The Info List - Battle Of Talas

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The Battle of Talas, Battle of Talas
Battle of Talas
River, or Battle of Artlakh (Chinese: 怛羅斯戰役; Arabic: معركة نهر طلاس‎) was a military engagement between the Arab Abbasid
Caliphate along with their ally the Tibetan Empire
Tibetan Empire
against the Chinese Tang dynasty, governed at the time by Emperor Xuanzong. In July 751 CE, Tang and Abbasid
forces met in the valley of the Talas River
Talas River
to vie for control over the Syr Darya
Syr Darya
region of central Asia. After several days of stalemate, the Karluks
originally allied to the Tang defected to the Abbasids and tipped over the balance of power, resulting in a Tang rout. The defeat marked the end of Tang westward expansion and resulted in Muslim control of Transoxiana
for the next 400 years. Control of this region was economically beneficial for the Abbasids because it was on the Silk Road. Historians debate whether or not Chinese prisoners captured in the aftermath of the battle brought paper-making technology to the Middle East, where it eventually spread to Europe.[11]


1 Location 2 Background 3 Battle 4 Aftermath and historical significance

4.1 Papermaking

5 Geopolitical aftermath 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References

Location[edit] The exact location of the battle has not been confirmed but is believed to be near Taraz
and Talas on the border of present-day Kazakhstan
and Kyrgyzstan. The Chinese name Daluosi (怛羅斯, Talas) was first seen in the account of Xuanzang. Du Huan located the city near the western drain of the Chui River.[12] The war was the contention between Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
and the Abbasid
Caliphate at the Transoxiana
area. Background[edit] See also: Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
in Inner Asia

Map of the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
circa 700 CE showing its expanded western territories at that time, connected to the main part of the empire by the long and narrow Hexi Corridor.

Before the battle, there were other indirect encounters between some of the combatants, and the military might of China had been projected beyond the harsh continental climate and the dry desolate difficult terrain of the Tarim Basin, much of which consists of the Taklamakan Desert, as early as the Han Dynasty, when Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han
sent military expeditions to seize horses, which got as far as the Fergana Valley. Then, in 715, Alutar, the new king of Fergana, was installed with the help of the Arabs
of the Umayyad Caliphate. The deposed king Ikhshid fled to Kucha
(seat of Anxi Protectorate), and sought Chinese intervention. The Chinese sent 10,000 troops under Zhang Xiaosong to Ferghana. He defeated the Arab puppet-ruler Alutar at Namangan
and reinstalled Ikhshid. The inhabitants of three Sogdian cities were massacred as a result of the battle.[13] The second encounter occurred in 717, when Arabs
were guided by the Turgesh
and besieged two cities in the area of Aksu. The commander of the Chinese Protectorate General to Pacify the West, Tang Jiahui, responded using two armies, one composed of Karluk mercenaries led by Ashina Xin (client qaghan of Onoq) and another composed of Tang regulars led by Jiahui himself.[13] In the year 750, Abu al-'Abbas al-Saffah
Abu al-'Abbas al-Saffah
(As-Saffah), the founder of the Abbasid
Caliphate, launched a massive rebellion (known as the Abbasid
Revolution) against the incumbent Umayyad Caliphate
Umayyad Caliphate
from the province of Khurasan. After his decisive victory at the Battle of the Zab and eliminating those of the Umayyad family who failed to escape to Al-Andalus, As-Saffah sent his forces to consolidate his caliphate, including Central Asia, where his forces confronted many regional powers, including those of China's Tang Dynasty. Battle[edit] The numeric quantities of the combatants involved in the Battle of Talas are not known with certainty; however, various estimates exist. The Abbasid
army (200,000 Muslim troops according to Chinese estimates, though these numbers may be greatly exaggerated) which included contingents from their Tibetan ally met the combined army of 10,000 Tang Chinese and 20,000 Karluk mercenaries (Arab records put the Chinese forces at 100,000 which also may be greatly exaggerated).[14] In the month of July 751, the Abbasid
forces joined in combat with the Tang Chinese force (the combined army of Tang Chinese and Karluk mercenaries) on the banks of the Talas river.

Modern view of Talas River, which starts in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan
and winds down into Kazakhstan. On the right side of the river is the city of Taraz.

