Khatun[a] (/xəˈtn/ khə-TOON) is a title of the female counterpart to a khan or a khagan of the Turkic Khaganates and in the subsequent Mongol Empire.

Etymology and history

Before the advent of Islam in Central Asia, Khatun was the title of the queen of Bukhara. According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, "Khatun [is] a title of Sogdian origin borne by the wives and female relatives of the Göktürks and subsequent Turkish rulers."[1]

According to Bruno De Nicola in Women in Mongol Iran: The Khatuns, 1206–1335, the linguistic origins of the term "khatun" are unknown, though possibly of Old Turkic or Sogdian origin. De Nicola states that prior to the spread of the Mongols across Central Asia, Khatun meant 'lady' or 'noblewoman' and is found in broad usage in medieval Persian and Arabic texts.[2]

Peter Benjamin Golden observed that the title qatun appeared among the Göktürks as the title for the khagan's wife and was borrowed from Sogdian xwāten "wife of the ruler"[3] Earlier, British Orientalist Gerard Clauson (1891–1974) defined xa:tun as "'lady' and the like" and says there is "no reasonable doubt that it is taken from Sogdian xwt'yn (xwatēn), in Sogdian xwt'y ('lord, ruler') and xwt'yn 'lord's or ruler's wife'), "which is precisely the meaning of xa:tun in the early period."[4]

Modern usage

In Uzbek, the language spoken in modern-day Bukhara, in Uzbekistan, the word is spelled xotin and has come to simply refer to any woman. In Turkish, it is written hatun. The general Turkish word for 'woman', kadın, is a doublet derived from the same origin.[5]

Notable Khatuns

Valide Hatun

Valide Hatun was the title held by the "legal mother" of a ruling Sultan of the Ottoman Empire before the 16th century.

By the beginning of the 16th century, the title hatun for sultan's mother, princesses, and sultan's main consort was replaced by "sultan" and they started to carry it after their given names. This usage underlines the Ottoman conception of sovereign power as family prerogative.[6] Consequently, the title valide hatun also turned into valide sultan.

List of valide hatuns

Name Maiden name Origin Consort Became valide Ceased to be valide Death Sultan
Nilüfer Hatunنیلوفر خاتون unknown Greek Orhan I March 1362

son's ascension

1363 Murad I (son)
Gülçiçek Hatunكلچیچك خاتون Maria Greek Murad I 16 June 1389

son's ascension

c. 1400 Bayezid I (son)
Devlet Hatunدولت خاتون unknown unknown Bayezid I 5 July 1413

son's ascension

26 May 1421

son's death

1422 Mehmed I (son)
Emine Hatunامینہ خاتون Emine Dulkadirid Mehmed I 26 May 1421

son's ascension

(first tenure)

August 1444

(first tenure)

Murad II(son)
September 1446

son's reinstatement

(second tenure)

Hüma Hatun
هما خاتون
Stella or Esther disputed Murad II August 1444

son's first ascension

September 1446 Mehmed II (son)
Mara Despina Hatun Mara Serbian Murad II 1457

Her return to Ottoman's court on Mehmed's invite

3 May 1481

Mehmed's death

Mehmed II (stepson)
Gülbahar Hatun

گل بھار مکرمه خاتون

unknown Greek o Albanian Mehmed II 3 May 1481

son's ascension

1492 Bayezid II (son)

Given name

See also



  1. ^ Old Turkic: 𐰴𐰍𐰣, romanized: katun, Ottoman Turkish: خاتون, romanizedhatun; Uzbek: xotun; Persian: خاتون, romanizedxâtun; Tajik: хотун; Mongolian: хатун/ᠬᠠᠲᠤᠨ; Urdu: خاتون, romanizedxatun; Hindi: ख़ातून, romanizedkhātūn; Bengali: খাতুন, romanizedkhatun; Sylheti: ꠈꠣꠔꠥꠘ; Turkish: hatun; Azerbaijani: xatun; Punjabi: ਖਾਤੂਨ (Gurmukhi), خاتون (Shahmukhi)


  1. ^ Mernissi, Fatima (1993). The Forgotten Queens of Islam. University of Minnesota Press. p. 21.
  2. ^ De Nicola, Bruno (2017). Women in Mongol Iran: The Khatuns, 1206-1335. Edinburgh University Press. p. 2. ISBN 9781474415477.
  3. ^ Peter Benjamin Golden (1998), "Turks and Iranians: An historical sketch" in Johanson, Lars; Csató, Éva Ágnes (2015). The Turkic Languages. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-136-82534-7., page 5
  4. ^ Clauson, Gerard (1972). An Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth-Century Turkish. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 602–603. ISBN 978-0-19-864112-4.
  5. ^ Clauson, p. 602.
  6. ^ Peirce, Leslie P. (1993). The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. ISBN 0-19-507673-7.


Works cited

Further reading