KOŠĀNIYA (or Košāni), a medieval Sogdian town to the west of Samarkand. Its name is most probably related to the Yuezhi Kušān dynasty (see KUSHAN DYNASTY)—or, more probably, its claimed heirs, such as the Kidarites (see Aman ur Rahman et al., p. 128), who once controlled Sogdiana in the 5th century CE. Ethnic adjectives based on the place name, Sogd. (ʾ)kwšʾnyk(ʾ), are attested in several Sogdian texts (see Sims-Williams, pp. 54-55). 

The Chinese sources, namely the itinerary of Xuanzang and the history of the Tang dynasty (Tangshu), describe 7th-century Košāniya and its lands as the “country He” (Early Middle Chinese *γa), a name which possibly reflects Avestan Gauua-, another name for Sogdiana (see Tomaschek, pp. 89 ff.; see also AVESTAN GEOGRAPHY). It was also called Qushuangnijia or Guishuangni, that is, *Kušānī(k). The only king we know of bore the name Podadi; he organized an embassy in 650-55 CE, which was approved by the Tang court. The Tangshu relates that to the east of the town was a pavilion where the king performed his morning prayers. The Chinese emperor was depicted on the northern wall of this pavilion, the Turkic rulers, on the eastern; the southern wall depicted the Indians, and Persians with Syrians were depicted on the western. The organization of these paintings resembles that of the “Ambassador Hall” excavated in Afrāsiāb (see Grenet). 

No details are known about the Arab conquest of Košāniya, although the title Košān(i)šāh is mentioned by Ṭabari and Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh, but without any relation to the Košāniya principality (see Barthold, p. 96). The 10th- to 11th-century Košāniya is described as being the “heart of Sogdiana” (ibid.) and the area with the highest population within this country; the town was equal in size to its neighbor, Eštiḵan, but its district was smaller. During the Qarakhanid period, a mint was located in Košāniya (coins issued between 396 and 416 H./1005-26; see Kochnev). Following this period, Košāniya disappears from historical records; however, the village Kašān-(atā) to the west of Kattakurghan seems to have preserved the name of Košāniya through the Timurid period (see Vyatkin, p. 49) up to the present day. During recent archeological surveys, a site tentatively identifiable with Košāniya has been found near this village (see Raspopova and Shishkina, p. 53), but M. Isamiddinov and B. Rondelli (p. 118) propose, differently, to identify Košāniya with the site Kozokota in the western part of Miyankal.



Aman ur Rahman, Frantz Grenet, and Nicholas Sims-Williams, “A Hunnish Kushan-shah,” Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology 1, 2006, pp. 125-29. 

V. V. Barthold, Turkestan down to the Mongol Invasion, London, 1928, pp. 95-96. E. Chavannes, Documents sur le Toukiue (Turcs) occidentaux, St. Petersburg, 1903; repr. with “Notes additionnelles sur les Tou-kiue (Turcs) occidentaux,” Paris, n.d.; esp. pp. 145-46. 

Frantz Grenet, “The Self-Image of the Sogdians,” in É. de la Vaissière and É. Trombert, eds., Les Sogdiens en Chine, Études thématiques 17, Paris, 2005, pp. 123-40.  

B. D. Kochnev, “Svod nadpiseĭ na karakhanidskikh monetakh: antroponimy i titulatura,” Vostochnoe istoricheskoe istochnikovedenie i special’nye istoricheskie discipliny, no.  4, Moscow, 1995, pp. 201-77. 

M. Isamiddinov and B. Rondelli, “Novoe v issledovanii Miankalya,” in Sh. R. Pidaev,  ed., Arkheologicheskie issledovaniya v Uzbekistane (2004-2005, no. 5), Tashkent, 2006, pp. 115-23. 

V. I. Raspopova and G. V. Shishkina, “Sogd,” in G. A. Brykina, ed., Srednyaya Aziya v rannem srednevekov’e, Moscow, 1999, pp. 50-77.  

Wilhelm Tomaschek, “Centralasiatische Studien I. Sogdiana,” Sitzungsberichte der philosophisch-historischen Classe der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 87, Heft 1, Wien, 1877, pp. 67-184. 

V. L. Vyatkin, “Materialy k istoricheskoĭ geografii samarkandskago vilaĭeta,”  in Spravochnaya knizhka samarkandskoĭ oblasti, Samarqand, 1902, pp. 3-84.

(P. Lurje)

Originally Published: December 30, 2014

Last Updated: December 30, 2014

Cite this entry:

P. Lurje, "KOŠĀNIYA," Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2014, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/koshaniyeh (accessed on 30 December 2014).