|843-1132 (vassal of Western Liao) |
1209 (vassal of Mongols)
Late 13th to mid 14th century (conquered by Chagatai Khanate)
|Common languages||Tocharian, Indo-Iranian and later Old Uyghur language|
|Religion||Church of the East ("Nestorianism"), Manichaeism,Buddhism|
|1132 (vassal of Western Liao) |
1209 (vassal of Mongols)
Late 13th to mid 14th century (conquered by Chagatai Khanate)
|Today part of||China|
|History of the Turkic peoples|
|Turkic Khaganate 552-744|
|Khazar Khaganate 618-1048|
|Great Bulgaria 632-668|
|Kangar union 659-750|
|Turk Shahi 665-850|
|Türgesh Khaganate 699-766|
|Uyghur Khaganate 744-840|
|Karluk Yabgu State 756-940|
|Kara-Khanid Khanate 840-1212|
|Ganzhou Uyghur Kingdom 848-1036|
|Oghuz Yabgu State|
|Ghaznavid Empire 963-1186|
|Seljuk Empire 1037-1194|
|Sultanate of Rum|
|Kerait khanate 11th century-13th century|
|Khwarazmian Empire 1077-1231|
|Naiman Khanate -1204|
|Qarlughid Kingdom 1224-1266|
|Delhi Sultanate 1206-1526|
|Golden Horde |  1240s-1502|
|Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) 1250-1517|
|Bengal Sultanate 1352-1487|
|Ilyas Shahi dynasty|
Qocho (Chinese: ?; pinyin: ; literally: 'Qocho Uyghurs', Mongolian Uihur "id."), also known as Idiqut, ("holy wealth"; "glory") was an Uyghur kingdom created in 843, with strong Chinese Buddhist and Tocharian influences.
It was reputedly founded by Uyghur refugees fleeing the destruction of the Uyghur Khaganate after having been driven out by the Yenisei Kirghiz. They made their summer capital in Qocho (also called Qara-Khoja, modern Gaochang District of Turpan) and winter capital in Beshbalik (modern Jimsar County, also known as Ting Prefecture). Its population is referred to as the "Xizhou Uyghurs" after the old Tang Chinese name for Gaochang, the Qocho Uyghurs after their capital, the Kucha Uyghurs after another city they controlled, or the Arslan (lion) Uyghurs after their king's title.
The Kingdom of Qocho's rulers trace their lineage to Qutlugh of the Ediz dynasty of the Uyghur Khaganate.
In 869 the Kingdom of Qocho attacked the Guiyi Circuit but was repelled.
In 870 the Kingdom of Qocho attacked the Guiyi Circuit but was repelled.
By 887 they were settled under an agrarian lifestyle in the region of Qocho.
In 954 Ilig Bilgä Tengri rose to power.
In 981 Arslan Bilgä Tengri ilig rose to power.
In 984 Arslan Bilgä Tengri ilig became Süngülüg Khagan. In the same year a Song dynasty envoy reached Qocho and gave an account of the city:
There is no rain or snow here and it is extremely hot. Each year at the hottest time, the inhabitants dig holes in the ground to live in .... The earth here produces all the five grains except buckwheat. The nobility eat horseflesh, while the rest eat mutton, wild ducks and geese. Their music is largely played on the pipa and harp. They produce sables, fine white cotton cloth, and an embroidered cloth made from flower stamens. By custom they enjoy horseback riding and archery .... They use the [Tang] calendar produced in the seventh year of the Kaiyuan reign (719) ....They fashion pipes of silver or brass and channel flowing water to shoot at each other; or they sprinkle water on each other as a game, which they call pressing out the sun's heat to chase off sickness. They like to take walks, and the strollers always carry a musical instrument with them. There are over fifty Buddhist temples here, the names inscribed over their gates all presented by the Tang court. The temples house copies of the Buddhist scriptures (da zang jing) and the dictionaries Tang yun, Yupian and Jingyun. On spring nights the locals pass the time milling about between the temples.There's an "Imperial Writings Tower' which houses edicts written by the Tang emperor Taizong kept carefully secured. There's also a Manichaean temple, with Persian monks who keep their own religious law and call the Buddhist scriptures the 'foreign Way' .... In this land there are no poor people; anyone short of food is given public aid. People live to an advanced age, generally over one hundred years. No one dies young.
In 996 Bügü Bilgä Tengri ilig succeeded Süngülüg Khagan.
In 1007 Alp Arsla Qutlugh Kül Bilgä Tengri Khan succeeded Bügü Bilgä Tengri ilig.
In 1024 Kül Bilgä Tengri Khan succeeded Alp Arsla Qutlugh Kül Bilgä Tengri Khan.
In 1068 Tengri Bügü il Bilgä Arslan Tengri Uighur Tärkän succeeded Kül Bilgä Tengri Khan.
In 1123 Bilgä rose to power. He was succeeded by Yur Temur at some point, who was succeeded by Bar?uq Art iduq-qut.
