In this period, Central and North Asia are fragmented into rule by small tribes collectively known as the Uzbeks. In Transoxiana, a second clan descended from Genghis Khan known as the Astrakhanids claims control after the fall of the Shaibanid dynasty. They share governmental duties with leading members of Turko-Mongol groups as well as Muslim scholars, shaikhs, and members of Sufi brotherhoods. Other powerful tribal dynasties are based in Khokand, Khiva, and Kabul. The art they sponsor continues in the Timurid tradition. In what is now the Chinese province of Xinjiang, the Qing dynasty cracks down on the Naqshbandis and other Sufi orders, which it sees as disruptive elements.
The complicated relationships between various Mongol confederations are further exacerbated by the rise of the Manchus in the northeast as well as Russian incursions into various regions. Under Nurhachi, the Manchus establish the Jin dynasty before gaining control of China, where they rule as the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Tibetan-style Buddhism continues to flourish under the Mongols, and both permanent and semi-nomadic monasteries are constructed. Sculpture and painting flourish in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, influenced by the style of Zanabazar (1635–1723) as well as continuing religious ties with Tibet.
The khanate known variously as the Astrakhanids, Janids, or Tuqay-Timurids wrest control of Transoxiana from the Shaibanids. Like this clan, the Astrakhanids claim descent from Genghis Khan, but through a different son of Jochi named Tuqay-Timur. Divided by struggles for succession, the family splits into two states in 1612, one ruling from Bukhara and one ruling from Balkh. Their architectural projects in these ancient cities make conscious reference to those constructed by their predecessors, especially the Timurids.
‘Arab Muhammad, leader of the khanate in Khwarazm, moves the capital to Khiva. He controls the surrounding region with the help of beys (governors) who pledge allegiance to him.
A Mongol translation of the Tibetan Buddhist canon, or Tanjur, is commissioned by Ligdan Khan, ruler of the Chahar Mongols.
The Astrakhanid governor of Samarqand, Yalangtush Bi Alchin, demolishes the khanqah of Ulugh Beg (r. ca. 1417–49) on the Registan to build his own madrasa, known as the Shirdar. The entire building is covered in tiles with two large lions in the spandrels of the facade. A third madrasa, called the Tilakari, is added to the square in 1646.
The Great Fifth Dalai Lama designates Zanabazar as the First Bogdo Gegen, or “Living Buddha.” Both an artist and a patron, Zanabazar functions as the center of a political and artistic renaissance, largely based on Nepali and Tibetan traditions. He establishes a base at Urga (present-day Ulaanbaatar), which becomes the commercial and artistic center of Mongolia.
Russians conquer the Buryat Mongols in the Lake Baikal region. The latter play a role in subsequent campaigns in the Crimea.
The Mughal presence in Central Asia fosters contacts between Indian and local painters, and transforms the depiction of landscape and dress. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, India exerts further influence on the arts through the medium of commercially produced books from Kashmir.
Nadr Muhammad briefly reunites the two branches of the Astrakhanid family. Civil strife and occupation by the Mughals of India divide the khanate again.
‘Abd al-‘Aziz, Astrakhanid ruler of Bukhara, is known as a learned and cultured man. He adds another madrasa to the landscape of the city, again across from one of Ulugh Beg’s. His reign is considered the last great era of the city.
Zanabazar introduces the Tibetan-based Maitreya Festival at Erdene Zuu. Maitreya is the Buddha of the Future whose appearance will herald a new age for all.
Galdan, ruler of the Oirat and Zunghar Mongols, conquers much of present-day Xinjiang Province with the support of the Dalai Lama in Tibet.
Subhanquli, brother of ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, unites the Astrakhanid dynasty once again. He builds a madrasa across from the tomb of Abu Nasr Parsa at Balkh and further develops the shrine of ‘Ali, just outside of the city at Mazar-i Sharif. He commissions a world history, the Muhit al-tawarikh (1697–98), which mentions several artists in his atelier.
The signing of the Treaty of Nerchinsk between China and Russia helps the Chinese in their continuing battle with Galdan.
Qing-dynasty China gains control of most of Mongolia.
Koshut Mongols led by Lhabzang march on Tibet with the collusion of the Qing court in an attempt to stop the Zunghars from controlling the region, which is symbolically important as the center of Mongol Buddhist traditions. The campaign is not entirely successful, and the Zunghars control Tibet from 1717 to 1720, when Manchu troops from China invade the city.
Peter the Great of Russia invades the lands of the Khiva khanate. Further attacks come from Nadir Shah of Persia (1740), and the Turkoman Yomuts (1740—70).
The Yongzheng emperor (r. 1723–35) initiates construction of a large, permanent monastery at Amarbayasgalant (Amur-bayaskhulangtu) to house the remains of Zanabazar. It is not completed until 1778.
On his way to India, the Nadir Shah passes through Balkh and suppresses a revolt there, occupying it and Bukhara. After his death in 1747, the atalik Muhammad Rahim of the Mangit tribe proclaims himself khan of the region.
The Durrani tribe of Afghanistan, resettled from Herat by Nadir Shah, hold extensive land grants in the region of Kandahar; they parlay their economic power into political authority. Under the leadership of Ahmad Shah and then Timur Shah, the family expands into Zamindawar, Nish, and Tirin, and take Kabul as their capital. They continue Nadir Shah’s raids into India, sacking Delhi and Agra in 1757 and defeating the Marathas at Panipat in 1761.
Qing forces defeat a Mongol rebellion.
Catherine the Great of Russia annexes the Crimea and deposes Shahin Girai, the last descendant of Genghis Khan to rule the area.
“Central and North Asia, 1600–1800 A.D.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=09®ion=nc (October 2003)