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Turkish name associated with personalities before and during the Ghaznavid period.

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Volume IV, Fascicle 3, pp. 254-255

BILGETIGIN (Turkish bilge “wise man, counselor,” an element found in the onomastic of the Orkhon inscriptions, e.g., Bilge Kaḡan, plus tigin “prince”; cf. Clauson, Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth Century Turkish, Oxford, 1972, pp. 340, 483), in the sources written Belkātekīn.

1. The name of a Turkish governor in Ḡazna in the years before the assumption of power there by Sebüktigin (q.v.), founder of the Ghaznavid dynasty. After the death in 352/963 of the Samanid general Alptigin, who had established himself in Ḡazna on the far eastern periphery of the Samanid empire, his son Abū Esḥāq Ebrāhīm succeeded him briefly as leader of the Turkish troops there; then, when Abū Esḥāq Ebrāhīm died in 355/966, the troops elected one of their number, Bilgetigin, who had been a ḡolām of Alptigin’s, as their commander. Bilgetigin ruled in Ḡazna as a virtually independent ruler; Šabānkāraʾī records that an army was sent out from Bukhara by the general Fāʾeq to bring Bilgetigin back to obedience but was defeated by the latter. After this, Bilgetigin was left alone, although on the evidence of two coins of his which are extant he continued to acknowledge the Amīr Manṣūr b. Nūḥ as suzerain (M. Nāẓim, The Life and Times of Sulṭān Maḥmūd of Ghazna, Cambridge, 1931, pp. 26-27; C. E. Bosworth, The Ghaznavids, pp. 38-39). Bilgetigin was killed during the siege of Gardīz in eastern Afghanistan in 364/974-75 or shortly thereafter, fighting against the local ruler of that town, who may have been the dispossessed Abū ʿAlī Lavīk, master of Ḡazna before Alptigin’s arrival (Bosworth, “Notes on the Pre-Ghaznavid History of Eastern Afghanistan,” Islamic Quarterly 9, 1965, pp. 17-18). Bilgetigin was succeeded briefly by another ḡolām of Alptigin’s, Böri or Böritigin, who proved an incompetent leader and was succeeded in 366/977 by Sebüktigin.

2. Bilgetigin is also the name of one of the Turkish commanders of Maḥmūd of Ḡazna and his son Masʿūd, frequently mentioned in the accounts of warfare, e.g., against the Qarakhanids, in Transoxania and Khorasan given by the historian Bayhaqī, see his Tārīḵ-e masʿūdī, ed. Ḡanī and Fayyāż, index; as Masʿūd’s commander-in-chief (ḥājeb-e bozorg), he died at Nīšāpūr in 426/1035 (ibid., p. 468).


Given in the text. See also, of primary sources, Jūzjānī, Ṭabaqāt-e nāṣerī, ed. ʿA. Ḥabībī, 2nd ed., Kabul, 1342-43 Š./1963-64, I, p. 227, tr. Raverty, I, pp. 71-73.

Ebn Bābā Qāšānī, Ketāb raʾs māl al-nadīm, tr. in Bosworth, The Later Ghaznavids, pp. 134, cf. 145.

Šabānkāraʾī, Majmaʿ al-ansāb, MS Yeni Cami 909, fols. 164a-165b.

An anecdote in Faḵr-e Modabber Mobārakšāh, Ādāb al-molūk, ed. A. Sohaylī Ḵᵛānsārī, Tehran, 1346 Š./1967, pp. 246-47 (cf. I. M. Shafi, “Fresh Light on the Ghaznavids,” Islamic Culture 12, 1938, p. 191, and Bosworth, “Early Sources for the History of the First Four Ghaznavid Sultans (977-1041),” Islamic Quarterly 7, 1963, p. 16), records Bilgetigin’s death in battle; the author himself claimed descent from Bilgetigin.

Cite this page
C. Edmund Bosworth, “BILGETIGIN”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 25 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_6965>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 19891215

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