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Khan or Chan ([ xaːŋ ], in German often also [ ka: n ]; Arabic and Persian خان chān , DMG ḫān ; chinese   , pinyin hán ; Mongolian ᠬᠠᠨ Хан ; turkish han ; Manchurian ᡥᠠᠨhan), derived from " Khagan " (Mongolianᠬᠠᠭᠠᠨ qaġan ,خاقان chaqan , DMG ḫāqān ) is a ruler title that was mainly used by the Altaic-speaking , especially Mongolian riding nomads of Central and Central Asia and has numerous meanings, the core of which includes "commander", "leader", "lord" and "ruler". Placed in front of the name, Khan, for example, also referred to a wealthy man in a high position, whereas nowadays the word is mostly only used as a courtesy title that follows the name and enhances it.


The word was first used as gaghan by the proto-Mongolian Rouran , known to the Chinese as Zhuan Zhuan and possibly identical to the historical Avars . After the victory of the Kök Turks over the Rouran, they took over the title (now called Khaqan ), which was also used by the Mongols for a long time. In Mongolian, the "q" sound has fallen silent over the centuries, so that Kha'an is used today. This title - made particularly famous by the Mongolian conqueror Genghis Khan  - was finally minimized to Khan in various other languages . In some languages ​​(e.g. Urdu ), Khan also appears as a surname (see e.g. Abdul Kadir Khan ). Pashtun kings in Afghanistan also had Khan as titles such as Ahmad Khan Abdali , Zahir Khan but also princes such as the Nasher Khan etc. In Pashtuns, Khan sometimes appear twice like Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan , Khan Wali Khan .

Due to the loss of old Turkish sounds in New Turkish, Khan or Khagan are also read and written as Hakan , Han , Kaan or Kağan in this language .

Term derivation

Under Khanate (also Khanate ) is defined as a medieval feudal state of the tribes, their leaders to dschingisidische or Timurid were able to reduce ancestors. From the 18th century onwards, rulers of tribal confederations , in which several tribal leaders ( beg ) gather, call themselves khan and justify e.g. B. the Khanate of Kokand .

See also


  • Aftandil Erkinov: Imitation of Timurids and Pseudo-Legitimation: On the origins of a manuscript anthology of poems dedicated to the Kokand ruler Muhammad Ali Khan (1822–1842). GSAA Online Working Paper No. 5 Online version (PDF; 296 kB) .

Web links

Wiktionary: Khan  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Khan. In: Bertelsmann Lexicon. Volume 5, p. 276.
  2. Glossary. In: Siba Shakib : Eskandar. (C. Bertelsmann, Munich 2009) Paperback edition, Wilhelm Goldmann, Munich 2011, pp. 595–597; here: p. 596
  3. K. H. Menges: Altaic people. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica . V, pp. 908–912, Online Edition (online) : “ […] The Avars […] are without doubt the first Mongolian group to be historically attested […] They were the first to use the title [Ḫān] for the supreme ruler [...]
  4. ^ A b R. Grousset: The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia. Rutgers University Press, 1988, p. 585, (online) : “ […] Khagan was the old Juan-juan - therefore Mongol - title, afterward adopted by the kings of the T'u-chüeh Turks, destroyers of and successors to the Juan-juan empire [...]