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Title: Sketches of Central Asia (1868) - Additional chapters on my travels, adventures, and on the - ethnology of Central Asia
Author: Vámbéry, Arminius
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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       *       *       *       *       *







  [_All rights reserved._]

Lewis and Son, Printers, Swan Buildings, Moorgate Street.


In the reviews of my "Travels in "Central Asia," which have
issued from the European and American press, I have generally
been reproached with scantiness of details and scrappiness of
treatment;--in a word, with having said much less than I could have
said about my journey from the Bosphorus to Samarkand,--so rich in
varied adventures and experiences.

Now, I will not deny that such a charge has not been quite unfairly
levelled against me.

While I was writing my memoirs, during the first three months of
my stay in London, after my year-long wanderings in Asia, I had
very great trouble in accustoming myself to the idea of being
firmly settled down. I always kept fancying myself bound on the
morrow to pack up and extend my travels with the caravan: hence my
irresolution and hasty procedure. Moreover, I was quite a stranger
in the domain of travelling, and deemed it my duty now to keep
something back for mere decency; anon to leave out something else,
as of inferior interest. Hence many an episode was left untouched,
many a picture remained but a feeble sketch.

To make up for this defect--if sparingness in words be really a
defect--I have written the following pages. They contain only
supplementary papers, partly about my own adventures, partly on the
manners and rare characteristics of the Central Asiatic peoples,
linked together in no particular connection. It would naturally have
been better to offer these pages in the place of the former volume;
and yet the slightest notice of a country so little known to us as
Turkestan, which political questions will soon bring into the front
of passing questions, will always have its uses; and "meglio tardi
che mai."

  A. V.

  _2nd December, 1867_.




  Dervishes and Hadjis                                          1


  Recollections of my Dervish Life                             22


  Amongst the Turkomans                                        44


  The Caravan in the Desert                                    62


  The Tent and its Inhabitants                                 75


  The Court of Khiva                                           87


  Joy and Sorrow                                               98


  House, Food, and Dress                                      114


  From Khiva to Kungrat and back                              127


  My Tartar                                                   150


  The Round of Life in Bokhara                                166


  Bokhara, the Head Quarters of Mohamedanism                  186


  The Slave Trade and Slave Life in Central Asia              205


  Productive Power of the Three Oasis-Countries of Turkestan  231


  On the Ancient History of Bokhara                           257


  Ethnographical Sketch of the Turanian and Iranian Races
        of Central Asia                                       282


  Iranians                                                    313


  Literature in Central Asia                                  339


  Rivalry between Russia and England in Central Asia          379




The dervish is the veritable personification of Eastern life.
Idleness, fanaticism, and slovenliness, are the features which in
him are regarded as virtues, and which everywhere are represented
by him as such. Idleness is excused by allusion to human impotence;
fanaticism explained as enthusiasm in religion; and slovenliness
justified by the uselessness of poor mortals in struggling against
fate. If the superiority of European civilization over that of the
East was not so clearly established, I should almost be tempted to
envy a dervish, who, clad in tatters and conversing in a corner
of some ruined building, shows, by the twinkling in his eye, the
happiness he enjoys. What a serenity is depicted in that face;
what a placidity in all his actions; what a complete contrast
there is between this picture and that presented by our European
civilization! In my disguise as a dervish it was chiefly this
unnatural composure which made me nervous, and in the imitation of
which I made, of course, the greatest mistakes. I shall never forget
one day at Herat, when, after reflecting on the happiness of the
early termination of the painful mask I had been wearing for so many
months, I suddenly jumped up from my seat, and in a somewhat excited
state began to pace up and down the old ruin which gave me shelter.
A few minutes afterwards I perceived that a crowd of passers by
had collected at the door, and that I was the object of general
astonishment. Seeing my mistake, I blushingly resumed my seat. Soon
afterwards several people came up to ask me what was the matter with
me, whether I was well, &c. The good people thought I was deranged;
for, to oriental notions, a man must be out of his senses if,
without necessity or a special object in view, he suddenly leaves
his seat to pace up and down a room.

As the dervish represents the general character, so he does the
different peoples of the East. It is true, Mahomedanism enforces
the dogma: "El Islam milleti wahidun"--all Islamites are _one_
nation; but the origin and home of the different sects are
easily recognised. Bektashi, Mewlewi, and Rufai, are principally
natives of Turkey; because Bektash, the enthusiastic founder of
the Janissaries, Moola Djelaleddin Rumi, the great poet of the
Mesnevi, lived, and are buried in Turkey; the Kadrie and Djelali
are most frequently met with in Arabia; the Oveisy, and Nurbakhshi
Nimetullah in Persia; the Khilali and Zahibi in India; and the
Nakishbendi and Sofi Islam in Central Asia.[1] The members of the
different fraternities are bound together by very close ties;
apprentices (Murid) and assistants (Khalfa) have to yield implicit
obedience to the chief (Pir), who has an unlimited power over
the life and property of his brethren. But these fraternities do
not in the least trouble themselves about secret political or
social objects, as is sometimes asserted in Europe by enthusiastic
travellers, who have even discovered Freemasons amongst the Bedouin
tribes of the Great Desert. The dervishes are the monks of Islamism;
and the spirit which created and sustains them is that of religious
fanaticism, and they differ from each other only by the manner in
which they demonstrate their enthusiasm. For instance; whilst one of
these religious orders commands constant pilgrimages to the tombs of
saints, the other lays down stringent rules for reflection on divine
infinity and the insignificance of our existence. A third compels
his votaries to occupy themselves day and night with repeating the
name of of God (Zikr) and hymns (Telkin); and it cannot surprise us
to learn that the greater number of a company which has continually
been calling out with all its might: "Ja hu! Ja hakk! La illahi
illa hu! are seized with _delirium tremens_. The orthodox call this
condition Medjzub; _i.e._, carried away by divine love, or to be
in ecstacy. A person to whom such a fortunate event happens, for
as such it is regarded, is envied by everybody; and as long as it
lasts, the sick and the maimed, and barren women, try to get in his
immediate presence, taking hold of his dress,--as touching it is
supposed to have healing powers.

  [1] Sofi Islam is a sect which originated about thirty years ago.
  Its founder, a Tadjik from Belkh, was desirous of opposing the
  ever-increasing influence of the Nakishbendi. In this fraternity
  prevails the principle of communism and blood relationship. The Sofi
  Islamites wear a cap trimmed with fur, and are most frequently met
  with this side of the Oxus, as far as Herat, and also amongst the

What the dervishes are able to do during the ecstacy caused by
_Zikr_, I had once an opportunity of witnessing in Samarkand. In
Dehbid, close to the tomb of the Makhdun Aazam, one of these howling
companies had grouped themselves around the Pir (chief) of that
district. At first they contented themselves with repeating the
formula in a natural tone of voice, and almost in measured time.
The chief was lost in the deepest thought; all eyes and ears were
fixed upon him; and every motion of his hand, and every breath he
drew, was audible, and encouraged his followers to utter wilder and
louder ejaculations. At last he seemed to awake from his sleep-like
reflections, and as soon as he raised his head all the dervishes
jumped up from their seats like possessed beings. The circle was
broken, and the different members began to dance in undulating
motions; but hardly did the chief stand upon his feet than the
enthusiastic dancers became so terribly excited that I, who had
to imitate all their wild antics, became almost frightened. They
were flying about, constantly dancing, right and left, hither and
thither, some leaving the soft meadow and getting upon the rough
stones, constantly dancing, till the blood began to run freely from
their feet. Still they kept on their mad excitement, till most of
them fell fainting to the ground.

In a country like the East, where such social relations exist, and
where we meet with such amusing extremes, the dervish or beggar,
though placed at the very bottom of the social scale, often enjoys
as much consideration as the prince who reigns over millions and
disposes of immense treasures. Man, an unresisting plaything in the
powerful hand of Fate, can, if Destiny wills it, be transported
from one extreme to the other, of which history furnishes us with
numerous instances; and as in fiction we see with pleasure the
two antipodes--the king, Shah-ü Keda, and the beggar, brought
into close propinquity--even so we often find a ragged and dirty
dervish, covered with vermin, sitting on the same carpet with a
magnificently-dressed prince, and engaged with him in familiar
conversation, nay, often drinking with him out of the same cup.
European travellers view such a _tête-à-tête_ with surprise, and
even sometimes with a feeling of amusement; but in the East it is
considered as quite natural. For, says the oriental moralist, the
king must see in the glaring contrast between him and his neighbour
the vanity of earthly splendour, and banish from his mind all
feeling of pride; while the dervish discovers beneath the pompous
dress of the prince a mere mortal man, and mindful of the vanity of
sublunary things, laughs at the farce of life.

Though perfectly conscious of their relative position, these two
extremes exhibit, when they meet, an admirable degree of toleration
and indulgence. The dervish, who, when received in private, behaves
with the freedom and unconstraint of an intimate friend, never
forgets on public occasions that he is the poorest of the poor. The
man of rank suffers from him what to any other person would appear
insupportable. At Kerki, the governor of the province had a dervish
in his palace, who, in conformity with a precept of his order, had
the agreeable office of crying aloud uninterruptedly, from sunset
till break of day: Ya hu! ya hakk! La illa hu![2] and that with the
voice of a Stentor. As soon as darkness prevailed, and the busy hum
of public life had become silent, the melancholy and monotonous
exclamations became more and more audible, not only in the palace
itself, but to a considerable extent around it. That his devotions
disturbed many in their sleep, may be easily imagined. Nevertheless,
the governor, notwithstanding the entreaties of his own family,
did not venture to make any objection to this proceeding, and the
dervish continued his vociferations every night as long as he
sojourned in Kerki. As I lodged in the vicinity of the palace, I
enjoyed my share of this nightly concert; and as the voice of the
enthusiastic bawler became towards the approach of dawn weaker and
weaker, I was enabled to calculate from it the distance of daybreak
without stepping out of the dark cell in which I lay.

  [2] Yes, it is he! it is the righteous one! there is no God but he;
  are the usual forms of prayer which occur in the Zikr.

We may say, however, that we nowadays very seldom meet with a
dervish in the strict sense of the word; that is, a man who,
renouncing from inward conviction earthly goods and worldly
comforts, is desirous only of obtaining experience of life and
devoting himself to the practice of religious duties: such a man,
in a word, as the poet Saadi is represented to have been. Those who
embrace this vocation are either unprincipled and lazy fellows,
or professed beggars, who, under the cloak of poverty, collect
treasures, and when they are sufficiently enriched often adopt some
lucrative trade. This is particularly the case in Persia. So long
as Fortune is favourable to them they lead a life of ostentatious
magnificence, and forget how transitory all is in this world. But
should he be overtaken by adversity, then he retires to some modest
corner, rails at the vain pursuits of men, and, inflated with pride,
cries out: Men dervish em; I am a dervish.

The dervishes of India, and particularly those of Cashmere, are
throughout the East pre-eminent among their Mahometan brethren for
cunning, secret arts, forms of exorcism, &c. These fellows impose
most impudently on the credulity of the people in Persia and Central
Asia, and even men of wit and understanding sometimes fall into
their snares; for, wherever such a Cashmere dervish appears, gifted
as he generally is with a noble figure, striking features, bright
eloquent eyes, and long dark flowing hair, he is sure of success.

The Mahometans of India and the adjoining eastern countries have
always been celebrated in the Islamite world for their supernatural
gifts. As soon as such a travelling saint arrives in a Mahometan
country, he is entreated to cure dangerous maladies, to exorcise
ghosts, or to point out where hidden treasures are buried; for,
although those arts are forbidden by the Koran, they appear
everywhere as the most zealous Mahometans. Count Gobineau, in his
work, "Trois Ans dans l'Asie," tells us of an excellent trick, which
an alchemist from Cashmere played a gold-seeking prince in Teheran.
A similar trick was played on the brother of the reigning Khan of
Khiva, who, wanting to have all his saddles and bridles converted
into gold, was cheated in a most ridiculous manner. But they are
sometimes so devoid of conscience as to rob the poorest man of his
last penny. In Teheran, a Hadji, lately arrived from Central Asia,
told me, with tears in his eyes, the following story. As, said he,
I had heard much in Meshed of the frequent robberies that occurred
on the road to Teheran, I and my companion were anxious to know
what would be the best way to conceal our little capital, which
was to defray our expenses to the holy grave of the Prophet. This
money was the savings of five hard years, and thou knowest how
difficult it is to travel without money in this land of heretics.
Next to us in the caravanserai at Meshed there lodged a pious Ishan
(sheikh) from Cashmere; to him we communicated our fears, and were
delighted when he offered, by means of a certain form of prayer,
to secure our money against all attacks of robbers. He invited us
to follow him to the mosque of Iman Riza: there he bade us perform
the usual ablutions. We then placed our money in his lap, and after
he had breathed on it several times he put it with his own hands
into our purses, wrapped them up in seven sheets of paper, and
then strictly enjoined us not to open them till, on our arrival at
Teheran, we had performed our devotions three times in the mosque.
It is now six weeks since we left Meshed; and imagine our fright,
when yesterday, after the third prayer, we opened our purses and
found in them, instead of our dear ducats, nothing but heavy reddish
sand. The poor fellows uttered bitter complaints and seemed almost
to have lost their wits. The cunning rogue from Cashmere had, while
pronouncing the blessing, changed the money without being perceived
by the simple Tartars, who continued their journey to Teheran in the
perfect persuasion of the efficacy of the ceremony,--a persuasion
which they now found had cost them dear.

It is the same with dervishism as with all the other oriental
institutions, customs and manners; the more we penetrate towards the
East, the greater is the purity with which they have been preserved.
In Persia the dervishes play a much more important part than in
Turkey; and in Central Asia, isolated as it has been from the rest
of the world for centuries, this fraternity is still in full vigour,
and exercises a great influence upon society. In my "Travels," I
have frequently alluded to the position occupied by the _Ishan_
or secular priests in Central Asia. Their influence may be called
a fortunate one, contrasted with the fearful tyranny existing in
those countries. This is the reason why every one occupies himself
with religion; every one tries to pass himself off as a worker of
miracles (Ehli Keramet); or, if he fails in that, he endeavours
to be recognised as a saint (veli ullah ....) Those who make the
interpretation of the sacred writings their business are great
rivals of the _Ishans_, who, by the mysticism by which they surround
themselves, enjoy a large share of popular esteem. The native of
Central Asia, like the wildest child of Arabia, is more easily
imposed upon by magic formulas and similar hocus-pocus than by
books. He may dispense with the services of a Mollah, but he cannot
do without a _Ishan_, whose blessing (_fatiha_) or breath (_nefes_)
is required when he sets out on one of his predatory expeditions,
and upon which he looks as a talismanic power, when moving about his
herds, his tent, or the wilds of the desert.

After the Ishans, the most interesting class are the mendicant
dervishes (_Kalenter_),[3] which the Kirguese and Turkomans call
Kuddush[4] or Divani (insane). In the whole of the great deserts
which stretch from the eastern boundaries of China to the Caspian
Sea, it is only these people, in their ragged dress, who are able
to move unmolested. They do not take any notice of the differences
of tribe or family, and the mighty words, _Yaghi_ or _Il_ (friend
or enemy) have to them no meaning. In travelling along they join
whomsoever they meet, be it a peaceful caravan or band of _robbers_.
The dervishes who travel through Kirguese or Turkoman steppes are
generally this class of people, who form a strong inclination to
do nothing, follow a trade which throughout the East is considered
respectable, viz., that of a mendicant. All they have to acquire
is a few prayers and a certain power of mimicry, with which the
chiromantic feats are performed; and I have never seen a nomad who
has not been moved when he found himself in the close presence of
one of those long-haired, bare-headed, and bare-footed dervishes,
who, with his fiery eyes, stared hard at the son of the desert, and
whilst shaking his Keshkul[5] howled a wild "_Ja hu!_"

  [3] Kalentor is a corruption of the old Persian Kelanter the
  greater. In eastern Persia the title is still given to the judges of

  [4] Kuddus is derived from Kud, to become mad. Thus, the Arabs call
  the dervishes Medjnun, _i.e._, insane.

  [5] Keshkul is a vessel formed of half a cocoa nut,--the _vade
  mecum_ of the dervishes,--in which he plunges all the food he has
  collected by begging, whether dry or fluid, sweet or sour. Such a
  dish of _tutti frutti_ would but ill suit our gastronomers; and yet
  how delicious it tasted to me after a long day's march.

The arrival of one of these fakirs in a lonely group of tents
is regarded as a joyful event, or almost a festival; it is of
especial importance in the eyes of the women; and the time of his
arrival is differently interpreted. Early in the morning signifies
the happy birth of a camel or a horse; at noon a quarrel between
husband and wife; and in the evening a good prospect of marriage to
the marriageable daughters. The dervish is generally taken in hand
by the women, and is well supplied with the best things the tent
contains, in hopes that he may be tempted to produce from beneath
his battered dress some glass beads, or other talisman. Alms, which
amongst the nomads seldom consist of money, are rarely denied him;
and he often receives an old carpet, a few handfuls of camel hair or
wool, or an old garment. He may also stop with the family for days,
and move about with it without his presence becoming a burden. If
the dervish possesses musical talent, _i.e._, able to sing a few
songs and accompany himself on the two stringed instrument called
dutara, he is made much of, and has the greatest difficulty in
getting away from the hospitable host.

It is very seldom that dervishes are insulted or ill-treated;
this, however, is said to be the case amongst the Turkomans, whose
rapacity knows no bounds, and prompts them to commit incredible acts
of cruelty. A dervish from Bokhara, of robust figure and dark curly
hair, whom I met at Maymene, told me that a Tekke-Turkoman, prompted
by the thirty ducats which his athletic figure promised to fetch
in the slave market, made him a prisoner to sell him a few days
afterwards. "I pretended," my colleague continued, "to be quite
unconcerned, and repeated the _Zikr_ whilst shaking my iron chains.
The time was fast approaching when I was to be taken to the market,
when suddenly the wife of the robber of my liberty and person was
taken ill, and prevented him from starting. He seemed to see in
this the finger of God, and began to be pensive, when his favourite
horse, refusing to eat his food, showed signs of illness." This was
enough. The robber was so frightened that he removed the chains of
his prisoner, and returned to him the things he had robbed him of,
begging him to leave his tent as soon as possible. Whilst a Turkoman
impatiently awaited the departure of the ominous beggar, the latter
fumbled about his dress, and pretended that he had lost a comb which
his chief had given him as a talisman on the road, and without which
he could not go a single step. The nomad returned in great haste to
the place where the plunder had been kept, and as the comb did not
turn up he became still more frightened, and promised the dervish
the price of twenty combs if he would only take a single step beyond
the boundary of his tent. The cunning bush-rite saw he was master
of the situation; he pretended to be inconsolable about the lost
property, and declared that he now would have to remain for years in
the tent. Imagine the confusion of the deceived and superstitious
robber! Like a madman he ran about asking his neighbour for advice.
Formal negotiations were now commenced with the dervish, to whom,
finally, a horse, a dress, and ten ducats were presented, to make up
for the loss of the comb, and on condition that he should leave a
tent whose proprietor will probably think twice before he ventures
again upon molesting a travelling dervish.

Besides the dervishes who, as physicians, miracle-working saints,
or harmless vagabonds, are wandering about in Central Asia, there
is a class called "_Khanka neshin_," or convent dwellers, who
always wish to appear as the poorest, and are without doubt the
most contemptible fellows in the world. Generally speaking they are
opium eaters, who by their excessive filth, skeleton-like body, and
frightfully distorted features, present a most repulsive appearance.
The worst is that they do not confine themselves to practising this
fearful vice themselves, but with a singular persistency endeavour
to make converts amongst all classes; and, supported by the want of
spirituous drinks, they succeed but too frequently in their wicked
attempts. What surprised me most was that these wretched people were
regarded as eminently religious, of whom it was thought that from
their love to God and the Prophet they had become mad, and stupefied
themselves in order that in their excited state they might be nearer
the Beings whom they loved so well.

Speaking of dervishes we may mention a class of hypocrites who,
under the pretence of carrying out sacred vows, indulge in their
desire to travel, and after their return assume, under the title
of Hadji (Pilgrims) authority and a good social position. The Koran
says, "_Hidji ala beiti min isti Itaatun sebila_"--Wander to my
house (_Kaaba_) if circumstances permit. These "circumstances" are
reduced to the following seven conditions by the commentators. The
pilgrimage must be undertaken, 1st,--With sufficient money for
travelling expenses; 2nd,--In bodily health; 3rd,--In an unmarried
state; 4th,--Without leaving debts behind; 5th,--In times of peace;
6th,--Overland and without danger; and, 7th,--By persons who have
reached the age of puberty. That our good Tartars ill-observe these
conditions will be evident to all who have some idea about the
countries situated between Oxus and Yaxartes. In Persia people go to
Kerbela, Meshed or Mekka, only when sufficient funds enable them to
do it comfortably. In Central Asia, on the contrary, it is always
the poorest class who undertakes pilgrimages. A certain taste for
adventure, coupled with religious enthusiasm, are the two motives
which prompt the inhabitants of Central Asia to start from the
remote east for the tomb of their Prophet. True, they do not suffer
any material losses, for a beggar's bag is a money bag; but they
frequently lose what is most precious to them--their life; as every
year at least one-third of the pilgrims from Turkestan die from
exposure to the climate.

This sacred or profane desire to travel braves all danger; this
vague thought of tearing himself away from his family, and friends,
and countrymen, to see the wide world, surrounds the Hadji with a
certain poetry. I have lived weeks with my companions, and yet it
always interested me to behold them, palm staff in hand, as a sacred
memento of Arabia, vigorously making their way through the deep sand
or mud. They were returning happily to their homes; but how many
did I meet who only commenced their long and tedious journey? and
yet they were equally happy. On my road from Samarkand to Teheran
I had as a companion a native of Chinese Tartary, who, in total
ignorance of the route he had to take, asked me every evening, even
when we were yet at Meshed, whether we should see to-morrow, or at
the farthest after to-morrow, the minarets of Mekka. The poor fellow
had no idea how much he would have to endure before he reached
his destination. However, this should not surprise us when we
remember that during the time of the crusades so many honest Teutons
undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and after two or three
days' journey hoped to behold the walls of Jerusalem.[6]

  [6] See Noesselt's "Geschichte für Tochter schulen," who also states
  that many pilgrims, ignorant of the road, allowed themselves to be
  led by a frightened goose which ran before them.

The routes to Arabia adopted by the pious Tartars are the following,
viz.:--1. Yarkend, Kilian, Tibet, Kashmir.[7] 2. Through Southern
Siberia, Kazan and Constantinople. 3. Through Afghanistan and
India to Djedda. 4. Through Persia, Bagdad, and Damascus. None of
these routes is a comfortable one, and the amount of danger to be
incurred is very much dependent upon the season of the year and
the political state of the countries through which they pass. The
travellers form themselves in larger or smaller companies, and
elect a chief (_Tchaush_) from amongst themselves, who also fills
amongst them the office of _Imam_, (the person who first says the
prayers to be repeated by the rest,) and who enjoys a considerable
superiority over his companions. A visit to the Kaaba and the tomb
of the Prophet (which may be paid at any season) is not so much the
culminating point of the whole pilgrimage as the ascent of Mount
Arafat. This can be made only once a year, viz., on the Kurban
festival, (10th Zil Hidje,) which is nothing more or less than
the sacrifice of Abraham and Isaac dramatized. All those who have
taken part in this festival and have joined in the cry, "Lebeïk
Allah!"--Command, Oh God," (in allusion to Abraham's implicit
obedience,) are regarded as genuine Hadjis. This cry of "Lebeïk!
Lebeïk!" uttered at the most solemn moment of the whole pilgrimage,
seems also to have the deepest impression upon the pilgrim himself.
My travelling companions, whenever they became excited or were in
a happy mood of mind, always alluded to it; and the stillness of
the Tartar deserts was often broken by this _memento_ of the stony
districts of Arabia.

  [7] From Yarkend to Kilian on the boundary line are three days'
  journey, from there, by way of Tagarma and Kadun, to Tibet, twenty
  days, and thence to Kashmir fifteen days.

However painful and heartrending separation from home may be when
so long and dangerous a journey has to be undertaken, the joy which
the Hadjis experienced on their return fully counterbalances it.
Friends and relations, informed of his near arrival, go out to meet
them several days in advance. Hymns are sung, and tears of joy are
shed when the Hadji makes his entry into his native place. Every
one wants to embrace him, to touch him, for the atmosphere of holy
places still surrounds him, the dust of Mekka and Medina still
covers his garments. In Central Asia the Hadji is held in much
greater esteem than in any other Mohammedan country. It has cost
him much to obtain his dignity, but he is amply repaid. Respected
and supported by his fellow citizens he is better protected against
the tyranny of the Government than any other citizen. The title of
a "Hadji" is a patent of nobility, which, during his lifetime, he
parades on his seal, after death on his tombstone.

The Hadjis, of course such as are not mere beggars, often transact,
during their pious pilgrimage, a little commercial business. "_Hem
tidjared hem ziaret._"--"Commerce and pilgrimage together" are not
allowed by their religion; but nobody seems to suffer any pricks of
conscience in taking to his co-religionist in Arabia a few articles
from distant Turkomania. The products of Bokhara and other holy
places of Central Asia are in high esteem amongst the people of
Arabia; besides, every one wishes to show a Hadji some favour, and
is easily induced to pay double the value for any article offered.
This small trade is carried on between the easternmost point of
Islamitic Asia to the Galata bridge of Constantinople. Amongst the
crowd of that famous capital one often sees a Tartar, whose features
contrast as strangely with the rest of the population as the
colours of the thin silk kerchief differ from those of our European
manufacture. Fine ladies seldom become purchasers of such articles,
but old matrons are frequently seen, inspired by feelings of piety,
paying a good price for them, pressing them repeatedly to their
faces and forehead while repeating a loud "_Allahum u Sella_," and
continuing their walk.

That the successful sale of the exported articles leads to the
importation of similar merchandize needs no confirmation. No Hadji
leaves the holy places without making some purchases. At Mekka
he lays in a stock of scents, dates, rosaries and combs, but
especially water from the sacred well called Zemzem.[8] In Jamba
and Djedda are bought European goods; these go by the name of
Mali Istambul--"Stamboul Goods;" as the unbelieving Franks must
not obtain credit for anything, and they consist of penknives,
scissors, needles, thimbles, &c. Aleppo and Damascus enjoy the
reputation of supplying the best misvak, a fibrous root, used as
tooth brushes by all pious Moslems. In Bagdad are bought a hirka,
made of camel's hair, and of superior quality at this place, as it
is this kind of garment which the Prophet is said to have worn next
his skin. Finally, in Persia, ink, powder and pens made of canes are
purchased. In Central Asia all these articles are great curiosities,
and they are paid for handsomely, partly from necessity, partly from
religious motives.

  [8] Zemzem is the name of a famous well on the road, of miraculous
  power, the water of which is exported in small vessels to all
  Islamite countries, as a single drop of it taken just at the moment
  of death frees from 500 years of purgatory. The origin of the well
  is ascribed to Ismail, who, after being left behind by Hagar,
  stamped his little foot and made the well spring up.

Generally speaking a caravan of Hadjis, I mean one whose character
has been well inquired into, are the best travelling companions
one can have in Central Asia, or rather in the whole of the east,
provided one can manage to agree with them. With regard to the
travelling necessaries the Hadji is well supplied, and it was
always surprising to me to see how a man who had only one poor
donkey he could call his own, could make a display of a separate
tea-service[9] (à la Tartar,) Pilou-apparatus, and carpet when
arrived at the station at which we halted. Nobody is more clever
than a Hadji in negotiating, be the people he has to deal with
believers or unbelievers, nomads or agricultural tribes. A Hadji
may be converted into anything, he being thoroughly penetrated by
the principle "_Si fueris Romae_." Instead of being cast down and
gloomy, as his ragged exterior would lead us to suppose, he is of a
merry disposition, and during the long marches the greatest saint
and miracle-worker occasionally indulges in a profane joke. The
comicality of these generally serious faces has often made me forget
the privations which I was myself undergoing.

  [9] The tea service consists of a can-like vessel made of copper,
  and is, next to the Koran, the most indispensable _vade mecum_
  of every travelling Tartar. Even the poorest beggar carries it,
  suspended by the handle, about with him.



On the evening of the 27th of March, 1863, my excellent friend, the
Turkish ambassador in Teheran, gave me a farewell supper, at which
all declared--to inspire me, of course with fear, and divert me
from my adventurous undertaking,--that I was for the last time in
my life to enjoy European food in the European manner. The handsome
dining room at the residence of the ambassador was brilliantly
lighted, the choicest viands were served, and the choicest wines
handed round; for the intention was clear,--to give me a strong dose
of reminiscences of European comforts on the difficult expedition
before me. My friends were for ever scrutinizing my features, to
discover whether my outward appearance might not betray some trace
of inward excitement. But they were very much mistaken. I had
ensconced myself comfortably in the velvet arm chair, which had
been brought thither from the distant land of the Franks; the wine
had tinged my face with the same colour as the fez which covered
my head. A pious dervish and wine--what a frightful antithesis!
To-night, however, I must transgress, the penance will be a long
one, whether or no....

Twenty-four hours later, in the evening of the 28th of March, I
was in the midst of my company of beggars on the road to Lar, in a
half-dilapidated mud hut, called Dagaru. The rain was pouring in
torrents. We had been pretty well wetted through during our day's
march, so that all were anxious for shelter and a dry roof; and,
the space being narrow, fate brought me the very first evening into
the closest contact with my travelling companions. Their tattered
garments, never very sweet-scented, and now thoroughly soaked with
the rain, gave out the strangest evaporations; and no wonder if,
under such circumstances, I had no great desire to take my share out
of the large wooden bowl, from which the starved Hadjis, splashing
about with their fists, were eating their supper. Moreover, hunger
tormented me less than fatigue and my wet, ragged garments, to
which I was as yet unaccustomed. Rolled up like a ball, I tried to
get to sleep; but this also was impossible, packed together as we
were in such close quarters. Now I felt the hand, now the head of
one of my neighbours, falling upon me; then my opposite companion
stretched out his foot, to scratch me behind the ears. It required
the patience of Job to defend myself against these unpleasant
civilities; and yet I might have had some sleep, but for the loud
snoring of the Tartars, and above all the loud moaning of a Persian
muleteer, who was sadly troubled with the gout.

Finding that all endeavours to close my eyes remained unsuccessful,
I rose and sat upright in the midst of this mass of people, who were
lying about in the most utter confusion. The rain kept falling, and,
as I looked out into the dark and gloomy night, my thoughts returned
to the difference in my position only twenty-four hours before, and
the sumptuous farewell supper at the splendid Turkish embassy. The
whole scene appeared to me not unlike a dramatic representation
of "King and Beggar," in which I acted the chief part. The bitter
feeling of reality, however, made little impression. I myself was
the author of this sudden metamorphosis, and I had prepared my fate
for myself.

The hard task of self-control lasted but a few days. As far as all
outward peculiarities were concerned, I soon became familiar with
the habitual as well as physical attributes of dervishism, such as
dirt, &c. I gave my better garments, which I had brought with me
from Teheran, to a weak and sickly Hadji, an act of kindness which
gained all hearts. My new uniform consisted of a felt jacket, which
I wore next my skin without any shirt, and of a _djubbe_ (upper
garment),[10] composed of innumerable pieces of stuff, and fastened
with a cord round the loins. My feet were enveloped in rags, and
an immense turban covered my head, serving as a parasol by day and
pillow by night. I had also, in conformity with the rest of the
Hadjis, hung round me a voluminous Koran in a bag, which resembled a
cartridge pouch; and, viewing myself thus, "_en pleine parade_," I
had reason proudly to exclaim: "Yes, indeed, I am born a beggar!"

  [10] It is called _Hirkai dervishan_ (the dervish cloak), which
  even those dervishes that are most comfortably off are obliged
  to wear over their otherwise good garments. It is the symbol of
  poverty, and is often composed of countless small pieces of new
  patchwork, cut round the edge in points of unequal length; and,
  while it is sewn together on the outside with thick packing thread
  and large stitches, the lining often consists of silk or some other
  valuable material. It is the _ne plus ultra_ of hypocrisy; but long
  before the Romans the wise men of the East have said, _Mundus vult
  decipi--ergo decipiatur_.

The outer or material part of the _incognito_ was thus easily
assumed, but the moral part presented more serious difficulties
than I expected. Although I had had the opportunity, for some years
past, of studying the contrast between European and Asiatic modes
of life, and the critical position in which I found myself made it
incumbent upon me ever to be strictly on my guard, nevertheless, I
could not avoid committing many glaring mistakes. The difference
between Eastern and Western society does not consist merely in
language, physiognomy, and dress. We Europeans eat, drink, sleep,
sit, and stand, nay, I feel inclined to say, laugh, weep, sigh,
and gesticulate otherwise than Eastern people. These things are
visible trifles, but in reality difficult ones, and yet they are as
nothing when compared with the effort required to disguise one's
feelings. When travelling, people are naturally of a more eager
and excitable temperament than in everyday life, and therefore it
costs the European an unspeakable effort to conceal his curiosity,
admiration, or any kind of emotion, when brought into intercourse
with the indolent orientals, who are for ever indifferent to all
and everything around them. Besides, the object of my travelling
was merely to travel, whilst that of my friends was to reach their
distant homes. My individual person excited their interest only
during the first moments of our acquaintance, while to me they were
each a continual study; and it certainly can never have entered the
head of any one of them that, whenever we laughed and joked most
intimately together my mind would just then be doubly occupied.
No one but he who is practically acquainted with the East, can
have any idea of the difficulty of entering into all these marked
differences. I had been pretty well schooled by a four years'
residence at Constantinople; yet there I played merely the part of
an amateur, whilst here I dared not deviate even a hair's breadth
from reality. Nay, I will make no secret of the fact, that during
the first few days the struggle, though short, was severe, and that
repentance and remorse seized me at every fresh difficulty. However,
my mind, being stimulated by vanity, was in that state of excitement
when everything had to give way before the irresistible impulse of
its ardour; and, supported in its triumph by a sound constitution,
it was enabled to bear easily whatever might happen.

I shudder even now when I think back of the fatigue I underwent
during the first few days, and how much I suffered from the wet and
cold, the uncleanliness--which makes one's hair stand on end--and
the never-ending, harassing worry with the fanatic Shiites, during
our long and tedious day-marches in Mazendran, a part of the world
of historical reputation for its bad roads. Sometimes it rained
from early in the morning until late in the evening, and, whilst
not a thread of my tattered garments remained dry, I was moreover
obliged to wade for hours knee-deep in mud. The narrow mountain-path
has become hollow by the wear of centuries, and in many places
it resembles a muddy brook, winding along between huge fragments
of pointed rock that have fallen from the heights above. It is a
sheer impossibility to remain in the saddle; and, in order to avoid
danger, the best course is to tread slowly and cautiously, sounding
the hollows with one's foot. No one will doubt that, under such
circumstances, we arrived at the station at nightfall thoroughly
exhausted and fatigued. Fire and shelter are the chief objects of
desire, for which the eye looks longingly around. They both exist
in Mazendran; but we, the Sunnitic beggars, had preferred, for the
sake of quiet, to pass the night undisturbed and far from any human
dwelling. A fire was kindled, to dry ourselves and our clothes, when
the elder of our Tartar fellow-travellers observed, that such a
proceeding would be prejudicial to health; and, indeed, they always
preferred to dry themselves in another and more singular fashion.
It is well known that, throughout the East, horse dung is dried and
then ground into powder, to serve as stabling for the horses by
night. During the day it is exposed to the sun, either spread out or
made into conical-shaped heaps; and I was not a little astonished
to see how my companions, divesting themselves entirely of their
apparel, buried their soaked bodies up to the neck in such like
_poudre de santé_. I need not add, that contact with this _poudre_,
so well known as strong and stinging, cannot be very agreeable; but
its effects are only felt during the first quarter of an hour, and I
can assert, from my subsequent personal experience, that such a bed
induces a most sweet and refreshing sleep, however it may offend the
European eye and sense of refinement.

In spite of the drawbacks, I should have felt quite contented with
my lot had it not been that, besides these fatigues common to all,
an extra share was allotted to me, being a stranger in the company.
As such, it was my duty to affect the qualities of modesty and
devotion, to show myself not only friendly, but submissive, to all;
and to endeavour to conciliate the affection of old and young, by
professing an obliging disposition, and a readiness to perform any
kind of small service. At first these offers were declined by most
of them, since they did not wish to offend in me the character
of "efendi," having made my acquaintance as such. However, it
was my duty in no case to yield, but on the contrary, to strive
continually to make myself useful to one or the other. Besides the
minor services I performed on the march, I had to try to be helpful
to every one at the station, either by preparing tea and baking
bread, or by looking after the riding horses, or by packing and
unpacking. Some of my companions were obliging to me in return for
my attention, but others, who soon had forgotten my former position,
treated me like an old fellow-traveller. Services were demanded
and performed without the smallest ceremony; and I could not help
laughing heartily, when a Hadji from Khokand once coolly handed me
his shirt for me to free it from the many "uninvited guests," he
being fully occupied in like manner on another part of his costume.

It was to be foreseen that in this way an _entente cordiale_ would
speedily ripen between us. The more I accommodated myself to my
present position, forgetting the past, the quicker also disappeared
the barrier between me and the other Hadjis. The society of others
exercises a powerful influence upon us, uniting as it does the
most opposite elements; and after I had lived for a whole month as
dervish, all appeared to me not only natural and endurable, but the
charm of novelty in the life around me had actually effaced Teheran,
Stamboul, and Europe, from my memory; and the continual excitement
in which I lived had produced in me a state of mind which was
extraordinary, it is true, but never disagreeable.

One feeling alone disquieted me: this was the fear of discovery, or,
rather, of its consequences,--the terrible death of torture which
Tartar cruelty and offended Mahometan fanaticism would have invented
for my punishment. Already during the first days of my residence
with the Turkomans I became aware that, in assuming my incognito, I
was playing a dangerous game; and, but for the unlimited confidence
I placed in the fidelity of my companions, and my own preparations,
this spectre would have haunted me every moment of my existence.
During the greater part of the day, society, occupation, and events
of various interest prevented the intrusion of these suspicions; but
at night, when everything around was hushed in silence, and I sat
alone in a solitary corner of my tent, or in the waste and barren
desert, I became absorbed in thought. Fear appeared before me in its
blackest guise and most terrible aspect; nor would it leave me for a
long, long time, however much I attempted to dispel it by sophistry
or light-heartedness. Oh, this terrible Megæra! How she tormented
me, how she tortured me, at those very moments when, seeking repose,
I was about to lose myself in contemplation on the grandeur of
nature and the wonderful constitution of man. In the long struggle
between us, fear was finally subdued; but it is this very struggle,
which I now blush to remember; for it is marvellous what efforts are
required to grow familiar with the constant and visible prospect
of death, and how great the anxiety in seeing only a doubtful
foundation for the hope of one's further existence.

No one, I am sure, will blame me for acting with precaution, nay,
at first, with scrupulous precaution; but often it degenerated into
ridiculous extremes. I was, for instance, conscious of my habit
of gesticulating with the hands when speaking,--a habit peculiar
to many Europeans, but strictly forbidden in Central Asia;--and,
fearing lest I might commit this mistake, I adopted a coercive
remedy. I pretended to suffer from pains in the arms, and strapping
them down to the body, they soon lost the habit of involuntary
movement. In like manner I seldom ventured to make a hearty meal
late in the evening, for fear of being troubled with heavy dreams,
which might cause me to speak some foreign, European language. I
laugh now at my pusillanimity, for I might have remembered that
the Tartars, being unacquainted with European languages, would not
have noticed it; and yet I rather bore in mind the words of my
companions, who observed one morning with great _naïveté_, that my
snoring sounded differently from that of the Turkestanis, whereupon
another interrupted and informed him: "Yes; thus people snore in

It may be objected, that as so many of my actions might cause remark
or offence when in company with others, I must at all events have
shaken off this restraint when alone. But alas! Even then I was the
slave of precaution; and is it not striking, or rather ridiculous,
that at night, when in the boundless desert and at a considerable
distance from the caravan, I did not venture to eat the unleavened
bread, mixed up with ashes and sand, or take a draught of stinking
water without accompanying it with the customary Mahometan formula
of blessing! I might have thought to myself, no one sees you,
all around are asleep; but no! the distant sand hills appeared
to me like so many spies, who were watching whether I was saying
the Bismillah, and whether I had broken the bread in the proper
ritualistic manner. Thus it happened when in Khiva, that, when
sleeping alone in a dark cell, bolted and barred, I started up from
my couch at the call to prayer, and began the troublesome labour of
the thirteen Rikaat. When at the sixth or eighth, I had a great mind
to leave off, thinking I was safely out of sight. But no! it struck
me, that perhaps the eyes of a spy might be watching me through the
crevice in the door, and conscientiously I performed my unpleasant

Only time, the universal panacæa, could remedy this evil. Although
my moral sufferings were considerably more painful than the physical
ones, time and habit came to my aid, and gained me here also the
victory, and after having lived happily through four months, my
mind had grown as hardened to any fear or terror as my body to dirt
and uncleanliness. The epoch of indifference succeeded, and with it
I began to feel the true charms of my adventure. I was attracted
above all by the unlimited freedom of our life as vagrants, the
total absence of trouble as to food and clothing, the gratuitous
manner in which the dervish had everything provided for him, and,
in addition, the mental superiority which he exercises over the
people at large. No wonder, then, that I lost no opportunity in
amply profiting by the advantages of my position. My companions
admitted that I possessed eminent talents for the life of a dervish,
and whenever the question rose how to get money from hard-hearted
villagers, or to beg and collect a larger store of victuals, I
was always entrusted with that part of the business. I one day
brilliantly justified the confidence thus placed in me, in an
encampment of Tchandor Turkomans. These, the wildest of all nomad
people, had the reputation of being exceedingly wicked, and Hadjis,
Tshans and Dervishes habitually avoided going near their tents.
Having been told of this I set out on my way, accompanied by three
companions who were known as famous singers, and taking with me a
goodly store of holy dust, Zemzem water, tooth-picks, combs and the
like gifts, presented by pilgrims. Some received me rather coldly,
but yet the son of the desert, however wild he may be, cannot resist
the words or the mimics of a dervish's strategy, and not only did
I receive ample presents in the shape of wheat, rice, cheese and
pieces of felt, but I succeeded in persuading one of the men to
load his own ass with this harvest, and take it to our astonished

Success leads to boldness. No wonder, then, that after several
successful expeditions, I assumed a demeanour in which many will
trace a certain degree of impudence. And, indeed, I can hardly
refute this accusation entirely, but how was I to have done
otherwise? No European can realize to himself what it is to stand,
a disguised Frenghi, (this word of terror to orientals,) face to
face with such a tyrant as the Khan of Khiva, and to have to bestow
upon him the customary benediction. If this man were to discover the
dangerous trick, this man with the sallow face and sinister look,
as he sits there surrounded by his satellites--such an idea is only
endurable to a mind steeled to the highest pitch of resolution. At
my first audience I appeared really with a step so firm and gesture
so bold, as if my presence were to bestow felicity upon the Khan.
All looked at me with astonishment, for submissiveness is befitting
to the pious and saints. However, they thought such was the custom
in Turkey, and I heard no remark made about it.

Such bold measures, however, were seldom necessary, and, in its
ordinary routine, the life of a dervish has often given me moments
of the greatest happiness. Without feeling any inclination to
imitate the Russian Count D----, who, wearied of the artificial
life of Europeans, withdrew into one of the valleys of Kashmir,
turning beggar-dervish, I must confess that a peculiar feeling
of enjoyment came over me when, basking in the warm rays of the
autumnal sun, either in some ruin or other solitary spot, I could,
in true oriental manner, absorb myself in vacant reflection. It
is inexpressibly pleasurable to be rocked in the soft cradle of
oriental repose and indifference, when one is without money or
profession, free from care and excitement. To us Europeans such an
enjoyment of course can only be of very short duration, for if our
thoughts turn at such moments toward the distant, ever-active, and
stirring west, the great contrast between these two worlds must at
once strike the eye, and instinctively we feel attracted towards
the latter. European activity and Asiatic repose are the two great
subjects which occupy the mind, but we have only to cast our look
upon the ruins scattered around us to see which of the two follows
the right philosophy of life. Here everything is on the road to
ruin and servitude, there everything leads to prosperity and the
sovereignty of the world.

These varied scenes of life, in which I moved during my incognito,
were far from being devoid of attractions, as many a prejudiced
European might imagine, although they naturally could fascinate but
for a time. I was truly frightened one day, when the Khan of Khiva
proposed to me seriously to marry and settle in Khiva, since persons
of such extensive travelling as myself were far from disagreeable
to him. The idea of spending my whole life in Turkestan, with an
Œzbeg wife for my partner, was horrible, and I should certainly
have thrown up my plans if I had been obliged to accept the offer;
but, as it is, I shall certainly never repent having spent a few
months in an adventure which ended happily. I say never, for even
the remembrance of all I experienced is indescribably sweet, and
even now, when already more than three years have elapsed since my
return, I find every circumstance as fresh in my memory, the whole
scene as near and vivid, as if I had arrived with my caravan only
last night, and were obliged to start off again on the morrow,
and load my ass for the journey; as often as I think back on my
fellow-travellers, the most pleasant feelings are re-awakened in
remembrance of that intimate and hearty friendship which existed
between us. We chatted, laughed, and bantered with each other on
our long day's march, as if we could not wish for a more enjoyable
existence; it was above all my merry humour which greatly pleased
them, and my jokes and puns afforded to them an endless source of
amusement when we were alone, for in public we all of us wore the
long, stony faces suited to the gravity of our character as holy
men. What would they say if they could see me now in the midst
of so many unbelievers, and dressed in a garment so ridiculous
in their eyes, the forked garment, as they designate European
trousers?--_me_, in whom they and the rest of the world believed to
see a true specimen of a western Mahometan Mollah! I must confess
that although the pleasant episodes of my incognito are even now
frequently the cause of cheerful moments of recollection, the sad
hours of suffering and extremity of danger loom like black clouds on
the horizon of the present. Their gloomy shadows remind me vividly
of past terrors, and even now, whenever I start up in my sleep,
haunted by oppressive dreams, it was very often His Majesty, the
Khan of Bokhara, or the frightful tortures of thirst, or a fanatic
group of Mollahs, who, hastening hither from Central Asia on the
wings of Morpheus, honoured me with a visit. How happy do I feel on
awaking, to find myself in Europe, in my dear native country, in my
peaceful home!

I have often been in critical, nay, extremely critical situations,
but on the whole only a few episodes have left behind on me such
an impression as never will be effaced, and which, from being
associated with the most imminent danger to my life, will never be
forgotten by me as long as I live.


The evening in the Khalata desert, when, after having endured for
two days the torments of thirst, I felt, with the last drop of
water, my vital energies gradually ebbing away. Around me were lying
many of my fellow-travellers, suffering, probably, as acutely as
myself, to judge from their wild, haggard looks, and rigid features.
Raising my heavy head with the greatest effort, I met the glance of
those near me. They all seemed to be looking at me with expressions
of bitter resentment, for during the afternoon I had heard the old
ascetic, Kari Messud, repeat several times, "We are, alas! the
propitiatory victims for some great evil-doer who is amongst us in
our caravan." Possibly not one of them referred to me, but I felt,
nevertheless, full of anxiety. Meanwhile the hour of evening prayer
was approaching. Only a few could join in it. The sun was fast
setting, and, as the last rays lit up the unhappy group of sufferers
in that vast desert, I could not help casting a look towards
the spot, where from the horizon he sent his last beams towards
me,--that spot, which we call the west, the beloved west, which I
had little hope to live to see the next morning again; and with
unspeakable sadness I clung to the word 'west;' my half-exhausted
senses revived anew, for with the word returned the thought of
Europe, of my beloved home, my early departure from this world, the
hard struggles of my past life, the wreck of all my aspirations, of
all my pleasant hopes. My heart nearly broke with the burden of this
great sorrow; I longed to weep, but could not. This moment is one of
imperishable memory; the terror of that scene has impressed itself
indelibly on my mind, and whenever my thoughts turn towards the
Khalata desert it will rise and haunt me like a phantom.


The next occasion was during my audience with the emir of Bokhara,
in the palace of Samarkand. This prince, who had been represented
to me as a person of doubtful character, had been severely examining
my countenance as I sat by his side, in order to discover in me
a Frenghi in disguise. The readers of my travels are already
acquainted with a part of the conversation that took place between
us. I hoped to gain him over to our interests, but it cost me a
giant's effort not to betray by my countenance, and especially my
eyes, the excitement within me; and, although I shook and trembled
in every nerve, I was obliged to suppress even the slightest symptom
of fear. An old adept in the part I played, I effectually succeeded
in preventing a blush, or any change of colour, but I did not feel
confident about the result. Let the reader realise my position, when
the emir, after an audience of a quarter of an hour, called to him
one of his servants, cautiously whispered something in his ear, and,
motioning to me with a serious expression of countenance, ordered me
to follow his attendant.

I rose quickly from my seat. The servant led me through room after
room, and court after court, whilst the uncertainty of my fate
filled me with alarm; and, as oppression of heart breeds none other
but images of terror, I fancied that this ominous walk was leading
me to the torture-chamber, and to that dreadful death which so often
had presented itself to my imagination. After some time we came to
a dark room, where my guide ordered me to sit down and wait for his
return. I remained standing, but in what state of mind my readers
may readily imagine. Perhaps I should have felt less terror could I
only have known what my death was to be, but this uncertainty was
like the torture of hell, and I shall never forget it as long as I
live. With a feverish impatience I counted the minutes, until the
door should open again.... A few more seconds of torture and the
servant appeared. I fixed my eyes upon him, and perceived by the
light that entered through the doorway that he did not bring with
him the dreaded instruments of the executioner, but carried under
his arm, instead, a carefully folded-up bundle. This contained
a dress of honour, presented to me by the emir, as well as the
'viaticum' for my long pilgrim road.


The third instance occurred to me when waiting for the arrival of
the Herat caravan on the banks of the Oxus, during the hot days
of August, in the company of the Lebab Turkomans. I dwelt in the
court of a deserted mosque, and in the evenings the Turkomans
usually brought with them one of their collections of songs or
ballads, from which I had to read to them aloud, and it gave me
especial pleasure to witness the undivided attention with which they
listened to the deeds of some popular hero, while the silence of
the night air around us was only broken by the hollow murmur of the
rolling waters of the Oxus. One evening our reading lasted till
near midnight. I felt rather tired, and, unmindful of the advice
I had often received, not to sleep in the immediate proximity of
ruined buildings, I stretched myself out beside a wall, and soon
fell sound asleep. After about an hour I was suddenly awakened
by an indescribably violent pain in my foot, and jumping up and
screaming aloud, I felt as if hundreds of poisoned needles were
shooting through my leg, and concentrating in one small point near
the big toe of my right foot. My screams awakened the eldest of
the Turkomans, who slept near me, and without questioning me, he
exclaimed, "Poor Hadji, a scorpion has bitten thee, and that during
the unlucky period of the Saratan (the dog days!) May God help
thee!" With these words he seized my foot, and bound it up round
the ancle with such violence as if he were going to cut it in two,
then searching in all haste with his lips for the wounded spot, he
sucked with such force that I felt it all through my body. Another
soon took his place, and two more bandages having been applied they
left me with these words of comfort, that, if it be the will of
Allah, between now and the hour of the next morning prayer, it would
be seen whether I should be released from pain, or freed from the
follies of this world of vanity.

Although I felt completely maddened by the itching, pricking and
burning, which kept increasing more and more in violence, yet I
remembered the legend of the scorpions of Belkh, well known for
their venomous nature even in ancient times. The reasonable
apprehension of death rendered the pain still more unbearable,
and that, after many hours of suffering, I really did surrender
all hopes of recovery, was shown by the fact that, forgetting my
incognito, I began to pour out my lament in expressions and sounds
which, as the Tartars afterwards told me, appeared to them extremely
droll, since they are in the habit of using them when shouting for
joy. It is remarkable that the pain spread in a few minutes from the
toe to the top of the head, but only on the right side, and kept
flowing up and down me like a stream of fire. No words can describe
the torment I had to undergo the hour after midnight. Loathing any
longer to live, I was about to dash my head to pieces by beating it
upon the ground, but my companions observed my intention and tied
me fast to a tree. Thus I lay for hours, half fainting, whilst the
cold sweat of death was running down me, and my eyes turned fixedly
towards the stars. The Pleiades were gradually sinking in the west,
and whilst awaiting in perfect consciousness the voice that calls to
prayer, or rather the break of morning, a gentle sleep fell upon me,
from which I was soon roused by the monotonous la illah il Allah.

No sooner was I fully awake when I was sensible of a faint
diminution of the pain. The pricking and burning disappeared more
and more, in the same way as it had come, and the sun had not yet
risen a lance's height over the horizon when I was able, though
weak and exhausted, to rise to my feet. My companions assured me
that the devil, having entered my body through the bite of the
scorpion, had been scared away by the morning prayer, a fact I dared
not of course discredit. But that terrible night will for ever
remain engraven on my memory.

It is these three events which were the critical moments in my
adventures in Central Asia. As to the rest, the many curious eyes
that scrutinised me, the various suspicions I laboured under, as
well as the unspeakable fatigues of travelling in the guise of a
beggar, all these privations and obstacles have left behind but
few sad remembrances. The fascinations in seeing those strange
countries, for which my eyes were longing from the earliest days
of my youth, possessed in itself a charm at once animating and
invigorating, for, except in the few cases just mentioned, I felt
always particularly cheerful and happy. This much is certain, that
I often miss, in my present civilised European life, the bodily and
mental activity of those days, and who knows but that I may, in
after years, wish that time to return, when, enveloped in tatters
and without shelter, but vigorous and high in spirits, I wandered
through the steppes of Central Asia.




  _13th April._

Struck with astonishment and surprise at the strange, social
relations, amongst which I was to-day living for the first time, I
was sitting in the early morning hours upon one and the same carpet
with Khandjan, my hospitable host, listening with eager attention
to his descriptions of Turkoman life and manners. He was one of the
most influential chiefs amongst the nomads, by nature an upright
man, and anxious to make me acquainted with the faults as well as
the merits of his countrymen; for being firmly convinced of my
Turkish and semi-official character, he hoped to gain, through my
position with the Sultan, on whom the whole Sunnitish world relies,
assistance against Russians and Persians. He spoke with zeal,
without betraying it outwardly; and after having given me his first
lesson he rose, to show me, as he said, his house and court-yard,
or in our phraseology, to make me acquainted with the ladies of the
family. This is a very especial mark of distinction among Asiatic
nations; however, a man supposed to be an agent of the Sultan, well
deserves such an attention; and accordingly I endeavoured, by my
attitude in sitting, my whole mien and carriage, to show myself
worthy of it.

After a few minutes I heard a strange clattering and clinking, the
curtain of the tent was raised, and there entered a whole crowd of
women, girls and children, who, headed by a corpulent and tolerably
old matron, walked towards the place where I was sitting. They
were evidently as much struck as myself by the scene; looking
timidly around, the young women cast down their eyes, whilst the
children clung with evident signs of fear to the clothes of their
parents. Khandjan introduced the matron to me as his mother. She
was about sixty years old, in the primitive costume of a long, red
silk garment, and wearing across her chest, to the right and left,
several large as well as small silver sheaths, in which as many
talismans of great virtue were preserved; some even were inlaid with
precious stones, as were also a considerable number of armlets,
necklaces and anklets,--the heirlooms of the family through several
generations, and, to judge from their appearance, bearing the traces
of high antiquity. The other women and children were likewise
arrayed in ornaments of a similar kind, varying, however, with the
wearer's rank and position in the favour of their lord and master.
The clothes themselves are often torn and dirty, and are looked upon
as quite a matter of secondary importance; but a Turkoman lady is
not fashionably dressed, unless she carries about her person one or
two pounds of silver in ornaments.

The old lady was the first to extend her wrinkled hands for the
customary greeting, the others followed, and, after the young
girls and children had embraced me,--for such is the rule of the
_bon ton_,--all squatted down around me in a semicircle and began
to question me about my health, welfare, and happy arrival. Each
one addressed me three or four times on the same subject. I had to
return just as many answers; and not in Europe alone does it happen
that a circle of ladies may perplex and embarrass an inexperienced
Solomon: even in the desert of Central Asia the like may occur.
Everywhere among the nomad people of the Mahomedan East the women
lose more and more their moral and physical attributes, the older
they grow. During my first interview I was obliged to reply to the
most delicate questions of the younger portion; whilst the elder
ones conversed on religion, politics, and the domestic relations of
the neighbouring tribes. I had to guard against exhibiting surprise
at the manner of either of them; the younger women I succeeded in
inspiring with awe for my strict virtue as a Mollah, and the elderly
ones received an ample share of blessings. Several men, neighbours
and relatives, arrived during this visit, but they caused no
disturbance or discomposure among the ladies, who enjoy, as I have
often had the opportunity of observing, a certain respect, although
they are exclusively the working class of the community. And indeed
the Turkoman women deserve such, for nowhere in the East have I met
with their equals in exemplary virtue, devotion to their families,
and indefatigable industry.

This visit lasted nearly an hour, and towards the end of it I had
to write several talismans, in return for which the women presented
me with sundry small gifts, their own handwork. The old lady came
several times afterwards to visit me; once I even accompanied her
to the tumulus which is raised over the remains of her husband, in
order to pray for the soul of the departed. The good understanding
between us two struck even the nomads: however, at present the
reason for it is sufficiently clear to me. In the first instance
a certain foreign look in my appearance, as well as the halo of
piety which surrounded me, had attracted her, at the same time
that I was ever ready to lend a patient ear to her conversations;
listening attentively to her discourses on the short-comings of the
Persian female slaves in her household, on the want of skill in the
women of the present day, in weaving carpets, preparing felt, &c.,
interspersing now and then an observation of my own, as if I had
been accustomed to these subjects from my youth and took an especial
interest in all the details of a nomad household.

And, after all, this is the philosophy of life that should guide
a traveller everywhere, if he wishes to learn anything. Here, for
instance, a pliant demeanour proved of considerable use, since
the affection of the old matron towards me contributed in a great
measure to render my residence amongst the Turkomans agreeable,--a
people, amongst whom not even an Asiatic stranger can move freely,
still less an European.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _16th April._

I entered the tent of Khandjan after the morning prayer and found
here a whole company, listening with the greatest attention to
the narrative of a young Turkoman, who was covered with dust and
dirt, and whose face bore evident traces of excitement and severe
hardships. He was describing in a low voice, but in lively colours,
a marauding excursion against the Persians of the evening before,
in which he had taken part. Whilst he was speaking, the women,
servants and slaves (what must have been the thoughts of these
latter), squatted down around the circle of listeners, and many a
curse was hurled at the slaves, the clanking of the chains on their
feet interrupting for a time the general quiet. It struck me as
remarkable, that, in proportion as the speaker warmed in describing
the obstinate resistance of the unfortunate people, who were fallen
on unawares, the indignation of the audience increased at the
audacity of the Persians, not to have at once quietly submitted to
being plundered.

No sooner was the narration of this great feat of arms at an end
when all rose to their feet to have a look at the spoils, the
sight of which excites in the Turkoman's breast a mixed feeling
of envy and pleasure. I followed them likewise, and a terrible
picture presented itself to my eyes. Lying down in the middle of
the tent were two Persians, looking deadly pale and covered with
clotted blood, dirt and dust. A man was busily engaged in putting
their broken limbs into fetters, when one of them gave a loud, wild
shriek, the rings of the chains being too small for him. The cruel
Turkoman was about to fasten them forcibly round his ancles. In a
corner sat two young children on the ground, pale and trembling,
and looking with sorrowful eyes towards the tortured Persian.
The unhappy man was their father; they longed to weep, but dared
not;--one look of the robber, at whom they stole a glance now and
then, with their teeth chattering, was sufficient to suppress their
tears. In another corner a girl, from fifteen to sixteen years old,
was crouching, her hair dishevelled and in confusion, her garments
torn and almost entirely covered with blood. She groaned and sobbed,
covering her face with her hands. Some Turkoman woman, moved either
by compassion or curiosity, asked her what ailed her, and where
she was wounded. "I am not wounded," she exclaimed, in a plaintive
voice, deeply touching. "This blood is the blood of my mother, my
only one, and the best and kindest of mothers. Oh! ana djan, ana
djan (dear mother)!" Thus she lamented, striking her head against
the trellised wood-work of the tent, so that it almost tumbled
down. They offered her a draught of water, and her tongue became
loosened, and she told them how she (of course a valuable prize) had
been lifted into the saddle beside the robber, but that her mother,
tied to the stirrups, had been obliged to run along on foot. After
an hour's running in this manner, she grew so tired that she sank
down exhausted every moment. The Turkoman tried to increase her
strength by lashing her with his whip, but this was of no avail;
and as he did not want to remain behind from his troop he grew in a
rage, drew his sword, and in a second struck off her head. The blood
spirting up, had covered the daughter, horseman and horse; and,
looking at the red spots upon her clothes, the poor girl wept loud
and bitterly.

Whilst this was going on in the interior of the tent, outside the
various members of the robbers' family were busy inspecting the
booty he had brought home. The elder women seized greedily upon one
or another utensil for domestic use, whilst the children, who were
jumping about merrily, were trying on the different garments,--now
one, now another, and producing shouts of laughter.

Here all was triumph and merriment; not far from it a picture of the
deepest grief and misery. And yet no one is struck by the contrast;
every one thinks it very natural that the Turkoman should enrich
himself with robbery and pillage.

