ʿALĪTIGIN, the usual name in the sources for ʿALĪ B. ḤASAN or HĀRŪN BOḠRA KHAN, member of the Hasanid or eastern branch of the Qarakhanid family, ruler in Transoxania during the early 5th/11th century (d. 425/1034). We known about ʿAlītigin almost wholly through his hostile relations with the Ghaznavid sultans Maḥmūd and Masʿūd, who endeavored at various points to intervene in Transoxania or to support rival members of the Qarakhanid family against him. ʿAlītigin had been imprisoned by his rival Manṣūr Arslan Khan b. ʿAlī, but managed to escape. He secured the aid of the Oghuz Turkmen bands led by Arslan Esrāʾīl b. Salǰūq that had earlier been deflected from Ḵᵛārazm. In 411/1020-21 he conquered Bokhara, extending his power all over Soḡd; he adopted the totemistic title of Yïgan-tigin and the official designation of Arslan Ilig. With a secure base in the rich cities of Bokhara and Samarqand, ʿAlītigin rapidly made himself a force in the politics of Central Asia, exciting the jealousy of his brother Yūsof Qadïr Khan of Kāšḡar and Ḵotan. The latter joined the Ghaznavid Sultan Maḥmūd against ʿAlītigin and his Saljuq allies; in 415/1024 Maḥmūd invaded Transoxania, and ʿAlītigin had to flee from Samarqand to the steppes. A formal alliance was then concluded at Samarqand between Maḥmūd and Yūsof Qadïr Khan, with marriage unions between the two dynasties (416/1025); but ʿAlītigin returned, defeated his brother, and compelled him to evacuate his possessions. It is probable that Maḥmūd was not overanxious to see ʿAlītigin’s power entirely destroyed or to facilitate the passing of the whole of Turkestan under Yūsof Qadïr Khan’s control. Around 423/1021-22 we find ʿAlītigin, with the title Tamḡač Boḡra Qara Ḵāqān, dominant once more in Transoxania; his coins give the honorifics Bahāʾ-al-dawla, Qoṭb-al-dawla, Naṣr-al-mella, and ʿAżod-al-dīn.

Sultan Masʿūd continued his father’s policy of hostility towards ʿAlītigin, even though he had been prepared to seek the latter’s help in order to secure the throne in Ḡazna in 421/1030. Masʿūd now embarked on a plan to wrest Transoxania from ʿAlītigin and to give it to Yūsof Qadïr Khan’s second son, Masʿūd’s brother-in-law, Moḥammad Boḡra Khan. The sultan’s trusty commander, the Ḵᵛārazmšāh Altuntaš (Āltūntāš), accordingly invaded Transoxania from Ḵᵛārazm in 433/1032; an indecisive battle took place at Dabūsīya outside Bokhara between the Ghaznavid forces and ʿAlītigin and his Saljuq allies. Although Altuntaš was mortally wounded, his forces were able to execute a successful withdrawal, and peace was made. However, Altuntaš’s de facto successor in Ḵᵛārazm, his son Hārūn, showed signs of rebelliousness against Masʿūd and in 435/1034 allied with ʿAlītigin; plans were made for a joint attack on northern Khorasan, but ʿAlītigin died. His sons endeavored to maintain their father’s position in Transoxania, but within a few years had to cede power there to the rising figure of Böritigin from the rival ʿAlid branch of the Qarakhanid family, the later Tamḡač Khan Ebrāhīm (ca. 444/1052-460/ 1068).


The main primary sources are scattered mentions in Gardīzī, Bayhaqī, and Ebn al-Aṯīr.

For secondary sources, see Barthold, Turkestan3, pp. 280-86, 294-302.

Idem, Four Studies on the History of Central Asia. III. A History of the Turkman People, Leiden, 1962, pp. 103, 106-07.

M. Nazim, The Life and Times of Sulṭān Maḥmūd of Ghazna, Cambridge, 1931, pp. 53-55.

O. Pritsak, “Karachanidische Streitfragen 1-4,” Oriens 3, 1950, pp. 216-24.

Idem, “Die Karachaniden,” Der Islam 21, 1954, pp. 31-36.

Bosworth, Ghaznavids, index.

For coinage, see R. Vasmer, “Zur Münzkunde der Qarāḫāniden,” in MSOS, AS. 32, 1930, pp. 83-104.

(C. E. Bosworth)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: August 2, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, pp. 887-888

Cite this entry:

C. E. Bosworth, “ʿALĪTIGIN,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, 1982, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/alitigin-the-usual-name-in-the-sources-for-ali-b