BOLOḠĀN (Būlūḡān) ḴĀTŪN, the name of three of the royal wives of the Mongol Il-khans in Iran. Of Mongol origin, the word Boloḡān, variously spelled in the Persian sources, means “sable” (see Moḥammad-Mahdī Khan fol. 141v; Doerfer, I, p. 215). In accordance with the custom noted with distaste by William of Rubruck (tr. Rockhill, p. 78), all three wives were passed down from one ruler to his successor and had considerable influence at court; their names arise particularly in the context of intercessions for the life of rebels facing execution.
1. Boloḡān Ḵātūn “Bozorg,” a relative of Būqāy Yārḡūčī (the judge), was Abaqa Khan’s (q.v.) ninth wife and was favored by him above Mertay Ḵātūn the Qūnqūrāt and Despīna Ḵātūn (daughter of Michael Palaeologus). She was the mother of Abaqa’s daughter Maleka and raised his grandson Ḡāzān as her own son. On Abaqa’s death in 680/1282, she was taken as a wife by his son Arḡūn Khan. In Jomādā II, 681/September, 1282, she was instrumental in securing the pardon of the vizier Ḵᵛāja Wajīh-al-Dīn Faryūmadī for his part in an alleged plot against Arḡūn. Arḡūn’s conspicuous reliance on her support and counsel in his struggle with Aḥmad Takūdār (Tegüder) in 683/1284 was such that the amir Būqā had to restrain him from pausing to confer with Boloḡān at the critical moment of his release from Aḥmad’s custody. Aḥmad Takūdār also treated her with respect (Rašīd-al-Dīn, ed. Jahn, 1957, pp. 54-55; Waṣṣāf, pp. 130-33). She died on 23 Ṣafar 685/20 April 1286 by the Kor river and her coffin was taken to Sajās, southwest of Solṭānīya, one of the alleged burial places of Arḡūn himself (see Zipoli, 1978). Some of her valuables were kept by Arḡūn, and the rest, including the lavish tokens of Abaqa’s affection for her, were given to Ḡāzān. Arḡūn later replaced her by another woman of the same name (see 2 below).
Boloḡān Ḵātūn was esteemed as much by Arḡūn as by his father, and her prominent position is indicated by the story that she wished to be succeeded as Arḡūn’s wife only by a lady of her own family. Arḡūn accordingly sent to China to fetch someone suitable. The great khan sent Kūkāčīn back in the company of Marco Polo, but by this time Arḡūn was already dead, and Kūkāčīn was married to Ḡāzān, who gave her Doqūz Ḵātūn’s former ordū. Kūkāčīn died in Šaʿbān, 695/June, 1296 (see Rašīd-al-Dīn, ed. Jahn, 1940, pp. 39-40; Marco Polo, p. 38; Banākatī, p. 411).
2. Boloḡān Ḵātūn “Moʿaẓẓama,” daughter of Ūtmān the son of Ūbetāy Nūyān the Qūnqūrāt was married by Arḡūn on 9 Rabīʿ I 689/22 March 1290, i.e., at Nowrūz and installed in the former ordū of Boloḡān Ḵātūn “Bozorg.” Arḡūn had a daughter by her, called Delānjī, who died in childhood. After Arḡūn’s death in 690/1291, his uncle Geyḵātū in turn married this Boloḡān Ḵātūn on his return from Alātāḡ in Šaʿbān, 691/July-August, 1292, and had a son by her called Čīnk Pūlād (also called Tīrī, according to Banākatī, p. 447). According to Rašīd-al-Dīn (ed. Jahn, 1940, p. 12), this marriage was against her wishes.
Boloḡān Ḵātūn “Moʿaẓẓama” played a prominent part in the civil war between Ḡāzān and Bāydū, during which Bāydū attempted to use her to restrain Ḡāzān but came to find her something of an embarrassment, since her loyalties and those of her supporters clearly lay with the latter (Rašīd-al-Dīn, ed. Jahn, 1940, pp. 62-64, 81; Banākatī, p. 455). On the successful outcome of this struggle one of Ḡāzān’s first acts was to “remarry” his father Arḡūn’s widow Boloḡān Ḵātūn in a Muslim ceremony near Tabrīz in Ḏu’l-ḥejja, 694/October, 1295, since they had both now adopted Islam. Ḡāzān had by her a son Oljū, who died in infancy, and a daughter, Oljāy Qotloḡ (also called Ūljākī), who married her nephew Besṭām (Kāšānī, p. 82) and later his younger brother Abū Saʿīd on (or before) his accession to the throne in 717/1317, becoming his chief and most beloved wife (Banākatī, p. 478; Samarqandī, p. 20).
