Of uncertain origin.
Iranian (Sogdian) or Indo-Iranian tarkāna (“judgment”), Mongolic darxan (“blacksmith; man exempt from taxes and obligations”), and Turkic tarxan (“man exempt from taxes and civil service”) have all been suggested as possible sources, but the irregularity of the plural in the Turkic languages suggests it was borrowed into, not from, them. A relationship to Middle Korean tarku-, tarho- (“to heat (a piece of iron); to deal with”) has also been proposed. See Wikipedia's article for more.
Another possibility, as suggested by Denis Sinor, also includes a derivation from Mongolian [script needed] (tar, dar, “ironmaster, blacksmith; to disperse, divide up, spread”) via Middle Mongolian [script needed] (tara, “scattered”) or [script needed] (tarxa-, “be scattered”), ultimately from Proto-Mongolic *tara-, *tarka- (“to disperse, scatter”), possibly from Proto-Altaic *t`ájri (“to scatter, disperse”). The Mongolic form was probably not borrowed from Turkic; the Old Turkic form is tar-, while modern Kypchak forms like tara-, tarqa- are most likely borrowed from Mongolian. The original Turkic derivative form is preserved as *dar- (“to go apart, scatter, spread; to branch, be forked; branch; claw; finger”), possibly rooted in Proto-Altaic *tā̀ro (“to stretch, spread”).
Linguist S. Nişanyan lists Old Turkic tarḳan as a cognate word with Khotanese Saka ttarkana and Sogdian tarχān, ultimately derived from Hunnic tarḳan/tarχan, all having the same meaning "nobility, nobleness, commander". L. Rogers bears in mind that the word may have originated among the Xiongnu and Huns where it was associated with a title for nobility. Edwin G. Pulleyblank also suggests that both, Turkic tarqan and Mongolian darxan/daruyu, may preserve an original Hunnic word. Korean scholar Han-Woo Choi suggests a common Altaic root for the Turkic, Mongolian and Korean forms, indicating some kind of relationship with a primitive religion or shamanism, cf. Korean tarku-/tarho-/taru- "to heat a piece of iron in the flames / to deal with a thing, matter or sombody". Räsänen (JSFOu L, 7,5) proposed that this word was borrowed from Sino-Korean 達官 (tar-kwan) "emeritus", referring to Gustaf J. Ramstedt's article (1935: 87), however Annemarie von Gabain (1950: 48) and Ramstedt (1951: 63) also suggested that Turkic Tarqan consists of two morphemes, *tar and qan. Since at least the late 1800s, British researchers have suggested that tarkhan / tarqan and the Etruscan personal name Tarquin / Tarquinius might be cognate.
tarkhan (plural tarkhans)
- (historical) An ancient Central Asian title used by various Turkic (Hunnic, Xiongnu, Khazar), Mongolic and Indo-European (Scythian and Tokharian) peoples, especially in the medieval era, and prominently among the successors of the Mongol Empire; it generally conferred exemption from taxation.
2007 May 6, Michael Chabon, “‘Gentlemen of the Road’”, in New York Times:
- The tarkhan, leader of the Khazar army, meets Amram, Zelikman and a green-eyed young person who claims to be Alp, the brother of Filaq.
1980, Manfred Späth, “Beiträge zur 4. Internationalen Konferenz über Altrussische Geschichte. Begunov, "Weisse Rus".”, in Forschungen zur osteuropaischen Geschichte, Bd. 27, page 164:
- Already by the time of Genghis Khan, tarkhans were exempt from taxes and various economic services; they later became a privileged estate or class. In the Kazanian society, the tarkhans constituted a privileged, landowning, and conditionally hereditary nobility which was exempted from taxes and most other obligations.
- ^ tarkan in Nişanyan Sözlük (Turkish Etymological Dictionary)
- ^ Leland Liu Rogers: The Golden Summary of Cinggis Qayan: Cinggis Qayan-u Altan Tobc. In: Tunguso-Sibirica, vol. 27, Wiesbaden Harrassowitz, 2009, p.80
- ^ Universität Bonn. Seminar für Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaft Zentralasiens: Zentralasiatische Studien, Vol. 24-26, p.21
- ^ Choi, Han-Woo (2005), Evidences of the affinity of Korean and Turkic (PDF), Korea, Handong University
- ^ Choi, Han-Woo (Oct 2005), A Study of the Ancient Turkic "TARQAN" (PDF), Korea, Handong University
- ^ Ramstedt, G.J., Über den Ursprung der türkischen Sprache, SFAW, 1935, p.87.
- ^ von Gabain, Annemarie: Alttürkische Grammatik 1950; p.48.
- *dar-, *tara-, *tarka- Starostin, Sergei; Dybo, Anna; Mudrak, Oleg (2003) Etymological dictionary of the Altaic languages (Handbuch der Orientalistik; VIII.8), Leiden, New York, Köln: E.J. Brill
- Han-Woo Choi, A Study of the Ancient Turkic "TARQAN", Handong University
- Dimitri Theodoridis in: Lars M. Hoffmann, Anuscha Monchizadeh, Zwischen Polis, Provinz und Peripherie: Beiträge Zur Byzantinischen Geschichte und Kultur, Tarhānīyāt, Otto Harrassowitz, 2005, pp.378
- Lars M. Hoffmann, Anuscha Monchizadeh, Zwischen Polis, Provinz und Peripherie: Beiträge Zur Byzantinischen Geschichte und Kultur, chapt: Tarhānīyāt, by Dimitri Theodoridis, Otto Harrassowitz, 2005, pp.378. Quote: "Es darf in diesem Zusammenhang nicht außer acht gelassen werden, dass britische Forscher die kühne Behauptung aufgestellt haben, wonach das Wort tarxan und der etruskische Personenname Tarquinus auf ein und dassselbe Etymon zurückzuführen wären." References: (see below)
- H. Beveridge, The Mongol title tarkhan, in: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1917), p.834:
- "And I do not suppose that there can be any doubt that the names Tarchon, Tarquin and Tarkhan are identical."
- F. W. Thomas, Tarkhan and Tarquinus, in: Ebenda (1918), pp.122-123; and H. Beveridge, pp.314-316.