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Almaliq, Xinjiang

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Almaliq, Xinjiang

Almaliq (Chinese: 阿力麻里; pinyin: Ālìmálǐ[1]), also spelled Armalec, Almalik,[2] Almalig,[2] and Almaligh, was a medieval city in the Ili basin in present-day Huocheng County in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang. It is situated between the city of Yining (Ili) and the border with Kazakhstan.

Almaliq was originally one of Karluk cities in the Turkic Kaganates. It is known from the accounts of the Persian historians and Chinese travellers of the Mongol era (13th to 15th centuries), in particular the 13th-century Daoist Qiu Chuji (Chang Chun).

According to the travel notes of Genghis Khan's chief adviser Yelü Chucai, the city of Almaliq was situated between the Tian Shan mountains and the Ili River. There were many crab apple trees around Almalik. The native people called them "almaliq", giving the name to the city.

An account by a Persian historian tells that in 1211, Prince Ozar of Almaliq acknowledged the supremacy of Genghis Khan. The king was later killed by the Gurkhan of Karakitai. Genghis Khan ordered the king's son Siknak Tekin to succeed him as king of Almaliq and gave him the only daughter of his elder son Jochi for marriage. In 1219, when Genghis Khan led his host on campaign to Persia, Siknak Tekin followed him.[3]

The marriage between the ruler of Almaliq and a granddaughter of Genghis Khan demonstrates the city's importance at the time. Home to people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and religions, the city became an important Islamic center under the rule of Tughluq Temur, Khan of Moghulistan, from c. 1351 to 1363. Tughluq Temür's tomb can still be seen in the town. Inscriptions also show the presence of Nestorian Christians in the town in the third quarter of the fourteenth century.[4]

A number of Catholic missionaries worked in Almaliq in the 14th century as well; many stopped there on the way between Europe and China. The city was typically known as "Armalec" in their accounts.[2]

The ancient city of Almaliq is not to be confused with Olmaliq (traditionally transcribed "Almalyk"), the Uzbeki mining town founded in 1951.[5]


  1. ^ Previously transcribed into Chinese as 阿尔马立克, Ā'ěrmǎlì; 阿里马城, Ālǐmǎchéng; 阿里麻, Ālǐmá; and 阿力马力, Ālìmǎlì.
  2. ^ a b c Henry Yule, Cathay and the way thither: being a collection of medieval notices ..., Volume 2; pp 288, 321, 338, etc.
  3. ^ Emil Bretschneider Medieval Researches, Vol 2, p33, Trubner Oriental Series, London, 1888.
  4. ^ Niu, loc. cit.
  5. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Olmaliq
  • W. Barthold [rev. by B. Spuler and O. Pritsak], "Almaligh", Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed.
  • Niu Ruji, "Nestorian Inscriptions from China (13th - 14th Centuries)", in R. Malek, Jingjiao, The Church of the East in China and Central Asia, 2006.

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