Bilge Kutluk, Elteris Bilge kagan (date of birth  is unknown – 691) – great kagan who laid the foundation of the Second Eastern Turkic Khaganate (682-744), prominent commander. His personal name was Kutuluk. Еlteris Bilge was his Kagan rank. He was aristocratic khan breed descended from close relatives of the Last kagan of the First Eastern Turkic Khaganate Ilik-kagan (Il kagan).  After 630 years, his grandfathers became the leader of the tribe subordinated to Sheli Yuanin, who was Yongzhong Dudu, which was founded in the Ordos region on the territories of the modern Inner Mongolian Autonomous Province of the PRC, and had a post of Tutun Chur as the heir. Before becoming a kagan was named as a “shad”. In the Chinese data his name was saved as Ashina Gudulu (阿史那骨笃禄 / Āshǐnà Gǔdǔlù) and Аshina Gudolu(阿史那骨咄禄 / Āshǐnà Gǔduōlù). And his kagan rank «Еlteris kagan» was transcribed as “Sedelishi kehan (颉跌利施可汗 / Xiédiēlìshī Kèhán).”


After the abolition of the First Turkic Khaganate in 630, Turkic tribes settled in the border grazing zones of the territory of modern Inner Mongolian Autonomous Province, Ninxia Dungen Autonomous Province and districts of Shanxi Province of the border regions of China. The Kingdom of Tang created local administrative structures (duhufu) in the military-administrative form and established the administrative and military ranks of the Turkic aristocracy in the regions where the tribes settled, ruled them for 50 years. Over the years, the Turkic people fully felt the hardships of Chinese bondage. They took part in different crusades for the interests of Kingdom of Tangg, began to fade from the earth.  

As it is known from the historical data, in 620 to the throne of the First Eastern Turkic Khaganate came kagan whose name was written in the Chinese data as “Seli kehan (頡利可汗)”, and in the Turkic records as “Ilig kagan” or “Il kagan.” He was a son of Jami kagan (VI century – 609). After his uncle Chulo kagan’s death, Ilig kagan was a kagan in 620-630.

In 624 Ilig kagan together with junior kagan Toles kagan (his name was written in Chinese “Тuli kehan 突利可汗,” in Turkic records «Töles qaγan») led the army and crusaded the land of China. They did successful crusades and massively destroyed the army of Li Shimin who ruled divisions of the empire of Tang. Li Shimin knew that he was not able to win them in direct battles and found “compromise” with junior kagan – Toles kagan, they became brothers and he set him against great kagan – Ilig kagan. Because of the disagreements between the rulers of the Eastern Turkic Khaganate that had been aggravated, it was finished with the termination of their crusade and getting back from the battle field. After two years, in the internal political power of the Kingdom of Tangg took place disagreements which turned into a horde conflict. In 626, Ilik Kagan, who intended to skillfully take advantage of this instability, went on a crusade against the Empire with 100,000 troops, and won all the battles. Soon, in the internal political conflict of the Empire Li Shimin won and became a king. After 20 days of his ruling as the king, Ilik kagan led his army and reached the place which was 20 kilometers far from the capital of the country Chang-an. At that time Li Shimin had to come to a compelling compromise and made a “Veishui reconciliation”. Li Shimin met with Ilig kagan on the bridge Bianqiao of the river Weishui, killed his white horse and set reconciliation about not to assault each other.

According to bilateral reconciliation Ilik kagan went back. However, Li Shimin, who knew very well internal issues of the Eastern Turkic Kaganate, continued his actions regarding setting against each other Ilik kagan and Toles kagan. He not only took advantage of the conflict between Turkic kagans, but also skillfully took advantage of indifference between the Turkic tribes.

Because Ilig kagan, during his reign let Chinese visiers work in the inner power of the Kaganate. One of them was Chinese man by the name Zhao Deyan. He wanted to raise his status and glory before the king and adhered to the policy of “over reforming”, he was fond of making changes in Turkic customs, and issued laws, decrees contrary to the interests of the Turkic people as well. Thus, when Ilig kagan sat on the throne, there were many actions in power that were contrary to the interests of the Turkic people. His affection for foreigners than in his people was not limited only to tabgashs, he also did what he was told by scammer merchants from Central Asia and mostly listened to their advice. His actions were useful for others, not for his own power, but also useful for the emperor of the empire Tang Li Shimin. Li Shimin, who skillfully used this opportunity, was able to set up other tribes against the power of the Ilig Kagan, not counting the Kok Turks who supported the Toles Kagan.