The Tang army was subjected to a devastating defeat. The Tang dynasty's defeat was due to the defection of Karluk mercenaries and the retreat of Ferghana
allies who originally supported the Chinese. The Karluk mercenaries, two-thirds of the Tang army, defected to the Abbasids during the battle; Karluk troops attacked the Tang army from close quarters while the main Abbasid
forces attacked from the front. The Tang troops were unable to hold their positions, and the commander of the Tang forces, Gao Xianzhi, recognized that defeat was imminent and managed to escape with some of his Tang regulars with the help of Li Siye. Out of an estimated 10,000 Tang troops, only 2000 managed to return from Talas to their territory in Central Asia. Despite losing the battle, Li did inflict heavy losses on the pursuing Arab army after being reproached by Duan Xiushi. After the battle, Gao was prepared to organize another Tang army against the Arabs
when the devastating An Shi Rebellion
An Shi Rebellion
broke out in 755. When the Tang capital was taken by rebels, all Chinese armies stationed in Central Asia
Central Asia
were ordered back to China proper
China proper
to crush the rebellion.[15] Aftermath and historical significance[edit] Shortly after the battle of Talas, the domestic rebellion of An Lushan (755–63) and subsequent warlordism gave the Arabs
the opportunity to further expand into Central Asia
Central Asia
as Tang influence in the region retreated.[16] The local Tang tributaries then switched to the authority of the Abbasids, Tibetans, or Uighurs and the introduction of Islam
was thus facilitated among the Turkic peoples. It was the An Lushan Rebellion
An Lushan Rebellion
and not the defeat at Talas that ended the Tang Chinese presence in Central Asia
Central Asia
and forced them to withdraw from Xinjiang—Talas was of no strategic importance, because the Arabs
did not advance any further after the battle.[17][18] A small minority of Karluks
converted to Islam
after the battle. The majority of Karluks
did not convert to Islam
until the mid 10th century under Sultan Satuq Bughra Khan
Sultan Satuq Bughra Khan
when they established the Kara-Khanid Khanate.[3][19][20][21][22] This was long after the Tang dynasty was gone from Central Asia. Abu al-'Abbas al-Saffah, whose forces were known to the Chinese as the Black Robed Ta-Shih, spent his wealth on warfare. He died in the year 752 CE. His brother who succeeded him as the second Abbasid
Caliph Abu Jafar al-Mansur (r. 754–775 CE) (A-p’uch’a-fo) helped the Chinese Emperor Suzong of Tang
Emperor Suzong of Tang
after he appealed for help during the An-Shi Rebellion in regaining control of his capital Chang'an
from the treacherous commander, An Lushan, or his successors in the abortive Yan Dynasty. Abu Jafar al-Mansur responded by sending 4,000 men who helped the Tang troops in recapturing the city and were well rewarded by the Chinese Emperor. After the rebellion was repressed they were allowed to settle down permanently in China which helped in founding of the earliest Muslim communities in China. Some of them married local Chinese people and their descendants became native-born Muslims who retained their religious tradition and unique way of life.[23][24][25][26][27] In 760, a large scale massacre of wealthy Arab and Persian merchants occurred in China during the Yangzhou massacre (760), at the hands of Chinese rebels led by Tian Shengong. In 879 during the Guangzhou massacre, 120,000 to 200,000 Arab Muslim, Persian Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian foreign merchants in Guangzhou were massacred by Chinese rebels under Huang Chao. The culture of Central Asia, once a mixture of Persian, Indian, and Chinese influences, disappeared under the power struggles between the empires of the Arabs, Chinese, Turks, Tibetans, and Uyghurs.[28] Islam grew as the dominant cultural force of Central Asia. With the decline of Central Asian Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism
Chinese Buddhism
was now cut off from Indian Buddhism
Indian Buddhism
and developed into an independent religion with distinct spiritual elements. Indigenous Buddhist traditions like Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism
and Zen
emerged in China. China became the center of East Asian Buddhism, following the Chinese Buddhist canon, as Buddhism spread to Japan and Korea from China.[28] Among the earliest historians to proclaim the importance of this battle was the great Russian historian of Muslim Central Asia, Vasily Bartold, of 20th century according to whom, "The earlier Arab historians, occupied with the narrative of events then taking place in western Asia, do not mention this battle; but it is undoubtedly of great importance in the history of (Western) Turkestan
as it determined the question which of the two civilizations, the Chinese or the Muslim, should predominate in the land (of Turkestan)."[8] The loss of 8,000 troops to the Tang empire can be compared to a troop strength of more than 500,000 before the Anshi rebellion.[29] According to Bartold, for the history of the first three centuries of Islam, al-Tabari was the chief source (survived in Ibn al Athir's compilation), which was brought down to 915. (Unfortunately, this important work was only compiled and published by a group of Orientalists in 1901.[citation needed]) It is only in Athir that we find an accurate account of the conflict between the Arabs
and the Chinese in 751. Neither Tabari nor the early historical works of the Arabs
which have come down to us in general make any mention of this; however, Athir's statement is completely confirmed by the Chinese History of the Tang Dynasty.[30] In all Arab sources, the events which occurred in the eastern part of the empire are often dealt with briefly.[31] Another notable informant of the battle on the Muslim side was Al-Dhahabi (1274–1348).[32] The Battle of Talas
Battle of Talas
did not mark the end of Buddhism or Chinese influence in the region. The Buddhist Kara-Khitan Khanate
Kara-Khitan Khanate
defeated the Muslim Seljuq Turks and the Muslim Kara-Khanid Turks at the Battle of Qatwan in 1141, conquering a large part of Central Asia
Central Asia
from the Muslim Karluk Kara-Khanid Khanate
Kara-Khanid Khanate
in the 12th century. The Kara-Khitans also reintroduced the Chinese system of Imperial government, since China was still held in respect and esteem in the region among even the Muslim population,[33][34] and the Kara-Khitans used Chinese as their main official language.[35] The Kara-Khitan rulers were called "the Chinese" by the Muslims.[36] Professor Denis Sinor
Denis Sinor
said that it was interference in the internal affairs of the Western Turkic Khaganate
Western Turkic Khaganate
which ended Chinese supremacy in Central Asia, since the destruction of the Western Khaganate rid the Muslims of their greatest opponent, and it was not the Battle of Talas which ended the Chinese presence.[37] Later during the reign of Abbasid
Caliph Harun al-Rashid, the Arabs terminated their alliance with the Tibetan Empire,[38] and established an alliance with China after sending envoys to China in 789.[39][40] Papermaking[edit]

