Khan (sometimes spelled as Xan, Han, Ke-Han, Turkic: khān, Chinese: 大汗) is an originally Central Asian title for a sovereign or military ruler. It was used by the Mongols who brought it to all over Asia. It now has many equivalent meanings such as commander, leader, or ruler. Presently, khans exist mostly in South Asia, Central Asia and Iran. The female alternatives are Khatun and Khanum.
Originally khans headed only relatively minor tribal entities, generally in or near the vast Mongolian and North Chinese steppe, the scene of an almost endless procession of nomadic people riding out into the history of the neighbouring sedentary regions. Some managed to establish principalities of some importance for a while, as their military might repeatedly proved a serious threat to such empires as China and kingdoms in Central Asia.
The title "Khan" became well known when the tribal Mongol Temüjin proved himself a military genius by creating the Mongol Empire, the greatest land empire the world ever saw, which he ruled as Genghis Khan.
His title was khagan 'Khan of Khans' but is often 'shortened' to Khan – also meaning 'King of Kings' or described as 'Great Khan', like being called 'Great Sultan'.
There have been several variations on the title used in modern times. Khan Bahadur or Khan Sahib was a title of honour, granted by the British Raj to Muslims who had done major deeds of valour, or service to the nation or government. The Hindu counterpart for this title was Rai Bahadur or Rai Sahib. This title was normally granted in addition to other awards and decorations and added either before or after a person's actual name as a prefix or suffix.
Images for kids
Khan (title) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.