As a result, in 627 the unity of the Eastern Turkic Khaganate began to decay. Tribes such as Xue-yanto, Uighurs, Ba-e-gu, tongra, who opposed the Ilig kagan, opposed inappropriate decrees and laws that violated traditions and customs and together chose the kagan from the tribe Xue-yanto. On top of that, Toles kagan united with the Kingdom of Tangg separated from Ilig kagan. As they say, “The trouble does not come alone” in those years, the cover of snow was deep, and a famine appeared in the great steppe and cattle died in large numbers. In the 629-630s, the Eastern Turkic Khaganate encountered a political crisis, and the Khaganate collapsed directly. The Kingdom of Tang recognized the ruler of Xue-yanto Inan as a kagan. Subsequently, they attacked the Eastern Turkic Khaganate with them. In 629, the Toles kagan was defeated in the battle with the Kingdom of Tangg. However, on the advice of a Chinese wife, he was subordinate to the Kingdom of Tangg.

Іn 630, Ilig kagan was defeated by the Kingdom of Tangg and its allies. He fled to Toles Kagan. However, the Toles kagan handed him over to the Kingdom of Tangg. Thus, because of the uncompromising and disunity of the Turkic kagans, the Eastern Turkic Khaganate was destroyed lately.

After Ilig kagan was taken to Chang-an, Li Shimin condemned his treasonous actions one after another. But he did not kill him, and appointed him as a governor of one region. Іlig Kagan, who could not put up with shame, cried without getting tired with his wife and child. In 634, he died of grief in the capital of China, Chang-an. The people burned his corpse according to the Turkic tradition [1. 6028-6050 p; 2.  165 p.].

The history of the creation, development and collapse of the country of the Eastern Turkic Khaganate is described in ancient Turkic monuments as follows:

When Tengri was created in the sky, below the earth, between them the son of mankind was created. Above the son of mankind were my ancestors Bumyn kagan and Istemi kagan (sat on a throne). He was [sitting on the throne] ruler for Turkic people, country, and power. Opponents were on four sides. He directed the army, invaded and captured the population of four sides. After conquering, he made peace. He made bow heads and bent their knees. He populated the people in front (in the east) to the lands of Kadyrkhan, behind (to the west) to the iron gates. The ruler of the Kok Turks would sit in these areas without possession. They were skilled kagans, they were great kagans. Their orders (commanders) were also qualified. Their aristocrats, their peoples were fair. That’s why he united the country so much. He united his country and gave them power. They [themselves] were needed in the next world (died). The people who came from the Bokili desert in the east, Tabgash, Tibetans, Abars, Urym, Kyrgyz, Ukurykuy, Ogyzs, Tatars, Chinese (Kidan), many people mourned. They were such great (glorious) kagans. After that his younger brother became a kagan. However, he wasn’t like his elder brother. His sons were not like their father. They were unqualified kagans on the throne. They were weak kagans. Their orders (commanders) were unqualified, weak. People were deprived of unity and the Turkic country due to the fact that their aristocrats, people were not fair, because they believed and humbled themselves to the deceit of the Tabgash peoples, because of the revenge between brothers and the intransigence of aristocrats and peoplе. He who ruled khaganate lost his kagan. Your noble sons and beautiful daughters became slaves to the people of Tabgash. Turkic nobles lost their Turkic names. People who were for Tabgashs became Tabgashs. Таbgash were subordinated to the kagan. He had served for fifty years. [They] in the front to the east invaded till Bokili Kagan. Behind in the back invaded till Iron gate. They gave to Tabgash kagan [others’] country and land [power-government]. The whole Turkic people said: “We had a country, where is it? How can we be united?” “We had a kagan, where is he? To whom can we give our power?” Saying that they became enemies to Tabgash people [ 3. 61 p.].

Thus, Turkic people “were subordinated to Tabgash kagan. They had served to him for fifty years.” Аfter 50 years it was noticed that Turkic nobility began their actions to restore their own country.  

According to sources provided by the Chinese side, an attempt by subjects of the Kingdom of Tang of the Turkic aristocracy to restore the country took place once before. One such case was registered in 664. After the abolition of the Eastern Turkic Khaganate in 630, the ruling dynasty of the Khaganate was resettled in the border areas near Chinese land and they were appointed ranks. At that time 300 Turkic families moved to the city Yunzhun (nowadays Datong city of Shanxi Province), nobles of Ashide dynasty had been ranked. Some time later, in 664, the people of the Ashide dynasty visited Emperor Tan Gaozun and expressed their desire that the emperor inaugurate the heir to the khan with a “kagan”. But Emperor Tang Gaozun replied: “What you call the kagan at the moment is the same Chanyu in ancient times,” and changed “the name of Duhufu Yunzhong to Duhufu Chanyu ” and appointed his son named Yinwan Xulong (Li Dan), who just turned two years old, “Dadahu of Duhufu Chanyu “, and he issued a decree that his son ruled them from a distance [4, 611 p.]. This event showed that along with the fact that the Turks became truly subjects of the Kingdom of Tang, and also that they yearned for their own rank of “kagan”.

