Sultan Said Khan

Sultan Said Khan

Sultan Said Khan ruled the state of Yarkand (mamlakati Yarkand) in Uyghurstan/Eastern Turkestan from September, 1514, to July, 1533. He was born in 1487 in Moghulistan and was a direct descendant of the first Moghul Khan, Tughlugh Timur, who had founded the state of Moghulistan in 1348 (and ruled until 1363). The moghuls were turkicized Mongols who converted to Islam.

Some English sources refer to this ruler as Abusaid.[1]


Central Asia in around 1450 CE

When the Chagatai ulus, which embraced both East and West Turkestan, collapsed, the result was the creation of two different states: Maverannahr in West Turkestan, with its capital at Samarkand, where Timur the Great came to power in 1370, and Moghulistan, with its capital at Almalik, near the present-day town of Gulja, in the Ili valley. Moghulistan embraced settled lands in Eastern Turkestan as well as nomad lands north of Tangri Tagh. The settled lands were known at the time as Manglai Sobe or Mangalai Suyah, which translates as Shiny Land, or Advanced Land Which Faced the Sun. These lands included west and central Tarim oasis-cities, such as Khotan, Yarkand, Yangihisar, Kashgar, Aksu, and Uch Turpan; and hardly involved eastern Tangri Tagh oasis-cities, such as Kucha, Karashahr, Turpan and Kumul, where a local Uyghur administration and buddhist population still existed. The nomadic areas comprised the present Kyrghyzstan and part of Kazakhstan, including Jettisu, the area of seven rivers.

The ruler of Aksu, the dughlat amir Puladchi, brought a young, 18 year old, Tughluk Timur from the Ili valley in 1347, and in a kurultai declared him a grandson of Duwa Khan, the great-grandson of Chagatai Khan and ruler of the Chagatai Khanate between 1282 and 1307. Puladchi forced all moghuls to recognize Tughluk as Khan. Khans from Chagatai, the second son of Genghis Khan, to Tughluk Timur are known as "Chagatai khans", and from Tughluk Timur to his descendants as "Moghul khans".

Moghulistan existed around 100 years, and then split into three parts: Yarkand state (mamlakati Yarkand), with its capital at Yarkand, which embraced all the settled lands of Western Kashgaria, still nomad Moghulistan which embraced the nomad lands north of Tengri Tagh, and Uyghurstan which embraced the settled lands of Eastern Kashgaria, Turpan and Kumul Basins. The founder of Yarkand state was Mirza Abu Bakr, who was from the dughlat tribe. In 1465, he raised a rebellion, captured Yarkand, Kashgar, and Khotan, and declared himself an independent ruler, successfully repelling attacks by the Moghulistan rulers Yunus Khan and his son Akhmad Khan, or Ahmad Alaq, named Alach, "Slaughterer", for his war against the kalmyks. In 1462 moghul khan Dost Muhammad took residency in Aksu, denying nomad style of life, and as result Eastern Kashgaria cities, such as Aksu, Uch Turpan, Kucha, Karashar, and also Turpan and Kumul, separated into Eastern Khanate or Uyghurstan.

Dughlat amirs had ruled the country that lay south of Tangri-Tagh in the Tarim Basin from the middle of the thirteenth century, on behalf of Chagatai Khan and his descendants, as their satellites. The first dughlat ruler, who received lands directly from the hands of Chagatai, was amir Babdagan or Tarkhan. The capital of the emirate was Kashgar, and the country was known as Mamlakati Kashgar. Although the emirate, representing the settled lands of Eastern Turkestan, was formally under the rule of the moghul khans, the dughlat amirs often tried to put an end to that dependence, and raised frequent rebellions, one of which resulted in the separation of Kashgar from Moghulistan for almost 15 years (1416–1435).

Mirza Abu Bakr ruled Yarkand for 48 years. In May, 1514, Sultan Said Khan, grandson of Yunus Khan (ruler of Moghulistan between 1462 and 1487) and third son of Akhmad Khan, made an expedition against Kashgar from Andijan with only 5000 men, and having captured the Yangihisar citadel, that defended Kashgar from south road, took the city, dethroning Mirza Abu Bakr. Soon after, other cities of Eastern Turkestan — Yarkand, Khotan, Aksu, and Uch Turpan — joined him, and recognized Sultan Said Khan as ruler, creating a union of six cities, called Altishahr. Sultan Said Khan's sudden success is considered to be contributed to by the dissatisfaction of the population with the tyrannical rule of Mirza Abu-Bakr and the unwillingness of the dughlat amirs to fight against a descendant of Chagatai Khan, and who decided, on the contrary, to bring the head of the slain ruler to Sultan Said Khan. This move put an end to almost 300 years of rule (nominal and actual) by the Dughlat Amirs in the cities of West Kashgaria (1219–1514).


At this time, almost all of West Turkestan (Maverannahr) was invaded by nomadic Uzbeks of Shaybani Khan, who were killing all the descendants of Timur the Great and Chagatai Khan. Sultan Said Khan saved his life when he moved to Kashgar with his nobles. In 1516, he concluded a peace agreement with his older brother Mansur Khan, the moghul khan of Chalish and Turpan ( Uyghurstan), who died in 1543. As a result the eastern part of the settled country south and partly north of Tangri-Tagh joined his state, including the cities of Bai, Kucha, Chalish (Karashahr), Urum (Urumchi), Turpan, Kumul, and Sajou (Dunhuang), representing those lands of former Uyghuria that were known as the Fifth Ulus of the Mongol Empire in the middle of the thirteenth century, because the former ruler of Uyghuria, idikut Baurchuk Art Tekin married Altun Begi, the daughter of Genghis Khan, and was declared by Genghis as his fifth son in 1211. The historian Mirza Muhammad Haidar, in 1546, called this eastern part of the country the "Eastern Khanate or Uyghurstan" in his famous book Tarikh-i- Rashidi, written in Kashmir.