In 1130 the Kingdom of Qocho became a vassal of the Qara Khitai.
In 1209 the Kingdom of Qocho became a vassal of the Mongol Empire.
In 1242 Kesmez iduq-qut succeeded Bar?uq Art iduq-qut.
In 1246 Salïndï Tigin iduq-qut succeeded Kesmez iduq-qut.
In 1253 Ögrünch Tigin iduq-qut succeeded Salïndï Tigin iduq-qut.
In 1257 Mamuraq Tigin iduq-qut succeeded Ögrünch Tigin iduq-qut.
In 1266 Qosqar Tigin iduq-qut succeeded Mamuraq Tigin iduq-qut.
In 1280 Negüril Tigin iduq-qut succeeded Qosqar Tigin iduq-qut.
In 1318 Negüril Tigin iduq-qut died. The Kingdom of Qocho became part of the Chagatai Khanate.
In 1322 Tämir Buqa iduq-qut rose to power.
In 1330 Senggi iduq-qut succeeded Tämir Buqa iduq-qut.
In 1332 Taipindu iduq-qut succeeded Senggi iduq-qut.
In 1352 Ching Timür iduq-qut succeeded Taipindu iduq-qut and was the last known ruler governor of the kingdom.
By the 1370s the Kingdom of Qocho ceased to exist.
Mainly Turkic and Tocharian, but also Chinese and Iranian peoples such as the Sogdians were assimilated into the Uyghur Kingdom of Qocho. Chinese were among the population of Qocho. Peter B. Golden writes that the Uyghurs not only adopted the writing system and religious faiths of the Sogdians, such as Manichaeism, Buddhism, and Christianity, but also looked to the Sogdians as "mentors" while gradually replacing them in their roles as Silk Road traders and purveyors of culture.
The Tang rule over Qocho and Turfan and Buddhism left a lasting legacy upon the Kingdom of Qocho with the Tang presented names remaining on the more than 50 Buddhist temples with Emperor Taizong of Tang's edicts stored in the "Imperial Writings Tower " and Chinese dictionaries like Jingyun, Yuian, Tang yun, and da zang jing (Buddhist scriptures) stored inside the Buddhist temples and Persian monks also maintained a Manichaean temple in the Kingdom, the Persian Hudud al-'Alam uses the name "Chinese town" to call Qocho, the capital city.
The modern Uyghur linguist Abdurishid Yakup pointed out that the Turfan Uyghur Buddhists studied the Chinese language and used Chinese books like the Thousand Character Classic and Qieyun and it was written that "In Qocho city were more than fifty monasteries, all titles of which are granted by the emperors of the Tang dynasty, which keep many Buddhist texts as the Tripi?aka, Tangyun, Yupuan, Jingyin etc."
In Central Asia the Uyghurs viewed the Chinese script as "very prestigious" so when they developed the Old Uyghur alphabet, based on the Syriac script, they deliberately switched it to vertical like Chinese writing from its original horizontal position in Syriac.
While the Uyghur language is a Turkic language, James A. Millward claimed that the Uyghurs were generally "Mongoloid" (an archaic term meaning "appearing ethnically Eastern or Inner Asian"), giving as an example the images of Uyghur patrons of Buddhism in Bezeklik, temple 9, until they began to mix with the Tarim Basin's original, Indo-European-speaking "Caucasoid" inhabitants, such as the so-called Tocharians. Buddhist Uyghurs created the Bezeklik murals.
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The '"Compendium of the Turkic Dialects" by Mahmud al-Kashgari included the Uyghurs, who were viewed unfavorably by Muslims. It was written that "just as the thorn should be cut at its root, so the Uighur should be struck on the eye". Al-Kashgari noted that Muslim Turks used the derogatory name "Tat" to describe the Buddhist Uyghurs whom al-Kashgari described as "infidels". The identities of "Buddhist" and "Uyghur" were intertwined with each other.
The Buddhist Uyghurs were subjected to an attack by the Muslim Turks and this was described in al-Kashgari's work. Mahmud Ka?gari's works contained poetry stanzas and verses which described fighting between the Buddhist Uighurs and Muslim Kara-Khanids. Uyghur Buddhist temples were desecrated and Uyghur cities were raided and Minglaq province across the Ili was the target of the conquest against the Buddhist Uyghur by the Muslim Karakhanids as described in 5-6 stanzas of al-Kashgari's work.
Mahmud al-Kashgari's Three Turkic Verse Cycles recorded in order - in the Irtysh Valley, a defeat inflicted on "infidel tribes" at the hands of the Karakhanids, secondly, the Buddhist Uyghurs being attacked by the Muslim Turks, and finally, a defeat inflicted upon "a city between Tangut and China.", Qatun Sini, at the hands of the Tangut Khan.