Kāšānī (pp. 89-90) draws attention to her clemency, her association with imams and shaikhs, and her protection of Muslims from oppression. Boloḡān was able to intercede successfully with Ḡāzān Khan for the lives of the vizier Ṣadr-al-Dīn Zanjānī in 695/1296 and the Šayḵ-al-mašāʾeḵ Maḥmūd Dīnavārī (described as a relative of hers) in 701/1301 (Rašīd-al-Dīn, ed. Jahn, 1940, pp. 81, 100, 135; Waṣṣāf, p. 420; Banākatī, p. 464). Ḡāzān’s devotion to her, again attested by Kāšānī (loc. cit.), is seen in the way she accompanied his hunting trips and saw him off on his third expedition to Syria in 702/1303; it also possibly explains his chastity when on campaign (Rašīd-al-Dīn, ed. Jahn, 1940, pp. 137, 144-45, 175; Waṣṣāf, p. 408). For her part, Boloḡān continued to visit Ḡāzān’s tomb after his death and was held in honor by his brother and successor, Ūljāytū (Öljeytü). This alone is enough to refute the implausible story found in certain Mamluk sources that she was responsible for poisoning Ḡāzān (e.g., Ebn al-Dawādārī, Kanz al-dorar wa jāmeʿ al-ḡorar IX, ed. H. R. Roemer, Cairo, 1960, p. 111; Mofażżal b. Abu’l-Fażāʾel, al-Nahj al-sadīd wa’l-dorar al-farīd, ed. and tr. E. Blochet, Patrologia Orientalis 20, Paris, 1928, p. 93). She remained active in affairs of state until her death on 2 Šaʿbān 709/5 January 1310 at a residence in Baghdad (Spuler, Mongolen4, p. 177, suggests 708/1309 on the grounds of the weekday given, but Kāšānī’s dating is frequently inaccurate in this respect); her bier was taken to Tabrīz, where she was buried alongside her last husband in the Šām-e Ḡāzān (Kāšānī, pp. 49, 73, 89).
3. Boloḡān Ḵātūn “Ḵorāsānī,” daughter of Amir Tesūy (whose mother was Menglī Tegen, the daughter of Arḡūn Āqā) was first married to Ḡāzān Khan before his accession; Rašīd-al-Dīn records her giving birth to a stillborn child near Fīruzkūh in 690/early 1291, and she accompanied Ḡāzān part of the way on his second decisive advance against Bāydū in 694/1295. She gave shelter to her kinsman, a young son of Nowrūz, on the fall of his family in 696/1297, and her name is linked with another less successful mediation (Rašīd-al-Dīn, ed. Jahn, 1940, pp. 31, 83, 86, 111).
After Ḡāzān’s death, she became the seventh wife of Öljeytü on 8 Ḏu’l-qaʿda (or possibly Ḏu’l-ḥejja) 704/2 June (July) 1305. This third Boloḡān died on 5 Ṣafar 708/25 July 1308, perhaps in Baghdad, where she is said to have constructed a town (šahr) called after her Ḵorāsān. The endowments (waqf) of the ḵānāqāh that she built there were then entrusted to Rašīd-al-Dīn (Kāšānī, pp. 44, 82).
The principal sources are Rašīd-al-Dīn, Taʾrīḫ-i Mubārak-i-Ġāzānī . . . Geschichte der Iḷḫāne Abāġā bis Gaiḫātū (1265-1295), ed. K. Jahn, Central Asian Studies 2, The Hague, 1957; idem, History of Ghāzān Khan, ed. K. Jahn, GMS 14, London, 1940; Abu’l-Qāsem ʿAbd-Allāh Kāšānī, Tārīḵ-e Ūlǰāytū, ed. M. Hambly, Tehran, 1348 Š./1969 (the indexes of both works do not always make it clear which Boloḡān is referred to).
Some additional details are found in Tārīḵ-eWaṣṣāf and ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Samarqandī, Maṭlaʿ al-saʿdayn, ed. ʿA.-Ḥ. Navāʾī, Tehran, 1353 Š./1974.
See also Faḵr al-Dīn Abū Solaymān Dāwūd Banākatī, Tārīḵ-eBanākatī, ed. J. Šeʿār, Tehran, 1348 Š./1969.
W. W. Rockhill, ed. and tr., The Journey of William of Rubruck to the Eastern Parts of the World, 1253-55, Hakluyt Society 4, London, 1900.
Marco Polo, Il milione, tr. H. Yule, The Book of Ser Marco Polo I, 2nd ed., London, 1875.
Moḥammad-Mahdī Khan, Sanglaḵ, facs. text ed. G. Clausen, GMS 20, London, 1960.
R. Zipoli, “The Tomb of Arghūn,” in Primo convegno internationale sull’Arte dell’Iran Islamico, Venice and Tehran, 1978, pp. 7-37.
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Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
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Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, pp. 338-339