ČAḠĀNĪĀN (Middle Pers. form Čagīnīgān, Arabic rendering Ṣaḡānīān, with the common rendering of Iranian č as ṣ; Marquart’s speculation [1938, p. 93] of an origin in Mongolian čagan “white” is baseless; attested in Sogdian writing as cγʾny [Henning, pp. 8-9]), a district of medieval Islamic Transoxania substantially comprising the basin of the right-bank affluent of the Oxus, the Čaḡānrūd, the modern Qarataḡ and Sorḵān Daryā rivers, hence now falling mainly within the Uzbek SSR of the Soviet Union. It lay to the north of the Oxus crossing-point Termeḏ (q.v.), although this town was normally administratively separate from Čaḡānīān. To its east, in the next river valley of the Oxus affluent, the Qobāḏīān, modern Kāfernehān river, lay the small province of Qobāḏīān or Qovāḏīān (q.v.), which was at times attached to Čaḡānīān; while to its north, where these rivers rose, lay the Bottam or Bottamān range of mountains, separating the upper Oxus valley and its right-bank tributaries from the upper valley of the Zarafšān river or Nahr Ṣoḡd.
We know very little of the pre-Islamic history of Čaḡānīān except that it formed part of the Hephthalite confederation in the 5th-7th centuries a.d. Religiously, it must have been affected to some extent by the Buddhism of the upper Oxus region. In Sasanian times, it had its own local dynasty of rulers with the title Čaḡān-ḵodāh (Ṭabarī, II, p. 1596; Justi, Namenbuch, p. 271), but it really lay beyond the eastern bounds of the Sasanian empire and fell, at least theoretically, within the vague overlordship of Central Asia claimed by the emperors of China; in the Buddhist pilgrim Hsüan-Tsang’s travel account, Čaḡānīān appears as Cḥʿih-o-yen-na, and as Che-han-na, the eighth administrative division west of Ḵottal, in the Chinese imperial re-organization of the “Western territories” in 661 (Chavannes, p. 157 n. 5; Marquart, Ērānšahr, pp. 91, 226-27). Troops from Čaḡānīān were among the fugitive Sasanian emperor Yazdegerd III’s last defenders against the Arabs in 31/651-52 and in the next year gave aid to the people of Ṭoḵārestān (q.v.) against the Arabs (Balāḏorī, Fotūḥ, p. 407; cf. Marquart, op. cit., pp. 64 n. 3, 69). Čaḡānīān was thus at this time one of the petty principalities of Transoxania and northern Afghanistan resisting the eastwards advance of the Arabs, but by the time of the conquests of the governor of Khorasan Qotayba b. Moslem (q.v.), its ruler Tīš (thus in Ṭabarī, I, p. 1180 n. d; Chinese rendering, Tishe) adopted a more conciliatory attitude towards the Arabs, apparently as part of a policy of seeking an accommodation with the newcomers in order to have a freer hand for dealing with rival petty rulers of the districts of Aḵarūn and Šūmān in the valley to the east of Čaḡānīān (Marquart, op. cit., p. 299), what was later known as Qobāḏīān (see Gibb, pp. 31-32). Hence although Tīš in 99/718 joined in an embassy of the princes of Sogdia to China, he did not seek Chinese aid against the Arabs, and in the great onslaught of the Western Turks or Türgeš against the Arabs in Transoxania of 119/737, Čaḡānīān was one of the few remaining Arab footholds across the Oxus (Gibb, pp. 60, 81-82; Bosworth, 1981, pp. 1-2).
The next two centuries or so in the history of Čaḡānīān are very obscure, but the gradual islamization of the region must have proceeded. In 179/795, Fażl b. Yaḥyā Barmakī’s deputy governor in Khorasan, ʿOmar b. Jamīl, made it his base in the east, and his descendants continued to reside there for a long time afterwards; since all mention of the ancient Čaḡān-ḵodāhs disappears, they had possibly become extinct or were no longer of political significance there. Toward the end of the 3rd/9th century, Čaḡānīān must have come within the orbit of the Samanid state built up in Transoxania, as one of the independent principalities of the upper Oxus region and northern Afghanistan which sent presents to the Samanid court at Bukhara but not regular tribute (cf. Barthold, Turkestan3, p. 233; Bosworth, 1981, p. 3). In the 4th/10th century, Čaḡānīān and its ruling family for a while played a considerable role in the political and military affairs of the Samanid emirate and the eastern Iranian world in general with the emergence of a local family of rulers there, the Mohtajids, who may have been Iranized Arabs or conceivably descendents of the old Čaḡān-ḵodāhs. The celebrated general Abū ʿAlī Aḥmad Čaḡānī of this family (d. 344/955) was one of the dominant figures in Samanid affairs during the middle years of the century (for a detailed consideration of him and this local dynasty, see Bosworth, 1981, pp. 3-20, and āl-e moḥtāj. In the early decades of the 5th/11th century, Čaḡānīān was a dependent principality of the Ghaznavids, used by Sultan Maḥmūd of Ḡazna as a bridgehead across the Oxus against his enemies the Qarakhanids; but certainly by the sultanate of Ebrāhīm b. Masʿūd of Ḡazna (i.e., by 451/1059), Čaḡānīān had passed to the new masters of Khorasan, the Saljuqs, for at this time, Čaḡānīān and Ṭoḵārestān were allotted by the Saljuq sultan Alp Arslān to his brother Elyās b. Čaḡrī Beg (Bosworth, 1981, pp. 12-15). By the next century, mention of Čaḡānīān under that name begins to drop out of the sources, and all mention of a separate line of local princes disappears. Subsequently, it came within the Mongol empire, then that of its Chaghatayid branch and the Timurids; in Tīmūr’s time, the place-name Deh-e Now (modern Denou) is mentioned, apparently to be identified with the medieval town of Čaḡānīān, though no medieval monuments or remains seem to exist in the region today except at Termeḏ (cf. Barthold, Turkestan3, pp. 74-76).