Mahmud al-Kashgari insulted the Uyghur Buddhists as "Uighur dogs" and called them "Tats", which referred to the "Uighur infidels" according to the Tuxsi and Taghma, while other Turks called Persians "tat". While al-Kashgari displayed a different attitude towards the Turks diviners beliefs and "national customs", he expressed towards Buddhism a hatred in his Diwan where he wrote the verse cycle on the war against Uighur Buddhists. Buddhist origin words like toyin (a cleric or priest) and Burx?n or Furxan (meaning Buddha, acquiring the generic meaning of "idol" in the Turkic language of al-Kashgari) had negative connotations to Muslim Turks.
The Imams and soldiers who died in the battles against the Uyghur Buddhists and Khotan Buddhist Kingdom during the Tarim Basin's Islamification at the hands of the Karakhanids are revered as saints.
Alans were recruited into the Mongol forces with one unit called the Asud or "Right Alan Guard", which was combined with "recently surrendered" soldiers, Mongols, and Chinese soldiers stationed in the area of the former kingdom of Qocho and in Beshbalik (now Jimsar County), the Mongols established a Chinese military colony led by Chinese general Qi Kongzhi.
The kingdom was a Buddhist state, with both state-sponsored Mahayana Buddhism and Manichaeism, and was a center of Uyghur culture. The Uyghurs sponsored the construction of many of the temple-caves in what is now Bezeklik Caves. They abandoned the Old Turkic alphabet and adopted and modified the Sogdian alphabet, which later came to be known as the Old Uyghur alphabet. The Idiquts (the title of the Qocho rulers) ruled independently until they become a vassal state of the Qara Khitai (Chinese: "Western Liao").
In 1209, the Kara-Khoja ruler Baurchuk Art Tekin declared his allegiance to the Mongols under Genghis Khan and the kingdom existed as a vassal state until 1335. After submitting to the Mongols, the Uyghurs went into the service of the Mongol rulers as bureaucrats, providing the expertise that the initially illiterate nomads lacked. Qocho continued exist as a vassal to the Mongols of the Yuan dynasty, and were allied to the Yuan against the Chagatai Khanate.
When the Mongols placed the Uyghurs of the Kingdom of Qocho over the Koreans at the court, the Korean king objected, then Emperor Kublai Khan rebuked the Korean king, saying that the Uyghur king of Qocho was ranked higher than the Karluk Kara-Khanid ruler, who in turn was ranked higher than the Korean King, who was ranked last, because the Uyghurs surrendered to the Mongols first, the Karluks surrendered after the Uyghurs, and the Koreans surrendered last, and that the Uyghurs surrendered peacefully without violently resisting.
The Buddhist Uyghurs of the Kingdom of Qocho and Turfan were converted to Islam by conquest during a ghazat (holy war) at the hands of the Muslim Chagatai Khanate ruler Khizr Khoja (r. 1389-1399). Qocho and Turfan were viewed as part of "Khitay", which was a name for China. The 1390s war by Kizir Khoja's against the Uyghurs (Huihu) of Qoco (Qocho) is also considered a Jihad. As a consequence of the Jihad, the religion of Islam was forced on Qocho and this resulted in the city of Jiaohe being abandoned. The mujahideen of the Islamic Chagatai Khanate conquered the Uyghur and Hami was purged of the Buddhist religion which was replaced with Islam. The Islamic conversion forced on the Buddhist Hami state was the final event in the Islamization.
After being converted to Islam, the descendants of the previously-Buddhist Uyghurs in Turfan failed to retain memory of their ancestral legacy and falsely believed that the "infidel Kalmuks" (Dzungar people) were the ones who built Buddhist monuments in their area. Buddhist influences still remain among the Turfan Muslims. Since Islam reached them much after Altishahr, personal names of un-Islamic Old Uyghur origin are still used in Qumul and Turfan while people in Altishahr use mostly Islamic names of Arabic origin.
Anti portrait Muslims had Buddhist portraits obliterated during the wars over hundreds of years in which Buddhism was replaced by Islam. Cherrypicking of history of Xinjiang with the intention of projecting an image of irreligiousity or piousness of Islam in Uyghur culture has been done by people with agendas. Michael Dillon wrote that the 1000s-1100s Islam-Buddhist war are still recalled in the forms of the Khotan Imam Asim Sufi shrine celebration and other Sufi holy site celebrations. Bezeklik's Thousand Buddha Caves are an example of the religiously motivated vandalism against portraits of religious and human figures.
Buddhist murals at the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves were damaged by local Muslim population whose religion proscribed figurative images of sentient beings, the eyes and mouths in particular were often gouged out. Pieces of murals were also broken off for use as fertilizer by the locals.
The Uyghurs of Taoyuan are the remnants of Uyghurs from Turpan from the Kingdom of Qocho.
There are numerous gaps in our knowledge of the Uyghur rulers of Qocho prior to the thirteenth century. The title of the ruler of Qocho was idiqut or iduq qut. In 1308, Nolen Tekin was granted the title Prince of Gaochang by the Emperor Ayurbarwada. The following list of rulers is drawn mostly from Turghun Almas, Uyghurlar (Almaty, 1992), vol. 1, pp. 180-85.
Uyghur Manichaean Elect depicted on a temple banner from Qocho