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The Khanate of Sakha (Yakut: Caxa Xanligi) is a tribal state located in eastern Siberia, centered around the Middle Lena River.
Sakha was founded around 1330 by the chieftain of a Yakut band on the Middle Lena River; the first recorded Khan is Oyus, who succeeded to the Khanate around 1375 and constructed a stockade at Cohuskay, where the two branches of the Lena unite, giving him control over river traffic. Oyus was an ambitious ruler who sought to augment his power; modelling his rule on that of Genghis Khan, he hoped to unite the Yakuts and establish a mighty state with his dynasty at its head. His efforts were fairly unsuccessful until 1400, when a number of Buddhist monks, mainly members of esoteric and marginalized Vajryana sects, who had been seeking a place more amenable to their religion, arrived in Sakha; they saw the chance to influence a nascent state and create a firm basis for their religion. Seizing his chance, Oyus agreed to convert in an effort to gain the aid of these southerners to enhance his power; they helped establish trade routes for furs to the south, and also facilitated the immigration of many other religious minorities, such Manichaeans and Nestorians from the south, who contributed to the existing fusion of Sakha shamanism and foreign religious influences. Oyus was able to use these immigrants to establish a literate bureaucracy, which disseminated knowledge and new technology. The resultant discovery of gold in Kyuchyus triggered further immigration, enriching the new state.
- Ming China
- Other Yakut tribes
- Other north Asian nations
- Chulye Tatars
The predominant religion of Sakha is a fusion of Sakha shamanism and Buddhism; mainly Vajryana sects, which is quite similar to Tibetan Buddhism. Notably, the translation of Buddhist holy texts and practices into Yakut meant the names of preexisting deities were used for Buddhist counterparts, and these then took on the characteristics of their native equivalents. Most notably, Sakhan gods, such as Aisyt, the dominant Yakut deity, were redefined as wrathful deities, or spiritual figures who lead the way to enlightenment by fighting the enemies of Buddhism. The concept of the world tree, a common one in Yakut religion, was also adapted for Zoroastrianism; the Dahurian larch, a tree which uses fire to open and distribute its cones, is taken as holy and symbolic of the reincarnation of the human soul in Buddhism. These trees are commonly planted around religious centres. The bear or Siberian tiger's hibernation has extended a similar holiness to these creatures. The main unique feature of Sakha Buddhism is its veneration of its rulers as bodhisattvas, or incarnations of one individual who seeks to lead all to enlightenment. Secondary religions include Manichaeanism and Nestorian Christianity; both also venerate the same figures as prophets, the former as the reincarnation of Mani and the second of Jesus, which maintains official toleration.
Church of the East (Arqunist Church)
The Church of the East was established in Sakha during the reign of Oyus, as Nestorian monks moved north to escape the increasingly anti-foreigner Ming Dynasty following the end of the Yuan Dynasty, which had been friendly to Christians. They were freely admitted and granted official tolerance, but never achieved the popularity of Buddhism, which fused more easily with shamanism and had official support. Referred to in Sakha as the Arqunist Church, after the Mongol term for Nestorians, Erke'un or Arke'un, the Church was distinguished by its insistence on the humanity of Jesus, rather than his divinity, but has since fused with Eastern beliefs to the point where it differs greatly from Christianity as practiced in the West. The main authority is the metropolitan of Cohuskay, Nestoris II.