CHINESE TURKESTAN v. Under the Khojas



v. Under the Khojas

The Khojas (Ḵᵛājas, Ḵᵛājagān), descendants of the Naqšbandī Sufi Aḥmad Ḵᵛājagī Kāsānī (d. 949/1543), known as Maḵdūm-e Aʿẓam, ruled over Chinese Turkestan between 1089/1678 and 1173/1759. As sayyeds (claiming descent from the Prophet Moḥammad), they had married into some of the leading families (begs) of the Eastern Chaghatays (see chaghatayid dynasty), in­cluding the ruling Chingizid clan, thus consolidating a broad power base in the region of Altïšahr (six cities), consisting of Aqsu (A-ke-su), Uch Turfan, Khotan (Hedian), Kashgar (Ka-shi), Yarkand (Suo-che), and Kucha (Ku-che). Throughout the 11th/17-18th centuries the two main lineages of the Khojas, the Esḥāqīya (Qarataḡlïq, Black Mountain) and the Āfāqīya (Aqtaḡlïq, White Mountain), descendants respectively of the two sons of Maḵdūm-e Aʿẓam (see Table 39), extended their power, ruling over a number of city-states with puppet Chaghatayid princes as nominal rulers (Saguchi, 1963, chaps. 1-2; Fletcher, History, chaps. 3-4). In the late 1080s/1670s the Oirad (Ūyrāt) Mongols, originally from Dzungaria and western Mongolia, invaded Altïšahr; with their support in 1089/1678 Ḵᵛāja Āfāq Hedāyat-Allāh, the great-grand­son of Maḵdūm-e Aʿẓam for whom the Āfāqīya lineage is named, seized the Chaghatayid throne in Yarkand (Kāšḡarī, tr. Hartmann, p. 214). His descendants continued to rule Kashgaria until the mid-12th/18th century. Their domain was relatively prosperous, characterized by irrigation agriculture dependent upon the qanāt@ (underground aq­ueduct) system originally borrowed from Persia. The Khojas’ power was, however, severely limited by their overlords, the Dzungar khans from what was then the leading Oirad tribe, who required payment of tribute and frequently insisted on hostages to ensure their vassals’ obedience. In 1168/1755 the armies of the Manchu Qing dynasty (1644-1911) invaded Dzungaria, where they found two brothers of the Āfāqīya lineage, Qïlïč Borḥān-­al-Dīn and Ḵᵛāja Jahan, being held hostage (Saguchi, 1978, pp. 67-80). Although the Chinese attempted to enlist the support of the brothers, they chose to resist and fled to their own territory in the western Tarim basin. Their independence was short-lived, however, and the Chinese conquest of Kashgaria in 1173/1759 brought the rule of the Khojas to an end (Fletcher, 1982, pp. 170-71). Descendants of Qïlïč Borḥān-al-Dīn (who fled to Badaḵšān in 1173/1759) and his brother led Muslim resistance in the region until the second half of the 13th/19th century.

Although an indigenous Muslim and non-Muslim Turkic literature is attested in eastern Turkestan from an early period, the earliest surviving works embodying the historical traditions of the Chaghatayids in the 10th/16th century are in Persian, for example, the Tārīḵ-e rašīdī (952/1546) of Mīrzā Moḥammad-Ḥaydar Doḡlāt (q.v.). Especially during the reign of Ḵᵛāja Āfāq (1089-1106/1679-94) the heterogeneous populations of the Altïšahr began to develop a common identity based on allegiance to Islam, especially the teachings of the Naqšbandī order. One of the most pious Naqšbandīs, Šāh-Maḥmūd b. Mīrzā Fāżel Čorās (d. ca. 1107/1696), left two important works in Persian: a political history intended as a continuation of the Tārīḵ-e rašīdī through the first three quarters of the 11th/17th century (Čorās, 1976) and a hagiography of the Esḥāqīya lineage entitled Anīs al-ṭālebīn (1107/1696). The Khojas encouraged both translation of Persian works into Eastern Turkic and a revival of literary forms original to the latter language. This diverse literary culture continued to thrive long after the dynasty came to an end. For example, the major work on Maḵdūm-e Aʿẓam, Jāmeʿ al-maqāmāt, had been written in 1026/1617 by his grandson Abu’l-Baqāʾ, who belonged to a third lineage that had remained uninvolved in the politics of the Tarim basin. In 1208/1794 Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Yārkandī began a translation of Jāmeʿ al-maqāmāt into eastern Turkic; he completed it, with a supplement on the Khojas of Kashgar, in 1235/1819 under the title Majmūʿat al-moḥaqqeqīn (ms. Orient. Oct. 1680, Staatsbibliothek, Marburg, pp. 15, 21, 154). From this series of works it is possible to assess the importance of histories and tales about Muslim saints, especially those from different parts of the Tarim basin, in forging a sense of common Islamic identity. The Khojas also founded shrines to some of these saints and established pious endowments (waqfs) to support them. The shrines became sites of pilgrimage, at which the inhabitants of different parts of the region were brought closer together. Among the most important pilgrimage centers were the Yaḡdu tombs near Kashgar, where Ḵᵛāja Āfāq (d. 1106/1694) is buried (Kāšḡarī, tr. Hartmann, p. 217 n. 2).



