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Christopher Beckwith "Tokharian and Indic influence on rulership ideology in the first Türk Empire"

Wed, Oct 8, 4:00 pm
Maple Room, IMU

First Presentation in The Central Eurasian Colloquium 2014–2015

Tokharian and Indic influence on rulership ideology in the first Türk Empire:

The meaning of Aršilaš ("Ashina") and Türkwač in context

Professor Christopher I. Beckwith Department of Central Eurasian Studies Indiana University

Wednesday, October, 8, 2014 at 4:00 p.m., the Maple Room, Indiana Memorial Union

Scholars have long speculated on the origin and meaning of what Chinese sources say is the name of the royal clan (阿史那A-shih-na or Ashina) of the people identified as the Türk (突厥T'u-chüeh or Tujue). The most popular etymologytoday for A-shih-na is an equation with the Khotanese word for 'blue', while the most popular explanation for T'u-chüeh argues that it transcribes a "Sogdian plural" of the word Türk. Citing Greek, Frankish, and Tokharian transcriptions, Professor Beckwith shows that A-shih-na is in fact a perfect Early Middle Chinese transcription of the Tokharian A word Ārśilāśmeaning 'the noble (Ārya) kings', while T'u-chüeh transcribes a compound of the name Türk plus the Gāndhārīword pat' ~ at' 'lord', and means 'the Türk lords'. Both words are therefore epithets, not names or even titles. But why did the early Türk people choose these epithets, and shortly afterward abandon them? What do they mean in the context of the Türk Empire in early medieval Central Eurasia and the beliefs of Central Eurasian peoples at that time? And what does Türk mean?