And these terrible social relations exist within scarcely a
fortnight's distance from Europe, travelling by St. Petersburg,
Nishnei Novogorod, and Astrakhan!

       *       *       *       *       *

  _18th April._

Eliaskuli, who dwelt in the fourth tent from mine on the banks of
the Görgen, was a "retired" Turkoman, who, up to his thirtieth year,
had carried on the usual profession of kidnapping and pillaging, and
had now retired from business, in order, as he said, to spend the
rest of this futile, ridiculous life (fani dünya) here below in the
pious exercise of the law; as far as I know, however, it is because
several shot wounds of the "hellish" weapons at Ashurada prevented
him from carrying on any longer his infamous trade. He was in hopes
I might invoke upon his wicked head every blessing of heaven by my
prayers, and to this effect he narrated to me, with many details,
how the Russians, after having declared a religious war, had once
landed here, and attacked and set fire to all the tents that stood
on the banks of the Görgen. This religious war was in fact nothing
else than that the Russians wanted to release some countrymen of
theirs, whom these robbers had carried off prisoners, but the fight
lasted more than a whole day. He added, that although the Russians,
being too cowardly to come near, shot only from a distance, yet the
valiant Gazis (religious combatants) could not resist their devilish
arts, that he too received at that time some death wounds, and was
a whole day without giving a sign of life, until at last his Pir
(spiritual chief) called him back into existence.

This same Eliaskuli offered to accompany me to-day to the Ova of
the Ana Khan, who is the chief of the Yarali tribe, and dwells on
the upper Görgen, close to the Persian frontier. From curiosity,
perhaps, or some other motive, he wished to make my acquaintance.
Our road lay for some time along the left bank of the river, but
soon we were obliged to make a considerable circuit, in order to
avoid the large marshes and morasses. Unacquainted as the people
around me were with my motives for travelling, I laid myself open
to suspicion, no doubt; but the experience of a few days calmed my
fears for the security of my position, and indeed all misgivings
vanished, when I saw how the people, whenever we were passing some
tent on our route, came towards me with milk, cheese and other
presents, asking for my blessing. Thus I rode on in high spirits,
troubled at nothing but the heavy Turkoman felt cap, on the top
of which in addition several yards of linen were folded round in
the shape of a turban, and the heavy musket on my back, which for
propriety's sake I was obliged to carry, in spite of my character as
Mollah. Eliaskuli sometimes remained behind for full half an hour,
but I continued my way alone, meeting now and then a few marauding
stragglers, who, returning home empty from some unsuccessful foray,
measured me with sinister looks from head to foot. Some saluted me,
others only asked, "Whose guest art thou, Mollah?" in order to judge
from my personality whether it was feasible to plunder me or not;
but no sooner did I reply "Kelte Khandjan Bay," when they rode on in
evident displeasure, muttering in their beard an abrupt "Aman bol,"

Towards evening we arrived at the tents, together with Khandjan,
who, having taken a different road, had joined us on the way. Ana
Khan, the patriarchal chief, a man about sixty years of age, was
seated on the green slope of a hill, surrounded by his grandchildren
and little children, (it is only in the east that one meets with
people, thus related to one another, of the same age,) watching
them with looks of pleasure, as also the flocks of sheep and herds
of camels who were returning home from their rich pasturage. Our
reception was short, but friendly. Walking before us, he conducted
us into the ready prepared tent, where I was appointed to the seat
of honour; the proper conversation, however, not beginning until the
very last remnants of the sheep, killed expressly for the occasion,
had disappeared from the table. Ana Khan spoke little, but he
listened attentively to my description of Turkish life and Russo
Turkish relations. The next morning, however, he grew rather more
talkative, and he began by treating us with the narrative of an act
of hospitality on his part towards an English iltshi (ambassador)
on his way to Khiva. I guessed at once that this must have been
the mission of Mr. William T. Thomson, who was sent thither by his
government to adjust the differences between Persia and the Khan of
Khiva. Ana Khan, in describing the arms, trinkets and person of the
Frenghi ambassador, laid such particular stress upon the resemblance
of his features to mine, that the cause of his curiosity was at once
evident, as well as his reason for wishing me to visit him. Looking
significantly and with glowing eyes at his countrymen, as if to
persuade them of the keenness of his perceptions, he came close up
to me, and gently tapping me on the shoulder, said, "Efendi! the
Tura (rule) of the Sultan of Rum is held in high honour amongst us;
first, he is the prince of all the Sunnites; secondly, Turkomans
and Osmanlis are blood-relations, and thou art our honoured guest,
although thou hast brought us no presents." In this remark I read
much, but inferred still more from it. My incognito, then, as
dervish, did not always meet with implicit belief. The majority,
however, especially the Mollahs, trusted in me, and single sceptics
did not by any means cause me disquiet.

I observed, moreover, that Khandjan did not share the views of Ana
Khan, the subject was never again broached, and I enjoyed the full
hospitality of the suspicious chieftain.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _20th April._

In distant Mergolan, in the Khanat of Khokand, religious zeal
recommends the frequent collection of money among the people, to
support the high schools at Medina, which town possesses a large
number of such institutions. Here, at the fountain-head of Islamism,
ardent students crowd together, eager interpreters of the Koran,
who, under the protecting Ægis of their pious occupation, are
supported in luxurious idleness by all the Mahometan countries
far and near. Stipends arrive here from distant Fez and Morocco;
the chiefs of the Algerine tribes send their annual gifts; Tunis,
Tripolis and Egypt as well as other smaller Mahommedan states,
send hither their tribute. Turkey vies with Persia in the support
of these pupils. The Tartar, living under Russian protection, the
native of India, subject to English dominion, all give freely to the
high schools of Medina. And yet all this is not deemed sufficient;
even the poor inhabitants of the oasis in Turkestan are asked to
contribute their mite.

It was at the time of my travels in Central Asia, that Khodja
Buzurk, the much-revered saint in those parts, had collected, no
doubt by dint of immense assiduity, 400 ducats for Medina. Mollah
Esad, the confidential friend of His Holiness, was commissioned
to take the sum to its destination. Although in Central Asia the
possession of money, the great source of danger for its possessor,
is always kept secret, yet the above-mentioned Mollah made no
mystery of the object of his journey, in the hope of enlarging his
fund. Bokhara, Khiva and other towns he visited had contributed to
increase it, and in the belief of meeting with equal success among
the Turkomans, he entered upon his journey through the desert,
relying upon his letters of recommendation to several of the nomad
learned men.

He reached Gömüshtepe without any mishap, but with the news of his
arrival there spread simultaneously that of the contents of his
travelling bag. The Turkomans were told at the same time that the
money was destined for a pious object, but this did not trouble
them. Each man endeavoured to catch him before he became the guest
of any one, for until a traveller enjoys the rights of hospitality
he is completely unprotected among the nomads; he may be plundered,
killed, sold into captivity,--there is no one to call the offender
to account. The host alone it is, whose vengeance is dreaded;
whosoever is taken under his protection is looked upon as a member
of his family, and is tolerably secure from attack.

With these facts our Khokand Mollah must have been acquainted, and
nevertheless he trusted to the mere lustre of his religious zeal.
One morning, having gone a short distance from the caravan, he was
fallen upon by two Turkoman men, and plundered of all his money. No
entreaties on his part, no appeal to the holiness of his mission,
no threats of terrible and condign punishment, nothing was of any
avail; they stripped him even of his clothes, and left him nothing
but his old books and papers. Thus he returned to the caravan,
stunned and half naked. This happened about a fortnight before
my arrival, during which time the delinquents were found out and
summoned before the religious tribunal. In my position, as Mollah
from Constantinople, I had the good luck to be honoured with a seat
in court, and the scene at which I was present, and in which I took
an active part, will long remain vivid in my recollection. We, that
is to say, the learned men, had assembled in a field, where we were
sitting in the open air, forming a semi-circle, and holding large
volumes in our hands, surrounded by a great crowd, who were eager
with curiosity. The robbers made their appearance accompanied by
their families and the chief of their tribe, without betraying the
least embarrassment, just as if they had come for the settlement of
some honest transaction. When questioned, who has taken the money?
the culprit answered in the haughtiest tone, "I have taken it." I
felt sure from the very beginning that a restitution of money would
never be made. Most of the council having exhausted their talents
of rhetoric by endless quotations from the Koran, it was my turn to
try and impress the hero, and I did so by pointing out to him the
wickedness of his deed. "What wickedness!" the Turkoman exclaimed,
"is robbery punished in thy country? This is strange indeed! I
should have thought that the Sultan, the Lord of the Universe, was a
man of more sense. If robbery is not permitted amongst you, how do
thy people live?"

Another Mollah threatened him with the Sheriat (religious precepts,)
and depicted in glowing colours the punishments of hell, which the
Turkoman had to expect in another world. "What Sheriat?" he replied,
"each man his own! Thou, Mollah, possessest laws and precepts in thy
tongue, which thou twistest as thou likest, I possess my Sheriat in
my good sword, which I brandish whenever my arm commands!" After
long and fruitless exhortations, and equally long consultations
amongst the grey-beards, our sitting was closed without any success
on our part. The Turkoman went away with his money, which he spent
in furnishing himself with new weapons, instead of its being sent
to Medina towards the support of her students. Mollah Esad returned
with a sad heart to Khokand, having learnt from bitter experience
that the Turkomans, although calling themselves orthodox, are the
blackest Kafirs on the face of the earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _6th May._

Oraz Djan, a young, daring and wild looking Turkoman, of about
eighteen years old, who had taken part in marauding excursions
ever since he was twelve, was a daily guest in our tent at Etrek,
in order to listen to the Pir (spiritual chief) of the kidnapping
robbers, in his discourses on religion and moral philosophy. It
happened one day, that Omer Akhond, a Mollah from the neighbourhood,
was present, a man celebrated for his great knowledge, and still
better known as the owner of a particularly excellent horse. The
animal was spoken of, and every one was loud in the praise of its
high qualities, when young Oraz, catching fire on hearing this,
called out half in earnest, half in joke, "Akhond, I will give thee
three asses and a Persian for thy horse. It is a pity that it should
rest in the stable, whilst the Persians so freely wander in their
fields. But, if thou dost not consent, then mark my words, in a
few days it will be stolen from thee!" The Mollah and Pir rebuked
him severely, but he laughed aloud wildly, and the conversation
continued as before.

Scarcely four days had passed when the Mollah entered our tent one
morning with tears in his eyes, and looking very sad. "My horse
has been stolen from me," he exclaimed with a sigh, "thou alone,
Kulkhan, canst restore it to me. Let me entreat thee, by the love of
the Tshiharyar (the four first chiefs,) do thy utmost!" "This is the
work of the Haramzade (Bastard) Oraz," muttered Kulkhan, "you will
see, I shall tear his black soul from out of his dirty body."

At the time of evening prayer our amiable Oraz was, as usual, among
the rest of our orthodox friends, who assembled on the terrace-like
height, where stands the mosque of the desert, and certainly no one
would have guessed, from his devotional expression at his prayers,
that this very day he had been robbing a father of the church. When
after the Namaz all formed the customary circle (Khalka,) Oraz
did not fail to come. Kulkhan at once addressed him with, "Young
fellow! The horse of the Mollah has been stolen, thou knowest
where it is; to-morrow morning he must be again in his stable, do
you hear me?" This address caused the young robber not the least
embarrassment. Playing with one hand in the sand, and with the
other pushing on one side his heavy fur hat, he replied, "I have
the horse, but I shall not return it; he who wants it must fetch
it." These words, I thought, would have roused the indignation of
every one present, but not a trace of it was seen in the features of
one of the company. Kulkhan went on speaking to him in his former
quiet tone of voice, but the robber insisted on refusing to restore
the horse, and when some of the grey-beards began to use threats,
he, too, caught fire, and having turned to his spiritual chief
with "Hast thou done better with the mare of the Hadji?" rose and
left the company; and for some time was heard singing aloud the
refrain of the poem Körogli, in the still evening air, thus proving
sufficiently his joy at the victory he had gained.

A considerable time was spent in consultation after he was gone. No
one ventured to attack him, since his tribe, according to custom,
would have taken him under their protection, in spite of his
abominable conduct, and they were too powerful to risk an attack.
Spiritual aid, therefore, had to be called in, and that it should
have taken immediate effect is not to be marvelled at.

According to the _Deb_ no greater punishment can befal a living
man, than to be accused before the shade of his departed father
or ancestor. This is done by planting a lance upon the top of the
grave, and fastening to it a couple of blood-stained rags, if murder
has been committed, and for any other crime a broken bow. Such an
appeal unites the Turkomans as one man against the offender and his
tribe, and how deep an effect it has on the mind of the culprit,
I saw on this occasion, for no sooner did Oraz perceive the lance
fixed upon the high Yoska of his grandfather, when in the silence of
the following night he led the horse back to the tent of the Mollah,
and tied it to its former place. This act of restitution, as he
himself told me, will pain him for a long time to come. But it is
better to lie in the black earth than to have disturbed the repose
of one's ancestors.



"The _Chil menzili Turkestan_, or the Forty Stations across the
desert of Turkestan," I often heard my friends say, "are far more
troublesome and much more difficult to get over than the _Chil
menzili Arabistan_, or the Forty Stations on the Pilgrims' route
from Damascus to Mecca. On this last one finds every day fresh
cisterns, which furnish drinkable water for thousands; the pilgrim
is sure to get fresh bread, a good dish of pilaw or meat, cool
shade, and all the comforts he longs for after the exhausting
day's march. But on the former route, man has done nothing for the
support of the poor traveller. He is in constant danger of dying
from thirst, of being murdered, of being sold as a slave, of being
robbed, or of being buried alive under the burning sand-storm.
Well-filled water-skins and flour sacks, the best horses and arms,
often become useless, and there is nothing left to one but to strive
to get forward as fast as possible, while invoking the name of

The readers of my "Travels in Central Asia," may be supposed to
have some idea of the awfully imposing journey from Persia to
the oasis-lands of Turkestan. I may here furnish a few additional
particulars about the experience of our caravan. I have several
times been blamed for being too concise to be graphic, and this
charge, I confess, is not altogether undeserved. I propose here to
make up for my faults of omission.

During the first three days' march, the impressive, endless silence
of the desert--a silence as of the grave--cast a most powerful
spell over my soul. Often did I stare vacantly for hours, my eyes
fixed on the distance before me, and as my companions believed me
to be sunk in religious meditations, I was very seldom disturbed.
I only half observed how, during the march, certain members of
our caravan nodded in sleep on the backs of their camels, and by
their ludicrous movements and sudden starts afforded our company
exquisite amusement. Any one overcome with sleep would lay hold of
the high pummel of the saddle with both his hands, but this did not
prevent him from either, with a forward lurch, knocking his chin
with such force that all his teeth chattered, or, by a backward
one, threatening to fall with a summersault to the ground. Indeed
this last often happened, arousing the hearty laughter of the whole
party. The fallen became the hero of the day, and had to support the
most galling fire of jokes on his awkwardness.

The most inexhaustible fountain of cheerfulness was a young
Turkoman, named Niyazbirdi, who possessed no less liveliness of
spirits than agility of body, and by every word and movement
contrived to draw laughter from the most venerable of the Mollahs.
Although he was owner of several laden camels, he was, nevertheless,
for the most part, accustomed to go on foot; and running now right,
now left, he alarmed by cries or gestures any group of wild asses
that showed themselves along our route. Once, indeed, he succeeded
in getting hold of a young wild ass, which, through fatigue, had
loitered behind the rest. The young shy creature was led along by a
rope, and was the occasion of really droll scenes, when its lucky
captor gave a prize of three spoonfuls of sheeps-tail fat to any one
who dared to mount it. Three spoonfuls of mutton fat is a tempting
prize for Hadjis in the desert, so that many were seduced by the
prospect of gaining it. Nevertheless, they could make nothing of
this uncivilized brother of Balaam's charger, for the unfortunate
Hadjis had no sooner seated themselves on its back than they were
stretched sprawling in the sand.

Only after a march of several hours is general weariness to be
remarked. All eyes are then turned towards the _Kervan bashi_,
whose gaze at such a time wanders in every direction to spy out
a suitable halting place, that is to say, one which will afford
most plentiful fodder for the camels. No sooner has he found such,
than he himself hastens towards it, while the younger members of
the caravan disperse themselves to right and left to collect dried
roots, or scrub, or other fuel. Dismounting, unpacking, and settling
down, is the work of a few moments. The hope of much-desired rest
restores the exhausted strength. With speed the ropes are slackened,
with speed the heaviest bales of merchandize are piled up in little
heaps, in whose shade the wearied traveller is accustomed to stretch
himself. Scarcely have the hungry camels betaken themselves to
their pasture-ground when a solemn stillness fills the caravan.
This stillness is, I may say, a sort of intoxication, for every one
revels in the enjoyment of rest and refreshment.

The picture of a newly-encamped caravan in the summer months, and on
the steppes of Central Asia, is a truly interesting one. While the
camels, in the distance but still in sight, graze greedily, or crush
the juicy thistles, the travellers, even the poorest among them,
sit with their tea-cups in their hands and eagerly sip the costly
beverage. It is nothing more than a greenish warm water, innocent of
sugar, and often decidedly turbid; still human art has discovered no
food, has invented no nectar, which is so grateful, so refreshing
in the desert, as this unpretending drink. I have still a vivid
recollection of its wonder-working effects. As I sipped the first
drops a soft fire filled my veins, a fire which enlivened without
intoxicating. The later draughts affected both heart and head; the
eye became peculiarly bright and began to gleam. In such moments I
felt an indescribable rapture and sense of comfort. My companions
sank in sleep; I could keep myself awake and dream with open eyes.

After the tea has restored their strength the caravan becomes
gradually busier and noisier. They eat in groups or circles which
are here called _kosh_, which represent the several houses of the
wandering town. Everywhere there is something to be done, and
everywhere it is the younger men who are doing it, while their
elders are smoking. Here they are baking bread. A Hadji in rags is
actively kneading the black dough with dirty hands. He has been so
engaged for half an hour, and still his hands are not clean, for
_one_ mass of dough cannot absorb the accumulations of several days.
There they are cooking. In order to know what is being cooked, it is
not necessary to look round. The smell of mutton-fat, but especially
the aroma, somewhat too piquant, of camel or horse-cutlets, tells
its own tale. Nor have the dishes when cooked anything inviting to
the eye. But in the desert a man does not disturb himself about such
trifles. An enormous appetite covers a multitude of faults, and
hunger is notoriously the best of sauces.

Nor are amusements wanting in the caravan-camp when the halt is
somewhat prolonged. The most popular recreation is shooting at a
mark, in which the prize is always a certain quantity of powder
and shot. This sort of diversion was very seldom possible in our
caravan, as on account of our small numbers we were in continual
danger, and had therefore to make ourselves heard as little as
possible. My comrades were accustomed to pass their leisure time in
reading the Koran, in performance of other religious exercise, in
sleeping, or in attending to their toilet. I say "toilet," but it
is to be hoped that no one will here understand the word to imply a
boudoir, delicate perfumes, or artistical aids. The Turkomans are
accustomed to pluck out the hair of the beard with small pincers. As
to the toilet of the Hadjis, and, indeed, my own, it is so simple
and so prosaic as to be scarcely worth alluding to. The necessary
requisites were sand, fire, and ants. The manner of application I
leave as a riddle for the reader to solve.

Certainly, of all the nations of Asia, the Tartar seems to fit in
most appropriately with the bizarre picture of desert life. Full
of superstition, and a blind fatalist, he can easily support the
constant dread of danger. Dirt, poverty and privations, he is
accustomed to, even at home. No wonder, then, that he sits content
in clothes which have not been changed for months, and with a crust
of dirt on his face. This inner peace of mind could never become a
matter of indifference to me. At evening prayers, in which the whole
company took part, this peace of mind struck me most forcibly. They
thanked God for the benefits they enjoyed. On such occasions the
whole caravan formed itself into a single line, at whose head stood
an imâm, who turned towards the setting sun and led the prayers.
The solemnity of the moment was increased by the stillness which
prevailed far and wide; and if the rays of the sinking sun lit up
the faces of my companions, so wild yet withal so well satisfied,
they seemed to be in the possession of all earthly good, and had
nothing left them to wish. Often I could not help thinking what
would these people feel if they found themselves leaning against the
comfortable cushions of a first-class railway carriage, or amid the
luxuries of a well-appointed hotel. How distant, how far distant are
the blessings of civilization from these countries!

So much for the life of the caravan by day. By night the desert is
more romantic, but at the same time more dangerous. As the power
of sight is now limited, the circle of safety is contracted to
the most immediate neighbourhood; and both during the march and
in the encampment every one tries to keep as close as possible to
his fellows. By day the caravan consisted of but one long chain;
by night this is broken up into six or eight smaller ones, which,
marching close together, form a compact square, of which the outmost
lines are occupied by the stoutest and boldest. By moonlight the
shadow of the camels as they stalk along produces a curious and
impressive effect. During the dark starless night everything is full
of horror, and to go one step distant from the side of the caravan
is equivalent to leaving the home circle to plunge into a desolate
solitude. In the halt by day each one occupies whichever place may
please him best. At night, on the contrary, a compact camp is formed
under the direction of the _Kervan bashi_. The bales of goods are
heaped up in the middle; around them lie the men; while without, as
a wall of defence, the camels are laid, tightly packed together, in
a circle. I say laid, for these wonderful animals squat down at the
word of command, remain the whole night motionless in their place,
and, like children, do not get up the next morning until they are
told to do so. They are placed with their heads pointing outward
and their tails inward, for they perceive the presence of any enemy
from far, and give the alarm by a dull rattle in the throat, so that
even in their hours of repose they do duty as sentinels. Those who
sleep within the _rayon_ find themselves in immediate contact with
these beasts, and, as is well known, they have not the pleasantest
smell. It often happens that the saline fodder and water which these
animals feed upon produce palpable consequences for such as sleep
in their immediate neighbourhood. I myself often woke up with such
frescoes. But no one takes any notice of such things, for who could
be angry with these animals, who, although ugly in appearance, are
so patient, so temperate, so good-tempered, and so useful?

It is no wonder that the wanderers over the desert praise the camel
as surpassing all other beasts of the field, and even love it with
an almost adoring affection. Nourished on a few thorns and thistles,
which other quadrupeds reject, it traverses the wastes for weeks,
nay, often for months together. In these dreary, desolate regions,
the existence of man depends upon that of the camel. It is, besides,
so patient and so obedient that a child can with one "_tshukh_"
make a whole herd of these tall strong beasts kneel down, and with
a "_berrr_" get up again. How much could I not read in their large
dark blue eyes! When the march is too long or the sand too deep,
they are accustomed to express their discomfort and weariness.
This is especially when they are being laden, if too heavy bales
are piled upon their backs. Bending under the burden, they turn
their heads round towards their master; in their eyes gleam tears,
and their groans, so deep, so piteous, seem to say, "Man, have
compassion upon us!"

Except during a particular season of the year, when through the
operation of the laws of nature it is in a half-intoxicated,
half-stupefied condition, the camel has always a striking impression
of seriousness. It is impossible not to recognise in its features
the Chaldee-aramæan type, and in whatever portions of the earth he
may be found at the present day, his original home is unquestionably
Mesopotamia and the Arabian desert. The Turkomans disturb this
serious expression of countenance by the barbarous manner in which
they arrange the leading-rope through the bored nose. With the
string hanging down to the chest, the camel resembles an European
dandy armed with his lorgnon. Both of them hold their heads high in
the air, and both are alike led by the nose.

As the word of command to encamp is enlivening and acceptable, so
grievous, so disturbing, is the signal for getting ready to start.
The _Kervan bashi_ is the first to rouse himself. At his call
or sign all prepare for the journey. Even the poor camels in the
pastures understand it, and often hasten without being driven to
the caravan; nay, what is more extraordinary, they place themselves
close to the bales of merchandize with which they were before
laden, or the persons who were mounted on them. In a quarter of an
hour everybody has found his place in the line of march. At the
halting-place there remains nothing but a few bones, gnawed clean,
and the charred traces of the improvised hearths. These marks of
human life in the desert often disappear as quickly as they were
produced; sometimes, however, they are preserved through climatic
accidents for a long time; and succeeding travellers are cheered by
falling in with these abandoned fireplaces. The black charred spot
seems to their eyes like a splendid _caravanserai_, and the thought
that here human beings have been, that here life once was active,
makes even the vast solitude of the desert more like home.

Speaking of these spots where a fire has been kindled, I am reminded
of those vast burnt plains, often many days' march in extent, which
I met with in the desert between Persia and Khiva, and of which I
heard so many wonderful tales from the mouths of the nomads. During
the hot season of the year, when the scorching sun has dried shrubs
and grass till they have become like tinder, it often happens that
a spark, carelessly dropped, and fanned by the wind, will set the
steppe on fire. The flame, finding ever fresh fuel, spreads with
such fearful rapidity that a man on horseback can with difficulty
escape. It rolls over the scanty herbage like an overflowing stream,
and, when it meets with thicket and shrubs, it flares up with wild
wrath. Thus traversing large tracts of country in a short time, its
raging course can only be checked by a river or a lake. At night
such conflagrations must present a terrible appearance, when far and
wide the horizon is lit up with a sea of flame. Even the bravest
heart loses its courage at the appalling sight. The cowardly and
hesitating are soon destroyed, but one who has sufficient presence
of mind can save himself, if, while the flames are yet a great way
off, he kindle the grass in his neighbourhood. He thus lays waste a
space in which the approaching fire can find no sustenance, and in
this he himself takes refuge. Thus only with fire can man contend
against fire with success.

This weapon is often used by one tribe against another, and the
desolation thus caused is terrible. It is often used by a runaway
couple to secure themselves against pursuit. As long as no wind
blows they can easily fly before the slowly-advancing fire; but
it often happens that the flames are hurried forward by the least
breath of wind, and the fugitives find a united death in the very
means they had taken to secure their safety.

It is remarkable that the imposing aspects and most frequent natural
phenomena of the desert do not fail to impress even the nomads
who habitually witness them. As we were crossing the high plateau
of Kaflan Kir, which forms part of Ustyort, running towards the
north-east, the horizon was often adorned with the most beautiful
Fata Morgana. This phenomenon is undoubtedly to be seen in the
greatest perfection in the hot, but dry, atmosphere of the deserts
of Central Asia, and affords the most splendid optical illusions
which one can imagine. I was always enchanted with these pictures of
cities, towers, and castles dancing in the air, of vast caravans,
horsemen engaged in combat, and individual gigantic forms which
continually disappeared from one place to reappear in another. As
for my nomad companions, they regarded the neighbourhoods where
these phenomena are observed with no little awe. According to their
opinion these are ghosts of men and cities which formerly existed
there, and now at certain times roll about in the air. Nay, our
_Kervan bashi_ asserted that he also saw the same figures in the
same places, and that we ourselves, if we should be lost in the
desert, would after a term of years begin to hop about and dance in
the air over the spot where we had perished.

These legends, which are continually to be heard among the nomads,
and relate to a supposed lost civilization in the desert, are not
far removed from the new European theory, which maintains that such
tracts of country have sunk into their present desolation, not
so much through the operation of natural laws as through changes
in their social state. As examples are cited the great Sahara of
Africa and the desert of central Arabia, where cultivable land is
not so much wanting as industrious hands. As regards these last
countries, the assertion is probably not without some truth, but
it certainly cannot be extended to the deserts of Central Asia. On
certain spots, as Mero, Mangishlak, Ghergen, and Otrar, there was
in the last century more cultivation than at present; but, taken as
the whole, these Asiatic steppes were always, as far back as the
memory of man goes, howling wildernesses. The vast tracts which
stretch for many days' journeys without one drop of drinkable water,
the expanses--many hundred miles in extent--of deep loose sand, the
extreme violence of the climate, and such like obstacles, defy even
modern art and science to cope with them. "God," said a central
Asiatic to me, "created Turkestan and its inhabitants in his wrath;
for as long as the bitter, saline taste of their springs exist, so
long will the hearts of the Turkomans be full of anger and malice."



An able critic of my "Travels in Central Asia" wrote--"Mr. Vambéry
wandered because he has the wild spirit of dervishism strong within
him." On first reading this it struck me as a little too strong,
and I shall ever protest against such attribution of the title of
vagabond, however refined may be the terms in which it is couched.
Still I must candidly confess that the tent, the snail shell of
the nomad, if I may be allowed so to call it, has left on my
memory an ineffaceable impression. It certainly is a very curious
feeling which comes over one when he compares the light tent with
such seas of stone buildings as make up our European cities. The
vice of dervishism is, to be sure, contagious, but happily not for
everybody, so that there is no danger in accompanying me for a
little while to Central Asia, and glancing at the contrast there
presented to our fixed, stable mode of life.

It is almost noonday. A Kirghiz family, which has packed house and
household furniture on the backs of a few camels, moves slowly over
the desert towards a spot indicated to them by the raised lance of
a distant horseman. The caravan rests, according to nomad notions
of rest, while thus on the march, to become lively and busy when
they settle themselves down to repose according to our ideas.
Nevertheless, the elder women seated on the bunches of camels (for
the younger ones travel on foot), grudge themselves repose even
then, and occupy their time in spinning a sort of yarn for sacks out
of the coarser camels' hair. Only the marriageable daughter of the
family enjoys the privilege of being completely at leisure on her
shambling beast. She is polishing her necklace of coins, Russian,
Ancient Bactrian, Mongolian, or Chinese, which hangs down to her
waist. So engrossed is she in her employment, that an European
numismatist might take her for a fellow connoisseur; nevertheless
not a movement of the young Kirghizes, who seek to distinguish
themselves by all manner of equestrian gymnastics, as they caracole
around the caravan, escapes her notice.

At last the spot fixed on by the guide is reached. An inhabitant of
cities might imagine that now the greatest confusion would arise.
But no--everybody has his appointed office, everybody knows what he
has to do, everything has its fixed place. While the pater-familias
unsaddles his cooled horse and lets him loose on the pasture, the
younger lads collect, with frightful clamour, the sheep and the
camels, which are only too disposed to wander. They must stay to
be milked. Meanwhile the tent has been taken down. The old matron
seizes on the latticed framework and fixes it in its place,
spitting wildly right and left as she does so. Another makes fast
the bent rods which form the vaulting of the roof. A third sets on
the top of all a sort of round cover or lid, which serves the double
purpose of chimney and window. While they are covering the woodwork
with curtains of felt, the children inside have already hung up the
provision-sacks, and placed the enormous tripod on the crackling
fire. This is all done in a few moments. Magical is the erection,
and as magical is the disappearance of the nomad's habitation.
Still, however, the noise of the sheep and camels, of screaming
women and crying children, resounds about the tent. They form,
indeed, a strange chorus in the midst of the noonday silence of the
desert. Milking-time, the daily harvest of these pastoral tribes
is, however, the busiest time in the twenty-four hours. Especial
trouble is given by the greedy children, whose swollen bellies are
the result and evidence of an unlimited appetite for milk. The poor
women have much to suffer from the vicious or impatient disposition
of the beasts; but, although the men are standing by, the smallest
help is rigorously refused, as it would be held the greatest
disgrace for a man to take any part in work appointed to women.

Once, when I had, in Ettrek, obtained by begging a small sack of
wheat, and was about to grind it in a handmill, the Turkomans around
me burst out into shouts of laughter. Shocked and surprised, I
asked the reason of their scornful mirth, when one approached me
in a friendly manner and said: "It is a shame for you to take in
hand woman's work. But Mollahs and Hadjis are of course deficient
in secular _savoir faire_, and one pardons them a great many such

After the supply of milk has been collected, and all the bags of
skins (for vessels of wood or of earthenware are purely articles
of luxury) have been filled, the cattle, small and great, disperse
themselves over the wide plain. The noise gradually dies away.
The nomad retires into his tent, raises the lower end of the felt
curtain, and while the west wind, rustling through the fretted
wood-work, lulls him to sleep, the women outside set to work on a
half-finished piece of felt. It is certainly an interesting sight
to see how six, often more, of the daughters of the desert, in
rank and file, roll out under their firm footsteps the felt which
is wrapped up between two rush mats. An elderly lady leads this
industrial dance and gives the time. It is she who can always tell
in what place the stuff will be loose or uneven. The preparation of
the felt, without question the simplest fabric which the mind of
man has invented, is still in the same stage among these wandering
tribes as when first discovered. The most common colour is grey.
Particoloured felt is an article of luxury, and snowy white is only
used on the most solemn occasions. Carpets are only to be found
among the richer tribes, such as the Turkomans and the Œzbegs, as
they require more skill in their manufacture and a closer contact
with more advanced civilization. The inwoven patterns are for the
most part taken from European pocket-handkerchiefs and chintzes;
and I was always surprised at the skill with which the women copied
them, or, what is still more surprising, imitated them from memory
after having once seen them.

While the poor women are fatiguing themselves with their laborious
occupation, their lord and master is accustomed to snore through his
noonday siesta. Soon the cattle return from their pasture ground and
collect around the tent. Scarcely does the afternoon begin to grow
cooler, than the migrating house is in a trice broken up, everything
replaced on the backs of the camels, and the whole party in full
march. This is already the second day of their journey, and yet
all, men and beasts, are as lively as if they had dwelt for years
on the spot, and, at length released from the talons of ennui, were
delighted at the prospects of a change.

Long after sunset, while the endless waste of the desert is
gradually being over-canopied by the clear starry heaven, the
caravan still plods steadily, in order to rest during the colder
hours of the night under the shelter of their warm felts. Quickly
is their colossal _batterie de cuisine_ placed on the fire; still
more quickly is it emptied. No European can have any idea of the
voracious appetite of a nomad.

The caravan has been scarcely an hour encamped before everybody has
supped and retired to rest; the older members of the family within
the tent, the younger ones in the open air, their flocks around
them. Only where a marriageable maiden lives is there any movement
to be found. Among the nomad tribes of Central Asia, Islamism has
not succeeded in carrying into effect its rigorous restrictions on
the social intercourse of the sexes. The harem is here entirely
unknown. The young nomad always knows by what star to direct his
course in order to find the tent of his adored on the trackless
desert. His appearance is seldom unexpected. The nomad young lady
has already divined from what quarter the hoof-tramp will sound
through the nightly stillness, and has already taken up an advanced
post in that direction. It is scarcely necessary to observe that the
conversation of the two children of the desert, in this their tender
rendezvous, is not quite in unison with our ideas of æsthetical
propriety; but poetry is to be found everywhere, nay, I might say,
is more at home in the desert than in these western countries.
Sometimes a whole company of loving couples come together, and on
such occasions the dialogue, which must be in rhyme and adorned with
the richest flowers of Tartar metaphor, seems as if it would never
come to an end. I was at first enchanted with listening to such
conversation; but how irritated I was when I had to pass the night
in the same tent with such amorous society, and in spite of all the
fatigue of the day could not find quiet slumbers to refresh me!

The above is but a faint picture of the life of the nomads during
the more agreeable portion of the year. In winter, especially in the
more elevated regions, where severe cold prevails, this wandering
life loses everything which can give it the least tinge of poetry
in our eyes. Even the inhabitants of the cities of Central Asia
marvel that the nomads can support life in the bleak open country,
amid fearful storms and long weeks of snow. Indeed, with a cold of
30° Réaumur, it cannot be very pleasant to live in a tent; still
even this occasions no serious inconvenience to the hardy child of
Nature. Himself wrapped up in a double suit of clothes, he doubles
the felt hangings of his tent, which is pitched in a valley or some
other sheltered spot. Besides this the number of its inhabitants is
increased, and when the _saksaul_ (the root of a tree hard as stone
and covered with knobs) begins to give out its heat, which lasts for
hours, the want of a settled home is quite forgotten. The family
circle is drawn closer round the hearth. The daughter of the house
must continually hand round the skin of _kimis_. This favourite
beverage opens the heart and looses the tongue. When, furthermore,
a _bakhshi_ (troubadour) is present to enliven the winter evenings
with his lays, then even the howling of the tempest without serves
as music.

When no extraordinary natural accidents, such as sand-storms or
snow-storms, break in upon his regular course of life, the nomad is
happy; indeed, I may say, as happy as any civilization in the world
could make him. As the nations of Central Asia have but very few
wants, poverty is rare among them, and where it occurs, is by no
means so depressing as with us. The lives of the inhabitants of the
desert would glide peacefully away, were it not for the tendency to
indulge in feuds and forays--a leading feature in their character.
War, everywhere a curse, there draws after it the most terrible
consequences which can be conceived. Without the smallest pretext
for such violence, a tribe which feels itself stronger often falls
upon the weaker ones. All who are able to bear arms conquer or die;
the women, children, and herds of the fallen are divided as booty
among their conquerors. Often does it happen that a family, which
in the evening lay down to rest in all the blessedness of security,
find themselves in the morning despoiled of parents, of freedom, and
of property, and dragged into captivity far apart from one another!

Among the Turkomans near Khiva I saw many Kirghiz prisoners, who had
formerly belonged to well-to-do families. The unfortunate creatures,
who had been but a short time before rich and independent, and
cherished by parents, accommodated themselves to the change of their
fortunes as to some ordinary dispensation of nature. With what
honesty and diligence did they attach themselves to their masters'
interests! How they loved and caressed their masters' children! Yet
these same masters were they who had robbed them of their whole
property, murdered their father, and branded them for ever with the
opprobrious title of "Kul" (slave.)

Buddhism, Christianity, Mohammedanism, have one after the other
attempted to force their way into the steppes of upper Asia. The
first and the last have succeeded to some extent in making good
their footing, but the nomads have, nevertheless, remained the
same as they were at the time of the conquests of the Arabs, or
of the campaigns of Alexander--the same as they were described by
Herodotus. I shall never forget the conversations about the state
of the world which I had with elderly Turkomans and Kirghizes. It
is true that one can picture to oneself beforehand a specimen of
ancient simplicity, but that is still something quite different
from seeing before you one of these still standing columns of a
civilization several millenniums old.

The Central Asiatic still speaks of Rome (Rum, modern Turkey) as
he spoke in the days of the Cæsars; and when one listens to a
grey-beard as he depicts the might and the greatness of this land,
one might imagine that the invincible legions had only yesterday
combated the Parthians and that he was present as an auxiliary.
That his Rum (Turkey) is a state of but miserable proportions in
comparison with old Rome, is what he cannot believe. He has learned
to associate with that name glory and power. At the most, China may
be sometimes compared to Rome for might and resources; although the
legends that are told of this latter empire dwell rather on the
arts and the beauty than on the valour of the Chinese people. Russia
is regarded as the quintessence of all fraud and cunning, by which
means alone she has of late years contrived to effect her conquests.
As for England, it is well known that the late emir of Bokhara, on
the first occasion in which he came into contact with the British,
was quite indignant "that the Ingiliz, whose name had only risen to
notice within a few years, should dare to call themselves _Dowlet_
(government) when addressing him."

Extremely surprising to the stranger is the hospitality which is
to be found among the nomads of Central Asia. It is more abounding
than perhaps in any other portion of the east. Amongst the Turks,
Persians, and Arabs, there still linger faint memories of this
old duty, but our European tourists have had, I believe, ample
opportunity of satisfying themselves that all the washing of feet,
slaughter of sheep, and other good offices, are often only performed
in the hope of a rich _Bakhshish_, or _Pishkesh_, (as they say
in Persian.) It is true that the _Koran_ says, "Honour a guest,
even though he be an infidel;" but this doing honour is generally
the echo of orders issued from some consulate or embassy. Quite
otherwise in Central Asia. There hospitality is, I may say, almost
instinctive; for a nomad may be cruel, fierce, perfidious, but never

One of my fellow-beggars went, during my sojourn among the
Turkomans, on a round of begging visits, having first dressed
himself in his worst suit of rags. Having wandered about the
whole day he came at evening to a lonely tent, for the purpose of
lodging there for the night. On entering he was saluted in the
customary friendly manner; nevertheless he soon observed that the
master of the poverty-stricken establishment seemed to be in great
embarrassment, and moved hither and thither as if looking for
something. The beggar began to feel very uncomfortable when at last
his host approached him, and, deeply blushing, begged him to lend
him a few _krans_, in order that he might be able to provide the
necessary supper, inasmuch as he himself had nothing but dried fish,
and he wished to set something better before his guest. Of course
it was impossible to refuse such a request. My comrade opened the
purse which he carried under his rags, and when he had given his
host five _krans_, everything seemed to be satisfactorily arranged.
The meal was eaten amidst the most friendly conversation, and when
it was ended, the softest felt carpet was assigned to the stranger
as his couch, and in the morning he was dismissed with the customary

"I was scarcely gone half an hour from the tent," so my friend
related his adventure subsequently to me, "when a Turkoman came
running towards me, and with violent threats demanded my purse. How
great was my astonishment when I recognised in the person of the
robber no other than my host of the previous night! I thought he
was joking, and began to address him in a friendly manner; but he
grew only more and more serious. So, in order to avoid unpleasant
consequences, there remained nothing for me but to hand over my
purse, a few leaves of tea, my comb, and my knife, in one word,
my whole property. Having so done, I was about to proceed on my
way, when he held me back, and opening my--that is to say now
his--purse, and taking out five _krans_, gave them to me with these
words:--'Take my debt of yesterday evening. We are now quits, and
you can go on your way.'"



The courts of oriental princes have been frequently and variously
described. Beginning with the shore of the Bosphorus, where Dolma
Bagtsche, Beshiktash and Serayburun furnish the first pictures in
the panorama, and ranging as far as the palaces of Pekin and Yedo,
we have read again and again of the love for ostentation and empty
splendour, the glitter of gold and diamonds of oriental life. But
to complete the series, a few sketches of life at the court of
Turkestan sovereigns are wanting, and the description of such may
not, therefore, be deemed superfluous.

My readers must not expect either to be dazzled, or to have their
amazement and admiration excited, and yet it will repay the trouble
to accompany me through the tortuous streets of Khiva and the bazaar
with its vaulted roof to the Ark (the Royal Castle.) Like all the
residences of sovereigns in Central Asia, this castle is strangely
fortified and surrounded by a double wall. Through a narrow gate
we enter into the first court, which is crowded with the royal
body-guard and other soldiers and servants. Near the entrance two
cannons are planted, brought thither by the mighty Nadir, and
left behind on his hasty retreat. They are decorated with pretty
symmetrical ornaments, and seem to have been made at Delhi. After
having passed the second gate, we enter a more spacious court, with
a mean looking building on one side, not unlike an open coach-house;
it is here that the high officials pass the hours of office, the
Mehter (Minister of the Interior) presiding. To the left of this
building is a kind of guard-house, in which divers servants,
policemen and executioners live during the day time, awaiting the
commands of their royal master. A small gate leads between these two
buildings, to the residence of His Majesty of Khiva. On the outside
it resembles a poor mud-hut, like all the other houses in the town,
and is of course without windows, nor is any particular luxury to
be met with inside, except several large and valuable carpets, a
few sofas and round cushions, together with a considerable number
of chests--the entire furniture of this place--which serve in
some degree to remind us of the princely rank of the master. The
number of apartments is very small, and as every where the case, is
divided into the Harem, (the rooms set apart for the women,) and the
Selamdjay, (the reception hall.)

Nowhere are any signs of splendour perceptible; the large train of
followers alone mark the distinction, the lacqueys are the sole
insignia of the ruler. Let us pass them in review before us. At the
head of the household is the Desturkhandji, (literally, the man who
spreads the table cloth,) whose peculiar office is to superintend
the royal table. He is present during dinner, clothed in full armour
and state dress, and on him devolves the inspection and control
of the entire number of servants. Next to him follows the Mehrem,
a kind of valet de chambre _in officio_, but in reality rather a
privy councillor, who shares in the business of the state besides
his immediate domestic affairs, and, conjointly with the former,
exercises the most powerful influence upon his royal master. Then
follows the rest of the servants, of whom each has his distinct
office. The Ashpez, or cook, prepares the food, whilst the Ashmehter
serves it. The Sherbetshi prepares tea, sherbet, and other drinks,
but he is expected to be skilled besides in the decoction of
wonder-working elixirs. The Payeke is entrusted with the tchilim
(pipe,) which at court is made of gold or silver, and must be
replenished with fresh water every time it is filled with tobacco.
This office does not exist in any other court in Central Asia,
tobacco being strictly forbidden by law. His Tartar Majesty has no
dressing room, it is true, but, nevertheless, several servants are
appointed to assist at the toilet. Whilst the Shilaptshi kneeling
holds the wash-hand basin, the Kumgandshi (the man who holds the
can or jug) pours the water from a silver or golden vessel, and
the Rumaldshi is ready, as soon as the two former have withdrawn,
to throw the towel to the prince, holding it with the tips of
his fingers. The Khan has an especial Sertarash (who shaves the
head,) who is expected to have nimble fingers and at the same time
a skilful hand for squeezing the skull, a favourite operation
throughout the east. Then the prince possesses a Ternaktshi, or nail
cutter, a Khadimdshi, whose duty it is to knead and pummel his back,
also to kneel upon him and make his limbs crack, whenever the Khan,
after long fatigue, wishes to refresh himself. Lastly, there is a
Töshektshi, or bed maker, whose office it is to spread out at night
the soft pieces of felt or the mattresses. The magnificent harness,
saddles and weapons are in charge of the Khaznadshi (treasurer,)
who, whenever the sovereign rides out in public, walks beside him.
The Djigadj, or keeper of the plumes, walks at the head of the train
of servants.

In dress and food, the prince's household is little distinguished
from that of rich merchants or officials of rank. The king wears
the same heavy cap of sheep-skin, the same clumsy boots, stuffed
out with several yards of linen rags, the same thickly-wadded coats
of print or silk as his subjects, and, like them, endures in this
Siberian costume, under the oppressive heat of July, a state of
fearful perspiration. On the whole, the position of the Prince of
Kharezm is one little to be envied, nay, I feel inclined to say,
it is far more wretched than that of other Eastern princes. In a
country, where pillage and murder, anarchy and lawlessness, are
the rule, and not the exception, a sovereign has to maintain his
authority by inspiring his subjects with the utmost dread and
almost superstitious terror for his person; never with affection.
Even those nearest to him fear him for his unlimited power; and wife
and children, as well as relations, not unfrequently attempt his
life. At the same time, the sovereign is expected to be the model
of Islamitic virtue and Œzbeg manners and customs; every most
trifling, insignificant error of his Majesty, becomes the talk of
the town; and although nobody would venture to blame him for very
considerable offences, yet in the former case it is the influential
Mollahs who would feel affronted,--a result entirely opposed to the
interests of the sovereign.

The Khan, like every orthodox Mussulman, is obliged to leave his
bed before sun-rise, and to be present at the morning prayer in
full assembly. It lasts rather more than half an hour, after which
he partakes of several dishes of tea, seasoned with fat and salt.
Not unfrequently some of the learned Mollahs are invited, in order
to enliven the breakfast, by explaining some sacred precept or
arguing upon some religious question, of which his highness rarely
of course understands anything. Profound discussions generally
invite sleep, and no sooner does his Majesty begin to snore aloud,
when the learned men take it as a signal to withdraw. This sleep
is called the morning doze, and lasts from two to three hours.
When it is over, the selam (reception) of the ministers and other
high dignitaries commences, and the Khan enters in full earnest
upon his duties as sovereign. Consultations are held as to the
maurauding expeditions to be undertaken, politics are discussed
in reference to the neighbouring state of Bokhara, the Yomut-
and Tchaudor-Turkomans, the Kasaks, and at present probably the
Russians, who are pushing their advances nearer and nearer;--or
the governors of the provinces and the tax-gatherers, who had been
sent out over the country, have to submit to the Khan and his
ministers their several accounts. Every farthing has to be paid over
with the most scrupulous accuracy, and woe to that man in whose
account the smallest error is detected; it may happen that he is
dismissed, leaving his head behind. And now, after having transacted
for several hours the ordinary business of the state, breakfast
is served, consisting for the greater part of rather light food,
that is to say, "light" for an Œzbeg digestion--the déjeuner à
la fourchette of his Majesty of Khiva sufficing in all probability
for several of our active working men at home. During this meal all
present have to stand round respectfully and look on, and after
having finished, he invites one or the other of his favourites
to sit down and play with him at chess,--an amusement which is
continued until the time for mid-day prayer. This lasts about an
hour. When it is over, his Majesty proceeds to the outer court, and
taking his seat on a kind of terrace, the arz (public audience)
takes place, to which every rank, every class is admitted,--men,
women, and children, either in the greatest négligé or even half
naked. All crowd round the entrance, where amidst noise and
shouting they wait for audience. Each in turn is admitted, but only
one person at a time, who is allowed to approach quite close to his
sovereign; to speak out freely and without reserve, to make entreaty
or complaint, nay, to engage even in the most violent altercation
with the Khan, the smallest sign from whom would suffice to deliver
his subject, without any reason whatever, into the hands of the
executioner. Thus the East is, and ever was from times immemorial,
the land of the most striking contradictions. The inexperienced may
interpret this as love of strict justice. I, however, see in it
nothing but a whimsical habit of demeanour, permitting one person
to defy the royal authority in the coarsest terms of speech, while
another forfeits his life for the smallest offence against the rules
of propriety.

At the arz not only all great and important lawsuits are settled,
and sentences of death pronounced and executed; but even trifling
differences are not unfrequently adjusted, as for instance, a
quarrel between a husband and wife, or between one man and his
neighbour on account of some few pence or the stealing of a hen. No
complainant whatever can be refused a hearing; and although the Khan
may send him to the Kadi, yet he must first listen to whatever he
has to say. The afternoon prayer alone puts an end to this wearisome
occupation. Later in the day the prince takes his customary ride on
horseback outside the town, and usually returns just before sunset.
Evening prayers again are said in full assembly, and these ended,
the prince retires to take his supper. The servants, and all those
who do not live in the palace, withdraw, and the king remains alone
with his confidants. Supper is a luxurious meal, and lasts longer
than any other. Spirituous drinks are seldom taken by the sovereigns
of Khiva and Bokhara, although the other members of the royal family
and the grandees frequently transgress on this point, and indulge
in the practice to excess. After the supper, singers and musicians
make their appearance, or jugglers, with their various performances.
Singing is very popular in Khiva, and the native singers of this
place are the most renowned in Turkestan, and indeed throughout the
whole Mahomedan East of Asia. The instrument upon which they excel
is called girdshek, and bears a general resemblance to our violin.
It has a longer neck and three strings, one of wire and two of silk;
the bow, too, is like our bow. Then there are the tambur and dutara,
on which instruments the Bakhshi plays the accompaniment to his
songs, improvised in praise of some popular hero of the day; whereas
at the royal court they select for the most part ghaseles from Nevai
and the Persian poets. The young princes are instructed in music,
and it often happens that the Khan invites them to perform either
alone or with the troubadours at court. Particular merriment and
good humour, such as presides at the drinking-bouts at Teheran, or
at the banquets in the palaces on the Bosphorus, is not to be met
with at the court of Œzbeg princes; it is unknown here, or at
least such is not the custom. The national character of the Tartar
is chiefly marked by seriousness and firmness; to dance, jump, or
show high spirits, is in his eyes only worthy of women or children.
I have never seen an Œzbeg person of good manners indulge in
immoderate laughter.

About two hours after sunset the Khan retires to the harem, or to
his sleeping apartment, and with it his daily labours as sovereign
are ended. The harem is here very different from those of the
Turkish or Persian court. The number of women is limited, the
fairy-like luxuriousness of life in a harem is entirely wanting,
strict chastity and modesty pervade it; and in this respect the
court of Khiva is eminently superior to all Eastern courts. The
present Khan has only two lawful wives, although the Koran allows
four. These are always chosen from among the royal family; and it
is an extremely rare thing for the daughter of a dignitary, who
does not belong to the family, to be raised to this rank. The Khan,
although possessing the same unlimited power over his wife as over
any of his subjects, treats her without severity, and on the whole
with tenderness, unless she be found guilty of any particular
offence. She possesses no titles or prerogatives whatever; her court
is distinguished in nothing from the other harems, but that she has
more female servants and slaves about her; the former consisting of
the wives or daughters of officials, the latter for the most part
of Persian and a few dark Arab women. The daughters of Iran are
far inferior to the Œzbeg women in personal beauty, and their
mistress has no cause to fear from either of them any rivalry. As
regards their intercourse with the outer world, the princesses
of Khiva are far more restricted than the wives of other Eastern
potentates. The rules of modesty require that they should pass the
greater part of the day in the harem, where comparatively little
time is lavished upon the embellishments of the toilet. And in fact,
the ladies of the harem have very little leisure for idleness, since
in accordance with the custom of the country it is desirable that
the greater part of the clothes, carpets, and other stuffs, for the
use of the prince, should be prepared by the hand of his wife. This
custom reminds one strongly of the patriarchal mode of life of which
Turkestan, in spite of its roughness, has preserved many remnants of
simple refinement.

The princess of Khiva is permitted occasionally to visit the
neighbouring royal summer palaces and chateaux, never on horseback,
as is the general custom in Persia, but in a large carriage, painted
with gaudy colours, and completely covered and shut in with red
carpets and shawls. Before and behind the vehicle trot a couple
of horsemen, furnished with white staves. On her progress all
rise respectfully from their seats and salute her with a profound
bow. Nobody thinks of daring to cast a look of curiosity into the
interior of the carriage; not only would this be useless, so closely
is it covered, but such temerity would have to be atoned for by
death, whether the object be the wife of the sovereign or any
subordinate official. Whenever the Queen of Persia takes a ride on
horseback, the numerous ferrash (servants) who head the cavalcade
cut right and left with their sabres at the crowd, who disperse in
terror and confusion, in spite of their eager curiosity. Such a
proceeding, however, is not necessary with the grave Œzbegs; for
here life in the harem is not regulated with the same severity, and
it is well known that the less strictly its laws are administered,
the less frequently they are transgressed.

During the summer the royal family inhabit the castles of Rafenek
and Tashhauz, near Khiva. Both were erected in the Persian style
by former princes, and are distinguished by possessing some
window-panes and small looking-glasses--the latter, especially,
being considered articles of great luxury in the eyes of the people
of Khiva. Tashhauz has not been built without taste. The chateau
stands in a large garden; it has several reservoirs, and resembles
the castle of Nigaristan, near the town gate, Shimran at Teheran.
The winter is spent in the town, but when here his Œzbeg highness
occupies a light tent which is pitched inside the walls; and
herein he shows no bad taste, for the round-shaped dwelling, made
of snow-white felt, with a cheerful fire burning brightly in the
middle, is not only quite as warm as any building of stone, but
there is something pleasant about it, and it makes a far less gloomy
impression than the windowless mud-huts of Turkestan.



Joy and sorrow are undoubtedly the mirror, in which not only is
the character of a people clearly reflected, but which likewise
offers the most faithful image of their manners and customs. In joy
and sorrow every sign of dissimulation vanishes, man shows himself
in his true colours, and the lights and shades of his temperament
become at once apparent; for, in any matter of real feeling, it is
vain to try to speak and act differently to the dictates of this
potent voice within us. And nowhere is a better opportunity offered
for studying the various features of joy and sorrow, than at a
birth, marriage, and death,--those three stages in the great family
of mankind. The main outlines are no doubt everywhere the same, but
in the colouring and composition a variety is produced, not found
even among civilized nations. Ethnography has frequently thrown
light on this subject in different parts of the world; but we must
confess that Central Asia in this respect is wrapt in considerable
obscurity. To attempt to dispel this darkness may therefore not be
deemed superfluous; and, the savage Polynesian and Central African
having resisted vainly the spirit of inquiry, we will in like manner
raise the veil from the rude and suspicious Œzbeg. It is a first
attempt, and consequently a feeble one.


As soon as a woman in Central Asia (I refer to a settled family),
about to become a mother, feels the first pangs of childbirth, she
sends for her neighbour, her nearest relations, a midwife, and a
nurse for the child. A new felt or carpet is spread out in the tent
or room, and upon this the woman is placed, with her legs doubled
under her. As the pains increase, her nearest relations squat round
her; and she, flinging both her arms round the neck of two of her
most intimate friends, the midwife seizes her by the thighs, and
moves her about, until she has been delivered of the child. She is
now placed upon a bed, the relations taking the mother under their
care, and the midwife having charge of the child. The former is
restored to strength by friction on the temples and pulse, whilst
the midwife sets about cutting out swaddling-clothes from a new
piece of linen, in which she wraps the infant, strictly observing
the various superstitious customs. Then taking the remainder of
the linen to the mother, she informs her of the sex and appearance
of her child; she also is the bearer of the happy tidings to the
father, from whom she receives a present on this occasion. In
fact, the kindik kesen (swaddling-clothes maker) plays a very
important part in the whole affair. For three days the child is
invisible to every one, during which time it is frequently smeared
over with butter, and, to prevent any redness in them, which is
considered extremely objectionable, the eyes are washed with salt
water. It is then clothed in a little shirt, and finally it is
laid upon a pillow of camel's hair, and exhibited. Now all the
friends and acquaintances pay their visits, and the husband offers
a present to his wife, who is anxious to hear from her guests their
prognostications as to the future of her child, which experienced
matrons draw from the limbs and movements of its little body. Thus
for instance, it is a bad sign, if it has entered the world with
the left foot or hand first; a small apple of the eye augurs that
her offspring will be a thief; a broad forehead denotes valour; a
restless kicking of the feet future wealth, and so forth. Every
one scrutinizes the infant with insignificant gestures; and well
might the fear of the evil eye make the mother uneasy, but that she
herself has tied the white magic-stone on the left arm of her child.

After the chille (forty days) have elapsed, festivities begin.
In the case of a girl, not much is done; but if the child be a
boy, even the poorest make every effort to gather round them a
considerable number of guests, and to feast them as sumptuously as
possible. Grand banquets, horse-racing, wrestling and music, are the
order of the day; and finally, a special celebration in honour of
the birth, the so-called Altin Kabak, takes place, which consists
in hanging up a golden or silver ball on the top of a high tree,
and whosoever brings it down at the first shot, with either ball or
arrow, gains this prize, together with a certain number of sheep,
and often even camels and horses.

During the first year the greatest care is taken to guard the
child against cats, evil spirits, and other dangerous influences,
after which time the above-mentioned white stone is replaced by a
round-shaped bone, and on his little cap are hung the argushtek (a
piece of wood, carved and dyed mysteriously), a nusha (amulet),
which must be written by the hand of some learned man, several
corals, the tooth of an hyæna, and, if circumstances permit, a small
bag with holy earth from the grave of Mohamed. All these things,
together, often make up a considerable weight, which presses very
heavily on the head of the poor little creature; but this is not
taken into consideration. On the contrary; the mother examines with
jealous care to see that not a single thing be found wanting, each
being looked upon as a certain means of protection against so many

In Central Asia, as throughout the whole East, children are allowed
but a very few years to devote merely to play. Girls are early
taught to spin, weave, sew, to make cheese, &c.; and boys are put on
horseback, and learn to ride as early as their fifth year, and are
employed as horsemen in sham fights, and as jockeys in horse races
in, and even before, their tenth year. It is only the more wealthy
parents who give their children in charge of a Mollah. When they
have learned to read, the Korantoy, or the festival of the Koran,
is celebrated, which is of the same nature as the Chatemdüyünü of
the Osmanlis, with this difference: that the latter takes place when
the lad has, for the first time, read through the sacred book of
Mohamed, and here, when he begins reading.


Although childhood is of short duration among the Œzbegs, yet a
youth does not receive the name of yighid (a mature youth) until
his eighteenth year, nor the girl that of kïz (virgin) before she
is sixteen years old. In the country the intercourse between the
two sexes is not in the least degree influenced by the Koran. Here,
as in Western countries, we see the "rosy play of love" represented
with all its joys and sorrows, all its fascination and enthusiasm.
At first I felt amazed that the tenderest of feelings should find
room in the heart of a man in Central Asia, accustomed as he is
from his earliest youth to robbery and murder, and hardened to the
tears of widows, orphans and slaves. But I had the opportunity of
convincing myself, that love is here more frequently the cause of
the most extraordinary adventures than in other Mahomedan countries.
The Œzbeg is passionately devoted to music and poetry, and hence
it is but natural that his heart should be susceptible to the
emotions of love.

When two young people have formed a mutual attachment the secret
is entrusted to their parents, and if these make no objections,
the young man opens the transaction by despatching two female
ambassadors, Soutchi Khatin, to ask them formally for the hand of
their daughter. The parents, for the most part, have been previously
informed of the demand, and receiving the embassy with honour and
distinction, they express their satisfaction at the offer, but
refrain from giving any decisive answer. To pronounce a regular
straightforward "yes," is contrary to the rules of propriety, and
the young man has to interpret, from trivial allusions, whether his
suit will be granted or not. The next thing is to talk over the
kalim (marriage portion) which the man is ready or able to give
for his future wife. The question is always, how many times nine,
i.e., how many times nine sheep, cows, camels or horses, or how
many times nine ducats, as is the custom in a town, the father is
to receive for giving up his daughter. The less wealthy give twice
nine, the wealthier six times nine, and the Khan alone has to pay
nine times nine, for the purchase of his bride. The kalim having
been settled, the next question to be considered is one of great
importance, the eginbash (present in ornaments) to be presented by
the future husband. It consists of eight rings, yüzük, a semi-tiara
(sheghendjin), a tiara (shekergül), a bracelet (bilezik), ear-rings
(isirga), nose-rings (arabek), and ornaments for the neck (öngülük).
This whole set of ornaments must be presented complete, and not a
single article wanting; it is also previously settled, whether it is
to consist of gold or silver. No doubt a man in Central Asia has to
pay dearly for his wife. The negotiations are generally a protracted
business; and finally, when every thing is definitely settled,
neighbours and relations are invited to the fatiha toy (feast of
promise), which is celebrated for two days in the home of the future
bride, and two more in that of the future husband. The Mollah, or
some grey-beard, announces the new arrangement to the guests. He
tells them the exact purchase-price for the girl, and when the
wedding is to take place, and concludes his short address with a
fatiha, after which the festivities begin and are continued for four
days. In entertainments of this kind, called toy, all the guests are
assembled in one and the same apartment, but form different groups.
The upper part of the room is occupied by the elderly people; the
women range themselves along the right side of the wall and the
girls and lads sit down in some corner, generally near the musicians
and singers. The toy consists not merely in eating and drinking,
but there is also music and singing, and above all, horse-racing,
which latter forms the chief part of all festivities in Central
Asia. Prizes of considerable value are given, and young and old take
the most lively interest in the sport. The race-course varies from
one to three fersakh in length; on the former only two year olds
are admitted, on the latter full-grown strong horses. Two villages
are chosen, lying at this distance apart, and whilst the crowd are
assembling in one of them, a toy emini, steward, is appointed in
the other. It is his duty to see that a fair start is effected,
and that horse is proclaimed the winner, who first passes the goal
which is fixed at the entrance of the opposite village. The horses
are trained for several weeks for the race, and are ridden by young
boys, who wear on this occasion short and tight-fitting clothes,
very similar to those worn by jockeys in England.

