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Central Asian Khanates

Last modified: 2003-03-01 by phil nelson
Keywords: khanate | asia | ussr | bukharian psr | khorezmian psr |
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The special issue of the Flag Bulletin entitled "Flags of Non-Russian Peoples Under Soviet Rule" by Prof. Walter Trembicky with contributions by Whitney Smith and Karlis Dzirkalis (Vol VIII, No. 3, Summer 1969) included flag information on Turkestan, which includes Bukhara, Khiva, Kokand and Alash Orda. The information given is that of the post-czarist, pre-Soviet period (c1917-1924).

In December, 1917, the Kokand Autonomous State became independent under Mustafa Chokai-Beg who hoisted a flag modeled on the Turkish flag, Red over Dark Blue with the star and crescent in the center.

Kokand Autonomous State 1917-1918
[Kokand Autonomous State 1917-1918]
by Dave Martucci

Bukhara became independent in April 1917 under an emir (not named in the FB). The flag shown is a Royal Standard; a three pointed light green flag with an orange border bearing black ornamentation; in the center is a star and crescent over the hand of Fatima, in gold, with the name of the emir written in arabic script near the hoist and the "shahada" near the fly, also in gold. Orange cloth wrapped around the pole secured the flag and bore black diamond shapes; the three points of the flag also had black diamond shaped tassels. The staff was painted green with a gold spearhead and crescent emblem at the top.

When the emir fled to Afghanistan, the Bukharan Social People's Republic was established. It was reported to have flown a red flag with a crescent in the center and the initials of the state in Cyrillic letters in the hoist. Probably these emblems were white or gold.

According to the extracts of the State Constitution that can be found in the Flag Bulletin Vol. XI, No. 1, Winter 1972 ("Soviet State Symbolism: Flags and Arms of the USSR and its Constituent parts, 1917-1971"), the Bukharan People's Soviet Republic flag adopted September 23, 1921 was Green over Red with "a design in the middle of them of a gold crescent, inside of which is situated a gold five-pointed star. On the upper green cloth, in the left corner near the staff, shall be placed the letters 'BNSR'."

A new constitution adopted October 11, 1923 changed the background of the flag to all red. On November 19, 1924 the name of the state was changed to the Bukharan Siviet Socialist Republic and presumably the initials on the flag also changed to 'BSSR' but the state was overthrown on the 24th of that same month by the Uzbek SSR Temporary Revolutionary Committee.

The Alash Orda State which existed December 1917-May 1919, is supposed to have had a red flag with a yellow star and crescent. The article in FB VIII:3 also states that in Alash Orda, as in other parts of Turkestan, a green flag with a white crescent and star was sometimes used.

Alash Orda State 1917-1919
[Alash Orda State 1917-1919]
by Dave Martucci 10 August 1996

Alternate design
[Alash Orda State 1917-1919]
by Dave Martucci 10 August 1996

The flag of the Khivan Khanate in the pre-Soviet period is unknown.

At Samarkand in September 1921, the Union of Central Asian Islamic National Insurgent Organizations instituted an all-Turkestani flag. This flag was accepted by the Turkestani state constitution in April 1922 and was very popular and used until January 1924 when the last part of Turkestani territory fell to the Red Army. The flag consisted of nine alternating stripes of 5 red and 4 white, with an orange rectangle, bearing a white star and crescent, located next to the hoist between the two upper and two lower stripes. Around all four sides of the flag was a very narrow light blue border. The pole was topped by a Wolf's Head.

Turkestan 1921-1924
[Turkestan 1921-1924]
by Dave Martucci 10 August 1996

Basmashi flag
[Basmashi flag]
by Thanh-Tâm Lê

The article has more information about this flag and its symbolism, which I will abstract and send to the list along with some gifs of the Kokand, Bukharan, Alash Orda and Turkestan flags. The Bukharan Emirate flag is very complicated and will have to wait until I can find a scanner I can use.

Dave Martucci 10 August 1996

The Kokand Autonomous Government fell in the Winter of 1918. Below is an excerpt from a paper I have written which explains the history of the Kokand government.

