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BUKHARA KHANATE. This important Central Asian state existed for nearly four centuries until 1920. It had its roots in the conquest of Ma Ward’ al-Nahr (Mawarannahr, Transoxiana) by the Uzbeks under Muhammad Shaybani Khan around 1500. Ousting the Timurid dynasts from Central Asia, the Uzbeks initially formed a decentralized polity based in several cities (the most important being Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent, and Balkh), dominated by a ruling clan descended from Chinggis Khan and by chieftains of the still nomadic Uzbek tribes. By the second half of the sixteenth century, Bukhara had emerged as the effective “capital” of a more centralized state, and while the Shaybanid dynasty soon gave way to a collateral Chinggisid lineage (the Janid or Ashtarkhanid house), Bukhara retained its central status through the political and economic decline that plagued Central Asia into the eighteenth century. By the middle of that century, the steady rise in the power of the tribal aristocracy, at the expense of the khans’ authority, that had characterized the entire Ashtarkhanid era culminated in the killing of the last Chinggisid khan and his replacement by Muhammad Rahim, chief of the Uzbek Manghit tribe. The Manghit dynasty ruled Bukhara until the khanate’s transformation into a Soviet puppet state in 1920.

The founder’s grandson Shah Murad (r. 1785-1800) expanded his realm at the expense of Iran and Afghanistan; internally his reign brought a restructuring of the khanate’s central bureaucracy and provincial administration. Preferring the title amir over that of khan, he and his son Haydar (1800-1 826) cultivated the support of the urban population and the `ulamd’ in an effort to curtail the power of the Uzbek tribal aristocracy and forge a centralized state; it was left to Haydar’s son Nasr Allah (1827-1860)) to crush virtually all potential challenges to his authoritarian rule. Nasr Allah also reorganized the Bukharan army to reduce his dependence on tribal levies, but his attempts at military expansion were generally unsuccessful, with virtually constant warfare against the khanate of Khoqand weakening both states on the eve of the Russian advance.

Under Nasr Allah’s son and successor Muzaffar (1860-1885), longstanding commercial and diplomatic ties with Russia gave way to armed conflict as Russian troops, soon after their conquest of Tashkent in 1865, engaged Bukharan forces. A string of defeats induced the Amir to sign a treaty with Russia in June 1868, ceding the region of Samarkand to direct Russian rule but retaining formal sovereignty as a vassal of the Russian tsar within the remainder of the khanate. Russian domination brought few changes under Muzaffar, but under his son `Abd al-Ahad (1885-1910) the completion of a rail line through the khanate in 1887 led to increased Russian influence in Bukhara’s internal economic, social, and political development.

Both `Abd al-Ahad and his son Sayyid `Alim (1910-1920) effectively suppressed internal opposition in the form of liberal reformist circles inspired by Western political and social thought. Following the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, however, Bukharan reformists who had fled the khanate turned for support to Soviet officials in Tashkent, for whom the Bukharans provided the “internal” revolutionary legitimation for the seizure of Bukhara by Soviet troops in September 1920. The amir fled, and from then until 1924 the former khanate existed as the Bukharan People’s Soviet Republic; this was dissolved in the “national delimitation” of Central Asia in 1924, with most of its territory allotted to the new Soviet republic of Uzbekistan.

[See also Islam, article on Islam in Central Asia and the Caucasus; Khan; and Uzbekistan.]


Allworth, Edward, ed. Central Asia: 120 Years of Russian Rule. Durham, N.C., 1989. Rev. ed. of Central Asia: A Century of Russian Rule. New York, 1967. Well-balanced collection of chapters covering all of Central Asia and both Tsarist and Soviet eras, but useful for political and cultural history of Bukhara since the Russian conquest.

Becker, Seymour. Russia’s Protectorates in Central Asia: Bukhara and Khiva, 1865-1924. Cambridge, Mass., 1968. Still the best general history of the two khanates that “survived” the Russian conquest, down to their incorporation into the Soviet state; like all available surveys, however, it is based almost exclusively on Russian sources, ignoring indigenous Persian and Turkic works.

Carrere d’Encausse, H&ne. Islam and the Russian Empire: Reform and Revolution in Central Asia (1966). Translated by Quintin Hoare. Berkeley, 1988. Fine study focused on the reform-minded Jadidi and their cultural and political agenda, but with minimal attention to economic and political issues affecting those outside the modernist elites.

Holdsworth, Mary. Turkestan in the Nineteenth Century: A Brief History of the Khanates of Bukhara, Kokand and Khiva. Oxford, 1959. Short survey, but one of the few English-language treatments of the khanates’ political, economic, and cultural development before the Russian conquest.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/bukhara-khanate/

  • writerPosted On: November 3, 2012
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