Turkistan, historic region of central Asia

Turkistan, historic region of central Asia

China’s conquest of E Turkistan, meanwhile, opened the way for Chinese
travel through Turkistan to India and permitted the introduction of
Buddhism in oases along the trade routes in an attempt to convert the
warlike nomads to a pacifist philosophy. With the fall (220) of the Han
dynasty, however, China lost control of E Turkistan to Persia, which
ruled the region between the 3d and 4th cent. and introduced
Zoroastrianism . When China reestablished control there in the middle
of the 7th cent., it came into contact with Persia, which, under the
Sassanids, occupied nearly all the rest of Turkistan except the central

The Persian holdings were swept away by the Arab invasion of the 8th
cent.; first the Umayyad and then the Abbasid caliphate held all of
Turkistan. Zoroastrianism was suppressed, and Islam, which today
remains the chief religion of Turkistan, was imposed. The Abbasid
caliphate weakened in the middle of the 9th cent.; at the same time,
China lost its holdings in the east, and many states, notably Khwarazm
(Khorezm), occupied parts of Turkistan.

The Seljuk Turks began moving into the region from the 8th cent. Their
language was adopted by most of the peoples there (with the notable
exception of the Tajiks), but the Turks themselves tended to adopt the
Iranian culture, which in fact was the dominant culture of Turkistan
until the 20th cent. All of Turkistan fell to the Mongols in the late
13th cent., and the territory was mostly bestowed upon the khan Jagatai
. Timur conquered Turkistan in the late 14th cent., pushing the Mongols
into the steppes of Kazakhstan. After Timur’s death (1405), his
successors, the Timurids , controlled much of the territory for about a
century. The later internal history of Turkistan is mainly one of
prolonged struggle involving the khanates of Khiva, Bukhara, and Kokand
and the nomadic peoples of the region, most notably Kyrgyz, Kazakhs,
Turkmens, and Uzbeks.

In the late 17th and early 18th cent., the vigorous young Ch’ing
dynasty of China controlled E Turkistan, but it gradually lost more and
more territory to Russia, whose troops invaded the khanate of Kokand in
1865 and took Tashkent. A military administration under a Russian
governor-general was established in 1867 in the conquered territories.
In 1868 the emir of Bukhara and the khan of Khiva were forced to accept
a Russian protectorate. An Anglo-Russian treaty of 1881 designated the
southern limits of Russian rule in the area. Harsh Russian
administration sparked frequent native revolts, but they were

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Turkistan Autonomous
Soviet Republic (1918) and the Bukhara and Khorezm soviet republics
(1920) were set up in the region. However, in 1924 the southern part of
Russian Turkistan was divided along geographical and ethnic lines into
new divisions—the Uzbek SSR (now Uzbekistan), the Turkmen SSR (now
Turkmenistan), the Tadzhik SSR (a union republic as of 1929, now
Tajikistan), the Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast (made an autonomous republic
in 1926 and a union republic in 1936, now Kyrgyzstan), and the
Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Oblast (made an autonomous republic in 1932, now
the Karakalpak Republic , Uzbekistan); the northern part of Turkistan
was included in the Kazakh SSR (now Kazakhstan). During Soviet rule,
the term Russian Turkistan was officially replaced with Soviet Central

Author not available, TURKISTAN., The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth
Edition 2006

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright 2006 Columbia
University Press

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