One of the five major steps in ancient Chinese paper making process.

The Battle of Talas
Battle of Talas
was a key event in the history of paper—the technological transmission of the paper-making process. After the battle of Talas, knowledgeable Chinese prisoners of war were ordered to produce paper in Samarkand, or so the story goes.[41] In fact, high quality paper had been known—and made—in Central Asia
Central Asia
for centuries; a letter on paper survives from the fourth century to a merchant in Samarkand. But the Islamic conquest of Central Asia
Central Asia
in the late seventh and early eighth centuries opened up this knowledge for the first time to what became the Muslim world, and so by the year 794 CE, paper manufacturing could be found in Baghdad, modern-day Iraq. The technology of paper making was thus transmitted to and revolutionised the Islamic world, and later the European West.[42] The paper production was a state secret, and only some places and Buddhist Monks knew the technology. Of course, the paper was transported many kilometers as a Chinese luxury product, and as it was traded, the finding of paper in several places is not proof of production, but of use. Geopolitical aftermath[edit] Other than the transfer of paper, there is no evidence to support a geopolitical or demographic change resulting from this battle. In fact it seems that Tang influence over Central Asia
Central Asia
even strengthened after 751 and that by 755, Tang power in Central Asia
Central Asia
was at its zenith. Several of the factors after the battle had been taken note of prior to 751. Firstly, the Karluks
never in any sense remained opposed to the Chinese after the battle. In 753, the Karluk Yabgu Dunpijia submitted under the column of Cheng Qianli and captured A-Busi, a betrayed Chinese mercenary of Tongluo (Tiele) chief (who had defected earlier in 743), and received his title in the court on 22 October.[43] The Chinese Muslim historian Bai Shouyi wrote that furthermore, at the same time that Talas took place, the Tang also sent an army from Shibao city in Qinghai to Suyab and consolidated Chinese control over the Turgesh. Chinese expansion in Central Asia did not halt after the battle; the Chinese commander Feng Changqing, who took over the position from Gao Xianzhi
Gao Xianzhi
through Wang Zhengjian, virtually swept across the Kashmir
region and captured Gilgit
shortly two years later. Even Tashkent reestablished its vassal status in 753, when the Tang bestowed a title to its ruler. The Chinese influence to the west of the Pamir Mountains
Pamir Mountains
certainly did not cease as the result of the battle; Central Asian states under Muslim control, such as Samarkand, continued to request aid from the Tang against the Arabs
in spite of Talas and hence in 754, all nine kingdoms of Western Turkestan
again sent petitions to the Tang to attack the Arabs
and the Tang continued to turn down such requests as it did for decades. Ferghana, which participated in the battle earlier, in fact joined among the central Asian auxiliaries with the Chinese army under a summons and entered Gansu during An Lushan's revolt in 756.[44] Bai also noted that neither did the relations between the Chinese and Arabs
worsen, as the Abbasids, like their predecessors (since 652), continued to send embassies to China uninterruptedly after the battle. Such visits had overall resulted in 13 diplomatic gifts between 752 and 798.[45] Not all Turkic tribes of the region converted to Islam after the battle either—the date of their mass-conversion to Islam was much later, in the 10th century under Musa.[46] See also[edit]

