EḴŠĪD, Arabo-Persian form of a Sogdian royal title attested in Sogdian script as (ʾ)xšyδ (more anciently and more commonly written by means of the ideogram MLKʾ ) and in Manichean script as (ʾ)xšy(y)δ. The Old Turkish title šad may be a dialectal variant of the Sogdian word, which is almost certainly etymologically identical with OPers. xšāyaθiya-, Mid. Pers. and NPers. šāh “king” (Bosworth and Clauson, pp. 6-7; Sims-Williams, 1985, p. 163, n. 61; and Yoshida, 1988, p. 148, where ʾxšʾʾyʾδ is a misprint for ʾxšʾy-ʾʾδ ).

Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh (p. 40) and Ṭabarī (II, pp. 1242, 1247) apply the title eḵšīd exclusively to the rulers of Farḡāna, and it has often been assumed that this is the only authentic usage; but the discovery at Afrāsīāb (q.v.; ancient Samarkand, capital of Soḡd) of bricks stamped with the title eḵšīd in Kufic script (Bernard et al., p. 375) helps to confirm that Yaʿqūbī (Taʾrīḵ II, p. 344) is equally correct in referring to Ḡūrak (Sogd. Ūγrak, mistakenly transcribed Ḡūzak in most Arabic texts), the last independent ruler of Samarkand, as “eḵšīd of Soḡd” (though the later historians Ebn Aʿṯam Kūfī (IV, p. 180) and Balʿamī (ed. Rowšan, p. 843) were mistaken to interpret eḵšīd as the name of Ḡūrak’s father). The full title of Ḡūrak is given by Yaʿqūbī as eḵšīd al-Soḡd afšīn Samarqandeḵšīd of Soḡd, afšīn of Samarkand,” corresponding closely to the titulature of Dēwaštīč (q.v.) attested in the Sogdian documents from Mt. Mug as sγwδyk MLKʾ smʾrknδc MRʾY “king of Soḡd, lord of Samarkand” (Livshits, 1962, p. 56 and passim, with minor variants), where the ideogram MLKʾ is used in place of the phonetic spelling xšyδ (for the equivalence of xšyδ and MLKʾ cf. also βγʾn(w) (ʾ)xšy(y)δ and βγʾ(ʾ)n(w) MLKʾ “king of the gods,” a title of Zurvan in Manichean and Buddhist Sogdian texts, see Sims-Williams, 1976, p. 47). Besides the rulers of Soḡd and Farḡāna, the only other eḵšīd referred to in pre-Islamic documents from Western Turkestan is a certain βγtyk or βxtyk MLKʾ. This title is borne by a ruler of Panjikent at the beginning of the 8th century; according to Livshits (1979, pp. 58-60), it may originally have related to the Baḡdān district to the north of Panjikent, while Yoshida (1993, p. 254) understands it as indicating a ruler nominated by the Chinese emperor. (cf. also Bactr. bagddiggo kagano on some Hephthalite coins [Davary, pp. 170-71], where eḵšīd seems to have been replaced by the Turkish royal title ḵāqān). Later Sogdian texts from Eastern Turkestan show that the title eḵšīd was, or had become, widespread, being applied both to famous kings of the past such as Alexander and Aśoka (nksyntr MLKʾ, šwkʾ MLKy; Henning, p. 138, ll. 26-27, 30) and to contemporary petty rulers (kʾšy xšyδ “king of Kāšḡar,” Müller, p. 11, l. 75; tmʾr xwš xšyδ “king Tämär Quš,” possibly a chief of the so-called “dragon clans,” cf. Sims-Williams and Hamilton, pp. 68-69). Finally, in the 4th/10th century, the title was revived in Egypt by Muḥammad b. Toḡj, founder of the Ekhshidid dynasty, whose ancestors had come from Farḡāna.


Bibliography (for cited works not found in this bibliography, see “Short References”):

P. Bernard et al., “Fouilles de la mission franco-soviétique à l’ancienne Samarkand (Afrasiab): première campagne, 1989,” Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. Comptes rendus des séances de l’année 1990, pp. 356-80.

C. E. Bosworth and G. Clauson, “Al-Xwārazmī on the Peoples of Central Asia,” JRAS, 1965, pp. 2-12.

G. D. Davary, Baktrisch. Ein Wörterbuch, Heidelberg, 1982.

Ebn Aʿṯam Kūfī, Ketāb al-fotūhá, 4 vols., Beirut, 1986.

W. B. Henning, “The Murder of the Magi,” JRAS, 1944, pp. 133-44.

V. A. Livshits, Yuridicheskie dokumenty i pis’ma,Sogdiĭskie dokumenty s gory Mug 2, Moscow, 1962, esp. pp. 50-51.

Idem, “Praviteli Pancha,” Narody Azii i Afriki, 1979, no. 4, pp. 56-68.

F. W. K. Müller, “Ein Doppelblatt aus einem mani-chäischen Hymnenbuch (Maḥrnâmag),” APAW, Phil.-hist. Klasse, Abh. 5, 1912, pp. 1-40.

N. Sims-Williams, “The Sogdian Fragments of the British Library,” IIJ 18, 1976, pp. 43-82.

Idem, The Christian Sogdian Manuscript C2, Berliner Turfantexte 12, Berlin, 1985; reviewed by Y. Yoshida in BSOAS 51, 1988, p. 146-48.

Idem, Sogdian and Other Iranian inscriptions of the Upper Indus I, Corpus Inscr. Iran., pt. II, II/2, London, 1989; reviewed by Y. Yoshida in IIJ 36, 1993, pp. 252-56.

Idem and J. Hamilton, Documents turco-sogdiens du XIe-Xe siècle de Touen-houang, Corpus Inscr. Iran., pt. II, III/3, London, 1990.

(F. Grenet and N. Sims-Williams)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: December 9, 2011

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Vol. VIII, Fasc. 3, pp. 289-290