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Political system of Karakhanids

28 October 2014

09 January 2015

The political system of Karakhanid’s state was created in process of the statement of the power on the conquered lands. Ancient Turk’s root of Turgesh, especially khanate of Karluk is the basis of their tradition. The basis of their tradition takes roots from ancient Turk, Turgesh and especially Karluk’s khanate. However, Karakhanids inherited also other traditions of the people subdued by them. External Supreme power in the state was patriarchal (tribal), although, in reality, it was based on the principle of feudal hierarchy.

At an early stage of history of Karakhanid state the power over the conquired areas belonged to leaders of the largest and strong ethno-political associations, first of all leaders chigily and yagma which is confirmed by the set of titles of supreme Karakhanid’s leaders, who were named the titles "arslan" ("lion") and "bogra" ("camel"). Genesis of the titles goes back to very ancient totemic representation. However, in the conditions of development of the social relations these and other honorary titles already reflected hierarchical structure of the political power

The governor chigily worn the title of the arlan-khan (arslan kara-hakan), and the title of bogra (bogra kara-hakan) — the leader of yagma. Arslan kara-hakan was considered as the chief governor, and bogra kara-hakan, perhaps, was the co-governor. In the hierarchy of titles the general titles at different stages was not identical, value of separate titles had changed [1].

Land considered as the property of a ruling dynasty. Kagan was the supreme khan. He often had the status of the tamgach-khan [2]. Hakan, who called "the governor of the world" (azun tutkuchi), had staff court and officials (tapukchi). One of the person who was close to khan was vizier, he compared to stableman, and people with a horse that stand by the gate of the palace [3].

Vizier was close to status of kol-erkin, which existed in Karluk’s khanate. According to Mahmoud Kashgari, kol-erkin were advisers and co-rulers, or supreme governor and were characterized as "mind full, like a lake"[4].

The Karakhanidsky state in fact had specific feudal system with division into large and more small-sized areas — destinies at the head of which there were local governors (most often, representatives of a ruling dynasty) who were often wearing the title "ilik". Such system generated the civil strifes which were accompanied by frequent change of governors. Possessors of large and economically developed provinces usually only nominally recognized the power of the syuzeren.

Karakhanid state in fact had specific feudal system with division into large and more small-sized areas, they were headed by local governors (most often, representatives of a ruling dynasty), who had a title "ilik". Such system generated the infighting, which were accompanied by frequent change of governors. Owners of large and economically developed provinces usually nominally recognized the power of their suzerains.


1. History of Kazakhstan: from ancient times up to now in five volumes. Almaty: «Atamura» publishing house, 2010. Volume 1, page 544 – 402.

2. V. Bartold, Sketches of history of Semirechya//Volume 2, part 1, 1963, page 41–47.

3. Yusuf Balasagun. Useful knowledge, 1983, page 187.

4. Mahmoud Al-Kashgari. Divan luga tat-turk, Volume 1, page 107–118.

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