Because, after some time, the initial freedom given by the Tabgashs narrowed more and more, national oppression increased, and the burden of citizenship became more and more burdensome for ordinary people day after day. Thus, they always had a thought on their mind like “We had a kagan, where is he? To whom can we give our power?” This problematic issue haunted the Turks for many years, and when the history of being subjects crossed a 50-year milestone, they finally found a way out of the deadlock.

That’s why, in 679 Turkic nobles such as Ashide Uran bek (Wenfu) and Ashide Fenzhy called on their people to revolt against to the Kingdom of Tang. They exalted the Khan’s descendant Ashina Nizuk bek (Nishufu) as a Kagan. The recorded incident “occurred in October, Turkic officials from 24 regions who were subordinate to the administrative district called Duhufu Chanyu, participated in the next strike, and their number reached 100,000 people”
 [5, 6392-6393 p.].

The incident that took place there extremely alarmed the Kingdom of Tang, they trained their army whole winter, in spring of 680 they sent the prominent commander of the Kingdom Pei Xinjian with 480,000 troops to the crusade in two directions. A skillful commander, who managed different wars in the territory of the Western Turkic Kaganate, could inflict a crushing blow to the Turks. During the war Ashide Fenzhyn was captured. Ashina Nizuk bek (Nishufu) was killed by one of the nobles who recently exalted him as a kagan, his head was chopped and given to the Kingdom. So, the first battle of Turkic people against the bondage of the Kingdom of Tang was finished unsuccessfully.

However, one of the leaders of the next uprising in the Duhufu Chanyu Ashide Uran bek (Wenfu) was able to escape from the punishment of the Kingdom of Tang, and fled to the Karluks in the western part of Mount Yin-Shan. After having arrived there Uran bek (Wenfu) brought Ashina Bayan (Funyan), who was a descendant of the brothers of the last kagan of the first Turkic Kaganate, Ilik kagan (Seli kagan), from the region Xiazhou, then Uran bek crossed to the west side of Yellow river and declared Ashina Bayan as a Kagan. Thus, Turkic tribes began to unite again [ 6. 194]. However, in 681 Pei Xinjian again went to a crusade to punish Turkic uprising in steppe region. The Turkic people were able to show exceptional courage at that time. But an experienced Chinese general set to tricks. Pei Xinjian, along with Togyz Ogyz in the north of the Turks, began to strike from two sides against the rebels. Ashina Bayan (Funyan), seeing that the situation is completely useless, began to voluntarily surrender to the Kingdom of Tang.  

Nevertheless, the authorities of the Kingdom of Tang сarried 54 people such as Ashina Bayan, Ashida Uran bek (Wenfu) to the city Chan-an, then they chopped their heads off, and hang them on the streets [5, 6394 p.]. Chinese general Pei Xinjian, who heard this terrible news, regretted: “We killed voluntarily surrendered people, and no one else will obey us.” After this bloody event, the Turkic nobility lost their confidence in the Chinese leadership.

Thus, the entire Turkic tribe hated the Kingdom of Tang, putting themselves at risk, they decided on the final battle. The Kingdom of Tang, though late, but realized that they had committed a bad deed, worked to exalt the spirit of Ashina Bayan (Funian), sending people to the Turkic tribes with sweet speeches and other agitation, but all this did not produce any results. Regarding this there was written such words on the monument of “Kultegin”: After that they became enemies to Tabgash people. They stood against as enemies, and died with actions. They were subordinated to Tabgashs again. They did not want to be defeated in that way. Instead “Turkic people let us die, and remain without descendants.” (Turkic people) had been disappearing [ 3. 61 p.].

At that very moment when the fate of Turkic people was on the edge, there had been statrted the third wave of battle against Tabgashs. That battle was ruled by Bilge Kutuluk. He was one of the participants of the uprising ruled by Ashina Bayan (Funian). There was saved information about that that “when Ashina Bayan (Funyan) was defeated, Kutuluk gathered people in one place, settled on the mountain Zongcai (Chugai rocks), and robbed people” [6, 194 p.].

In that period of time, though Pei Xinjian went back with his troops to the south, military-administrative structure of the Empire “Duhufu Chanyu” restarted to function again. Then the army of the Kingdom of Tang tried to circle the Chugai rocks from four sides and destroy them all. They also ordered the nomadic cavalry army led by the Bogan kagan Togyz Ogyz in the northern steppe regions to crush the Turkic rebels. That is why the life of Kutuluk in the Chugay rocks was in great danger. This historical event was described in the monument “Kultegin” as follows:

[at that time] in the heaven Turk’s Divine, sacred Land, Water of Turks said that: in order not to be vanished Turk people, to become a country my father Elteris kagan, my mother El-Bilge hatun were raised up, highly appreciated by the Divine. My father gathered seventeen soldiers. Having heard that [they] were in a crusade, everybody, city people gathered. People who lived in the mountains had joined there. Having gathered they were seventy. Due to the power from the Divine army of my Father kagan was like wolves. Their enemies were like sheep. They ran back and forth to gather [people] and revolt. They were seven hundred. There were seven hundred people, all of them again created and turned people from an enslaved, having lost their power, their innermost people into a people who lived by the guidance of their ancestors (traditional). There were created toles (left wing), tardush (right wing) people. The Tabghash people were hostile. Baz kagan – the people of Togyz Ogyz were enemies from the outside [3. 61-62 p.].

