ Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press: Turkestan. Retrieved: 26 May 2012. ^ a b c d "Turkistan", Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
2007 Ultimate Reference Suite. ^ Encyclopadea Britannica. Turkistan retrieved-18 march,2010 ^ Bapsy Pavry (19 February 2015). The Heroines of Ancient Persia. Cambridge University Press. pp. 86–. ISBN 978-1-107-48744-4.  ^ Bapsy Pavry Paulet, Marchioness of Winchester (1930). The Heroines of Ancient Persia: Stories Retold from the Shāhnāma of Firdausi. With Fourteen Illustrations. The University Press. p. 86.  ^ Moon, Krystyn (2005). Yellowface. Rutgers University Press. p. 23. ISBN 0-8135-3507-7.  ^ Michal Biran (15 September 2005). The Empire of the Qara Khitai
in Eurasian History: Between China
and the Islamic
World. Cambridge University Press. pp. 99–. ISBN 978-0-521-84226-6.  ^ Schluessel, Eric T. (2014). "The World as Seen from Yarkand: Ghulām Muḥammad Khān's 1920s Chronicle Mā Tīṭayniŋ wā qiʿasi" (PDF). TIAS Central Eurasian Research Series (9). NIHU Program Islamic Area Studies: 13. ISBN 978-4-904039-83-0. Retrieved 22 June 2016.  ^ a b Michal Biran (15 September 2005). The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China
and the Islamic
World. Cambridge University Press. pp. 102–. ISBN 978-0-521-84226-6.  ^ Although "Chin" refers to China
in modern Urdu, in Iqbal's day it referred to Central Asia, coextensive with historical Turkestan. See also, Iqbal: Tarana-e-Milli, 1910. Columbia University, Department of South Asian Studies. ^ James A. Millward (2007). Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang. Columbia University
Columbia University
Press. pp. 49–. ISBN 978-0-231-13924-3.  ^ TAKATA, Tokio. "The Chinese Language in Turfan with a special focus on the Qieyun
fragments" (PDF). Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University: 7–9. Retrieved 15 September 2015.  ^ Abdurishid Yakup (2005). The Turfan Dialect of Uyghur. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 180–. ISBN 978-3-447-05233-7.  ^ Liliya M. Gorelova (1 January 2002). Manchu Grammar. Brill. p. 49. ISBN 978-90-04-12307-6.  ^ Bulliet & Crossley & Headrick & Hirsch & Johnson 2010, p. 286. ^ Bulliet 2010, p. 286. ^ Chaliand 2004, p. 31. ^ a b Wink 2002, p. 68. ^ a b Wink 1997, p. 68. ^ ed. Starr 2004, p. 39. ^ Millward 2007, p. 36. ^ Lapidus 2012, p. 230. ^ Esposito 1999, p. 351. ^ Lifchez & Algar 1992, p. 28. ^ Soucek 2000, p. 84. ^ Sinor 1990, p. 344.

Further reading[edit]

V.V. Barthold
V.V. Barthold
" Turkestan
Down to the Mongol Invasion" (London) 1968 (3rd Edition) René Grousset
René Grousset
"L'empire des steppes" (Paris) 1965 David Christian "A History Of Russia, Central Asia
Central Asia
and Mongolia" (Oxford) 1998 Vol.I Svat Soucek "A History of Inner Asia" (Cambridge) 2000 Vasily Bartold
Vasily Bartold
"Работы по Исторической Географии" (Moscow) 2002

English translation: V.V. Barthold
V.V. Barthold
"Work on Historical Geography" (Moscow) 2002

