ṬURĀN (ṬOVARĀN), the mediaeval Islamic name for the mountainous district of east-central Baluchistan lying to the north of the mediaeval coastal region of Makrān, what was in recent centuries, until 1947, the Aḥmadzay Khanate of Kalat (see BALUCHISTAN i. Geography, History, and Ethnography, sec. 7-8). Tomaschek (part 1, 1883, p. 56) thought that the name possibly stemmed from the Iranian term tura(n) “hostile, non-Iranian land”; the name usually applied in the Iranian national epic to the lands beyond Khorasan and the Oxus river, subsequently regarded as the home of the Turks and other non-Iranian peoples par excellence.

Ṭabari records that the king of Ṭurān was amongst potentates of the eastern fringes of the Sasanid empire who submitted to the founder, Ardašir I Pāpakān (Ṭabari, series i, p. 820; idem, tr. Bosworth, p. 15). Ṭurān does not seem to be mentioned as such in the accounts of the early Arab penetration of Makrān and Sind, but is described by the 10th century Arab geographers. Thus Eṣṭaḵri (p. 171) and Ebn Ḥawqal (pp. 318-19, 324, 326; tr. Kramers and Wiet 1965, pp. 312, 317, 319) mention its urban centre (qaṣaba), as being also called al-Ṭurān and lying in a valley. Other settlements of the region are listed as Majāk; Kizkānān/Kikānān/Qiqān (on this identification see Marquart, Ērānšahr, pp. 192 n. 1, 276); Sivi/Sibi; and Qoṣdār/Qozdār.  According to Ebn Ḥawqal, Ṭurān lay at a distance of 15 stages (marḥala) from Manṣura, the capital of Muslim Sind, whilst Moqaddasi (p. 486) places both Qozdār and Kikānan at 80 farsaḵs from Manṣura. Kizkānān was probably on the site of the later Kalāt; see Le Strange, Lands, pp. 331-32. At the end of the 10th century, the author of the Ḥodud al-ʿālam (tr. p. 123, commentary p. 373) still knows the name Ṭurān; he mentions its towns as M.ḥāli (?), Qosḏān/Qoṣdār, Kijkānān (the seat of its ruler) and Šura, and he describes its population as part Muslim and part pagan (gabrakān: Zoroastrians or adherents of Indian religions?). When Yāqut, Boldān (Beirut, IV, p. 45) laconically makes Ṭovārān a kura of Sind and describes its qaṣaba as Qozdār, he is probably utilizing older materials rather than contemporary ones.

After the late-10th century, record of Ṭurān as such fades away, and the historical sources on this region now use only the term Qoṣdār for it (which survives as the town of Khozdar in modern Pakistani Baluchistan); see Bosworth, 1986, pp. 521-22; idem, 1994, pp. 199-209. Politically, the region seems to have been much fragmented in pre-Ghaznavid times, probably under local chieftains. Ebn Ḥawqal (p. 324, tr. p. 317) mentions that the ruler of the qaṣaba Ṭurān was a Muslim, one Abu’l-Qāsem Baṣri, who functioned as amir, qāzi and tax-collector; his Arabic-sounding name may not necessarily mean that he was ethnically an Arab. Explicit information is lacking, but the region must have come within the empire of its neighbors to the north, the Saffarid brothers Yaʿqub and ʿAmr b. Layṯ, with its chieftains tributary to them. In the mid-10th century, the ruler in Kizkānān was a certain Muʿtazz (Maʿmar, Moḡir, Moʿin?) b. Aḥmad, who made the ḵoṭba for the ʿAbbasid caliphs, but soon after this, Qoṣdar came within the expanding empire of the Ghaznavids Sebüktegin and Maḥmud. The former made the ruler of Qoṣdar his tributary in 366/966-67, and then Maḥmud and his son Masʿud both sent expedition thither to enforce the region’s tributary status (402/1011 and 421/1030); it seems to have remained a satellite state of the Ghaznavids into the 12th century. See for all these events, Bosworth, 1994, pp. 203, 205-09.



Anon., C. E. Bosworth, “Ḳuṣdār,” EI2² V, 1986, pp. 521-22.

Idem, “Rulers of Makrān and Quṣdār in the Early Islamic Period,” Studia Iranica 23, 1994, pp. 199-209.

Ebn Ḥawqal. Ebn Ḥawqal, tr. Kramers and Wiet. Eṣṭaḵri. Ḥodud al-ʿālam, tr. Minorsky.  Le Strange, Lands.  Marquart, Ērānšahr. V. Minorsky, “Ṭūrān,” EI²X, 2000, pp. 672-73.

Moqaddasi. Ṭabari. Ṭabari, tr., V. W. Tomaschek, “Zur historischen Topographie von Persien,” Sitzungsber. Wiener Akad. Wiss., phil.-hist. Cl., part 1 in vol. 102, 1883, part 2 in vol. 108, 1885.

Yāqut, Boldān (Beirut).

(C. E. Bosworth)

Originally Published: February 11, 2011

Last Updated: February 11, 2011