God blessed, at that year the ruler of the Western Turkic Khaganate Ashina Chebo (Chabysh) rebelled against the Kingdom of Tanggg. The kingdom decided to appoint its commander Pei Xinjian, who was known for subjugating the barbarians to himself and sending him on a crusade to the Western Turkic Kaganate. The punitive crusade of the Kingdom of Tangg and the departure of his famous commander Pei Xinjian against the ruler of the Western Turkic Khaganate Ashina Chebo (Chabysh) gave Kutuluk a great opportunity.

Due to the weakening of the military control of the Kingdom of Tang, as well as due to the growing hostility of the Turks to the Tabgash, the Turkic people began to quickly unite around Kutuluk. Thus, at the beginning supporters of Kutuluk who fled with him in the number of 17
 people, and settled in the Chugai rocks, reached 70 people, then 700 people. «Becuase of the power from the Divine, the army of Kutuluk kagan, who was like wolves, enemies, who were like sheep”,  despite the small number of courageous Turkic warriors led by Kutuluk kagan, they destroyed the armies of Tabgash, Togyz Ogyz Baz Kagan. The power of Kutuluk kagan increased so rapidly that it soon passed from the mountains to the steppe zone – to Karakum.

According to the information on the Turk’s eternal stone: “They ran back and forth to gather [people] and revolt. They were seven hundred. There were seven hundred people, all of them again created and turned people from an enslaved, having lost their power, their innermost people into a people who lived by the guidance of their ancestors (traditional). There were created toles (left wing), tardush (right wing) people”, Kutuluk restored the country of Turkic peoples when the number of his supporters reached 700 people. At that very moment he exalted as “Elteris kagan”. This event took place in 682. He declared Karakum (in the north-west of the city Kokekote//Huh-Hoota which is the center of modern Inner Mongol) as a capital, created there different laws and state system, and helped to restore officially Turkic Kaganate. Thus began the foundation of the Second Eastern Turkic Kaganate. This paved the broad way for the official restoration of the statehood of the Turkic people destroyed half a century ago.

After that, it was a very big deed that Kutuluk gathered together a scattered nation. This was due to the fact that he broke the chain of slavery of the Kingdom of Tang, and increased his influence throughout the region. According to Chinese sources, at that time the number of population of his country exceeded 5,000 [6, 194 p.].

At that very time, Elteris kagan determined a smart Tonykok as a chief commander, advisor, and named him “Bilge Tonykok”, being more precisely “Bilge Tonykok Boila Baga Tarkhan.” There is such information in the Turkic monuments: … After that the Divine in the heaven gave me skill, I found common ground with powerful kagan, ‘Together with Bilge Tonykok Boila Baga Tarkhan I will be Elteris kagan’ [3. 123 p.]. According to this source the moment of taking such ranks by Kutuluk and Tonykok happened at the same time, being precisely during the first ceremony of restoration of Kaganate.

 Kutuluk determined as his advisor the second smart person by the name Ashide Yuanzhen. Regarding this in the book “Xin Tanshu” was written that: At that time official by the name Ashide Yuanzhen, who was responsible for tribes subordinated to [duhu]fu Chanyu, had been arrested by chanshi Van Venli. When Kutuluk attacked, Yuanzhen went to tribes [in the competence of the Kingdom of Van Venli], asked them that he wanted to get rid of his guilt. Thus, his request was accepted. After that he became subordinated to Kutuluk, he was Kutuluk’s advisor. Kutuluk appointed him as an “Apa tarkhan”, he put all his army under his control [2.  179 p.]. Among scientists formed the opinion that “Ashide Yuanzhen” and Tonykok are one person [7. 28 p.]. However, both of them are two different historical figures [8. 865 -866-p.].

During the momentous years Kutuluk gained other achievements besides these as well. As one of them can be mentioned the subjugation of Togyz Ogyz. In the monument “Tonykok” the subjugation of Togyz Ogyzs and determination of the Otuken hollow as a capital of khaganate is stated as one occasion. It should have been like that in real.

