Bayanchur Khan of the Uyghur Khaganate 回鹘♢英武可汗
At once warlord, builder, and undisputed master of the steppes, Bayanchur Khan (reign 747- 759) vigorously expanded the domains of the Uyghur Khaganate. During his reign he erected many cities and monuments that entrenched Uyghur hold over the steppes. He also helped to rescue the Tang dynasty from collapse during the An Lushan Rebellion by sending his cavalry to retake Chang An and Louyang.
The earliest Turkic people possessed Asiatic features, including the Uyghurs. As a people they initially favored Buddhism before taking an interest in Manicheanism.
BAYANCHUR KAGAN AND THE GOLDEN AGE
Bayanchur's own stele inscriptions- the Tariot inscriptions mentioned that during the interregnum following the death of his father, Bayanchur fought against the tribes supporting his elder brother Tay Bilge Tutuk. After subduing most of them repeatedly, Bayanchur then proceeded to become the undisputed ruler of the steppes by subjugating most of the former vassals of the Göktürks. Many tribes swiftly pledged vassalage to the ascendant Uyghur Khaganate.
The walled palace- city of Por-Bazhyn used at various times by Bayanchur Khan
as his summer palace during his campaigns was constructed on a lake island.
Like his capital at Ordu-Baliq, it too was modeled after a Chinese
template of an ideal King's City gridded system.
THE AN LUSHAN REBELLION AND POWER BROKER
The Uyghur assistance came at a critical time but it also came with a heavy cost for the Tang, in 757. After the battle at Luoyang, the second capital of the Tang empire the Uyghurs looted the city for three days and stopped only after large quantities of silk were extracted (see below).
BOUNTY, KINSHIP, AND STRENGTH
Bayanchur Kagan would also strengthened the already close ties with the Tang through marriage with the ascended Emperor Suzong of Tang, who took a Uyghur princess in marriage while Bayanchur himself was given a Chinese princess, Ninguo, as his bride.
Above: An Uyghur Princess. Left: A mural of an Uyghur Khagan, dated around 8th century, Right: Uyghur Princesses from Bezeklik Caves, with the description written in old Uyghur Script: "The joyful princesses." The Princesses and the Old Uyghur script belonged to the 9th century Uyghurs of Karakhoja (Qocho)
IDENTITY, TENGRI BOGU
A Manichean scroll from Central Asia
Tang power was substantially weakened by the massive An Lushan Rebellion, where tens of millions perished. In the aftermath of the cataclysm, the neighboring Tibetan Empire would take advantage of Tang weakness and repeatedly launch multiple invasions in an attempt to bisect the Tang state in half. In 763, a force of 200,000 Tibetans invaded the Tang.
TIBETAN ASCENDENCY, TANG- UYGHUR ALLIANCE,
UYGHUR WESTERN EXPANSION
The resurgent Tibetan Empire would drastically shape the political landscape of late 8th century East Asia. The hostility the Empire showed toward the Uyghurs in repeated wars on its western flank would drive them to a closer relationship with the Tang. The Tang would doggedly fight for its western domains until finally loosing them. Hexi waypoint garrisons such as Liangzhou (764), Ganzhou, Suzhou (766), Guazhou (776), Yizhou (781) and Shazhou (787) would be repeatedly occupied by the Tibetans. The isolated Chinese troops left in the Tarim Basin continued to hold these garrisons until 790 as attested by the pilgrim monk Wukong. In the year 790 the garrisons along with the the whole of the western territories of the Tang fell into Tibetan hands.
Geographical nightmares- The Gansu Corridor and the modern region of Qinghai served as strategic weak points for the Tang dynasty. All the goods and reinforcements needed to pass this thin neck before they were able to be delivered to Tang's western regions. The Tibetans have long realized this and staged many decisive attacks in hopes to overwhelm the Tang and sever the state in half.
As the Tang finally lost control of its western territories the Uyghurs slowly
expanded westward in their prolonged struggles against the Tibetan
Empire. In due time they would have gained a foothold in the
Tarim Basin after they expelled the Tibetans
Through it all, the powerful Tibetan Empire prevailed and dominated, defeating both the Tang and the Uyghurs in a numbers of great battles and expanded as far as the Tarim Basin and the areas of modern Manipur and Yunnan Province. It's control of Silk Road access was such that it forced the Abbasid Caliphate at its height under Harun al-Rashid to seek an alliance with China against the Tibetans.
THE NEW DESTINY OF THE UYGHURS
When the Kyrgyz- another Turkic people swiftly destroyed the Uyghur Khaganate in 840, the traumatic defeat and collapse of the Khaganate triggered a massive exodus of Uyghurs from Mongolia into Turfan, Kumul, and Gansu where they founded the Kingdom of Qocho and Gansu Uyghur Kingdom.
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