Shad (Old Turkic:: 𐱁𐰑, Turkish: Şad) was a state office in the early Central Asian Turkic states, roughly equivalent to governor. "Shad" could only be an appointee over a vassal tribe, where he represented interests of the preeminent Kagan. The name of this tribe was included in his title. For example, Tardu-shad could only be a Shad over Tardu tribe. The title carried autonomy in different degrees, and its links with the central authority of kagan varied from economical and political subordination to superficial political deference. The title Shad is borrowed from an Iranian source (cf. Sogdian ’ġšyδ, Saka šao, Middle Iranian šāδ, Persian šāh < Old Persian 𐏋 xšāyaθiya ‘king’, or Avestan xšaēta "chief".
The position of Shad was traditionally given to the member of a ruling (Ashina) clan. Frequently, Shad was a blood prince, a representative of the next generation. Mahmud Kashgari defined the title Shad as an heir apparent a step above Yabgu. In the early Turkic Turgesh Kaganate, Shad was a ruler of the east wing, and Yabgu was a ruler of the west wing of the state, both directly subordinated to the Kagan. According to Movses Kagankatvatsi, Böri Shad was a 7th-century Western Turkic Khaganate prince and an ishad, or a ruler of a principality, a nephew of Tong Yabgu Kagan, and a son of Moho shad, who may have been a Yabgu of the Khazars. Later, after a split of Western Turkic Kaganate, the splinter western part was headed by Yukuk-shad of the royal Ashina clan, who became a Kagan of the "western surnames", with a throne name Yelbi-Turuk-Kagan.
With weakening of centralized states, the Shads were gaining more sovereignty, and historical accounts record independent states with "Shad" as a supreme ruler. The title "Shad" left prominent marks in the Asian toponymy, and on many mints of Middle Asia Late Antique and Early Middle Age coins, like Shad Bagh in northern Lahore in Punjab, Pakistan, and early Bukhara, Uzbekistan coins.
A name of one Shad in the waning days of the Eastern Turkic Kaganate is interpreted as an evidence of an early penetration of the Sunni branch of Islam to the Central Asian people. When the last Kagan Illig Qaghan suffered a defeat from the Tang (Tuoba/Tabgach) empire in 630 CE, the Chinese annals recorded that after that surrendered his last loyal prince, Yshbara Shunishi-Shad, and the Eastern Türkic Kaganate ceased to exist. Yshbara Shunishi-Shad was a head of the Basmyl tribe, and as indicated by his name, he was a Sunni.
References and notes
- Ethno Cultural Dictionary, TÜRIK BITIG
- Zuev Yu. A., "Horse Tamgas from Vassal Princedoms (Translation of Chinese composition "Tanghuyao" of 8-10th centuries)", Kazakh SSR Academy of Sciences, Alma-Ata, I960, p. 107 (In Russian)
- Golden P.B., "Turks and Iranians: An historical sketch", The Turkic Languages, ed. L. Johanson, E. A. Csato, 1998, p. 3 of 22.
- Golden P.B., "Khazar studies", Budapest, Vol. 2, 1980, pp. 188-190, ISBN 963-05-1548-2
- Artamanov M., History of Khazars, Leningrad, 1962, p 128, (in Russian)
- Zuev Yu. A., The strongest tribe, p. 55-56, Almaty, 2004 (in Russian)
- Gumilev L.N., "Ancient Türks", Ch.15, (in Russian)