In the monument “Tonykok”: “They killed in the south Tabgashs, in the east Chinese people, in the norht Ogyzs. I obeyed to the man of knowledge and word. We settled in the rocks Chugai, Karakum. We ate meat of saiga, rabbits. The people were well fed. Our enemies were like predatory animals. We were like sterns. Thus we lived in a special circumstances. One korug (spy) came from Ogyzs. Spy’s words were like these: “– Togyz Ogyz’s people has a kagan, – he said. He sent to Tabgashs Kunu senun, to Chinese sent Tonra sem. His words like these: Small people of Turks can attack. Their kagan is great, advisor is bilge. Those two people will destroy you, Tabgash, and in the east China. And me Ogyz also will be destroyed. [That is why] Таbgashs should attack from here (front), Chinese people from the east, and me from the outside. Turks mustn’t rule themselves in their land. Let’s destroy their head.” Having heard these words, I couldn’t sleep at night. I couldn’t sit in daytime. Then I asked kagan. I requested him like this: “If Tabgashs, Chinese people, Ogyzs would be united, we could save only our outer and inner world. It is easy to tear thin thing. If thin is thick, it can be torn by the great person. Let’s send two or three thousand troops to China in the east, to Tabgashs in the south, to Kurydan in the west, to Ogyzs in the north, do we have an army?” I requested a lot. Kagan and Bilge Tonykok were hearing (listening to) my requests. (Then) they said to me to begin what I want to do. I led (the troops) to Otuken hollow that was above Kok-ongi. Togyz Ogyz on their cows had come. The number of their army was three thousand. We were two thousand. We fought. The Divine blessed us, we won. They went to the river, we won, they were killed a lot on the road. After that Ogyzs came to there. I subjugated them with power. The people in the location Otuken heard that “Bilge kagan settled to the place Otuken”, and people in the south, people form the west and north came to my place [3. 123-124 p.].  

As indicated in the monument to “Tonykok”: when Tonykok began to move (with his army) from Kok-Ony to Otuken hollow, Kutuluk Kagan, together with the second commander of the Kaganate, Apa tarkhan Ashide Yuanzhen, destroyed the army of Zhang Qianxui (张虔勖//Zhāng Qiánxù) which was sent to suppress Turkic rebels in the inner Mongolia of the Kingdom of Tang. In autumn of that year they continued their crusade furhter, and attacked “the northern part of Duhufu Chanyu” [2. 179 p.]. After that they went to crusade to the significant town of the Kingdom of Tang near the border, district Dinxian (定襄县//Dìngxiāngxiàn: district subordinated to city Xinzhou (忻州市//Xīnzhōu shì) of the modern Shanxi Province) that was the center of Duhufu Yunzhun, then to Lanzhou (岚州// Lánzhōu, district Lianxian of modern Shanxi Province), and they killed the governor of the region Lanzhou Wang Demao. Then they attacked city Binzhou (the center of the mondern Shanxi Province Taiyuan city). 

To defeat the brutal attack of the Turks, the Kingdom of Tang that time was forced to send his most famous commander Xue Zhengui to the battle. Chinese data reported that Xue Zhengui defeated the Turkic divisions in Yongzhou on this crusade, killed 10,000 people and captured 20,000 people. However, given the fact that there were only a few thousand people in the squadron ruled by Apa tarkhan, we are convinced that this information was false. As mentioned above, that time, Tonykok asked 2,000 fighters in each direction, and he went with two thousand fighters north to Togyz Ogyz, and transferred 2,000 soldiers sent south under the leadership of Apa-Tarkhan, who was well versed in the defense level of the borders of the Kingdom of Tang. If we take into account the fact that in those parts where Apa tarkhan went on a crusade before that time the Turkic tribes, who were subordinate to the Kingdom of Tang, were settled, then it will become clear that on that crusade Kutuluk and Apa tarhan were engaged in the liberation of the Turkic people who were left in the lands of Tabgashs. If we accept the above information that Xue Zhengui “killed 10,000 people and captured 20,000 people” with the truth, then we have to say that those were Turkic tribes who joined Kutuluk and Apa tarkhan during the crusade. This chain of events took place in 682. 

In 683 ruling emperor of the Кingdom of Tang Tan Gaozu died. However, an unusual situation arose in the royal habit. Wu Zitian began to dominate the rule. Then the dynasty of aristocrats began to confront Wu Zitian, which eventually became bloodshed. However, Wu Zitіan soon suppressed his opponents. Nevertheless, as the Tibetans and the Western Turkic Khaganate made more and more crusades to the Kingdom of Tang, at that time the kingdom more often went on crusades of a protective nature and it was in a very tired position. 

Kutuluk kagan and his advisers, who were well versed in such internal and external crisis of the Кingdom of Tan, conducted a series of military operations against the Kingdom of Tang.