Beginning in January of 1917 mass protests against the Tsarist government occurred in the Russian of capital Petrograd and in the city of Moscow. The riots became epidemic and on February 27th the Tsar abdicated. A provisional government was formed while the Bolsheviks refused to participate and instead they set up Soviets in major urban centers. The February Revolution of 1917 left Central Asia with no central government to report. As a result a political vacuum formed in Central Asia and the region was swept back into chaos. Tsarist officials in Central Asia reacted to the czar's downfall by forming the "Turkestan Committee" which was contrasted by the Bolsheviks, composed mostly of Russian settlers and railway workers, who formed the Tashkent Soviet. The result was two fold: first, the rival Tsarist and Bolshevik camps soon started fighting, and second, the lack of Muslim representation in either camp forced the indigenous population to organize their own defense. The Muslim intelligentsia responded by forming the "Extraordinary all-Muslim Conference" which took place in Tashkent and demanded Muslim autonomy for Central Asia within a Russian federated republic. In addition, peaceful demonstrations of Muslims took place in Tashkent demanding Muslim autonomy. The heart of the Muslim response was in the Fergana Valley where in early November 1917 a fourth meeting of the "Extraordinary Regional Muslim Congress" took place and it was decide to form a Muslim based government. The new government was under the leadership of Mustafa Chokayev and was named the "Provisional Government of Autonomous Turkestan", also know as the "Kokand government", named after the city which housed the new Muslim authority. The Kokand government was formed in response to Vladimir Lenin's appeal "to the Muslims of Turkestan" to rise against the Czarist government and allow the Muslims "self-determination according to [Central Asia's] model." The capacity of the Kokand government was limited by the fact that it represented only a small area within the Fergana Valley centered around the city of Kokand rather than the whole of Russian Turkestan. In addition, the "Kokand government" was situated in Russian Turkistan, the area under direct Russian control, and therefore it had a minor affect on populaces of the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara. But the fate of Central Asia depended on the success of the Kokand government.

The formation of the Kokand government coincided with rebellion against Russian rule throughout the Muslim areas of the Russian Empire. Bashkurdistan had declared territorial autonomy in January of 1918 and was followed by the Tatars declaring autonomy and the creation of the Azerbaijan Republic in the spring of 1918. Despite Lenin's plea for Muslim self-determination the Kokand government was seen as a threat by the Tashkent Soviet, which acted independent of the Bolshevik leadership. Consequently the Muslim authorities in Kokand appealed to the Bolsheviks in Petrograd for aid but the response they received from Lenin's deputy, Joshep Stalin, was that if the Muslim population were feed up with the Tashkent Soviet then they ought to eliminate it themselves through force. Stalin's response only intensified the Tashkent Soviet's dislike of the Kokand government and in January 1918 the Tashkent Soviet declared the Kokand government 'counter revolutionary' and it passed a resolution declaring war on the Kokand government. On January 30, 1918 the forces of the Tashkent Soviet laid siege to Kokand, whose populace was using hunting rifles to defend themselves. On 20 February the city of Kokand and the government within fell after only three months in power. The Soviet troops proceeded to massacre at least 5,000 of the cities population and in the process enrage the Muslim populous and elicited a spontaneous uprising throughout the Fergana Valley. The Tashkent Soviet responded by plundering the Fergana Valley and ordering the confiscation of cotton, the stable of the region's economy. By April of 1918 there was full blown revolt amongst the Muslims in the Fergana Valley. These initial uprising in the Fergana Valley marked the beginning of the Basmachi movement.

David Straub, 24 August 1998

Enver Pasha directed the Young Turks of "Union and Progress". After World War I, he 1918 fled to Germany and later to Moscow, where he was sent to Central Asia to convince the Muslim peoples that the communism was good. Enver, secretly a Bolchevik enemy, arrived to the Bukhara republic and allied himself with the local leader (progesist) Pulat Khodja, president of the Republic, who held power after the fall of the emir. Pulat asserted the independence of the republic and with Enver created a Pan-Turkish movement originating from Bukhara, with the help of the strong movement Pan-Turkish in the former Russian Turkestan, which was named basmachi. The movement of the Pan-Turkish (Basmachis) started 1921, adopted a flag in Samarcanda in September 1921, in a meeting of the "Insurgent National Organization of the Islamic Cenrtral Asia". They formally adopted the Constitution of the republic of Turkestan (frequently named in the cronicles PANTURANIA) in April 1922. The flag was very popular and was in use until the end of the movement in January 1924.

In November 1921, Enver travelled to Eastern Bukhara, officially for fight against the emir partisans, but in reality negotiated a treaty with the emir partisans (with the aprobation of the own emir). Dushambe, capital of the zone that was in hands of the bolcheviks, was taken 16 February 1922.

The constitution of the Republic of Turkestan was published April 1922. On 14 June 1922, the bolcheviks retook Dushambe, and soon after entered Bukhara. Enver fled to the mountains. The basmachis were defeated in Baljuam 1 August, and Enver died 4 August 1922 in the minor battle of Obdara. Salim Pasha continued the struggle but fled to Afghanistan (15 July 1923). The last basmachi warriors, retreating to the Ferghana Valley (1923-1924), were directed by the famous Kurshermat and used a different flag: red with shahadda, crescent and eight five-pointed stars in the canton, all in white, reported in Flag Bulletin 95.

Prior to the basmachi movement in Turkestan the local bolcheviks created the Soviet Republic of Turkestan 30 April 1918 (later a federated soviet republic 11 April 1921). The republic was dissolved 27 Octuber 1924 when five national republics were created.

The flag has the orange color, attributed to the Turks, with the Turkey flag and nine bars (five red and four white) representing the various turkish peoples (Azeries, Othoman, Kirguiz, Kazaks, Turkomans, Uzbeks, Tatars, Karakapaks and Eastern Turkomans); the blue border probably representing the minorities, specially the Russians. The ratio appears to have been 3:5.
Jaume Ollé, 09 November 1998