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Khiva Khanate

Shirin Akiner, William Wood
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World What is This? Provides comprehensive scholarly coverage of the full geographical and historical extent of Islam

Khiva Khanate

The Khanate of Khiva was formed in the early sixteenth century when Ilbars, a chieftain of Chingizid descent ruling over Uzbek Turkic tribes, succeeded in uniting a number of the local fiefdoms (beylik) on the lower reaches of the Amu Darya, in the territory of ancient Khorezm. The dynasty thus founded is often called the ʿArabshāhids by modern scholars, though the term is not found in the indigenous sources.


For the first century the state was ruled from the city of Urgench, before the capital was moved to Khiva in the early seventeenth century, and thus the name Khanate of Khiva was not employed until the mid-seventeenth century when it first appeared in Russian sources. Though conquered by the larger and more powerful Uzbek state of Bukhara on two occasions in the sixteenth century, by the early seventeenth century the khanate had recovered and had become an important regional power. During the reigns of Abūʿl-Ghāzī Khan (r. 1643–1664) and Anūsha Khan (r. 1664–1685) it continued to extend its sway westward toward the Caspian, northward to the river Emba, southward into Khorāsān, and eastward into Bukharan lands. Abūʿl-Ghāzī was especially important because his administrative reforms aided in the centralization of state power his literary activity, included major histories of his Mongol and Turk ancestors, as well as a history of the Turkmens. However, by the end of the seventeenth century the rising power of various Uzbek tribal chiefs undid Abūʿl-Ghāzī's reforms and brought about the end of the ʿArabshāhid dynasty.

For the next century Khorezm was wracked by struggles between various Uzbek tribes, often employing nomadic Turkmens and Kazakhs as allies, as well as threats from Bukhara and Iran. In the early eighteenth century the incumbent of the Khivan throne, Shāh Niyāz Khan even sent ambassadors to Peter the Great to explore the possibility of Khiva being taken under Russian protection. However, this did not prevent the Khivans from annihilating the Russian expedition to the eastern shores of the Caspian led by Bekovich-Cherkassky in 1717. In 1740 Khiva (along with Bukhara) was conquered by Nādir Shāh of Iran and regained its independence only after his death in 1747.

The remainder of the eighteenth century was marked by internal strife and fragmentation with, however, power increasingly consolidated in the hands of Uzbek chiefs from the Qongrat tribe. From approximately 1763 these chiefs, possessing the title of inaq, ruled Khiva through puppet khans of Chingizid descent brought from the Kazakh steppes. Finally, under Eltüzer Inaq (r. 1804–1806), the Qongrats took the title of khan upon themselves and thus began the dynasty that was to remain in power until the dissolution of the khan ate in 1920. During the reigns of Muḥammad Raḥīm Khan (1806–1825) and Allāh Quli Khan (1825–1843), both astute and able sovereigns, the Khivan Khanate reached the widest limits of its territorial expansion, even acquiring control at times over the Turkmen regions of northern Khorāsān, including the ancient center of Merv. Of greatest significance for the centralization of state power was the Khivan Khan's success by 1811 in consolidating control over the Uzbek tribes of the northern Amu Darʿya delta (the Aral region), long a virtually independent region of the khanate, as well the incorporation by 1828 of the Qaraqalpaqs into the Khivan state. Relations with neighboring states were stabilized, and a number of important domestic reforms were undertaken, most notably in the fields of taxation and administration. This brought greater stability, which in turn facilitated economic development. Much of this was based on the expansion of the irrigation system and the export of agricultural produce to Russia (cotton, hides, wool, and dried fruits), but the trade in slaves captured during raids on the surrounding lands was also extremely lucrative. This was a time of considerable prosperity, dramatically reflected in the splendid, richly decorated buildings erected during this period. Literature written in the Chaghatay language also flourished, in particular the genre of historical chronicles.


The Khiva Khanate suffered a major setback in the middle of the nineteenth century when conflicts with disgruntled Turkmen tribes, especially the Yomut, led to major rebellions within the khanate. In 1855 the reigning khan, Muḥammad Amīn (r. 1846–1855), died in a battle near Sarakhs against the Teke Turkmens. Taking advantage of the ensuing dynastic struggle, various Turkmen tribes rebelled against Khivan rule and plundered several regions of the khanate. While the Qongrat rulers were able to finally gain the upper hand over these rebels by 1867, the khanate was severely weakened and thus in no position to face the new and more significant threat coming from Russia.

Russia had long had designs on Central Asia. A number of military expeditions were dispatched to the region during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but none met with success (that led by General Perovsky against Khiva in 1839 was especially catastrophic). By 1870, however, Russian forces had all but encircled Khivan territory. The final assault on the khanate under the command of General Kaufman was launched in June 1873; the Khivans sued for peace shortly afterward, and in August of that year Sayyid Muḥammad Raḥīm Khan II signed the treaty whereby the khanate formally became a Russian protectorate. It was allowed to maintain a degree of internal autonomy (although the khan had to agree to abolish the slave trade “for all eternity”), but its foreign relations were henceforth to be conducted by the Russians; furthermore, Russian merchants were to be accorded special tax privileges. The Khivans undertook to pay a heavy indemnity (2.2 million rubles, spread over a twenty-year period) toward the cost of the war. The lands on the right bank of the Amu Darʿya were ceded to Russia and were thus no longer even nominally under Khivan control.