Dayuan Sino-Arab relations Islam
in China History of Arabs
in Afghanistan Islam
during the Tang Dynasty Muslim conquests Northern Silk Road War of the Heavenly Horses


^ Bulliet & Crossley & Headrick & Hirsch & Johnson 2010, p. 286. ^ Bulliet 2010, p. 286. ^ a b Wink 2002, p. 68. ^ Wink 1997, p. 68. ^ Chaliand 2004, p. 31. ^ Bai, pp. 210–19. ^ a b Bai, pp. 224–25. ^ a b Bartold, pp. 180–96. ^ http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/198205/the.battle.of.talas.htm ^ a b Chinese regular exploited to the area of western protectorate from the Chinese heartland never exceed 30,000 between 692–726. However, the Tongdian (801 CE), the earliest narrative for battle itself by either side suggests 30,000 deaths, whereas the Tangshu (945 CE) accounted 20,000 (probably included mercenaries already) in this battle (Bai 2003, pp. 224–25). The earliest Arabic account for the battle itself from Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh (1231 CE) suggests 100,000 troops (50,000 deaths and 20,000 prisoners), however Bartold considered them to be exaggerated (Xue 1998, pp. 256–57; Bartold 1992, pp. 195–96). ^ "The Battle of Talas, In Our Time". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2016-10-23.  ^ Bai, p. 211. ^ a b Bai, pp. 235–36 ^ The strength of Arabs
is not recorded for this battle, but the armies to the east of Khorasan controlled by the Arabs
later were estimated by the Chinese in 718 with 900,000 troops available to respond according to Bai Shouyi, Bai however never estimate any Abbasid
army figures. (Bai 2003, pp. 225–26). ^ Bai, pp. 226–28. ^ Lewis (2009), p. 158. ^ ed. Starr 2004, p. 39. ^ Millward 2007, p. 36. ^ Lapidus 2012, p. 230. ^ Esposito 1999, p. 351. ^ Lifchez & Algar 1992, p. 28. ^ Soucek 2000, p. 84. ^ A. Acharya; R. Gunaratna; W. Pengxin (21 June 2010), Ethnic Identity and National Conflict in China, Palgrave Macmillan US, pp. 21–, ISBN 978-0-230-10787-8  ^ Joseph Mitsuo Kitagawa (2002). Joseph Mitsuo Kitagawa, ed. The religious traditions of Asia: religion, history, and culture (2, illustrated ed.). Psychology Press. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-7007-1762-0.  ^ Charles Patrick Fitzgerald (1961). China: a short cultural history (3 ed.). Praeger. p. 332.  ^ Everett Jenkins (1999). The Muslim diaspora: a comprehensive reference to the spread of Islam
in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. 1 (illustrated ed.). McFarland. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-7864-0431-5. Arab troops were dispatched by Abu Gia-far to China.  ^ Stanley Ghosh (1961). Embers in Cathay. Doubleday. p. 60. During the reign of Abbassid Caliph Abu Giafar in the middle of the 8th century, many Arab soldiers evidently settled near the garrisons on the Chinese frontier.  ^ a b Lewis (2009), p. 159. ^ Bai, pp. 219–23. ^ Barthold, pp. 2–3. ^ Barthold, p. 5. ^ Barry Hoberman (1982). The Battle of Talas, Saudi Aramco World. ^ Biran 2012, p. 90. ^ Biran 2012, p. 90. Archived 14 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Pozzi & Janhunen & Weiers 2006, p. 114. ^ Biran 2005, p. 93. ^ Sinor 1990, p. 344. ^ Chaliand 2004, p. 32. ^ Bloodworth & Bloodworth 1976, p. 214. ^ Giles 1926, p. 138. ^ Bai, pp. 242–43. ^ Bloom, Jonathan (2001). Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-08955-4.  ^ Xue, pp. 260–81. ^ Bai, pp. 233–34. ^ Bai, pp. 239–42. ^ Embassy of Uzbekistan to the United Kingdom Of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Retrieved 25 April 2007. (The link is broken)


