Content Analysis and Understanding of the First Local History of Sheki Province in the 19th Century

Article excerpt


Sheki is one of the most important Moslem provinces of the Southern Caucasia. A series of local histories have emerged in this region the first of which is A Brief History of the Sheki Khans by Karim Agha Fateh. For years, this work had existed in manuscript form and when it was introduced to the world of historiography science, inadequate and erroneous information were produced about it.

Using analytic-descriptive method and relying on library sources, this study attempts to fully introduce this work as well as to analyze its content and writing style.

Keywords: local historiography, 19th century (C.E), content analysis, Sheki, Karim Agha Fateh

1. Introduction

Sheki or Nukha is one of the most important provinces of the Southern Caucasia. Like other provinces in this region, Sheki sought independence after the murder of Nader Shah (1747) and disobeyed the central government (Ismayil, 1997, p. 12). However, Persian ruling governments always considered the entire Southern Caucasian region including Sheki as part of their territory. In the process of the Russian advance toward Southern Caucasian regions, two series of wars broke out between Persia and Russia. Following the cessation of the first series of wars, the Treaty of Gulistan (1813) was signed according to which Sheki, like many other Southern Caucasian cities, was annexed to Russia (Qodsi, 1382, p. 251). Previously, Salim Khan of the Sheki khans had declared allegiance to the Russian government according to the Kurakchay Treaty (1805) (Garabaghi, 1384, p. 124; Adigozel Bey, 2006, p. 82). During the period the Russia government dominated the region, the tradition of local historiography thrived in Sheki as it did in other Moslem Southern Caucasian provinces. The first local history of Sheki appeared in a work called A Brief History of the Sheki Khans by Karim Agha Fateh in nineteenth century.

This study attempts to carry out a content analysis on this book through library research. Different parts of this research include:

1. Identification of author

2. Description and analysis of the content

3. Writing style which answer the following questions:

* Who is the author of A Brief History of the Sheki Khans? and what is the reason for the error some scholars make in this matter?

* In what respects is A Brief History of the Sheki Khans influenced by Persian Historiography tradition?

and 3. was writing of A Brief History of the Sheki Khans, like many other local histories of the region, sponsored by the Tsarian Russia?

2. Identification of the Author

A Brief History of the Sheki Khans was made known to the scientific world in 1858. B. Dorn published this work in a collection of historical works titled Al-entekhabat-ul Bahyiah in Petersburg. This books was translated 66 years into Azerbaijani Turkish along with its Russian translation by the Azerbaijan Research and Analysis Association. Unfortunately, however, a serious blunder was committed in both publications and the writing of the book was ascribed to a person who was not the actual author. In his introduction to Al-entekhabat-ul Bahyiah, Dorn writes, 'in 1858, Khankov thus wrote about the author of t this work: "the author of The Brief History of Sheki cannot be anybody but Hadji Abdul Latif Afandi who was my friend and one of the Sheki judges and son of Hadji Abdul Salim Afandi. He is now sixty years old. He knows Arabic very well. He is also well acquainted with Persian literature and poetry. From 1845 to 1846, he travelled to Istanbul, Egypt and Mecca and returned to his homeland by the route of Syria, Baghdad, Karbala, Hamadan, Tehran, Tabriz and Shusha. He visited Dagestan in 1848 and has lived a comfortable life with his family in Nuxa. This good-looking old man spoke Persian and Turkish very fluently. I have been his guest two times in 1848 and 1849" (Babayev, 1993, p. 3; Soviet Azerbaijan Encyclopedia, 1981, p. 353).

It is clear from this that the reason for Dorn's mistake has been the unquestionable and reliable knowledge of the famous Caucasologist, N. …