ʿABDALLĀH KHAN B. ESKANDAR, a ruler of Transoxania of the Šaybānīd (q.v.) dynasty, born in the year of the Dragon (thus Šarafnāma-ye šāhī; = 1532-33 A.D., 938-39 A.H., cf. W. Barthold in EI1 I, p. 26). In 918/1512-13, when the Šaybānī state was divided into appanages between the members of the ruling clan, ʿAbdallāh’s grandfather Jānībek Solṭān received the region of Karmīna and Mīānkāl. His son Eskandar (see W. Barthold, in EI1 II, p. 576) was half-witted, and it was ʿAbdallāh who had to defend his family possessions against other branches of the Šaybānīs, which from 959/1552 were led by Nowrūz Aḥmad (Baraq), the khan of all Uzbeks and the ruler of Tashkent. Twice during this struggle ʿAbdallāh fled before his enemies, first to Balḵ (in 961/1554), then to Maymana (in 963/1556). On the death of Nowrūz Aḥmad in 963/1556, ʿAbdallāh returned to his appanage in Mīānkāl; shortly after that he drove the sons of Nowrūz Aḥmad Khan from Samarqand, and in 964/1557 he seized Bokhara, which thereafter remained the capital of the rulers of Māwarāʾ al-Nahr until the Russian conquest in the 19th century. A great help was rendered to ʿAbdallāh in his struggle for power by the Jūybārī shaikhs. Their head, Ḵᵛāǰa Moḥammad Eslām (known as Ḵᵛāǰa Eslām or Īšān-e Kalān, a pupil of Ḵᵛāǰa Aḥmad Kāšānī Maḵdūm-e Aʿẓam, was instrumental in ʿAbdallāh’s seizure of Bokhara, and subsequently he and his son and heir Ḵᵛāǰa Abū Bakr Saʿd enjoyed ʿAbdallāh’s firm support and played an ever increasing role in the political and economic life of Transoxania.

ʿAbdallāh’s uncle Pīr Moḥammad Kha n, who ruled in Balḵ, was proclaimed the supreme khan of the Uzbeks after Nowrūz Aḥmad. But already in 968/1561 ʿAbdallāh, taking advantage of an insurrection in Balḵ, proclaimed his father Eskandar supreme khan in Bokhara; the latter remained a figurehead, while ʿAbdallāh became the actual ruler. The consolidation of power in his hands was achieved after a long struggle with the other members of the dynasty, especially with the house of Nowrūz Aḥmad, headed by his son Bābā Solṭān, the ruler of Tashkent and Turkestan. In 981/1573, ʿAbdallāh captured Balḵ (which was given in appanage to his son ʿAbd-al-Moʾmen), in 982/1574 Ḥeṣār, in 986/1578 Samarqand. Bābā Solṭān was defeated first in 983/1575, but fled to the Qazaqs, with whom he invaded Transoxania in 987/1579. Tashkent and other regions to the north of the Syr Darya were finally captured in 990/1582, and Bābā Solṭān was put to death; during this war ʿAbdallāh reached the Ulu Tāḡ heights in the central Qazaq steppe, where he had a mosque built in the same place where Tīmūr had had an inscription erected in 793/1391. In 991/1583 ʿAbdallāh annexed Farḡāna. In the same year, after the death of his father, ʿAbdallāh was proclaimed khan in Bokhara; a leading role in his ascension to the throne was played by Ḵᵛāǰa Saʿd Jūybārī.

Having eliminated his rivals among the Šaybānī dynasty (most of whom were killed or executed during the wars), ʿAbdallāh Khan proceeded to other conquests. In 992/1584 he conquered Badaḵšān. In 995/1587 the Uzbek army invaded Khorasan (the first raid into Khorasan had been undertaken by ʿAbdallāh already in 974/1567), and in 996/1588 Herat was captured after a long siege and Qul Bābā Kökältaš (q.v.) was appointed its governor. In 998/1590 ʿAbd-al-Moʾmen captured Mašhad; in the following years he took most of Khorasan, while ʿAbdallāh was busy with the conquest of Ḵᵛārazm (campaigns of 1002/1593 and 1004/1595-96). He invaded Kāšḡar and Yārkand in 1003/1594-95, but without result.