So, in the last months of the winter of 683, Turkic divisions began to appear on the plains, on which stood the capital of modern China, Beijing. First, they attacked defeating the Dingzhou regions (the current province of Hebei, the city of Baoding), and then the Guizhou region. From there, Kutuluk and Apa tarkhan headed north, and a month later “surrounded the Duhufu Chanyu” [6. 60 p.]. The Kingdom of Tang sent aid to Duhufu Chanyu from two sides, one from the Dudu of the region Shinzhou Wan Benli and another from the Dudu of the region Shiazhou Li Jong-i. Historical works did not record what they did, and therefore it seems that both of them did not achieve their goals. As it is known syma Zhan Xinshi (张行师// Zhāngxíngshī) who ruled Duhufu Chanyu lost the city, and he died in the war [1, 3p.]. Since that time Kutuluk and Apa tarkhan took away from the Kingdom of Tang the administrative zone called “Duhufu Chanyu” where the Turkic tribes subordinated to the Kingdom of Tang settled, the military administrative zone “Duhufu Chanyu” completely ceased to exist.

 In May, troops of Kutuluk and Apa tarkhan attacked the region Weizhou (蔚州 – near the city Datong of the modern Shanxi Province), and killed zychi Lee Sijian (李思俭//lǐ Sījiǎn), who

ruled the region. After that, the dudu Cui Zhibian (崔 知 辩 // Cuī Zhībiān) of the Fengzhou district (丰 州 – present Utai region of modern Inner Mongolia) went on a crusade to the battle against Kutuluk and Apa tarkhan according to the decree of the king. This time, near the Chaona Mountain (east of the Guyuan District of Inner Mongolia, PRC), he blocked the way to the Turkic regiments that were heading north. However, they defeated in the battle, and Tsui Zhibian died in that battle. He was an outstanding commander of the Kingdom of Tang, who had previously been particularly distinguished during the wars with Tibet. After the rebellion of the Turks led by Kutuluk, he was appointed dudu of Fengzhou County and sent there. Since that region was the place where the Turkic tribes settled under the control of the Turkic nobility Shidanai, which was already subordinated to the Kingdom of Tang during its creation, there were regiments of the Kingdom of Tang mounted troops consisting of Turkic peoples. After the defeat from Kutuluk those regiments ruled by Cui Zhibian were completely subjugated to Kutuluk’s army and strengthened his troops.

That year the war was not over yet. In May, the Turks attacked the Lanzhou region, but this time they were “driven out by Yang Suanji.” [5. 203 p.].

That year, in November, Commander Cheng Wuting (程务挺// Chéng Wùtǐng), who came into view in the wars between the Kingdom of Tang and the Turks, was given the post of “Ambassador to calm the Chanyu” and ordered to speak with the pirates as Yuanzhen (Apa tarkhan), Gudulu (Kutuluk), Hegezun on Mount Zongcaishan. Appointment of Chеn Utin to this post in order to suppress the uprising in the Duhufu Chanyu area meant that the work of Zhang Qianxui, who had worked in this position before, had been inconclusive. However, there is no evidence that Chen Utin, who was appointed to this position newly, coped with this task with dignity. Therefore, it seems that his task was limited to sending ambassadors to Turks and conducting propaganda. Because next year, when Kutuluk with his army attacked Shozhou (district Shoxian of the modern Shanxi Province), he met Chen Wuting in the battlefield. This shows that the propaganda carried out to Kutuluk did not yield results.

In 684, political instability began in the Kingdom of Tang. That time, Wu Zetian abolished the royal right of Emperor Tang Zhongzong (Li Xiang), instead of him inaugurated Li Dana and named him Tang Zhuizong. Kutuluk again that time began to skillfully take advantage of the changes in Tabgash’s power. He sent an army to Shozhou and attacked them. But this time, he ran into Chen Utun’s powerful resistance and stepped back. Wu Zetian issued a decree on behalf of the new Emperor of the Кingdom of Tan and reappointed Chen Wutun to the post of “Ambassador to calm the Chanyu.” But at the end of that year, Wu Zetian killed a famous commander for confronting him. Soon after, the woman king sent his next commander, Wang Fang-i (王方翼// Wáng Fāngyì) to Hainan, for being a faithful vizier of the royal dynasty, who fell ill along the way and died. Thus, in the Кingdom of Tan there was no commander who could fight with Kutuluk.

Kutuluk Kagan, who studied the state of defense of the Kingdom of Tang well, attacked the regions of Shozhou and Daizhou in 685. Pu Yingjie, sent by Wu Zetian, was defeated in the war and lost 5,000 soldiers. Wu Zetian now sent a commander named Wei Daijia, but since no information about whether he achieved victory at that time was preserved, he also did not cope with dignity with this task. In a hopeless situation, Wu Zetian sent the commander of the Korean nation Heichi Changji (Heukchi Sangji), who heroically fought in the war against the Tibetans, to go to war against the Turks.

