KADAGISTĀN, an eastern province of the Sasanian empire. The clearest evidence for the existence of such a province is provided by a bulla bearing the impression of a seal with the Pahlavi legends ktk “Kadag” and ktkstʾn ʾwstʾndʾl, i.e., Kadagistān ōstāndār “provincial administrator of Kadagistān” (Gyselen, pp. 222-23, fig. 43), in the light of which the Bactrian form Kadagstān (spelled kadagostano) in two eighth-century Bactrian contracts (Doc. T, Sims-Williams, 2001, pp. 98-105; Doc. X, ibid., pp. 136-43) can also be recognized as a place-name (Gyselen, p. 152). Both documents identify “the commander of the army of Kadagstān” as “the lord of the Warlugān/Wargun (people),” i.e., the people of *Warlu, Chinese Huolu (Mathews, nos. 2401 + 4181; Early Middle Chinese γwat-lɔh, Pulleyblank, pp. 135, 200), a city which was probably situated in the valley of the Qunduz river, in the northeast of what is now Afghanistan, and which was presumably the principal city of Kadagistān (Yoshida, p. 158; Grenet, pp. 147-48).
Kadagistān may have been a Sasanian province under the control of an ōstāndār for only a short period, perhaps following the reconquest of the east by Ḵosrow I in the second half of the sixth century. Later, in 659 CE, the Chinese chronicle Xin Tang Shu refers to Huolu as the capital of a Hephthalite tarḵān (Grenet, p. 147), while Bactrian documents from both earlier and later than the period of Ḵosrow I refer to the ruler of this area simultaneously as “king of the people of Kadag” and as a kadag-bid (lit. “master of the house”) subservient to a specified overlord, the latter being first the Sasanian emperor Pērōz (Doc. ea, 461/2 CE, Sims-Williams, 2007, p. 108; Doc. ed, 465 or 475 CE, ibid., p. 114), later a Hephthalite yabḡu (Doc. ja, undated, ibid., p. 124), and finally a Turkish ḵāqān (Doc. Y, 771/2 CE, Sims-Williams, 2001, p. 144).
The evident connection between this ruler’s two titles, kadag-bid and “king of the people of Kadag,” suggests that the place-name Kadag or Kadagistān derives from the common noun kadag “house,” perhaps in the special sense “(royal) house.” The province of Kadagistān may have had its origin in a royal demesne, governed by a kadag-bid or “master of the (royal) household,” who would have acted as a governor or steward of the estate on behalf of his overlord but who also came to be regarded as a ruler in his own right.
Further details of the sources regarding Kadag/-Kadagistān and its rulers are given by Sims-Williams, 2008, pp. 98-99.
F. Grenet, review of Gyselen, Studia Iranica 35, 2006, pp. 144-48.
R. Gyselen, Nouveaux matériaux pour la géographie historique de l’empire sassanide. Sceaux administratifs de la collection Ahmad Saeedi, Paris, 2002.
R. H. Mathews, Chinese-English Dictionary, revised American edition, Cambridge, Mass., 1943.
E. G. Pulleyblank, Lexicon of reconstructed pronunciation in Early Middle Chinese, Late Middle Chinese, and Early Mandarin, Vancouver, 1991.
N. Sims-Williams, Bactrian Documents from Northern Afghanistan, I: Legal and Economic Documents, Oxford, 2000 .
Idem, Bactrian Documents from Northern Afghanistan, II: Letters and Buddhist Texts, London, 2007.
N. Sims-Williams, “The Sasanians in the East. A Bactrian archive from northern Afghanistan,” in V. Sarkhosh Curtis and S. Stewart, eds., The Idea of Iran III. The Sasanian Era, London, 2008, pp. 88-102.
Y. Yoshida, review of Sims-Williams 2001, Bulletin of the Asia Institute 14, 2000 , pp. 154-59.
Originally Published: September 15, 2009
Last Updated: April 19, 2012
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Vol. XV, Fasc. 3, pp. 324-325