Below is an ongoing commentary of historical figures presented in O’tgan Kunlar. No doubt the list will increase over time, but, for now, I hope to outline the more obvious figures well-known in Central Asian history of this period.
The Khans of Kokand:
Amir al-Musilmin Muhammad Umar Khan 1810-1822
Muhammad Ali Khan 1822-1842
Shir Ali Khan 1842-1845 (Father of Khudayar Khan and Murad Beg through Khirghiz of Saru Tribe)
Murad Beg Khan 1845
Muhammad Khudayar Khan 1845-1852/ 1853-1858
Malla Khan 1858-1862 (Son of Shir Ali Khan through Khirghiz Baghysh Tribe)
Shah Murad Khan 1862
Muhammad Khudayar Khan 1862-1865
Muhammad Sultan Khan 1863-1865
Bil Bahci Khan 1865
Muhammad Sultan Khan 1865-1866
Muhammad Khudayar Khan 1866-1875
Khudayar Khan: Sayyid Muhammad Khudayar Khan (1812b. to 1881d.) ruled the Kokand Khanate from 1845 to 1875 on three occasions. In 1845 as a young man he was placed on the throne by Musulmanqul, wed Khudayar to one of his daughters and ruled until 1852 as father-in-law and regent to the Khan. His second reign was after those same Qipchaq factions were purged from the Khanate, 1853-1858—where he then took an anti-Qipchaq position. He lost his throne to his brother Malla Khan but regained the Khanate in 1862, ruling until 1865. During this period, in 1863, see timeline, Bukhara invaded the Khanate with the throne changing hands based upon the vicissitudes of war and support from tribal groups and local notables. Finally, after Russian conquest in 1866, he ruled during an interregnum period with the Khanate becoming a vassal state to Russia in 1868. Khudayar Khan was essentially a puppet of the Russians in the 1870s were he finally fled Kokand during a Bukhara backed rebellion in 1876. He died in Orenburg as an exile in 1881. For an exhaustive survey of the history of the Khanate see Fredrick Starr, Ferghana Valley, The Heart of Central Asia (M.E. Sharpe, New York, 2011)
Sher Ali/Shir Ali Khan (Ruled 1842-45): Father of Khudayar Khan and Cousin of Alim Khan (1823-1842), placed into power by nomadic leader after Alim Khan was overthrown and defeated by the Armies of Bukhara– referencing the first Kokand- Bukharan conflict 1839-1842. Initially both nomadic and sedentary populations protested onerous taxes. Alim Khan also lost the support of the Ulema after marrying two sisters and their mother. Aggrieved parties in Kokand sent a letter to the Bukharan Emir who intervened on their behalf when challenged by Alim Khan. Alim lost Khujand in present-day Tajikistan. Sher Ali was placed in turn as leader of the Kokand Khanate and expelled the Bukharan forces. The nomadic forces that placed Sher Ali into power soon lost their position in court to the Hakim of Margilan who was declared Ming Boshi. (Right hand of the Khan) A subsequent revolt occurred with the Qipchaq Musulmanqul taking power as Ming Boshi in Kokand. In turn sedentary political forces led a coup against Sher Ali murdering him and placing Murad Khan onto the throne—he lived for ten days with Musulmanqul’s return and recapturing of the throne. See Fredrick Starr, Ferghana Valley, The Heart of Central Asia (M.E. Sharpe, New York, 2011) and Paul Georg Geiss, Pre-Tsarist and Tsarist Central Asia, Pages 44-(Routledge, London, 2003)
“Nur Muhammad Qushbegi: (d. August 1864) a dignitary, a Qipchaq from Ferghana, and the governor of Qurama from 1845. He started his career in the ranks of the Ferghana Qipchaqs who seized power in the Kokand Khanate in 1844. Having become the opponent of one of the Qipchaq leaders, Musulmanqul, he eventually went over to the side of the sedentary nobility. He repressed the Tashkent uprising on 1847 and the anti-Qipchaq revolt in 1852. From 1847-1852 he was the governor of Tashkent with the rank of Qushbegi. In February 1862 he was the head of the conspiracy against Malla Khan which resulted in the murder of the later.” See: Timur K. Beisembiev, The Life of Alimqul (Routledge, New York, 2003) In addition to Dr. Jeff Sahadeo, Professors Shodman Vohidov and Rahbar Khalikova provide an excellent source through their translation of Abu Ubaidullah Tashkenti’s “Circumstances of Life” or “Khulosat Ul-Akhval” which provides an inside view of the conflicts riddling the Kokand Khanate and Nur Muhammad’s career. See: Jeff Sahadeo, Russian Colonial Society in Tashkent, 1865-1923 (Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2007) and Khulosat Ul-Akhval (Institute of Oriental Studies, Academy of Sciences, Uzbekistan, no 2084) published in Mirzodan Sado, Echoes of History 2009.
