Bukhara, History, Silk Road, Uzbekistan

Khanate and Emirate of Bukhara

The Khanate of Bukhara was a Central Asian  state from 1506 to 1785, followed by the  Emirate of Bukhara  from 1785 to 1920 in what is now modern-day  Uzbekistan. It occupied the land between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, known formerly as Transoxiana.

Today the territory of the defunct emirate lies mostly in Uzbekistan, with parts in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. It had also included present northern Afghanistan between 1793 and 1850.

Its core territory was the land along the lower Zarafshan River, and its urban centers were the ancient cities of Samarkand and the khanate’s and emirate’s capital, Bukhara. It was contemporaneous with the Khanate of Khiva to the west, in Khwarezm, and the Khanate of Kokand to the east, in the Fergana Valley.

Bukhara became the capital of the short-lived Shaybanid Empire during the reign of Ubaydallah Khan (1533–1540). The khanate reached its greatest extent and influence under its penultimate Shaybanid ruler, the scholarly Abdullah Khan II (r. 1577–1598).

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Khanate was ruled by the Janid Dynasty (Astrakhanids or Hashtarkhanids). They were the last Genghisid (descendants of Genghis Khan) to rule Bukhara.

In 1740, it was conquered by Nadir Shah, the Shah of Iran.

After his death in 1747, the khanate was controlled by the non-Genghisid descendants of the Uzbek emir Khudayar Bi, through the prime ministerial position of ataliq.

In 1785, his descendent, Shah Murad, formalized the family’s dynastic rule (Manghit dynasty), and the khanate became the Emirate of Bukhara.  The Manghits were non-Genghisid and took the Islamic title of Emir instead of Khan since their legitimacy was not based on descent from Genghis Khan.

Shaybanid Dynasty (1506 – 1598)

Under the rule rule of the Shaybanid Dynasty, Bukhara became a center of arts and literature.   New books on history and geography were written in this period, such as Haft iqlīm (Seven Climates) by Amin Ahmad Razi, a native of Iran.[

Bukhara of the 16th century attracted skilled craftsman of calligraphy and miniature-paintings, such as Sultan Ah Maskhadi, Mahmud ibn Eshaq Shakibi, the theoretician in calligraphy and dervish Mahmud Buklian, Molana Mahmud Muzahheb, and Jelaleddin Yusuf.

Among the famous poets and theologians who worked in Bukhara in that era were Mushfiki, Nizami Muamaya, and Mohammad Amin Zahed.

Molana Abd-al Hakim was the most famous of the many physicians who practiced in the Bukharan khanate in the 16th century.

Abd al-Aziz Khan (1540–1550) established a library “having no equal” the world over. The prominent scholar Sultan Mirak Munshi worked there from 1540. The gifted calligrapher Mir Abid Khusaini produced masterpieces of Nastaliq and Reihani script. He was a brilliant miniature-painter, master of encrustation, and was the librarian (kitabdar) of Bukhara’s library.

The Shaybanids instituted a number of measures to improve the khanate’s system of public education. Each neighborhood mahalla — unit of local self-government — of Bukhara had a hedge school, while prosperous families provided home education to their children. Children started elementary education at the age of six. After two years they could be taken to madrasah. The course of education in madrasah consisted of three steps of seven years each. Hence, the whole course of education in madrasah lasted twenty-one years. The pupils studied theology, arithmetic, jurisprudence, logic, music, and poetry. This educational system had a positive influence upon the development and wide circulation of the Persian and Uzbek languages, and on the development of literature, science, art, and skills.

This period of enlightenment was brief,  the Janid Dynasty which took over in 1599 was a more typical khanate.

Janid Dynasty (1599 – 1747)

The Janid Dynasty  were descendents of Astrakhanids) . Yar Muhammad and his family had escaped from Astrakhan after Astrakhan fell to Russians. He had a son named Jani Muhammad who had two sons named Baqi Muhammad and Vali Muhammad from his wife, who was the daughter of the last Shaybanid ruler.

In 1740, it was conquered by Nadir Shah, the Shah of Iran.

After his death in 1747, the khanate was controlled by the non-Genghisid descendants of the Uzbek emir Khudayar Bi, through the prime ministerial position of ataliq.

Emirate of Bukhara (1747 – 1920)

Over the course of the 18th century, the emirs had slowly gained effective control of the Khanate of Bukhara, from their position as ataliq; and by the 1740s, when the khanate was conquered by Nadir Shah of Persia, it was clear that the emirs held the real power.

In 1747, after Nadir Shah’s death, the ataliq Muhammad Rahim Bi murdered Abulfayz Khan and his son, ending the Janid dynasty. From then on the emirs allowed puppet khans to rule until, following the death of Abu l-Ghazi Khan, Shah Murad assumed the throne openly.

British emmissaries Charles Stoddart and Arthur Conolly were executed by Nasrullah Khan in the context of The Great Game, and  Joseph Wolff, known as the Eccentric Missionary, escaped their fate when he came looking for them in 1845. He was wearing his full canonical costume, which caused the Emir to burst out laughing, and “Dr Wolff was eventually suffered to leave Bokhara, greatly to the surprise of the populace, who were not accustomed to such clemency.”

In 1868, the emirate lost a war with  Russia, which had colonial aspirations in the region. Russia annexed much of the emirate’s territory, including the important city of Samarkand.  In 1873 the remainder became a Russian protectorate,  and was soon surrounded by the Governorate-General of Turkestan.

See my post – Russian Conquest of Central Asia for details.

Reformists within the Emirate had found the conservative emir, Mohammed Alim Khan, unwilling to loosen his grip on power, and had turned to the Russian Bolshevik revolutionaries for military assistance. The Red Army launched an unsuccessful assault in March 1920, and then a successful one in September of the same year.[

The Emirate of Bukhara was conquered by the Bolsheviks and replaced with the Bukharan People’s Soviet Republic.

1 thought on “Khanate and Emirate of Bukhara”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s