The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World (Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization)

The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World (Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization)

Michal Biran

Language: English

Pages: 300

ISBN: 0521066026

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The empire of the Qara Khitai, which was one of the least known and most fascinating dynasties in the history of Central Asia, existed for nearly a century before it was conquered by the Mongols in 1218. Arriving in Central Asia from China, the Qara Khitai ruled over a mostly Muslim population. Their history affords a unique window onto the extensive cross-cultural contacts between China, Inner Asian nomads and the Muslim world in the period preceding the rise of Chinggis Khan. Using an extensive corpus of Muslim and Chinese sources, Michal Biran comprehensively examines the political, institutional and cultural histories of the Qara Khitai. Her book explores a range of topics including the organization of the army, the position of women, the image of China in Muslim Central Asia,the religions of the Qara Khitai and the legacy they left for the Mongols. Crucially she asks why they did not, unlike their predecessors and successors in Central Asia, embrace Islam. The book represents a groundbreaking contribution to the field of Eurasian history for students of the Islamic world, China and Central Asia.





















p. 97. "'-0 For the Uighur 176 ISlalli Aspects of cultural and institulional history community in soutll China that survived at least until the fi l'tcenth century. Allove all. Manicl",eism and Buddhism sounded similar to olltsiciers 4 < • Sharar al·f)11l and MTrkl,w'lIul claimed that Giichiiliig" wife:, ihe daughter of the last Giirkhan, was Christian.'I'1 This detail does not appear ill sources writ· len hefore the fifteenth century,'15 and seems to originate in a confusion between (ot·

of his first actions, however, reported to the .lin authorities as early as tbe tenth month of 1124, was to gain control of the Liao horse herds of the northwest. This act supplemented his forces by more than IO,OO() horses, which were probably joined by their herders S7 The capture of the horses was probably one of the results of Dasbi's most important act in KedlH1. This ~I Chen Delhi, "Dashi." 55-7; XLSG. 31; for earlier identirications of Beiting duhlflu, see Qian, "Xi Liao Ii guo benll10

to which part of the information this statement refers, and there is, Iherefore, '-1- Ibn ;11-ALhTr. 12: I 35-(J, JU/janT/ljabd)l. 1:302; .lll\vayni. 2:g9, tr. Boyle, 357: i{,]:;hId/KarTml, 1:335; Abu e;ha?], Hi\'/o;re. 50. This of Tekisb, hmvcvcr. niSi) a rhetorical device that strcsse;-, the contrast hetwlTIl and hi." son J\.'lu~ammaJ, extermination of the Qara Khitai is taken by these sources (and others) as a fatal rniswkc th:.1t the fVlongols illto the Islamic realm. 7hou Biela, Fcng zhao

main direction oj" Qarn Khitai military involvement in this period, i.e., Illoslly ill the wes!, since it was much more profitable to fight in the rich regiol1s of Khurasan, KhwarazlTl or Transoxania than to assist one Mongol tribe against anothcr, Plagued by problems of authority and money, the Qara Khitai played significant role in Mongol unification. Allying the Mongol tribes against the .lin was far ton rre;lt}l tm,k for thf'- dc~clining Q~lra Khit:.\i empire, The grrnvlng (Irt.he Mongols

Qarakhanid realm, Juwaynl mentions in thc early thirteenth century the Sultan of Khotan, ISS therehy attesting to a certain disintegration of Eastern Qarakhanid power betwecn Khotan and Kashgar. Another form of Qara Khitai involvement in their vassals' internal affairs was their willingness to support a pretender to a throne ill return for a notable financial gain, as they did for Tekish in 1172.lwi Inlerestingly, the popularity of a candidate among his future subjects was seriously considered

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