Šāh-Maḥmūd b. Mīrzā Fażl Čorās, Anīs al- ṭālebīn (ca. 1107/1696), Bodleian ms. 2494; cf.

A. F. L. Beeston, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindustani and Pushtu Manuscripts in the Bodleian Libarary pt. III. Additional Persian Manuscripts, Oxford, 1954, p. 12.

Idem, Tārīḵ (ca. 1087/1676), ed. and tr. O. F. Akimushkin as Khronika . . . , Pamyatniki pis’mennosti Vostoka 25, Moscow, 1976.

J. Fletcher, “China and Central Asia 1368-1884,” in J. K. Fairbank, ed., The Chinese World Order. Traditional China’s Foreign Relations, Cambridge, Mass., 1968, pp. 206-24.

Idem, “The Biography of Khwush Kipäk Beg (d. 1781) in the Wai-fan Meng-ku Hui-pu wang kung piao chuan,” Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 36/1-3, 1982, pp. 168-72.

Idem, “The Eastern Chaghadayid Realm from the Moghuls’ Adoption of Islam to Their Loss of Moghulistan,” in D. Sinor, ed., The Cambridge History of Inner Asia I, forthcoming, chap. 24.

Idem, A History of the Naqshbandi Khwages of Eastern Turkestan. 1525-1865, (unpubl. ms., Harvard University), chap. 3. “The Coming of the Infidels,” and chap. 4. “The Triumph of the Oasis Nobility.” Mīr Ḵāl-al-Dīn, Hedāyat-nāma (1143/1730-31), British Museum ms. Or. 8162; cf.

G. M. Meredith-Owens, Handlist of Persian Manuscripts 1895-1966, London, 1968, p. 21.

M. Hamada, “Islamic Saints and Their Mausoleums,” Acta Asiatica 34, 1978, pp. 79-95.

Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Kāšḡarī, Taḏkera-ye ʿazīzān (or Taḏkera-ye Ḵᵛājagān; ca. 1768), tr. and abr. M. Hartmann as “Ein Heiligenstaat im Islam. Das Ende der Caghataiden und die Herrschaft der Choğas in Kašgarien,” in Der islamische Orient 1/6-10, Berlin, 1905, pp. 193-374; tr. and abr. R. B. Shaw as “The History of the Khōjas of Eastern-Turkistān,” J(R)ASB 66/1, 1897, suppl.

T. Saguchi, Jūhachi-jūkyū seiki Higashi Torukisutan shakaishi kenkyū (Research in the social history of eastern Turkestan in the 18th-19th centuries), Tokyo, 1963.

Idem, “Kashgharia,” Acta Asiatica 34, 1978, pp. 61-78.

Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Yārkandī, Majmūʿat al-moḥaqqeqīn (ca. 1208/1793-94), Staatsbibliothek, Marburg, ms. Orient. Oct. 1680.

Table 39. The Khoja Lineages

(Isenbike Togan)

Originally Published: December 15, 1991

This article is available in print.
Vol. V, Fasc. 5, pp. 474-476