The capital of this state was Yarkand, and it was known by the names mamlakati Saidiya, mamlakati Yarkand, and mamlakati Moghuliya in Iranian sources. The last name however was not accurate, because by this time the nomad state of Moghulistan had collapsed. It was eliminated during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by nomadic tribes of Kyrgyz, Kazakhs and Jungars, that captured all the moghul lands north of Tangri Tagh. The remnants of the moghuls moved to Kashgaria and mixed with the local uyghur population, although a group of the moghuls, in the amount of 30,000 men, joined Babur, a descendant of Timur the Great through his father Omar Sheikh, and a descendant of Chagatai Khan through his mother Kutluk Nighar Hanim, a daughter of the Moghul Yunus Khan, in Kunduz, in 1512, and helped him in his invasion of India. The Babur state in India was known as the Moghul Empire, and this state recognized Yarkand, as it did the Shaybanid state in Maverannahr, in 1538.

Relations between Yarkand and Ming Dynasty China were not developed, although the far eastern boundaries of Yarkand reached the Jiayuguan Pass at the western end of the Great Wall of China due to holy expeditions of Mansur Khan, including expeditions against the sary uyghurs — Yellow or Yellow-Haired Uyghurs, called Yugurs, that worshipped Tibetan Buddhism and took refuge in Gansu province of Ming China in 1529, fleeing the holy warriors of Mansur Khan. This situation can be partly explained by the full extinction of Silk Road trade by this time.

Silver sasnu issued in 1533 in Kashmir by Haidar Dughlat, in the name of Said Khan. The obverse legend reads al-sultan al-a'zam mir sa'id ghan.

Sultan Said Khan died on July 9, 1533, due to asthma, during a holy expedition against Ursang, Big or Great Tibet with its capital Lhasa. The main purpose of this expedition was to destroy the Idol Temple of Ursang, later known as Potala Palace, in Lhasa, and convert Tibetans to Islam. Before his death during almost 20 years of ruling he united all the settled country south of Tangri Tagh, from Kashgar to Kumul, in one centralized state with a population of the same origin and language. Also such mountaineous regions as Kashmir and Bolor (present Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan, also Chitral District of North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan) became dependencies of Yarkand state, paid tributes and struck silver and golder coins under name " Abul Fath Sultan Said Khan Ghazi ". The contemporary writer dughlat amir Mirza Muhammad Haidar stated that it was a time when the Power of Tyranny (the rule of Mirza Abu Bakr) had been changed to the Power of Law and Order during the rule of Sultan Said Khan. Theft of property was considered a high crime and was subject to severe punishment, including execution. Peasants were encouraged to leave their tools in the fields after work, and household owners to keep the doors of their houses unlocked. Foreign traders, upon arrival to any town, could leave their luggage dumped directly on the road and, after taking a rest for several days and returning, they could find their goods in the same place — safe and untouched.

This country was later known as "Kashgar and Uyghurstan", according Balkh historian Makhmud ibn Vali (Sea of Mysteries, 1640). Kashgar historian Muhammad Imin Sadr Kashgari called the country Uyghurstan in his book Traces of Invasion (Asar al-futuh) in 1780 (as opposed to Jungaria, which he called Moghulistan, and the Ili River valley, which he called Baghistan, i.e. Land of Gardens). He wrote that this great country embraced a union of six cities south of Tangri Tagh — Kashgar, Yangihisar, Yarkand, Khotan, Aksu (Ardabil), and Uch Turpan (Safidkuh) — the so-called Altishahr, as well as Kucha, Chalish (Karashahr), Turpan and Kumul. According to him, the country collapsed not due to attacks by external enemies, but due to the personal ambitions of its religious leaders, the Khojas. The Khojas were divided into two hostile groups that hated and killed each other - the ak taghliks (White Mountaineers) and the kara taghliks (Black Mountaineers), who deposed one of the last moghul khans, Ismail Khan, in 1678, with the help of invited Kalmyks (Dzungars), and put the whole country under the foot of future invaders, including Dzungars and Qings (Manchus), for gaining personal powers.

Sultan Said Khan was succeeded in Yarkand by his son, Abdur Rashid Khan (Abdurashid Khan), who ruled from 1533 to 1560.

Preceded by
Mansur Khan
Moghul Khan (in western Moghulistan)
Succeeded by
Abdurashid Khan


  • Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat. Tarikh-i-Rashidi. Translated and edited by Elias & Denison Ross (London, 1898)
  • Makhmud ibn Vali. Sea of mysteries. Translated from the Balkh original text by B. Akhmedov, (Tashkent, 1977)
  • Muhammad Imin Sadr Kashgari. Asar al-futuh (Traces of Invasion). Original manuscript (never published, written in 1780 in Samarkand in Uigur language by the exiled author) in custody of Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences, No.753, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
  • Kutlukov, M. Mongol rule in Eastern Turkestan. (Moscow, Nauka, 1970)
  • Kutlukov, M. About emergence of Yarkand state. (Almaty, Gylym, 1990)
  1. ^ "The Journey of Benedict Goës from Agra to Cathay" - Henry Yule's translation of the relevant chapters of De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas, with detailed notes and an introduction. In: Yule (translator and editor), Sir Henry (1866). Cathay and the way thither: being a collection of medieval notices of China. Issue 37 of Works issued by the Hakluyt Society. Printed for the Hakluyt society. p. 546. 

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