The final years of the Khiva Khanate were plagued by factional infighting, particularly between the Turkmen and the Uzbek groups. In 1918 Isfandiyār Khan (r. 1910–1918) was assassinated at the instigation of the Turkmen leader Junayd Khan. He was succeeded by the last Khivan khan, Sayyid ʿAbdallāh (1918–1920), who was little more than a puppet ruler. In April 1920 a communist-led coup overthrew the remnants of the former administration and proclaimed the creation of the Khorezm People's Soviet Republic (PSR) on the territory of the Khivan Khanate. The Khorezm PSR survived until 1924, when it was incorporated into the newly formed Turkmen and Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republics.

Rulers of Khiva

ʿArabshāhid Dynasty (1511–approximately 1698)
AH 917/1511 CE bars Khan
AH 923/1517 CE Sultan Hajji Khan
AH 924/1518 CE Hasan Quli Khan
AH 930/1524 CE Buchugha Khan
AH 935/1529 CE Sufyan Khan
AH 941/1535 CE Avanesh Khan
AH 947/1540 CE Qal Khan
AH 956/1549 CE Aqatay Khan
AH 964/1557 CE Dost Muḥammad  Khan
AH 965/1558 CE Hajjī Muḥammad (Hajim) Khan
AH 1011/1603 CE ʿArab Muḥammad Khan
AH 1031/1622 CE Isfandiyār Khan
AH 1052/1643 CE ʿAbuʿl-Ghāzī Khan Rulers of Khiva (continued)
AH 1074/1664 CE Anūsha Khan
AH 1097/1685 CE Khudāydād Khan
AH 1099/1688 CE Arang Muḥammad I
AH 1106/1694 CE Jochi Khan
AH 1108/1697 CE Vali Khan
Various Chingizid Khans, mostly from Kazakh steppe (1698–1763/1804)
AH 1110/1698 CE Shāh Niyāz Khan
AH 1113/1701 CE Arang Muḥammad II 
Shah Bakht Khan (?)
AH 1114/1702 CEMūsa Khan
AH 1124/1712 CE Yādigār Khan
Hajjī Muḥammad Bahādur  Khan
AH 1126/1714 CE Shīr Ghāzī Khan
AH 1140/1727 CE Ilbars Khan
AH 1153/1740 CE Tahīr Khan
AH 1154/1742 CE Nūr ʿAlī Khan
AH 1155/1742 CE Abūʿl-Ghāzī II
AH 1160/1747 CE Ghayib Khan
AH 1171/1758 CE Qarabay Khan
AH 1171/1758 CE Timur Ghāzī
AH 1177/1764 CE Tawke Khan Khudaydad
AH 1179/1766 CE Shah Ghāzī Khan
AH 1180/1767 CE Abūʿl- Ghāzī Khan III
AH 1181/1767 CE Nūr ʿAlī Khan b. Baraq Sultan
AH 1184/1770 CE Jahangir Sultan (with Yomut  support)
AH 1184/1770 CE Aqïm Khan
AH 1185/1771 CE ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Khan
 Artuq Ghāzī Khan
 ʿAbdallah Khan
AH 1187/1773 CE Yādigār Khan
AH 1190/1776 CE Abūʿl-Fayz Khan
AH 1192/1778 CE Yādigār Khan (second time)
AH 1195/1781 CE Pulad Ghāzī Khan
AH 1197/1783 CE Yādigār Khan (third time)
AH 1204/1790 CE Abūʿl-Ghāzī Khan IV
AH 1217/1802 CE Abūʿl-Ghāzī Khan V

Qongrat Dynasty (as inaqs from 1763–1804; as reigning khans from 1804–1920)

AH 1176/1763 Muḥammad  Amīn Inaq
AH 1204/1790 CE ʿAvaz b.  Muḥammad Amīn
AH 1218/1803 CE Eltüzer b. ʿAvaz (1219/1804 became  khan himself)
AH 1221/1806 CE Muḥammad Raḥīm b. ʿAvaz
AH 1240/1825 CE Allāh Qulī b. Muḥammad Raḥīm
AH 1258/1843 CE Raḥīm Qulī b. Allāh Qulī
AH 1262/1846 CE Muḥammad Amīn b. Allāh QulīRulers of Khiva (continued)
AH 1271/1855 CE ʿAbdallāh b. Qutlugh-Murād Inaq
AH 1272/1856 CE Qutlugh Murād b. ʿIbadallah Bek
AH 1272/1856 CE Sayyid Muḥammad Bahādur b. Muḥammad Raḥīm
AH 1281/1864 CE Sayyid Muḥammad Raḥīm b. Sayyid  Muḥammad Bahādur
AH 1328/1910 CE Isfandiyār b. Sayyid Muḥammad Raḥīm
AH 1336/38/1918/20 CE Sayyid ʿAbdallāh
AH 1338/1920 CE Overthrow of Khanate


  • Becker, Seymour. Russia's Central Asian Protectorates: Bukhara and Khiva, 1865–1925. Cambridge, Mass., 1967.
  • Munis, Shir Muhammad Mirab, and Muhammad Riza Mirab Agahi. Firdaws al-Iqbāl: History of Khorezm. Translated from Chaghatay and annotated by Yuri Bregel. Leiden, 1999. The major primary source for the history of Khorezm down to 1825. In addition to 540 pages of text, Bregel's 1147 endnotes provide an invaluable resource.
  • Skrine, Francis Henry, and E. Denison Ross. The Heart of Asia: A History of Russian Turkestan and the Central Asian Khanates from the Earliest Times. London, 1899. See especially page 238ff.
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