Bai, Shouyi; et al. (2003), 中囯回回民族史 (A History of Chinese Muslims, 2, Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, ISBN 7-101-02890-X CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link) Bartold, W [1928] (1992). (Western) Turkestan
Down to the Mongol Invasion. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. ISBN 81-215-0544-3. Beckwith, Christopher I. (2009): Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13589-2. Biran, Michal (October 2012). "Kitan Migrations in Eurasia (10th–14th Centuries)" (PDF). Journal of Central Eurasian Studies. Center for Central Eurasian Studies. 3: 85–108. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.  Bloodworth, Dennis; Bloodworth, Ching Ping (2004). The Chinese Machiavelli: 3000 years of Chinese statecraft. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 0-7658-0568-5. Retrieved 3 May 2014.  Bulliet, Richard; Crossley, Pamela; Headrick, Daniel; Hirsch, Steven; Johnson, Lyman (2010). The Earth and Its Peoples (5 ed.). Cengage Learning. ISBN 0538744383. Retrieved 3 May 2014.  Bulliet, Richard (2010). The Earth and Its Peoples, A Global History, AP Edition, 5th ed. Cengage Learning. ISBN 1285288572. Retrieved 3 May 2014.  Chaliand, Gérard (2004). Nomadic Empires: From Mongolia to the Danube. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 141282978X. Retrieved 3 May 2014.  Esposito, John L., ed. (1999). The Oxford History of Islam (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195107993. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  Herbert Allen Giles (1926). Confucianism and its rivals. Forgotten Books. p. 139. ISBN 1-60680-248-8. Retrieved 14 December 2011. In7= 789 the Khalifa Harun al Raschid dispatched a mission to China, and there had been one or two less important missions in the seventh and eighth centuries; but from 879, the date of the Canton massacre, for more than three centuries to follow, we hear nothing of the Mahometans and their religion. They were not mentioned in the edict of 845, which proved such a blow to Buddhism and Nestorian Christianityl perhaps because they were less obtrusive in ithe propagation of their religion, a policy aided by the absence of anything like a commercial spirit in religious matters.  Lapidus, Ira M. (2012). Islamic Societies to the Nineteenth Century: A Global History (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052151441X. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  Lewis, Mark Edward (2009). China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-05419-6.  Lifchez, Raymond; Algar, Ayla Esen, eds. (1992). The Dervish Lodge: Architecture, Art, and Sufism in Ottoman Turkey. Volume 10 of Comparative studies on Muslim societies (illustrated ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 0520070607. Retrieved 1 April 2013.  Millward, James A. (2007). Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang (illustrated ed.). Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231139241. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  Pozzi, Alessandra; Janhunen, Juha Antero; Weiers, Michael, eds. (2006). Tumen Jalafun Jecen Aku: Manchu Studies in Honour of Giovanni Stary. Volume 20 of Tunguso Sibirica. Contributor Giovanni Stary. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 344705378X. Retrieved 1 April 2013.  Sinor, Denis, ed. (1990). The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, Volume 1 (illustrated, reprint ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521243041. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  Soucek, Svat, ed. (2000). A History of Inner Asia (illustrated, reprint ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521657040. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  Starr, S. Frederick, ed. (2004). Xinjiang: China's Muslim Borderland (illustrated ed.). M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0765613182. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  Wink, André (1997). Al-Hind the Making of the Indo-Islamic World: The Slave Kings and the Islamic Conquest : 11th–13th Centuries. Volume 2 of Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World (illustrated ed.). BRILL. ISBN 9004102361. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  Wink, André (2002). Al-Hind: The Slave Kings and the Islamic conquest, 11th–13th centuries. Volume 2 of Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World (illustrated, reprint ed.). BRILL. ISBN 0391041746. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  Xue, Zongzheng (1998). Anxi and Beiting Protectorates: A Research on Frontier Policy in Tang Dynasty's Western Boundary. Harbin: Heilongjiang Education Press. ISBN 7-5316-2857-0.

Coordinates: 42°31′30″N 72°14′0″E / 42.52500°N 72.23333°E / 42.52500; 72.23333

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