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For the Star Trek character see Khan Noonien Singh.

Khan is a title meaning ruler in Mongolian. A khan controls a khanate. Whenever appropriate, it is also translated as emperor.

Probably the most famous people with the title Khan were the Mongol Genghis Khan, and his grandson Kublai Khan: the former founded the Mongol Empire and the latter founded the Yuan Dynasty in China.

This title was probably first used by Rouran; maybe the Xianbei used it earlier. At that time it was pronounced Khaghan. The gh sound later weakened and disappeared becoming Khaan in Modern Mongolian. The Secret History of the Mongols clearly distinguishes Khaghan and Khan: only Genghis and his descendants are called Khaghan ("Khan of Khans"); other rulers are referred to as Khan.

The title Khan was among numerous titles used by the sultans of the Ottoman empire.

The title Khan was also used in the Seljuk Turk dynasties of the near-east to designate a head of multiple tribes, clans or nations, who was below an Atabeg in rank.

Jurchen and Manchu rulers also used the title Khan (Han in Manchu); for example, Nurhaci was called Genggiyen Han.

Rulers of Khazaria used the title Khagan.

See also: Khong Tayiji, list of Mongol Khans


Today the name Khan is used by people living in Afghanistan, India and bordering areas of Pakistan. It has become almost synonymous with the term Pathan.

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45