“Musulmanqul: Musulmanqul Mingboshi: (b. ca 1794, d. 2 November 1852) Kokand statesman. By his origin from the locality of Yaylaq, near Sahrikhan Ferghana, out of the Qipchaq clan Qulan. He was first distinguished in the political scene in 1842 during the Ferghana population’s struggle against the forces of the Bukharan Emir. With the support of the Ferghana Qipchaqs he carried out a coup d’etat and took for himself the post of Mingboshi (1844). In fact he ruled Kokand khanate until 1852, when he was overthrown as a result of the anti-Qipchaq revolt, seized and hanged in Kokand.” From: Timur K. Beisembiev, The Life of Alimqul (Routledge, New York, 2003) The historical figures outlined in Chapter Two of O’tgan Kunlar, A Young Man Suitable for the Khan’s Daughter, are Sher Ali Khan, Murad Khan and Salimsoqbek, were in fact the family and Khans of Kokand that proceeded Khudayar Khan’s rule. Qodiriy gives and accurate account of the above events. In Otamdan Hotira, Habibullah Qodiriy explains in his opening remarks that these individuals and their court machinations were well known to both his father and grandfather and often recounted in tales from that period. See Habibullah Qoddiry, Otamdan Hotira (Tashkent: 2005)
Uttaboi/Uttamboy Qushbegi Qipchaq: (d.1862) A central figure among the Qipchaq people and the head of the Iltan clan. Initially he took part in placing Shir Ali Khan on the throne and assisted in the expulsion of the army of Bukhara in 1842. When Qipchaq factions took control of the Khanate during this present period, 1844-1852, he represented one of the primary forces behind the control of the throne. In 1847 he was Hakim of Qurama. For seven years, during this present narration, he ruled Margilan as the Qushbegi while vying for the title of Mingboshi holding that position for two months in 1852. Khudayar Khan later in the novel will save Uttaboi from the purge of Qipchaq forces from his court. During Malla Khan’s reign, after usurping the throne from Khudayar Khan, he was Hakim of Tashkent, 1858 and Margilan, 1860. He was later executed by the court in Bukhara during a diplomatic mission. One son died fighting the Russians, the other son fled to Eastern Turkistan, or present day Sinjiang. We gain insight in this passage to one of Musulmanqul’s main adversaries later in his career and Qodiriy’s clarification that there were Qipchaqs in good standing with the Khan’s court.Timur K. Beisembiev, The Life of Alimqul (Routledge, New York, 2003)
Umar Khan ruled the Kokand Khanate from 1810 to 1822. He is credited with the efflorescence of the arts, engineering, agriculture within the Khanate. His military achievements allowed expansion of the Khanate along the Syr Dariya river, the conquest of the Kazakh Great Confederation and the Middle Horde as well as expansion into present day Kirghizstan. The Khanate enjoyed over a century of trade with Qing China with Umar assuring that trade continued. Umar’s first wife, Mahlar Ayim, under the pen name Nadira, was a prolific poetess who wrote in both Chaghatay and Persian. In fact the tribal influences in Kokandian society, layered with a Iranian-Muslim tradition, allowed considerable leeway and freedom for women to express themselves. In addition to a strong tradition of the female Oi Mullah, who can lead prayer among women, Kokand in the early 1990s attempted to build a women’s’ mosque to be led by the female Kokandian religious elite. On Umar Khan see Susanna Nettleton, “Ruler, Patron, Poet: ‘Umar Khan In The Blossoming of the Khanate of Kokand.”/ On women and Islam in Kokand see notes from translator, 1995, Kokand.