The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World (Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization)

The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World (Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization)

Michal Biran

Language: English

Pages: 300

ISBN: 0521066026

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The empire of the Qara Khitai, which was one of the least known and most fascinating dynasties in the history of Central Asia, existed for nearly a century before it was conquered by the Mongols in 1218. Arriving in Central Asia from China, the Qara Khitai ruled over a mostly Muslim population. Their history affords a unique window onto the extensive cross-cultural contacts between China, Inner Asian nomads and the Muslim world in the period preceding the rise of Chinggis Khan. Using an extensive corpus of Muslim and Chinese sources, Michal Biran comprehensively examines the political, institutional and cultural histories of the Qara Khitai. Her book explores a range of topics including the organization of the army, the position of women, the image of China in Muslim Central Asia,the religions of the Qara Khitai and the legacy they left for the Mongols. Crucially she asks why they did not, unlike their predecessors and successors in Central Asia, embrace Islam. The book represents a groundbreaking contribution to the field of Eurasian history for students of the Islamic world, China and Central Asia.

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worked.i7r> Glichlillig's policy gave those Muslim historians a rare opportunity to portray the Mongols (who later captured Giichiiliig) as liberators of the Muslims. In their description of Jebe's campaign against Glichiiliig, JuwaynI and RashId ai-DIn stress that upon entering Kashgar, the Mongols commander proclaimed that each person could adhere to his forefathers' religion. This statement gained him the population's support long before the Mongols seized GlichiilUg. l77 According to the

FunLluq 10 Ibn [srandjy~il (,9 Ibn Khaidull 144 11m Zubayr 196 IbrahIm son of I.[asall (Qarakhanid) 53 Ibr:ihTIll son of I.!usayn (Qarakhanid) 62 IhrJ.hTm SOil of .LvluJ)ammad, Tamghaj Khan (Qarakhanid) 44,49,52,5.1,125,126 itklltily II.JX, 207: (jiml Khil":li X9, 131. ]IJ8_ f). 201,206,210-11 S(!I! (/lso ethnic identity al-Idri.'·;i 9 II Arslan (KI1\v[iraL,m Shah) 52,53.55.56, ISH, Ihl,l92 IIi, nver 39,90, I US. 136 lIig TU .. kmen ]9,53.54,116,149,157, ISX IIkh"ns,llklr,,"ale XX. 163, 167

his ~lICCesses the Qipchaqs in early 1 ,1Ilil early 1199) (JuVv"l.lym, 2>11-3, 1r. ) 10-12: Jbn al-Alhir, DhahabT, ,)'iror, 22: 194, where the patent is cOllllected to intcrf<:rence \vith Rayy in IllY)). T<:kish is only pre,,;entei..l as lhc ruler of TrallsoxLlnia by certain followers of Ihn ai-AthIe \\lho probably derived this information from his about Bukhara Sih! b. }ll-JawIT l'l'tir(lf a/-zmflilll IHyderalxH.L 1951-21, '<3/2, 471. whence 'lhor,4: hut cf. Jbn al-Athlr himself, \vho descrihed

Chinese clements were less important in the ruling strata's identity than they were in the Liao period. Yet the maintenance of Chinese components in Kllitan identity for nearly a hundred years after the dissolution of the Liao, in a non-Chinese environment ane! among a nOli-Chinese popUlation, calls for a thorough investigillion, especially when compared with Lhe Mongols'quick loss of their Chinese heritage after controlling the whole of China for it hundred years. IS Part of the explanatioll is

alleged centralism of the Qara Khitai, III The sources indeed support the first part of this statement, i.e., that in sharp contrast to the customs of his predecessors in Central Asia or in Liao China, 112 the Giirkhan did not allocate appanages: Salaries were paid, and the wealth acquired by the GUrkhan's officials was never described in terms ofland. l13 The payments to the army enabled the Giirkhan to enforce strict discipline among his troops and to strictly forbid pillage of the empire's

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