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Western Turkic Khaganate

Onoq ("Ten Arrows")
Western Turkic Khaganate




Greatest extent of the Western Turkic Khaganate after the Battle of Bukhara
Capital Navekat (summer capital)
Suyab (principal capital)
Languages Turkic
Religion Tengrism
Political structure Khaganate
Historical era Early Middle Ages
 •  Established 593
 •  Disestablished 659
History of the Turkic peoples
History of the Turkic peoples
Pre-14th century
Turkic Khaganate 552–744
  Western Turkic
  Eastern Turkic
Avar Khaganate 564–804
Khazar Khaganate 618–1048
Xueyantuo 628–646
Great Bulgaria 632–668
  Danube Bulgaria
  Volga Bulgaria
Kangar union 659–750
Turgesh Khaganate 699–766
Uyghur Khaganate 744–840
Karluk Yabgu State 756–940
Kara-Khanid Khanate 840–1212
  Western Kara-Khanid
  Eastern Kara-Khanid
Gansu Uyghur Kingdom 848–1036
Kingdom of Qocho 856–1335
Pecheneg Khanates
Kimek Khanate
Oghuz Yabgu State
Ghaznavid Empire 963–1186
Seljuk Empire 1037–1194
  Seljuk Sultanate of Rum
Khwarazmian Empire 1077–1231
Delhi Sultanate 1206–1526
  Mamluk dynasty
  Khilji dynasty
  Tughlaq dynasty
Golden Horde | [1][2][3] 1240s–1502
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) 1250–1517
  Bahri dynasty
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The Onoq Western Turkic Khaganate (Chinese: 西突厥; pinyin: Xi tūjué) was a Turkic khaganate formed as a result of the internecine wars in the beginning of the 7th century (593 – 603 AD) after the Göktürk Khaganate (founded in the 6th century in Mongolia by the Ashina clan) had splintered into two polities – Eastern and Western.

The Western Turks initially sought friendly relations with the Eastern Roman Empire in order to expand their territory at the expense of their mutual enemy, the Sassanid Persian Empire.[4]

The Western Turks were also known as the Onogurs or Onoghurs, from the proto-Turkic Onoq ("ten arrows"). An "arrow" (oğuz) was a name for one division of the Turkic tribes.


For the origin of the Onoq two contradicting accounts are given:[5][6]

In the beginning [after 552], Shidianmi [Istämi] followed the Shanyu [Qaghan] and commanded the ten great chiefs. Together with their 100,000 soldiers, he marched to the Western Regions and subdued the barbarian statelets. There he declared himself as qaghan, under the title of ten tribes, and ruled them [the western barbarians] for generations.
— Tongdian, 193 and Jiu Tangshu, 194
Soon [after 635], Dielishi Qaghan [of the Western Göktürks] divided his state into ten parts, and each was headed by one man, together they made up the ten she [shad]. Every she is given an arrow by him, thus they were known as the ten arrows. He also divided the ten arrows into two factions, each consisted of five arrows. The left [east] faction consisted of five Duoliu Duolu tribes, headed by five chuo [qur] separately. The right [west] faction consisted of five Nushibi (Ch. 弩失畢) tribes, headed by five sijin [irkin] separately. Each took command on one arrow and called themselves as the ten arrows. Thereafter, each arrow was also known as one tribe, and the great arrow head as the great chief. The five Duoliu tribes inhabited to east of Suiye [water] (Chu River), and the five Nushibi tribes to the west of it. Since then, they called themselves as the ten tribes.
— Tongdian, 193 and Jiu Tangshu, 194

The first statement dates their origin back to the beginning of the First Turkic Qaghanate with Istämi, younger brother of Tumen (Bumen), who had brought with him the ten tribes probably from the Eastern Qaghanate at Mongolia and left to the west to expand the Qaghanate. The exact date for the event was not recorded, and the shanyu here referred to might be Muhan Khan.

The second statement contributes it to Dielishi, who took over the throne in 635 and began to strengthen the state by further affirming the initial ten tribes and two tribal wings, in contrast with the rotation of rule between the Tumen (through Apa) and Istämi (through Tardu) lineages in the Western Qaghanate. Thereafter, the name "ten tribes" (十姓) became as a shortened address for the Western Turks in Chinese records. However it should be noted that those divisions did not include the five[7] major tribes, who were active further east of the ten tribes.[8][9]

The earlier tribes consisted of eight primary tribes ruled by ten chiefs-in-command, afterwards called the on (ten) oq (arrows) (十箭). They were the five[10] Duolu (咄陆) tribes, and the three[11] Nushibi (弩失毕) tribes. The relationships between the ten tribes and the ruling elites were divided into two groups. The more aristocratic Duolu tribes, who held the title qur, and the lower-rated Nushipi in west, who were probably initially made up of Tiele conscripts.[12][13] During the reformation the more powerful Nushipi tribes such as A-Xijie and Geshu were sub-divided into two tribal groups with a greater and lesser title under a fixed tribal name.

In 619 the Western Turks invaded Bactria but were repulsed in the course of the Second Perso-Turkic War. During the Third Perso-Turkic War Khagan Tung Yabghu and his nephew Böri Shad joined their forces with Emperor Heraclius and successfully invaded Transcaucasia.

The khaganate's capitals were Navekat (the summer capital) and Suyab (the principal capital), both situated in the Chui River valley of Kyrgyzstan, to the east from Bishkek. The khaganate was overrun by Tang Chinese forces under Su Dingfang in 658-659 during the Tang campaign against the Western Turks.[14]

See also


  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. ^ Twitchett, David. The Cambridge History of China. Cambridge University Press, 1979. ISBN 0-521-21446-7. Page 223.
  5. ^ Xue, "A History of Turks", p. 271, 300.
  6. ^ Wang, "Political Relationship Between the Chinese, Tibetan and Arab", p. 28.
  7. ^ 1. Chuyue (处月, later as Shato) 2. Chumi (处密) 3. Gusu (姑苏) 4. Bishi (畀失) 5. Qarluq.
  8. ^ Xue, "A History of Turks", p. 271, 273, 275, 300-301.
  9. ^ Wang, "Political Relationship Between the Chinese, Tibetan and Arab", p. 29.
  10. ^ 1. Chumukun (处木昆) 2. Huluju (胡禄居) 3. Shesheti (摄舍提) 4. Tuqishi (突骑施) 5. Shunishi (鼠尼施).
  11. ^ 1. A-Xijie (阿悉结) 2. Geshu (哥舒) 3. Basegan (拔塞干).
  12. ^ Xue, "A History of Turks", p. 272, 314.
  13. ^ Wang, "Political Relationship Between the Chinese, Tibetan and Arab", p. 30-31.
  14. ^ Hans J. Van de Ven. Warfare in Chinese History. Brill Academic Publishers, 2000. ISBN 90-04-11774-1. Page 118.
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