The interval between the fatiha toy and the marriage is fixed
according to the age of the "promessa." A week before the wedding,
the toyluk (food for the wedding) is sent by the man to the house
of his future wife; and consists of meat, flour, rice, fat, sugar
and fruit. Soon after, his mother and nearest female relations
arrive, who have been invited as guests for several weeks. Two days
before the beginning of the festival the future husband mounts his
horse, and, surrounded by his friends, all of whom, as well as their
horses, are decked out in the gayest colours, goes also to the home
of her parents, his father alone remaining behind, not for the sake
of taking care of the house, but in order to make all necessary
preparations for the due reception of the newly-married couple on
their return.

Meanwhile, in the house of the future wife, where the first days
of the marriage-feast are celebrated, the greatest bustle and
activity prevails. The young girls have to do the cooking, and are
fully employed with their gigantic cauldrons. The quantity of food
brought together for an Œzbeg wedding is as enormous as the
appetite of the numerous guests. Whilst the young girls are busy at
cooking and baking, the young swains carry on a lively flirtation
with them. The galant homme, who is lucky enough to obtain from his
beloved a bone or some tit-bit out of the cauldron, regards the gift
as a signal sign of favour, but still more lucky is he who gets a
few sharp raps with the cooking ladle, the highest of all favours,
and appreciated far above the daintiest morsels. Men and women
gather round the fire-place in groups, laughing, talking, joking and
shrieking, whilst musicians play and sing, and children shout and
yell. These noises are mingled with the bleating of sheep, barking
of dogs, neighing of horses and braying of donkeys, while loud above
the general hubbub is heard the clown's stentorian voice in coarse
sallies of Œzbeg wit and humour. He is the very life of the whole
party. His gesticulations, the grimaces with which he accompanies
his jests, give rise to continual bursts of laughter. Now he mimics
this person or that, now he tells of some droll prank or merry
adventure, or whistles like a bird and mews like a cat, and thus he
has to continue without interruption, although from sheer exertion
the perspiration runs down his face in streams.

It is a strange custom that, for the last few days before his
wedding, the young man is not allowed to leave his tent, the young
girl and her companions watching it, meanwhile, with looks of the
utmost curiosity. It is said that friends and relations sometimes
assist in bringing about a secret _tête-à-tête_, but not until after
the marriage ceremony is he permitted to mix with the company.
This ceremony takes place at the end of the second day, in the
presence of the whole assembly. Each party is represented by two
witnesses, to whom the Mollah puts the question, whether the two
young people mutually agree as to the marriage. He then proceeds at
once to perform the ceremony, when the witnesses of the young girl
put in their veto. They declare (with a feigned reluctance) their
unwillingness to give up the treasure entrusted to them, unless
the young man should present them with a certain sum of money, or
some other present. He finds the demand exorbitant, and now begins
a bargaining and haggling, which continues until both parties are
satisfied, when the solemn ceremony is at last performed. The
Mollah reads aloud the permission of the reis (religious chief,)
the witnesses attest on oath, and with significant gestures, the
marriage compact, a short prayer is read, and the ceremony is over.

The bride now hands round fruit and a rich cake, and distributes
white kerchiefs, garments, or other presents among the Mollahs,
grey-beards, and above all, the young men who have acted as

The bridegroom now makes his appearance, but is not permitted to
approach the company nearer than a few steps from the door! and
all having partaken of an enormous repast, the festivities in the
bride's home terminate.

The elderly, as well as the married folk, now take their departure,
but the young people remain, and pack the bride and her marriage
portion on a sort of carriage, and thus accompanied by her female
companions and friends, she sets out for the home of her husband.
The journey, called bolush, is protracted as much as possible, and
often when the distance is short, one or two long circuits are
made, in order to have the opportunity of continuing the amusements
on the road. The bride sits in the first carriage with her future
sister-in-law, the young men accompany the procession on horseback,
and he who can manage to force his way first to the front, riding
full gallop, receives from her a handkerchief as the prize. The
others try to snatch it from him, he flies and is pursued, and
the chase does not cease till he has reached the carriage again.
The handkerchiefs thus gained are tied to the horse's head, and
preserved a long time as valuable trophies.[11] Whenever the
procession passes a village on the route, they are generally
stopped, and a toll is demanded. The sister-in-law sitting next
the bride distributes cake, and the passage is again free. Amidst
continued sport and chaff the bride arrives at the home of her
husband, and no sooner does she draw near it, than she wraps her
veil around her, changing her merry expression of face to one of
the utmost gravity. Her father-in-law lifts her from the carriage,
conducts her into the room, and leads her to a tent improvised with
curtains and carpets in a corner of the apartment. The husband
soon follows her, and for the second time raises her veil in the
presence of his father, who compliments his daughter-in-law on her
charming appearance, the first sight of which he has to requite with
presents. The young couple are left alone, but have to endure for
some time the jokes of the noisy crowd assembled outside the tent,
who are eager to exhibit on these occasions their slender store of
wit and humour. They disperse late at night, and at last all is

  [11] In Hungary we find the same practice prevailing at the present
  day, for the custom of tying coloured handkerchiefs to the heads of
  the horses at marriage feasts most probably has its origin in this
  ancient usage.

Among the Turkomans and Kirghis it is customary for newly-married
people to be separated for a whole year, after they have lived
together for a few days, and although the husband is allowed to make
his appearance in the house of his wife, it must be only at night
and in the most clandestine manner. In the opinion of the nomads,
married life, in its beginning, is made all the more pleasant by
acting up to the proverb, "stolen kisses taste the sweetest," and
hence also the belief, that the first born child must always be
handsome and vigorous.

The great national festival, called noruz (new year), of the
Œzbegs, has been transmitted to them by the Persians, and is
celebrated in Central Asia with the same pomp which distinguishes
it in Persia, with this only difference, that the Œzbegs have
an old and a new noruz. The latter, however, is of no especial
importance. There is no lack of amusing games, but it is very
remarkable that some have degenerated into the most pernicious
gambling. Playing cards (sokti) are introduced from Russia (without
the court cards), but have not yet come into general use. The
favourite game is the Ashik-game (Ashik--the anklebones of sheep),
which is played in the manner of European dice with the four
anklebones of a sheep, and with a degree of passionate excitement
of which one can form no idea. The upper part of the bone is called
tava, the lower altchi, and the two sides yantarap. The player
takes these four little bones into the palm of his hand, throws
them up and receives half of the stake, if two tava or two altchi,
and the whole of the stake, if all four tava or altchi turn up. The
advantage to be gained arises entirely from dexterity in throwing;
trickery is impossible, since the bones are frequently changed.
This game is equally popular with the dweller in settlements as
with the nomad; and although apparently a trivial amusement, it
not unfrequently happens that the Ashik player, in the heat of his
passion, stakes the whole of his possessions, nay, even his wife.
Mankind, in fact, are everywhere the same. The refined European
makes his offerings at rouge et noir upon the green table; the
Œzbeg on the sandy ground with four anklebones.


Whenever a member of a family is on the point of death, his nearest
relations usually leave the house or tent. The Mollah, or the
elderly among the neighbours, surround the dying man, watching for
the last breath and repeating the customary prayers, while outside
the air is filled with wailing and lamentations. If he should have
been lying speechless for some time, some wool is moistened by his
friends, and water dropped into his mouth, for fear lest, deprived
of his speech, he might die of thirst. The rolling of the eyes and
the contraction of the nose are regarded as symptoms of death; and
no sooner has the dying man drawn his last breath than his jaws are
tied up, and the body is stripped and then covered over. The clothes
are destroyed, for even the poorest Œzbeg could not be persuaded
to put on anything worn by a dying man.

The corpse is not allowed to be kept longer than twelve or fifteen
hours, in accordance with the custom among all Mahomedan nations.
It is not washed upon a board, but on a mat (buria), which is
immediately after burnt; and the relations and neighbours, nay,
often the whole population of the place, having wept and wailed
their fill, the body is taken to be buried. The settled inhabitants
of Central Asia possess cemeteries for their dead, but among the
nomads each dead body is buried singly in the desert; and if he has
been a man of influence and consideration, a large mound (tumulus)
is generally raised over his grave, in the construction of which all
the male members of the tribe are expected to take part. The more
honoured the person, the higher and larger the mound (yoska). The
surviving relations look upon it with pride; on certain festivals,
and on the anniversary of the death, food or other presents are
placed upon it for the benefit of the poor; and no sooner does the
nomad come in sight of it, however great the distance may be, than
he mutters a short prayer for the repose of the dead.

Men that fall in battle are neither undressed nor washed. The blood
of a brave soldier being regarded as his greatest adornment, is
consequently not removed.

The funeral feast begins immediately after the burial with a simple
repast, at which the iyis (bread baked in fat) is distributed among
rich and poor, and must be eaten by everybody. The feast is repeated
on the third, seventh, and fortieth day after the death took place,
besides which the anniversary is celebrated in like manner,--a duty
which even the poorest would not omit to perform, for fear lest,
by neglecting it, the departed might appear to them at night, and,
exhorting the survivors, complain that they had forgotten to invite
those of this world who are to pray for the welfare of his soul.

Among the nomads, the funeral feast occupies a more important
part. Once every week, throughout the first year, a repast is
prepared on the day of the death, and daily, as mentioned already
in our "Travels among the Turkomans," the women sing the song of
lamentation at the hour in which the member of the family breathed
his last. With the latter, moreover, the memory of a dead person
is held in the highest regard, and peculiar respect is paid to his
grave for a long time after, if he has fallen in battle, or on some
marauding expedition. The shaft of his lance is planted upon it,
and decked with various-coloured pieces of stuff, ram's horns, a
horse's tail, or like mementos,--friends and members of the same
tribe contributing, as a matter of course, every time they pass it.
The "yoskas" are called by the name of those that repose beneath;
children play around, but, however playfully inclined, are careful
not to climb upon them. It is even said, that horses go to visit
the yoskas of their former masters, and are seen standing before
them, with heads bent downward in mourning; and young warriors
habitually look with veneration on these mounds, and draw from them
the inspiration to their greatest deeds of valour.

Whenever we happened to meet one of these graves in our travels in
the steppes of Central Asia, each member of our caravan was obliged
to tear off a little piece of his clothes and fasten it to the
shaft, or to a bench, or all joined in a hymn sung in his praise,
Karavan bashi saying every time: "He who does not honour the dead
will never receive honour from the living."



The house, or fixed dwelling, has never, up to the present day,
gained a firm footing among the nations in Central Asia, not even
in those parts where regular settlements have existed for several
hundred years. Part of the population build houses for themselves,
but they are generally looked upon as gloomy places, producing
feelings of melancholy, and the light, airy tent is in all cases
preferred. It is principally the Œzbeg people who build houses,
an art they have learnt from the original Persian settlers, and,
as they resemble in many points the inhabitants of Iran, the
architecture in Central Asia is in the early Iranic style, and at
the same time very similar to the new Persian.

The first thing before building a _house_, is to level and prepare
the ground by stamping it down with a heavy pounder. Foundations
are only made to large buildings. The common-sized houses are made
with a mud flooring, two feet high, and upon this, after it has
dried hard, the walls are raised with a layer of rushes or wood
underneath, in order to keep them from the damp rising from the
ground. The walls are either "tam," _i.e._, of clay or stone,
or "akchub," _i.e._, of wooden laths, laid crossways, and the
interstices filled up with clay and unbaked tiles. The ceiling
consists of planks, closely fitting together; in the houses of the
poor these are left bare, and in those of the rich they have a
coating of plaster and lime. Small holes serve as windows; they are
open in summer, and in winter are pasted over with oiled paper. The
roof, similar to those in Persia, is like a terrace, and serves as
a sleeping place during the heat of the summer. Regular bricklayers
are seldom met with. Every man is his own architect, convinced
of possessing sufficient knowledge to build for himself a house
suitable to his wants; and the plumb-line being still unknown, it is
not to be wondered at that the walls are crooked and uneven, bulging
either in or out, and soon become dilapidated.

The interior arrangement of a house is as follows: you enter by a
wide gate, which forms the chief entrance, into a covered passage,
called dalar. To the right of the gate are one or two rather large
apartments (mihmankhane), which serve as reception-rooms for guests,
and contain weapons as well as useful domestic utensils. Next to
these are two small rooms, used as store-rooms. To the left are
the stable and the shed for the carts and trucks, whilst a small
door at the back of the dalar, opposite the entrance, leads to the
inner apartments or harem. These are for the most part ayvans, that
is, rooms which are open on one or two sides, and generally look
out upon a garden. In towns they are used as favourite summer
apartments, and it is really pleasant to live in them, especially
during the night, with a peshekhane, a square tent made of gauze,
like mosquito-nets, over one's bed, as a protection against catching
cold, which is as dangerous in Central Asia as it is in Persia. In
the country the dwellings are scattered. The farmstead (havli),
which consists of several different parts, is always surrounded with
a high wall for protection, and looks like a small fortress. The
interior is very roomy; on one side are the buildings, always lower
than the wall, on the other the tents, the fixed dwellings being set
apart here also exclusively for animals and store-rooms. Sometimes
the inner space is so large that a small kitchen-garden has found
room within it. Outside, but near the walls, is a large reservoir,
the edges of which are bordered with plantains, and afford a most
agreeable resting-place. These trees flourish admirably in this part
of Asia, where they are found of an astonishing height and breadth,
and reach the great age of from 300 to 400 years. On hot summer days
they afford the most refreshing shade, and for hours the Œzbeg
is seen sleeping beneath the spreading branches. Not only does the
thick foliage protect him from the burning rays, but the breeze,
which always blows under the plantains, drives away tormenting

The furnitures of a house are the same as in Persia, and consist of
carpets, coverlets of felt, large chests, painted red, for keeping
clothes, some cauldrons and other vessels for cooking, and holding
water. Splendour or luxury are entirely wanting, and even the modern
improvements in windows and doors, met with sometimes, come from
Persia, from whence some clever and expert slave has introduced
them into Central Asia. Nothing can find its way here from Europe,
it has always to pass through the channel of Turkish and Persian
civilization, And everything travels its customary snail's pace; the
Persian imitates European institutions second hand from the Turks,
and the nations in Central Asia adopt nothing but what reaches them
through the medium of Persia.

The _food_ of the Tartars consists principally of meat. Bread, in
many parts of the country, although not unknown, is yet a rare
luxury. Mutton is the favourite meat; next to this goat's flesh,
beef, and horse flesh; camel's flesh is least valued. Occasionally,
the horse is declared to be "mekruh" by the religious, and is not
eaten, but in the country little notice is taken of it; and the
_Torama_, horse flesh boiled soft and mixed up with onions, carrots
and dumplings, is a very popular dish. It is worthy of remark, that
the water first used in boiling the horse flesh is poured away,
as far too strong and heavy for even Tartar digestion, and that
only the second infusion can be eaten as broth. In some parts of
Central Asia sausages are made of the entrails, and considered a
dainty dish; but I have nowhere found, that the delicate parts of
this animal are held in such high favour among the Œzbegs as is
asserted throughout Persia. Camel's flesh is hard and tough; it is
cut in small pieces, covered with paste, boiled, and then fried in
lard. This dish, called _Somsa_, is not quite tasteless, but to our
digestions like a weight of lead.

The favourite national dish is the _Palau_, also called ash, which,
though related to the pilau of the Persians and the pilaf of the
Turks, by far surpasses both these in savour. I have lived on it for
a long time, and willingly impart to Europeans my knowledge of how
it is prepared. A few spoonfuls of fat are melted (in Central Asia
the fat of the tail is usually taken) in a vessel, and as soon as
it is quite hot, the meat, cut up into small pieces, is thrown in.
When these are in part fried, water is poured upon it to the depth
of about three fingers, and it is left slowly boiling until the meat
is soft; pepper and thinly-sliced carrots are then added, and on the
top of these ingredients is put a layer of rice, after it has been
freed from its mucilaginous parts. Some more water is added, and
as soon as it has been absorbed by the rice the fire is lessened,
and the pot, well-closed, is left over the red-hot coals, until the
rice, meat and carrots, are thoroughly cooked in the steam.

After half an hour the lid is opened, and the food served in
such a way that the different layers lie separately in the dish,
first the rice, floating in fat, then the carrots and the meat at
the top, with which the meal is begun. This dish is excellent,
and indispensable alike on the royal table and in the hut of the
poorest. From here it was introduced among the Afghans; by them to
the Persians, who call it kabuli (kabul). The pilau, if I am not
mistaken, has its origin in Central Asia, and spread from thence far
and wide over Western Asia.

Another national dish of the Tartars is _Tchörek_, a soup with small
dumplings in it, which are filled with spice and minced meat. I say
"a soup," and yet this dish alone suffices for a whole dinner, since
it is partaken of in such quantities that any other dish can be
easily dispensed with. It is known among the Osmanlis, by the name
of tatar börek. Thirdly, _Sheöle_, a porridge of rice mixed up with
meat and dried meat. Fourthly, bulamuk, a dish consisting simply of
flour, water and fat. Fifthly, _Mestava_, rice boiled in sour milk,
a dish exclusively for the summer, as the former is for the winter.
Besides these dishes there are the _Yarma_, corn bruised and boiled
in milk; _Godje_, a kind of porridge, made of the molcussorghum;
and _Mashava_, likewise a porridge of grits, eaten with fat, and
sometimes with oil. Heavy, strong and piquant dishes are generally
preferred, few sweets are eaten, sugar and honey being unknown,
and the many syrups (shires) prepared of grapes, melons, and other
fruits, are rarely used in cooking. Of bread only enough for the
day's consumption is baked, as is the custom everywhere in Asia. The
dough is not made into thin cakes, as in Persia, but into round
thick loaves, such as are used in the neighbourhood of Erzerum, and
are called lavash. There is also a sort of biscuit baked in fat,
eaten when travelling.

Among the settled nations of Central Asia, tea is the favourite
drink, and among the nomads, especially the Kirghis tribe, it is
the _Kümis_. In summer they drink green tea, which thins the blood
and promotes digestion; but in winter a black tea (brick tea) of a
very harsh taste and an extraordinary stimulant; its effects are
for a long time unbearable, and must be very dangerous. Cooling
drinks are the _Airan_, sour milk mixed with water, and various
decoctions made of dried fruit. Coffee is entirely unknown; even in
Persia it is only met with in the southern province of Fars, and in
Irak among the higher classes. Wine and brandy are sometimes sold
secretly in the capitals, by Jews who manufacture both, but the
number of consumers is very small. The Islamitic laws are severe on
this point, and forbid, under pain of death, the use of spirituous
liquors, but they do not prevent the vice of intoxication. Those who
wish for stimulants use opium, teriak, or other narcotic poisons,
and thus, in order to obviate a small evil, the door is opened to a
much larger one, the gratification of which costs health and life.

The wretched poverty among the inhabitants of Central Asia is shown
in nothing more strongly than in their _dress_, and the eye is with
difficulty accustomed to the simple cotton stuff, or silks of
glaring colours, in which every one is clothed, man and woman, young
and old. Cloth or other European manufactures are only exhibited on
extraordinary festive occasions, and are worn by wealthy or great
dignitaries, as a _ne plus ultra_ of luxury. At any other time,
whether winter or summer, a garment, the so-called _Aladja_, is
worn, and the only difference made in the various seasons is, that
they put in a thicker lining, of either linen, wool, or fur. The
cut of it is, perhaps, the most primitive among all the settled
nations of Asia. No one has any idea of dressing tastefully and
yet conveniently, or of setting off their figure to advantage, the
only object is to cover or rather envelope it, and the Persian is
perfectly right when he satirically says of his rude neighbours,
that the whole nation moves about wrapt up in bed clothes. The
_Tchapan_ (upper coat) is the chief article of a man's wardrobe; it
is not unlike our European dressing gowns, and cut out in Khiva so
as to fit the body pretty well; in Bokhara it is already so large
that two people can envelop themselves in it, and in Khokand it is
widest of all. It is a highly ludicrous sight to see a man trot
along in this smock-frock-like garment, full of folds, and puffing
out at every part, and though I can well understand the many folds
round the chest, forming as they do a receptacle for a whole set of
cooking utensils, and all the necessaries for travelling, and food
to last at least for two days, yet it will always be a mystery to
me why the sleeves are twice as long as the arms, and what is the
advantage of tucking them up and making an enormous roll or puff on
the top of the arm. Under the tchapan is worn in summer a _Yektey_
(a thin under dress), and under this the shirt, which reaches down
to the ankles, and is distinguished from other shirts, worn in Asia,
by being open on the left shoulder instead of in front, very much
like a sack. At night the Turkestans have the strange habit, before
going to sleep, of drawing their arms out of their shirt sleeves,
and doubling themselves up. In winter an extra garment, _Tchekmen_,
of ample dimensions and made of coarse stuff, is added to this
costume. In some parts of the country, especially in Khiva, where
the cold is greater, thickly-wadded, clumsy trousers are worn. As
a covering for the head they wear in Khiva the telpek, a broad,
conical-shaped hat of fur, which is very heavy; throughout Bokhara
the turban is worn. It has a very picturesque appearance, with its
long loops hanging down on the left side, and the trim natty way in
which it is put on. In Khokand a small light cap used to be worn
until twenty years ago, not unlike our clergyman's scapula (skull
cap,) but since then it has yielded to Bokhariot civilisation,
and has been supplanted by the turban. As to boots, those made in
Bokhara and Khokand are the best. The leather is good, the shape
rather handsome, but for the ludicrously long and thin heel, the end
of which is scarcely broader than a nail's head. People of rank wear
a kind of stocking made of morocco leather (mest), and over these,
shoes, of which the best are made in Samarkand.

With respect to the dress of the women, it seems as if they
were still more desirous than the men to avoid any approach to
ostentation, luxury or smartness. When in undress, the women wear
in summer a long shirt, reaching down to the ankles, the hind part
of which is made of coarse linen, and the front mostly of a light
coloured strong Russian print. The trousers are in like manner made
of linen down to the knee, and the lower part, which fits close to
the ankle, is made of print, or any other coloured stuff. The women
wear in winter, over the shirt, one or two thickly-wadded jackets,
fastened round the loins with a shawl. When abroad they put over
all this a long garment, not unlike a man's coat, in which the
woman muffles herself, holding it tightly together with both hands
across her chest. The feet are covered with clumsy boots. It is a
sorry sight to see a town woman of Central Asia walk about in this
wretched costume, with her whole attention engrossed by the effort
not to let the over-coat escape from her hands, since she would
be regarded as an impudent woman indeed, if she allowed her under
garments to be seen, and although the boldest stare cannot penetrate
the coarse veil of horse-hair, yet she has to be for ever on the
watch not to attract the looks of the passers by.

In the country, women are allowed to move with less restraint.
Married women are seldom veiled, young girls never. The overcoat
is shorter, and is merely thrown across the shoulder, and the
broad shawl girded round the waist, with long ends fluttering to
the breeze, gives a certain picturesqueness to their appearance.
This indulgence, however, is only enjoyed in Khiva and Khokand;
in Bokhara, even in the country, the tyrannical laws of Islamitic
civilisation are executed with great severity, and it is rare to
meet with an exception.

Among the men, various objects of ornament are seen, those which
hang from the _Koshbag_, such as good knives with silver or other
ornamented handles, gold-embroidered bags for tea, pepper and salt;
further, rings for the fingers, tesbih (rosaries,) seals sometimes,
but rarely, bracelets, gold and silver sheaths for amulets and
watches, which latter are especial articles of luxury, and only to
be found among the great. The objects of ornament among women I
have already mentioned when speaking of the customs at weddings. It
is useless to look for comfort or luxury either in the dwellings,
food, or clothing of the natives of Central Asia, every thing here
bears the impress of very ancient manners and customs, and every one
conforms to them willingly, not wishing for anything better. The
government, supported by the Mollahs, labours to keep up this status
quo of things, by declaring all foreign productions contraband,
and endeavouring to supplant them in the market, for fear the
inhabitants of Turkestan might become aware of their poverty, and
attribute it, not to the natural, but to the social circumstances
of their country. And yet such an endeavour is fruitless, railroads
and steam vessels bring their powerful veto, even in these rude
countries, to bear upon a whole nation's backwardness. The ships
which plough the Indian Ocean, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the
Lake of Aral, the Volga, and, at the present time, the Yaxartes
likewise, have considerably lessened the distance between Central
Asia and the west of Europe. The locomotives, which on the south run
as far as Lahore, on the north to Nishnei-Novgorod, and astonish
and perplex the eastern nations, are still, it is true, far from
the inland waters of the Oxus and Yaxartes; yet, nevertheless, they
exercise a considerable influence upon the communication of these
countries. The Œzbeg trader need only go as far as Orenburg on
the one, and Peshawur on the other side, and he has St. Petersburg,
Bombay, and the whole of Europe before him. Inaccessible as Central
Asia still is to all scientific, as well as commercial travellers,
yet within the last twenty-five years an essential material
advancement is apparent. We need only look over the custom-house
list of the English and Russian frontier towns, and we should be
surprised at the enormous increase of articles imported from Europe.
From 1840 to 1850 goods were transported across the Russian frontier
of nearly a million pounds sterling in value, and in the year 1860
they amounted already to the value of two millions. Cotton and silk
stuffs have been more largely imported than any other goods, and
in spite of the detestation and horror felt towards the producer,
the productions of the west grow more and more in request, and are
well paid for. Cottons, handkerchiefs and cambrics, as is well
known, are the great forerunners of civilisation, the mute apostles
of western culture, who spread blessings in their path, even though
European arms and military tactics occasionally accompany their
footsteps. And, however much the condition of half savage nations
may be extolled for its happiness by foolish and weak-brained
enthusiasts, yet a practical observer must feel convinced that our
civilisation is preferable, and that it is a sacred duty on our part
to transplant it to every clime and country.



The young Mollah from Kungrat, who had joined our caravan in order
to reach Samarkand, was planning to go and take leave of his native
town and kindred whilst we were staying at Khiva; and great was his
joy when he learned that I was desirous of accompanying him thither,
partly from a wish to make a begging tour and collect all I could,
and partly for the sake of escaping the uncomfortable crowding in
hot, sultry Khiva. In his delight he promised me mountains of gold,
describing everything in the most glowing colours, to sustain me in
my resolve. I needed, however, no urging, too glad to meet with such
an opportunity; and two days after I was actually on my way to Yengi
Urgendj, from whence I hoped to reach the Oxus, where a half-laden
vessel was ready to take us on board for a moderate fare.

The journey from Khiva to Kungrat is chiefly made by water in the
summer, and down the river at high water it never lasts longer than
five days; that is, during the very heat of summer, when the river
has reached its greatest height, owing to the melting of the snow
on the Hindukush and the tops of the Bedakhshan mountains. In the
autumn and spring, at low water, the voyage lasts longer, and in
winter it is entirely interrupted, the Oxus being in many parts,
although not wholly, covered with ice.

The traveller can take ship, if so inclined, from the very walls
of Khiva, that is, on the canal Hazreti Pehlivan, but not without
making a great _détour_, since its mouth is to the south, near
Hezaresp, instead of being to the north. The same objection applies
to the second canal, Gazavat, which is at a considerable distance
from the town, and flows rather eastward than northward. For this
reason the traveller prefers to go to Yengi Urgendj, the first
manufacturing and commercial city in the Khanat, and then on to
Akhun Baba, the tomb of a saint, with a few scattered havlis
(farmsteads) near it, which is situated on the banks of the Oxus,
and is the first stage on the road. The distance is about eighteen
English miles, in a well cultivated and tolerably populous district,
the road leading through fields, gardens and meadows. Here are
found the finest mulberry trees in the greatest abundance, and
consequently the cultivation of silk is extremely flourishing; in
fact, this part of the country justly deserves to be called one of
the most beautiful in the whole Khanat.

The heat was so fierce and intolerable on the banks of the Oxus,
that I could not help expressing some uneasiness to the boatmen, but
they comforted me by saying, that down stream this evil would be
remedied, by putting up a _Peshekhane_ (mosquito net), which would
not be in their way, the boat being steered only at either end.
The mosquito net was at once put up; it had the shape of a canopy,
and was to protect us in the day time from the sun, at night from
the dangerous mosquitoes; and the necessary fatiha (blessings) on
starting having been pronounced, we pushed off in company of four
boatmen and two other passengers.

The voyage was at first very monotonous. The two men, one at the
upper end and one at the lower end of the boat, kept steering it to
those parts of the river where the water was yellowish and turbid,
the current being here the strongest, as they explained to us. The
rudders consisted of long poles, flattened at the end, and the two
steersmen generally remained seated down at their work, unless
special care and attention were required. They were relieved about
every two hours, when, less fatigued by their labour than scorched
by the sun, they would join us in our sheltered retreat, stretch
themselves out at full length, to our great annoyance, and soon be
heard snoring in chorus, until they had to return to their task. Of
our two fellow-travellers, happily only one was very loquacious;
and whenever my Tartar friend explained to me this or that point of
interest, he would interrupt him with his copious emendations, and
thus satisfy my curiosity by a full and detailed commentary.

The banks of the Oxus present few features especially worthy of
interest, although far more than Boutenieff notices in his travels,
who, in his mission in 1858, took the same route from Kungrat to
Yengi Urgendj, up stream. On the right bank, opposite the place
where we embarked, is seen the great ruin, Shahbaz Veli (the sacred
hero), which is said to have been a strong fortress in ancient
times, and which was destroyed by the Kalmucks. In the history of
Khiva these people are regarded as the great destroyers of the
Khanat; and although it is true that at the time of their invasion
under Djengiz, the then flourishing Kharezm suffered terribly at
their hands, yet it is an exaggeration to assert, as tradition
does, that all the ruins are the sole work of their lust for
devastation. Farther on I met with another extensive ruin with the
remains of stone buildings, called Gaur Kaleszi (the fortress of
the Gaurs). Under the term "Gaur," I first understood the Gebers or
fire-worshippers, but soon I learned to my great astonishment, that
by this name are designated, throughout Central Asia, the Armenians
or rather the Nestorians, who possessed here large colonies,
extending from the Sea of Aral far into China, in pre-Islamitic
times down to the decline of the Mongol dominion.

On the right bank extends for more than three leagues, from the
above-mentioned ruins down to the water's edge, a somewhat dense
forest (togay), called Khitabegi. The trees are not particularly
high, but the sun is nevertheless unable to penetrate and dry up
the marshes fed by the Oxus. Only in very few places is the forest
inhabited, and that by the Karakalpak tribe, who rear cattle. The
left bank is the really inhabited part; here the chain of Havlis
is scarcely interrupted, and here and there villages of some size
are seen lying close to the water, such as the Œzbeg village
Tashkale, which is situated on a high bank, and the smaller village
of Vezir, near which the canal Kilidjbay discharges, or rather forms
a basin, previous to losing itself beyond Yilali in the sand.

To make tea, prepare palau, and either listen to or tell sacred
legends, was the alternate occupation of the day. Sometimes it
happened that all my companions, the steersmen alone excepted, fell
fast asleep, producing a pause, which was to me a most pleasant
change; and as I fixed my eyes upon the yellow, turbid waters of the
ancient Oxus, my imagination loved to revert to the clear mirror
of many a European river, whose waters are ploughed by hundreds
of ships, and whose verdant, smiling banks, are full of life and
activity. What a gigantic contrast!

The Oxus is the typical representative of the country it
traverses,--wild and unruly in its course, like the temperament of
the Central Asiatics. Its shallows are as little marked as the good
and bad qualities in the Turkoman; daily it makes for itself new
channels similar to the nomad, whose restless spirit, wearied of
staying long in one spot, is ever craving for novelty and change.

Early the second day we passed the town of Görlen at a short
distance from the shore. The proper landing place is a village near,
called Ishimdji, and opposite to it on the right bank is situated
the fort Rehimberdi Beg, which I mention merely because here begins
the mountain chain of Oveis Karayne, extending from south-east to
north.[12] At first sight it bears much resemblance, as well in
height as in its formation, to the Great Balkan in the desert,
between Khiva and Astrabad; but on a nearer approach its larger
circumference soon becomes apparent, and the luxuriant vegetation
and the woods with which several of its heights are clothed, present
a scene of agreeable surprise. On one of them is said to be the tomb
of Oveis Karayne, a celebrated place of pilgrimage in Khiva, and
in the distance we discovered several buildings, which Rehimberdi
Beg had erected for the convenience of the devotees. Further on is
the Munadjat daghi (mount of devotion), which is pointed out as
the resting place of a holy lady, called Amberene (Mother Ambra).
Holy women are not often met with in Sunnitic Islamism; there are,
however, a few of them in Central Asia, which may be taken as a
fresh proof that Islamism does not treat the fair sex with such
unnatural harshness as people in Europe are apt to imagine. As to
my lady Amberene, tradition tells us that, a Zuleikha in beauty,
a Fatima in virtue, she was hated and afterwards expelled by her
husband, solely because she professed the Mohammedan religion,
of which he was an arch-enemy. Driven from her princely abode in
Urgendj, she was obliged to take refuge in this wild spot, and
would have died of starvation but for a hind which appeared daily
at the entrance of her cave, waiting to be milked, and then again
disappeared. Who, in hearing this tale, is not reminded of the story
of Genoveva? The Parisians in those days were not better than the
Œzbegs of to-day; nor can we fail to be struck with the identity
that exists in fables of social and religious life, among nations
living widely separated from each other.

  [12] Oveis Karayne is the name of a faithful follower of Mohammed,
  who out of love to the Prophet had all his teeth knocked out, the
  latter having lost two of his front teeth in the battle at Ohud,
  through a blow from the enemy's weapon. After Mohammed's death he
  even intended to found an Order, with this self-mutilation as a
  condition of membership; but his efforts proved unsuccessful. The
  assertion, that he came to Khiva and died there, belongs rather to
  the region of fiction.

After leaving Görlen we went on for about four hours down stream,
and came to Yengï yap, an insignificant hamlet, surrounded by earth
walls, and about one hour and a half distant from the river. Two
hours later we reached the district of Khitayi, which begins where
the Yumalak, a conical hill, rises close to the left bank. On the
right the Oveis mountains approach nearer and nearer to the Oxus,
and soon we passed the prominent peak Yampuk, crowned with the ruins
of an old castle. Opposite Yumalak the mountain chain, Sheik Djeli,
which runs from east to west, forms a very narrow channel (here
called kisnak), much narrower than the Iron Gates on the Danube,
and often dangerous to navigation from the force and rapidity of
the current. The waters here roar, as if the Oxus, that unruly son
of the desert, were angry at being so imprisoned between the rocks.
The narrowest part is, however, very short; on the left bank the
mountains terminate abruptly, while on the right bank the high lands
gradually slope, and after having passed Tama, which lies on the
left, the country is everywhere flat. With the mountains disappeared
every romantic feature along the banks of the Oxus. After a voyage
of two days our eyes and imagination were fully satisfied, and
although the morning and evening hours had their charms, yet the
heat became intolerable in the day-time, and the mosquitoes and
flies at night--insects, in comparison with which the Golumbacz on
the Lower Danube are harmless and insignificant as butterflies. As
soon as the sun began to set, every one crept carefully under the
mosquito-net, made, of course, of linen, the air under which had
become so thoroughly poisoned by my fellow-travellers, that I felt
keenly not to be able to exchange it for the purer air outside.
Towards evening we reached the district of Mangit, which has a town
of the same name, about two hours' distance from the river, but not
visible from the boat on account of a small wood which intervenes.
Here we remained for some time moored along the bank, and having
comfortably cooked our dinner in the open air, instead of on the
narrow hearth in the boat, we continued our voyage. We reached
Basuyap, after another hour's journey, at night, much to the regret
of my friend, who had been anxious to pay a visit with me to a
very celebrated _Nogaï Ishan_, who resided there, in order to ask
his advice and blessing on the journey he had undertaken. These
_Nogaï_, who fled hither to escape the Russian authorities or the
conscription, are in Central Asia regarded as martyrs to freedom and
Islamism, and revered as such; but I have frequently met among them
the most consummate rascals, and thought that they had probably run
away from a fully merited chastisement.

Early in the morning we passed Kiptchak, which is the second stage
on the journey, and lies on both sides of the Oxus. At this place
a rock rises from the water, which, extending across the river,
narrows the channel by more than half its width, and renders the
navigation so extremely dangerous, that it is never attempted,
except at broad daylight. At low water some of the points are
visible, and it is no uncommon thing to see children, a foot deep in
water, clambering upon them.

Kiptchak itself is a place of considerable importance, inhabited by
an Œzbeg tribe of the same name, and possesses several mosques
and colleges. Of the latter, the college situated on the right
bank of the river was founded by Khodja Niaz, and is deservedly
celebrated for its rich endowments. Not far from this building,
which stands separately, is seen the ruin Tchilpik, on a hill rising
close to the water. Tradition asserts that in ancient times it was a
strong castle, and the residence of a Princess, who, having fallen
in love with one of her father's slaves, and dreading the anger of
her offended parent, fled hither for refuge with her lover. In order
to obtain water, they were obliged to pierce the hill downwards to
the river, and the subterranean passage exists at the present day.

From Kiptshak up the stream begins the forest already mentioned,
which extends with few interruptions along the right bank of the
river to some distance beyond Kungrat. I could not see from the boat
how far its breadth stretched eastward, but I have been assured that
it is from eight to ten hours' journey. Its approach from the river
is intercepted by bogs and morasses, which render it only in a few
places accessible. In the less thickly-wooded parts graze numberless
herds of cattle, the property of the Karakalpaks, who find abundance
of game in the forest, but sometimes suffer greatly from the
numerous wild beasts, especially panthers, tigers, and lions, which
infest that district. From here to Görlen the stream has so many
shallows, that we were incessantly striking aground. The left bank
rises to an elevated plateau, which extends far in a north-westerly
direction, and is called Yilankir (the field of serpents) by the
natives. On the western frontier of the desert it forms a declivity
as steep as the Kaflankir, or the whole table-land of Ustyurt. The
population of this region consists of Jomut-Turkomans and Tchaudors;
the former lead a nomadic life near the river, and in the country
round Porsu and Yilali; the latter inhabit the skirts of the desert
and the several oases of the Ustyurt. Both tribes, as may well
be imagined, live in constant feud with each other,--a condition
as much to their disadvantage, as it is to the advantage of the
Œzbegs, the immediate neighbourhood of a strong and united nomad
people proving always most dangerous to the dwellers in settled

On the evening of the third day we stopped at Khodja Ili,[13] a town
about two hours' distance from the river. Most of the inhabitants
derive their origin from Khodja, and they are not a little proud of
comparing their ancestry with that of the other Œzbegs. The whole
district is thickly populated, and the left bank forms as far as
Nöks[14] an uninterrupted chain of wood and cultivated land. Here
is one of the most dangerous places in the Oxus, a waterfall, which
at the time of our voyage rushed down from the height of three feet
with the swiftness of an arrow and with a tremendous noise, which
is heard at the distance of more than a league. The natives call
it Kazankitken, _i.e._, the spot where the cauldrons went to the
bottom, since a vessel laden with these utensils is said to have
been lost here. Full fifteen minutes before reaching the waterfall
the boats are brought close to the shore, and carefully towed along.
From here down the stream the river has formed by inundations very
considerable lakes, which communicate with one another by small
natural canals, which seldom dry up entirely. The largest are:
Kuyruklu Köl and Sari Tchöngül. The former is said to extend for
several days' journey far towards the north-east; the latter is
smaller in circumference, but much deeper.

  [13] Khodja Ili.--The people of the Khodja, or descendants of the
  prophets, a considerable number of whom inhabit this part of the
  country. They have as much a purely Œzbeg physiognomy, as the
  numerous Seids in Persia bear the stamp of an Iranic origin. The
  former, however, enjoy considerably more privileges.

  [14] In the map to my "Travels in Central Asia," Nöks has by mistake
  been confounded with Khodja Ili; the former also is full an hour
  farther from Kungrat than is there stated.

We passed Nöks on the fourth day. Even on the left bank we saw
cultivation gradually decreasing as we advanced; the river on both
sides is bordered with forests, and forms half-way to Kungrat a
broad and rather deep canal, called Ogüzkitken, which takes a
south-westerly direction and falls into the lake Shorkatchi. Efforts
have been made to cut off the latter from the large stream by
raising dykes, but in vain, and the immense extent of water renders
the navigation here exceedingly troublesome. The forest terminates
at the tomb of a saint, called Afakkhodja, and the district of
Kungrat begins, covered, as far as the eye can reach, with gardens,
fields and "havlis." The town itself did not become visible until
the evening of the fifth day, after we had passed the run of a
fortress built by the rebel Törebeg at the time of Mehemmed Emin,
and a whirlpool near it.

Our stay in this most northerly town of the Khanat of Khiva was
of very short duration, since my young companion, having lost his
parents a year before, was not long in taking leave of the relative
who dwelt here, and himself urged a speedy return. The town has
a far more miserable appearance than those in the south, and is
chiefly known for its large fairs, to which the nomads of the
neighbourhood resort, offering for sale large quantities of cattle,
butter, carpets of felt, camels' hair and wool. A brisk trade is
also carried on in fish, especially dried fish, which are brought
from the sea of Aral, and sent afterwards from here all over the
Khanat. I must mention as a very remarkable fact, that I met here
with two Russians, who had turned Mahometans, and lived in the full
enjoyment of a comfortable dwelling-house, a flourishing farmstead,
and a numerous family. They were prisoners of the Perowsky Army, and
received their liberty from Mehemmed Emin Khan, under the condition
that they would adopt Islamism. One of them has been presented with
a Persian slave: the dark-brown daughter of Iran and the fair-haired
son of the north live very happily together, and although the latter
has several times had the opportunity of returning to his native
home, he has not been able to form the resolution of quitting his
adopted fatherland on the banks of the Oxus.

In conclusion, I will state the scanty information I gathered here
about the further course of the Oxus from Kungrat to its embouchure
in the Sea of Aral. At two hours' distance from this town, going
down stream, the river divides into two great arms, which are little
distinguished from each other. The right one, which keeps the name
of Amu Derya, reaches the lake first, but in consequence of its
many ramifications it is too shallow, and at low water extremely
difficult to navigate. The left arm, which bears the name of Tarlik
(the strait)[15] is narrow, but of a certain depth throughout,
and is little used, simply on account of the great circuit it
makes on its way to the lake. The traffic on the Lower Oxus is
inconsiderable, and not to be compared with that which enlivens
the river between Tchihardjuy and Kungrat, where it forms the
principal commercial highway between Bokhara and Khiva. In autumn
it is chiefly fishing which takes the Œzbegs to the sea, and the
trade in dried sea-fish is in all three Khanats an important one.
It has become an almost indispensable article to the inhabitants
of the steppes, from their being too parsimonious to feed on meat,
in spite of their wealth in cattle, and therefore preferring, as
they do, dried fish as its substitute. In the spring, on the other
hand, it is the wild geese, large numbers of which are found around
the several mouths of the river, which tempt all those who are fond
of shooting to the shores of the Sea of Aral. At this season of the
year also most pilgrimages take place, undertaken by pious Œzbegs
to the tomb of Tokmak Baba, which is situated upon an island of the
same name, near these outlets. This saint is revered as the patron
of fishermen, and rests under a small mausoleum, in the inner cell
of which have been carefully preserved through remote ages his
clothes and cooking utensils, among which a cauldron is an object
of peculiar veneration. I was told, that even the Russians very
rarely land on this island, although access to it has been greatly
facilitated by steam-vessels, and that in case they do visit it,
they never touch these relics,--as if moved by involuntary feelings
of respect.

  [15] Not Taldyk, as Admiral Butakoff called it in his treatise,
  read on the 11th of March, 1867, before the Geographical Society in
  London, nor can I agree with him about the two extreme arms of the
  Delta, of which he calls the eastern Yenghi, and the western Laudan.
  It is possible that it may have been so formerly, in consequence of
  the frequent changes of the water-course; but at present this is
  no longer the case I learned from the most authentic source, that
  the name of Laudan is given only to the dry bed of the Oxus, which,
  beginning at Kiptchak, runs in a westerly direction past Köhne
  Urgendj. Butakoff designates the middle branch by the name of Ulkun,
  and here I must remark, that this word meaning "great," is always
  added to the name of the chief stream. Ulkun, more correctly Ulken,
  is consequently identical with my Amu Derya.

In surveying the whole course of this remarkable river, from
its source on the Ser-i-kul (beginning of the sea) down to its
embouchure, we perceive firstly, that it is not, as Burnes asserts,
navigable throughout its entire length, but on the contrary, that
only from Kerki, or rather from Tchihardjuy down stream can it be
used for large and small craft. Upwards from these towns we meet
nothing but rafts, carrying fuel and timber, in which the slopes of
the Bedakhshan mountains abound, and supplying the scantily wooded
plains, but seldom used by families emigrating to the Lower Oxus.
Between Hezaresp and Eltchig, a part of the river which forms one
stage on the way to Bokhara, larger boats already are used from
and to Khiva, which carry goods and victuals; but the greatest
traffic is undoubtedly on that part of the river, which flows in
the Khanat of Khiva, where the river, with its many towns along
its banks, affords a favourite and cheap means, up as well as down
stream, for the transport of large freight, and is used among the
poorer classes even for personal inter-communication. Secondly, it
appears to me (I abstain from making any assertion, not possessing
sufficient knowledge on the subject), that the Oxus has scarcely
the capabilities of becoming the powerful artery for traffic and
communication in Central Asia, which politicians, when speaking of
the future of Turkestan, confidently expect. It never can become
of the same importance as the Yaxartes, whose waters at this very
moment are ploughed by Russian steamers, a conjecture sufficiently
warranted by the fact, that the Russians entered Turkestan with
their flotilla of the Sea of Aral, not by the Oxus, but by the
Yaxartes, a river far less favourable to their plans of occupation.
It has been urged, that the uninhabited shores of this last-named
river are of greater importance to the Court of St. Petersburg;
but this is a worthless argument, and rests solely on our want of
geographical knowledge with respect to Central Asia.

With steamers on the Oxus, the Russians would not only have been
able to keep the Khanat of Khiva in check, to garrison the fortress
of Kungrat, Kiptshak and Hezaresp, but they would have had the power
of introducing with the greatest ease a strong _corps d'armée_
by Karakul into Bokhara, and thus into the very heart of Central
Asia, had not the extraordinary physical difficulties of this
route rendered such a scheme impracticable. Moreover, of this the
Russians themselves became sufficiently convinced, when making their
very first appearance in Central Asia. Apart from the waterfall
at Khodja Ili, the dangerous cliffs near Kiptchak and the Kisnak
near Yampuk, the Oxus offers perhaps the greatest difficulties to
navigation in its numerous sandbanks, which in some parts extend
for many miles, and at the same time undergo such rapid changes
in consequence of the large quantity of sand the stream carries
along with it, that it is quite impossible to take observations,
and even the most experienced steersman can do no more than guess
the navigable channel by the colour, but can never indicate it with
confidence or certainty. Thirdly, to regulate this stream, which
at the beginning of the spring, and during the latter part of the
autumn, is almost two-thirds smaller than in summer, would be of
the greatest disadvantage to the inhabitants, since its numerous
arms and canals not only are necessary for the cultivation of their
fields, but supply with drinking water even the most distant parts
of the country, to say nothing of the rapid current rendering such
an undertaking extremely difficult. If the Khan of Khiva wanted to
declare war against some rebellious part of his country, he would
first of all cut off the canals and aqueducts, a stroke of policy
which would be felt most severely; and a government, which were to
shut the sluices in order to increase the water in the bed of the
Oxus, would commit an act equivalent to a declaration of hostilities
against the whole country at once.

Not only has the Oxus extremely rapid currents, but it continually
deviates from its original channel. These deviations in the lower
part of the river begin after its bend near Hezaresp, and are far
more numerous than is generally supposed. Upon enquiring of the
inhabitants about them, they reckoned up more than eight on each
side, and although they may have included in this estimate former
canals, nevertheless its irregularity must be admitted. Taking this
view, there is very little difficulty in agreeing with Sir Henry
Rawlinson, who founded his assertion on a very valuable Persian
manuscript, that in former times the Sea of Aral had no existence

The journey from Kungrat to Khiva is generally made by land, since
it requires from eighteen to twenty days up stream. The transport
of freight is made by water. There are three roads by land; 1,
by Köhne Urgends, which is called the summer route, and avoids
the lakes, outlets and arms of the Oxus, which at that season of
the year are full to overflowing. This route is the longest, 56
farsakh[16] in length; 2, by Khodja Ili, a distance of 40 farsakh,
which the traveller prefers in the winter, all the waters being
frozen; and 3, the road on the right bank of the Oxus by Shurakhan,
which makes several _détours_, and runs through a great many

  [16] Farsakh (_i. e._, παρασάγγης), a Persian league, about
  18,000 feet in length.

Our return journey had to be made with all possible speed, but
nevertheless we were obliged to take the long road by Köhne Urgendj.
We had the good fortune to join a party of travellers, of whom some
were going to Köhne Urgendj, others to Khiva. All were capitally
mounted, and even the horses placed at our disposal "lillah" (out of
pious benevolence) were young, vigorous animals, and, as we carried
no luggage except a few biscuits with a small store of provisions
for our journey, we rode briskly along in spite of the heat, which
even in the early morning made itself felt. Leaving the gate of
the town behind us, we rode across the well-cultivated district
of Kungrat, keeping always a north-westerly direction, and then
crossing a barren tract of country, came to a large stagnant water,
called _Atyolu_, which is marked out as the first stage, and is 7
farsakh long. A bridge leads over a narrow part of it, and here the
road diverges in two parts, the one of which skirts a low mountain,
called Kazak Orge, and, crossing the great plateau of Ustyurt, goes
to Orenburg; the other leads to Köhne Urgendj. We took the latter
route, and passing through forests and sandy tracts, now and then
came in sight of some ruin on either side of the road, of which
two were pointed out as being worthy of notice;--Karagömbez (black
dome), near which a salt is found as clear and white as crystal,
and the finest in the Khanat, and Barsakilmez (he who goes does not
return), a dangerous spot, inhabited even at the present day by evil
spirits, and where many, who went there from curiosity, have lost
their lives.

After a long ride of five hours we reached the second station,
called _Kabilbeg Havli_. It is an isolated farmstead, but, in
accordance with an old custom of the proprietors, we were received
and treated with great hospitality, and remembering that we had the
prospect of a long ride of eight hours from here to the next stage,
_Kiziltchagalan_, our kind host had not forgotten to provide us at
breakfast with meat and bread. It was still dark when we started.
Our companions were examining their weapons with the utmost care,
which made me fear that we might perhaps have to pass some hostile
tribe of the Turkomans; but they removed my uneasiness on this
point, cautioning me at the same time that we should have to travel
the whole day long in a thick forest, in which there were many
lions, panthers and wild boars, which sometimes have been known to
attack the traveller. They added, that although they never reached
the place of danger till broad daylight, yet they invariably moved
forward with the greatest circumspection, and, above all put great
confidence in their horses, which no sooner prick up their ears, or
begin to snort, than each and all seize their weapons. It is well
known that lions and panthers in a climate like that of Central Asia
are far less dangerous than their brethren in India and Africa, and
therefore I did not share the fears of my young Tartar companion;
on the contrary, I rather longed for adventure and the excitement
of the chase. The Œzbeg, however, like a true Asiatic, possesses
an excitable imagination; there was neither trace nor sound to
indicate that we were near the abode of the king of animals, and we
saw nothing but some herds of wild boars, who with a loud crash made
their way through the thick underwood, and an immense, nay, fabulous
number of Guinea-fowl and pheasants, of which we made rich spoil for
our evening halt. These birds are in this part of the country of a
much finer flavour than in Mazendran, the Œzbegs also understand
far better than the Persians to dress and cook them. Emerging
from the forest, we soon came in sight of the fortified place
Kiziltshagalan, which is inhabited by Œzbegs. We arrived there
in good time, and the following morning continued our road across a
district inhabited by Yomuts.

Köhne Urgendj is considered the fourth station, although the journey
thither does not occupy above three hours. This ancient metropolis
of far-famed Kharezm, in Central Asia, is the poorest of all those
cities in Asia which have shared the same fate, and however much
its former splendour is extolled in word and writing, I could not
help feeling at the sight of its still existing ruins, that it had
been the centre of no higher than Tartar civilisation. The town of
the present day is small, dirty and insignificant, although it must
have been much larger in former times, to judge from the ruins that
lie scattered outside the wall. These ruins are not older than the
Islamitic era, and date from the reign of Shahi Kharezmian, an epoch
of a higher culture. The most remarkable object here is the mosque
of Törebeg Khanim (not Khan), of which I have already made mention
in my "Travels," and which is larger and more splendid than Hazreti
Pehlivan. The latter, nevertheless, has been considered hitherto
the finest monument in Khiva, and it must be admitted that with its
works in Kashi (glazed tiles), in which throughout the yellow colour
predominates, it is not inferior to any architectural monument
of the same kind in Turkestan. Further is seen the mausoleums of
Sheikh Sheref with a high azure dome, of Piriyar, the father of the
very celebrated Pehlivan, and of Sheikh Nedshm ed-din Kübera. The
latter has of late been restored from decay by the liberality of
Mehemmed Emin Khan. I was told that there are in the neighbourhood
several towers and walls built of stone, such as Puldshoydu (money
destroyed) which is distant three hours' journey. Whenever a storm
ploughs up the sand-hills there, coins and vessels of gold and
silver are discovered, and people who take the trouble of sifting
the sand, find frequently their labour amply requited. There is
also the Aysanem, or double kiosk of Aysanem and Shahsanem, the
famous pair of lovers, whose romantic fate forms the subject of a
collection of songs frequently sung by the native minstrels. The
name appears to be a stereotyped name for any two isolated ruins,
since there are Shahsanems to be found in other parts of Khiva and
Bokhara, as well as in the neighbourhood of Herat, and everywhere
the same legends are recorded of them with few variations.

At Köhne Urgendj the road divides, both branches running at a small
distance from each other. The one less frequented runs by Porsu
and Yilali, and is taken by people who travel in large parties;
the proximity of the marauding tribes of the Tshaudors and Yomut
Turkomans, rendering the road, at least as far as Tashhauz,
very insecure. The second road, nearer the Oxus, runs with few
interruptions along its banks, a tract of country strewn with
farmsteads (Havlis), villages and hamlets. This road is generally
taken in summer, although it is the longer of the two, and also
more troublesome on account of the many ditches and canals for
irrigation. Whereas, a caravan must keep together as far as Tashhauz
on the former road, travellers on the latter may part company as
early as at Kiptchak, and each continue his way separately.



I cannot conceive it possible to imagine a greater contrast than an
Asiatic, and more particularly a Central Asiatic, who, as late as
two years ago, wrapt in his national garb of ample width, hanging
about him in loose folds, was feeding on the simple and primitive
fare of a nomadic people, and who, at the present moment, booted
and spurred, moves about in the closely-fitting costume of the
Hungarians, and is already accustomed to the food and manners of
the West; one, who, destined to lead the life of a Mollah, once
spent his time in the lonely cell of the Medresse Mehemmed Emin at
Khiva, absorbed either in prayer or in the doctrines of Islamism,
and who is now seen turning over the large folios in the library
of a European academy, acquainted with books on philosophy, or the
history of the world and religion, Greek and Latin literature, and
numberless authors besides; who scarcely ever had heard the name
of Europe, or had heard it mentioned only in terms of the utmost
abhorrence; who knew no other institutions, no other phases or
aspects of men and things, but those in his own wild Eastern world,
and recognised these alone as true and reasonable;--and who now is
reading the leading articles of European newspapers, discussing the
different politics of Western countries, and unhesitatingly making
the boldest comparisons between the Eastern and Western hemispheres.

These are certainly clear and sharply-defined contrasts, and such
contrasts my friend the Mollah exhibits "_in propriâ personâ_,"--the
Hadji whom I brought with me from Central Asia, whom I met with
whilst on his way to Mekka, who became my companion and associate,
and who, instead of the holiest of holy cities, now lives with me
in the metropolis of Hungary. How I succeeded in inducing him to
form this resolution has been to many a matter of the liveliest
curiosity to know; nor were their enquiries less eager as to the
impression made upon him by my metamorphosis from the pious dervish
into the European traveller. One fundamental error ran through all
these enquiries,--namely, the strange belief that my change had
been as sudden as that of the chrysalis to the butterfly. It was,
on the contrary, extremely gradual, and its various phases are the
more interesting, since they illustrate in a striking manner the
difference between Eastern and Western life. The history of my
transformation, in fact, deserves to be given in detail.

I first met my Tartar, as I mentioned before, in Khiva. A Mollah,
young and animated with a desire for travelling, he was in search of
a companion on his journey to Mekka, and in the full belief to find
in me a Turk and a Mohamedan, the most suitable fellow-traveller,
he at once attached himself to me with the utmost ardour and
devotion. During the early part of our acquaintance he saw in me
merely the learned Mollah, the wild zealot, whom he approached with
the greatest veneration, listening most attentively to every word
that fell from my lips. Such was the relation that existed between
us throughout our journey to Bokhara, Samarkand, and Karshi, as far
as the banks of the Oxus. Here I became more confidential towards
him: occasionally I put off somewhat the disguise of my affected
sanctity; we grew more and more intimate by degrees; our slender
store of provisions was put into one common bag, and as he was
thoroughly honest and true-hearted, his sincere and loyal friendship
became a great support and comfort to me on my solitary and perilous
journey. Only slowly, and with difficulty, could he accustom himself
to a real and mutual intimacy; and on our begging expeditions he
would take upon himself, as his own undisputed task, to collect the
heavy contributions, such as wood, flour, &c., whilst he left to me
the less onerous business of collecting the pence. In the evening
he made it his duty to prepare the supper, and, after having served
the rice on a piece of rag or a board, it was always a matter of
conscience with him not to touch it until I had twice helped myself
with my hands. I do not know whether veneration or conscience
inspired him with this excessive respect, but, be the cause what it
may, he invariably shrank from placing himself in a position of
equality. Not wishing to spoil his pleasure, I therefore let him do
exactly as he pleased.

On our journey from the Oxus to Herat, my feigned devoutness visibly
decreased in exact proportion as the distance between me and fanatic
Bokhara kept increasing. Prayers, ablutions, pious meditations--all
became less frequent. My Tartar, no doubt, observed this, but it did
not seem to trouble him, and he accommodated himself ungrudgingly to
his master. His questions on religion were fewer, but he listened
instead with more eager attention to my descriptions and narratives
of the foreign land of the 'Frengi,' and the pictures I drew of
those marvellous countries of the West. Such lectures as these were
usually delivered during our night marches, when we were riding
alone in intimate converse, and at some distance from the caravan.
The pleasure I felt in being able to talk of my beloved West in a
barbarous country, surrounded as I was with dangers in so doing, was
not greater than my Tartar's astonishment when he heard that there
were towns more beautiful than Bokhara, and countries where it was
possible to travel without fear of robbers or of dying with thirst.
He was especially struck when I assured him that the 'Frengis,' so
far from being the savage, pitiless cannibals, such as they had
been represented to him, possessed heart and feeling, and that they
were infinitely superior to their reputed character in the East.
Under different circumstances he might have doubted the truth
of my assertions; but as I, the Efendi, his teacher and master,
assured him of these facts, he placed implicit belief in all I told
him. No wonder that I was pleased with his thirst for knowledge
and his loyalty, and that I in return became greatly attached to
my young Tartar. Moreover, he kept as much as possible aloof from
the other Central Asiatics, his countrymen, uniting himself more
closely to my society. As soon as I perceived--which I could not
fail to do before long--that something could be made of the young
man, I resolved not to let him leave me, but, if possible, to take
him with me to Europe. If such was my determination long before we
came to Herat, it was still further strengthened by the brilliant
proofs of his attachment and fidelity which he showed to me during
our residence in this town. Here, as is already known, my sufferings
and privations reached their climax. Totally without means, I had
not unfrequently to bear all the torments of hunger; and whenever,
at this advanced season of the year, the cold prevented my sleeping
during the night, it was my young Tartar who honestly shared with
me his poor thin rags, in order to procure for me a warmer covering
and a quiet sleep. During these six weeks that we spent in Herat we
suffered, indeed, greatly; but I tried to strengthen the courage
of my companion by assuring him that we should meet with certain
help in Persia. The idea that a pious Sunnite should fare well in
the heretical country of the Shiites, appeared to him sufficiently
droll; but the child-like innocence of his heart, and his unaffected
confidence in me, prevented his making any further conjectures. He
looked, like myself, with intense longing to the frontiers of Iran,
and the capital of Khorassan.

