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a historical region of Middle Asia and Afghanistan, encompassing what is now the southern Uzbek SSR, the Tadzhik SSR, and northern Afghanistan. The area was bounded by the Hissar range on the north, the Hindu Kush on the south, the Murgab and Hari rivers on the west, and the Pamirs on the east.
Tocharistan received its name from the Tochari (Yüeh-chih), who destroyed the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom in the second century B.C. Persian-Tadzhik and Arab writers of the ninth to 13th centuries AD. used the name “Tocharistan” in recounting events of the period from the fifth to 13th centuries. Tocharistan was the nucleus of the Kushan Kingdom; it was part of the kingdom in the first to fourth centuries A.D.
After the fall of the Kushan Kingdom, Tocharistan broke up into separate domains. In the early seventh century it contained 27 principalities. In the fifth and sixth centuries, Tocharistan was ruled by the Ephthalite Huns, and in the seventh century by the Turks. In the first half of the eighth century it was conquered by the Arabs, and it subsequently became part of the Tahirid, Saffarid, Samanid, and Ghurid states. In the early 13th century, Tocharistan was affected by the Mongol-Tatar invasion.
Tocharistan was an important economic and cultural center of the Middle East, maintaining ties with other regions of Middle Asia and with India and the Near and Far East. Under the Kushans and in the early Middle Ages, Tocharistan was important in the development and dissemination of Buddhism and Mani-chaeism in Central Asia.