We possess quite full descriptions of Čaḡānīān province and its towns from the 4th/10th-century classical Islamic geographers. The region seems to have been fairly sparsely populated (the figure of 60,000 villages in Maqdesī [Moqaddasī], p. 283, must be a gross exaggeration) with a considerable proportion of indigent people and a peasantry stigmatized as lazy (Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, tr. Minorsky, p. 114). They are, however, also described as warlike, and the mention of rebāṭs, frontier-defense posts, well-endowed with awqāf for their support, in such towns as Termeḏ, Čaḡānīān, Daranjī, Ṣamanjī and Šūmān (Ebn Ḥawqal, ed. Kramers, p. 459, tr. Kramers and Wiet, p. 439) reminds one that for several centuries Čaḡānīān was a frontier region, whose poverty and insecurity were probably aggravated by the depredations from the Bottam mountains to the north of the Komīḏīs (possibly remnants of the ancient Sakas) and Kanjīna Turks there (cf. Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, tr. p. 120, comm. pp. 361-63; Bosworth and Clauson, pp. 8-9; Bosworth, “Kumīdjīs,” in EI2) who were doubtfully Muslim and who were still harrying the upper Oxus principalities in early Ghaznavid times (see Bosworth, Ghaznavids, p. 239).
The towns of Čaḡānīān, going northwards from Termeḏ, including Jarmanqān, Ṣarmanjī, Daranjī, Čaḡānīān itself, Basand, Zīnvār, Būrāb and Rīgdašt were prosperous, several of them with strong citadels and with their Friday mosques often situated in the market area. The presence of the swift-running river meant that water could be brought to individual houses in Čaḡānīān town. Fruits and saffron were grown, carpets and woolen goods woven, and furs brought down from the mountains to the north. Above all, Čaḡānīān was famed, like the other upper Oxus regions, for its fine pastures and hence horse-breeding (see Maqdesī [Moqaddasī], pp. 283-84; Ebn Ḥawqal, pp. 460-61, 465, 470ff., 518-21, tr. pp. 443-45, 447-48, 452ff., 495-97; Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, p. 114; Yāqūt, Boldān, Beirut, III, pp. 408-09; Le Strange, Lands, pp. 439-40). Maqdesī, loc. cit., comments on the paucity of ʿolamāʾ from Čaḡānīān and the absence of any faqīhs at all. But Samʿānī, Ketāb al-ansāb, ed. Hyderabad, VIII, pp. 310-12, and Yāqūt, op. cit., III, p. 409, mention a not insignificant number of traditionists and other scholars with the nesba “Ṣaḡānī”; notable is of course the famous traditionist and lexicographer Rażī-al-Dīn Ḥasan b. Moḥammad Ṣaḡānī (d. 650/1252), author of two famed dictionaries, the ʿObāb and the Majmaʿ al-baḥrayn fi’l-loḡa (see Brockelmann, GAL I2, pp. 443-44, S. I, pp. 613-15; Haywood, pp. 75-76).
Barthold, Turkestan3, pp. 72-74.
C. E. Bosworth, “The Rulers of Chaghaniyan in Early Islamic Times,” Iran 19, 1981, pp. 1-20.
Idem and G. Clauson, “Al-Xwārazmī on the Peoples of Central Asia,” JRAS, 1965, pp. 2-12.
E. Chavannes, Documents sur les Tou-kiue (Turcs) occidentaux, St. Petersburg, 1903.
R. Gibb, The Arab Conquests in Central Asia, London, 1923.
J. A. Haywood, Arabic Lexicography, Leiden, 1960.
J. Marquart, Wehrot und Arang, Leiden, 1938 (see also pp. 92-94).
W. B. Henning, Sogdica, G. Forlong Fund 21, London, 1940; repr. in W. B. Henning, Selected Papers II, Acta Iranica 15, Leiden, 1977, pp. 1-68.
B. Spuler, “Čaghāniyān,” in EI2.
(C. Edmund Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1990
Last Updated: December 15, 1990
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 6, pp. 614-615