Bukhara History - Part 9

Struggle between the Samanids and the Karakhanids

In the late tenth-the early eleventh centuries, Bukhara was passed from hand to hand many times in the struggles between the Samanids and the Karakhanids. Judging by numismatic materials, the Karakhanid internal feuds followed in the area downstream of the Zerafshan. After the conqueror of Maverannakhr, his throne was inherited by his brother Mansur. He gave Bukhara, in his turn, to his son, Yusuf. Soon, Akhmad, a powerful noble and Mansur's eldest brother, expropriated this domain from Yusuf, but the latter did not surrender. On the contrary, he proclaimed himself the Great Kagan (Arslan-khan) and went on the attack.

He managed to reconquer the Bukhara oasis, but Khuseyn, another of Mansur's sons, ruled Bukhara directly (406-407/1015-1017). In 407/1016-1017 Akhmad and Mansur concluded a peace treaty in which Bukhara was given again to Akhmad. Once Akhmad died (408/1017-1018), Mansur returned to power in Bukhara. He gave his rights as ruler to his fourth brother, Mukhammad , who gave them in his turn to his son Akhmad.

Finally, in 41 1/1020-1021 a Karakhanid prince Ali-tegin (AM b. Khasan) escaped from Arslan-khan Mansur and seized Bukhara. He broke relations with Arslan-khan and repulsed an attack of Mukhammad, but later made peace with him. So, during those few years (403-41 1/1012-1021) Bukhara was passed from hand to hand "many time and oft." In most cases (if not in all the cases) this was accompanied with military actions that mean violation and destruction. Nevertheless, regardless of loosing its status as capital (the Karakhanids moved their capital to Balasagun in the Chu Valley), Bukhara retained its importance as the center which was coveted by new rulers of the country.

From 41 1/1020-1021 AM b. Khasan established a relatively long reign in Bukhara, fie began implementing a policy of separation from Maverannakhr. His position was particularly strong in 415-416/1024-1025, when many regions, including Khodjend and Shash (the Tashkent oasis), came under his power. However, his success appeared to be fragile. Ali had to flee because of the invasion of his rivals, Mahmud Qaznavi and Karakhanid Kadyr-khan Yusuf (416/1025). Thus, he was temporarily deprived of all of his domains. Soon, Ali b. Khasan retrieved Bukhara, and then, Samarkand (in 419/1028). He possessed the Zerafshan Valley until his death in 426/1034.

In V.V. Bartold's opinion, Ali-Tegin had two capitals: Bukhara and Samarkand. There are reasons to agree with this opinion based on manuscript sources (first and foremost, Bawa-khaki's History of Masud). However, Samarkand coins bear only Ali's name, whereas Bukhara ones also bear that of his son and successor, Yusuf, or, in some cases, only the latter. This could mean that Ali b. Khasan established his capital in Samarkand. Perhaps, in this case coins express a formal aspect, whereas manuscripts disclose the real state of affairs, as it happened in the days of Ismail b. Akhmad. Both cities were important for Ali; nevertheless, it seems that he established his capital in Samarkand. In 1032 a large army of the Qaznevids invaded the Bukhara oasis by order of Mansur, Makhud Qaznevi's son. This army, under leadership of the Khorezm-shah Altunshakh seized Bukhara and its warriors got much rich booty while plundering the city.

Samarkand retained the status of capital, apparently, under Yusuf as well. Buri-tegin Ib-rahim, the Karakhanid prince, wrested Samarkand from Yusuf's hands in 431/1040 and just before seizing Bukhara, announced himself a khan (Tafgach-khan). He established his residence in Samarkand as well; however, he was also aware of Bukhara's importance. In 432/1040-1041 soon after seizing Samarkand, Ibrahim b. Masr took Bukhara and held it for a brief time. He retook Bukhara in 433/1041-1042. The Bukhara dirkhems Ibrahim minted in 433/1041-1042 — in honour of the taking of Bukhara — are evidences of how important possessing the city was for Ibrahim Nasr. The two Quranic citations included in the legend on these coins both contain a mention of the victory: "We granted you an evident victory", and, "Aid from Allah and evident victory". Clearly, Ibrahim b. Nasr, who was famous for his devotion, perceived and announced his triumph in Bukhara as a notable victory gained "with the God's help".

And yet Samarkand became the capital of the Karakhanid Western Kaganate, an independent state Ibrahim founded in Maveranna-khr. For both Bukhara and the whole country, the profit in Tafgach-khan Ibrahim's centralization policy was that it put an end to internecine wars; this policy resulted in a peaceful twenty-five-year period for these domains. Being a partisan of strict Sunni orthodoxy, Ibrahim persecuted any delinquency from orthodoxy. In 1044 or 1045 he massacred Shiites in Bukhara. In 1056 a dreadful famine struck over all the territory from Iraq to Maveranna-khr, followed by an outbreak of plague that reached Bukhara.

In 1068 Shams al-Mulk Nasr, a son and successor of Ibrahim, had to defend his throne in a struggle against his brother Shuays. The latter seized Bukhara and even struck his own coins there, until he was overthrown by his brother. The congregational mosque of Bukhara was burnt during these military actions.