But Kutuluk was not afraid of Heichi Changji (Heukchi Sangji). In the fall of 686, he went on a crusade to China and first attacked the northern part of Shanxi Province, and then fought Heichi Changji in the territory of modern Hebei province. When evening came to show the number of troops multiplied, Heichi Changji lit many bonfires, so he tricked Kutuluk and he moved back. Kutuluk “moved back at that night”[5. 204 p.].

In 687 Kutuluk continued his attacks to China again. At the beginning of the year, he attacked the Changping area, which was subordinated to the modern city Beijing, robbed and took people

hostage. In august of that year he made another attack to the region Shozhou of Shanxi Province. Wu Zetian appointed Heichi Changji as a chief commander, and a commander of Mohe nation Li Dozuo as a deputy, and sent them to there. Kutuluk was defeated in the battle at the place Huanhuatui (Inxian district of modern Shanxi Province), they fled from the battlefield scatteredly and headed to the steppe.  

Admiring its victory, the Kingdom of Tang became even more confident in the imminent destruction of the Turks. Wu Zetian gave exact plans and tasks regarding the future crusade. At that moment, the second commander of the Kingdom of Tang Cuan Baobi (爨 宝 璧) decided to show personal courage and asked Wu Zetian for permission to go for Kutuluk. Wu Zetian accepted his request, but instructed to obtain permission from Commander-in-Chief Heichi Changji and act in unity with him. By the beginning of winter, Cuan Buobiignored all orders from Wu Zetian and chased Kutuluk. He traveled over the Chinese border and at 20 km met with the army of Kutuluk face to face. During the battle Kutuluk killed all 13 thousand soldiers of Tsuan Baobi, but only Cuan Buobi“could fleed” and escaped. An angry woman king Wu Zetian killed Cuan Buobiand called Kutuluk “Buzuilu (不卒禄).” 

When Kutuluk strengthened his forces in the border zone with southern Tabgash, somewhat reduced the danger from them, declared Karakum the southern capital and placed it under the control of his younger brother, transferred the capital to the Otuken hollow, then he began to create a new plan for the full integration of the Western and Eastern Turkic Kaganates. Elteris kagan was planning a strategic project in advance in the future to make annual crusades to the Tabgash, subjugate the Togyz Ogyz and annex them to himself, and conquer the Turkic tribes of the Western Turkic Khaganate under the influence of Tabgash.   

According to this plan, Kutuluk initiated a simultaneous crusade against the China in the south, Togyz Ogyz in the north and On okh in the west, began to prioritize the dispersal of “pro-Chinese” Togyz Ogyz, whose goal was to strengthen their own tribal power based on Chinese assistance and overthrow the Turkic power which were under the influence of China in the territory of the Western Turkic Kaganate. Thus, he began to group troops in the west in order to take control of the Western Turkic Kaganate.  

In fact, Kutuluk’s crusade aimed at the Western Turkic Khaganate began in 685. According to the information given in the book “Ze zhi tong jian”:

It was written there that “the people On okh of the Western Turkic Khaganate were attacked by the Eastern Turks from Chuigun years (February 685 – early 689) and they fled in different directions” [5. 204 p.].

In 689, the army, led by Wei Daijie (韦 待 价) and Yang Wen gu (阎 温 古), sent by the Kingdom of Tang to Eastern Turkestan, was defeated by the Tibetans, and part of the Western Turkic Khaganate in Eastern Turkestan now began to pass to the Tibetans. In this regard, Kutuluk kagan began to increase his influence in the region and began military operations with the aim of conquering tribes in the region of the Western Turkic Kaganate. This time it’s possible that Kutuluk kagan sent the main army to the west and left Mocho in the horde. According to this, Chinese sources reported that in May-June of that year, Mocho attacked the border zones of China. Thus, at the beginning of summer, Wu Zetian appropriated the rank of general to his close friend in the horde, a fraudster merchant named Sue Huai-i, and sent him on a crusade. But he, having come to the lonely Turkic steppes, could not meet anyone. In the fall, with 200,000 troops, Xue Huai-i set off on a “Crusade to Kutuluk,” and returned that time to no avail. Although they returned not having the opportunity to meet any army on Turkic land, Wu Zetian celebrated by presenting awards and saying that the savages fearing from his mighty army fled far from them.

Thus, “Leave the steppe empty” – was one of the strategic plans of Elteris kagan drawn up in order to protect against the attack of China during a crusade to the west.

Kutuluk kagan previously fought with a kagan doll – Ashina Huselo (阿 史 那 斛 瑟罗 / Ā shǐ nà hú sè luō), appointed by the Kingdom of Tang on the land of On okh. Ashina Huselo was a kagan doll appointed to five nushibi tribe by the Kingdom of Tang. He was a son of a kagan doll Ashina buzhen (阿史那步真) who died in 667.

In 690 Wu Zetian announced himself as a king and changed the name of the Kingdom to Zhou, moved the capital from Chan-an to Luoyang.