At last we arrived in Meshed. The hearty friendship of the English
officer here, and his kindness towards me as well as my companion,
were at first a great puzzle to my Tartar. He knew Dolmage was
a Frengi;--what strange thoughts must have crossed his mind, in
his astonishment at seeing me, the pious Mohamedan, his "chef
spirituel," sit for hours in the company of an unbeliever, talking
with him in a foreign language, nay, eating with him out of one
and the same dish. The servants of the English officer, and indeed
every one in the town, repeatedly declared to him their opinion that
his master was a Frengi in disguise. He shuddered at the thought,
and although he heard these suspicions with feelings of anger and
indignation, yet he never questioned me on this point, and his
firm faith in me remained unshaken. Moreover, his attachment to me
naturally increased, from finding in me at all times a friend and
protector, especially on our journey to Teheran, when, on account of
his Tartar costume, he had frequently to encounter the ill-will of
the vindictive Shiites. On my part, again, it was, I consider, no
small risk, to travel for a whole month alone with this man, to pass
whole nights alone with him in desolate spots. Let one single evil
thought arise in his heart, and it would have been an easy matter
for him to kill me during my noon-day slumbers on the open road,
and, carrying with him my horses, weapons and money, to escape into
the desert, northward to the Turkomans. But I never harboured any
such suspicion. Fully confiding in him, I entrusted to his charge my
musket, sword and horse; when tired and fatigued I stretched myself
out upon the sand and slept soundly and securely, whilst he acted
as sentinel; for at the very beginning of our acquaintance I had
discovered that he had a true heart, and I cannot say that I have
ever once been mistaken in this respect.

It was in Shahrud where he saw me for a second time embrace an
unbeliever. He was struck by it, and said: "My master, thou art
truly wise, in always associating with the Frengis; for these
Persians, although they believe in the Koran and in Mohammed,
are, by heaven! a hundred times worse than the unbelievers!" On
this occasion he expressed to me also, after having met a second
Englishman, his surprise at finding these Frengis, both "outwardly
and inwardly, such agreeable persons," and yet he found it difficult
to approach them. He would stare at them and scrutinize them for
hours, proving clearly that, although he had partly got rid of his
deeply-rooted prejudices, a certain degree of shyness and reserve
was still clinging to him.

During the latter part of our march towards the Persian capital,
my joyous feelings occasionally woke within me some long-forgotten
song or melody. I began first to whistle, and then to sing, popular
airs of certain operas. Whistling is not practised in the East, and
regarded as extremely frivolous and indecorous; nevertheless, he
was greatly pleased with the charming melodies from the Troubadour,
Lucia, and others. He asked me with great naïveté, whether in Mekka
people recited the Koran with these accompaniments, and was greatly
astonished when I replied in the negative.

It was at the post station of Ahuan for the first time he heard me
called by my European name. This name touched the tenderest fibres
of his heart, and no doubt he struggled long and painfully before
he found the courage to question me. I replied, that I would give
him an answer in Teheran, and this set him at rest for a time. On
my arrival in Teheran, I lodged with my old friends in the Turkish
embassy. The young Efendis, who represented the Sultan, were
fashionable European diplomatists, bearing the signs of Frengiism in
far stronger colours than myself. This lessened his suspicions; and
when I enlightened him on the modern civilization of his Sunnitic
brethren in the West, he gradually became aware of the immense gulf
between Stamboul and Bokhara. He was told of the continuous efforts
of the Osmanlis to assimilate themselves as much as possible to
the Western countries and their culture, and he could not help
following this example himself. If we take into account, that he saw
and heard nothing but what was good and excellent of the few Frengis
whom he had hitherto had the opportunity of knowing, it was natural
that his hatred and his prejudices should vanish day by day.

In Teheran he made the acquaintance of a countryman of mine, Mr.
Szántó, who frequently came to see me, and with whom he was soon
on terms of intimacy. Szántó told him with no small joy, that he
and his master (he meant me) were the only Magyars in Persia. The
Magyars, moreover, the philologizing tailor added, are the kindred
of the Osmanlis,--a statement the Tartar felt surprised at, but
which did not exactly disquiet him, our long intercourse and
friendship reconciling him to all he saw and heard. And seeing in me
more affection and kindness than in the genuine Turk, the trifling
difference as to nationality troubled him very little. He roved
about cheerfully in Teheran, making himself acquainted with the
manners and language of the Persians, and was extremely glad, when,
after a residence of several weeks, we were saddling our horses once
more for our journey to Constantinople.

Hitherto no other plan had been talked of, but that he was to
accompany me as far as Constantinople, and from thence go on to
Mekka by Alexandria. But soon I perceived that this original plan
no longer pleased him, and that he intended to do otherwise.
Our life in the Turkish embassy in Teheran, where everything was
arranged after the European manner, and our frequent intercourse
with other embassies, had shown him a part of Western life in a
very pleasant aspect, and awakened in him the desire to visit with
me these wonderful countries. Nor is it difficult to understand how
his original longing, to prostrate himself upon the grave of the
holy Prophet, receded more and more into the background. His sound
understanding was not long in penetrating this religious humbug;
and, having naturally a great love for adventure, he soon resolved,
instead of the illustrious Mekka, to go and visit Frengistan, a
country formerly thought of with dread and detestation.

I pretended not to observe what was passing in his mind, and putting
him on shore at Constantinople, I was about to take leave of him,
after having amply provided him with money. The young Tartar looked
at me fixedly with tears in his eyes, and in spite of the sight of
the proud minaret, in spite of the crowd of orthodox worshippers who
surrounded him here on every side, he felt constrained to say to me,
in a voice trembling with emotion, and interrupted by frequent sobs:
"Efendi, do not leave me here behind alone. Thou hast brought me
from Turkestan into this strange land: I know here no one but thee.
I follow thee, gladly, whithersoever thou goest!"--"What, wilt thou
come with me to Frengistan?" I asked him; "from thence it is very
far to Mekka; there are no mosques and public baths, no Mussulman
food; how wilt thou live there?" For a moment he seemed perplexed;
but after a brief silence he replied: "The Frengis are such good and
kind people; I should like to see their country; and afterwards I
will return to Stamboul." I required no more. Fully understanding
the character of my Central Asiatic friend, I embarked with him
once more on the shore of the Bosphorus, and in three days he was
already upon a steamer on the Danube, surrounded by Europeans, and
on his way to the not far distant capital of Hungary. On board the
steamer I found him often absorbed in thought. Not yet venturing to
taste European food, he gazed at everything around him with a shy
timidity, but gradually he grew accustomed to the novelty of the
scene, and a few days later he promenaded the streets of Pesth in
Bokhara costume. During the first few days he could scarcely find
words, so full was he of amazement. Everything, indeed, appeared to
him like an enchantment. He admired all he saw, from the square-hewn
paving stones in the streets to the lofty buildings and towers;
and it can easily be imagined what singular, and at times comical,
remarks he made;--he, the son of the desert, in the midst of one
of the first cities in Europe. He was much struck with the quick
walking of people in the streets, and the rapid movements of the
vehicles; but, above all, the women arrested his attention; and he
could not understand how the Frengi, clever and sensible people
as they are, could allow their women-folk to appear in public in
such clumsy and uncouth attire, and without any protection. In the
day time I often saw him standing by the telegraph wires, listening
to the sounds that passed along them. At night he would stare at
the gas lamps, full of curiosity to discover whether it was the
iron that was burning. At the hotel, the luxury and magnificence
that surrounded him filled him with astonishment. Judging of every
person he met by his dress, he regarded every one as some mighty
lord or potentate, and frequently exclaimed: "Oh! this is a happy
country! Here seems to be not a single poor man!" He soon grew
accustomed to the looks of curiosity that followed him wherever he
went. His former dread of the Frengi had entirely disappeared; he
had a pleasant face for every one, and frequently entered eagerly
into conversation with the first person he met, forgetting, in his
characteristic manner, that no one could understand him; and he
would go on talking to his heart's content, without being in the
least disturbed by the surprise exhibited by those he was thus

I should most gladly have taken him on with me to London, had I
not deemed it better for him to leave him for the while behind
in Hungary. A friend of mine, who lived in the country, received
him kindly into his house; and when, after a year's absence, I
returned from England, I was not a little surprised to find my
young Tartar dressed in the Hungarian costume, and, instead
of the turban, with his hair nicely curled and trimmed, with a
rather droll air and demeanour, and a certain stiff gravity in
his manner. He had learned the Hungarian language in a very short
time; he was everywhere liked and heartily welcomed, and when, for
the first time, I saw him smartly dressed, and with gloves on his
hands, talking most courteously and earnestly to a lady in her
drawing-room, I could scarcely refrain from laughter. Two years ago
a Mollah of a Medresse, he is now grown into half a dandy:--in truth
what cannot be made of an Oriental? Being able to write as well as
speak Hungarian, my friends kindly procured him an appointment as
assistant-librarian in the Academy, which position he fills at the
present moment. When I question him about his new life, and talk
to him of the difference between Eastern and Western manners and
habits, I find that his past life floats like a dream across his
mind, which he cherishes only as a distant reminiscence, but which
he would not on any account exchange for his present existence.
He rarely feels any longing for his native home, and he loves our
Western civilisation for the following reasons. In the first place,
he is particularly pleased with the perfect security that society
affords to the individual, and the absence of any arbitrary tyranny
on the part of the Government. In Central Asia a man's bare life is
not safe on the roads from robbers; in the towns he is threatened
with constant danger from the barbarous decrees of the authorities.
The frequent cruel executions, the desolating civil wars in his
country, have never struck him until now, when he has become aware
how thousands of persons come in daily contact with each other,
without quarrels, fighting, or bloodshed ensuing--all consequences
of frequent occurrence in his native country. Secondly, the comfort
which Europeans enjoy, at once benefits and captivates him. He finds
the house of a simple citizen better appointed than the palace of
his sovereign. The cleanliness in dress and food, the reciprocal
offices of kindness and courtesies of society, are magnets which
attract him and make him forget his rude and uncivilised home.
Thirdly, it is a special delight to him to find that the various
differences of religion and nationality are scarcely ever felt here,
whilst in the East they form the strongest barriers between man and
man. With him at home the mere notion of visiting the country of the
Frengi would have been certain death, and now he lives in the very
heart of their land, not only without encountering hostility, but
actually received with cordiality and affection.

With regard to his feelings on Islamism, his own speculations had
already in some degree enlightened him. He observed that the nearer
he approached the West, the more Mahometan fanaticism decreased,
and as he, in proportion with its decrease, drew nearer and nearer
to humanity and order, he could not help suspecting very soon that
Islamism, or at least the Islamism he knew and confessed, was the
declared enemy of civilisation and refinement of life, such as he
met with in Europe. He has never yet uttered a word of aversion or
reproach when referring to the doctrines of the Arabian prophet,
but his subtle and speculative theories sufficiently indicate that
a strong revolution has been wrought within him. Without wishing to
assign the cause of this great contrast between the East and the
West solely to the influence of Christianity, he has, nevertheless,
arrived so far in his conclusions as to comprehend that our western
culture and mode of life are incompatible with the teachings of
Mahomet. He has never yet distinctly expressed to me his preference
of either one or the other religion, and it will probably be long
before he will venture to give expression to any thought of the
kind. His allusions and fragmentary remarks, however, prove that his
mind is occupied with questions of this nature, and that the great
struggle with himself has begun.

Such, indeed, is the history of every Mussulman, whether Tartar,
Arab, Persian, or Turk, as soon as he becomes thoroughly acquainted
with our western civilisation--a complete transformation but seldom
occurs. The highly important question, whether the civilisation of
the East or West is the better--whether the teaching of Christ or
of Mohammed is the true religion, will long remain undecided by
the nations of Asia;--nay, so long, I feel inclined to say, as the
rays of the sun produce with us a temperate, with them a burning,
heat; so long as distance separates the east and the west. Were it
possible to bring the doctrines of Christianity more into conformity
with their views, by setting aside those of the Incarnation and the
Trinity, and were these tenets, thus modified, put into the place
of the Koran, an opportunity might be presented of a small, but
only a very small, step in advance. I say advisedly a small step,
since Christianity, though sprung from an Eastern soil, has long
ago proved to be a plant which can only flourish in the West. And
who would deny that the Koran and Vedas, created as they are by
an Eastern mind and in the spirit of Eastern nations, are prized
and revered by them above everything besides? Their disappearance
would bring new and similar productions into existence. I venture
almost to assert that the Christian tenets would, after a time,
become transformed, on Eastern soil, into a sort of Koran or Vedas,
in order to be the typical embodiment of oriental sentiment, and
be recognised by orientals as their real and peculiar property.
Are not the Nestorians, Armenians, and other followers of the
Eastern Church, all disciples of Christianity? but as great as the
difference is between them and their co-religionists in Europe, so
little do they differ in their mode of thought, their feelings, and
views of life, from their Mohammedan fellow-countrymen in the East.



"Hadji! Thou hast, I am sure, seen many countries--tell me now,
is there another city in the world in which it is so agreeable to
reside as Bokhara?" Such was the inquiry with which I was frequently
greeted in the Tartar capital, even by men who had already several
times visited India, Persia, and Turkey. My answer upon these
occasions it is not of course difficult to divine. Questions of a
nature so delicate are an embarrassment to the traveller when he
is in Paris, London, or St. Petersburg, just as much as when he
is in Constantinople, Teheran, or Bokhara. One encounters egotism

Bokhara, the focus of Tartar civilization, possesses beyond a doubt
much to remind one of a capital, particularly when a man enters it
as a traveller, coming immediately from a journey of many weeks
through deserts and solitudes. As for the luxury of its dwellings,
its dresses, and manner of living, that hardly merits attention at
all when compared with what is to be seen in the cities of Western
Asia. Still it has its peculiarities, which prevent one wondering so
much that habit and partiality dispose the Bokhariot to be proud of
his native city.

The houses, built of mud and wood, present, with their crooked
paintless walls, a gloomier appearance than the dwellings of other
Mohammedan cities. On entering the court through the low gateway,
one fancies oneself in a fortress. On all the sides there are high
walls, which serve as a protection, not so much against thieves as
against the amatory oglings of intriguing neighbours. In Bokhara,
the most shameless sink of iniquity that I know in the East, a
glance even from a distance is regarded as dishonouring! The
number of the separate apartments varies with the fortune of the
proprietor. The more important part of them comprises the harem,
styled here Enderun (the inner penetralia), the smaller room for
guests, and the hall for receptions. This last is the most spacious,
as well as the most ornamented apartment in the house, and, like
the other rooms, has a double ceiling, with a space between used as
a store-room. The floor is paved with bricks and stones, and has
only carpets round the sides near the walls. Rectangular stones,
which have been hollowed out, are placed in a corner--a comfortable
contrivance enabling the owner to perform the holy ablutions in the
room itself. This custom is met with in no other Mohammedan country.
The walls have no particular decorations; those, however, which are
nearest to Mekka are painted with flowers, vases, and arabesques
of different kinds. The windows are mere openings, each with a pair
of shutters. Glass is seen nowhere, and few take the trouble to use
paper smeared with fat as a substitute. Articles of furniture, still
rarities throughout the East, are here scarcely known by name; but
this need not excite surprise, for often have I heard Orientals who
have visited Europe exclaim: "Is not that a stupid custom among the
Frengi, that they so crowd their handsome, spacious rooms with such
a heap of tables, sofas, chairs, and other things, that they have
hardly place left to seat themselves in any comfort!" Of course
meaning on the ground.

The expenditure upon the wardrobe is on a footing with the style of
each house and its arrangement. Cloth is rarely met with: it serves
for presents from the Khan to his officials of high rank. Different
qualities of the Aladja (cotton) are employed by all classes, from
king to dervish, for winter and summer. Although the Bokhariot
over-garment has the form of a night-dress extending down to the
ankles, still it is subject from time to time to little innovations
as to cut, sleeve, collar, and trimming, in accordance with the
fashion of the moment, which is as much respected in Bokhara as in
Paris. A dandy in the former city takes especial care to have his
turban folded according to the idea in force at the moment, as an
evidence of good taste. He sees particularly to his shawl, by which
he binds his trousers round the loins, and to his koshbag suspended
to that shawl. The koshbag is a piece of leather consisting of
several tongues, to which are fastened a knife or two, a small
tea-bag, a miswak (toothpick), and a leathern bag for copper money.
These articles constitute the indispensables of a Central Asiatic,
and by the quality and value of each is a judgment formed of the
character and breeding of the man.

Whoever may wish to see the _haute volée_, the fashionable world of
Bokhara, should post himself on a Friday, between ten and twelve
o'clock in the forenoon, in the street leading from Deri Rigistan
to the Mesdjidi Kelan, or great mosque. At this time the Ameer,
followed by his grandees, in great state, betakes himself to his
Friday's devotions. All are in their best attire, upon their
best horses; for these, with their splendid housings, serve as
substitutes for carriages. The large, stiff, silken garments of
staring colours are in striking contrast with the high and spurred
boots. But what produces a particularly comic effect is the loose
and waddling gait which all pedestrians studiously put on. Reftari
khiraman (the waddling or trotting step), which Oriental poets find
so graceful, comparing it to the swaying movement of the cypress
when agitated by the zephyrs, and whose attainment is the subject of
careful study in Persia as well as Bokhara, to us Europeans seems
like the gait of a fatted goose floundering on his way home. But
this is no subject for me to jest upon, for our stiff, rapid pace is
just as displeasing to an Oriental eye, and it would not be very
polite to mention the comparison they make use of with respect to us.

It does not excite less wonder on our part when we see the men in
Bokhara clad in wide garments of brilliant colour, whereas the women
wear only a dress that is tight to the shape, and of a dark hue. For
in this city, where the civilization has retained with the greatest
fidelity its antique stamp of Oriental Islamism, women, ever the
martyrs of Eastern legislation, come in for the worst share.

In Turkey the contact with Christian elements has already introduced
many innovations, and the Yaschmak (veil) is rather treated as
part of the toilette than as the ensign of slavery. In Persia the
women are tolerably well muffled up, still they wear the Tchakshur
(pantaloons and stockings in one piece) of brilliant colouring and
silken texture, and the Rubend (a linen veil with network for the
eyes) is ornamented with a clasp of gold. In Bokhara, on the other
hand, there is not a trace of tolerance. The women wear nothing that
deserves to be named full dress or ornament. When in the streets,
they draw a covering over their heads, and are seen clad in dark
gowns of deep blue, with the empty sleeves hanging suspended to
their backs, so that observed from behind, the fair ones of Bokhara
may be mistaken for clothes wandering about. From the head down to
the bosom they wear a veil made of horsehair, of a texture which we
in Europe would regard as too bad and coarse for a sieve, and the
friction of which upon cheek or nose must be anything but agreeable.
Their _chaussures_ consist of coarse heavy boots, in which their
little feet are fixed, enveloped in a mass of leather. Such a
costume is not in itself attractive; but even so attired, they dare
not be seen too often in the streets. Ladies of ranks and good
character never venture to show themselves in any public place or
bazaar. Shopping is left to the men; and whenever any extraordinary
emergency obliges a lady to leave the house and to pay visits, it is
regarded as _bon ton_ for her to assume every possible appearance of
decrepitude, poverty, and age.

To send forth a young lady in her eighteenth or twentieth year,
in all the superabundant energy of youth, supported upon a stick,
and thus muffled up, in the sole view that the assumption of the
characteristics of advanced life may spare her certain glances, may
be justly deemed the _ne plus ultra_ of tyranny and hypocrisy. These
erroneous notions of morality are to be met with, more or less,
everywhere in the East; but nowhere does one find such striking
examples of Oriental exaggeration as in that seat of ancient
Islamite civilization, Bokhara. In Constantinople, as well as other
cities of Turkey, there are certain Seir-yeri (promenades), where
ladies appear in public. In Teheran, Ispahan, and Shiraz, it is
the custom for the Hanims, _en grande toilette_, and mounted on
magnificent horses, to make excursions to the places of pilgrimage
situate in the environs of those cities. The tomb of the Said is the
place of rendezvous, and instead of prayers, reciprocal declarations
of love are not seldom made. In Bokhara, on the contrary, there
is not a shadow of all this. Never have I seen there a man in the
company of his wife. The husband slinks away from his other half, or
third, or fourth, as the case may be; and it is a notorious fact,
that when the wives of the Ameer pass by any place, all men are
expected to beat a hasty retreat. Under such circumstances it is
easy to see how society must constitute itself, and what shapes it
must assume. Where the two sexes are so separated, it can never put
on an appearance of gladness and geniality; all becomes compulsion
and hypocrisy; every genuine sentiment is crushed by these unnatural
laws which are imposed as God's ordinances, and as such expected to
be observed with the strictest obedience.

To study that part of their lives which is before the public eye,
we must first pay a visit to the tea-booths, which are the resorts
of all classes. The Bokhariot, and the remark applies indeed
universally to all Central Asiatics, can never pass by a second or
third tea-booth without entering, unless his affairs are very urgent
indeed. As I before mentioned, every man carries with him his little
bag of tea: of this, on his entry, he gives a certain portion to
the landlord, whose business is rather to deal in hot water than in
tea. During day-time, and particularly in public places, the only
tea drunk is green tea, which is served without sugar, and with the
accompaniment of a relish or two, consisting of little cakes made of
flour and mutton suet; for the making of these Bokhara is famous.
As any attempt to cool tea by blowing upon it, however urgent on
account of its heat some such process may be, is regarded as highly
indecorous--nay, as an unpardonable offence--the Central Asiatic is
wont to make it revolve for this purpose in the cup itself until the
temperature is tolerable. To pass for a man _comme il faut_, one
must support the right elbow in the left hand, and gracefully give
a circular movement to the cup; no drop must be spilt, for such an
awkwardness would much damage a reputation for _savoir faire_. The
Bokhariot can thus chatter away hours and hours, amidst his fellow
tea-drinkers; for the meaningless conversations that are maintained
weary him as little as the cup after cup of tea which he swallows.
It is known to a second how much time is required for each kind of
tea to draw. Every time the tea-pot is emptied, the tea-leaves that
have been used are passed round: etiquette forbids any one to take
more than he can hold between finger and thumb, for it is regarded
by connoisseurs as the greatest dainty.

They seek to find amusements of a higher kind in excursions to the
environs of the city. These are made sometimes to the tombs of the
saints; sometimes to the convents of certain Ishans (sheiks), in
the odour of sanctity; sometimes to the Tchiharbag Abdullah Khan,
situate near the Dervaze Imam. The visit to a Khanka, that is to a
dignitary of religion still instinct with life, is an act of more
importance and involving greater outlay than the pilgrimage to a
grave. The sainted men, whether departed or still living, have
equally their fixed days for levées and receptions. In the former
case the descendants of his Sanctity receive the tribute, in the
latter a man has the good fortune to have his purse emptied by the
holy hands themselves. On the occasion of these formal visits the
Ishans are tuned to a higher pitch than ordinary, and as the holy
eye distinguishes at once by the exterior of the visitor the amount
of the offering that is to be received, so does that measure serve
to fix with precision how long or how short the benediction is to
be cut. Scenes of this kind, in which I performed my part as a
spectator, or stood by, were always full of interest to me; and one,
over which I have had many a hearty laugh, has made an indelible
impression upon my mind. In the environs of Bokhara, I entered
the residence of a sheikh to ask for his blessing and a little
assistance in money. Upon the first point no difficulty was made,
but the second seemed to stagger him. At this moment a Turkoman was
announced as an applicant for a Fatiha. He was allowed to enter.
His holiness made his hocus-pocus with the greatest devotion. The
Turkoman sat there like an innocent lamb, and after being subjected
to the influences of the sanctifying breath, energetically
administered, he dived into his money-bag, from which he extracted
some pieces of coin, and, without counting them, transferred them
to the hand of him from whom he had received the benediction. I
noticed that the latter rubbed the money betwixt his fingers, and
was really astounded when he beckoned to me, and without once
looking at the number of pieces, handed them over to me in the
presence of the Turkoman. That was real liberality, the reader may
say. I thought so myself until coming to the bazaar and seeking to
make a purchase from a baker, one of the coins was rejected by him
as false. I tendered the others, and they were all pronounced to be
bad--valueless. The nomad, as crafty as he was superstitious, had
paid for the spurious ware with spurious money, and as his holiness
on his side had at once detected the cheat by the touch, he had no
scruple in making it over to me.

On the occasion of their excursions to the environs of the city,
persons of wealth are in the habit of taking with them their
tea-things, and a servant to prepare tea. Those who are not so
well off have recourse to establishments that are to be found at
these places of resort. Visitors evince just as much desire to
hide themselves, where possible, in the booths, as they do to
avoid encamping close to the road. As it is the approved custom to
invite every passer-by, be he of what rank he may, to take some
refreshment of food or drink, each host entertains an apprehension,
not unjustified by experience, lest those whom he accosts, not
content with returning for answer the ordinary word expressive
of gratitude--khosh (well)--may actually close at once with the
invitation. Still, not to give it is everywhere regarded as a
mean sin. Conditional acceptance only is usual in some places.
These rules of hospitality so exaggerated, and at the same time so
specious, operate oppressively and unpleasantly, both on him that
takes and him that gives; and the confounded, I might almost say the
aghast, air of the host who is taken at his word always produced
upon me the drollest effect.

The spectacle which these private parties of pleasure generally
afford is one of no great gladness, they rather seem to produce a
deadly-lively effect. The significant joke, the peal of laughter,
the loud cry are, it is true, none of them wanting on these
occasions; but where the crown of society, woman, is absent, all
is in vain, and never can life assume its real aspect of genuine

If I do not err, it is the Tchiharbag Abdullah Khan that still
preserves most of the characters of a public place of entertainment.
It is a spot well shaded by lofty trees; a canal flows through it,
to whose banks the pupils of the numerous colleges and the young
men belonging to the wealthier classes, resort generally on Friday
afternoons. The inevitable tea-kettle is here again in requisition,
and tea is the article for which the place is renowned; but not
the only one, for the combats of rams are here celebrated also.
The savageness with which these sturdy animals rush against each
other when irritated, the fearful shock of their two heads,
particularly when they struggle to push their antagonists back,
present a spectacle very attractive to the inhabitant, not only of
Bokhara, but of every part of Central Asia. What the bull-fight is
in Spain, and horse-racing in England, these combats of rams are
in Turkestan. The rams are trained to this sport, and it is really
surprising how these brutes support with obstinacy often as many as
one hundred charges. When they first make their appearance on the
avenue, the bystanders begin to wager as to the number of shocks
their chosen champion will support. Sometimes the weaker combatant
beats a retreat; but very often the battle only ends with the entire
discomfiture of one animal, consequent upon the cracking of his
skull. It is a cruel spectacle; still the cruelty does not seem so
great in the middle of Tartary as some of the sports in which so
many civilised nations of the West still find amusement.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let me now attempt to portray in the following slight sketch the
external mode of living in Bokhara. In the morning--I mean by the
term before sunrise, as by religious compulsion every man is an
early riser--one encounters people, half-asleep, and half-awake,
and half-dressed, hurrying one by one to the mosques: any delay in
arriving not only entails reproach, but is considered as meriting
punishment. The stir made by these devotees in running through
the streets rouses the houseless dogs from their lairs in the
out-of-the-way corners or upon the heaps of dung. These famished,
horrid-looking animals--yet contrasted with their Stambouli
brethren, presenting a princely appearance--are crying proofs of the
miserly nature of the Bokhariots. The poor creatures first struggle
to rear their gaunt frames, mere skin and bone, from sleep; then
they rub their rough, hairless carcases, against the mouldering
walls, and this toilette at an end, they start upon their hunt for
a _dejeûner à la fourchette_, for the most part made up of a few
fleshless bones or carrion, but very often of kicks in the ribs
administered by some compassionating and charitable inhabitant of
Bokhara. At the same time as the dogs, awake the hardly-better
lodged Parias of the Tartar capital--I mean the wretched men
afflicted with incurable and contagious skin diseases, who sit at
the corners of the streets _en famille_, and house in miserable
tents. In Persia they are met with, remote from cities and villages,
on the high roads; but here, owing to the absence of sanitary
regulations, they are tolerated in the middle of the city. Their
lot is far the most terrible to which any son of earth can have to
submit, and unhappily they are long livers too. Whilst the mother
is clothing her other accursed offspring with a scanty covering of
rags, the father seats himself with the most disfigured one amongst
them by the roadside, in order to solicit charity and alms from
those who pass. Charity and alms to prolong such an existence!

After the sun has looked long enough upon this miserable spectacle,
the city in all its parts begins slowly to assume animation. The
people return in crowds from the mosques; they are encountered
on their way by troops of asses laden with wood, corn, grass,
large pails of milk, and dishes of cream, pressing from all the
city gates, and forcing their way in varied confusion through the
narrow and crooked streets. Screams of alarm from the drivers, the
reciprocal cries issuing from those who buy and those who sell, mix
with that mighty hee-haw of the asses for which Bokhara is renowned.
To judge by the first impression, it might be supposed that the
different drivers would be obliged to fish out their wood from
milk, their grass from cream, charcoal from corn, silkworm-cocoons
from skimmed milk. But no, nothing is spilt, nothing thrown down;
the drivers are wont to flog each other through in right brotherly
fashion, till in the end all arrives in safety at its destination.

At an hour after sunrise the Bokhariot is already seated with his
cup of Schirtschaj (milk-tea): this beverage is composed of tea
made from bricks of tea in the form of Kynaster, and abundantly
flavoured with milk, cream, or mutton fat. This favourite drink of
the Tartars, in which large quantities of bread are broken, would be
more rightly described as a soup; and although the treat was highly
commended to me, I had great difficulty in getting accustomed to it.

After tea begins the day's work, and then one remarks particular
activity in the streets. Porters loaded with great bales hurry to
the bazaar. These goods belong to the retail dealers, who every
evening pack up their shop and transport it to their own house. And
then a long chain of two-humped camels that have no burdens are
being led into the Karavanserai, destined to convey the produce of
Central Asia in every direction. Here, again, stands a heavily-laden
caravan from Russia, accompanied on its way by the prying eyes of
the custom-house officials and their cohorts, for those long bales
contain valuable productions of the industry of the unbelievers,
and are destined accordingly to be doubly taxed. Merchants of
all religions and from all nations run after the caravan; the
newly-arrived wares find customers even before they are unpacked,
and at such moments Afghans, Persians, Tadjiks, and Hindoos, seem
to get more excited than is the case even with the heroes of the
Exchange in Paris, Vienna, or Frankfort-on-the-Maine. The Kirghis
camel-driver, fresh from the desert, is the quietest of all; he
is lost in astonishment, and knows not whether most to admire the
splendour of the mud huts, the colour of the dresses, or the crowds
swaying to and fro. But the greatest source of amusement to me was
to observe how the Bokhariot, in his quality of inhabitant of a
metropolis, jeers at these nomads; how he is constantly on the
alert to place the rudeness of the sons of the desert in relief by
contrasting it with his own refinement and civilisation. Whilst the
bazaar life, with all its alarm, tumult, shrieks, cries, hammering,
scolding, and knocking, is in full force, the youths greedy of
knowledge swarm about the numerous Medresse (colleges), there to
learn to extract from their useless studies lessons of a more
exalted kind of stupidity and a more grovelling hypocrisy.

The greatest interest attaches to the primary school posted in the
very centre of the bazaar, and often in the immediate neighbourhood
of between ten and fifteen coppersmiths' workshops. The sight of
this public school, in which a Mollah, surrounded by several rows of
children, gives his lessons in reading, in spite of the noise, is
really comical. That, in a place where sturdy arms are brandishing
hammers, hardly a single word is audible, we may readily suppose.
Teachers and pupils are as red in the face as turkey-cocks from
crying out, and yet nothing but the wild movement of the jaw and the
swelling of the veins indicate that they are studying.[17]

  [17] Schools thus placed in the middle of the bazaar are also met
  with in Persia: these are the cheapest schools for children, still
  it is incredible that the Orientals should suffer such a stupid
  practice to exist, and that they do not remove these establishments
  for instruction to some less disturbed situation.

In the afternoon (I speak here of summer-time, for of the winters
I have no personal experience), there is more tranquillity both
in bazaar and street. On the banks of the water reservoir and of
the canals, the true believers are engaged in performing the holy
ablutions. Whilst one man is washing his feet from their layer of
sweat and dirt, his neighbour uses the same water for his face, and
a third does not scruple to quench his thirst with it. Water that
consists of more than one hundred and twenty pints is, according
to the texts of Islam, blind; which means that filth and dirt lose
themselves therein, and the orthodox have the privilege to enjoy
every abomination as a thing pure in itself. After a service in the
mosques, all becomes again animated; it is the second summons to
work during the day, for a period by no means so long. The Mussulman
population soon begin their evening holiday, whilst Jews and Hindoos
still remain busy. The former, who are for the most part employed in
the handicraft of silk dyers, move stealthily and timidly through
the streets, their spirits broken by their long and heavy servitude;
the latter run about like men possessed, and their bold bearing
shows that their home is not far off, and the time not so remote
when they also had a government of their own.

It is now within three hours of sunset. The élite of society betake
themselves to the Khanka (convent), to enjoy a treat, semi-religious
and semi-literary. It consists in the public reading of the Mesnevi,
which is declaimed at that time of the day by an experienced reader
in the vestibule of the Khanka. This masterpiece of Oriental poesy
presents in its contemplations of terrestrial existence much
elevation of thought. Versification, language, metaphors, are, in
reality, full of charm and beauty; but the audience in Bokhara
are incapable of understanding it, and their enthusiasm is all
affectation. I often had seated at my side on these occasions a
man who, in his excitement, would emit deep-drawn sighs, and even
bellow like a bull. I was quite amazed; and when I afterwards
made enquiry as to his character, I heard that he was one of the
meanest of misers, the proprietor of many houses, yet ready to
make obeisance for even the smallest copper coin. No one is at all
inclined to adopt the sentiment he hears there as the rule of his
life, and still it is regarded as becoming to be deeply impressed
by the beauty of the expression. Every one knows that the sighs and
exclamation of his neighbour proceed from no genuine emotion, and
still all vie in these demonstrations of extraordinary feeling.

Even before the last beams of the setting sun have lost themselves
in the wide waste of sand on the west, the Tartar capital begins
to repose. As the coolness commences, the stifling clouds of dust
subside. Where canals or water-reservoirs are near at hand, they are
rendered available--the ground is watered and then swept. The men
seat themselves in the shade to wait for the Ezan (evening prayer);
that heard, an absolute stillness ensues, and soon all are seated
before the colossal dish of pilau, and after they have well loaded
their stomachs with this heavy and greasy meal, any desire they
may have felt to leave the house is quite extinguished. Two hours
after sunset all the thoroughfares are as silent as death. No echo
is heard in the darkness of the night but the heavy tread of the
night-watchman making his rounds. These men are charged to put in
force the strictest police regulations against thieves and seekers
of love adventures; they scruple not to arrest any man, however
honourable his position, if his foot crosses his threshold after the
beat of the tattoo has issued its order that all the world should

What in this mode of town life so pleases the Bokhariot--what makes
him give so marked a preference to his own capital--is not difficult
to divine. His mind has become familiarized with a simple mode of
living, in which, as yet, little luxury is to be found, and which,
in externals, admits not much perceptible distinction between
ranks and conditions of men. A universal acquiescence in the same
poverty, or to use a more appropriate expression, the absence of
different degrees of visible property, makes Bokhara, in the eye
of many Asiatics, a favourite residence. I once met a Persian in
Teheran who had been a slave in Bokhara fifteen years. And there,
in the middle of his fatherland, and surrounded by his relatives,
he sighed and pined for the Tartar capital. At the outset he was
delighted with the bazaars, filled with articles of European luxury;
he contemplated them with childish delight; but later he saw how
the wealthier alone made their purchases, and how all despised a
man like him, clad in a cotton dress, the costume of the poor. No
wonder his wish carried him again back to the spot where, at the
time unconscious of his happiness, he was permitted to share great
physical comfort, without a thorn in his eye or a pang in his heart.



    "Bokhara, mirevi divanei
     Laiki zen djiri zindankhanei."

     Thou wilt to Bokhara? O fool for thy pains,
     Thither thou goest, to be put into chains.


It has frequently been noticed by travellers in Central Asia, and
we have likewise remarked upon it, that Bokhara considers itself
the great pillar of Islamism, and the only pure fountain of the
Mohammedan religion. Nor is it the Bokhariots alone who take this
view, but all the rest of the Mohammedan world, in whatever region
or country, unite in looking up to and extolling the Turkestan
capital for possessing this exclusive privilege. The pilgrim from
Central Asia, whether travelling in Asia Minor, Arabia, or Egypt, is
received with marked veneration and respect, and is regarded as the
very embodiment of every Islamitic virtue. The western Mohammedan,
especially the Osmanli, deeply wounded by the innovations our
civilization has introduced into his native country, turns to his
kinsman and co-religionist from the far East, and gazing at him with
a look of extreme piety, finds comfort at the aspect of him, who
in his eyes still represents the religion of the Prophet, pure and
undefiled. Heaving a sigh, he exclaims: "Ha Bokharai Sherif!" (yes,
the noble Bokhara), which utterance is meant to express his whole

The difference that exists between Eastern and western Mohammedanism
in Asia is indeed a remarkable phenomenon, and deserves a closer
examination. Upon my asking the Mollahs in Bokhara how it happened
that they were better Mohammedans than the people in Mekka and
Medina, where Mohammed had actually lived and taught, they answered:
that "the torch, although sending its light into the far distance,
is always dark at the foot,"--Mekka being meant by the foot of the
torch, and Bokhara the far distance. In an allegorical sense this
may be correct, but Europeans are not silenced by similes of that
sort; and, since the fact deserves attention, we will endeavour
to ascertain, first--the essential points of the difference in
question; and, secondly--the causes for it. Upon examining in
detail the various points of contrast between Eastern and Western
Mohammedanism, the chief characteristic feature is, no doubt, the
wild fanatic obstinacy with which the Mussulman, in the far East,
clings to every single point of the Koran and the traditions,
looking with terror and aversion, in the true spirit of the
Oriental, upon any innovation; and, in a word, directing all his
efforts to the preservation of his religion at that precise standard
which marked its existence in the happy period (Vakti Seadet) of
the Prophet and the first califs. This standard, however, is not
sufficiently apparent, since Islamism, in those countries, has
assumed a form such as a few eccentric interpreters among the
Sunnites desire, but which, so far as our knowledge extends, _has
never existed in reality_.

Fanaticism, the chief cause of hypocrisy and impiety, has disfigured
every religion, so long as mankind, living in the infancy of
civilization, has been unable to perceive the pure light of the
true faith. All nations and all countries have given proof of its
existence, but nowhere does it appear in such glaring colours, or
wear such a disgusting aspect, as in the East. Here, religion,
in order to improve the mind, deals chiefly with the body; here,
in order to exercise moral influence, the devotee is occupied
with physical trifling, and, neglecting the inner man, as may be
supposed, every one strives for outward appearance and effect. In
Bokhara the principle reigns paramount: "Man must make a figure,--no
one cares for what he thinks." A man may be the greatest miscreant,
the most reprobate of human creatures; but let him fulfil the
outward duties of religion and he escapes all punishment in this as
well as in the next world.

The very popular prayer of the thief Abdurrahman (Duai-duzd
Abdurrahman) illustrates most strikingly this opinion. It consists
of about fifteen to twenty sentences, and its substance is as
follows: "When the Prophet (the blessing of God be upon him!)
lived in Medina, he went one afternoon upon the terrace of his
house, in order to perform his devotions. He looked about with his
blessed eyes and saw in his part of the town a funeral procession
pass through the streets, followed only by a few persons, and the
coffin surrounded by a marvellous brilliancy, not unlike a sea of
rosy light. As soon as he had finished his prayer he hastened to
the spot, joined the funeral procession, and saw, to his great
amazement, that the shine did not leave the coffin, even when
let down into the grave. The Prophet could not recover from his
surprise; he went to the wife of the deceased, and asked what and
who her husband had been. 'Alas!' she answered, with tears, 'God be
merciful unto him, his death is a blessing to all, for throughout
his life he was a highwayman and murderer; and the tears of widows
and orphans he has caused to flow, are more than the water he has
drunk. He lived only to cause unhappiness to others. I have often
remonstrated with him, but in vain. He lived as a sinner, and as a
sinner he died!' 'What!' exclaimed the Prophet, with ever-increasing
astonishment, 'Did he possess no single good quality, has he never
shown repentance?' 'Alas, no!' she sobbed out; 'the only thing he
used to do every evening after his wicked daily work, was to read
over these few lines (and she showed the prayer), and then fell
asleep, and woke to sin anew on the morrow.' The Prophet looked
at the prayer, and recognising at once its marvellous efficacy,
he has left it behind to exercise the same virtue upon all
orthodox Mussulmen." The moral drawn from this narrative needs no
explanation; and it is easy to imagine how many Central Asiatics,
furnished with such a recipe, _à la Tetzel_, will commit the most
atrocious deeds, and retain withal the consciousness of being pious
and religious men.

What strikes a European most of all, in seeing this principle of
outward formulas reduced to practice, are the laws of cleanliness,
which, in Central Asia, are observed with strict and scrupulous
exactness, although, as is well known, the most disgusting
filthiness is to be met with. By the Mohammedan law the body becomes
unclean after each evacuation, and requires an ablution, according
to circumstances, either a small (abdest) or a great one (gusl).
The same has to be observed with respect to the clothes, which are
subjected to a purification if touched by the smallest drop of
water.[18] The cleaning of the body is strictly performed amongst
all Mussulmen; nor, on the whole, is the law about the clothes lost
sight of; but I have never seen people in the West of Asia, as in
Bokhara, repeat their prayers stark-naked, from a religious scruple,
that their clothes might have been defiled without the eye having
detected it. It is extremely ridiculous, that in any religion, as is
the case in the Mohammedan, whole volumes should be written as to
the manner in which its followers are to cleanse their body after
each large or small evacuation. The law, for instance, commands the
istindjah (removal), istinkah (ablution), and istibra (drying),
_i.e._, a small clod of earth is first used for the local cleansing,
then water, at least twice, and finally a piece of linen, a yard in
length, in order to destroy every possible trace. In Turkey, Arabia,
and Persia, only one of these acts is performed,--the istinkah; but
in Central Asia all three are considered necessary; and in order to
prove the high standard of their piety, zealous Mohammedans carry
three or four such clods of earth, cut with a knife that is used for
no other purpose besides, in their turbans, to have a small store
at hand. This commandment is often carried out quite publicly in
the bazaars, from a desire to make parade of their conscientious
piety. I shall never forget the revolting scene, when I saw one
day a teacher give to his pupils, boys and girls, instructions
in the handling of the clod of earth, linen and so forth, by way
of experiment. It never occurs to any one that such a tenet is
disgraceful, nor does any body perceive that these extremes of
physical cleanliness lead directly to the extremes of moral impurity.

  [18] In the eyes of Eastern people, dogs and Europeans are classed
  together, as making water against the wall. Throughout the East
  people squat down during the action, for fear lest in a standing
  position a drop might touch and thus pollute their clothes.

The extreme severity with which the law of the Harem is executed in
Bokhara, is looked for in vain among the Western Mohammedans, or
even among the fanatic sect of the Wahabites. This law, so contrary
to nature, has necessarily been the cause of a certain vice equally
contrary to nature, and which, although it exists among Turks, Arabs
and Persians, is confined within a comparatively narrow limit, and
condemned as a "despicable sin" by the interpreters of the Koran as
well as by public opinion. In Central Asia, especially in Bokhara
and Khokand, this atrocious crime is carried to a frightful extent,
and the religious of these countries considering it a protection
against any transgression of the law of the Harem, and declaring it
to be _no_ sin, marriages _à la Tiberius_ have become quite popular;
nay, fathers feel not the smallest compunction in surrendering their
sons to a friend or acquaintance for a certain annual stipend. Our
pen refuses to describe this disgusting vice in its full extent; but
even the few hints we have thrown out are sufficient to show the
abyss of crime to which an exaggerated religious fanaticism degrades

It is just the same with the prohibition of spirituous liquors.
The Koran commands not only abstinence from wine, but from all
intoxicating drinks, for this reason, that a state of intoxication
would be attended by neglect of prayer, or of any other pious duty.
The Western Mohammedans interpret this commandment as referring only
to wine (sharab) in the strict sense of the word, and consider
drinking arak (brandy) already a much less offence; many, indeed,
are of opinion, that since it has not been expressly mentioned in
the Koran, it would not be regarded as a sin to drink it with water.
In Turkey and Persia brandy is as much in favour among the better
educated classes, as wodki in Russia; but in Bokhara both brandy
and wine are very rarely met with. Even those who do not confess
the Mohammedan religion, such as Jews and Hindoos, cannot drink it
except clandestinely, and the mere pronouncing the words sharab and
arak, is a sin in the eyes of the orthodox. With facts like these
one would expect the greatest sobriety among the people, but alas!
how terrible is the substitute hypocrisy has invented!

The Central Asiatics make a distinction between fluid and solid
spirits. The former are strictly forbidden, whilst the latter, by
which all narcotics are understood, are looked upon as perfectly
innocent. The famous opium-eaters of Constantinople, who, at the
present day almost extinct, were seen daily, at the beginning of the
century, in the notorious square of Direkalti, and admired by all
passers-by--the various hashish-eaters in Egypt--the lovers of the
comparatively harmless teryak in Persia,--all these are as nothing
in comparison with the bengis[19] of Central Asia.

  [19] Beng is the name of the poison which is produced from the
  canabis indica.

In the first-named countries opium has a rival in "pater bacchus,"
and holds, therefore, a divided empire; but in Turkestan, where the
"jolly god" is a stranger, it reigns paramount, and its destroying
power is fearful. The number of beng-eaters is greatest in Bokhara
and Khokand, and it is no exaggeration to say that three-fourths
of the learned and official world, or, in other words, the whole
intelligent class, are victims to this vice. The Government looks on
with perfect indifference, while hundreds, nay, thousands, commit
suicide. It never occurs to any one that a prohibition should be
made on this subject, but if a man were convicted of having tasted a
drop of wine, he would be beheaded without any further ado.

These errors, together with many others of the same kind, must no
doubt be ascribed to an eccentric scrupulousness in observing the
existing laws. Strange as they are, they appear less surprising
when compared with those views and opinions which arose in Eastern
Mohammedanism in consequence of a different interpretation of those
traditional dogmas, which are not only rejected as erroneous, but
flatly condemned by the learned Mohammedans of the West. Among
these we are struck first of all with the religious orders or
pious fraternities, which are spread in an extraordinary manner
over Central Asia, and are subject to such strict regulations,
and conducted with a fervour which contrasts singularly with the
character of Eastern nations, especially the Central Asiatics. In
the Western Islamitic countries we meet with the various orders
of the Oveisi, Kadrie, Djelali, Mevlevi, Rufai, Bektashi, &c.,
which, at all times treated with civility by the Ulemas, were
never able to attract within their magic circle more than a few
individuals of a heated imagination; whereas, on the contrary, the
Nakishbendi, Makhdumaazami, in Bokhara and Khokand, embody large
masses of the population, who are appointed, guided, and governed
by the officers of the order, representing the temporary supreme
chief. Every community, however small in numbers, comprises one
or more Ishans (priests of the order) beside the lawful Mollah,
Reis, &c.; and I have often felt astonished at witnessing the blind
obedience and respect paid to the members of the order as compared
with the former. It need scarcely be added, that these influential
Ishans stand frequently in the way of the Government, but it has
never ventured to offer them any check or resistance, regarding,
as they do, religious orders as inseparable from Islam. Mohammed
expressly stated, "_La Ruhbanitum fil Islam_"--"no monks in Islam."
Nevertheless the Khan, his ministers, even many Ulemas, in spite of
the latter, regarding the Ishan as powerful rivals, and hating them
accordingly, are in the habit of adopting the outward attributes of
one or the other order, out of deference to public opinion.

The judicial procedure of Eastern Mohammedans is equally
remarkable. They entirely reject the Urf, _i.e._, the decision of
the judge, based upon his own judgment and convictions, in cases
where the Sheriat (the laws of the Koran) is insufficient; as also
the Kanun, _i.e._, laws framed by later legislators. The latter they
regard as heretical innovations, and they take the Sheriat, or the
code of laws emanating from the Koran, as their sole and infallible
guide. That the laws Mohammed framed twelve hundred years ago for
the social wants of the simple Arabs, should not suit every clime
and epoch, can be no matter of surprise. In Turkey and Persia the
necessity for reform has long been felt. The Governments of these
countries have tried in all cases to supply the deficiencies of
their primitive codes by supplemental additions, however much the
opinions of the Ulemas resisted such a step, naturally foreseeing
from it, as they did, the downfall of their power. In Turkestan,
not only the Mollahs, but the Government, and everybody in fact,
is highly indignant at the very idea of a supplement. In their
eyes the Koran is "as fine as a hair, as sharp as a sword, and
satisfies all possible wants of life;" whoever thought differently
would be treated as a wicked man and an infidel. People eat, drink
and dress, in strict conformity with the precepts of the Koran;
it is the standing rule, by which all taxes and toll-moneys are
levied, the standard, by which all wars are conducted, and the guide
for directing their relations with foreign powers! Upon the same
principle, any innovation in domestic life is strictly forbidden
as _sin_. England, Russia, and other modern states, of whom the
Koran makes no mention, cannot be recognised by the Tartar rulers
_de facto_; on the contrary, they consider it their duty to oppose
them as intruders by the law of the Djihad (the religious combat),
a policy which will, of course, as already sufficiently shown, lead
them to entire destruction.

With regard to the Shiitish Persians, the Eastern Mohammedans stand
in a very different relation to them from their Western brethren.
This religious schism, as is well known, has often been the cause
of long and bloody wars,--under the pretext of a temporary quarrel.
Ever since the first dissensions took place between the dynasties
Akkoyunlu and Karakayunlu, Turks and Arabs have frequently been
opposed to the Persians in destructive and calamitous wars: deep
hatred and bitter resentment separated the two sects, and the
former succeeded in ejecting their Shiitish enemies from the bond
of Islamism. The Persian is looked upon as an heretical Mussulman,
but always as a Mussulman; he is admitted to the holy cities and all
places of pilgrimage, the orthodox Sunnite does not object to pray
with him in the same mosque, and in modern times the hatred between
the Osmanli and Persian has already so far diminished that the
latter is permitted by law to intermarry with the former.

In Central Asia there exists no trace of anything of the kind. Here
the Persians are hated and persecuted as fiercely as on their first
appearance among the Shiitish sect. In the year 945 of the Hidjra,
they were declared outlaws and infidels by the fetwah of a certain
Mollah, Shemseddin Mohammed, a native of Samarkand, and living in
Herat at the time of the Sultan Husein Baikera. This fetwah has
done much injury to the poor inhabitants of Iran, for, although
the marauding Turkomans would have taken them prisoners without
any form of law, they would not have been sold in the market-place
of fanatical Bokhara, had not the brand of the Kafir qualified
them for it, only such men being saleable. Whatever cruelties were
practised on them, were all committed under the pretext of punishing
an unbeliever, and though Eastern Mohammedans try to vindicate the
Mollahs of Turkestan, by pointing out that the Persians recognize
one and the same Koran, and one and the same prophet, yet they
declare the fetwah to be just and proper, and protest against all
assertions to the contrary, of the West-Mohammedan learned men, as
ignorance and error.

There are essential distinctions also in the ritual of the Eastern
and Western Mohammedans. I doubt very much whether, even at Bagdad
and Damascus, during the most brilliant period of Islamism, officers
(Reis) were daily traversing the streets, stopping everybody in the
midst of their daily occupations in order to hear them the prayer
Farz-i-Ayin, and punishing the ignorant on the spot. This is
actually being done in Bokhara at the present day. In the various
ceremonies of circumcision, marriage, and burial, the Central
Asiatics have several customs of their own, entirely heterogeneous
to western Islam; their daily prayers, which have to be repeated
five times, consist here of more Rikats (genuflexions) than in
other countries; and it is curious, at the Ezan (call to prayer),
the Turkestans most carefully avoid all tune or melody, and recite
it in a sort of howl. The manner in which the Ezan is cried in the
West, is here declared sinful, and the beautiful, melancholy notes,
which, in the silent hour of a moonlit-evening, are heard from the
slender minarets on the Bosphorus, fascinating every hearer, would
be listened to by the Bokhariot with feelings only of detestation.

In addition to the above let us bear in mind the many mosques,
medressas, all filled to overflowing with worshippers, the
Karikhane, _i.e._ houses, where blind men recite the Koran the whole
day long, the numerous Khanka, where fanatics roar out their Zikr
day and night, and with which institutions every city is crowded;
then let us picture to ourselves the various gestures, the severely
earnest looks and the whole appearance of the Mollahs, Ishane,
Dervishes, Kalenters, and ascetics, one of wild fanaticism, and it
might perhaps be possible to form an idea of Bokhara, of this pillar
of Islam, these headquarters of an over-strained religious zeal, and
where the religion of the Arab Prophet has degenerated into a form,
such as the founder no doubt never wished his work should assume.
From here it has spread with the same tendencies over Afghanistan
to India, Kashmir, and the Chinese Tartary, and northwards as far
as Kazan. In all these places the spirit of Bokhara has taken firm
root, for Bokhara is their teacher, and neither Constantinople
nor Mekka, but Bokhara is looked up to as their sole guide. It is
here that our civilization will encounter more serious obstacles
than in Western Asia, and Russia most likely has already made this
experience with respect to the Nogai Tartars. It would be a matter
of regret, if the English Government should not as yet have felt
this to be the truth with her 40 millions of Mohammedan subjects in
India. The consequences would be sure and inevitable.

So much at present for the difference between Eastern and Western
Mohammedanism, and without much research we shall find the principal
causes to be as follows:

Firstly, Asia, the chief seat and fountain-head of religious
fanaticism, is found, the more we advance eastward, the more true to
its ancient type. As in general the inhabitants of India, Thibet,
and China are more eccentric, more religiously fanatical, or, in
other words, more Asiatic, than the followers of Islam, in the same
measure the Eastern Mohammedans are more zealous than their Western

Secondly, the same eccentric fanaticism, which the Central Asiatics
displayed when professing the doctrines of Zoroaster, has been the
cause why their conversion to Islam cost the Arabs so much time
and trouble. It took more than 200 years, before the religion of
Mohammed had completely supplanted the old faith. No sooner had
the conquerors left a town than the newly-converted inhabitants
returned to their old faith, and the town had to be re-conquered and
re-converted. But when the iron perseverance of the Arabs had at
last succeeded in making them Mohammedans, they attached themselves
to the new religion with the same fervour they had manifested in
the old. As early as the beginning of the rule of the Samanides, we
find in Transoxania men of high reputation, throughout Islam, for
their learning and their exemplary piety. Belkh had already then
acquired the name of Kubbetül Islam, the dome of Islam. The city and
neighbourhood of Bokhara were crowded with the tombs of saints and
learned men, and we can easily understand how it happened that these
Turkestani cities had in piety and learning become successful rivals
of Bagdad, the then centre of the Mohammedan world, where devotional
zeal was eclipsed by the splendour of worldly grandeur.

After the extinction of the dynasty of the Samanides, but especially
during the Mongol conquests, no doubt all religious life suffered
a temporary check, but the edifice has never been shaken to its
foundations as in Bagdad, where Helagu, in destroying the phantom
caliphate of Motasimbillah, broke the chief strength of Islam and
scattered it to the winds. In Transoxania, on the other hand, its
energies were being silently strengthened and matured. Timur aimed
at making his native home the chief seat of Mohammedan learning, and
his work was continued, though in a different spirit, by the rulers
of the Sheibani dynasty. It can therefore excite no wonder that
Bokhara has been able to preserve to the present day, that precise
standard of religious asceticism which characterized Islam in the
middle ages.

Thirdly, the great body of the Sunnites has been separated by the
schism of Persia practically, if not morally, into two distinct
parts, and the separation is certain to continue. The pilgrimages
to the holy cities of Arabia have by no means compensated for
the undoubtedly greater intercourse, which, in the times of the
caliphat, could be carried on without fear of disturbance from the
Eastern to the Western frontier of Islam. Sectarian animosity has
been purposely kept alive, and has rendered Persia a dangerous
country to any Sunnitish traveller. Whilst great political changes,
as well as constant intercourse with Christian Europe, combined to
bring the western Sunnites under the influence of foreign social
relations, the Eastern Sunnites, left entirely to themselves, had no
opportunity offered them of introducing either changes or reforms.
They looked with quite as much abhorrence as the Chinese and Hindoos
upon heretical Persia, the only country which afforded them the
means of communication with the West.

The observation which I have offered, that the influences of
European Christianity have divided western from eastern Islam in
many cardinal aspects of faith, may lead many of our readers to
hope, that the ever-increasing communication and interchange of
ideas will gradually effect a total transformation in Asia, or, as
many sanguine travellers of modern times believe, that Asia will be

The question is naturally one of interest to every one who
wishes (and who does not wish it) for an improvement of the
social relations in Asia, and far too important for a mere
passing examination. Nevertheless, in order to obviate certain
misinterpretations or false constructions, we must remark, that the
above observation is not to be regarded as offering an infallible
test of Western Mohammedan advancement. We have to be careful, not
to mistake for precious metal the tinsel of European civilisation
and modes of thought, with which Young Turkey and Persia endeavour
to garnish their innate barbarism. I must confess the result of
European influence in these countries is hitherto alas! very small
and ineffectual. The inexperienced eye of a tourist is deceived by
their having partly adopted our dress and furniture, but all else is
now just as it was in olden times, and will probably continue so for
a very long time to come.

It is taken for granted that our relations, as Europeans with Asia,
are those, as it were, between a son and his mother, the latter
possessing a certain amount of superstition, with which she finds
it difficult to part. From Asia we received our descent, mentally
and materially, as well as our education, but nobody would reproach
us with ingratitude or want of respect, if we reject the views and
opinions of "our aged parent," and for her own benefit occasionally
press upon her our ideas instead. I use purposely the expression
"press upon," for whatever has been adopted of European civilisation
in Asia up to the present day, has not been the result, either
of conviction or a liking for our social relations, but simply
that of fear. A forced love never lasts, and were we to base our
speculations as to the future of the whole of Asia upon the changes
hitherto effected in western Asia, they would inevitably prove



The last cannon-shot fired by the victorious champions of the Union
against their seceding brethren, although it has not entirely put an
end to the slave trade in the Western hemisphere, has nevertheless
dealt it a very severe blow. The flag of Great Britain in the waters
of Eastern Africa and the recent conquest of the whole Caucasus by
the Russians have, to a great extent, crippled the same abominable
traffic among the Mohammedans of Western Asia. The indolent,
enervated Orientals may still regard with bitter resentment and
rancour the efforts of Europe in the cause of humanity; but the sale
and purchase of human beings is everywhere practised with a certain
reserve arising from a sense of shame, or, to speak more correctly,
of fear of European eyes. This trade is now to be found unfettered
and unembarrassed only in Central Asia. Here, in the ancient seat of
Asiatic barbarism and ferocity, thousands every year fall victims
to this inhuman trade. These victims are not negroes, occupying the
lowest place in the human race, but belong to a nation celebrated
now, as of old, for its culture and civilisation. These not only
exchange freedom for slavery, but at the same time the comforts
of comparative civilisation for the miseries of semi-savage life,
and are torn from their smiling homes to pine away in the desert.
The lot of such captives is even harder than that of the negro.
Inasmuch as to this day Europeans have had very little information
with respect to the miserable state of things which prevails in the
distant regions of Central Asia, it may not be out of place if I
here recount my own experiences of them somewhat in detail.

What the Portuguese slave traders and the Arabian ivory merchants
are in Central Africa, that are the Turkomans in the north-eastern
and north-western portions of Iran, indeed we may say in all Persia.
Wherever nomad tribes live in the immediate neighbourhood of a
civilised country, there will robbery and slavery unavoidably exist
to a greater or less extent. The poverty-stricken children of the
desert are endowed by nature with an insatiable lust for adventure,
and frames capable of supporting the most terrible privations and
fatigues. What the scanty soil of their native wilderness denies
them, they seek in the lands of their more favoured neighbours.
The intercourse between them, however, is seldom of a friendly
character. As the plundered and hardly used agriculturist cannot,
and dare not, pursue the well-mounted nomad across the pathless
deserts of sand, the latter, protected by the nature of the
country, can carry on his career of plunder and rapine without fear
of chastisement. In former times the cities on the borders of the
Great Sahara and of the Arabian desert were in the same plight. Even
at the present day the caravans in the latter country are exposed
to the greatest dangers. But Persia has to suffer from these evils
to a still greater extent, as the deserts which form her northern
boundary are the most extensive and the most savage in the world,
while their inhabitants are the most cruel and least civilised of

The wars of hoary antiquity between the Iranians and Turanians, sung
by the master singer of the Shah Nameh, "the Book of the Kings,"
seem to have had their origin in acts of violence perpetrated by
the latter. It is true that the combatants of that period are
represented in the poem as belonging to one and the same race,
but we find that at the period of the expedition of Alexander the
people of northern Iran called on the great Macedonian to afford
them protection against their northern neighbours, whom they
described as terrible beings of inhuman aspect--probably they were
of the true Mongolian type, which differs widely from that of the
Iranians. Alexander built a great wall from the Caspian Sea to the
Kurdistan mountains. This immense work, however, did not come up
to the expectations of its founder. Like the Great wall of China,
built for a similar purpose, it could not permanently keep out
the barbarians. Their impetuous fury burst through such feeble
obstacles, and nothing could check their devastating, incursions
except the energetic rule of some exceptionally vigorous sovereign,
who instead of protecting his subjects by a stone wall, did so
with a well-disciplined army. This is the case at the present
day. The Turkomans and Œzbegs direct their forays according
to the peaceful or disturbed state of the adjacent provinces, or
the energy or indolence of their respective governors. During
the disorders which attended the establishment of the Kadjarish
dynasty, individual bands of Yomut Turkomans pushed their predatory
incursions as far as the neighbourhood of Ispahan, although the
greater number of them were serving under the banner of Aga
Mohammed Khan. At the same period the Tekkes pressed forward on
the north-east as far as Seistan. At the present day it is the
two provinces of Khorassan and Mazenderan which suffer most. The
Turkomans first of all inquire into the character and administration
of a newly appointed governor, and if they find in him signs of
cowardice or neglect of duty (which is often the case), they make
repeated incursions with terrible speed on the defenceless province
committed to his care. On the other hand, they hardly dare to show
themselves in those places where a vigorous and active officer is at
the head of affairs. At the time of my journey through Khorassan the
roads were so safe that travellers could go alone through districts
which were formerly so fraught with danger, that the largest and
best appointed caravans could pass there only when accompanied by a
body of troops and a battery of cannon. At that time the governor,
Sultan Murad Mirza, kept the nomads in check. Every movement of
theirs was reported to him by his spies, and, as soon as they showed
themselves, they were attacked in their own haunts, and received
severe punishment. In Astrabad, on the contrary, where a fool was
entrusted with the administration, the neighbourhood was so unsafe
that the Yomuts carried off Persians captive from the very gates of
the town.