Baymirza Hayit. “Sowjetrußische Orientpolitik am Beispiel Turkestan.“ Köln-Berlin: Kiepenhauer & Witsch, 1956 Hasan Bülent Paksoy
Hasan Bülent Paksoy
Basmachi: Turkestan
National Liberation Movement The Arts and Crafts of Turkestan
(Arts & Crafts) by Johannes Kalter. The Desert Road to Turkestan
(Kodansha Globe) by Owen Lattimore. Turkestan
down to the Mongol Invasion. by W. BARTHOLD. Turkestan
and the Fate of the Russian Empire by Daniel Brower. Tiger of Turkestan
by Nonny Hogrogian. Turkestan
Reunion (Kodansha Globe) by Eleanor Lattimore. Turkestan
Solo: A Journey Through Central Asia, by Ella Maillart. Baymirza Hayit. “Documents: Soviet Russia's Anti-Islam-Policy in Turkestan.“ Düsseldorf: Gerhard von Mende, 2 vols, 1958. Baymirza Hayit. “ Turkestan
im XX Jahrhundert.“ Darmstadt: Leske, 1956 Baymirza Hayit. “ Turkestan
Zwischen Russland Und China.“ Amsterdam: Philo Press, 1971 Baymirza Hayit. “Some thoughts on the problem of Turkestan” Institute of Turkestan
Research, 1984 Baymirza Hayit. “Islam and Turkestan
Under Russian Rule.” Istanbul:Can Matbaa, 1987. Baymirza Hayit. “Basmatschi: Nationaler Kampf Turkestans in den Jahren 1917 bis 1934.” Cologne: Dreisam-Verlag, 1993. Mission to Turkestan: Being the memoirs of Count K.K. Pahlen, 1908–1909 by Konstantin Konstanovich Pahlen. Turkestan: The Heart of Asia by Curtis. Tribal Rugs from Afghanistan
and Turkestan
by Jack Frances. The Heart of Asia: A History of Russian Turkestan
Russian Turkestan
and the Central Asian Khanates from the Earliest Times by Edward Den Ross.  Bealby, John Thomas; Kropotkin, Peter (1911). "Turkestan". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 419–426. 

v t e

Turkic topics


Afshar Altay Äynu Azerbaijani Bashkir Bulgar Chagatai Chulym Chuvash Crimean Tatar Cuman Dolgan Fuyü Gïrgïs Gagauz Ili Turki Karachay-Balkar Karaim Karakalpak Karamanli Turkish Kazakh Khakas Khalaj Khazar Khorasani Turkic Kipchak Krymchak Kumyk Kipchak languages Kyrgyz Nogai Old Turkic Ottoman Turkish Pecheneg Qashqai Sakha/Yakut Salar Shor Siberian Tatar Tatar Tofa Turkish Turkmen Tuvan Urum Uyghur Uzbek Western Yugur


Afshar Ahiska Altays Azerbaijanis Balkars Bashkirs Bulgars Chulyms Chuvash Crimean Tatars Cumans Dolgans Dughlats Gagauz Iraqi Turkmens Karachays Karaites Karakalpaks Karluks Kazakhs Khakas Khalajs Khazars Khorasani Turks Kimek Kipchaks Krymchaks Kumandins Kumyks Kyrgyz Nogais Oghuz Turks Qarapapaqs Qashqai Salar Shatuo Shors Sybyrs Syrian Turkmen Tatars Telengits Teleuts Tofalar Turgesh Turkish people

in Bulgaria Turkish Cypriots in Kosovo in Egypt in the Republic of Macedonia in Romania in Western Thrace

Turkmens Tuvans Uyghurs Uzbeks Western Yugurs Yakuts Yueban


Grey Wolves Kemalism Burkhanism Pan-Turkism Turanism


Turkestan History Timeline of the Göktürks

Timeline 500–1300 migration

Nomadic empire Tian Shan / Altai Mountains Otuken


Sovereign states

Azerbaijan Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus1 Turkey Turkmenistan Uzbekistan

Autonomous areas

Altai Republic Bashkortostan Chuvashia Gagauzia Kabardino-Balkaria Karachay-Cherkessia Karakalpakstan Khakassia Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic Sakha Republic Tatarstan Tuva Xinjiang


Old Turkic alphabet Proto-Turkic language Turkology


Turkic mythology Tengrism Shamanism Islam Alevism Batiniyya Bayramiye Bektashi Order Christianity Hurufism Kadiri Khalwati order Malamatiyya Qalandariyya Qizilbash Rifa'i* Safaviyya Zahediyeh Vattisen Yaly

Traditional sports

Kyz kuu Jereed Kokpar Dzhigit Chovgan


Turkic Council International Organization of Turkic Culture
International Organization of Turkic Culture
(TÜRKSOY) Organization of the Eurasian Law Enforcement Agencies with Military Status (TAKM) World Turks Qurultai

1 State with limited international