Firdaws Al-Iqbal: History of Khorezm

Firdaws Al-Iqbal: History of Khorezm

Firdaws Al-Iqbal: History of Khorezm

Firdaws Al-Iqbal: History of Khorezm

Synopsis

This volume is a translation from Chaghatay (medieval Turkic literary language of Central Asia) of a work written by Uzbek historians M nis and gah in the early 19th century. It contains the history of Khorezm, especially detailed for the 18th and early 19th centuries, and it is an outstanding example of Central Asian historiography. The book is the first Western translation of this historical work and the first such translation of a major Chaghatay source for the history of Central Asia in the 18th-19th centuries. Besides the translation, the book includes extensive historical and philological notes and detailed introduction discussing the historical background of the period when the work was written, the biographies of the authors, the history of the text, and its sources.

Excerpt

1. The country

Khorezm is a relatively small region in Central Asia which lies in the lower basin of the Amu-Darya, including its delta. However, at different times some neighboring steppe and desert areas where also within its cultural and political sphere of influence, or even under the direct authority of its rulers: the Üst-Yurt plateau between the Caspian and the Aral Sea in the west, the northern part of the Qara-qum desert, and sometimes even the oases along the northern rim of the Khorasanian mountains in the south, and the Qïzïl-qum desert up to the Sïr-Darya delta in the northeast. The surrounding steppe and desert made Khorezm somewhat isolated from the sedentary regions closest to it, Mavarannahr (Transoxania) and Khorasan. This isolation, however, was relative: Khorezm was connected by caravan routes with the Volga basin, Bukhara, and Khorasan, and most of the time there was a brisk traffic along these routes. Still, it was probably due to the geographical position of Khorezm that many features developed in its culture which made it quite distinct from its larger neighbor, Mavarannahr. The people of Khorezm had their own characteristic dress (the most prominent part being the black sheepskin hat worn by men), their own type of cart, their specific type of rural settlement (separate farm households, instead of compact villages) and specific types of dwellings, their own folk calendar, and their own local saints. The tenacity with which the people of Khorezm were preserving their ancient customs and traditions can probably be compared only with a similar feature of the Tajik mountain-dwellers in the Pamirs. Khorezm is the only region in Central Asia where the ancient title of its ruler, Khorezmshah,

Three accounts of Munis and Agahi are especially telling in this respect: about the order of Eltüzer Khan that the traditional male hat in Khorezm be replaced by a turban (see below, p. 184), about the order of Muhammad Rahim Khan prohibiting the use of musical instruments for entertainment (see below, p. 299), and about the order of Allah-Quli Khan to replace the Khorezmian New Year's day (Nawruz) with the common Iranian one (see below, pp. XLII-XLIII). Neither of these orders had a long-term effect.

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