There are several tribes of Turkomans both on the edge and in the
interior of the desert, who consider the robbery of human beings
so indispensable a means of livelihood as to deem their existence
in the steppes impossible, if they were to be deprived of this
productive source of wealth. As other nations talk about "the
prospects of a good harvest," so they talk about "the prospects
of open roads to Iran." The time which elsewhere is employed in
ploughing, irrigating, and sowing the fields, is spent by them in
training their horses, burnishing their arms, and in mock combats.
Custom has raised their detestable occupation to the rank of a
recognised trade. It is looked upon as a Djihad, or religious war,
against the Shiite schismatics, who are declared to be no better
than infidels. As the heroes set out on their adventure they are
publicly dismissed with the blessings of the ministers of their
religion; and in case of any one of them paying with his life for
his enormities (which very seldom occurs), he is at home declared to
be a martyr, a mound of earth adorned with flags is heaped over his
remains, which are seldom left in the hands of the enemies, and the
devout make pilgrimages to the holy place, where they implore with
tears of contrition the intercession of the canonised robber.

The terrible extent to which the most exposed provinces suffer from
these excursions is explained by the courage and resolution of the
Turkomans. No war, no devastation caused by the elements, can be
compared to the misery which their depredations occasion. Not only
is all trade and commerce on the highways crippled, but even the
husbandman must provide himself with a tower in which he can take
refuge, when suddenly attacked by them during his labours in the
fields. The smallest village is surrounded by a wall. Even these
measures do not suffice, for the robbers often come in large bands
and lay siege to such fortified places, and not seldom carry the
whole population, men, women, and children, into captivity with all
their moveable property. I have seen in Eastern Khorassan villages
whose inhabitants, although in the immediate vicinity of large
forests, pass the winter without fires, because none dare venture
out to cut wood beyond the walls. Others suffer hunger, as their
water-mills are outside the village. Travelling is, of course,
regarded as a most desperate venture, which no one undertakes save
in cases of the most urgent necessity, or under the protection of an
armed force.

The readers of my book on Central Asia will have already formed
some idea how far this fear of captivity among the Turkomans is
well-founded. The lot of the negro, confined in the close hold of
a ship during his passage from Africa to America, is sufficiently
hard, yet it is not less hard to be bound behind the saddle of
a nomad with the feet tied under the belly of the horse, to be
insufficiently supplied with food and water, and to be thus
transported for days across the weary desert, far from one's dear
country and the bosom of one's family. These privations of savage
life in the tent of the rude nomad and under an inclement sky are
the harder for the Persian to bear, as at home he is accustomed to
cooked food and the comforts of civilised life. In addition to these
sufferings he is loaded with heavy chains, which are not removed
by night or by day. He is continually the object of the revilings,
curses, and blows of his tyrannical master. Indeed the first stage
of his slavery is the most grievous.

At the present day the occupation of stealing men is followed by the
Œzbegs and Turkomans alone. Of the first race the inhabitants
of Khiva are to be especially noticed, but they only follow it
when in the course of their hostilities with the Turkomans they
are driven towards the frontiers of Iran. The Bokhariots have not
approached those frontiers since the commencement of this century,
and the inhabitants of Khokand may be said to have never come in
contact with them. Of the Turkomans, the Tekkes and the Yomuts are
most addicted to this traffic; the first seeking their victims in
Khorassan, Herat, and Seistan, and even along the western frontier
of Afghanistan; the latter along the southern shores of the Caspian
Sea. After these the Salors and the Sariks are to be mentioned, who,
broken in power and diminished in numbers, seldom, but then with so
much the greater fury, make their incursions. The Alielis and Karas
can only now and then get hold of a caravan of Hindus, Tadjiks, or
even Afghans, and these only on the road to Bokhara. The Tchaudors,
who dwell between the lower part of the course of the Oxus and the
Caspian Sea, since the Russians are no more marketable, nor indeed
easy to catch, have scarcely any field left them for exercising
their man-stealing propensities.

The majority of the slaves in Central Asia are Shiite Persians, more
especially from the provinces mentioned above, though many from the
remaining provinces are also captured, either in war or during their
pilgrimage to Meshed. Besides them there are Sunnite Persians from
Khaf and Herat; the last are generally caught while cultivating
their fields, or while gathering the pistachio nuts. Djemshidis and
Hezares, who fall victims to their mutual feuds, are less often to
be met with, and still smaller is the number of Afghans and Hindus.
Nay, Osmanlis and Arabs, in spite of the high esteem in which they
are held, are sold as slaves, but, as far as I know, there are not
more than four or six of them. Jews alone, who have the reputation
of being sorcerers, are regarded with too much horror by the
inhabitants of Turkestan to be a marketable commodity.

It is difficult to estimate the number thus carried year by year
into captivity, because, as I have explained above, it varies
according to the state of things in Persia. Nor is it easier to
estimate the number of those at present living in slavery in
Turkestan. Not all persons who fall into the hands of the Turkomans
are sent to the Khanats for sale. Taking into consideration the
distribution of property in Iran, we may reckon that about one-third
of those captured in Mazenderan and along the shores of the Caspian
are ransomed. This is a clear gain to the nomad robber, as he, in
the first place, saves the expense of keeping his merchandise for
a long time on hand; in the second place, he is not exposed to
the risk of the market, for should his captive prove physically
deficient in some important respect, he will not be able to sell
him at all. Still, however, the proportion of those who are thus
ransomed is not everywhere the same. The greater part of those
who fall into the hands of the robbers are poor men, who are most
exposed to this danger during their work out in the fields. These,
of course, can rarely be ransomed. But if, in the case of those who
are captured in Mazenderan, we may estimate those who are ransomed
at a third, we cannot assume the same of those who are seized in
the much poorer provinces of Khorassan and Seistan. I have heard,
out of the mouth of a slave dealer who had grown grey in his trade,
that from these districts scarcely a tenth part are ransomed, the
remaining nine-tenths being forwarded for sale in the markets of the
Khanats. The Turkoman never retains a slave for his own use, except
(1) when his captive is old or crippled, and yet not so much so but
that he works enough to earn his meagre sustenance; if he cannot,
he is at once mercilessly cut down; (2) infants who are brought
up as Turkomans to become the wildest of robbers; (3) when Cupid
makes some pretty brunette of an Iranian so dear to him that he
cannot make up his mind to part with her. This last case, however,
happens but seldom, as the Turkomans are notoriously the greatest
misers in the world. As, besides, they are wanting in that feeling
of delicacy for which the Circassian Huri-dealers are so renowned,
the harems of Khiva and Bokhara receive many flowers which have lost
their freshness in Turkoman hands. The only Persians who are to be
found among the inhabitants of the steppes are such as in their own
country would not be much better off, or else escaped criminals who
have to continue their former courses of misdoing, of murder and
robbery, in conjunction with the nomads.

It is the ordinary practice of the men-stealers to keep their booty
by them not longer than two or three days. They are by that time
transferred to the slave broker, who by way of advance has already
furnished the robbers with money or provisions. These conscienceless
usurers derive the largest profit from the abominable traffic,
for the robbers are for the most part dissolute characters, who,
contrary to the usual practice of the nomads, gamble away, or
squander in vicious enjoyments, their money as soon as they get it.
Slave brokers are of two kinds. (1) Turkomans, who carry on the
commerce which exists between the inhabitants of the steppes and
the Khanats. They wait until they have got together thirty, forty,
or fifty slaves, and then travel in a caravan to Khiva or Bokhara.
In the meantime their human merchandise are let out for hire as day
labourers, in order to lighten the expense of their maintenance.
(2) Sunnite inhabitants of the Persian frontier. These men play a
very curious and ambiguous _rôle_, and are the most detestable of
all engaged in the whole business. On the one side they serve the
Persians as go-betweens, employed to find out such persons as are
kept in slavery in the steppes or in the Khanats; on the other they
are the most useful spies of the nomads, whom they furnish with the
best intelligence about a village or a caravan. Many, especially
such as live on the eastern frontier of Persia, have buildings for
the reception of slaves in Herat, Maymene, and Bokhara, and just
as once in the year they lead to the market a string of miserable
slaves of both sexes, so on their return they bring back with them a
number of captives redeemed through their mediation. From the family
of one of these unfortunate creatures, they take regularly three
times the ordinary amount of the ransom, and talk largely about the
difficulty of finding him, and of persuading his captor to accept
of the money, while all along they know the very place where he is,
and have probably already spoken about the price. It is amusing to
observe how these scamps change their sentiments, their religion,
and political opinions, according to circumstances. On their way
to Bokhara, while playing the part of slave holders, they act the
zealous Bokhariot, abuse the heretical Shiites, and exult in the
just measure dealt out to the Persian slaves. On their return to
Iran, when playing the part of slave ransomers, they are loud in
their abuse of the brutality and cruelty of the Bokhariots, shed
bitter tears over the misfortunes of the poor Persians, and are, in
one word, the softest-hearted creatures in the world.

In the caravan in which I myself travelled from Bokhara to Herat,
there were two such slave brokers, who came from Khaf and Kain. Both
of them bore the title of Khodja, or descendant of the prophet, of
which they were not a little proud. The tenderness and care with
which they treated the liberated slaves in their charge was almost
unexampled. Yet these very men, as the leader of the caravan assured
me, had only a few months before led a train of miserable captives
into slavery. In the Khanats of Khiva and Bokhara the slave dealers,
called there Dogmafurush, form a regularly organised guild. It is
remarkable that as regards their nationality they are for the most
part Sarts, Tadjiks, and emancipated Persians, and not so often
Œzbegs or of any other tribe belonging to the Turko-Tartaric
race. The sale takes place either in the dealers' magazines, or in
some market-place outside the town, to which place the goods are
removed some days previous. The most important depôts are to be
found in the Khanat of Khiva, first of all at the capital, then in
Hezaresp, in Gazavat, in Görlen, and in Kohne. Besides these, every
place of any pretensions has a retail dealer, who is in connection
with the large wholesale dealers, or sells goods on commission.
In Bokhara is to be mentioned first of all Karakul, and next the
capital; besides these, Karshi and Tchihardjuy. It is to be observed
that, eastward from Samarcand, this abominable traffic declines more
and more, so that in the Khanat of Khokand there are no large slave
dealers, and the majority of the slaves to be found there are bought
in the territory of Bokhara. In the steppes lying to the north of
the Khanats, thanks to the spread of Russian sway, slaves are only
found as articles of luxury in the houses of the rich begs.

The price of slaves in the markets of Central Asia, like that of
every commodity, varies according to the quantity at any one time on
sale, which in time of peace is less, in time of war greater. The
difference of price in male slaves of the same age depends for the
most part on their physical condition and their nationality. The
Turks of northern Persia are most preferred; first, because they
sooner learn to make themselves understood in the Turkish dialects
of Central Asia, which are akin to their own; secondly, because they
have robuster frames and are more accustomed to hard work than the
other inhabitants of Iran. The Afghans fetch the lowest price, not
only because they have the greatest dislike to hard work, but also
on account of their vindictive and revengeful character, which in
the case of a brutal master may lead to unpleasant consequences. As
for the female slaves, they do not by any means enjoy the position
which is occupied by the daughters of Circassia and Georgia in the
harems of Turkey and Persia. On the contrary, their position is
rather to be compared with that of the negresses in those countries.
It is very easy to explain why. In the first place, the daughters of
Turkestan correspond better to the ideas of beauty entertained by
Œzbegs and Tadjiks than the Iranian women, who with their olive
complexions and large noses, would never bear off the apple of Paris
from the fair, full-cheeked Œzbeg women. In the second place, in
consequence of their poverty the inhabitants of Central Asia do not
indulge in polygamy to such an extent as the Mohammedans of the
west. Besides this, the Œzbeg has generally too much aristocratic
pride to share his bed and board with a slave, whom he has bought
for money. In Bokhara it is true that we find instances to the
contrary, but that is only among the high functionaries of state,
and even they only take such women as have been brought as children
into the country. In the middle classes such _mésalliances_ are very
rare phenomena. Besides, marriage is much easier here than in other
Mohammedan countries. Hence female slaves are kept only as articles
of luxury in the harems of the great, or as domestic servants.

As regards male slaves the case is quite different. This yearly
contingent of human arms has become for centuries necessary to the
support of the Œzbegs, who have a horror of steady agricultural
labour. Indeed without their slaves they could hardly obtain from
the ground enough to support life. The truth of this assertion
is shown by the fact, that the price of cereals in the Central
Asiatic markets is determined not simply by the rise and fall of
the waters of the Oxus, but also by the greater or smaller number
of slaves sold during the year. The use to which slaves are applied
is principally agriculture, and in the next place care of cattle;
and the larger the estate of an Œzbeg landlord, the larger the
number of slaves which he requires. In a land like Turkestan, where
the military element preponderates, and every free man, either from
instinct or from political necessity, lays hold of the sword rather
than the plough-tail, it is necessary that the arms, thus subtracted
from profitable labour and employed in murder and devastation,
should be replaced by others accustomed to labour. That this is so,
is best shown by the fact, that in those districts in which the
population are most addicted to war and robbery, there the number of
slaves is greatest. In this respect Khiva stands first of the three
Khanats, Bokhara second, and Khokand third. In Khiva the greater
part of the population is Œzbeg, and, as they are surrounded on
all sides by nomad tribes, they are continually engaged in war,
and anarchy prevails among them more often than in the two other
Khanats. In Bokhara, where the population is strongly mixed with
peaceable Tadjiks, things have been rendered more stable by an older
established and better organised government. In Khokand, which also
contains many Tadjiks, wars are infrequent, owing to the notorious
cowardice of its inhabitants, and when they do occur they are by no
means so destructive in their character.

A small proportion of the slaves are employed as private servants
by the government officials (Sipahi) as also by the sovereigns
themselves. For such purposes, however, only such are used as were
brought in their earliest youth to Central Asia. These receive a
thoroughly Œzbeg education, and beyond the opprobrious title of
_kul_ (slave), bear few traces of the servile condition. Like the
Circassian slaves in Turkey, they often attain the highest posts
in the administration, as their innate Iranian quick-sightedness
enables them to supplant their Œzbeg competitors. Thus, many who
have now under their rule whole provinces, were brought into the
Khanat as slaves. In Bokhara, where the Œzbeg aristocratic is of
little moment by the side of the predominant Persian element, the
sovereigns often take slaves for their lawful wives. Such was the
mother of the present Emir, such is one of his wives, both of them
of Iranian origin.

In the purchase of a male slave the first point looked to is a
strong and robust physical frame, but his value is increased if it
be found out later that he has a good character. The seller must
engage himself to take him back during the first three days in case
any hidden physical defect be found out; for, although the buyer at
the time of sale examines him carefully all over like a beast of
burden, makes him show the strength of his arms, chest, back, and
voice, he is still obliged to be on his guard against the tricks
of the broker. For instance, it is very difficult to ascertain
the age of such a Persian slave. As is the custom in Iran, the
Turkomans also dye the beards of their captives if they have any
grey hairs. It is thus possible to make a mistake of twenty, nay,
even of thirty years, and it sometimes happens that a slave who,
when bought, had a fresh, youthful appearance, and a coal black
beard, a few days afterwards turns out to be a grey-haired old man.
It is easier to practice such tricks, as the slave, subdued by fear
and harsh treatment, does not dare to make the least objection
to any assertion of his Turkoman master. This is especially the
case with slaves who belong to the Sunnite sect. As they profess
the religion of the Central Asiatic, they are not allowed to be
made slaves of by the commandments of their religion; but in
consequence of the threats of the dealer they deny their own faith.
The Central Asiatic, when he sees an Afghan or a Herati for sale,
knows that he has been compelled to renounce his faith, yet with
disgraceful hypocrisy considers it no sin to buy him and keep him
as a slave. I have myself seen in Khiva and Bokhara, even in houses
of Mollahs of great renown for learning and piety, Sunnite slaves,
and when I called them to account for conduct so inconsistent
with their profession, they answered, "At the time I bought him
he was a Shiite; that he is now a Sunnite is to be attributed to
the influence of the sacred soil of Turkestan." Thus is religion
employed to cheat religion.

If we now pass on from the details of the slave trade to consider
the condition of the slave, we shall find that the hardest time
for him to bear is when he is first captured and trained by the
Turkoman or the broker; when the Iranian, justly proud of his
superior civilisation, is treated like one of the lower animals by
the coarse and brutal Turanian, whose very name is in Iran held in
derision. The Persian is from his childhood accustomed to the most
refined politeness, and to a flowery, elegant conversation; and must
of course suffer mentally a great deal when first introduced to
the savage manners and habits of Turkestan. His physical sufferings
are by no means so great. The majority of them, destined for
agricultural labour, generally gain the confidence and affection
of their master by their good behavior. If a slave has during a
year not incurred punishment, he is soon looked upon as a member of
the new family. Indeed, many receive, after a certain time, either
monthly wages, or else a share of the produce of the land or cattle
committed to their care. As the Iranian is in general more active
and frugal than his Turanian neighbour, the slaves in Turkestan,
in a remarkably short time, get together a little capital. This is
employed by most of them in ransoming themselves from slavery, which
they have the right to do after seven years' service. This term
is occasionally shortened as a reward for peculiar diligence, or
from great good nature on the part of the master; and the slave is
surprized by an azad (letter of freedom), in the same way that we
make a present to a faithful servant. Such a document is confirmed
by the kadi and the temporal magistrate, and he who is in possession
of it becomes at once master of his own actions. The act of
emancipation is everywhere accompanied by certain solemnities. Sheep
are slaughtered, guests invited; the freedman embraces one after
the other the male members of his master's family; and after he has
taken his place upon the same piece of felt carpet as his master,
his freedom is proclaimed. Among the Kirghiz it is the custom for
the master on such occasions to fasten a white bone to the girdle of
the freedman, which denotes that the latter is raised from the ranks
of the "black-boned" (subject people) to that of the "white-boned"

So much for good-tempered and obedient slaves. Where the contrary
qualities show themselves, Œzbeg barbarity and cruelty make
themselves felt in all their force. It is enough to make one's
hair stand on end to read the list of punishments used to compel a
refractory slave to obedience. The master has legal right of life
and death over his slave. It very seldom happens, however, that he
actually kills him, as he thereby loses the whole of his purchase
money; but the miseries which he inflicts on him are worse than
death itself. Many are kept for years together on mere bread and
water in the midst of the lonely deserts; others, a few days before
their seven years have expired, are sold again--not, however, in the
Khanats, where, their character being already known, they would be
unsaleable. In such cases of imposition the victim is generally a
Kirghiz, unversed in the tricks of the slave trade. Thus the Persian
passes from the city into the northern desert, whence, even if
emancipated, he seldom, if ever, returns home.

It is certainly striking that, out of the large number of slaves
of Persian origin who are continually brought into Central Asia,
only half of those who obtain their freedom go back to their
native country. Such as do return are induced to do so either by
the necessity of setting their family affairs in order, or by
extraordinary home-sickness. He who has lived eighteen years in
Turkestan will seldom change it for Iran. The slaves, as observed
before, are for the most part originally poor; and when they have
secured in Turkestan a certain means of gaining their livelihood,
or have got together some property, they in few cases think of
returning to their native land, where, on account of general habits
of industry and activity, existence is much harder to support;
where the necessaries of life are more expensive, and the luxury
and splendour of the wealthy excite many ungratified desires in
the breasts of the poor, which are not aroused in the midst of the
barbarous simplicity of the Khanats. Still, it is to be observed
that the emancipated slave can never get rid of the disgrace
implied in the word _kul_ (slave), however great may be the wealth
he may have accumulated, or however high the post to which he may
be promoted. Although he may be living in the utmost splendour and
magnificence, the kul can never hope to obtain the hand of a free
Œzbeg, the poorest of whom would reject his proposals with scorn.
I know an instance in which an Œzbeg refused his daughter to
a freedman, although the latter's suit was backed by the command
of the khan; he preferred rather to encounter the anger of his
sovereign than to call one who had once been a slave his son-in-law.
Even the khanezads[20] (children of slaves), who are not allowed
to be sold, are treated in the same manner, and can only marry the
daughters of other emancipated slaves, or sarts. Only in the fourth
generation is the disgrace attached to the word _kul_ somewhat
softened down, but by no means quite obliterated. In a country like
Central Asia, in which courage is looked upon as the highest virtue,
the slave is regarded as the _ne plus ultra_--a man who, for want of
a contempt of death, allows himself to be put in chains; and it is
this vice which is so difficult to be forgiven. This way of looking
at the subject is further strengthened by the boundless feeling of
aristocracy which distinguishes the Tartars, whether settled or
nomad, in which not even the wildest Tories or the proudest marquis
of the Faubourg St. Germain can surpass them--a feeling which is
entertained not only against the foreign Iranian, but even the
native Tadjiks, the eldest inhabitants of the land.

  [20] The sale of a khanezad is regarded as a disgraceful action, and
  one who commits such an act is branded as a thief and a robber.

It will be understood that it is only the moral stigma of slavery
which the freedman has to suffer from. In his civil rights he is as
well protected as any one else. Thus, as the Oriental is even more
a creature of habit than we are, I found it very easy to understand
how the Persian soon finds himself completely at home in Turkestan,
which country he once so despised and dreaded, and dwells
contentedly in a foreign land, only occasionally solacing himself
with a visit to his relations or to the shrine of some Shiite saint
in Iran.

Unfortunately, it is the material comfort and prosperity of the
slave which the Central Asiatic, like other Mohammedans, alleges
in his defence, when we express our abhorrence of the disgraceful
traffic in human beings. As in Turkestan, so in Turkey we may
often hear this argument:--"The sons and daughters of the wild
Circassians were in their native land poor people, who in their free
mountains could hardly get bread enough to eat; here with us they
become rich government officials, pashas, nay, even princesses,
whose powerful influence affects the policy of government." They
further point out how kindly the slaves are treated in the houses
of persons of distinction, where they are put on the same footing
as the members of the family. But they forget that these cases are
exceptional, and that such good fortune depends for the most part on
the personal beauty of the favoured few. What becomes of the greater
number, whose charms are not such as to gain the favour of their
master? What shall we say of this majority, exposed as they are to
the oppression and cruelty of a tyrannical master, and constantly
employed in the hardest labour?

Such things are of course not taken into account, any more than the
original cruelty of the slave merchant, who tears his victims from
their homes and their friends. On the banks of the Bosphorus, as on
those of the Oxus, few persons care to picture to their minds the
horrors of that first moment of separation. How many orphans, how
many widows, how many aged and helpless parents, are left behind to
wring their hands in sorrow for their bread-winner, who is carried
into captivity! It is impossible to count them, it is impossible to
describe the miserable condition of so many villages and districts
which are exposed to the terrible scourge of the slave trade. The
traveller in those regions stumbles at every step over the most
melancholy traces of the devastation which it causes. However
certain he may feel of the splendid destiny which awaits this or
that individual captive, he must still exclaim: "This is the most
execrable occupation that has ever defiled the hands of man, and
its suppression is the first and holiest duty which our western
civilisation has to perform for the cause of humanity!"

The suppression of the slave trade in Central Asia is, moreover,
much easier than many might at first sight suppose. The root of
the evil is to be sought, not so much in the Turkomans as in the
inhabitants of the cities. All nomad tribes were and are ready for
such a trade, if they only find settled tribes who will buy their
captives of them. The Bedouins of the Arabian desert could never
addict themselves much to the traffic, inasmuch as the markets of
the surrounding cities were closed by the religion of Islam against
the sale of their booty. In the same way the Turkomans would soon
abandon the practice, if the sale of Persians, Afghans, &c., in the
Khanats were declared illegal. The Djemshidis, the Firuzkuhis, and
Hezares, afford the strongest proof of this. As the transport of
their captives to Bokhara is rendered unsafe by the intermediate
Turkoman tribes, while at the same time their sale is forbidden
in the Afghan town of Herat, they have either to suppress their
slave-trading propensities altogether, or come to a compromise with
the Turkomans, much to the advantage of the latter.

Sultan Murad Mirza, an enlightened prince, and the governor of
Khorassan, once expressed to me his surprise that England, which
spends so many thousands in checking the slave trade in African
waters, can look on unconcernedly while the same trade in the middle
of Asia lays waste such a country, whose ancient civilisation was
of profit to Europe itself. In like manner I, too, cannot conceal
my astonishment at the apathy which Europe, and especially that
State whose flag is in the East ever the harbinger of the dawn of a
newer, a happier era, has displayed on this question. Sentimental
newspaper writers, in their political rhapsodies, may yet for a long
time take under their protection the feelings of independence of
many a savage Asiatic tribe, to whom freedom means nothing more than
anarchy, plunder, and murder. But the dreams of Rousseau have had
their day, and we can with the fullest confidence say, that whenever
Europe shows herself in the East, whether in the peaceful garb of
the missionary, or in the terrible panoply of her warlike power,
she brings only blessings in her train, and scatters the seeds of
a new order of things. The more light is poured from the West upon
the East, the sooner will the evil customs of the old world be
eradicated, and our brother men be made happier.



In arguing about the Russian conquest of Central Asia, we are wont
to say that the Court of St. Petersburg, in those far-reaching
schemes which she pursues towards the Hindu-Khush with so much toil,
at so heavy a cost, seeks some richer recompense than is to be found
on the shores of the Yaxartes and the Oxus. Well; it is true that
Russia's policy does not confine itself to the possession of the
plains of Bokhara, Khokand, and Khiva. But in the meantime let us
not undervalue the immediate gain of these conquests. It is right
that we should learn the comparative worth of the three Khanats,
the nature and extent of their produce, both as it is, and as with
proper management it might become.

The very name of "oasis countries" contributes towards creating an
impression, that the inhabited part of Turkestan must be unimportant
as regards productive power; add to this the poverty and the
extremely primitive and simple mode of life of its inhabitants, and
it is not surprising that the great distance and the consequent
want of knowledge should have begotten and spread erroneous
notions. The natives themselves, as well as oriental travellers and
geographers, such as Idrisi, Ibni Haukal, Ebulfeda, and the learned
Prince Baber, fall into the opposite extreme, by representing
Turkestan as the richest country on the face of the globe, India
alone excepted. This opinion prevailed in former times,[21] not
only throughout Western Asia, but even very lately I have met with
it in several localities, and never felt more astonished than when
I heard the egotistic Persian eloquently praising the wealth of
Turkestan, a country he looks upon with deadly hatred and aversion.
As for ourselves, we will try to form as far as possible an
impartial estimate, although we must maintain at the outset, that
Turkestan by far surpasses the known parts of European and Asiatic
Turkey, Afghanistan and Persia, both in the wealth and variety of
its productions; nay, that it might be difficult to find in Europe,
flourishing as it is, and rich in every blessing, a territory that
would rival the oasis countries of Turkestan.

  [21] The plain of Sogdiana or the Zerefsha--valley between Bokhara
  and Samarkand--is spoken of as an earthly paradise, and Hafiz calls
  the towns of Bokhara and Samarkand the greatest treasure, and yet
  surpassed by his beloved.

The great variety of productions is to be ascribed essentially to
the climate of the countries bordering the Oxus and Yaxartes. It is
neither harsh, nor could it exactly be termed mild. On the average
it corresponds to the climate of Central Europe, though it must
be remarked, that the winter is far more severe on the shores of
the Sea of Aral and in the mountainous parts of Khokand, and the
summer, on the contrary, much warmer in those districts that lie to
the south, and often almost tropical in the immediate neighbourhood
of the great sandy deserts. The Oxus is frozen over every winter,
from Kerki and Tchardshuy to its mouth; in Kungrad, Khodja Ili,
and on the right bank, where the Karakalpaks dwell, the winter is
generally very severe; the snow lies often for weeks on the ground,
and tempestuous north winds (Ayamudjiz) are not unfrequent. Under
such conditions there can be no question of a mild climate, and yet
in Khiva I have found the heat unbearable as early as the beginning
of June, while in August, near Kerki and Belkh, it was more sultry
and oppressive, even in the shade, than is the case in really
tropical countries. This great variation in the climate produces
corresponding local differences in the vegetation of even a small
extent of country. Thus, for instance, the cotton of Yengi Üergendj
is far better than that in the more northern districts, and the
silk of Hezaresp is considered throughout the Khanat of Khiva to
be of first-rate quality. Görlen produces the finest rice, and the
finest fruit is found in the environs of Khiva, which lies farther
south. In Bokhara and in Khokand we see the same effects produced
by the climate, and hence the reason why each of the three Khanats
contains, on a comparatively small area, such various and manifold
productions, as are usually met with only in larger countries, which
lie between several zones.[22]

  [22] The difference in the harvest time in Turkestan best
  illustrates the above remark. In Belkh, for instance, and in the
  neighbourhood of Andkhuj, the harvest is at the beginning of June;
  in Hezaresp, Khiva, and Karaköl, towards the end of June; in the
  oasis-countries, in July; in Kungrat, and in the north of Khokand,
  not before the beginning of August.

The extraordinary productiveness of the soil is to be ascribed
partly to the "blessed" rivers, so-called by the natives, which
intersect the oasis-countries, and partly to the quality of the
soil. Of these rivers the Oxus is the most important. From its
fertilizing influence upon the land it may be compared to the Nile;
although, when used as drinking-water, the latter still surpasses it
in its pleasantness to the taste. Next comes the Zerefshan, whose
name, "Scatterer of Gold," sufficiently indicates the blessing it
scatters over its shores. Nor are the smaller rivers, such as the
Shehr Sebz and the tributaries of the Yaxartes, of less importance.
When we finally add, that the irrigation of the fields is carried
on with as much care, and much more ease, than in other parts of
Western Asia, we shall cease to marvel any longer at the rich
resources of the soil, however grand and important they may still

I have already noticed in my "Travels in Central Asia" that the
irrigation is carried on--firstly, by natural canals, called _arna_,
which are formed by the irregular course of the Oxus; secondly, by
_yaps_, _i.e._, smaller artificial canals, by which every village
and colony is surrounded and intersected. In all places of any
importance there is a high official, called Mirab (prince or warden
of the water), who inspects the various aqueducts, and orders them
every spring to be freed from the accumulated sand. During the
winter the sluice-gates of all the principal "arnas" are closed as
a protection against the inundations which naturally follow the
breaking up of the ice. The cleaning of the canals takes place at
the beginning of April, and the great object in view is to make
them constantly deeper and narrower. The sand that is taken out is
heaped up on both sides of the bank, which have thus for miles the
appearance of intrenchments, and with their cooling shade protect
the precious water from the burning rays of the summer's sun. To the
general purposes of communication, however, these intrenched ditches
are very prejudicial, although of real advantage to agriculture.
Hence, the more expensive kahriz--subterranean canals--in Persia,
are far more advantageous, and, moreover, preserve the water purer
and cooler. The yaps and arnas in Central Asia form great obstacles
to the traveller. Bridges are either very bad or altogether wanting.
Let the reader imagine the trouble and the dreadful loss of time
incurred, when a caravan with its heavily-laden camels has to cross
from ten to fifteen of such embanked canals in one day's march. How
prejudicial it is to the rivers to have so much water drawn off,
we see clearly in the Oxus. Formerly it flowed, no doubt, into the
Caspian Sea, now its embouchure is in the Sea of Aral,[23] and this
great change in its watercourse must be ascribed, if not wholly, yet
in a great degree, to the evil of the many small canals.

  [23] Burnes (Travels in Bokhara, ch. ii. p. 188) doubts altogether
  whether the Oxus had formerly a different watercourse, and, amongst
  other reasons, supports his view by the opinion of the natives. No
  one will feel surprised that I heard them assert the very contrary.
  Among the Turkomans there exist numerous contradictory legends in
  connection with the former watercourse of the Oxus.

It is difficult to decide which of the three Khanats is the most
fertile, especially now, when since the death of the much-lamented
Conolly, nobody is able to furnish a succinct account of the nature
and resources of the soil. To judge from all I have seen in my
journey to Samarkand, and learned from my fellow-travellers, of
Khokand, the native home of most of them, I should feel inclined to
give the preference to the Khanat of Khiva in point of vegetation.
The two other Khanats have more land under cultivation, but
Khiva surpasses them by far in the quantity and quality of its
productions, with the exception, perhaps, of fruit, which Bokhara
furnishes in greater variety, and of finer flavour. Bokhara also
deserves the prize with respect to all mineral productions; but the
breeding of the finest cattle and horses is the exclusive property
of the nomads.

The land is measured by _tanab_ (cord,--a tanab is equal to sixty
square yards), and in Khiva and Khokand consists of (1) _Mülk_,
freehold property, which is subject to the payment of taxes; (2)
_Khanlik_, arrear estates, _i.e._, such land which the Government
has either reclaimed and brought under cultivation, or which has
devolved upon it by confiscation and conquest. Of this land a third
of the net income is claimed by the State. (3) _Yarimdji_,[24]
all land that belongs to the medresse (schools), mosques, or any
religious institutions, and which is liable to a fourth of the net
income. The Khanlik estates in each district are under the control
of a certain number of officials, called _Müshürüb_, who at the same
time collect the taxes. Church property, on the contrary, is under
the management of the mutevalis, as in other Islamitic countries.

  [24] These were formerly let on the system of half-profit, as
  indicated by the name.

The quality of the land in general may be judged best by my stating,
that the richest soil under cultivation produces one hundred batman
(one batman is equal to twenty-four pounds) on a tanab, and that of
least productive quality never less than sixty batman. And taking
into consideration that the cultivation of the ground here, as
everywhere in Asia, is done in the most negligent manner, and is in
the highest degree primitive, a competent judge can easily form an
idea of the great fertility of the soil.

It is impossible for me to say how many square miles of cultivated
land, or of land capable of cultivation, the three Khanats possess.
The frequent wars and unsettled times sufficiently explain the
numerous ruins of former flourishing colonies. Of the Khanat of
Khiva thus much at all events may be assumed, that the area of
territories laid waste and turned into deserts is larger than the
land at present under cultivation. With the exception of a few
single productions, with which the three Khanats carry on an export
trade among each other, and with Russia, only so much of the rest is
grown as is required for home consumption. There is no doubt that
not only might the quality of all present productions be essentially
improved, but also considerably multiplied.

A short survey of the productions of the three Khanats will help to
explain and confirm in detail all I have hitherto stated.


Wheat and barley are the most important among the cereals grown in
the oasis countries of Turkestan. There are four kinds of wheat:--

1. _Bukhara budayi_ (Bokhara wheat) is considered the finest; it has
a long, thin, and reddish grain, with a greenish top. Of this sort
the delicious bread is baked, in the preparation of which the town
of Bokhara excels, and which is famed far and wide under the name of
_shirmaye_ (milk-marrow).

2. _Tokmak bash_ (cuneiform top) has a round, thick grain; it is
very substantial, and most like our wheat. The best quality is found
in Khiva.

3. _Kara süllü_ (black-haired) has a thin and dark-brown grain; it
is chiefly used as food for horses, not being of a particularly good

4. Yazlik (summer-fruit) takes a very short time to grow; it is
exceedingly light, and, when used, is mixed with other kinds of

Barley is not so good in Central Asia as in Persia or Turkey. There
is, besides the usual sort, an inferior one, called _karakalpak_ in
Khiva, which is here used, as everywhere in the East, as food for
horses. The average prices of all cereals are exceedingly low, as
compared with the countries of western Asia. The price of a Khiva
batman of the best wheat varies from two to three tenge (one tenge,
seventy-five cent.), whilst barley costs often less than one tenge,
and seldom more.

Rice is grown in enormous quantities, but it is far inferior to the
Herat or the excellent Shiraz rice, called tchampa and amberbuy
(amber perfume) in quality. It is more like the Egyptian, called in
Turkey dimyati (damietter), but would no doubt surpass the latter,
if cultivated with more care and attention.

_Djügeri_ (holcus sorghum) is grown and consumed in far larger
quantities in the three Khanats than anywhere else in Asia. It
is eaten in a milky state, but when dry it is used as fodder,
principally for young colts, being less heating, and also more
nourishing, than barley, from the quantity of saccharine matter it
contains. Bread is made of it, either alone or mixed with wheat.

_Mekke djügeri_ (Turkish wheat) never grows higher than a small
span's length. Two kinds of it are found, one with a yellowish, the
other with a red, small grain. It is never dried, and always either
eaten in its milky state or used as fodder.

_Tari_ (groats) is an important article of consumption in Central
Asia, and is therefore much grown. There are several sorts.

Besides the well-known kinds of pulse, such as peas (burtshak),
beans (lubie), lentils (jasmuk), &c., there are several others which
we do not know; as for instance, the _konak_, which has smaller but
thicker seeds, and a lower shrub than our lentil; _mash_, rather
larger than millet, of a brownish colour, and several others, which
are of no interest to the general reader.

Of oil-plants, I must mention first of all the _kündshi_ sesame,
which thrives very well, and provides the Khanats amply with oil
for cooking and burning. Then there is the _zigir_, a plant similar
to millet, which bears on one stalk several fruits, which are
like apples, and the yellow seeds in which are not bigger than
poppy-seeds. This oil is fit in food, especially in pastry. Then
the _djigit_, the seeds of the cotton-capsule, the oil of which,
however, is not fit for food. _Kender_ (hemp), of which an inferior
sort of linen is made, and which also furnishes the very popular
narcotic, called beng. Lastly, indau, a small shrub, from the
greenish seeds of which a bitter oil, and of a disagreeable smell,
is made, which is used as a medicine for animals, and especially for

Among the plants, which produce dye-drugs, the following are most
esteemed:--_ruyan_ or _boyak_, an excellent species of madder,
which thrives in all three Khanats, and is exported in considerable
quantities to Russia. In the year 1835 this article was very little
in request, and in the year 1860 as many as 24,523 Russian pud
(883,000 English pounds) were imported.[25] _Isbarak_ or _barak_,
whose small yellow flowers, when dried and powdered, give a fine
yellow colour. _Görtchük_, a plant resembling clover, with small
red flowers; the leaves, when boiled, give a fine black colour.
_Buzgundjh_, a plant with a fruit similar to gall-nuts, only grows
in southern Maymene, and in the Badkhiz mountains, north of Herat,
and is said to produce the finest red colour; it fetches a high
price in the place itself.

  [25] Mitchell. "The Russians in Central Asia," p. 462.

Although not belonging to the same class of plants, I must mention
here the _terendjebin_, a resinous and very sweet substance,
which grows on a thorn, called khari shutur (camel's thorn). The
_terendjebin_ shows itself suddenly and quite unexpectedly towards
the end of the summer during the night, and has to be collected at
once in the early morning, before it grows hot. It resembles a gum,
is of a greyish white colour, exceedingly sweet, and can be eaten in
its raw state; in Central Asia it is made into shire (syrup), but
in Persia it is used in the sugar-manufactures of Meshed and Yezd.

As regards fruit, we find in the Khanats almost every species (with
the exception of fruits of the South) in great quantity, and of
excellent quality. A very considerable export trade is carried on
in it to Russia, and even to "rich" India. The Central Asiatic is
not a little proud of his superiority in this respect, in Asia the
glory and value of a country being determined by the quality of
its water, air, and fruit. Each of the three Khanats has in the
latter its spécialité; Khiva is distinguished for its melons and
apples, Bokhara for its grapes and peaches. It may be that some
parts of Persia and Turkey surpass Bokhara; but for melons, Khiva is
unrivalled, not only in Asia, but I feel inclined to say, throughout
the world. No European can form an idea of the sweet taste and
aromatic flavour of this delicious fruit. It melts in the mouth,
and, eaten with bread, is the most wholesome and refreshing food
that nature affords.

The celebrated Nasrabadi melon alone, near Ispahan, reminds one,
though very feebly, of this fruit of Central Asia, unique in its
kind. There is a great variety of species. The principal summer
melons are the following:--1. _Zamtche_, which ripens earliest; it
is round, of a yellowish colour, and has a thin skin. 2. _Görbek_,
of a greenish colour, and with a white meat. 3. _Babasheikhi_ is
small, round, and with a white meat. 4. _Köktche._ 5. Shirin
_Petchek_, especially mellow and sweet, of a small round shape.
6. _Shekerpare._ 7. _Khitayi._ 8. _Koknabat._ 9. _Aknabat._ 10.
_Begzade._[26] The winter melons are not ripe until the beginning
of October, but they keep the whole winter, and are most palatable
in February. There are the following kinds:--1. _Karagulebi._ 2.
_Kizilgulabi._ 3. _Beshek._ 4. _Payandeki._ 5. _Saksaul_ Kavunu.
These are mostly exported to Russia.

  [26] I observe with pleasure, that of the seeds, which I brought
  with me from Central Asia, several kinds have succeeded in Hungary.
  These will undoubtedly be the best melons we have in Europe.

The Oxus chiefly contributes to render the melons of Central Asia so
incomparably excellent, since the finest quality thrives only on its
banks. The melons of Bokhara are very indifferent, and in quality
even inferior to those of Khokand.

Khanikoff mentions in his interesting work[27] ten different
kinds of grapes he found in Bokhara. In Khiva I met with the
following:--1. _Huseini_, with oblong seeds and a thin skin, very
sweet, and keeps throughout the winter. 2. _Meske_, with large
round seeds. 3. _Sultani._ 4. _Khalide_ are ripe first of any. 5.
_Shiborgani._ 6. _Taifi._ 7. _Khirmani._ 8. _Sayeke._ All these
different sorts of grapes grow on the level ground, and are either
made into shire (syrup) or dried for eating; wine being made only by
the Jews in Bokhara, and in a very small quantity.

  [27] "Bokhara, its Emir and its People."

There are four sorts of apples grown, and that of Hezaresp may
boldly challenge the productions of our European horticulture.

The mulberry, too, is larger, more varied, and sweeter than ours,
and to this superiority we must, perhaps, ascribe the fact, that the
silk of Central Asia is better than the Italian and French, and that
a certain disease among silk-worms, common with us for many years,
is there quite unknown.

The rearing of silk-worms came originally from Chinese Tartary,
especially from Khoten, where, as M. Reinaud[28] correctly remarks,
it was introduced in the first century of our era from the interior
of China. Silk stuffs of native manufacture were known in Bokhara
in pre-Islamitic times, according to the testimony of a certain
Manuscript,[29] which treats of the ancient history of Bokhara.
It is no exaggeration to assert that the cultivation, spinning,
and dyeing of silk, is a still more primitive process in the
three Khanats than in China itself, where industrial progress, no
doubt, effected many changes, whilst here everything has remained
as it was years ago. The Khanat Bokhara supplies most of the raw
silk; it is produced in the capital, in Samarkand, and among the
Lebab-Turkomans. Much also comes from the Khanat of Khokand, in
the neighbourhood of Mergolan and Namengan. Khiva contributes but
little, and this little is inferior in quality to the productions
of the other Khanats, though, as competent judges have assured me,
it is far superior to the silk of Gilan and Mazendran, in Persia.
The manipulation, however, is very imperfectly performed. I was
struck with the manner of winding off the cocoons, which were placed
in a cauldron of boiling water and stirred with a broom, until a
certain number of threads unwind themselves, which are then wound
round the broom. The dyeing is almost exclusively in the hands of
the Jews, the weaving is done by the Tadjik and Mervi, who, in
accordance with the taste and fashion of the country, prepare only
stuffs of glaring colours.

  [28] "Relations Politiques et Commerciales de l'Empire Romain avec
  l'Asie Orientale," p. 197.

  [29] Tarichi Narschachi.

In former times, especially during the Arabian occupation, the silk
stuffs of Central Asia were celebrated throughout the East; but when
the cleverest of the artisans were transferred by the conquerors to
Damascus and Bagdad, the old art gradually disappeared, and is now
gone for ever, in spite of the efforts of Timur to transplant it
back from Transoxania. How great is the quantity of silk produced
here, is shown by the circumstance, that the greater part of the
cotton stuffs, called _aladja_, that are generally worn, are
strongly intermixed with silk; that not only the rich, but every man
of middle rank, possesses one or more garments, several table-cloths
and pocket-handkerchiefs made of silk; and that a considerable
export trade in silk is carried on, not only with Persia, India, and
Afghanistan, but to a large extent with Russia.

The cotton in Central Asia promises to become an important article
for the future. It is cultivated in large quantities in the three
Khanats, furnishing the material for the upper and under garments of
every body, high and low, for their bed-clothes, and cloths of every
kind. The cotton in Turkestan is better than the Indian, Persian,
and Egyptian, and is said to equal the far-famed American cotton.
At present, however, Russia alone consumes this article in her
manufactures at Moskau, Wladimir, Tverskoy, &c., and in quantities
which increase annually in a surprising degree. The manufacturers
complain greatly of the clumsy management of the planters,
especially of the insufficient cleansing of the cotton from the
seeds, as well as of the dishonesty of the traders, who wet the
bales, or fill them with stones, to make them heavier. Nevertheless,
the cotton, which is imported from Khiva and Bokhara by Orenburg, is
almost indispensable to Russian industry.

In Central Asia the cultivation of cotton is comparatively easy
and convenient, the cotton fields requiring no irrigation, and the
rain being considered, if anything, prejudicial even in the spring.
A hard, stony ground, called _Soga_, is always chosen, and is
ploughed once; on the whole, the cultivation of cotton is the least
troublesome of all field occupations. According to the statistical
dates of the Orenburg custom-house the greatest quantity of cotton
is produced in the Khanat of Bokhara; this statement, however,
rests upon an error, since the caravans of Khiva, when crossing the
Jaxartes, frequently join the Bokhariots, or they give themselves
out for Bokhariots; these latter standing on a much better footing
with the Russians, whilst the people of Khiva are in very ill favour
with them. I know from my own experience, and have convinced myself
by frequent inquiries, that not only is the cultivation of cotton
far more flourishing in Khiva, but its quality is far superior to
that in the two sister Khanats. The pod, here called gavadje, is
smaller than that of Bokhara; but the cotton is much finer and
whiter even than the guzei sefid, that is, the first quality of
Bokhariot cotton industry. The Central Asiatics themselves give the
preference to the Khiva production, a fact which tends to confirm
our opinion. In dyeing and weaving Bokhara stands pre-eminent, but
the stuffs from Khiva are better paid in her capital than her own
manufactures. They are exported to Afghanistan, India, and Northern
Persia, and are a highly-prized article even among the nomads.

There is no doubt that the cotton of the oasis countries will
one day considerably increase in value. Several circumstances of
paramount and urgent necessity must combine to further this object.
Above all things, it is requisite that important improvements should
be introduced in the mode of cultivation; our European machines
should come in aid of the cleansing and packing, and the roads
should be rendered, as far as possible, secure. By these means the
cotton would not only be improved in quality, but, without any great
additional expense, the quantity might be considerably multiplied.
It is very probable that Central Asia may one day, although not
in the immediate future, be to Russia what New Carolina is to the
manufacturing towns of England at the present day.

The immense increase in the exportation of cotton from Central
Asia is shown very clearly in the Blue Books of 1862 and 1865, in
the list which Mr. Saville Lumley, former secretary to the English
embassy at St. Petersburg, has contributed. According to this
official statement the Khanats exported to the value of--

             | BOKHARA.  |   KHIVA. | KHOKAND.
             | Roubles.  | Roubles. | Roubles.
             |           |          |
   1840-1850 | 2,065,697 | 470,781  |  16,851
             |           |          |
      1853   |   280,514 | 133,799  |
      1854   |   509,600 | 248,347  |  The
      1855   |   513,023 | 185,683  |  dates
      1856   |   501,225 |   36,050 |  are
      1857   |   578,483 |   66,776 |  wanting.
      1858   |   634,643 |   59,729 |
      1859   |   495,065 |    2,274 |
      1860   |   721,899 |   22,429 |   4,907
             |           |          |
             |           |          |
    Total... | 4,234,412 | 755,087  |   4,907
             |           |          |

From this list we see, that the exports of 1840-1850 did increase
more than double during the next ten years, and under favourable
political circumstances would, no doubt, continue to increase.

We must add the remark, that although Bokhara shows in this list
throughout the largest figures, it does not by any means follow
that they are the result of its own exclusive production. Much
Khiva cotton has been included, as well as the cotton which the
Urgends traders carry to Orenburg on the Bokhara road. The Orenburg
custom-house furnishes the list, and all the cotton is entered under
the head of Bokhara. In like manner much Khokand cotton is mixed up
with it. The Khokand traders give themselves out for Bokhariots on
the frontier, on account of the frequent hostilities between their
tribe and the Russians.


We must mention first of all the domestic animals, and among these
the genus, sheep. Two species are usually distinguished: 1, the
_Kazak koy_ (the Kirghis sheep); and, 2, the _Œzbeg koy_ (the
Œzbeg sheep). The Kirghis sheep is preferred to the latter, for
its wool as well as its meat. Throughout Central Asia we meet with
the fat-tailed sheep. Of these it is said, that their masters are
obliged to fasten either cylinders or wheels under their broad,
thick tails, which they drag after them on the ground, in order to
render walking easier to them, or rather to enable them to walk at
all--a story which is by no means exaggerated, however incredible
it may appear. The so-called Bakkan koy, the fatted sheep, give
often from two to three batman of pure fat. The meat I found, in
point of taste and flavour, superior to any in all those parts of
Asia I am acquainted with. The highly celebrated Kivirdjik and
Karaman sheep in Turkey cannot be compared to them; and even the
south Persian sheep, of which the Persians are exceedingly proud,
are inferior to them.

The wool is not of the same excellence, and is used less for
clothing (probably for want of knowledge in the preparation of it)
than for carpets, travelling-bags, horse-cloths, and similar other
coarse stuffs; it is little seen in the export trade. Black, curly
lamb-skins, on the other hand, form an important article of trade.
Its chief source is Bokhara, especially Karaköl; from here it is
exported all over Asia, and even to Europe, where it is known under
the name of Astrachan. The skin is drawn off the young lamb two or
three days after its birth, and then softened in barley meal and
salt. It is said, that washing it in the water of the Zerefshan
gives it the beautiful lustre; and in the month of July thousands
of them may be seen spread out for drying along its banks, between
Bokhara and Behaeddin. The skins are everywhere admired, but mostly
in request in Persia, where they are made into the fashionable hats
of the country. If we take into account, that a külah (a hat, for
which three or four skins are used) costs there as much as from
ten to fifteen ducats, we may feel assured that our Astrachan
of a considerably lower price is no Bokhara production. With the
nomads of Central Asia the breeding of sheep is a chief means of
maintenance, and we can easily form an idea of the innumerable
flocks of sheep which graze and rove upon the steppes. The Kirghis
send great quantities of sheep to the Khanats and to Russia, where
the importation is constantly on the increase. In the year 1835
about 850,000, and in the year 1860 already 3,644,000 roubles' worth
of sheep were imported.[30] In addition to this enormous quantity of
sheep, raw sheep-skins to the value of 75,000, and wool to the value
of 86,000 silver roubles, passed the Russian frontier at Orenburg in
the same year.

  [30] Compare "The Russians in Central Asia," p. 462.

The _goat_ is, after the sheep, one of the most important of
domestic animals. Goats' flesh is not so palatable as that of sheep,
but it is here better than anywhere else in Asia. The wool of the
goat, according to Burnes, is far inferior to that of the Cashmir
goat, but tolerably good; and waterproof stuffs are made of it.

_Horses_, of excellent breed, are found among the Turkomans, who
export the finest to Afghanistan, India and Persia. The Turkoman
horse, especially the Akhal and Yomut race,[31] is very little
inferior to the Arab horse in point of swiftness and endurance, as
well as in beauty of form. The Œzbeg horse, or the species met
with in Bokhara, Khiva, and Maymene, possesses more strength than

  [31] Compare "Travels in Central Asia," p. 420.

The _camels_ of Central Asia, among which the breed of Bokhara and
the two-humped Kirghis are considered the best of their kind, are
surpassed in point of strength and swiftness only by the Arab, and
especially by the Hedshaz camel. The story that the camels can
preserve water pure and cool in their second stomach, and that
travellers, when suffering from thirst, drink it in their utmost
need, is perfectly unknown here; and on questioning the nomads on
the subject, they only laughed and seemed highly amused. These
animals are famous in Central Asia for their rare contentedness,
satisfied as they are with the very worst water, and most miserable
food, consisting of thistles and briars, and in spite of which
they hold on for days, loaded with the heaviest burdens. They are
at the same time entirely free from the spite and viciousness of
the Arabian camel. They are exported to Russia and Afghanistan;
less to Russia. Their hair is cut twice a year, and is used in the
manufacture of ropes and coarse stuffs. Cattle on the whole are not
very numerous, and in rather a poor condition. The finest cattle are
said to exist in Khokand, and among the Karakalpaks on the Oxus,
whose exclusive occupation is to rear them. Beef is, in Central
Asia, still more tough and unpalatable than in Persia or Turkey,
and the consumption of it is therefore limited to the poorest class
of the people. Butter and cheese are made of cow's milk, but in
comparatively small quantities. _Mules_ are not found in Central
Asia, from a religious superstition against disgracing the horse,
the noble animal, "par excellence;" but all the greater care is
bestowed upon the breeding of the ass, which undoubtedly is here
the finest and most excellent of all I have seen in Asia. The ass
is, in Bokhara, not only of a vigorous frame and high stature, but
of surprising nimbleness, and in long caravan marches can be relied
upon as much as the horse. The fowls are of the long-legged Chinese
breed. Geese are smaller than those in Europe; and there are several
species of ducks. Besides these, there are swans, partridges,
guinea-fowls and pheasants, of which the finest sort is found in


My readers will not feel surprised that we should have but a scanty
knowledge of the mineral riches in the three Khanats. Lehmann, and
other Russian travellers, who, furnished with sufficient geological
knowledge, might have made closer investigations, were thwarted in
their efforts at every step by the jealousy of the Tartar officials.
I incline, however, to the opinion of Burnes, that Central Asia
possesses either no precious metals or extremely few, and that the
gold dust in the Zerefshan is not the property of the country,
but washed down by the small rivers that rise in the Hindukhush.
According to a statement of the Central Asiatics, the mountainous
country round Samarkand and in Bedakhshan, the Oveis-Karayne
mountains on the left bank of the Oxus (in the Khanat of Khiva),
and the Great Balkan in the desert near the Caspian Sea, are rich
in metallic wealth. That gold mines really do exist near the upper
Oxus, is proved by a certain considerable quantity of gold annually
obtained from it, although the gold-washing is carried on in the
most primitive and negligent manner.

The gold-washing, or more correctly the gold-fishing, is done with
camels' tails, of which several are hung up side by side between
two poles. People beat them about in the water for some time, or
they dip them into the river, and then hang them up. Those places
are always chosen where the water is troubled, and the work is
generally performed in June and July, the months in the year most
fit for the purpose. I doubt whether any gold-dust is exported; it
is not probable, since the smaller ornaments are made of native
metal, as the Persian goldsmith in Bokhara informed me. Silver is
found in Khiva in the above-mentioned mountains, and a considerable
quantity of this valuable metal was really gained during the reign
of Allahkuli-Khan, when the miners were worked for three years
under the management of a native of India, who had been educated
for this department. It is said that after the death of this prince
he either fled or was murdered. Since that time the mines have been
much neglected. I also heard some vague reports of the existence of
silver mines near Shehri Sebz.

Of precious stones, we must mention first of all the rubies of
Bedakhshan, which were formerly of high repute in Asia, under the
name of Laali Bedakhshan; at the present day not many of them are
found. Cornelian exists in large quantities in the mountain-rivers
of Bedakhshan. It is very cheap, and is exported to Arabia, Persia,
and Turkey. Lapis lazuli, which is used in dyeing, is of small value
in Central Asia, and is exported to Russia and Persia. The turquoise
of Bedakhshan and Khokand is far inferior in colour to that of
Nishapur in Persia, and is purchased by none but the nomads and
Nogay silversmiths; it is of a green instead of a blue colour, and
liked far less than the latter.[32]

  [32] Compare Ritter, "Erdkunke," viii., 326.

This sketch of the productions of the oasis countries in Central
Asia will have convinced my readers, and especially those who
are acquainted with Asiatic countries and their conditions, that
Turkestan cannot be numbered among the sterile countries. Called
by the natives "a jewel set in sand," from its own peculiar value
and the barrenness around it, Central Asia will certainly play an
important part one day among the countries of the far East, and
occupy a prominent position, as soon as the beneficent beams of our
European civilisation shall have dried up the stagnant pool of its
miserable social relations, and as soon as the grand results we
have gained for industry and agriculture shall there likewise have
received their acknowledgment. It is robbery, murder, and war, but
not the barrenness of nature, which convert the shores of the Oxus
and Jaxartes into a desert. In Bokhara, but especially in Khiva,
agriculture is almost exclusively in the hands of slaves, of which
there are in the latter Khanat more than 80,000. Their rude manners
have placed the sword in the hands of the inhabitants,--the plough
is considered degrading, and is entirely given over to slaves.
When will these Khanats learn to see that a great part of their
misfortunes, and the unsettled state of their political and social
relations, originate in the perversity of their nature and conduct?

A government which endeavours to smooth existing relations deserves
our full acknowledgment and cordial wishes for success, although it
is premature to anticipate a complete change. Nor must we grudge it
the natural wealth of the country. Setting aside the moral influence
of such a Government, and its possible future political schemes, the
material gain is, on the whole, not large; nay, I maintain, that it
is small, when compared to the trouble and expense the occupation
and administration of such a province require--a province, the
communication with which must always be attended with endless
hardships and difficulties.



What I have to impart in this chapter on the ancient history of
Bokhara is taken out of a Persian MS., brought by the late Sir
Alexander Burnes from Bokhara, which bears the name of "Tarikhi
Narshakhi," the history of Narshakhi. The author, Mehemmed ben
Djafer el Narshakhi, wrote this highly interesting work in Bokhara,
in the year of the Hegirah, 332, under the government of Emir
Hamid the Samanide, in Arabic. Later, in the year 522, it was
translated into Persian, and augmented by quotations from a not less
interesting work, Khazain ul Ulum, "The Treasures of Wisdom," which
Ebul Hassan wrote at Nishapur. In consideration of its historical
value it is well worth the trouble (in a quite literal translation)
to give the whole. The distinguished orientalist, Monsieur de
Khanikoff, has already done this, and it will very probably be put
before the scientific world. We have here only selected that which
is suitable to the outline of our sketches, and for this reason
given an extract in a free translation, since this is less fatiguing
to the majority of readers, and more acceptable.


On the site of modern Bokhara there must have been in ancient days
a morass, which arose from the yearly flooding of the river that
comes from Samarkand. In summer, from the melting of the snow in the
existing mountains in the neighbourhood, this was much augmented.
This morass was dried up at a later period, and the fertile soil
soon attracted settlers from all sides. From these colonists a
prince was chosen, by name Aberzi, for their ruler. Bokhara itself
existed not then. There were simply numerous villages, of which
Beykem or Beykend (the village of the ruler) was the largest.
Tyranny soon dispersed this little colony. A part of it drew back to
northern Turkestan, founded the town Djemuket,[33] and soon enjoyed
a flourishing condition. Later they returned to the assistance of
their brethren whom they had left behind. Then Prince Shir Kishver,
"Lion of the Land," conquered the bad Aberzi, put him in a sack
full of thorns, and turned him round and round until he died.
Bokhara gradually flourished again. Shir Kishver ruled for twenty
years, and contributed much to the success of the colony, and his
followers pursued the same path, and the whole neighbourhood was
soon peopled and covered with villages. In what epoch the chronology
of this place falls, is hard to conjecture. It were a vain effort
to attempt to penetrate the table of the oldest history of Bokhara.
We prefer rather to give the interesting data of the MSS. on that
neighbourhood, and to begin with Bokhara, which from ancient days
was an important spot.

  [33] This is very probably the modern Chemket, in the new Russian
  province of Turkestan.