Some years later the Seldjuk Sultan Alp-Arslan invaded Maverannakhr with his enormous army. His warriors reached the localities of Bukhara and started to plunder and rape women, but the city stood; the sultan was killed by an assasin's dagger and his army retreated.3'1 His son Malik-shakh was more successful in his campaign to Bukhara (1089) that brought about the vassalage of the Kara-khanids to the Seljuks in Maverannakhr.

After routing united Muslim troops under the command of Sandjar b. Malik-shakh in a battle that took place north-east of Samar-kand, infidel Karakhytays (Kidans) subjugated Central Asia completely, but retained the Samarkand throne for the Karakhanid khans who ruled until 1212.

One notable feature of this period was the increasing influence and might of the Muslim clergy, particularly, in Samarkand and Bukhara. Samarkand's khan Akhmad died in 1095, while struggling against clergy. His predecessor Shams al-Mulk had executed imam Ismail as-Saffar, a member of a very influential family in Bukhara during the previous phase of the struggle. In the early twelfth century, Sultan Sandjar appointed Imam Abdalaziz to the position of the Rais of Bukhara (mayor of the city, governor).

This imam was the first to establish the original dynasty of the Burkha-nids, or Sadrs. They concentrated the clerical and, to a large extent, secular power in the Bukhara oasis, though the dynasty was subjugated to the Karakhanids up to the early thirteenth century. Umar, a son of Abdalaziz, participated in the Katvan battle in 1141. After the battle he was executed by the Karakhytay Qurkhan. Nevertheless, Umar's brother Akhmad was appointed at the same position by the Karakhytays. The Sadrs, who had collected much wealth by the early thirteenth century, were exiled during an uprising led by a son of a shield-seller. After capturing the city he named himself Malik Sandjar. Bukhara gained independence for a short time. In 1207, Khorezmshah Mukhammad occupied Bukhara, added the city to his tremendous empire, and brought the Sadrs back to the city.

Though Bukhara lost its role as a political center after the Samanids' decline, it was still of great importance, so that many of the Karakhanids cared for the city well in the eleventh-twelfth centuries. Shams al-Mulk, who spent every winter in Bukhara, prohibited his warriors from staying within the city after sunset on pain of death, in order, probably, to save citizens from possible lawlessness that could have emerged. He also created the Shamsabad reservation, which consisted of a palace, gardens, and a menagerie in the suburbs of Bukhara. In Bukhara itself he built a new congregational mosque (1069).
One of his successors, Arslan-khan Mukhammad, erected another magnificent palace in Bukhara, among the very large number of structures he commissioned (1102 - 1130).

He reconstructed the city citadel and outer walls, erected a new beautiful congregational mosque with a minaret, two large public baths, two palaces (one of which functioned later as a madrasa), and a country holiday mosque (namazgakh or musalla). Only the namazga-kh (with its richly decorated mikhrab wall made of kilned bricks) and the minaret at the cathedral mosque survive. The latter is a monumental tower, usually called Minaret Kalyan, nearly 50 metres in height, covered with figured brickwork. This monumental structure unmistakably marks the silhouette of Bukhara even now. Magaki Attari Mosque is also dated back to the twelfth century. A wonderful portal of this mosque demonstrates the richness and diversity of the architectural decor of that time.

In the late twelfth century, an impressive minaret was erected by the Sadrs in Vabkent, near Bukhara. It is not as high as Kalyan Minaret, but seems to be much higher due to its elegant proportionality.
The Burkhanids made a significant contributions to the cultural life in Bukhara. Makhmud Akhmad compiled a vast treatise on jurisprudence in about the mid-twelfth century that continued to enjoy a great popularity into the nineteenth century.

The eighteenth century manuscript copy of this treatise consists of 1,769 pages. This work is not the only treatise Makhmud wrote. And Makhmud himself was not the only Burkhanid who left a noticeable trace in literary work on jurisprudence. In the early thirteenth century another member of this family wrote verses dedicated to the last khan of Maverannakhr. A little earlier (in 574/ 1178-1179) Mukhammad b. Zufar remade and complemented riarshakhi's History of Bukhara by order of Abdalaziz the Sadr. So, by no means did the cultural life of Bukhara fade away. The development of jurisprudence and religious science were of especially high quality; there are dozens of studies by many authors that have survived.

The period of the Burkhanids' rule was not so peaceful and prosperous as the Samanid epoch, nevertheless, the city area was not reduced by any considerable extent. According to estimations by O.Q. Bolshakov, the population of Bukhara was 40,000 or 50,000 citizens in the tenth century.42 One could assume that figures represent the population numbers in the pre-Mongolian period. However, E.A.

Dav-idovich demonstrated the imperfection of the O.Q. Bolshakov's method.43 The following suggestion leads us to the same conclusion. According to Vassaf's data, within the period from 1262 to 1265, a Mongolian khan ordered to count the city population (from the context this meant the male, and, most probably, able-bodied population). The adduced figure was 16,000.44 This figure seems realistic - not fantastically large. Women and children are mentioned separately, though their number is not given. However, their number should be threefold or fourfold the number of males. If, after the devastating Mongolian invasion, about 50,000-60,000 were living in Bukhara, the number of citizens in all probability would have been greater under the Samanids, also under the Karakhanids.