The first years of the reign of ʿAbdallāh Khan were marred by conflict with ʿAbd-al-Moʾmen, who claimed the same power as ʿAbdallāh had enjoyed under Eskandar. Encouraged by the dissension in Bokhara, the Qazaqs under Tevekkel Khan (q.v.) invaded the northern regions of the Šaybānī state and captured Turkestan and Tashkent. ʿAbdallāh Khan died in Samarqand in 1006/1598, at the beginning of his campaign against the Qazaqs. ʿAbd-al-Moʾmen was killed after a reign of only six months and ʿAbdallāh’s conquests in Khorasan, Ḵᵛārazm, and north of Syr Darya were lost; from 1007/1599 a new dynasty of the Janids (q.v.) ruled in Bokhara.

The reign of ʿAbdallāh Khan was a period of considerable achievements in the economic and cultural life of Transoxania. Popular tradition ascribes to him various buildings, both religious and secular, as well as irrigation works. Some of them are attested in the sources and still survive, such as domed market arcades and a number of madrasas in Bokhara. ʿAbdallāh Khan’s centralizing policy favored the development of trade, as did his improvement of roads, building of caravansaries and water cisterns, and monetary reform, which stabilized the silver currency.


The main source for the history of ʿAbdallāh Khan is Šarafnāma-ye šāhī (also known as ʿAbdallāhnāma) by his contemporary Ḥāfeẓ Tanı š Boḵārī, but it reaches only to 996/1588 (not published; for MSS, see Storey-Bregel, p. 1129, no. 990; for a Russian epitome with some quotations from the original, see V. V. Vel’yaminov-Zernov in Trudy Vostochnogo Otdeleniya Russkogo Arkheologicheskogo Obshchestva 4, St. Petersburg, 1859, pp. 378-402).

Another contemporary work is Rawżat al-reżwān wa ḥadīqat al-ḡelmān, written for the Jūybārī shaikhs by Badr-al-dīn Kašmīrī (the only known MS is in Tashkent; see Story-Bregel, p. 1134, no. 999 [1]).

It contains some important material, including copies of correspondence between ʿAbdallāh Khan and the Jūybārī shaikhs. Among Persian sources the most important is Eskandar Beg Monšī (index, s.vv. ʿAbdallāh Khan Uzbek and ʿAbd-al-Moʾmen Khan), especially for the last years of ʿAbdallāh’s reign; for the same years also Baḥr al-asrār by Maḥmūd b. Valīallāhī, moǰallad 6, rokn 3 (for MSS see Storey-Bregel, p. 1133, no. 991; a Russian epitome by W. Barthold, Sochineniya VIII, Moscow, 1973, pp. 193-95).

On the conquest of Ḵᵛārazm see also Abu’l-Ḡāzī, I, pp. 255-71, II, 273-90.

On the campaign in Kāšḡar see Taʾrīḵ-e Šāh Maḥmūd b. Mīrzā Fāżel Čorās, ed. O. F. Akimushkin, Moscow, 1976, text, pp. 24-28; Russian tr., pp. 171-74; comm., pp. 284-86.

About the relations between ʿAbdallāh Khan and the Jūybārī shaikhs see Maṭlab al-ṭālebīn by Abu’l-ʿAbbās Moḥammad Ṭāleb (on the MSS see Sobranie vostochnykh rukopiseĭ Akademii nauk Uzbekskoĭ SSR, Tashkent, I, no. 316; III, nos. 2595-96; N. D. Miklukho-Maklay, Opisanie tadzhikskikh i persidskikh rukopiseĭ Instituta narodov Azii II, Moscow, 1961, no. 195).

Cf. also P. P. Ivanov, Khozyaĭstvo dzhuĭbarskikh sheĭkhov, Moscow and Leningrad, 1954, pp. 20, 50-51, 59, 66; and V. L. Vyatkin, in ʿIqd al-ǰumān. W. W. Bartol’du (collected papers), Tashkent, 1927, pp. 12-18.

On the coinage of ʿAbdallāh Khan see N. M. Lowick, in Numismatic Chronicle, ser. 7, vol. 6, 1966, pp. 305-08, and E. A. Davidovich, in Trudy Sredneaziatskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, N.S. 23, Tashkent, 1951, pp. 126-41.

(Yu. Bregel)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 15, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 198-199

Cite this entry:

Yu. Bregel, “Abdallah Khan B. Eskandar,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 198-199; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abdallah-khan-b-eskandar-saybanid-ruler-of-transoxania-d-1598 (accessed on 17 January 2014).