What the source of our information relates with regard to the
religious importance of this spot, what pre-eminence its inhabitants
had, what distinction awaits them at the day of resurrection, &c.,
will not much interest our readers. Siaush is stated to have been
the founder of the fortress, where he was slain in a public square,
before the Gate Guriun, by his own father-in-law. This place was
constantly held in honour by the fire-worshippers, and every one
took care to offer a cock there on Noruz (New Year's Day) before the
set of sun. This commemorative festival was celebrated everywhere.
Troubadours have long sung of it in their lays, though the story
relates to facts that happened three thousand years ago. Other
people affirm that Efrasiab was the founder. It may suffice to know
that the fortress long remained desolate and uninhabited until
Benden, or Bendun, the husband of Queen Khatun, rebuilt it, together
with a castle over the gate, on which he caused his own name to be
engraved in iron. In the year 600 Heg. this gate, together with the
iron slab, was still conspicuous; later all fell in ruins, and every
attempt to rebuild it was fruitless. After the opinion of the wise
men of the day it was at length rebuilt in the form of the Pleïades,
on seven pillars, and from that time all kings who inhabited it were
victorious, and, what is still more wonderful, none of them died, as
long as they continued to occupy it. This castle had two gates--the
Eastern or Gurian Gate, the western or Rigistan Gate--which were
connected by a road, and the castle contained the dwellings of
the chief officers, as well as the prison and treasury and divan.
After these events there was a time of desolation, and it was again
rebuilt by Arslan Khan, and enjoyed its former greatness, 534 Heg.
When Kharezm Shah took Bokhara he permitted governors appointed from
Sandjar to direct matters, and to destroy the citadel. Then, in 536
Heg., it was again restored. Similar events it experienced many
times, till at last the Moguls, under Djengis Khan, reduced to ruins
Bokhara and the fortress.

Of the palaces of Bokhara, the Seraï at the Rigistan must be
mentioned in the first place, in which square the lords of this
land, both in the pre-Islamite times and also later, were in the
habit of living. In regard to circumference, that which Emir Said,
the Samanide, caused to be built is the largest, and probably most
splendid palace, where all the high counsellors, with the governors,
are found in one and the same building.

After this, we must name Seray Molian, or that palace which was
built on the canal of the same name. This is described as an
exceedingly charming dwelling-place, which was surrounded by the
most luxurious gardens, the most beautiful meadows and flower-beds,
brooks and fountains. The whole tract of country, from the gate
of the Rigistan to Deshtek (little field) was quite full of
beautifully-painted, sumptuous houses, with lovely lakes, and
shadowy trees which allowed no sun to penetrate; and the gardens
exuberant in fruits, as almonds, nuts, cherries, &c.[34]

  [34] Almonds and cherries are, now-a-days, not to be met with as a
  product of Bokhara.

The palace of Shemsabad is also worthy of notice, which the king,
Shems-ed-din, caused to be built near the gate Ibrahim, and which is
remarkable for its zoological garden, named Kuruk. This was a place
of four miles in circumference, surrounded with high walls, where
many dove-cotes, as well as wild animals, such as apes, gazelles,
foxes, wolves, boars(!), in half-tamed condition, are found.
After the death of Shems-ed-din, his brother, Khidr Khan, mounted
the throne; then his son, Ahmed Khan, who continually increased
the beauty of the palace; but when the latter was conquered and
conducted to Samarkand by Melek Shah, it was abandoned, and
fell into ruins. Besides these there were many country houses
in the neighbourhood, nearer to the town, which belonged to the
Keshkushans. By this name a certain people were indicated who came
out of the west to Bokhara, but were not Arabs, and possessed a
singularly good reputation. When Kuteibe, after the conquest
of Bokhara, required the half of the houses for the Arabs, the
Keshkushans formed the largest portion of those who gave up their
houses and settled out of the town. Of these country houses only two
or three remained to later periods, which bore the name of Köshki
Mogan (Kiosks of the fire-worshipping priests). There were many
temples in Bokhara known as those of the fire-worshippers, and the
Mogan were accustomed to maintain them with great care. The first
town wall which extended round Bokhara was built by the command
of the governor, Ebul Abbas, in 215 Heg., in consequence of the
inhabitants having complained that they had suffered so much from
the inroads of the Turks. In the year 235 Heg., it was repaired and
fortified, but later entirely ruined when the Mongol hordes laid
waste the city and environs of Bokhara. Besides the above, mosques
and other buildings are mentioned. We wish to spare our readers
these details. The past prosperity of Bokhara is sufficiently shown,
when we appeal to twelve canals or larger conduits which intersect
the vicinity in all directions. The fruitful and bounteous nature
of the soil has, in the East, become proverbial, and the great sums
which have been levied on the town and environs prove it. After the
fourth, i.e., the final conquest of Bokhara by Kuteibe, the Khalif
in Bagdad received 200,000, and the governor of Khorassan 10,000,
dirrhems. In the time of the Samanides Bokhara paid, in Kerminch
alone, more than a million dirrhems tribute, which is considered an
immense sum according to the tariff of that period. In pre-Islamite
times there was in Bokhara only barter. The first governor who
struck silver money was Kanankhor. The coin had on one side his
portrait, and was of pure silver: this lasted up to the time of
Abubekir. The old coinage became lessened, and was replaced by the
inferior mint at Kharezm. In the time of Harun al Raschid, Athref,
the governor, struck a new mint of six different kinds of metal,
which were named atrifi or azrifi. (I think that the word, common in
Persia, eshrefi--ducats, is not from the Arabic, but derived from

In industrial arts also, Bokhara has exceeded the other nations of
once famous Asia. The dress stuffs which were fabricated on the bank
of the Zerefshan were sought for in Arabia, Persia, Egypt, Turkey,
India itself. These were merely of three colours, white, red and
green; but its silken stuffs were strong and heavy, and were worn
for a long time as the favourite royal and princely robes in many
lands. Next to these were the large carpets and curtains, which
were woven in Bokhara. The former of these were so expensive that
the town of Bokhara could pay, with one single carpet, the tribute
to Bagdad. In the later devastations of Bokhara the clever artizans
were scattered, and with them their art fell to the ground.


Besides the chief city and its wonders, there are many places of the
environs described in the manuscript before me. Some of these exist
even now; others have passed nameless.

_Kermineh._ In this many other towns are comprised, and this region
has produced many poets and poetesses. It is distant from Bokhara
fourteen farsangs only, and was named Dihi Khurdek (little town).

_Nur_ is a larger place, where there are many mosques and
caravanserais, and it is the spot most frequented by pilgrims of
the whole neighbourhood. In Bokhara much is thought of this, for a
journey thither is esteemed as half a pilgrimage to Mecca.

_Tavais_ (as the Arabians name it, for the proper name was Kud),
a considerable spot, which was celebrated for its markets. They
lasted commonly ten days, and were frequented yearly by more than
ten thousand persons, who came from Ferghana (Khokand) and from
all quarters. This circumstance made the inhabitants wealthy, and
they were famous for their riches. Tavais lies on the high road to
Samarkand, and is seven farsangs from Bokhara.

_Ishkuhket_, a large and rich town, carries on an extensive
commerce in preparing kirbas (a kind of linen); has many mosques,
caravanserais, and is considered one of the loveliest towns of

_Zendine_ produces the best kirbas in Bokhara, which it exports to
Arabia, Fars, Kirman, and other distant lands, and which is used
everywhere by princes and great people for clothing. It is in high
estimation, and is purchased at the same price as the heaviest

_Revane_ is a fortified spot, and was formerly the residence of the
kings, and it is said that it was built by Shapur. It is on the
Turkestan boundary, has a weekly market, at which much silken stuff
is sold.

_Efshana_ is a well fortified spot, has a mosque built by Kuteibe,
and a weekly market.

_Berkend_, a large old village, which the Emir Ismael, the Samanide,
bought, and divided the revenue between Dervishes and Seids.

_Rametin_ is older than Bokhara, and was earlier inhabited by
princes. It is said to have been built by Efrasiab, who fortified
it also at a later period, when he was attacked by Kaykhosrev, who
sought vengeance on him for the death of his father, Siaush, and
son-in-law. In this place were the most celebrated temples of the
fire-worshippers in all Transamana. Efrasiab was, after two years,
seized and killed by Kaykhosrev, and his grave is found at the entry
of that fire-temple, which stands on that high hill which is now
visible close to the mountains of Khodscha Imam. These events are
reported to have taken place three hundred years ago.

_Yerakh'sha_ is one of the Bokhara towns, and is celebrated for
its castle, which was built by Prince Gedek, one thousand years
since, and then lay long years in ruin. Later, Prince Hebek restored
a portion, and Benyat, the son of Tugshade, is said to have died
there. In the time of Islam, Emir Ismael, the Samanide, wished to
make a mosque of it, and offered the inhabitants 20,000 dirrhem as
a re-imbursement for the restoration, but they declined his offer.
In the time of Emir Hayder, the Samanide, there were yet some wooden
remains, which that person brought to Bokhara, and used for the
building of his castle. Yerakh'sha has yearly fifteen markets, of
which the last, which is held at the end of the year lasts twenty
days, and also is called the Noruz market (New Year's Day market),
which since that time (what time?) has become a Bokhara custom. Five
days after the Noruz market comes the Noruz Mogan (New Year's Day of
the priests of the fire-worshippers).

_Beykend_ was considered a city, and its inhabitants are highly
indignant if any one call it a village. Were a Beykender in Bagdad
questioned as to his home, he would say Bokhara. It was once a
considerable spot, had many beautiful buildings and mosques, and
in the year 240 Heg. had yet many rabats (stone houses in the form
of a caraverserai). The number of these exceeded a thousand, all
inhabited by people who, in summer, dwelt at their own country
seats, but in winter spent the fruits of their industry in the town,
and thus were very gay. The Beykenders were also great merchants,
who carried on a trade to China and the Sea. The fortifications of
this town are older than Bokhara, and it gave Kuteibe much trouble
to take it. In earlier times each prince had here his castle.
Between Beykend and Farab is a tract of twelve farsangs, which goes
through a sandy desert. Arslan Khan had raised here a magnificent
building, and with much cost brought the Canal Djaramgam into this
vicinity. In the neighbourhood of Beykend there are many beds of
reeds and large lakes, which they call Barkent ferrakh or _Karakol_.
According to a credible statement these are about twenty farsangs in
extent, and abound in water-fowl and fish, beyond any other portion
of Khorassan. Here the Canal Djaramgam had not sufficient water, so
Arslan Khan wished to bring from these lakes a stream to Beykend,
which place lies on a slight elevation. They began to dig, but they
struck on an excessively hard rock, which rendered useless all their
hammering and hewing. Loads of fat and vinegar were employed for the
softening of the stone, but in vain, and the work was abandoned.

_Farab_ has a large mosque, of which the walls and cupola are
built of tiles, without a particle of wood visible. It had its own
princes, who governed from Bokhara in a settled order, and, to a
certain degree, independently.


  [35] Khatun means in Turkish, _woman_, of which word we wish to
  avail ourselves instead of a name, as this is the practice in the
  MS. before us.

In the time of the Arabian occupation, or more properly speaking, in
that time when the first outposts of the Arabian adventurer pressed
to the distant East, there was in Bokhara a woman on the throne,
who, during the minority of her son Tugshade, held for fifteen years
the reins of government with both might and rectitude. Of this
woman, who is considered to be the Nushirvan (emblem of justice) of
Central Asia, it is reported that she went daily from her castle
on the Rigistan[36] on horseback, and, surrounded by all classes,
busied herself with state affairs. Towards the end of year 53 Heg.,
the Arabians, under the leading of Abdullah-ben-Ziad, crossed the
Oxus, and took the once celebrated Peykend, through which victory
they came into possession of much treasure, and about 4,000

  [36] _Rigistan_ means in old Persian, an open space, which is strewn
  with sand (rig) and kept vacant.

In the year 54, Heg., they attacked Bokhara with a strong army and
battering engines, and Khatun was cowed before the threatening
peril. One messenger was sent by her to the Arabian field-marshal
with presents, and instructions to obtain at least an armistice
for fourteen days; another was sent to the north-east to a Turkish
race, for quick aid. The stratagem was successful. The Arabs,
anticipating nothing, granted the armistice. Meanwhile the Turks
approached, and Khatun felt herself strong enough to attack the
besiegers and put them to flight. The defeat itself was not denied
by the Arabian historians: they only add, that the Mussulman army
took a rich booty in gold, silver, clothing stuffs, and weapons, in
which were the golden and jewelled boots of the queen, Khatun, the
worth of which was estimated at 200,000 drachmas. Abdullah-ben-Ziad
felled all the trees in the vicinity, and destroyed all the towns.
Khatun felt anxious for the fate of her land, and concluded peace
with the Arabians, which she bought, they say, for one million
drachmas. In the year 56, Heg., Said ben Osman was named governor
of Khorassan. He crossed the Oxus and fell on Bokhara. Khatun
wished to buy a peace for a similar sum to that which she gave
Abdullah ben Ziad. Despite of this offer, Said, who stood with
120,000 men in Kesch (Shehr Sebz) and Nakhsheb (Karschi), refused
compliance, gave battle, and after he had beaten the army of
Khatun, made peace. The queen was obliged to submit, and entered
the army of the Arab as a vassal.[37] The submissive State gave
eighty hostages, and Said ben Osman went to Samarkand, which he
also took, and thence, laden with rich treasures, returned back to
Medina. The report goes, that the hostages which Khatun gave to
the Arabian field-marshal were officers who doubted the legitimacy
of Tugshade, and plotted together against the queen. According to
agreement, they wanted merely to accompany the Arab army as long
as they remained in Bokhara, but Said wished to have them with him
as trophies of his victory when he entered Medina. This moved the
deceived Bokharians; and when they saw their ruin unavoidable, they
wished, at least, to die avenging themselves. They slew Said, and
then severally destroyed each other. In his turn, Muslim ben Ziad
was named ruler of Khorassan. He hastened quickly to his post, drew
together a considerable army, and fell on Bokhara, again become
faithless. Khatun quickly perceived that she, alone, was no match
for him, and sought everywhere help. She gave her hand to Terkhan,
Prince of Samarkand, to purchase protection for her country; also
the mighty Turkish prince, Bendun, was called in to aid. When all
the assistance had been promised, Khatun hastened to conclude a
truce: the Arabs consented; when Bendun appeared with 120,000 men,
and induced the reluctant queen to violate the truce. The Arabian
field-marshal was extremely incensed, and sent one of his officers,
by name Mehleb, to Khatun, to remind her of her blameable neglect
of duty. Mehleb took from each company a man with him, quitted
secretly the camp by night, with the intention to surprise, on some
point, the enemy's army. He was already arrived on the banks of
the river (Zerefshan), when some Arabs, thinking that the question
was a matter of booty, joined him. Their united force was not more
than 900 men. The enemy's cavalry discovered this, and at the first
onset cut down 400 of them. The rest fled quickly back, but were
followed, and towards daylight reached near to Khoten. The Turks
opened a bloody battle; Mehleb was surrounded on all sides, and
announced, by a powerful shout, his position to the nearest Arabian
camp. The signal was heard; Muslim knew the voice of Mehleb, heeded
it but little, and only Abdullah, who blamed the indifference of
the commander-in-chief, mounted his horse in order to assist his
brother, who was hard pressed. This approach gave courage to Mehleb
and his followers. The battle was renewed; Bendun fell, and the
Turks were put to flight with great loss. An immense booty fell
into the hands of the conquerors; and it is said that each horseman
received about 1,000 dirrhems. After this incident Khatun made
peace, and did homage to the Arabs. She also appeared in the camp,
and did homage again. She requested to see Abdullah, whose heroic
deeds had astonished the whole army. Muslim called him. He wore a
blue tunic with red girdle, and favourably impressed the Queen by
his noble appearance, and she made him great presents. The fourth
Arabian field-marshal was Kuteibe ben Muslim. He went to Khorassan,
under the Kaliphate of Hudjadj, conquered on his way the provinces
of Tocharistan, and crossed the Oxus, in 88 Heg. Peykend was
apprised of his approach, a strong walled fortress, the taking of
which cost him a hard struggle. The Arabs were forced to besiege it
fifty days, and suffered considerably. Since force could produce
no effect, he was obliged to employ stratagem, and caused it to be
undermined, and the fortress was thus surprised. He pardoned the
inhabitants, made peace with them, and leaving Varka ben Nasr-ullah
as governor, went to Bokhara. Intelligence soon reached him that the
Peykendis had killed the governor, whom he had left behind, and who,
as it proved, had provoked the revolt by his cruel deeds. Kuteibe
hastened back, plundered the city, destroyed it, killed all the men
able to bear arms. The rich and mighty Peykend, which maintained an
extensive commerce in teas from China and other goods, was utterly
destroyed. Some portions were restored later, but its prosperity was
gone for ever. They relate that the Arabs, among abundant treasures,
found a silver idol, which, with the robes, was worth 150 miskal.
Among things most worthy of remark, were two pearls, as large as
a pigeon's egg. These, according to the report of the Peykendis,
were brought into the temple by a bird. Kuteibe sent such things
to the Khalif Hudjadj as a present, who, in a letter of thanks,
expressed both his admiration for the objects, and the high spirit
of the sender. From hence he went to Vardun, (now Vardanzi) which
he spoiled, with all the other villages belonging to it. These
successful advances of the Arabian army terrified the small princes
of that neighbourhood, and they united, and attacked, with joint
forces, the invaders. As the Arab historian affirms, Kuteibe was
greatly distressed. He was also destitute of arms; and they say that
a lance was bought for 5 dirrhems, a helmet for 50, the cuirass for
900. Happily, the ruler of Samarkand, by cunning and deceit, had
withdrawn from the alliance to go over to the Arabs; and the Turkish
leader having obtained information that fresh auxiliary troops had
arrived in Kesh and Nakhsheb, retreated to Vardun; and Kuteibe
remained undisturbed in the possession of the conquered province in

  [37] Report says, that Said ben Osman and Khatun, who was a
  celebrated beauty, loved each other; and even in later years the
  popular ballads were extant which sung of this adventure.


Tugshade, who, after the death of his mother, was chosen King of
Bokhara, had to thank Kuteibe, alone, for his throne, since he
supported him against his powerful neighbour, the Governor of
Vardun, who invaded Bokhara repeatedly, but was always driven back
by Kuteibe. This feeling of gratitude may have been the principal
cause that Tugshade went over to Islam, and distinguished himself
by his remarkable ardour in favour of the new opinions. He reigned
thirty-two years, not so much as an independent prince, but as the
vassal of Kuteibe, who found in him a mighty aid in propagating
by force the doctrine of Mohammed, which the inhabitants of
Bokhara were much disposed to reject. As the Arabian adventurers
made conversion to Islam the chief condition in submitting, the
Bokhariots, at each capture of their capital, acknowledged, in
appearances, Islam, but after the departure of their conquerors
returned to their beloved national religion, the Parsi. Kuteibe
wished to check this. He ordered, therefore, that the half of
the houses of the whole town should be given up to the Arabs.
The proselytes were placed, by these means, in the immediate
neighbourhood of men who continually watched them, and urged them to
the new doctrine. In the year 94 Heg., he permitted a large Mosque
to be built, in which all were to assemble for prayer on Fridays,
and in which the Koran should be read, in an emphatic manner, in
the Persian language. This mosque existed even in the time of our
author's writing, who besides adds that upon the doors figures of
animals were cut, (which, as is known in every place of Islam, to
say nothing of a mosque, is treated as a gross offence): the reason
of this, they say, was, that these animals were taken from an
earlier temple of the Fire-Worshippers, and retained afterwards.

Tugshade reigned thirty-two years. After his death, Kuteibe,
his son, (whom he so named, from attachment to the Arabian
field-marshal), took the throne. At the commencement of his reign
he affected the Musulman, but, as it was soon apparent that he was
secretly attached to the old religion, he was executed by order of
Ebn Muslim, the ruler of Khorassan, and in his stead, Benyat, also a
son of Tugshade, was named Lord of Bokhara. Under both these latter
reigns, it happened that the Sefiddjamegan (the white-clothed), as
the followers of Mokanna, the Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, have been
called, raised, with the new doctrine, the standard of rebellion
against the Arabian conquerors. In like manner with Kuteibe, the
son of Tugshade, did the other son, Benyat, go over to the rebels,
and was put to death by order of the Khalif, 166 Heg. The family of
Tugshade held the throne of Bokhara till 301 Heg., when Ibn Ishak,
the son of Ibrahim, the son of Khalid, the son of Benyat, ceded his
rights to Emir Ismael, the Samanide.

As to the history of Mokanna and the Sefiddjamegan, this movement
might have had, certainly, dangerous consequences for Islam in
Central Asia, if the authorities in Bokhara, and particularly the
Khalif Mehdi, had not used all proper precaution. Mokanna, (as
is related in the MS. lying before me), the veiled prophet of
Khorassan, whose real name was Hashim bin Hekim, was born in the
village of Geze, near Merw, and early occupied himself with many
kinds of knowledge, but especially with enchantments and secret arts.

He was named Mokanna, or the Veiled Prophet, on this account,
because he covered his head constantly with a veil, for he was
deformed in features, one-eyed, and, moreover, bald. He had, no
doubt, under Ibn Muslim a high military rank, as he there once came
out in his character of prophet; he was seized, sent to Bagdad, and
there put in prison. He escaped thence and came back to Merw, and
when he showed himself among his people, for the first time, he
demanded, "Know ye who I am?" They said unto him, that he was Hashim
bin Hekim. He replied, "You are in error. I am your God, and I am
the God of all people. I call myself what I will. I was earlier in
the world in the form of Adam, Ibrahim, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Ibn
Muslim, and now in the form in which you see me." "How is it, then,"
they asked of him, "that these make themselves known as prophets,
but you wish to be God?" "They were too sensual, but I am through
and through spiritual, and have constantly possessed power to appear
in any form." He lived, then, in Merw, but his agents moved about
everywhere in order to gain followers, and his letters of mission
began thus:--

"In the name of the Merciful and Gracious God, I, Hashim, son of
Hekim, Lord of all lords. Praised be the One God, He who was before
in Adam, Noah, Ibrahim, Moses, Christ, Mohammed, Ibn Muslim; He
who was manifested before all these, namely, I Mokanna, lord of
might, brightness, truth,--rally round me and learn, for mine is the
lordship of the earth, mine the glory and power. Besides me there
is no god; he who is with me goes to Paradise; he who flies from me
goes to hell."

Among his adherents an Arab, named Abdullah, principally
distinguished himself, and, in the vicinity of Kesh, misled very
many. At a later period the greater part of the villages around
Samarkand and Bokhara went over to him. The professors of the
new sect became from day to day stronger, and with their numbers
increased also both uproar and riot, and the alarm and cries of
the Musulmans. When the governor of Khorassan was informed of this
issue he wished to seize Mokanna; who then kept himself concealed a
long time, and though all the passes of the Oxus were guarded, he
succeeded in escaping over to the Transoxanian side, and effected a
retreat into a strong fortress on the mountain of Sam, near the town
of Kesh (the modern Shehr Sebz). The Khalif Mehdi also was struck
with terror at the intelligence. He sent first troops, and then
arms in person to Nishapur, for it had become a question whether
the partisans of Mokanna would not obtain the upper hand, and Islam
sink to the ground. At that time in the new sect robbery and murder
having been permitted, immense hordes out of Turkestan joined the
revolters, the Musulmans were hard pressed on all sides, their
villages plundered, their women and children carried away to prison.
In the year 159 Heg. the commandant of Bokhara went against them
with a considerable force, and the contest between the partisans of
Mokanna and the Mohamedans lasted in that country many years. The
Veiled Prophet moved not from his fortified position, his spiritual
influence was sufficient to stimulate his followers.

The Arabian garrison of Bokhara, with the few which remained
true to Islam, soon felt itself too weak against the number and
fanaticism of their far superior enemy. Aid was sent from Bagdad
under the command of Djebrailo bin Yahya; and the well fortified
place, Narshakh, which was a residence of the Sefiddjamegan, was
first attacked. After a close and vain siege the walls could only
so far be damaged as to allow a ditch that was fifty yards long to
be filled with wood and naphtha: this they fired, and the cross
beams of the wall became consumed, and the whole mass without
support fell. With sword in hand the Mohamedans rushed into the
fortress, many were massacred, many yielded under the condition of
retreating with their arms. The fortress was evacuated, yet when
the Sefiddjamegan heard that their commanders were put to death in
a traitorous fashion, they themselves took up arms in the enemy's
camp. A fresh contest arose, in which the Arabs conquered, and the
supporters of Mokanna were partly destroyed, partly put to flight.
After Narshakh, Samarkand had to be forced, the inhabitants of
which, in great part, were known to belong to the new sect. The
sieges and battles of these places lasted more than two years
(because a great number of the Turks had joined the Samarkanders
without any result being obtained).

Mokanna, the mysterious prophet, kept himself during this period
always in his fortress, attended by one hundred of the loveliest
women of Transoxiana. The interior of the castle was kept only for
these with himself and one male page; besides these was no earthly
eye permitted to penetrate into his sanctuary. They say that 50,000
of his followers lay at the gate of the fortress, and earnestly
implored him to show but once his god-like splendour. He refused,
sent his page with the message:--"Say to my servants that Musa
(Moses) also wished to see my godhead, but the beams of my splendour
he could not support. My glance kills instantly the earth-born."
The enthusiastic adherents assured him that they would gladly offer
their lives as a sacrifice if this high enjoyment was allowed to
them. When he could not furthermore deny them, Mokanna consented to
their entreaty, and appointed them to come at a certain time before
the gate of the fortress, where he promised to show himself. On
the evening of the appointed day he ordered that his women should
be placed in a line, with looking-glasses in their hands, as the
beams of the setting sun were reflected in the looking-glasses, and
when everything was illuminated by that reflection, he ordered them
to open the doors. The splendour blinded the eyes of his devoted
adherents, who fell prostrate, and called out,--"God! enough for us
of thy glory, for if we see it more all will be destroyed!" They
lay long in the dust supplicating him, until at length he sent his
page with the message:--"God is pleased with you, and he has given
you for your use the good of all the world."

Fourteen years long Mokanna is reported to have lived in this
fortress consuming his time with women in drinking and carousing.
The Arab field marshall, Said Hersi, had at last, after a hard
siege, driven him into straits. The outer part was taken, and
there was only the inaccessible citadel on a higher eminence. With
the extinction of his ascendant star Mokanna was abandoned by his
followers, and when he saw the inevitable ruin nigh he decided, in
order not to fall into the hands of his enemies, rather to destroy
himself with his women and treasures. He gave to the women at a last
carouse a strong dose of poison in wine, and challenged them to
empty a goblet with him. All drank but one, who poured the wine into
her bosom, and as an eye-witness, told later the whole catastrophe.
According to her, Mokanna, after all the women had fallen dead, cut
off the head of his faithful page, and, quite naked, burnt himself,
with his treasures, in a furnace, which had been heated for three
days. He announced before that he wished to go to heaven to call
the angels to his help. "I have long watched the furnace," said
the fortunate woman who escaped, "but he never came back in that
fashion." After the death of Mokanna there were many curious sects
and creeds, but they concealed themselves from the ever increasing
power of Islam. Under the Samanides the doctrine of Mohammed spread
more and more, and Transoxanian countries became soon famous for
their religious zeal.




I think that there are few points upon the whole terrestrial globe,
which are of greater importance for our historical researches
than the oases of Central Asia. These in the primitive times were
inexhaustible floodgates for those warlike hordes, who often
inundated and conquered the most beautiful spots of Asia, streaming
towards the west in wild torrents, and even occasioning alarm among
Europeans. No people can be so interesting for us upon the subject
of Ethnography as the Turko-Tartars, who, under such various names
and forms, have appeared on the scene of the events of the world,
and have had such powerful influence over our own circumstances. Is
it not surprising that of all nations we are the least acquainted
with these? Huns, Avars, Utigurs, Kutrigurs, Khazars, and so many
others, float before our sight only in the mist of fable. The clash
of arms which sounded through them from the Yaxartes to the heart
of Gaul and Rome has long since ceased. In vain should we inquire
even into their origin, did we not find in the scanty dates of the
Western chronicles of that period some points of reliance. These
dates show us that between the Tartar tribes of that age and the
present inhabitants of Central Asia there did exist an analogy
of an unmistakeable character. We detect this in descriptions of
them--in the accounts of their manner of living--all evincing much
resemblance to the customs and physical condition of the present
inhabitants of Turkestan. A similar life to what Priscus describes
in the Court of the King of the Huns is met with to-day in the
tent of a nomadic chief. Attila is more original than Djingis or
Taimur, but as historical personages they resemble each other.
Energy and good fortune could now almost produce upon the borders
of the Oxus and Yaxartes one of those heroes, whose soldiers, like
an avalanche, carrying everything before them, would increase to
hundreds of thousands, and would appear as a new example of God's
scourge, if the powerful barriers of our civilisation, which has a
great influence in the East, did not stop the way. The people of
Central Asia, particularly the nomadic tribes, are, in the internal
relations of their existence, the same as they were two thousand
years ago. In these physiognomical signs we find already changes
from a mixture of Iranian and Semitic blood (chiefly after the
Arabian occupation). The features of the Mongolian-Kalmuck type
here and there approach the Caucasian race. The Tartar in Central
Asia is no longer what we see him represented by the Greek-Gothic
writers, for even in the times of Djingis he was no longer the
same. It is, therefore, of great interest to mark how this change
in physiognomical type continually decreases from the east to the
west--how this Deturkism, if I may so express myself, is perceptible
among the various races of Central Asia, and in what degree their
various gradations through social circumstances came, more or less,
in contact with foreign elements. This will especially be seen by a
cursory view of the Turkish nations of Central Asia from Inner China
to the Caspian Sea; but those Turks who stretch hence up to the
Adriatic, or to the banks of the Danube, are West Turks, and cannot
be included in the unity of race so much by physiognomical type as
by analogy of speech, characters, and customs.

With the former, whose masses have retained compactly together the
unity of the race, in spite of all those ways in which the Central
Asiatics differ remarkably from one another--in spite of our
ethnographical names,--the distinction shows itself clearly in their
features and common physical type. Whatever views we may entertain
of the origin of the Turks, so much is certain, that they are
closely related to the Mongols; the relation being much closer than
those which subsist between the Indians and Persians in Iran. Much,
very much indeed, is to be done before we have investigated the
mutual relations of the whole Turko-Tartaric race, which stretches
from the Hindu Kush to the Polar Sea, from the interior of China to
the shores of the Danube. Our present sketch is only a weak attempt
at a small portion--general views upon all that personal experience
has presented to our observation; and it may here and there exhibit
somewhat of novelty. Through the extent known to us from East to
West, we divide the Turks into the following classes:--

1. Buruts, black or pure Kirghese. 2. Kirghis, properly Kazaks. 3.
Karakalpaks. 4. Turkomans. 5. Œzbegs.


These are pure, or black (Kirghis), and dwell on the eastern
boundary of Turkestan, namely, the valleys of the Thian-shan chain
of mountains, and inhabit several points on the shores of the Issik
Köl, close upon the frontier towns of Khokand. As I am told (I
have only seen a few of them), they are thick-set, but of powerful
stature, strong-boned, but remarkably agile, to which last quality
their warlike renown is attributed. By their physiognomy alone
are they to be distinguished from the Mongolians and Kalmucks:
the face is less flat, their cheeks less fleshy, their foreheads
somewhat higher, their eyes are less almond-shaped than those
of the latter. With regard to their colour, they can be little
distinguished from the neighbouring nomadic races; red or fair hair
and white complexion (by which type our European scholars would
claim relationship for this race with the Finlanders and other
north Altaic races) are rarely found; at least, my Khokand friends
assured me that among hundreds there were scarcely one or two.[38]
In all likelihood the Kiptchaks, of whom I have made mention in my
travelling journal at page 382, are no other than a division of the
Buruts, who are settled down in and around Khokand, and have caught,
both from Islam and from their social relationship with Turkestan,
far more than the rest of the Buruts, who, through their contact
with Kalmucks and Mongolians, now and then profess themselves more
or less Islam. Their language also contains many more Mongolian
words than the dialect of the Kiptchaks. From this most original
Turkish people we pass over to the second gradation, which is--


Among the Kirghis or Kasak (as he calls himself), the character
of the Mongol Kalmuck type is no longer to be met with in such a
striking manner as among the Buruts, although he is hardly to be
distinguished from the latter in language and manner of life. In
colour, he nearly resembles the rest of the inhabitants of the
deserts of Central Asia. The women and youths, in general, have
a white and almost European complexion; still this becomes soon
altered, through the manner of living in the open air, in heat and
cold. The Kirghis are of thick-set and powerful frames, with large
bones; they have mostly short necks,--a real type of the Turanian,
opposed to the long-necked Iranian; not very large heads, of which
the crown is round, more pointed than flat. They have eyes less
almond-shaped, but awry and sparkling, prominent cheek-bones, pug
noses, a broad flat forehead, and a larger chin than the Buruts.
Their beards have little hair on the chin, only on both ends
of the upper lip; and it is remarkable, that they lament this
deficiency, and by no means find such delight in this physiognomical
characteristic as in the projecting cheek-bones, small eyes, &c.,
which are esteemed by them as beauties.[39]

  [38] Klaproth, and Abel Remusat, in his "Researches on the Tartar
  Languages," counts this stock with the Hindu-Gothic race, which
  assertion is now considered by every one an error. Castren may,
  without doubt, be right, if he in his investigations in south
  Siberia finds relationship in a light-coloured Turkish stock; but
  these are not Buruts. I believe that even the learned Mr. Schott is
  deceived, when, following Chinese sources, he favours this opinion,
  in his treatise, "Upon the Pure Kirghese." Berlin: 1863. It appears
  that the Buruts are confounded with the Uisuns, who dwell further
  north, are light-coloured, and probably are the remnant of a Finnish
  stock. See "The Russians in Central Asia," by Mitchell, p. 64.

  [39] That many nomads censured this deficiency in projecting
  cheek-bones in myself, as a disfigurement, I have already
  mentioned. This need not astonish us; and it appears to me truly
  remarkable, that Dr. Livingstone, in his book, "The Zambesi and its
  Inhabitants," can assert that he has seen African women, from the
  Makololo race, who, standing before the mirror, strove to lessen the
  broad mouth, which is common among them, with the intention to make
  themselves more beautiful.

Since, as we have said, the type of the primitive race is no longer
so striking among them and universal as among the Buruts and
Kalmucks, so also we find their ideal of perfect beauty derived
only from their neighbours, with whom they gladly intermix; and
Lewschine[40] has rightly stated a fact, when he mentions the
preference they allow the Kalmuck women before their own. That from
their great extension through the northern desert lands of Central
Asia, perceptible shades may be met with in the external traits is
scarcely to be doubted;[41] but one easily comprehends that our
classification into great, little, and middle hordes, is unknown
to them; for, from the mutual tie of the manner of living, customs
and dispositions, they remain always the same, in spite of the many
subdivisions into branches, families and lines, which they, like the
Turkomans, gladly consider as decided separations. Whether on the
shores of the Emba or of the Sea of Aral, as well as in the environs
of the Balkhash and Alatau, there is little difference to be found
in the dialects spoken by them. Many tales and songs, many national
dishes, and national games, are, throughout the year, to be met with
in like manner; and although they may occur but seldom, still, love
of travelling and warlike disturbances have often brought together
the most distant races.

  [40] "Description of Kirghese Kazaks," by Alexis de Lewschine.
  Paris: 1840; page 317.

  [41] _See_ the former work, page 300, chapter II.

In their dress, the Kirghis are to be distinguished from the rest
of the nomadic tribes and settlers: in Central Asia, mostly by
their head-gear. The men wear, in summer, a felt hat (_kalpak_); in
winter, a cap (_tumak_), with fur covered with cloth, the back-flaps
of which protect the neck and ears. Besides these, they have still
a little fur cap (_koreysh_), which, however, is employed more for
in-door use. The women wear a _sheokele_, which is distinguished
from the Turkoman head-dress in that it is more conical, and allows
the veil to fall not before, but down the back to the loins. The
hair, also, is dressed in a different fashion. The young Turkoman
women plait the hair in two plaits; the Kirghis with eight thin
ones, four on either side. They cover their heads with a _letshek_,
in cloth, which covers head and neck. In negligé attire, the girls
twist red handkerchiefs round their heads, but the women white or
dark-coloured ones. The upper garments have the same tasteless form,
with many folds, as everywhere in Central Asia, only more of the
bright and glittering colours are liked; and in the north of Khokand
it is the custom for the young Kirghis to prepare for themselves a
garment from the raw hide of the fox-coloured horse, besides which
they let the horse's tail hang down from the neck as an ornament.
In their coverings for their feet, the only distinction is, that
the western have adopted the Russian form of boot; the eastern, on
the contrary, the Chinese; namely, with pointed, curved toes, and
slender, high heels.

The religion is almost universally the Mohammedan; still, in a very
lax condition, which is the case with nearly all the nomadic tribes
in connexion with Islam.[42] Before and long after the Arabian
occupation of Central Asia, the Kirghis professed Shamanism, and it
is not to be wondered at, considering the little influence which the
teachers of Mohammed could maintain there, that much of the early
faith remains there now, and out of a whole tribe, which consists of
many hundred tents, there are often only one or two persons among
the chiefs who can read the Koran a little.

  [42] The Islam of faith was established, according to Fischer
  ("History of Siberia," pages 86, &c., and elsewhere) towards the
  middle of the sixteenth century, by one Kutshum. This date is
  admitted by those in the north, as well as by the dwellers in South
  Siberia, still in Turkestan that conversion is reported to have
  taken place much earlier.

The greater part of them are the bad students out of the schools
of the three Khanats, who for pay go into the army in the deserts.
The true proselyte zeal has long become extinct, and the able seek
employment in the town.[43] To keep a Mollah or an Akhond is besides
more fashionable, for it points out the affluent condition of a
party. To the nomadic tribes their material condition is of more
consequence; they look upon religion as a secondary object. They
call themselves Mohammedans, but prayers, fasts, and other religious
acts are little observed by them, and it will in consequence not
appear at all remarkable that superstition, that reminiscence of
the infancy of all people, still plays here an important part.
Chiromancy, astrology, casting out devils, breathing on the sick,
and other humbugs we will not mention, since we find them in
the educated Islamite countries, as Persia, Turkey, and even in
enlightened Europe. Of the superstitions of the Kirghis those
only are most interesting for us which relate especially to the
earlier faiths of these nomadic tribes, and furnish us thereby with
some ideas as to their earlier social relations. That sacrifices
were offered, the still existing oracle upon the shoulder-blades
and entrails proves. The first, called Keöze süyeghi, consists
in placing on the fire, clean and pure, the shoulder-blade of
a sheep just slaughtered, keeping it in the flames until it is
quite reduced to powder. It is then carefully laid down, and the
experienced person, who is generally a grey-beard, a Bakhshi, or a
Quack (Kam) studies the crevices of the burnt leg with the greatest
seriousness and a countenance full of importance.[44] When the
cracks run parallel with the broad end of the leg it signifies
good fortune, but if in the opposite direction a misfortune. The
latter, naturally, is seldom detailed. Still this is no wonder,
for when the civilized Greeks were cheated at Delphi and Dodona,
why should not this happen among the Kirghis deserts. To prophesy
from the position and twisting of the entrails is a rare knowledge,
in which the Kalmucks pretend to be particularly distinguished.
It is remarkable that this oracle is only consulted when they are
curious to know the sex of a child that is to be born. Fire also
must probably have been held in high honour, because it was not
allowed to spit on it. Ceremonies and dances are held around it, a
custom which exists in a wonderful manner in so many parts of Asia,
Africa, and Europe, and is still carried on in this district as well
as in Khiva and Khokand. To blow out a light is considered very ill
bred by the Kirghis in the whole of Central Asia; and finally from
the colour of burning oil, fat, &c., many prognostics are divined.
The superstition of the women is enormous, and really deserves the
trouble of a particular study. A girl, when only in her fourth year,
is possessed with it as completely as an elderly nomadic matron
who has passed her whole life in the lonely desert which developed
all her intellectual faculties in that direction. Each individual
part of the tent, each utensil, has some superstition in connexion
with it, which is strictly observed in pitching a tent, in milking,
cooking, spinning, and weaving, far more than the laws of Islam,
which are never particularly taken to heart. But the favourite
divination of these soothsayers is from fresh-spun thread. Four
stones are laid down, two white and two black; in the midst is a
thread, _strong twisted_, and the other end suddenly set free. If
the thread in its fall sink down to the black stones, it signifies
misfortune; to the white, the contrary. From the hand of the twister
no action is descried, for the oracle must be infallible. This is
called Tyik Yip, and is to be found everywhere in Central Asia.

  [43] Lewschine says the same in his above-named work upon the
  Kirghis, page 358.

  [44] Dr. A. Bastian has found the oracle of the shoulder bone even
  among the Buruts who profess Shamanism, and it is considered by the
  Kirghis as a remnant of the same religion. See Ausland, No. 23, 1869.

Of food which is peculiar to the Kirghis we will name Sürü, which
consists of smoke-dried flesh (horse or sheep's flesh) cut into
small pieces, roasted in fat. The preference for this arises from
its keeping for weeks carried about without spoiling. Ködje,
ordinary wheat, is cooked in water and eaten in sour milk.

As national games of the Kirghis, we may mention tadjak-kisimo
(stocks). It consists in leaping over a rope held high. The winner
is applauded, the clumsy, on the contrary, are pressed between two
chairs, and exposed to the jeers of the company. Further, "eshek
yagiri" (wounded asses' back), in which in running they must leap
over three or four squatting play-fellows.


These form the third division in the race, and are essentially
different from the Kirghis in physiognomical expression, although
allied in language and customs. The Karakalpaks are distinguished
by a tall, vigorous growth and a more powerful frame than all the
tribes of Central Asia. They have a large head with flat full face,
large eyes, flat nose, slightly projecting cheek-bones, a coarse and
slightly pointed chin, remarkably long arms and broad hands. Taken
as a whole, their coarse features are in good harmony with their not
less clumsy forms, and the nickname of the neighbouring people

  Yüze yalpak.
  Üzi yalpak.

Karakalpak, (has a flat face, and is himself totally flat).
This sobriquet has not been uttered without reason. The complexion
approaches that of the Œzbegs, particularly that of the women,
who long retain their white complexion, and with their large eyes,
full face, and black hair, do not make an unpleasant impression.
In Central Asia they are highly renowned for their beauty. The men
have pretty thick, but never long beards. The Karakalpaks, who are
sometimes falsely ranked with the Kirghis, are at present only to
be met with in the Khanat of Khiva, to which they moved at the
beginning of this century. A man of this tribe relates to me that
they lived earlier on the banks of the Yaxartes, and certainly near
its mouth, whilst another portion abides in the neighbourhood of the
Kalmucks, probably in the government of the Semipalatinsk.

The first part of this report does not seem to me to be a mere
invention, for Lewschine (in the above-cited work, p. 114), reports,
speaking of the ruins of Djemkend, that even in the last century
Karakalpaks had lived there. According to all probability they have
separated for a long time from the Kirghis, to whom they approach
nearest, and now they form, with respect to their physiognomy, the
transit point from the latter to the Œzbegs. In their dress they
draw nearer to the Œzbegs than the Kirghis. The men wear large
_telpek_ (fur caps) which fit low in the neck and cover ears and
brow; the women have a cape like a cloak round the throat, and are
delighted with red and green boots. The tent of the Karakalpaks
is much larger, and of stronger construction than that of the
rest of the nomadic tribes, and is guarded by a species of large
dog, only to be met with among this tribe. In their dwellings in
general they are distinct from the other nomadic tribes in dirt
and uncleanliness; they evince also in their food and clothing a
carelessness, which makes them abundantly ridiculed and disliked by
their neighbours. To their national dishes belongs the _torama_,
which consists of finely chopped meat, and is cooked with a large
quantity of onions (which vegetable is much liked there) and
mixed meal. _Kazan djappay_, meal baked in a pan in fat, which is
considered a dainty. Lastly, _baursak_, a meal which consists of a
four-cornered piece of pasty filled with meat.

A favourite game is _kumalak_, resembling the game in Europe. It
is played with dried excrements of sheep. Many of them devote
themselves to games of chance.


These, which I designate as the fourth gradation of the Mongolian
Turkish race in their westerly extension, possess many of the
peculiarities of the Kirghis as well as of the Karakalpaks. The
pure Turkoman type, which is to be found among the Tekke and
Tchaudor, living in the heart of the desert, is denoted by a
middling stature, proportionately small head, oblong skull (which
is ascribed to the circumstance, that they are not placed at an
early period in a cradle, but in a swing, made of a linen cloth),
cheek-bones not high, somewhat snub noses, longish chin, feet bent
inwardly, probably the consequence of their continual riding on
horseback, and particularly by the bright, sparkling, fiery eyes,
which are remarkable in all sons of the desert, but especially in
the Turkomans. As regards colour, the blond prevails, and there
are even whole tribes, as, for example, the Kelte race among the
Görgen Yomuts, which are generally half blond. On the borders of
the desert, but particularly at the Persian frontiers we find
this principal trait already quite altered by the frequent and
considerable intermixture with the Iranian race, in which one sees
many men with thick black beards, and often without the least trace
of the Mongolian Turkish race. Indeed, the Göklens are those who,
with the exception of the formation of the eyes, most resemble the
majority of the Persians.

Slave-dealing, which from immemorial times has been practised in
the northern provinces of Persia, has there, where the intermediate
trade with Persian slaves takes place, left many traces behind.
Still, only upon the borders, for those living in the interior
of the desert and occupying themselves more with the peaceable
occupation of keeping cattle than with alamans (foray) have, on
the average, preserved the marks of the pure Turkoman type. As the
nomads are generally more agile and quick than the settled tribes,
which is naturally to be attributed to the endless wanderings
of their adventurous existence; so the Turkomans are to be
distinguished in this peculiarity from all the dwellers in tents
in Central Asia. And their slender frames, hardened by a very poor
food, can outdo even the Arab in privations and endurance. Taken
as a whole, the Turkomans cultivate (spite of the type of a family
unity) a strange mixture of customs and habits, which are found
either here and there among the neighbouring nomads and Œzbegs,
or only among themselves. While their language approaches to the
Azerbaïdjan dialect, their customs have the pure Turko-Tartarian
stamp; and in their social relations, as well as in their warlike
existence and their abundant religious usages, they have more in
common with the Kiptchaks than with the Kirghis, Karakalpaks, and
Œzbegs, with whom they have lived in close connexion for so many
centuries. That they separated themselves early, very early, from
the greater part of the Turko-Tartarian nations, admits of no
question. There is no doubt, according to their own assertions, that
they moved first from the east to the north-west, namely, towards
the southern frontier of the former main horde, and thence towards
the south. This assertion is very probable, and as alleged proofs
of it, we may cite the small number who have remained behind on the
road as remnants, and are still now to be found. As such, are cited
the Turkomans to the north of Kermineh and Samarkand, who, in the
midst of kindred elements have remained true to their nationality.
Their emigration from Mangishlak, unquestionably the oldest abode of
the Turkomans, is indicated by the Central Asiatics themselves in
the following chronological order. As the oldest in their present
native country, we name the Salor and Sariks; after them come the
Yomuts, who, before the period of the Sefevides, stretched from the
north towards the south along the shores of the Caspian. It is said
that the Tekke, at the time of Taimur, were transplanted to Akhal in
small numbers, in order to paralyse the great strength of the Salor.
The Ersaris, towards the end of the last century, from Mangishlak
have settled upon the shores of the Oxus; whilst, finally, the
Tchaudors, of the more recent period of Mohammed Emin Khan (Khiva),
from the shores of the Aral and Caspian Seas, are shifted to the
opposite bank of the Oxus, although many of that tribe are to be
found in the old places. As the Turkoman's chief employment aims at
pillage, it is natural to expect that many of their customs should
harmonize with this. Their attire, although in its origin of the
Khiva fashion, is made shorter and closer, that they may be able
more easily to take hard exercise: the heavy fur cap is replaced by
a smaller one. Their drawers, which supply the place of trousers,
are very wide, and remind one of the national garb of the Hungarian
peasants. The curls of hair which hang down behind the ears far over
the shoulders of the young, are peculiar to this tribe. These are
allowed to grow by the young; during the first year of married life,
they are worn concealed in the cap, and only after its lapse cut
off. This ornament gives to the young cavalier a stately appearance
whilst riding, and he is not a little proud of it. The dress of
the women, also, has some peculiarities, to which belong the upper
garment, hanging down, long-armed, like the Hungarian jacket; the
head-gear, and the masses of silver ornaments,--as bracelets,
necklaces, amulets, etuis, &c. It is not unusual to meet among the
women perfect beauties, not inferior to the Georgians in growth and
regularity of features. Though the young girls in all nomadic tribes
are tolerably practised riders, the young Turkoman women stand
pre-eminent in this art. With regard to their religious zeal for
Islam, their proneness to superstition is the same as that of the
Kirghis; and as the readers of my "Travels" are more acquainted with
them, we will pass from them to the Œzbegs.


These may be considered the established and civilized inhabitants
of Central Asia, and they have retained only feeble traces of the
Mongolian-Turkish race, owing to considerable intermixture with
the ancient Persian elements, and also the great number of slaves,
who are brought there out of the present Iran. In their broad
faces, sound of voice, the sharp angle which the temples form, and
especially the eyes, we recall their Tartar origin. The Œzbegs
were always pointed out by the Tadjiks by the nickname of Yogunkelle
(thick skull), and really this part of their body is thicker and
coarser than that of the rest of their Turanian fellow races.
Besides the diversity that reigns among them in the three Khanats
and in Chinese Tartary, you may further observe that the dwellers
in villages generally possess more signs of the national type than
townsmen. For instance: Œzbegs of Khiva are to be recognised by
the broad, full face, low, flat forehead, large mouth; the Œzbegs
of Bokhara, by the somewhat more arched foreheads, more oval faces,
and long, pointed, oblong chin, and the great majority by black hair
and eyes. Also in colour there are some shades of resemblance. In
the neighbourhood of Kashgar and Aksu yellowish-brown to blackish
tint prevails; in Khokand, brown; in Khiva, white is the reigning
colour. Indeed, the Œzbegs are bastards of the Turanian race,
in the same manner as the Tadjik and Sarts (the aborigines of
the ancient Transoxiana, Sogdia, and Fergana[45]). Of the origin,
immigration, and settlement of the Œzbegs, we have but little
information, and that highly confused. Whilst some maintain that the
name of Œzbeg was the name of one of their most renowned princes,
who, in the time of Djingis, ruled over the whole desert; others
discover, in the etymology of the word Œzbeg (independent prince,
independent head), the signification of that actual independence
for which the tribe was distinguished, as it disengaged itself from
any ruler, and attempted, on its own account, its march of conquest
toward the west. The name becomes prominent with the family of
Sheibani, viz., with Ebul Kheir Khan, as founder, in the foreground;
for, although Taimur may belong to the same tribe, still the Turkish
state is more prominent than the Œzbeg.

  [45] "Gibbon;" edited by Dr. W. Smith. London, 1862, page 296. Here
  it is justly remarked, "The Œzbegs are the most altered from
  their primitive manners. 1st.,--by the profession of the Mohammedan
  religion; and, 2nd.,--by the possession of the cities and harvests
  of Great Bucharia.

If I am not deceived, it appears to me, at least, that the Œzbegs
of to-day form a tribe, which, as a colony, highly inconsiderable
in numbers, only increased after it had received into its bosom
contingents of the various nomadic tribes passing from the north to
the south. This assertion is, perhaps, bold, still the following
circumstances render it not impossible.

1st. The already indicated diversity which shows itself between the
Œzbegs of Turkestan from Komul to the Sea of Aral, whereby the
degree of resemblance which exists between the latter and those
nomadic tribes living in the vicinity is not to be mistaken, who,
induced by certain circumstances, in which riches and religion
play an important part, settled in towns, and are amalgamated with

2nd. Many names of branches and families of the Œzbegs are common
amongst the rest of the tribes of Central Asia. Thus, for example,
we find the tribes Kungrat, Kiptchak, Naiman, Taz, Kandjigale,
Kanli, Djelair, by which the thirty-two chief divisions of the
Œzbegs are named, figuring also among the Kirghis. The Turkomans
and Karakalpaks can produce some, which, from the great importance
the nomadic tribes attach to family names, certainly would not be
the case if earlier mutual relations had not existed. We know little
of their origin, little in regard to the time of their settlement.
The opinion of Persian historians, that the Œzbeg power rose upon
the ruins of the Taimur dynasty is, indeed, correct, but forms no
guide to the Œzbegs themselves. The name only is apparent; but
who can tell us to which tribe that Turkish population professed
to belong, which at a period long anterior to Taimur, and before
Djingis, in the time of the Kharezmian princes, Sahi Charezmian, and
even further back in the thirteenth century, were established in
the three Khanats? In Khiva I often heard of the brilliant period
of ancient Ürgendj, namely, before the inroad of the Mongolians,
described as Œzbeg. Was this merely national vanity, or had the
Turks at that time at Khiva really called themselves Œzbegs?
Turks were already settled during the Arabian occupation, as may be
seen in the ancient history of Bokhara, although not directly in the
centre, certainly in the neighbourhood of the old Persian towns,
in the time of the Samanides; and it would be highly interesting
to know to which type they really belonged. In the customs of the
Œzbegs, also, much foreign admixture has been introduced chiefly
through Islam, and the restless manner of existence pursued by them;
but not nearly so much as with the Western Turks, who through the
foreign elements that they receive are already quite denationalized.
The Œzbegs are pious--one might say zealous--Musulmans. Nowhere
in Islam, Kashmir excepted, does the tendency to asceticism flourish
more than here: a third of the inhabitants of a town are Ishan,
Khalfa, Sofi, or aspirants to those holy titles, and nevertheless
the doctrine of Mohammed has little limited their customs in regard
to all this. In Khiva, and in some parts of Chinese Tartary, they
have remained truest to nomadic customs. They build houses, which
are used as stables and granaries; but for dwelling-places, they
prefer always the raised tent in the court-yard;--building durable
dwellings is scoffed at by the pure Œzbeg, and ridiculed as even
now usual only with the Sart (Persian aborigines). A general habit
is marked out in the proverb: "Sart baïsa tam salar--as soon as
the Sart becomes rich, he builds a house," in contradistinction
to the Œzbeg, who procures rather a horse or arms. Also in food
and clothing but few refinements have crept in, the chief towns
excepted. Whilst in the towns the Harem life is in full force, one
finds in the country all Œzbeg women unveiled, for, to the great
anger of the Mollah, they resist that restriction, to which their
nature is averse. Ceremonies at burials, weddings, births, contain
much of what is not only foreign to Islam, but even criminal. This
false step is a striking contrast with the otherwise enthusiastic
feelings of Central Asiatics. Not less does the rigid adherence to a
warlike existence, in which the Œzbegs are distinguished from the
rest of the established nations of Central and Western Asia, deserve
our attention. Agriculture and durable dwellings render people more
peaceable; but this is not the case with the Œzbegs, because they
excel so many nomadic tribes in bravery.


However great the extent over which the diverse branches of
Turkish tribes may be found, however variously the influence of
strange elements may have acted upon their social relations, still
the features of a common type of character cannot be denied;--a
picture in which more traces of analogy are to be found than in
the physiognomy and other physical signs respectively. The Turk
is everywhere heavy and lethargic in his mental and corporeal
emotions, therefore firm and stedfast in his resolves; not, perhaps,
from any principle of life philosophy, but from apathy, and sincere
aversion to everything which would alter his adopted position. This
lends him an earnest and solemn aspect, which is so often extolled
by European travellers. As upon the shores of the Bosphorus the
Osmanli, in his _keïf_, can gaze for hours on the clear sky, while
he only makes as much movement as will blow the blue wreaths of
smoke from his pipe towards the yet bluer firmament; so the Œzbeg
or the Kirghis can sit for hours, motionless, in the narrow tent,
or in the immeasurably wide desert; for, while the former turns
his gaze upon the colours of the felt coverlet or carpet, already
seen thousands of times,--the latter looks on the waving, curling
quicksands, which are to amuse him. As those who go about briskly
and nimbly, or even gesticulate, are only compassionated by the
Osmanlis as living proofs of partial insanity and misfortune; so
each quick movement of the feet and hands is considered by the
Œzbegs as highly unseemly. Indeed, when I called out to one of
my Tartar fellow-travellers to save himself from some falling bales
of goods by a side-spring, he exclaimed, indignantly: "Am I, then,
a woman, that I should disgrace myself by springing and dancing!"
With this profound seriousness and marble-cold expression of
countenance, we find everywhere among the Turks a great inclination
to pomp and magnificence; but this does not degenerate into
frivolity or fanfaronades, as is the case with the Persians. In
Constantinople one often hears the proverb: "Intellect is peculiar
to Europe, riches to India, and splendour to the Ottoman." The
solemn processions (alay) of the sultan and of the great nobles are
alike celebrated in the East and the West, and the imposing exterior
which is exhibited on such occasions is nowhere to be found so
faithfully reflected as among their fellow tribes in Central Asia.
An Œzbeg or Turkoman, when upon his horse, or seated in his tent
at the head of his family, has the same proud bearing, the same
self-consciousness of greatness and power. He is quite convinced
that he is born to rule, and the foreign nations which surround
him to obey,--just in the same way as the Osmanli thinks with
regard to Bulgarians, Armenians, Kurds, and Arabians. His love for
independence is boundless, and is also the chief cause why he cannot
long remain under the chieftain whom he loves in many respects;
and he would rather command ten or twelve miserable highwaymen or
adventurers than stand at the head of a well-equipped, elegant
troop, who might, in common with himself, own a greater master.
Coinciding with these traits of character, is also the predilection
of the Turks for repose and inactivity; for, although diligence and
activity, according to our European notions, are not to be met with
anywhere in Asia, still, work is not so much abhorred, either by the
Iranian or Semitic nations, as by the Turks, who consider hunting
and war alone worthy of man. Upon them husbandry is only forcibly
imposed, and is considered ignominious. A wondrous prosperity has
never befallen Turkey. The peasant was always idle and careless;
the number of craftsmen limited. Officials had only wealth when the
Janitchars came back from their pillaging excursions, laden with

In Central Asia, agriculture is exclusively in the hands of the
Persian slaves; commerce and business with the Tadjiks, Hindoos, and
Jews; for even the Œzbegs, settled there for centuries, meditate
robbery and war, and if they can procure no foreign enemy they
attack each other mutually in bloody brother strife.

As concerns intellectual capacity, I have found that the Turk is
everywhere far inferior to other Asiatic nations, namely, the
Iranian and Semitic; and that, through narrowness of mind, he loses
those prerogatives which his superiority in other respects would
acquire for him. This weakness is denoted by the word Türklük
(Turkdom), of which Kabalik (coarseness), and Yogunluk (thickness),
are synonyms. By Türklük, one understands also rudeness and
roughness in manners; and if here and there this defect is palliated
by the appellation, Sadelik (simplicity), still, for the most part,
they are subjoined to the Turkish name as insulting epithets. As
the Osmanli is over-reached by the Armenian, Greek, and Arab; so is
the Œzbeg baffled by the subtle and yielding Tadjik, and the no
less crafty and avaricious Hindoo. Whether this is to be ascribed
to a national defect or to an extreme nonchalance, it were hard to
determine; still, it is highly remarkable that the Turk in the far
east, as well as in the immediate vicinity of the civilised western
country, shuns meditation, and that nowhere are his attempts at wit
particularly brilliant. This disadvantage is partially the reason
that among the Turks more honesty, frankness and confidence, is to
be met with than among the remaining nations of Asia.

Türklük, by which strangers understand the above-named fault,
is often used by the Turks themselves as a mark of plainness,
simplicity, and uprightness. The lights and shades of Türklük have
been at all times observable and discoursed on, whenever parallels
are drawn between the character of the Turks and of other nations,
especially the Persians. People praise the acuteness, the refined
manners of the latter; but still, he who wants to find a faithful
servant, an attached soldier, or an upright man, will always give
the preference to the Turks. Therefore, we find in earliest times
that foreign princes liked to use Turkish troops; they call them
into their country, and invest their officers with the highest
dignities; and as bravery, perseverance, and love of governing, is
more innate in them than in any other Asiatic people, it is very
easy to explain how they rise from simple mercenaries to governors;
and how they subjugated Iranian and Semitic peoples, from their
home up to the Adriatic, many of whom are still ruled by them. In
my opinion, it is not only superiority of physical powers which has
sustained the Turkish dynasties upon foreign thrones, and still
does so: this is also greatly ascribable to their superiority of
character. They are unpolished, and by nature wild, uncultivated,
but seldom cruel out of malice. They enrich themselves at the
cost of their subjects, but again divide generously the collected
treasures. They are severe towards their subordinates, but seldom
forget the duties that they have to fulfil towards the latter, as
patriarchal heads. In a word, in all deeds and works of the Turks
a sort of kindness is perceptible, which is, perhaps, more to be
ascribed to indolence and laisser-aller, than to a fixed purpose to
do good; but still it works as a virtue, whatever may be its origin.