In 690 Kutuluk completely won Ashina Huselo, he moved to China with 60-70 thousand people. The Kingdom of Tang awarded him the title “General defending the right wing”, and he was also given the false Kagan title ”Jie Zhong shizhu Kagan (竭 忠 事主 可汗 // Jié zhōng shìzhǔ kèhán)”, which meant honest and qualified.  

Based on this and other information, Kutuluk kagan weakened the power of the Kagan dynasty Estemi, who ruled the five Nushibi tribes that inhabited Zhetysu and the western regions of the Western Turkic Kaganate, until 690.

However, at that time, Baga Tarkhan Uchzhile, who was subordinate to Ashina Huselo, began to interfere with the actions of Kutuluk kagan in the region. He fought to take Suyab from the hands of Kutuluk and achieved this goal. Kutuluk kagan was looking for ways to kill Uzhile in order to completely conquer the country of On okh. To this end, Kutuluk, along with Apa tarkhan Ashide Yuanzhen, went on a crusade. But this time he was faced with a staunch confrontation with Uzhile. Apa tarkhan Ashide Yuanzhen was killed in the battle. The book “Taipin huan yu tzi” it is recorded as an event that occurred in 691 [9, 196 p.; 10.].

Shortly after the death of Apa tarkhan, Kutuluk also died. The historical works and chronicles of the Chinese dynasty have provided various information about this. Tyanshou, at the beginning of his chronicle “Xin Tanshu” provided information about that Gudolu died, his son was still young, so he was not put on the throne of the kagan [ 2, 180 р]. In the monument of “Bilge kagan” was written: “when my father died I was only eight years old, my uncle kagan sat on the throne” [3, 102 p.]. Scientists analyzing information regarding this, made the assumption that Kutuluk died in 691 [11. 196 j; 12, 121-175 pp]. Based on many facts, we can conclude that Kutuluk died at the end of 691 or in the first months of 692.


Kutuluk kagan – a man who restored the destroyed statehood of the Turkic people, who within half a century were given to China, became their slaves, were humiliated. From this point of view, his historical work can be evaluated on a par with Bumyn kagan and Estemi kagan, the founders of the First Turkic Kaganate. Since the restoration of Kaganate, he had made very successful crusades to the territory of the Kingdom of Tang, from where he moved the scattered Turkic people to his country, increased the number of people and strengthened the country. He seized the military administrative zones created by the Кingdom of Tang and took under his control. At the same time, he conquered the Kidans in the east, the Togyz Ogyz in the north and restored the Kaganate, which was located on a gigantic territory. Most importantly, he strengthened the country, fought to gather all the Turkic peoples under the flag of the Turkic Kaganate. The merit of Kutuluk kagan on this path was that he again brought the country to a prosperous period of the First Eastern Turkic Kaganate. The courage and historical merit of Kutuluk Kagan had long been appreciated in justice and completely by people of his era. They called his name, described his merits and minted them on the eternal stone. In the monument “Kultegin” his merits in restoring the statehood of the Turkic people and strengthening the khaganate were immortalized in eternal stone in the following words: “There were seven hundred people, all of them again created and turned people from an enslaved, having lost their power, their innermost people into a people who lived by the guidance of their ancestors (traditional). There were created toles (left wing), tardush (right wing) people. They were given yabgu and shad. The Tabgash people were hostile. Baz Kagan – the people of Togyz Ogyz were enemies from the outside. The Kyrgyz, Kurykhan, thirty Tatars, Qytai (Kidan) and Tatabs were all enemies. My father Kagan made a crusade forty-seven times. He conquered twenty wars. With the blessing of the Almighty, he made them helpless, destroyed their kaganates. He made his enemies suffer. He put them on their knees, bowed their heads. Thus, my father Kagan established the country and state (government) and flew away.” 


It is believed that the “Shivаet Ulaan” memorial complex located at the intersection of the Hanui and Kunui rivers on the plain Sacred Otuken in Mongolia belongs to Kutuluk kagan. “48°47’54’; 102°90’45”Мongolia. Bayan-Agt sumyn of the region Bulgyn. At the intersection of the two rivers Hanui and Kunui there is a small mountain penetrating inward, which is called Shivаet-Ulaаn (Karauyl Kyzyl). The height of the mountain is 1340 m above the sea level.


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Figure 36. Photo of putting together the sculpture of a head brought to Astana in 2002 with the bust in Hairan sumyn (K. Sartkozhauly 2002) [13, 76 б.]

 Stone sculptures in “Shivаet Ulaan” memorial complex, 2017. [14]

Stone sculptures in “Shivаet Ulaan” memorial complex, 2017. [14]

 In the history of China, this dynasty, called Wuzhou, lasted until 705, and the Tan dynasty was restored. In the same year,
 82-year-old Wu Zetian died of illness.