Finally will we mention hospitality, in which the Turks are better
versed than the Iranian and Semitic nations, and certainly for
very simple causes. As acknowledged, hospitality is observed in
proportion to the degree in which a nation advances from a nomadic
condition to a settled manner of living, and as Asia is generally
far more prominent in this virtue than Europe, so are the Turks,
the majority of whom are incarnate nomads, to be distinguished
from the rest of Asiatics, who, long settled there, rejoice in an
older civilisation. This must be considered a mere sketch of the
common character of the Turks. Concerning the gradation of different
races, we find the Buruts wilder, more savage than the remaining
nomadic fellow races.[46] They are more superstitious, but also less
malicious than, for example, the Kirghis and Turkomans, because,
without having wholly deserted Shamanism, they know but little of
Islam; and it is well known that the weaker a nomadic people's
ideas of that religion are, the fewer are its vices, and the more
tractable are they with strangers. The Kirghis, on the contrary,
are in the chief features of character less warlike, although they
can easily make up their minds to undertake a baranta (pillaging
expedition). They form the greater part of Turkish nomads, are for
the most part devoted to a wandering life; and whilst the Turkomans
are in many places to be met with in a half settled state, for
example, along the left shore of the Oxus, from Belkh as far as
Tchardjuy, and in Khiva, one can only find very few examples among
the Kirghis. They are easier to subjugate than other nomads, because
they, as already stated, are more peaceable and less brave, still
their colonization appears almost verging upon impossibility; at
least it will require a gigantic task of Russia, if such be her
design. The Karakalpaks, through their remarkable simplicity, are
often considered foolish and dull. They represent the idiot among
Central Asiatic nations, and many droll anecdotes are composed
at their cost. In bravery they are even inferior to the Kirghis;
they have seldom appeared as conquerors, and are seldom employed
by others even as mercenaries. As they occupy themselves chiefly
in breeding cattle, and like best to sojourn in woody regions,
they are called by the Œzbegs, ayik (bear). Still, activity,
benevolence and faithfulness, are everywhere adjudged to them. The
Turkomans are notorious among all the races of Central Asia as the
most restless adventurers, and rightly; for not only there, but
throughout the whole globe, hardly can a second nation be found of
such a rapacious nature, of such restless spirit and untameable
licentiousness as these children of the desert. To rob, to plunder,
to make slaves, is in the eye of the Turkoman an honourable
business, by which he has lived for centuries. He considers those
who think otherwise as stupid or mad, and yields in such a manner
to this passion that he often commences plundering his own tribe,
indeed, often his own family, in case he is baulked in foreign
forays. As a very weak apology, it may be argued that they inhabit
the wildest and most savage countries, where even keeping of cattle
gives only a scanty revenue: still the fruits of their detestable
trade hardly ever alleviate their pressing poverty, for they are
just as dirty niggards, as avaricious, and starve often in the
possession of riches as much as the poorest being. The Œzbegs
play the fashionable among their fellow-races in Turkestan. They
are not a little proud of the education which, through Islamitish
civilisation, they obtained, and, starting from this point
of superiority, wish to govern their nomadic brethren. Highly
praiseworthy with them is their tenacious adherence to so many good
points of their national character; which, in other places, is
too easily transformed and disgraced by Islam. With the Œzbeg,
there is, in spite of the hypocrisy and pretended holiness, which
endeavour to spread themselves by Mohamedanism, still always very
much honesty, uprightness, and Turkish open-heartedness, in which
qualities they are considerably to be distinguished from the
reprobate and vicious Tadjiks, and are truly worthy to govern the
latter. The Œzbeg is, as far as personal knowledge has shown to
me, the only Turk, from China to the Danube, who represents all the
best side of the national character of the Turks.

  [46] Radloff also confirms the same in his Report upon the Acad.
  Imp. of Sciences of St. Petersb. See the bulletin of the society
  named, vol. vi., p. 418.



The Turanian people, but especially the already mentioned
Turko-Tartaric tribes, have made themselves renowned in antiquity
by their warlike disposition, and the wild untractable rudeness of
their habits; but the Iranians, in strong contrast with these, have
always been known for the delicacy of their habits and a brilliant
state of civilisation. The former have ever appeared among their
neighbours as spoilers, destroyers, and plunderers; the latter, on
the contrary, as civilisers, propagators of the arts, and milder
social relations.

For it is not only the whole Mohamedan region which embraced
Persian civilisation, but even we Europeans have borrowed much
from these wonderful people, which, partly through the channel of
the ancient Greek and Byzantine culture, partly by a later contact
of the Western with the Eastern countries, as, for example, in
the Crusades, has naturally always reached us second hand. Iran
from time immemorial was the seat of civilisation, and in the
entire record of the civilisation of mankind we could in vain seek
for a nation which, notwithstanding grand political revolutions,
notwithstanding the copious foreign influx of the ancient spirit
of its civilisation, could preserve so long and faithfully the
character of its national existence as the Persian. There is a great
difference between the doctrine of Zoroaster and that of the Arabian
Prophet, and yet in the modern Persian almost all the features of
the former character may be discovered, which the Greek historians
trace out in the ancient Persian. In a hasty superficial glance
this will not strike the eye so easily, for, according to outward
appearance, it would be most difficult, amidst the agglomeration of
tribes in the Persia of to-day, to find out the genuine Iranian. Yet
a deeper insight would soon convince us of the truth of what has
been said, and we should see that the Iranian has not only borrowed
nothing in his customs and manner of thinking from the Semitic
and Turanian elements, which for more than a thousand years have
endangered his nationality, but has rather exerted over the latter a
powerful influence. The cradle of the Iranian nation, as asserted by
a modern ethnographer, namely, the learned Russian traveller, M. de
Khanikoff, in his Memoirs, "Sur l'Ethnographie de la Perse," is the
Eastern portion of modern Persia, and especially Southern Sigistan
or Sistan, and Khorassan, which stretches out to the north-east.
It is not only ethnography, but also history, which accords with
this assertion. As Sigistan, the native place of Rustem, and other
celebrated Iranian heroes of the classical age, is used as the
scene of action by the narrators of fiction at this day, whenever
they wish to describe something highly potent and ancient, so the
old _Belkh_ in Khorassan is declared to be the original source of
religion and polite education, and Merv is pointed out as the spot
where Adam received from the angel the first lesson in agriculture.
In a word, whatever refers to the early ages is to be met with in
the East, but never in the west.

The Iranian race, on its dispersion, as has been already remarked
in a foregoing paragraph, took a direction from East to West; the
Turanian scattered from South to North, and in two directions,
one towards the North-East the other towards the North-West. The
emigration occurred in those very ancient ages, of which we can have
hardly the faintest conception; yet even here there are features of
a common type which guide us like glittering stars through a night
of uncertainty, and though the Iranian race has suffered much in
modern times from the Turko-Tartar tribes, so superior to themselves
in number, one can nevertheless detect in the groups lying scattered
around, the separate rings of the former chain; precisely also as
one recognises in the Western remnants, though in continual contact
with Turanian and Semitic elements, the avowed Mede, so in the
Eastern remnants one may recognise the primitive genuine Iranian.

This preceding opinion formed from personal conviction, and every
one who carefully observes the Persian of modern Iran and Central
Asia must perceive the same, receives a further confirmation in the
learned investigations of our arrow-headed writings;[47] and it is
chiefly the Iranian catalogue of people in the arrow-headed writings
at Persepolis which enumerates all the nations of Iran, starting
from the centre of the empire, Persepolis, and continuing in a west
and eastern direction. Of course nothing positive will be perceived
in these with reference to higher or lower antiquity concerning
the physiognomical distinctions of one or another branch of the
families, but that a substantial difference existed already in the
early ages is hardly to be doubted. "The Semitic influences in the
west," says Fr. Spiegel, "began very early during the existence of
the Assyrian and Babylonian kingdom, and lasted through the whole
Achœmenian period. After the overthrow of the Achœmenian
kingdom occurred the amalgamation with Greeks as well as Semitics,
and so forth,"[48] As is rightly observed, for in the Southern
provinces of Farsistan, Laristan, and Luristan, where the contact of
the Iranian and Semitic elements from the earliest ages has remained
undisturbed, we find in the person of the modern Persian the same
physical characteristics that were described to us in these people
by Herodotus, and later Greek authors. The spare form, which is
more natural to the Western than to the Eastern, strongly reminds
one of the principal feature of the Arabian, who is represented by
Unsemitic tribes as _nahif_, haggard, and thin, whilst the Turk is
_kesif_, blunt, and stout, the genuine Persian _zarif_, noble, and

  [47] Ritter, _West Asia_. Vol. ii. p. 86.

  [48] "The Ethnographical Position of the Iranian tribes." _Ausland_,
  1866, No. 36, p. 853.

The Semitic elements have commenced in south and east Persia, from
Benderbushir until near to Kirmansah, and have especially left
behind with the inhabitants of the towns perceptible traces, which
strike the eye all the more when we compare the physiognomy and
stature of a Sigistanian with those of an Isfahanian. This is best
perceptible in the Ghebrs (fire worshippers), who sojourn among
the West Iranians, and are very different from them. As one misses
among them the predominating numbers of thin, slender forms, so
also one seldom meets with the narrow chin or the thin, small nose.
The Ghebr, in company with the Khafi, will certainly strike us less
than in the midst of a group of Isfahanians; and since the Ghebrs,
who are only sparingly scattered in the west of Persia, are to be
considered as the remnants of the primitive Iranian people, having
remained most pure from the mixture of foreign elements, one can
assert with certainty that the distinction of physiognomy between
East and West Iranian must always have existed. The Greek historians
of the Alexandrian campaign, who came in contact with the Eastern
as well as the Western nations of the then great Iranian kingdom,
have disregarded in their descriptions the ethnographical side of
the question, which is of the highest importance in our studies. In
the same way we gather but little information from the sculptures
which descend from the Sassanides. The figures on the bas reliefs
of Nakshi Rustem, Nakshi Redgeb, and, near at hand, of Kazerun, may
furnish faithful representations of the former Persian, but of the
nationality of the same there is no accurate account; and however
wide the opinion may extend with regard to stature and features,
these appear rather to belong to the West Iranian than to the East
Iranian, for the striking resemblance to the modern inhabitants of
West Iran must be apparent to the eye of every one. Recent European
travellers only cause us to observe the existing difference.

So we find that Gareia Silva Figeroa,[49] who in 1627 visited
Persia on a diplomatic mission, already calls our attention to
the difference between the East and West Iranian, though without
entering into any details of the physical characteristics. Chardin,
who travelled through this country in 1664-1677, is more explicit,
for he says that the Ghebrs, in whom he perceives the remnant of
the ancient Persian, are of a disagreeable exterior, clumsy figure,
coarse skin, and dark complexion, and form a strong contrast to
the present inhabitants of West Iran, who have a mixture of the
Chirkassian and Georgian blood in their veins. This opinion is also
positively expressed by Peter Angelus (Labrosse), a contemporary of
the former, in his "Gazophylacium linguæ Persarum," published in
1684, under the article, "Georgians."[50]

  [49] Khanikoff's "Memoire sur l'Ethnographie de la Perse." Paris,
  1866, page 45.

  [50] Above cited work, page 47.

Since, therefore, no doubt can remain about the distinction between
the East and West Iranians, we will bring the divergence to a
common point of view, and then represent the separate branches or
members of the two powerful races in such a way as we observed the
same on our journeys, not leaving unnoticed the observations of our
predecessors with reference to this subject.

          |       _a._ WEST IRANIAN.       |       _b._ EAST IRANIAN.
          |                                |
  FIGURE. | In _surpassing numbers, though | Of a somewhat thick-set
          | not slim, yet of a haggard and | figure; bones of a powerful
          | thin form_; of a light, supple | and large construction, but
          | movement, and graceful         | also clumsy in movement,
          | demeanour; but very rarely     | although far less awkward than
          | very thin or very fat, or      | the Turanians.
          | strikingly tall or very short. |
          |                                |
  HEAD.   | Oval. narrow, and middling     | Much less oval than _a_,
          | high forehead, flattened at    | almost to be called round; a
          | the temples; _oblong_ skull    | wider forehead, also larger
          | and narrow chin.               | jaw bones, and more _fleshy_
          |                                | cheeks; the chin, however,
          |                                | oblong, and less pointed than
          |                                | the Turanians.
          |                                |
  EYES.   | Large, black, with long upper  | Black, oblong cut, close and
          | lid, and arched eyebrows.      | thick eyebrows.
          |                                |
  NOSE.   | Long, thin, often arched.      | Less long, sometimes thick
          |                                | at the _root_, but never so
          |                                | stumpy and wide as the
          |                                | Turanians.
          |                                |
  MOUTH.  | Moderate-sized; perceptibly    | Often wide and thick lips.
          | thin compressed lips.          |
          |                                |
  HAIR.   | Black, of a thick and powerful | Black, of thick growth; beard
          | growth; particularly long,     | thicker, but less long than
          | thin beard.                    | the West Iranian.

In consequence of this diversity of the physical externals, there
is also a distinction not to be mistaken in the moral _properties_
of these two races. The East Iranian, although far superior to the
Turks in vigour of mind and body, is far inferior to the Persian
of modern Iran; and it appears as if the stamp of the mental
superiority of the latter was imprinted in the symmetrical formation
of their limbs and elegance of their features.


We can form the following subdivisions or branches according to
the geographical position of their north-easterly extension? 1.
Sigistani or Khafi. 2. Tchihar Aymak. 3. Tadjik and Sart; each
of which counts many subdivisions or degrees. As in our progress
towards the west we lose, in the Turanian race, the Mongolian
character in physiognomy more and more, and find in the single
branches a continually increasing mixture of races; in the same
way we discover, also, that the East Iranians become less Iranian,
and more Turanian, the farther they remove from the mother land.
The relation that exists between the Burut and the pure-blooded
Anatolian, the same is to be found between the Sigistani and the
Tadjik of Kashgar. The latter may, indeed, be called the old
inhabitant of that region, yet no one will dispute that the Turanian
elements, surrounding him in such numbers, have strongly influenced


Or that Shiite population of East Iran which inhabit the eastern
part of Iran, from the southern borders of modern Khorassan to
beyond Bihrdjan. They are as frequently called Khafi as Sigistani,
as the principal mass occupy Khaf and its neighbourhood, Ruy,
Tebbes, and Bhirdjan; whilst the ancient, classical Sigistan, more
traversed in modern times by Afghans and hordes of Beloochees,
offers to the peaceable Persian but a very insecure retreat.
Judging by historical accounts of Merv, which, in the Vendidad, is
enumerated as the thirteenth locality under the name Mun, as the
third spot marked, one might easily conclude that the inhabitants
of modern Khorassan, especially of the northern part, might be
reckoned with the East Iranians. This was naturally more or less the
case before the Arabian occupation; but at this day the people of
Khorassan are so powerfully intermingled with Turco-Tartar elements,
that the genuine East Iranian type only begins on the other side of
the southern rocky chain, behind Shehri No. Without being furnished
with an especial ethnographical representation, the traveller
will easily perceive that the Khafi (we preserve the appellation
which is usual in the country), although brown in complexion, is
to be distinguished from the Isfahani; for example: in that his
complexion is more olive-brown, whilst that of the latter, tanned
by the sun, appears more of a dark brown. In the second place, the
afore-named difference in stature and features, but especially the
less fiery eye, will strike him. And in the third place, he will
miss, in intercourse, that sprightliness and activity which he meets
everywhere among the lively West Iranians under the same situation
of climate. It can hardly be doubted, that many will be surprised
that this relative difference should exist between such tribes as
those in question,--of common origin, language and religion, for
hundreds of years, nay, for thousands of years, of one and the same
political connection. This circumstance would be with difficulty
explained through an analagous case in other lands. We shall,
however, recognise the cause directly, when we take into nearer view
the following points:--

1st. The whole portion named of East Iran has been spared from all
times the influence of the Semitic as well as Turanian nations,
since the first extended themselves only toward the western side of
the desert; the last, on their march westward, only at intervals
passed from the high road, Merv, Nishabur, and Rei to the southern
slope of the Djagatay Hills. 2nd. East Iran herself, in an earlier
period, remained separated through the great desert, when the Shiite
sect, the chain of solid union, embraced the Persian population of
Iran; and, despite all the wildest sect-hatred, the traffic now is
as great with the Sunnite Afghans and Heratis as with their western
brethren. It is true that, despite all the fatigue of travel in the
desert, despite all fear of the Beloochees, caravans go annually
from Shiraz, Isfahan, over Yezd, Tebbes up to holy Meshed. Yet Khaf
and Bihrdjan, situated south-east, are never touched upon; and
then, as now, it was always the case. In the mutual intercourse of
nations, language assumes foreign elements easiest and preserves
them the longest. The Persian dialect of modern Iran is overloaded
with Arabian-Turkish words. Fars in the south, as well as Mazandran
in the north, is in this only a little distinctive. In East Iran,
nevertheless, the borrowed richness of language is certainly
less; and we find in much that Persian in which Firdusi, with a
premeditated rejection of Arabic, wrote his great epic. In what
concerns the use of old forms and words, the Persian of Bokhara
is of that character, and especially we may name the Tadjiks in
the first place; yet these last have too much lexicographical and
grammatical material borrowed from the Turks; and this circumstance
it is that has produced the conviction in our minds, that _in East
Iran the purest and oldest Persian is spoken_.

As for the language, I should be inclined to cite the Khafi or the
Sigistani as the primitive tongue of all the Iranians, yet, in
regard to their ethnographical position in relation to the whole
Iranian race, I would not venture to attribute that position to
them in which the Buruts stand to the whole Turko-Tartar race.
What branch of the East Iranian families may be the primitive is
one of those questions to which no one could deny a high degree
of importance, yet is the reply much more difficult as to the
Turko-Tartar race. For the appearance of the latter on the stage of
historical events is comparatively fresh, whilst the former stepped
forward in a period of which we can hardly form a conception. We
must, therefore, again repeat that the Sigistani or Khafi are named
as the first among the East Iranians, only in consequence of their
geographical position, and not from induction on the more primitive
character of their branch.


These are the four people or races which, from the time of the
conquest of Herat, have been thus named by the Mongols. They consist
of the Timuri, Teimeni, Firuzkuhi, and Djemshidi. The whole are of
Iranian origin and Persian speech, and enough so to distinguish them
from the Hezareh,[52] who, though they speak Persian, yet show
their pure Mongolian type, their Turanian origin without a doubt. On
the spot itself there is but a confused understanding as to its name
Tchihar Aymak, because many appropriate to themselves the same, and
are again opposed by others. Our travellers have most contradictory
statements concerning these races, and especially this erroneous
idea, that the Hezareh are to be reckoned among the Tchihar Aymak,
who appeared at the Southern part of Central Asia, at a time when
the latter were already indicated by the name in question.

  [51] Aimak is a Mongolian word, and signifies a people.

  [52] Khanikoff seems to be in error when he considers the Hezareh,
  as formerly Œzbegs; viz., as the Berlas tribe. "Memoire sur la
  Patrie Meridionale de l'Asie Centrale." Paris, 1842, pp. 112, 138.
  I must against this cite the following arguments:--1st. Their own
  assertion,--that they were the remainder of the army of Djingis,
  and, moreover, from the statement of Abul Fazl of a troop of Mangu
  Khan. 2ndly. That a portion, now named the Gvbi Hezareh, which
  retired into the hills in the neighbourhood of Herat, and has been
  spared by the Persian elements, speaks a Mongolian dialect, as is
  proved by _Von der Gabelenz_, in a periodical of the German Asiatic
  Society,--vol. xx. p. 326.; and Baber affirms that in his time many
  Hezareh spoke Mongolian. 3rd. There is nowhere among the Œzbegs
  such a decided Mongolian type to be found as among the Hezareh,
  which is the more striking, because the first remain near their old
  home in more compact masses, while the latter have dwelt under a
  foreign climate and foreign elements.

During my abode of six weeks in the town and neighbourhood of Herat,
I devoted considerable attention to this question. My knowledge is
grounded, not so much on hearsay touching the race, as on their
physiognomical characteristics, which are incontestably the best
proof. The _Timuri_, or the Sunnite Persians of East Iran, dwell now
partly on the western boundary of Herat, as Gurian, Kuh'sun, &c.,
and partly also in the villages and towns situated to the east of
Iran, from Turbet Sheikh Djam as far as Khaf. In the first-named
region they constitute exclusively an united population, in the
latter they are only to be found sporadic, for although two hundred
years ago the greater number were Sunnites, yet the sect-hatred
of the Shiites converted them partly by force, partly drove them
into the neighbouring Sunnite city of Herat. In consequence of
the frequent confusion of boundary, for Herat has endured in
ancient and modern times more than forty sieges, one can easily
imagine what an amalgamation has been produced by these continued
movements among the solitary branches which approach so nearly to
East Iran, and it is truly a wonder that the Timuri are still to be
distinguished from the Shiites of East Iran.

The remarkable characteristics are first, that among them more
people are to be found short and thick-set than among the
Sigistanis; also as regards colour, the latter are, on an average,
of an olive brown, and with dark black hair, whilst among the former
a whiter complexion, with chestnut brown hair, is not uncommon. As I
have said, the united number of the Timuri on the East Iran boundary
amounts now in its fullest extent to one thousand families, because
the great majority dwell in Herat.

The _Teimeni_ are hardly in any respect to be distinguished from the
latter dwelling in the Northern and Southern parts of the so-named
Djölghei Herat, from Kerrukh to Sebzewar: only a small part has
extended as far as Ferrah, and is named by the Afghans Parsivan
(Farszeban, speaking Persian). Since the Afghan rule has taken place
in the Western valleys of the Parapamisian mountains, many attempts
have been made to establish in the midst of the Persian population
Afghan colonies, yet until this day all have failed, for the discord
and strife which have wasted this neighbourhood for centuries still
continue; each member of the Tchihar Aymak knowing no greater enemy
than the Afghan. In consequence of this circumstance the Teimeni,
although an agricultural people, are of wild, warlike nature, and
there is no longer any trace of that spirit of wisdom, which in
the time of the descendants of Taimur, viz., Sultan Husein Mirza,
animated them.

The Sunnite Persians of former times contended in poetry, learning,
and music, with the Shiite confederates in the west; at the present
time they are raw barbarians in comparison with the latter.

_Firuzkuhi_ is the name of the little people that dwell on the steep
hill, north-east of Kale No, and from their inaccessible situation
afflict the whole neighbourhood with robbery and plunder. To the
traveller are narrated the most gloomy stories of Kale No on the
summit of the mountain, and the fortified places of Derzi Kutch
and Tchekseran are considered the same as the robber nests of the
Bakhtiari and Luri in the environs of Isfahan. As all dwellers in
mountains remain distinct from their nearest kindred in the valleys,
so is this the case also between the Firuzkuhi and the remaining
Aymaks, and one could almost name them the Gileki and Mazemderanis
of East Persia. On the first glance they appear to have much
resemblance with the Hezareh. It is even asserted that they came
forth from them, yet neither has their formation of the forehead and
of the chin, nor the complexion and figure of the body,--a decided
Turanian character; and although it might present a strong mixture,
yet does the Iranian element prevail, for, besides that they all
speak Persian, the names of their dwelling-places and khans are pure
Persian words.

They inhabited those hills from immemorial time, and though Taimur
settled them by force in Mazenderan, they soon returned back to
their old hilly home, and have lived since that time in constant
warfare with their neighbours, partly supporting themselves from
their scanty breed of cattle and tillage; partly also from robbery
and plunder, which they perpetrate on the caravans upon the road to
Maymene, or upon the scattered tents of the Djemshidi. Their total
number hardly amounts to eight thousand families.

The _Djemshidi_, the only tribe of the East Iranians living
exclusively in a nomadic state, inhabited from time immemorial the
shores of Murgab, whither they, according to their own statement,
settled out of Sigistan in the time of Djemshid, from whom they
derive their descent. This national myth cannot be considered
quite true, yet is it incontestable, that among all Iranians who
now inhabit Central Asia the Djemshidi have the most striking
resemblance with the Sigistani, which is so much the more to be
wondered at, because these for so long a time have led a settled
life, whilst those have led a nomadic; and the vast influence which
the difference of the two ways of life has on the development of
the body needs hardly be mentioned. Khanikoff thinks they approach
rather the Tadjiks; but I cannot coincide in this view, because, in
the first place, the Djemshidi is thinner; secondly, has a longer
face and a far more pointed chin than the Tadjik; and in the third
place, their language, as well in form as in copiousness, agrees
much more with the Persian dialect of East Iran than with that of
Central Asia. As to what concerns their method of life, they are
the only Iranians who, in every respect, have taken much from the
Turanians; that is to say, from the Salor and Sarik Turkomans living
in their neighbourhood; whilst the other half-nomadic Aymak used
a long Afghan tent, which here is named the Tent of Abraham, one
sees among the Djemshidi that round, conical tent of the Tartars
surrounded with felt and a reed matting; their clothing also and
food is Turkomanish; indeed, even in their occupation, they copy
these last. For when a flourishing position, that is, abundance of
horses and arms befalls them, they are just such fearful robbers
of mankind as the children of the desert. They enjoy also the
reputation of the best riders and warriors amongst all Aymak, and
abide, partly in service at Herat or Maymene, partly in league with
one or other of the Turkoman tribes, when the immediate question
among them is a large tchapao (razzia). In consequence of this
aforesaid connection they were transported to the banks of the Oxus
by force by Allah Kuli Khan, from Khiva, after he had conquered them
with the allied Sariks. They remained more than twelve years there;
a fruitful place, which was assigned to them as their new home, and
rendered them well to do. Yet the longing for the poorer, but old
home-like hills, was soon felt by them, and availing themselves of
the confusion which a war of the Khivians with the Turkomans called
forth, they packed up everything quickly and fled, without fearing
the danger of pursuit, across Hezaresp, Tchardjuy, Maymene, back
towards the town of Murgab. In their march one thousand Persian
slaves joined them, who, in consequence of their escape, obtained
their freedom; but, having reached Moorgab, were again taken in
a treacherous manner and sold in Bokhara. Although the Djemshidi
among all the Iranian races of the East, as well as of the West,
have most truly retained the warlike spirit of old Persia, yet
they are in proportion less rough in their customs and intercourse
with strangers than the neighbouring Turkomans, with whom they
have had relations for a long time; and, notwithstanding his wild
exterior, the Djemshidi, even in the lowest class, is polite in
word and manner:--the light and shade of the Iranian character are
not recognisable in him, and we must not be surprised if in the
customs of this nomadic people we meet with the most lively marks
of the pre-Islamite time. Islam with them has taken still less root
than among the other Turanian nomads, and the greater part of them
use it as a veil, under which lurk concealed many features of the
religion of Zoroaster; thus, for instance, fire among them is in
higher estimation than among the Tadjiks; the door of the tent is
always facing the East, and the idea of the good and evil spirit is
so universal that the lowest class of the people, especially the
women, when a sheep or goat is slaughtered, never neglect to throw
certain parts of the animal which are considered by other nomads as
delicacies, to the bad spirit as _kende_, "unclean;" and they are
only eaten by the dogs. It is worthy of remark, that among the ruins
of Martchah the same stories are in circulation, as among the Yomuts
of the old remnants of the ruins at Meshdi Misrian. Martchah was in
olden times the Kaaba of the whole region until the wicked Turkomans
appeared there, and destroyed the whole.

This is all that I can say in respect to the Tchihar Aymaks. I can,
notwithstanding all inquiries, learn nothing of their name before
their last appellation. According to all probability they were
reckoned among the Tadjiks, yet now they are distinct from these
latter, and form the second gradation of the Iranian race in its
extension to the North-East.


As the remnants of the Persian population of Central Asia are
called, whom we meet in their largest numbers in the Khanat of
Bokhara and in Bedakhshan. But there are, besides, many settled in
the cities of Khokand, Khiva, Chinese Tartary, and Afghanistan;
although here and there little deviation in their physiognomical
outward developments are observable, in consequence of the
different climacteric and social relations under which the Tadjiks
live. And thus, for example, the Tadjiks of Bokhara and the
Afghanistan towns have much more resemblance one with another than
the former with the Bedakhshanis, or the confederate races of
Chinese Tartary; notwithstanding, the leading features of one common
type are generally observable among them. They are usually of a
good middle height, broad, powerful frame of bones, and especially
wide shoulder bones. Their countenance, the Iranian type of which
immediately strikes the eye at first sight, is more oblong than that
of the Turks; but by the wide forehead, thick cheeks, thick nose,
and large mouth, we soon perceive that this most eastern branch of
the Iranian family has much that is heterogeneous, that is to say,
Turanian, in its stamp of countenance as well as in the formation of
body, and is in nowise to be regarded as the primitive type of the
Iranian race, as M. de Khanikoff imagines.

According to the statements of the Vendidad and Greek historians, it
is no longer matter of doubt that the native country of the modern
Tadjik was in those celebrated regions of ancient times, Bactria
and Sogdiana,--the most ancient seat of Iranian civilisation, the
cradle of the religion of Zoroaster, and the source of the heroic
legends of Persia. We must own, that even in the most ancient times
they were inhabitants of this region, for the ancient Khorassan,
which stretched far into Chinese Tartary, was, as is proved by
topographical nomenclature, founded and occupied by Iranian
colonies. And who is there that does not perceive the continuous
stream of Scythian-Turkish elements which has overflowed Central
Asia, from the valleys of the Altaic Mountains, that _officina
gentium_, from 700 B.C. to 400 A.D.?

No country which was situated along the chief route of these
migrations could remain unaffected by the intermingling of foreign
blood; and as the northern half of Persia, the modern district of
Maymene, Andchoi, and the western declivities of the Parapamisian
Mountains could preserve, but in a slight degree, the primitive
unity of race; so also was it equally impossible to the Iranians of
Transoxiana. The inhabitants only of the mountains of Bedakhshan,
namely, the Vakhani (in which name the learned writer of the
article, "Central Asia," in the _Quarterly Review_, July--September,
1866, believes that he has detected the origin of the Greek, [Greek:
oxos]ὀξος[53]), can have a greater claim, from their less accessible
homes, to unity of race; for all the Feizabadis[54] whom I have seen
have more indelible marks of the Iranian type than the Tadjiks: even
their very language is freer of Turanian words. And since one can
imagine that a people, though in strictest retirement, can preserve
for centuries its primitive type, the Vakhani alone, and not the
Tadjiks in general, must be considered the truest remnants of the
ancient East Iranian.

  [53] From Vah (the river Vah), as the Oxus is called in Bendehesh,
  may also be derived the modern name, Vachan, Vacks-as-ird, and

  [54] During my sojourn in Kerki I lived with ten Feizabadis
  (Feizabad is the capital of Bedakhshan) many days in one and the
  same house. It was a deputation returning from Bokhara, where they
  wished to raise the Emir to the place of their lately-banished

As regards the appellation Tadjik, I have always found that those
concerning whom we are speaking never use it themselves willingly;
for, if this does not sound exactly in their ears as a term of
reproach, people are yet accustomed to understand by it that
expression of contempt with which the Œzbeg conquerors regard
the subdued aborigines. By the word Tadjik, the Tartar population
of Turkestan understand a man without warlike disposition, of a
covetous, avaricious nature;[55] with crafty and vaunting ideas; in
a word, everything that stands in opposition to Œzbeg frankness,
simplicity, and uprightness. These relations are, moreover, to be
found everywhere between Turanian conquerors and the subjugated
Iranians; for as the latter, in Persia, are far inferior to the
Turks in mental endowments, so is this also the case in Central
Asia. And Bokhara has only become the head quarters of Central
Asiatic civilisation, because here, from the earliest ages, existed
the overwhelming numbers of the Tadjik population; who, continuing
their previous exertions in mental culture from the pre-Islamite
times, notwithstanding the oppression of foreign power, have
civilised their conquerors. As in the earliest ages, after the
reception of the Islam faith, all the celebrities in the field of
religious knowledge and _belles lettres_ were mostly Tadjiks; so,
to-day, one still meets in Bokhara, Khokand, and Kashgar, the most
conspicuous Mollahs and most celebrated Ishans. At the court of
Bokhara, notwithstanding the Œzbeg origin of the prince, the
chief ministers are always Tadjiks; nay, even in the rude Œzbeg
government of Khiva, the Mehter (Secretary of State), as an officer
whose qualifications must be of the highest order, is chosen
invariably from the Persian population of the place. It is truly
wonderful how the Tadjiks, notwithstanding more than a century of
co-existence with the Œzbegs, are to be distinguished from the
latter, not only in their individual nature but in their habits. A
proverb says, "Look at the Œzbeg on horseback,--the Tadjik in his
house;" for, the same care that the one bestows on his steed, arms,
saddle and horse, the other spends on his house and attire. However
poor the Tadjik, he will yet pass for a man of more substance than
he is, and will always appear rich and great in public, although
sparing and abstemious in his family circle. Nor is his conversation
less choice: the courteous expressions, the compliments of which
he makes use, sound somewhat Tartarian, to ears accustomed to
Persian refinement; yet, in contrast with the Œzbeg, he is to be
considered an accomplished gentleman. Attuned by nature to peaceful
occupations, the Tadjiks are devoted everywhere considerably to
tillage, commerce, and industrial pursuits, as they hate war; and
if they are compelled to handle weapons, they are rarely valiant,
but frequently cruel. They are also defective in that national
feeling that strikes one so forcibly among the Œzbegs. This has
best shown itself in recent occurrences in Tashkend. In a letter
from General Kryjanovsky from the town above-named, (Ausland,
December 4th, 1866, H. 1159), we see that, among the diversified
population of that place, the Sarts were the first who drew near, in
a friendly fashion, to their conquerors, and certainly rendered very
readily considerable help in hard labours of pacification; and that
probably to the dislike of all the Œzbegs, who certainly took no
part in the pretended petition to the Russian Government.

  [55] Slaves prefer rather ten years in the house of an Œzbeg
  than five years in the house of a Tadjik, because the last, who is
  considered a man without conscience, makes use of them in every
  possible way.

The Tadjiks hold well together, but this is more from the mutual
support of one with another in an oppressed race than a special
effort for Tadjik public interest; and if they wish to distinguish
themselves, which is only the case in Bokhara, then they are in the
habit of showing with pride their Arabian descent. The emptiness of
this last vaunt Khanikoff has shown sufficiently. He derives the
word Tadjik from Tadj (crown), a head-dress, which the old fire
worshippers had, and the Ghebrs wear even now;--the name Tadjik
arose from it, by which the adherents of the teaching of Zoroaster
were called at that time--before Mohamedanism, or else it was a term
of their own adoption; for the word Tadji in Huzvari, and Tazi in
Persian, which signifies Arab, has with the first no connection.
It is remarkable that the word Tadjik is even found in Western
Asia. There are Armenians who call Turks as well as Arabs, _i.e._,
Mohamedans, _Tadjik_, but only among themselves privately. And it
seems to me to be constantly a nickname affixed by the oppression of
their tyrannic rulers. Since I have found this universal among the
Armenians of Asia Minor, it appears to me that they did not wish to
express by it only Mohamedans, but also the adherents of a strange
religion, and that this, according to all appearance, old word,
has been transmitted later to the Arabians by the old inhabitants
of Persia, with whom the Armenians, under the Sassanides, were in
contact. That the name Tadjik has been missing among both Arabic and
Persian authors of the first century, after the entrance of Islam,
but existed early in Central Asia, the Uïgur MS. (Kudatku Bilig the
lucky knowledge) best shows. This bears the date of 462 Heg., and
we find there the word Tadjik often quoted in opposition to Turk.
The above-named work, which Jaubert has mentioned in the _Asiatic
Journal_, 1825, is an Uïgur version, or rather _rifacimento_ of
the Chinese original. The Turks themselves have always called the
Transoxanian aborigines Sart, a word of which I know not the origin.
M. de Khanikoff mistakes when he supposes that this is only the case
in Khiva, for he must know that in the Russian Army the Persian
population of conquered Tashkend at a later period was enrolled
under the name of Sart, and they were so called in all Khokand. Also
the above-named General Krijanovsky speaks of Tadjik and Sart as of
two different races. As to this word Sart, the derivation of which
is wholly unknown to me, it is a term of which the famous Mir Ali
Shir, in the time of Sultan Husein Mirza Baïkera, makes use in a
treaty on the Persian and Turkish language. The latter, he always
calls the Sart tili (Sart language), and not the Tadjik tili. Sart
is hence legally used for the Turkish appellation of Tadjik. Here
and there Œzbegs busy themselves in making a distinction between
Sart and Tadjik; but I cannot agree with this view, although I will
not conceal the fact, that the Sarts seen in mass differ greatly in
some physiognomical peculiarities from the Tadjiks. They are, for
instance, more slender-built, have a longer face, and, moreover, a
higher forehead than the Tadjiks; but it must also be mentioned as a
qualification of the above, that they formed frequent alliances with
the free Persian slaves of Central Asia, which the Tadjiks never or
very seldom did.



Tartar muse! Œzbeg Melpomene! This will to many sound passing
strange! That poetry should exist in the oldest spots of rudeness
and barbarism--that persons in those regions where robbery, murder,
and spoliation rage most, should busy themselves with literature,
may to many seem strange; but yet such a notion would be incorrect.
The East was at all times the seat of poetic enthusiasm, and the
more the social relations retain the stamp of olden time, that is,
the nearer civilisation is to its infancy, the more general is the
inclination to poetry and fables, the more passionate the sound of
forced hyperboles and enthusiasm.

That the dwellers in a Kirghis tent are more disposed to poetry
than the members of a polished society in Paris and London, must
surprise no one. Among us it is only over a certain age that poetry
indicates herself more or less; there are only certain individuals
that linger round the Castalian fountains. In Central Asia those
bowed down by age, as well as youthful lovers, passionately affect
poetry, the warrior equally with the shepherd, the priest as well
as the layman,--each one attempts the composition of poetry or
devises tales; and if this attempt is probably not successful in
every instance, still, nevertheless, the habit of even listening to
the compositions of others may be said to be universal.

Since literature in the East is in close connection with religion,
we must then divide the literary productions of Central Asia at the
commencement into two parts.

1st. The Literature of Islam or the Settled Nations.

2nd. The Literature of the Nomadic or Wandering Tribes.

This distinction dates from that time when, with the entrance of
Islam, foreign literary conceptions became universally diffused,
which, without retaining at the present time any special national
character, are in vogue among the different followers of Islam.
Poetry, for this is the essence of that literature, is always
the same now with Arabs, Turks, Persians, and Central Asiatics.
Vainly would one seek there the stamp of a national mint; it is
everywhere the same sprightly imagery of the poets; everywhere
the same metaphors, parables; everywhere the stereotyped image of
the rose and the nightingale, the thorn-resembling eyelashes, the
fuming vapors of rising sighs, &c. Everywhere the same muse of which
the learned M. de Khanikoff rightly says:--"That she comes forth
free and wild, like those plants of strange forms to be met with
in the calcined soil of southern Asia, covered with thistles and
thorns, incrusted with salt; they diffuse through a rugged bark,
here and there, aromatic, beneficent odours, and wave upon their
withered stems wreaths of flowers of elegant forms and brilliant
colours."--_Asiatic Journal_, vol. v., p. 297. Of this literature,
however, which is well known in western countries, through many
translations and learned treatises, we shall say nothing. We rather
pass over the religious literature of many eccentric devotees,
who, in zealous ardour towards God and the prophets, have written
volumes full of pompous expressions on the subject of their love
and resignation. These last productions in the three Khanats are
considered as the exclusive property of the Mollah and Ishan
world. The people listen very patiently to their recitals, but are
not enthusiastic, for the mystical current of thought in copious
language is beyond the reach of their understanding. What we wish to
say, then, of the literature of Central Asia is confined, to speak
correctly, to the Popular Poetry. Here we do still find something
original, here some types which deserve the real name of Turkestan,
and with these we wish to make our readers acquainted. The most
poetically attuned people are in the Khanat of Khiva. This part of
Central Asia had at the beginning of the twelfth century acquired
the reputation of a special eminence in music, tuneful voices,
distinguished poets and poetesses; indeed, it is hardly fifty years
ago that in the courts of the Kadjars, in Teheran, a Khivite
lute-player was in great honour. Bokhara, before the ascendancy of
the Turkish element, had only a few great poets, such as Rudeki and
Figani; but these must be rather classed in Persian literature. To
return to Khiva, I must remark that as it always surprised myself
when I heard a heavy-looking, coarsely-dressed Œzbeg, with wild,
sun-burnt features, sing one or another soft minor air; so, also,
with travellers in general, this feeling will be found to exist on
their entry among Turkomans and Kirghis. These people esteem music
and poetry as their highest pleasure. After a fortunate adventure
the marauder, however tired and hungry he may be, will listen in the
open street with real delight to the bakhshi (troubadour), who comes
to meet him. Returning home from a foray, or other heroic deed, the
young warriors are in the habit of amusing themselves throughout
the night with poetry and music. In the desert, where man is either
ignorant of the luxuries of life, or does without them, it is,
nevertheless, that the bakhshi is very seldom wanting, and besides,
that the latter are found in great numbers, going about to exercise
their art. The nomads have the habit of amusing themselves with
poetic games.

As people regard in company the happy finding of a rhyme or cadence
as indispensable to education, the young nomad girl will also, say,
give the preference to him who would answer her question in a verse
with happy rhymes. The poetry of the Œzbegs consists first of
narratives, which either appeal to religious life or famous heroic
deeds. The first are composed by the Mullah world, or by the more
polished bakhshis, after Arabic or Persian sources, and adapted to
native taste,--the last are genuine Tartar compositions, in which
there are not wanting at times both glowing language and good
metaphors. These tales of heroic exploits, which are similar to our
romances, begin already to be of even greater extent, and are often
recited or sung many evenings together, and although Islam plays
here and there a conspicuous part, nevertheless those pieces are
preferred in which home-heroes figure on well-known historic fields.
Of these last-named compositions, one much esteemed in Central Asia
may serve as a specimen. It bears as its title


And is the history of two sons of heroes, who, after their country's
fashion, even in early youth undertake a tchapao or razzia against
heretical Iran, in which the leading motive is not so much the
thirst for spoil as the chastisement of the unbelieving Shiites.
Just at the beginning Yusuf harangues his heroes ready for the foray
in the following fashion:--

"With the worthless fellow unite not, for he makes known the deepest
secret. Speak no secret words in bad spots, for thy deep hidden
mystery will become known. Better is the bare leaf than the faded
rose. Better is dry earth than worthless grass. Better is a staff
than a stupid fellow-traveller. For he makes known the direction
of thy route to the foe. Do not instruct the fool, because he will,
nevertheless, reach the grave of misery unconsciously. When you
enter at a good-for-nothing fellow's as a guest, he attacks you like
the little cur, and makes his vice known. Would that I could give
you the picture of a true hero! He draws his sword only for the
destruction of the unbelievers. Do not march against the enemy with
a coward, since he makes known the trodden track as well as his own
path. Yusuf Beg says, 'Such a time is come. This home-land is for us
no longer. Fools know not their own lair; they speak angrily, and
make their evil speech known.'"

They march away. The report of their heroic deeds spreads far and
wide, and naturally reaches their home-land. Here governed only
petty princes, each of whom would take renowned warriors into his
service. The usual career of warfare proceeds, and Yusuf takes the
command, but only with the consent of his comrades.

They draw out afresh for an expedition against Guzel Shah, the
Governor of Isfahan. The Œzbegs are overpowered by Persian
cunning. Both princes are taken and dragged in chains to Iran. This
misfortune rouses deep cries from the heart of Yusuf, and as he
could not turn for sympathy to his captors, he pours forth his wail
to the lofty hills that surround him, and exclaims:--

"Ye snow-bedecked, many coloured hills, what has befallen me;
have you seen it? I am become the slave of these unbelievers; my
tarrying behind, have you seen it? No one pities my tears, the
hills only throb at my tears. With lashes around my head, how must
I have stepped along the way; have you seen it? Heedless were my
attendants. Ah! I weep tears of blood! How captured with Ahmed Beg
came I here, have you seen it? I drink blood,--in this world too
heavy is my sorrow! Walking on foot, unbelievers on steeds; have
you seen it? Yusuf Beg says, 'I am inwardly consumed, my sorrow is
endless. Dragged with these bound hands at a horse's pleasure, have
you seen me?'"

He is then thrown into prison, where he finds a fellow-sufferer in
the person of a Sunnite, who as enchanter and fortune-teller by
profession, had drawn on himself the displeasure of the Persian
monarch; and he also finds in the daughter of the gaoler, who
had become enamoured of him, a kind friend. Up to this point the
strifes, the mighty hero-deeds, the religious enthusiasm, are
constantly detailed. From this point love also mingles in the
strain. Yusuf Beg had left at home a sister and a lady love. The
former vainly waiting his return, cries bitterly, and in tears calls
on her maidens to loosen her hair; the latter, in his absence,
maintains her passionate regard, and sends the trained cranes of the
hero with a love-letter to him. It contains the following charge:--

"Oh, ye five cranes of Yusuf Beg! Rush out and draw near to N.
Strengthen yourselves and fly away over the hills! Seeing Yusuf Beg,
hasten back, that the hawk see not on the plains the tips of your
wings. I am deprived of half my heart. Come back, asking him of
his health! Hasten back! I was once the world-rose; flown hence is
the nightingale of my grove! Should my lover be living, then brush
with your lively wings early back. Should the red roses have become
withered; should his life have reached its end; should my lover be
dead, put on mourning, and weeping return! Calling on God, shake
then your wings. With ardour look forth to the heaven; burst out for
the town of Ürgendj. Break out and draw towards the town of N. Gain
true intelligence, and come back. Oh, hear Gul Assl's cry! Carry to
him my heart-sorrow! Oh, make a pilgrimage to his grave. Bring me a
little dust, and hasten back."

The birds circle around the prison of their sorrowful master with
plaintive chirping. He remarks them, and sends back to his home the
following message:--

"Oh, ye cranes! Fly round me, right and left, in mazy sweep in air.
Go back,--say my greeting to my people! Oh, ye cranes! right and
left, looking round, go back.--say my greeting to my people! The
crane flies and rests high in the air. Tired are his wings with the
long way. Here in prison breaks out afresh my sorrow. Oh, greet,
then, my kinsmen! Kharezm town is my home. There stays my friend,
my beloved, my well-wisher, my dear one, my tender one. Oh, greet
her, my mother! my Kaaba! On the mountains of sorrow are pines high,
high. Oh, pray for me all of you, young and old. Mournful autumn
became my fate; before the life's blossoms had opened yet! Oh, greet
for me my poor little sister! She from early morn waiting for me
looks around. She is inwardly consumed by the torture of separation.
Looking on the path in the morning with dishevelled hair, she cries:
'He is not come!' Her whole soul for me is waste and empty,--my love
Gul Assl, for her I mourn. Oh, greet her! In one day, oh crane!
thou wilt reach from here to Kharezm. On the way thither go over
the seven mountains. Note this thou hast seen, Yusuf Beg; greet the
cowardly Begs for me."

The birds depart, but the heroes languish yet long in prison. At
last they are condemned to die. But the miraculous power of the
Sunnee saints saves them. All the weapons employed become blunt. The
Persian tyrant remarks it, and summons the heroes to his presence.
As the chief condition of obtaining the wished-for freedom, Yusuf
must improvise in opposition to the court fool, Kökche, and in the
event of his overcoming the latter in poetic ability, then he is
to be restored to his home in full liberty. Yusuf improvises in
strikingly bold language. He sings not the praises of the tyrant,
but his own, while he says,--

"My people is a fine people. Winters there are continually
summers, gardeners tend the gardens, the trees give their fruits.
In white tents repose the aged, the youths hunt around them. In
cordial companionship live the youths, spending time in delight and
pleasure. Fast as the wind the steeds. In racing thy steeds lay
behind them. High soaring to heaven is the flight of the birds. In
scorn they carry off men. Should intelligence of me arrive in a day,
in a day also an army can come. Out of six pounds of thick cord are
the strings of their bows. Their princes rule in equity, partiality
is far from them. Hear me, Guzel Shah, thou unbeliever, should I
return to wage war on thee, then know that one wave of my arm kills
100,000 men. Of Isfahan are their swords. Their streets are united
bazaars, their fields like beds of tulips. With deers, hares,
falcons, the fields of my people are full. Their free inhabitants
are like Hatem,[56] their leaders are like Behram and Rustem in the
day of battle, heroes in the strife. I am a slave without power, the
unbeliever regards not this; without fate the fly dies not; let not
my tears flow in vain."

  [56] The oriental emblem for generosity.

He conquers, goes laden with treasure to Ürgendj; and though he has
to undergo some hard struggles on the road, arrives happily home,
where his reception is described in many deeply-moving, highly
poetical images. After an interview with his beloved and his sister
they conduct him to Lalakhan, his mother, who in consequence of
mourning for him for several years, has almost lost her sight.
They bring her the joyful intelligence, which she disbelieves at
first, and says,--"My ardent desire has bent me low. Am I really
to see thee, my dear child? Sunk in sorrow, I only sighed, with
eyes tremulously searching for you. The whole world would I look
through could I really find thee, my child. Shall I mourn like the
nightingale? Shall I, like Mansur, succumb to sorrow? Shall I, like
Djerdjis, weep tears of blood? Am I again to find thee, oh my dear
child," &c.

Yusuf Beg is led to her. He bides apart, and when he hears the cry
of his mother, his anguish bursts forth for their fatal separation
in yet more sorrowful words. By the voice his mother recognises him.
Overpowered by excessive joy, she yet welcomes him in the following

"Oh, thou seven years' sufferer in prison! Oh, thou balsam of my
wounded heart! My star of happiness brightens. Vanished is the night
of misery! Oh, prince of my people and land! Thou Rustem, thou hero
of the world! My Yusuf, my glorious son, my comfort, my life-power!
Thou crown of happiness, thou highest grace of my life! Lalakhan has
found her son, the All-powerful has shown mercy to her. Gone is all
pain from my breast, all sorrow. Yusuf, my son, is come!"

Soon after this the marriage of the lovers takes place, his hero
blood suffers not the adventure-seeking chief to rest. He collects
an army, of which all the people of Central Asia form part. It is to
take vengeance on Guzel Shah. Fortune attends his arms. The Persian
is conquered; his old fellow-sufferer, Kamber, freed. He goes home
crowned with glory, and the conquered Guzel Shah must pay him the
following tribute.


"He shall give me the whole Kharads of the town, N.,--40,000 silk
stuffs embroidered with gold, and 40,000 khimhal (stronger silk
stuffs) shall he send. His tolls and taxes he shall collect; 40,000
magnificent dresses shall he send; 40,000 chargers, with golden
saddles; 40,000 male and female camels; 40,000 young slaves with
golden girdles; 40,000 youths, with beautiful eyes, shall he send;
40,000 oxen (well bred) shall he send; 40,000 rhinoceri, bound in
chains, shall he send; 40,000 reins, well shod, with gold nails, and
40,000 grey falcons shall he send; 40,000 whips shall he send, the
nails of which shall be symmetrically arranged; lashes, worked in
silver, the handles with golden spangles; 40,000 iron greys, 40,000
foxes, 40,000 noble steeds, with snake like tails, shall he send;
40,000 ambling nags, 40,000 roadsters, 40,000 peasants, as caravan
guides, shall he send; these, with black locks falling down right
and left, whose faces are covered with moles; 40,000 wonderfully
beautiful maidens, with golden girdles, shall he send; 40,000 caps,
60,000 turbans, shall he send. Also, 70,000 sheep and double horned
rams shall he send. Yusuf Beg says he shall have all ready quickly;
100,000 Russian thalers and 10 gold dishes shall he send."

This was, in short, the material of an Œzbeg romance, of which
there is an innumerable quantity, and of domestic tales also; and
these are considered the most valuable portion of their literature.
Here and there, one finds an union of religion and valour. The
Heroes are taken out of the Islam world, as, for instance, in the
story of Zerkum Shah, where Ali conquers the last named heathen
prince of Persia, in wonderful engagements, which border upon
the imaginative, and may be compared to the poems of Ariosto and
Bojardi; finally, he converts him to Islam. There are also numerous
tales of Ebu Muslim, the old Field-Marshal of the Abassides,
and, later, the independent ruler of Khorassan and Kharezm. The
historical facts are pretty old, and yet each Œzbeg, in the great
desert which separates his home from Persia, points out many a
spot where the Arabian Field-Marshal encamped, fought, and enacted
supernatural deeds of valour. Finally, there are also the epics, in
which the old princes of the house of Shah Kharezmian are extolled.
In these, as well as in those which tell of Mohamed Emin, Khan of
Khiva, Mohamed Ali Khan of Khokand, we find many an image which
indicates the natural feeling and pride of the Œzbegs.

Then follow, also, on these compositions, which are always
of greater length, short poems, which tell of love, morality,
heroism,--or contain special directions for handling of weapons,
dressing of horses, and the duties of a good warrior. These are,
for the greater part, productions of plain burghers, professional
Bakhshis, people who are unacquainted with reading and writing, and
leave their poetry to be written by others; or, finally, productions
by women and young girls, who break out into poetic effusions from
the fire kindled by passion. I brought with me a pretty collection,
written on soiled paper, in a bad hand, bound in rough leather,
which I found among the Turkomans at a Bakhshi's, who hid the
"Opus Curiosum" in the broad leg of his boots; and it has really
very strange things in it, sometimes not without beauty. We wish
to produce some specimens, under the names of the writers; some of
them appear to be anonymous. The first one, in the genuine Oriental
style, mourns the transitory condition of humanity and the vanity of
the world.


1. To build castles in this world is a fruitless thing; finally, all
will become ruin, and building is really not worth the trouble.

2. Day and night, for each poor wanderer to labour and strain
himself, is really not worth the trouble.

3. Friends! For idle good in this empty world, to mourn and lament
oneself, is really not worth the trouble.

4. To do homage to passion out of ostentation, to torment the poor
and the sick, is really not worth the trouble.

5. To destroy the lands of Islam, and to draw the sword to
annihilate, is really not worth the trouble.

6. With taxes, duties, with hundredfold griefs and sorrows to vex
Molla Khodja,--nay, the whole world, is really not worth the trouble.

7. As you cannot, Allah Yar, stand the brunt of the world, why
plague yourself going up and down it? it is really not worth the


1. I went to my love one evening, on foot, treading softly. In sweet
sleep lay the dear one. I embraced her softly, softly.

2. I took a kiss from her lips and refreshed my soul by it. I
embraced her tender limbs, and kissed her once more,--softly, softly.

3. I said, give me a kiss, then. What, are you not ashamed, said
she? Return whence you came, quickly,--treading softly, softly.

4. I was obstinate, and would not go. She seized my arm and pushed
me out. At last, I saw no other chance, and sneaked off,--softly,

5. I departed; could not endure separation, and came back. Oh,
merciless one, I implore thee, give me a kiss,--softly, softly.

6. Too genial to suit European taste.

7. Revnak says, as the whole world is full of jokes and sport, so
let no one blame me, and read this softly, softly.


1. My soul blazes in flame, yet my mistress comes not. What said
I,--Mistress! The beloved of my heart comes not.

2. I am inwardly consumed for the love of this cypress-like beauty.
She is so cruel. Into her thoughts I enter not.

3. I see in dreams her ringlets, and rise deeply saddened at noon.
From this lock of her hair my heart separates not.

4. Medjnun and Leila, take a lesson from me in love; my charming
dear one heeds me not.

5. The life of foolish Meshref seems coming to its end, and the sad
flirt heeds me not.


1. Hold fast to the leading strings of modesty, for nothing is
lovelier than modesty. Immodesty, mark this well, advances neither
in this nor that world.

2. Oh! bird of my heart, flutter not in the air, but light on the
hand of a king. The too high-flying hawk is never employed in the

3. Desire treasure only from God; he has many storehouses. Should
a drop only fall to thee for portion, this is amply sufficient: it
ends not.

4. He, on whom the bird of happiness has rested, flies high, even
without wings. He, on whom a dark lot has fallen, can scarcely raise
his own hand.

5. Be always humble: strive to obtain a contrite spirit. He who
suffers gold-hunger can never be satisfied.

6. You, Fuzuli, live in this world only for friendship. Winter lives
in unfriendly hearts; never can it be summer there.


1. _Saturday._ I met my cypress-like charmer, and she made me

2. _Sunday._ I was frantic, and a wanderer, and fell down senseless.
I saw her face, and thought it was the shining moon.

3. _Monday._ At last I told her my heart-secret. Her eyes are like
the narcissus, her cheeks resemble roses, her eyebrows are like a

4. _Tuesday._ I became a huntsman, and went over the country
(walked), yet I myself became the chased, and fell a sacrifice to
the ever coy one.

5. _Wednesday._ My beauty walked in the fields; the nightingale saw
her face and uttered wild cries.

6. _Thursday._ I said to my loved one: Hearken, then, to my advice:
hide thy secret still from both good and bad.

7. _Friday._ At last Nesimi saw her beauty, and drank to satiety of
the sherbet of her rosy lips.

These, although through the poetic beauty of our European tastes
they may not prove quite agreeable, give yet sufficient evidence
that the inhabitants of Central Asia, apart from the roughness of
their social relations, despite their incessant wars and forays,
are not unskilled in the expression of traits of poetic feeling and
tender love. The higher classes, though they do not look on the
popular poetry with contempt, still wish to show traces of refined
taste, a higher education, and enjoy the works of the elder Persian
poets, or the books of Nevai, who stepped forward as the first of
the Tchagatay poets in that kind of accomplishment, by which all the
rest of the poets of the Islamitish polite world acquired renown.
Nevai is a scholar of the celebrated Sheikh Abdurrahman Djami,
during many years minister, field marshal, and governor of many
provinces. He is of rare genius in poetry, and of great fertility;
for he has produced more than thirty-two distinct works on poetry,
history, morals, logic; and though his works are thoroughly Persian
in spirit, and not pervaded with the spirit of Central Asia, yet the
merit of having reined and ennobled the Turkish dialect of Central
Asia cannot be taken from him.

Here I give a few specimens.


1. Oh! heart, come, let us seek out a love; the cypress-growing one,
the silver-cheeked one, let us seek.

2. As the darling of our eyes has looked for another friend, we also
have eyes; therefore, another let us seek.

3. She greets the glance of men only with the dust of death. Why
stand longing here? Another beauty let us seek.

4. Should I not find another like thee, who destroyest all the
world, then a lowly, modest, but tender one, I will seek.

5. We will hasten through field and plain for the loved one; we will
search garden and meadows. Her will we seek.

6. As the wish is good, it shall not remain unfulfilled. Among small
and great, through all as far as possible, we wish to seek.

7. Oh! Nevai, from this passion you will never get freed. Come,
therefore, before the meeting. Patience and perseverance let us seek.


1. Absent from the loved one, the heart is like a land without a
king. A land without a king is like a body without a soul.

2. Oh! Mussulman, what service is a body without a soul! It is like
black earth, which has no sweet smelling roses.

3. Black earth, that has no sweet smelling roses, is like a dark
night, that has no bright moonbeams.

4. A dark night, that has no bright moon, is like darkness without a

5. A darkness, that has no life-source, is like a hell, which has no

6. Oh! Nevai, as the loved give so much pain, it is certain that
absence has its pangs, and the return no aid.

His Tchihardivan is beautiful, in which he celebrates the various
ages of men, as also his adaptation of the well-known romances,
Ferhad and Shirin, Medjnun and Leila, Yusuf and Zuleikha, &c. Also
his versification of some stories out of the 1,001 Nights, among
which Prince Seif-ul-Muluk is the most successful. The following
will serve as a specimen of the latter.

_How Seif-ul-Muluk sets out from the town of Tchin, and journeys to
the sea._

1. Come, tale-teller, let us hear the story of the adverse fate that
befel the king's son?

2. The tale-teller replied, "That is hard to do; for the sword of
sorrow cleaves the breast."

3. The prince had everything prepared for his departure, and first
enquired about the town of Katine.

4. Satisfactory information was soon received; all his effects
brought to the ship.

5. The whole crew were on board, the officers stood prepared, and
the army equipped.

6. Then the prince betook himself on board, and confided his person
to the "god's device" (the ship).

7. The pilots led the way, followed by an endless host of ships.

8. There sat the prince in sweet reverie, with smiling lips and a
heart free from sorrow.

9. Six months he went across the sea, with pilot carefully watching
his way.

10. Soon, Fate made him feel the sting of envy, and maliciously
opposed him.

11. The sea became moved and girded on the blood-thirsty sword.

12. She opened herself, and the deluge wildly burst forth,--a deluge
on all sides of streams of fire.

13. Every moment she showed a fresh scene of horror--every instant
makes a thousand souls tremble.

14. Wildly swelled the waves, and threatened with mighty floods:
with blood-thirsty jaws rush and roar the waters of the sea.

15. Then dark fearful winds arise--the horizon veils itself in
pitchy darkness, and from the surface of the sea there sounds forth
wild lamentation.

16. The day, bright with the sun, becomes a pitch-dark night. What a
fearful day! It is the image of the day of judgment.

17. Wherever thou lookest no man is visible, not even the hand
before the eyes,--all, and over all, is water.

18. The salt waves toss and roll incessantly, and raise the ships
with keels upward.

19. Ever does the mighty sea rage and roar and mount with fury from
the deep abyss.

20. Wild cries of creatures break out together, you would think it
was the day of Resurrection.

21. In frightful hurly-burly one ship runs into the other; they
split, and sink to the bottom of the sea.

22. The yards break, the planks fall in pieces, no possibility of

23. Those hundred ships, said the tale-teller; that crew, those

24. All was wrecked on the sea coast, not a trace remained behind on
the surface of the waters."

Wide as the territory of Turkestan-Proper extends, so far does
the literature of which we have tried to give a slight sketch in
the foregoing pages. And the further we betake ourselves from the
frontiers into the desert, so in like manner does Islam become
weaker, and here commences the change from Mohamedan civilisation
into the old Shamanism. Among the Kirghis, notwithstanding the
greater part of them profess Islam, one meets here and there with
a tale which was generated in the Khanats; this, however, is
looked upon as an exotic plant, and never preferred to the native.
The popular poetry that one finds among them forms the point of
transition from the currents of ideas of one society into another.
Indeed, only two days' distance from the borders of the Yaxartes,
or northward from the Sea of Aral, may a bakhshi prosper, provided
he can give in the best fashion tales or narratives of a purely
Kirghis character. The poetry of the wild inhabitants of the steppe
is more strange and odd than pretty. Here and there a happy image
occurs, at other times there are only broken exclamations and
solitary verses without the smallest connection. Since each person
is a poet, a tale cannot long preserve its originality, either they
add something new to it or cast the whole off, and few people can
keep themselves from annexing to their songs the momentary influence
of their fantasy. Of the love-lays of the Kirghis, Lewschine has
introduced a short poem, not without charm, in his book, p. 380:--

"Dost thou see this snow? The body of my loved one is whiter still."

"Dost thou see the dropping blood of the slain lamb? Her cheeks are
redder still."

"Dost thou see the trunk of this burnt tree? Her hair is blacker

"Dost thou know with what the mollahs of our Khan write? Her
eyebrows are blacker than their ink."

"Dost thou see these glowing embers? Her eyes are brighter still."

Another specimen which follows this consists of detached sentences
without any connection.

"The hawk has pounced on the ducks--on a flight of ducks--on a great

"I am very ill, and hardly ever think of eating," or "yonder is a
tall pine-tree, the mist has fallen over it."

"Yesterday she allowed me to enter her house. Formerly she would
come herself and caress me."

These more or less may be found among all purely popular tales of
oriental people. There is even a trace of them in Hungarian, as for

"Three apples and a half, I invited thee, and thou camest not," or
"the crane flies high, singing beautifully, my loved one is angry,
for she will not speak to me," &c.

A considerable number of tales or narratives of hero deeds exists
among nomadic tribes, partly in verse, partly in prose. In these the
spirit of the literature of the Turkish tribes of South Siberia is
more prominent than that of their Central Asiatic neighbours; and
I have heard many compositions of Kirghis Bakhshis, which I find
with little variation and dialectic differences faithfully conveyed
in the more recent work,--"Proofs of the Popular Literature of the
Turkish tribes of South Siberia," by Dr. Radloff.

It leaves no doubt that as the learned A. Schiffner, in the myths
and tales of Dr. Radloff's collection, finds traces of a Buddhist
influence, so many of the irtegi (tales) of the modern Kirghis
have reached them from the further south, beyond Djungaria; for
Islam, coming from the south-west, could take no firm root over the
Yaxartes, and now that the mighty waves of Russian power roll down
from the north, will certainly prevail no further. This kind of
literature belonging rather to the Turks of South Siberia, we shall
conclude our present sketch by a tale of the Kirghis, which belongs
to this little horde, according to European opinion, but according
to inland appellation, to Mangishlak Kazagi, _i.e._, a Kirghis of
Mangishlak. It is from the book of Bronislas Zaleski, who, as a
Polish exile, dwelt nine years in the desert, and on his return,
1865, published under the title of "La Vie des Steppes Kirghizes."
Paris. Fol. 1865.


Man is, in Heaven, helpless without God; on earth, powerless without
a horse.

  [57] I adopt the orthography of the original, although Kugaul
  (hunter) Barzagai (master lion) instead of Buruzgay would be

There was once a Kirghis, named Buruzgay. He had great numbers of
sheep and horses, and nothing was wanting to him if God had not
denied him children. He was alone, consequently, in an advanced
state of life. He said not his daily prayer (namaz), nor kept the
enjoined feasts. One day, the sorrow of his childless condition
overcame him, and he determined to go to the Holy places, in the
hope that his prayers might obtain for him a son. He forged for
himself shoes of iron, and took a staff of iron in his hand, and so
betook himself on his way. He travelled and travelled ten years
long, and probably more. So long, so long did he travel, until his
iron shoes were quite worn out, and only the handle of his iron
staff remained. At last, he fell down on the ground, prostrate.
Great were his sufferings, for he could neither raise himself up nor

Lo! before him appeared a holy man, who perceived him lying on
the earth, had compassion on him, bent over him and enquired what
ailed him. Buruzgay could not utter a word. The holy man fell on
his knees, recited his prayer, (namaz) and prayed the Almighty to
loosen the tongue of the unhappy man. Hardly had he done this, when
Buruzgay began to feel his strength revive. He related his history,
and on what grounds he had abandoned his aoul. The holy man withdrew
a short distance, and continued in prayer until God said to him,
"Thou art well pleasing in my sight. I will accomplish thy wish.
But why dost thou interest thyself in Buruzgay? He pays no impost,
he says no prayer (namaz), he observes no fast. How shall I have
compassion on him?" "Lord," said the holy man, "in time to come he
will serve Thee devoutly, and will repeat his prayers; only do not
reject my intreaties. Grant my prayer and take me for an hostage."
Then God said, "Depart, faithful servant, thy prayers are granted.
Enquire of Buruzgay what is his desire. Will he have forty sons
and forty daughters, or only one son and one daughter especially
approved by me."

The holy man returned to Buruzgay. He found him quite restored, and
on his knees; and he cried aloud with joy, "Oh, God, I have not
lied to Thee: Buruzgay, before my return, had begun to perform his
duty." He then told Buruzgay the words of God. "What shall I do with
forty sons and forty daughters? If the Almighty hear my prayers, he
will give me one son and one daughter." The holy man blessed him,
and conveyed back to the Lord his reply. Buruzgay found his iron
shoes as though unworn, and betook himself to his aoul. Approaching
it, he appeared to recognize his steppe and flocks. He viewed all
with heartfelt joy. Slowly and slowly regaining his recollection,
he perceived that nothing had changed since his departure. He
approached a shepherd, to enquire of him as to the owner of the
herds. The shepherds did not recognise him, he had so fallen away,
and become so changed through fasting and hardships, and his clothes
were worn out. "What is our master to thee," enquired the shepherds,
"go thy way." They went their way to their flocks. Buruzgay waited
until their return, and questioned them afresh. The shepherds drove
him away as a poor beggar (baygouche), without wishing to speak to
him, till at last he uttered his name. They immediately looked at
him attentively, recognised him, and told him that his wife, whom
he had left in the family way, was near her confinement, and they
were expecting guests in the aoul. Then, without waiting for his
reply, the shepherds ran off swifter than an arrow, and coming
to Buruzgay's wife, demanded the suyundji, (the customary gift
for good news). They received it, and informed the wife of the
arrival of her husband. She was highly delighted, and immediately
afterwards Buruzgay entered. A few days after his arrival, his wife
was delivered of two fine, strong children,--twins. One was a son,
the other was a daughter. Buruzgay was beside himself with joy, and
he kept constantly meditating on what names he should give these
children, with whom God had rejoiced his old age. Whilst he was
buried in thought, his former intercessor with Heaven, the holy
man, came to him, and said, "Thou wilt name thy son Kugaul, and thy
daughter Khanisbeg. And Buruzgay hearkened to the holy man, who
immediately left him.

The children grew, and were beautiful. Four years passed away. The
twins began to learn shooting, with little bows prepared for them.
Kugaul easily learned to shoot, and ten years passed away. At this
time, it came to pass that a mighty Sultan gave a feast (Toy).
During the banquet, he gave notice that he wished a lofty mast to
be erected, with a piece of gold on the summit, and that whoever
could pierce with his arrow the gold piece, should be the husband
of his daughter. A host of competitors presented themselves. The
mast was very high; they shot in turns; none could pierce the gold
piece, and the renowned archers of the Steppe missed their aim. At
length, the last guest at the banquet missed also. The Sultan cried
out, "are these all the young people that there are in the Steppe?
Have none stayed away who will let fly an arrow for the hand of
the Sultan's daughter?" "Only one remains," they replied, "Kugaul,
son of Buruzgay; but he is only a little boy ten years old." "That
matters nothing," said the Sultan, "bring him here immediately."
They went into the aoul to seek him. He appeared on a broken-winded
horse, in old clothes, with a bow at his back. He had plenty of
beautiful clothes, and good horses, for his father was rich, and
denied him nothing, but he wished, before the rich, to appear poor
and humble. When the Sultan's wife saw him riding forward, she cried
out immediately, "This shall be my son-in-law, and none other among
those present." Arrived at the mast, Kugaul would not immediately
draw his bow.

"You are many," said he; "I am alone, and young; and if I were to
hit successfully, I might, perhaps, not then receive the hand of
the Sultan's daughter. The Sultan assured him that he would give
him his daughter, but only on the condition that he should shoot
successfully. Kugaul prepared to pierce the gold piece. He took
aim, bent his bow so powerfully, that his lean, miserable horse,
sank beneath him. He struck him with his whip until he rose. Kugaul
took aim again, stretched the cord afresh. This time the horse
only bent the knee. The arrow went off and pierced the centre of
the golden piece. Kugaul, exhausted with the effort, dismounted,
unsaddled his horse, lay down on the ground, and, reclining his head
on the saddle, fell asleep. He slept there three days long in his
miserable attire, little as he was on a poor saddle. The Sultan had
fully intended not to give his daughter to such a wretched-looking
being. In vain Kugaul awaited the messengers. No one came, and he
thought of some means by which he could obtain his bride. Suddenly
a woman appeared before him from the Sultan's household, and
explained to him fully the position of circumstances. Kugaul said
to her, "Return to the Sultan, and tell him that I give him until
mid-day to-morrow for consideration. If he does not then give me his
daughter, and forty laden camels, and forty carpets, I will kill him
and exterminate his whole family." The woman took a fancy to Kugaul,
imagining him to be a great warrior (batyr), returned quickly to
the aoul of the Sultan, gave the Sultana an account of the meeting,
who rushed to her husband, saying, that Kugaul would become a great
hero (batyr), and if he should not keep his word, he would draw on
himself a disgrace darker than the earth. The Sultan's wife spoke
many similar speeches, until at last her husband resolved to marry
his daughter, and he gave Kugaul notice to that effect. Kugaul now
attired himself in splendid robes, mounted a magnificent courser,
and presented himself to the Sultan. The marriage was celebrated,
and after the accustomed wedding feast (toy) Kugaul conducted
his young wife home, and returned to his father's aoul. Forty
camels, laden with costly objects, and covered with forty carpets
followed him. This was the dower of the bride. When he reached
home, Kugaul's wife lowered her veil, according to the custom of
the Kirghis. But when they were in the presence of his father and
mother, Kugaul lifted it for the first time. Hardly had his parents
seen her countenance, when they presented her gifts of horses and
cattle. Then, because they had not guessed her favourite colours for
animals, the daughter-in-law did not fall at their knees to thank
them. The old Buruzgay was angry at this, and cried out, enraged,
"What an animal is this maiden! We have given her a host of presents
and she will not humble herself before us, nor give us even the
usual salute (selam)." She replied, "What are your presents to me?
I do not require them. You have not given me the very best. Behind
the house there is a chesnut mare, she sinks knee-deep in the sand;
she alone suits me. For she will produce a stallion, which will save
my Kugaul from many misfortunes, and become a true warrior's steed.
Give me this mare, she is the most valuable, and I prefer her to
all." "My daughter-in-law is, though young, prudent enough," said
Buruzgay. This pleased him, he became reconciled to her, gave her
the mare, and the young bride fell at the feet of her parents, and
gave the usual greeting. A beautiful tent was erected near the old
people, and the newly-married dwelt therein, and the wife of Kugaul
ordered her servants to attend to the chesnut mare as the apple of
their eye. They then dug a deep recess, covered it with grass, and
there the mare was protected and well fed. During the night a fire
was lighted around. Forty days passed and the mare brought forth a
colt, a little bay stallion. The servants ran immediately to apprise
the lady, and demanded a reward for the joyful intelligence. "Wait
another forty days," she answered; "take great care of the stallion,
give him plenty to eat and drink." The servants obeyed, and when
the appointed time was passed they returned to their mistress,
who informed them that from that moment they were all free, and
could go where they wished. As for the young colt, a silk noose of
forty fathoms was prepared,--they fed him on pure barley, milk,
and kishmish (a kind of dry raisin), and he grew up with Kugaul.
It happened at this time that the Khan (chief of the Kirghis) came
on a visit to the old Buruzgay, and when he saw Khanisbeg and the
wife of Kugaul they pleased him so much that he fell senseless to
the ground. They brought him back to life, and prepared food for
all. They all set to work to cut meat for mishbarmak (a Kirghis
dish). The Khan did the same, but whilst his hands were occupied
his eyes admired the beautiful women. He became inflamed with a
mighty passion, and could not turn his looks away from her face.
So absorbed was he that he did not even remark, that instead of
cutting meat he had cut his own finger, and did not discover this
for some minutes. Aware of it, he became so ashamed that he could
cut nothing,[58] and not to displease his host he made belief as
though he were tasting the dishes. He took leave quickly, and
returned home with a concealed longing in his heart. Hardly had he
reached it when he gathered his friends and relatives together, and
consulted with them on the means he should take to remove Kugaul,
and become possessed of his wife and his sister. Every body said
that he could not kill him, for he was far too great a hero.

  [58] This same episode occurs in the romance of Yusuf and Zuleikha,
  where Zuleikha's friends at the banquet are so astonished at the
  beauty of Yusuf that instead of paring the pomegranates before them
  they cut off the skin with their fingers.

But they devised another plan; they resolved to send Kugaul against
a hostile horde with the command to bring the Khan, who was there
ruling, alive or dead. This idea pleased the love-lorn Khan. People
assured him that the envoy could not return under ten years, and it
was indeed very probable that he might perish. They sent for Kugaul
immediately, and gave him the instructions. He returned home to his
aoul and related to his wife the commands he had received. "Not on
this account does he send thee," replied she, "I know the feelings
of his heart. When he was here he was seized with a passionate
longing for me and thy sister; he will have us and send thee away,
so that thou mayest die; but thou hast thine horse, thou canst not
fail, only return quickly." Kugaul departed, and only took with him
his servants and his horse, and travelled over many steppes, until
at last he reached the hostile border. Ten years, perhaps, more
or less, he travelled, I do not know exactly. At last his horse
stopped, Kugaul pressed him on, but the animal suddenly began to
speak with a human voice. "Compel me not to advance further, we are
near the enemy. Take off my bridle and saddle, I will go thither and
see how many they are in number." Kugaul obeyed his horse, which
began to roll on the ground, and by this means to increase his
strength more than by the best food. Then he rose, shook himself,
neighed, changed into a bird, and flew up into the clouds. Thus he
flew for three days. At last he returned and said, "There are more
enemies than hairs in my mane or tail. Consider well what thou dost.
Wilt thou fight or return?" Kugaul was not terrified. He left his
servants with the command that they should await him on that spot.
"If you hear of my fall," continued he, "bear the news to my wife
and my mother." He then offered an earnest prayer to God for help,
and departed. The enemy surrounded him, but he permitted not himself
to be conquered. His horse was a great help to him, for hardly did
one of the enemy take aim at him with his gun than he changed into
an eagle and flew far away with Kugaul towards the heaven. If he
were threatened with an arrow, the horse changed into a sparrow
and disappeared among the grass like a small ball. Kugaul fought
thus many days and at last slew and exterminated all the men of
this race, carried off the women, children, cattle, and possessions
with him, brought them to the place where he had left his servants,
commanded them to convey the booty home, and he himself rode forward
on his faithful steed. On and on he journeyed for a long time. One
evening, however, his horse would go no further, did nothing, and
stood petrified. Kugaul dismounted and lay down to sleep. Towards
the morning he awoke, approached his horse, and perceived that he
was shedding bitter tears. "What dost thou ail, my good horse,"
inquired Kugaul, "why dost thou weep?" "Alas, why should I not
weep!" answered the horse. "this is the spot where once I trotted
in my silken halter. Here was also our aoul, and now there is not
a trace remaining of it, all is destroyed." And he began again to
weep. "Take off my saddle and bridle, let me take rest, and so
recruit my strength, and I will make enquiry as to the doer of all
this, and discover thy enemy."

Kugaul took the saddle and bridle off the horse; he began to roll
afresh; and when he had regained strength he raised his head, took
a deep breath with his powerful nostrils. He bounded, changed into
a bird, and flew up into the air. He flew three days, without,
however, discovering anything, and was already on the point of
returning, when, on the opposite side, he discovered the aouls
of the Khan. Hither he directed his course; flew over the tents
and flocks, and saw everything. No one guessed that the bird was
Kugaul's horse, only the wife of the hero (Batyr) had a presentiment
that some one was coming to her, and nigh at hand, which idea she
communicated to her sister. The bird returned to Kugaul, related
what he had seen, that the Khan had carried off his wife and sister,
taken his flocks, compelled his father to collect tezek (a fuel
made of manure), his mother to tend the sheep. The horse began to
weep afresh. Kugaul prayed God to come to his assistance, so that
he might punish his insulting foe. He then commanded the horse to
convey him forthwith to his mother. He departed, and soon found her
in the steppe, occupied in tending the sheep. He threw himself into
her arms. "Why dost thou thus embrace me?" said the good old woman;
"can it be that thou art my son?" "If I am not thy son, am I not
worth as much as he?" "Oh, no; none in the steppe is worth as much
as my son." "Have you no news of him?" "I do not know where he is.
The Khan has despatched him against a hostile people; since that
time I have never heard talk of him. Only, to-day it appears to
me that I heard the noise of his horse's wings; but I do not know
whether it was reality or a trick of Satan." "And is it long since
thy Kugaul departed?" "Yes, yes; a long, long, very long time." "But
I am Kugaul himself. Dost thou not recognise me?" The old woman
looked at him more attentively, and she did not recognise him, and
said: "No, thou art not Kugaul; but if thou art his companion, or
if thou knowest anything of him, then speak. But do not deceive
me--do not torment me." "I am Kugaul," cried the son. "It was my
horse that flew over thy head this day." But the old woman was still
incredulous. He asked her if Kugaul had no birth-mark, and she
replied, that he had a black spot on his shoulder, big as a hand. He
then asked his mother to rub his shoulder (a common habit among the
Kirghis). "But," the old woman replied, "the sheep will run about in
all directions, and the Khan will beat me; for he often beats me.
Go, then, and let me manage my flocks." But he insisted and pressed,
and said, that if they wished to beat her, he would protect her.
At last the old woman consented. She took off the khalat (upper
garment) and the shirt, and proceeded to rub his shoulders. She
perceived the black spot large as a man's hand, threw herself on the
neck of the young man, and cried out, "Thou art Kugaul, thou art my
Kugaul;" and she wept for joy. "Did you not, then, recognise me,
mother?" said Kugaul. "Is it, then, so long a time that I have been?
And you, my poor dear mother, how altered you are! You have grown
old and grey, and your eyes are red with tears." And he embraced
her, weeping. "I knew not my child," replied his mother; "how long
you have been absent! But the Khan has attacked our aoul, carried
off thy wife and sister, and all our effects, and reduced thy
father and myself to be his slaves. I have been constantly expecting
thee; but I have lost all memory: I cannot tell how long a time has
passed. I know only that it is a long time, a very long time, that
thou hast left us." "Be tranquil, mother," said Kugaul; "the evil
days are terminating, and all begins anew to go right. God will aid
me. Return to the aoul; hasten to get in thy sheep, without paying
attention that it is yet early. If any one inquires about me, say
that I am not far off; but not a word more." He took leave of her,
and went his way. The old woman returned to the aoul, but she did
not walk as usual,--she ran; she, who could hardly before catch a
lamb, now chased three or four at once,--so much had her strength
improved. The Khan remarked it, and said to those around him: "That
old wife of Buruzgay must have received intelligence of her son." He
approached her, and questioned her about her son. "He is here,--he
is come," replied the old mother. "You will not be able henceforth
to make me suffer any more." She spoke boldly; for her interview
with her son had filled her heart with joy and hope. The Khan turned
pale with fright, and soon he perceived Kugaul, who, mounted on his
celebrated steed, advanced to him. Kugaul stopped at some distance,
then spoke, without descending from his horse. "You have deceived
me, you wished to get rid of me, to carry off my wife and sister. I
thought that you acted loyally with me, and went out at thy bidding
as a true man. But thou art only a hound, a perjured miscreant,
a robber. We must reckon. But what shall I gain by thy solitary
death. They would say, that Kugaul, the Batyr, has only killed the
Khan. Gather, then, thy army together." And the Khan begged of him
to grant him three days to assemble his people. Kugaul consented,
and departed. The Khan sent his orders into all the aouls of his
horde, and drew together a large armament of his people around him.
Kugaul prayed meanwhile to God. At the day appointed he came, and
said: "You are my Khan; I will not shoot first at you,--you begin."
The Khan shot: missed his aim. "I will not yet shoot at thee," said
Kugaul; "gather together thy best marksmen, and command them to
shoot against me; if they do not hit me, then I will shoot." The
best marksmen of the Khan stepped out of the ranks, and shot. Each
shot an arrow at Kugaul, but his horse transformed himself into an
eagle, then into a lark; protected him against all the shots, by
raising himself up in the clouds--and against all the arrows, by
crouching down in the grass of the steppe. They could not hit him.
Three days Kugaul permitted them thus to shoot against him. On the
fourth, he said to the Khan: "Well, since you are my master, you
have shot against me,--you and your servants, for three days. Now
comes my turn." "Do what you like," said the Khan. Kugaul placed the
best hunter, and then two archers, and the Khan himself in a line
behind them. He placed himself opposite to them, and, turning to
his horse, said: "My true steed, rest firm now, and change not thy
position, in order that I may, with a single arrow, kill all four."
The horse stayed still as a stone. Kugaul drew the string with all
his might: the arrow went through huntsman, archers, and the Khan
himself. When the people saw that the Khan was dead, they ran away
on all sides. Kugaul followed them. He reached, on horseback, now
this one, then that one, from the height of the clouds; and all that
he struck, died. At last he gave over his work of extermination.
He returned to his aoul, found there his parents, his wife, and
sister, and seized on the possessions of the Khan. Among the women
and children that the servants brought in, there was the daughter
of the Khan. Kugaul took her for his second wife. He married his
sister, Khanisbek, to a very rich Khan of a neighbouring tribe, and
he himself became also Khan.

So ends the story. The old people say (added Mourzakay) that all
this is the exact truth, and that all the events happened in the
steppes. I did not see them; but we must believe what the old people
tell us.



It is three years ago since, in the closing chapter of my Travels
in Central Asia, I expressed my surprise and dissatisfaction at
the indifference of Englishmen towards Russian progress in those
regions. I then indicated not only the exact course of Russian
procedure on the Yaxartes, but also its steadily approaching
influence on British India. Abstaining purposely from all
far-reaching political reflections, I was as brief and concise
as possible, and could hardly have believed that the unassuming
remarks of a European, just returned home from Asia, would be found
worthy of closer consideration. Nevertheless, these few lines were
discussed and dwelt upon by almost every organ of the English and
Indian press, from the _Times_ to the _Bengal Hirkáru_. Only a very
small proportion of those various journals attached itself in any
measure to my ideas; the most of them, on the contrary, rejected my
good counsel; and without directly ridiculing my judgment, raised
from all sides a loud-sounding Hosannah over the happy change in
English politicians, who, being less short-sighted now than they
were thirty years back, discovered in the advance of the Russians
only a disagreeable event; nay, would even regard it with pleasure,
and cry success to their march southward over the snow-capped peaks
of the Hindu-Kush and the Himalayas.

In these three years, however, a great change has taken place.
Far though I be from wishing as an ex-dervish to exult over the
fulfilment of my prophecies, still I cannot help referring to the
lines in which I happened to proclaim the progress of the Russian
arms. While I was in Central Asia the furthest out-posts of the
Cossacks lay at Kale-Rehim, thirty-two miles from Tashkend. Forts
1, 2, and 3, on the Yaxartes, if actually conquered, were not yet
wholly in safe keeping. On the north of Khokand, too,--on the
west of the Issikköl and the Narin, the Court of St. Petersburg
could show but few tokens of success. The Kirghis were embittered
and hostile to the strange intruders, and the Œzbeg tribes on
the northern frontier of Khokand would then have deemed a Russian
occupation equivalent to the destruction of the world; so much did
they hate and scout the Unbelievers. Three years have passed, and
what has happened in that time? Not only has Khodja-Ahmed-Yesevi,
that holiest patron of the Kirghis, become a Russian subject in
Hazreti-Turkestan; not only has Tashkend, the most important trading
town, the great mart of Central-Asiatic and Chinese trade with
Russia, been absorbed into the northern Colossus; not only does the
Russian flag wave from the citadel of Khodjend, the second town of
importance in Khokand; it may now be also seen on the small fortress
of Zamin, Oratepa, and Djissag. The dreaded Russ has set himself up
as lord-protector in the eastern Khanat of Turkestan: the Hazret,
the Khan, as also the Hazret or High Priest of Namengan, strive
for the favour of one who, but a year before, would have filled
their very dreams with mortal terror. Nay, not Khokand only, but
the Tadjik population also throughout Bokhara and Khiva, the great
number of freedmen and slaves in service, and even the wealthier
merchants from Mooltan and other parts of India, who once trembled
before the Œzbeg power, now whisper delightedly into each other's
ears that the Russians are slowly drawing nearer, and that Œzbeg
lordship and Œzbeg absolutism are coming to an end.

For three years have these metamorphoses in the oasis-countries of
Turkestan been carried on with sure and steady hand from the banks
of the Neva. As an erewhile traveller, for whom those spots had been
full of interest from my youth up, I had already kept, albeit from
a distance, a watchful eye on all that went on amidst the plains
of the Yaxartes. I devoured alike the newspaper reports and the
scanty notices which my fellow pilgrims from Turkestan communicated
to me through their westward journeying brethren. That I took a
hearty interest in everything will surprise no one, little as the
utterances of the English press and the writings of British Indian
diplomatists during these occurrences claimed my full attention. To
the prophecies of the Dervish neither the one party nor the other
gave a thought. The note of satisfaction struck three years before
was kept up without a break. People were no longer content with the
bare assertion, that Russian progress in Central Asia was a thing to
welcome, but tried their utmost to show convincing grounds for that
assertion, in order to represent the success of the Muscovite arms
as tending more and more profitably for English interests.

To solve this problem the more happily, to convince all thoughtful
Englishmen the more unanswerably of the profit to be gained from
Russian successes, the question was debated by a light which was
sure to be equally welcome to all the different classes. The
scientific world was informed by the learned President of the
Royal Geographical Society touching the excellent service rendered
to science at large by the trigonometrical, geographical, and
geological societies of Russia. Russian voyages of discovery were
exalted above everything; Russian scholars were deified; nay, it
was only lately that even Vice-Admiral Butakoff was presented
with the large gold medal for his discoveries on the Sea of Aral.
Social Reformers, on the contrary, were taught to compare Tartar
savagery with Russian civilisation. The picture which I myself drew
of Central Asia was contrasted with the young Russia of to-day:
the emancipation of slaves, the Russian endeavours after national
enlightenment, the great change in manners, the mighty strides by
which Russia was approaching England in civilised ideas, were all
brought into the foreground; and in every thread of this tissue was
expression given to the great usefulness of Russian supremacy in
Asia. The trading world was shown the advantage which must accrue
from safe means of communication, now that Russian arms are on
the point of smoothing a way through the inhospitable steppes of
Turkestan towards India. Some journals, indeed, were carried so
far away by their zeal as to point out to the honest workmen of
Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, &c., that only English wares
and English capital would travel to and fro along the new Russian
commercial road to Central Asia. Even the military class had a
friendly word whispered into its ear. To the sons of Mars it was
needful to represent a Russian invasion of India as a ridiculous
bugbear. From every stand-point, moral, physical, strategical, was
such an attempt proved to be an impossibility. How, indeed, could
Russia overcome the enormous difficulties of those parched steppes
that stretched week after week before her; how master the warlike
Afghans, or win through the dreaded Khyber Pass? And even if she
succeeded in that also, how roughly would she not be handled by
the British Lion, who would lie waiting leisurely for her in his
luxurious palankeen? Nay, even to the Church, that mightiest of
English levers, should a lullaby be chanted forth. People hinted
at a happy union between the Orthodox Church of Russia and that of
England. Dr. Norman Macleod is an authority; and his cry, "The Greek
Church is not yet lost," has aroused the hopes of many; and very
learned church dignitaries have looked forward with blissful smiles
to the moment when the three-fold Greek Cross shall rise from the
Neva up to the proud dome of St. Paul's in London, for the kiss of
brotherhood, and the two united churches shall become a powerful
weapon against Papal ideas.

Independent pamphlets and thundering newspaper articles alternated
on the field of this question with the expositions above-named.
The warning voice of a small minority could not succeed in making
head against the Optimists, against those apostles of the new
political doctrine. Sir Henry Rawlinson, whose perfect conversance
with the circumstances of that region no one can dispute, a man
whose practical experience is at one with his theoretic insight,
has here and there in the _Quarterly Review_ pointed out the errors
of such speculations in solidly written essays; and though, as
doubting any ultimate design of Russia upon India, he protested
against all actual interference, merely blaming the indifference
above-mentioned; still his words passed unheeded of the multitude.
I might well say to myself that where such an authority carries no
weight, my present words could but travel a very short way. I was
therefore slow to speak; and yet, as I had studied this momentous
question in all its aspects, and examined it from many sides with
impartial eyes, I deemed it possible to show, not only to the
statesmen of England, but to those of all Europe, how fatally the
Cabinet of St. James errs in its way of looking at the matter; and
how this cherished indifference is not only hurtful to English
interests, but becomes a deadly weapon wherewith Great Britain
commits a suicide unheard of in history.

How it happens that I, who by race am neither English nor Russian,
have taken so warm an interest in this matter, is mainly accounted
for by the fact of my regarding the collision of these two Colossi
in Asia less from the stand-point of their mutual rivalry, than
from that of the interests of Europe at large. Whether England or
Russia get the advantage, which of the two will become chief arbiter
of the old world's destinies, can never be to us an indifferent
matter; for widely as these two powers differ from each other in
their character as channels of Western civilisation, not less widely
do they diverge from one another in any future reckoning up of the
issues of their struggle. A passing glance, on the one hand, at the
Tartars, who have lived for two hundred years under Russian rule; on
the other, at the millions of British subjects in India, might teach
us a useful lesson from the past on this point. This, however,
may be reserved for later investigation. For the present we will
only affirm that the question of a rivalry between these two North
European powers in Central Asia concerns not only Englishmen and
Russians, but every European as well; nay, more, it deserves to be
studied with interest by every thoughtful person of our century.[59]

  [59] Up to this moment the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, alone of all
  the Continental press, has brought out two special articles on
  Central Asia. The first, without any acknowledged leaning, points
  out the critical conditions of the approaching conflict; the second,
  imbued with a Russian spirit, keeps time to the song of the English
  optimists; for doing which I would not blame the writer, had he not
  cited several passages from my book as his own property.


First of all we will recount the historical facts of the Russian
war of conquest during the last three years. Instead of going into
those details about the campaigns of Perovski, Tchernaieff, and
Romanovski, which were recorded partly in Mitchell's book, "The
Russians in Central Asia," partly in several solid treatises in
the _Quarterly_ and the _Edinburgh Review_, or into the slender
notices which have trickled out into publicity from the Russian
State-Cabinets, or those yet scantier notices which were revealed
by highly-paid English spies in Central Asia, we would cast only a
hurried glance at events, in order to acquaint the reader with the
latest posture of Russian arms in Central Asia.

So successfully had the Russian operations been started in Central
Asia, that after a brilliant overthrow of the Kirghis, they
entered first on the conquest of Khokand, in order to gain firm
foothold in the three Khanats. In those eastern parts of the three
oasis-countries of Turkestan the social order has always been
relatively least, the religious culture weakest, and the antipathy
to warlike enterprises most strong. These were accompanied by
internal disorders, for while the Khodjas through their inroads
into Chinese territory on the east of the Khanat were always
encountering the risk of a collision with China, which in bygone
centuries did sometimes ensue, the greedy Ameers of Bokhara from
the west have continually laid the country waste with their wanton
lust of conquest. Before the capture of Ak-Meshdjid the nearing
columns of the mighty Russ on the north had but little place in the
bazaar-talk of Namengan and Khokand. At the time of the miscarriage
of Perovski's expedition Mehemed Ali Khan was seated on the throne.
He was beloved and honoured, and the dazzled masses were much too
wanting in ideas of conquest, to think seriously of self-defence
against the threatening foe on the north, or of Conolly's projected
alliance with Khiva. Not till after the death of Mehemed Ali ensued
the fall of Ak-Meshdjid, the first serious wound in the Khanat's
existence; and the Russian success was all the easier, because at
that time their fighting powers were crippled, on one side by
the fierce conflict between Kirghis and Kiptchaks in the interior
of the Khanat, and by the first attempt of Veli-Khan-Töre against
Kashgar on the other. The storming columns of the Russians against
the Khokandian fastnesses on either shore of the Yaxartes leave no
cause to complain of cowardice, although the thousands of Khokandian
warriors mentioned in the Russian accounts seem to rest on an
over-keen eyesight.

After the capture of the last-named place, or, to speak more
correctly, after a systematic restoration of the chain of fortresses
along the Yaxartes, on whose waters the steamers of the Aral
flotilla could now move freely about, the Russian power advanced
with strides as gigantic as those with which Khokand, through the
continuous working of the causes above-mentioned, continually fell
away. The line of forts offered not only security against Turkestan,
but was also a powerful bulwark against the Kirghis, who, being
at length surrounded on all sides, could not so easily raise into
the saddle an _Ished_,[60] as the last anti-Russian chief styled
himself during the Crimean War. Thenceforth the work of occupation
was pursued by the court of St. Petersburg with its wonted energy;
and not till both the army corps, which were operating from the
Chinese frontier to the Issik-köl, from the Sea of Aral along the
Yaxartes, had drawn together southwards from the north-east and
the north-west at Aulia Ata, (_Holy Father_, an ancient place of
pilgrimage,) did Russian diplomacy deem it necessary to announce,
in a despatch signed by Prince Gortshakoff on the 21st November,
1864, that the government of the Tzar had at length obtained its
long-cherished desire to remove the boundary line of its possessions
from the ill-defined region of the Sandy Desert to the inhabited
portion of Turkestan; that the policy of aggression was now at
an end, and that its one single aim in the future would be to
demonstrate to the neighbouring Tartar states, with regard to their
independence, that Russia was far from being their foe, or indulging
in ideas of conquest, &c. &c.

  [60] _Ished_, which the Russians wrongly pronounce _Iset_, is a
  usual contraction of "Eish Mehemmed," which signifies "Mohammed's

That no Cabinet save the English placed any more faith in such
assurances than the Russian Minister himself, it is easy enough to
imagine. The tale of ever-recurring conquests from vanquished states
has long been notorious. We have instances thereof in every page
of the world's history, in every age in which some power has set
about enlarging itself. Just as the English are vainly apologising
for Lord Dalhousie's thirst for annexation, or absorption in India,
so are all Russian notes composed in a strain of overflowing
politeness. It is only the natural course of things; and the court
of St. Petersburg was right, could not indeed do otherwise, after
setting up a government in Turkestan, than follow the southern
course of the Yaxartes; and as the waste steppe formed at the
first no defensible frontier, neither could the thinly-peopled
neighbourhood of Tchemkend and Hazret furnish a better one. There
was need of a well-inhabited region, to provide against being
dependent merely on the means of communication from Orenburg and
Semipalatinsk. Therefore was Tashkend, rich and fertile Tashkend,
doomed to incorporation in Russian territory.

It would be a profitless waste of time to quote as the main cause
of the Russian occupation of the last-named town, on the 25th June,
1865, the moving history of the petition of the Tashkend merchants,
of the numerous deputation that came beseechingly to the Russian
camp, to obtain the shelter of the two-headed Eagle, whom the
Central Asiatics call the _ajder_-kite, a bird not greatly beloved
of yore. Tashkend, which from time immemorial, lived at feud with
the masters of Khokand, was latterly very much enraged, because its
darling Khudayar was twice driven from his throne. To endamage the
dominant influence of the Khirgis by means of Russian supremacy,
was for it a welcome idea; but it is not at all likely that the
supremacy itself should have been generally desired.

Russia has absorbed Tashkend, because she deemed it indispensable
as a firm base for further operations; not, however, with a view to
erecting therewith a bulwark against possessions already secured.
Still it was through Tashkend that the court of St. Petersburg had
embroiled itself in hostilities with the Khanat of Bokhara. The
Ameer, as we know, had earned for himself, through his campaign
of 1863, the nominal right of suzerainty over the western part of
Turkestan; and though after his departure everything fell back into
the old rut of Kiptchak lawlessness and party warfare, he still
thought to make good his right over all Khokand. He therefore wrote
the commandant of the newly-conquered town a threatening letter,
in which he summoned him to vacate the fortress. This, however,
gave small concern to the Russian general; and, hearing that
Colonel Struve, the famous astronomer, whom he had sent to Bokhara
for a friendly settlement of the affair, had been forthwith taken
prisoner, he burst forth on the 30th January, crossed the Yaxartes
at Tashkend with fourteen companies of foot, six squadrons of
Cossacks, and sixteen guns, with the purpose of going straight into
Bokhara and punishing the Ameer for the violation of his envoy.

This design, however, miscarried. The Russians had to retire,
but did so in perfect order; and though countless hosts of
Bokharians swarmed round them on every side, yet their loss was
too insignificant to accord with the bombastic tales of triumph
which the Bokharians thereon trumpeted through all Islam, and which
even found their way to us through the Levantine press. General
Tchernaieff had excused himself on the plea that his hasty advance
was intended merely to baffle the movements of secret English
emissaries, who were striving with all possible zeal after an
Anglo-Bokharian alliance, and were also the main cause of his envoy,
Colonel Struve's imprisonment. In Petersburg, however, they could
not pardon his military failure: he was displaced from his high
command, and General Romanofski went out in his stead. The latter
moved forward with slow but all the more cautious steps. On the 12th
April a flock of fifteen thousand sheep, escorted by four thousand
Bokharian horsemen, was made prize of; and a month afterwards there
ensued, in the neighbourhood of Tchinaz, a fierce fight, called the
battle of Irdshar, in which the Tartars were utterly beaten. On the
25th May fell the small fort of Nau; and afterwards Khodshend, the
third town in the Khanat of Khokand, was taken by storm; but not
without a hard fight, in which the Russians left on the field a
hundred and thirty-three killed and wounded, the Tartars certainly
ten times that number. The battle, however, was well worth the
cost, for the fortifications of this place were better than those
of Tashkend or of any other town in the Khanat. This was the second
resting-point for the Russian arms on their march southward; and
though the "Russian Invalid," in an official report concerning
further projects, affirms that the conquest of that part of Bokhara
which is severed from the rest of their possessions by the steppes
could never become the goal of Russian operations, while for the
present it would be entirely profitless, yet progress has already
been made over Oratepe, through the small districts of Djam and
Yamin, as far as Djissag; whilst everywhere important garrisons have
been left behind.

What has happened in the Khanat of Khokand itself during this
triumphal march of the Russians, is a point no less worthy of our
attention. The inhabitants, consisting of nomads,--Œzbeg, and
Tadjik or Sart,--were as much divided in their Russian likings and
dislikes, as they were different from each other in race, condition,
and pursuits. The warlike, powerful, and widely-courted Kiptchaks,
being ancient foes of the oft-encroaching Bokharians, who wanted
to force upon them the hated Khudayar Khan, immediately sided with
the Russians. Their friendship was for these latter an important
acquisition; and the friendly movement must have already begun,
when the north-eastern army-corps came in contact with them in its
forward struggle from Issikköl; for if this had not been the case,
the Russian advance on that line would certainly have been purchased
at heavier cost.

The Œzbegs, as being _de jure_ the dominant race, had defended
themselves as well as they could; yet with their well-known lack of
courage, firmness, and endurance, they had but small success; and
when they began to reflect that Russian rule would probably be no
worse a misfortune than the incessant war with Bokhara, or their
internal disorders, they prepared to accommodate themselves to
inevitable fate. Only a few angry Ishans and Mollahs maintained an
unfounded dread of Bokhara; the descendants, for example, of Khodja
Ahmed Yesevi in Hazreti-Turkestan, who, however, in all likelihood
will soon go back to the bones of their sacred forefathers, as
the Russians assuredly will not hinder them from collecting pious
alms among their pilgrims. Moreover, to the wealthier merchants of
Tashkend, to the Sarts and Tadjiks, and a small number of Persian
slaves, the Russian occupation seemed welcome and advantageous; for
whilst the former expected considerable profit from the admission of
their native town into the Russian customs-circle, the latter hope
to be rescued from their oppressed condition through the downfall of
Œzbeg ascendancy. As we may see from the correspondence addressed
by General Krishanofski to a Moscow journal, it was these very
Sarts who gave the Russians most help. Their Aksakals, not those of
the Œzbegs, were the first to accept office under the Russians.
In public places they always appear by the side of the Russian
officers, harangue the people, and while Russian churches were
getting built, spread about a report that His Majesty, having been
converted by a vision in the night to Islam, was on the point of
making a pilgrimage to Hazreti-Turkestan. From the length of their
commercial intercourse with Russia, many of the Tadjiks, especially
the Tashkenders, are skilled in writing and speaking Russian; they
serve as interpreters and middle-men, and as many of them reach the
highest places in the _mehkeme_ (courts of justice) and other posts,
the main motive of their adherence is easy to apprehend.

So far has it fared with the main line of operations in the Khanat
of Khokand. On adjacent points likewise, both eastern and western,
has the work of transformation stealthily begun. From Chinese
Tartary we learn, that ever since 1864 the Chinese garrisons have
been expelled, and replaced by a national government. First came
disorders among the Tunganis, presently followed by the deliverance
of Khoten, Yarkand, Aksoo, and Kashgar; and although these disorders
may have been caused at bottom by the traditional delight of
the Khokandie Khodjas in free plundering, still many of us are
positively assured that the court of St. Petersburg countenanced
all those revolutionary movements; aye, and that the Kiptchaks,
who are now masters of Kashgar, were helped to win it by Russian
arms. Such is the usual prelude to Russian interference. For a
time these independent towns are permitted to carry on feuds and
warfare against each other; but it is easy to foresee that their
enmity will come to appear dangerous to the peace of the yet distant
Russian frontier; and if haply the court of Pekin be in no hurry to
restore order, the Russians are very certain to forestal it on that
point ere long. The English press comforts itself with remarking,
that the insuperable barrier of the Kuen-Lun mountains renders
further progress towards Kashmir impossible; and that this Russian
diversion is only for the good of Central-Asiatic trade. For the
moment, however, we will put aside the discussion of this question,
preferring to glance at that part of Central Asia which inclines
westward from Khokand. Albeit engaged in war with Bokhara, Russia
has hitherto made no attack on the real territory of that State,
for Djissag is the lawful boundary between the former and Khokand.
About this well-known seat of the struggle with Bokhara, there is
only a diplomatic skirmish, which still goes on, under whose cover
the revolution of Shehr-i-Sebz holds its ground. For, even if the
Russian press denies for the thousandth time all interference, yet
the appearance of the Aksakal of Shehr-i-Sebz in Tashkend cannot
be regarded as unimportant. It is, at any rate, noticeable with
reference to the Russian plans in Khiva. The settled portion of
the Khanat proper has not yet been touched by Russian influence,
and only in the north, since the destruction of the fortress of
Khodja-Niyaz, on the Yaxartes, have some Cossack and Karakalpak
hordes, skirting the eastern shore of the Sea of Aral, been
converted into Russian subjects.


Our sketch of Russian progress in Central Asia furnishes its
own evidence of the way in which the policy of the court of St.
Petersburg will follow out its purpose in the immediate future.

The most southern, therefore the most advanced, outposts rest on
Djissag. This word, in Central Asiatic, means a hot, burning spot,
and its position in the deep, cauldron-like valley of the Ak-Tau
hills entirely justifies the name. Owing to its utterly unwholesome
climate, and the great want of water, the population of this station
on the way to Khokand is but very small; and that the Russians have
selected it for a more abiding resting-place, I cannot believe, in
spite of the aforenamed asseverations of the "Russian Invalid,"
and in spite of the contrary opinion of the learned writer of the
article, Central Asia, in the "Quarterly Review." Not only is it an
unhealthy and barely tenable post; but a lengthened stay here must
also be acknowledged as most impolitic. The gentlemen on the banks
of the Neva know well what Bokhara is in the eyes of all Central
Asia, I might even say of all Mohamedans. They know that on the
Zerefshan may be sought the special fount of religious ideas and
modes of thought, not only for the mass of Central Asiatics, but
for Indians, Afghans, Nogay Tartars, and other fanatics. In order
to achieve a grand stroke, the Ameer, who styles himself Prince
of all true believers, must be made to recognise the supremacy
of the white Tzar; the holy and honoured Bokhara, where the air
exhales the aromatic fragrance of the Fatiha and readings from the
Koran, must learn to reverence the might of the black unbelievers;
and the crowd of crazy fanatics, of religious enthusiasts, must
acknowledge that the influence of the saints who rest in her soil
is not strong enough to blunt the point of the Russian bayonet. The
fall of Bokhara will be a fearful example for the whole Islamite
world; the dust of her ruins will penetrate the farthest distance,
like a mighty warning-cry. For this must the court of St. Petersburg
assuredly be striving, and ready to strive.

From this stand-point it is therefore most probable that the
greatest attention will henceforth be paid to the line of operations
from Tashkend, Khodjend, and Samarkand. The conquest of the whole
Khanat of Khokand may also follow in time, for that offers no
special difficulties; but the chief interest lies in the maintenance
and security of the roads of communication, on which the advancing
army, in concert with the strong garrisons in the now well-fortified
Tashkend and the northern forts, as also with the governments of
Orenburg and Semipalatinsk, will move along a road furnished with
an unbroken line of wells. The Ameer may have recourse to all
possible means of gaining the friendship of the Russians, in which
he has hitherto failed; he may send to Constantinople as many
Job's messengers as he will; he may despatch ever so many friendly
invitations to the Durbar of the Indian Viceroy: but all that will
do him no good. The town of Bokhara shall, with or without his
leave, be governed by an Ispravnik; for the Russians dare not and
cannot rest, until ancient Samarkand and Nakhsheb (Karshi), or the
whole right bank of the Oxus has been absorbed into the gigantic
possessions of the House of Romanoff. That this catastrophe, this
last hour of Transoxanian independence, will not be brought about
so easily as the heretofore successes in Central Asia, is manifest
enough. Already in my mind's eye do I behold a frantic troop of
Mollahs and Ishans, with thousands of students, roaming the Khanats
with holy rage, in order to preach the Djihad (religious war) among
the Afghans, Turkomans, Karakalpaks; and going through scenes of the
deepest, the devoutest anguish, in order to draw down the curse of
God on the foreign intruder. The death-struggle will be fierce but
profitless. So far as I know the Khivans and the Afghans, I deem the
notion of a general alliance with Bokhara to be quite impracticable;
for, if such was their inclination, they should have formed one long
ago. No egotism, no political combinations, but the greatest want
of principle alone, an utter recklessness of the future, will keep
them quiet until Hannibal stands before their gates. In vain shall
we look for any effort after a general league, either in Central
Asia, or even among any of the other Eastern nations. As the very
warlike Afghans could play their part with a force of disciplined
auxiliaries, so also might the Khan of Khiva join the Ameer's army
with twenty to thirty thousand horse. Yet this is what neither the
one nor the other will do. To unite them under one command might
be possible for a Timur or a Djinghiz; and even then the smallest
booty might stir up rancour and dissensions in their ranks. So, too,
the hundred thousand well-mounted Turkomans, who inhabit the broad
steppes from this side the Oxus to the Persian frontier, are utterly
useless for the rescuing of the Holy City. Their Ishans, indeed, if
summoned by their fellow-priests in noble Bokhara and by the Ameer,
might do their very best to stir up the wild sons of the desert to
a holy warfare: but I know the Turkomans too well not to be sure
that they will take part in the _Djihad_ only so long as the Ameer
can offer them good pay and the prospect of yet richer booty; and as
they sometimes owned in Afghan-Persian offices, it is most likely
that the Russian imperialists will soon turn them into excellent
brothers-in-arms of the Cossacks. Enthusiasm for the creed of the
Prophet existed, if I remember rightly, only for the first hundred,
indeed I might say only for the first fifty years. What Islam
afterwards accomplished in Anatolia, in the empire of Constantine,
in the islands of the Mediterranean, in Hungary, and in Germany, was
due to the impulse of a wild daring in quest of booty and treasures,
and a hankering after adventures. Where these leading incentives
failed, there was a failure in zeal; and I repeat that, although the
struggle will be a stern one, the speedy triumph of Russian arms in
Bokhara is open to not the slightest doubt.

With the fall of the mightiest and most influential part of
Turkestan, will Khokand, of her own accord, exchange a protection
for the manifest sovereignty of the white Tzar. Khiva however,
undaunted by the example, will, to all seeming, take up the struggle
nevertheless. The conquest of Kharezm, moreover, though easier than
that of Khokand, is connected with remarkable difficulties. With the
exception of two towns, whose inhabitants are better known through
their commercial relations with Russia, the Œsbeg population
of this Khanat abhor the name of Russian. In courage, they stand
much higher than the men of Khokand and Bokhara, and, protected by
the formation of their native land, will cause much trouble to the
Russian troops from the way of fighting peculiar to the Turkoman
race. As for the view upheld by many geographers and travellers,
that the Oxus will form the main road of the expedition, I am bound
to meet it with the same denial as before. That river, on account of
its great irregularity and the fluid sea of sand borne down upon its
waves, is hard of passage for small vessels, not to speak of ships
of war. Not a year passes without its changing its bed several miles
in the shifting ground of the steppes; and if the Russians were not
quite convinced of this circumstance, the small steamers of the
Aral-Sea flotilla, built as they were for river navigation, would
have begun forcing their way inland by the Oxus, instead of the
Yaxartes. For although the smaller forts, such as Kungrad, Kiptchak,
and Maugit, which were built on the fortified heights by the left
bank of the river, might do harm to a flotilla passing near; yet,
owing to the sad state of the Khivan artillery, they are hardly
worth considering. Attempts to pass up the river, from its mouths to
Kungrad, where the stream is deepest and most regular, have already
been tried; still, the fact of their remaining merely attempts,
clearly shows that the navigation of the Deryai Amus (Oxus), if not
altogether impossible, is a hard problem nevertheless.

These, however, are but secondary drawbacks, and in Khiva, as in
Bokhara, the white Tzar will be raised aloft upon the white carpet
of the Kharezmian princes, if not through the grey-beards of the
Tshagatay race, at any rate by his own bayonets and rifled guns.

The conquest of the whole right bank of the Ganges once assured
to them, the strip of land from Issikköl to the Sea of Aral once
come into full possession of the Russians, and well provided with
excellent victualling-stores, then will the game of diplomacy
have begun in Afghanistan also. Among the Afghans the court of
St. Petersburg will not intervene so suddenly with arms in hand;
not because England's miscarriage in 1839 has made it cautious,
but because such a procedure is by no means customary with the
Russians. That, moreover, would be partly superfluous, partly beyond
the mark, amidst the now proverbial disunion of Dost Mohammed's
successors. Where brother rages against brother in deadliest feud,
where intrigues caused by greed and vanity are ever in full swing;
there the secret agent, the kind word, a few friendly lines of
writing, are much more profitable than a sudden assault with the
armed hand. Hitherto, in his brother-strife against Shere-Ali-Khan,
Abdurrahman-Khan has in no way entangled himself with Russian
agents, although he sought to frighten the English moonshee (agent),
by bringing some such conception to his notice. That he was greatly
inclined to such a step I have not the slightest doubt; but as yet
the Russians have given him no encouragement to take it. For if the
Afghan opponents of Shere-Ali-Khan, the Ameer accredited by England,
had received but the faintest wink from the Neva, they would never
have coquetted with Sir John Lawrence in Calcutta. Not only chiefs
and princes, but every Afghan warrior, nay, every shepherd on
the Hilmund, puts his trust in the idea of Russian trade; and I
have a hundred times over convinced myself how easily, indeed how
gladly, these people would embrace a Russian alliance against the
masters of Peshawar. Whether the fruits of such a friendship would
be wholesome, and conduce to the interests of Afghanistan, no one
takes into question. The Afghans, like all Asiatics, look only to
the interests of the moment, see only the harm which Afghans have
suffered in Kashmere and Sindh through English ascendancy, have a
lively remembrance of the last sojourn of the red-jackets in Kabul
and Kandahar; and though every one knows that the Kaffirs of Moscow
are very little better than the Feringhies, still, from an impulse
of revenge, they all desire and will prefer an alliance with the
North to a good understanding with England.

Hence it is but a friendly regard, it is only a compact upheld not
by treaties, but by a strong force on the Oxus, which the Russians
can aim at for some time to come.

The same kind of relation must be their object in Persia. Here
too, for the last ten years, has the court of St. Petersburg been
playing a lucky game. Since the appearance of Russian envoys at the
splendid court of the Sofies, in the time of Khardin, until now,
Russian influence has gone through many phases. At first scorned and
disregarded, the Russians have risen into the strongest and most
dangerous opponent of Iran. Whilst, in the days of Napoleon I.,
England and France, to the profit and partial aggrandisement of the
Shah, vied with each other in turning to account their influence
at the court of Teheran, Russia, as "inter duos certantes tertius
gaudens," quietly smoothed her way to the conquest of the countries
beyond the Caucasus, to the profitable treaties of Gulistan and
Turkmanshay. And while the same Western Powers persevered in that
policy, the Colossus of the North took up such a position on the
Caucasus as well as the Caspian Sea, that its shadow stretched not
only over the northern rim of Iran, but far also into the country.
At the time of Sir Henry Rawlinson's embassy, English influence was
near being in the ascendant; but since then it has been continually
sinking; for however lavish of gold and greetings the English policy
might be in Malcolm's days, it showed itself just as cold and
indifferent from the time of Mac Neil downwards. Both the Shah and
his ministers seem urged on by necessity to accept the Russians as
their Mentor. It is not from any conviction of a happier future that
they have flung away from the fatherly embraces of the British Lion
into the arms of the Northern Bear; and the Shah must dance for good
or ill to the song which the latter growls out before him.

If now, in accordance with the aforeshown position of the Russian
power and policy in Central Asia, we cast a glance on the frontier,
stretching for 13,000 versts wide, from the Japanese Sea to the
Circassian shore of the Black Sea, where Russia is always in contact
with so many peoples of different origin and different religion,
over whose future her aggressive policy hangs like the doomful sword
of a Damocles; we shall soon be driven to observe that, although
the southern outposts in Asia are on the Araxes, yet the only point
where, in their further advance, they impinge on a European power is
to be found in Central Asia. Separated twenty years ago from British
India's northern frontier by the great horde of the Khirgis and the
Khanats, the space at this moment left between Djissag and Peshawar,
although the difficult road over the Hindu-Kush lies midway, amounts
to no more than fifteen days' journey, and in reckoning by miles
to hardly a hundred and twenty geographical miles. For an army
the road, though difficult, is not insuperable, while it should be
tolerably easy for the development of political influence; and for
all England's readiness to see a mighty bulwark for her frontier in
the snow-crowned peaks of the Hindu-Kush, she forgets the ease with
which a Russian propaganda from the banks of the Oxus can smooth a
way hence towards the north of Sindh. From the moment, indeed, when
the Russian flag waves in Karshi, Kerki, and Tchardshuy, may England
regard this power as her nearest neighbour.


Has Russia any serious views, then, on British India? Will she
attack the British Lion in his rich possessions? Does her ambition
really reach so far, that she would wield her mighty sceptre over
the whole continent of Asia, from the icy shores of the Arctic Sea
to Cape Comorin? These are questions of needful interest, not to
Englishmen only, but to all Europeans. On the bank of the Thames
as well as in Calcutta, statesmen have latterly answered them in
the negative; for their organs, official and unofficial, regard the
utmost danger of the meeting as a neighbourhood of frontiers, and
not an aggression; a neighbourhood which, so far from imperilling
English interests, will be altogether to their advantage. These
gentlemen are sadly at fault, for the spirit of Russia's traditional
policy,--her steadfast clinging to the schemes before indicated,
the unbounded ambition of the House of Romanoff, the immense
accumulation of means at their disposal for the accomplishment of
their designs,--place in surer prospect the fulfilment of any aim on
which they have once bent their gaze. Russia wants India first of
all in order to set so rich a pearl in the splendid diamond of her
Asiatic possessions; a pearl, for whose attainment she has so long,
at so heavy a cost, been levelling the way through the most barren
steppes in the world; next, in order to lend the greatest possible
force to her influence over the whole world of Islam (whose greatest
and most dangerous foe she has now become), because the masters of
India have reached, in Mohamedan eyes, the non-plus-ultra of might
and greatness; and lastly, by taming the British Lion on the other
side the Hindu-Kush, to work out with greater ease her designs on
the Bosphorus, in the Mediterranean, indeed all over Europe; since
no one can now doubt that the Eastern question may be solved more
easily beyond the Hindu-Kush than on the Bosphorus: for if, at the
time of the Crimean war, when Nana Sahib's brother was fêted at
Sevastopol, Russia had held her present position on the Yaxartes,
the plans of Tzar Nicholas on Constantinople would not have been so
easily buried under the ruins of the Malakhoff.

These far-reaching designs may not, perhaps, be the work of the next
years, nor even of the Government of the peaceful and well-disposed
Alexander; yet who can assure us that after him no Nicholas, or
no yet sterner nature than his, may succeed to the throne, who
will thwart the desire of a Taimur or a Nadir to come forth as a
thoroughly Asiatic conqueror of the world? What a Russian autocrat
can do in the present condition of Russia, in the present social
position of his subjects, who, moreover, will long continue such,
every one knows, and the statesmen of England best of all. It is,
therefore, the more remarkable, that these gentlemen should think
to put the said eventualities so easily aside, and to contest the
question of a Russian invasion of India with arguments so very
shallow. They usually bring forward the unpassable glaciers of
Hindu-Kush and the Himalayas, and the swarms of hostile nomads which
would hem in a force advancing from the north on its way southward.
They console themselves with the great distance, which would bring
an invading army to the Indian frontier tired and exhausted, while
the English troops lying by, ready to strike at their ease, and
strong in military zeal and training, awaited the shock of war with
greediness. But do these gentlemen believe that Russia, in the
event of her really cherishing these sort of views, would dispatch
her invading armies thitherwards direct from Petersburg, Moscow,
or Archangel? What end is served by the South-Siberian forts? What
by Tashkend, Khodshend, and still more afterwards, by Bokhara and
Samarkand? What, too, by the Persian-Afghan alliance? What did the
Cossacks and the Russian troops of the line do in Gunib, and in the
rugged hills of Circassia? Were they exhausted when they reached
their journey's end? And the latter station is not so much farther
from the capital on the Neva, than Peshawar is from the cities
just named! And why are we to assume that Russia would choose only
the difficult road through Balkh to Kabul, and thence through the
Khyber Pass, and none other? Without mentioning that this could have
been so fatal to the English army of 1839, which fled in affright
and disorder, for the march thither cost no especial sacrifices;
the road through Herat and Kandahar, the proper caravan-course to
India through the Bolan Pass, is far more convenient. The latter,
fifty-four or five English miles in length, did indeed cost the
Bengal corps of the army of the Indus many days' toil; and yet we
read in a trustworthy English author that the passage of 24-pounder
howitzers and 18-pounder guns caused no particular trouble. Or
why should the Russians not force the Gomul or the Gulari Pass,
called also the middle road from Hindostan to Khorassan, which,
according to Burnes, serves the Lohani Afghans as their main road of
communication, and offers no especial difficulties?

It is too hard, indeed, to scatter the sanguine views of the English
optimists with regard to the strength of their fancied bulwarks.
The way through Kabul would have to be taken only in case of
necessity; for the chief points by which Russia could quite easily
approach the Indian frontiers are Djhissag and Astrabad; from the
former in a southerly, from the latter in an easterly direction.
Both roads have often led armies, time out of mind, to the goal of
their desires; for both, though bordered by large deserts, pass
through well-peopled, even fertile districts, which can support many
thousands of marching men with ease.

Indeed, even the chances of an eventual war are greatly
over-estimated by the English. True, that their present army in
India, numbering 70,000 picked British troops besides the strong
contingent of sepoys, is not to be compared with any of their former
fighting forces in those regions. To throw as strong a muster across
Afghanistan into the Punjaub, would certainly cost Russia some
trouble. Still we must not forget how stout a support an invading
army would find in a Persian-Afghan alliance, and in the great
discontent which prevails in the Punjaub, in Kashmir, in Bhotan,
and among the fanatic Mohamedans of India. The ever-broadening
network of Indian railways may do much to hasten and promote a
concentration; but the fountain-head of military support for India
being on the Thames or the islands of the Mediterranean, is not
much nearer than that of the Russians, especially if we consider
that more than three hundred vessels sailing down the Volga make
the transport to the southern shore of the Caspian Sea considerably
easier. By this road may a large army be brought in a short time to
Herat and Kandahar through the populous part of northern Persia; on
the one hand through Astrabad, Bujnurd, and Kabushan; on the other,
by the railway as yet only projected to Eneshed. This railroad the
Tzar wants to build for the relief of the pilgrimage to the tomb
of Imam Rizah; yet through all the Russian promises of subsidies
there gleam forth other and non-religious plans. Or would people in
England, besides the no longer doubtful possibility of a Russian
design upon India, measure the political constellations which the
said power has called into being on her behalf, in the field of
European diplomacy? The Russian-French alliance of a Napoleon I.
and an Alexander I., which left noticeable traces in Teheran, would
now be much easier to enter on than before, owing to the dominant
influence of France in Egypt and Syria, through the commencement of
the Suez Canal. And these things apart, will not the ever-increasing
_entente cordiale_ between Washington and St. Petersburg prove of
signal advantage for Russia's purposes? People scoff at the way in
which the Yankee cap entwines itself with the Russian knout; and
yet the banquets on the Neva, at which American brotherhood was
vigorously toasted, the journey of the Tzarovitch to New York, the
mighty show made by America in China and Japan, where she threatens
to turn the calm face of ocean into an American lake;--do not these
things furnish ample reason for discerning in the alliance between
Russia and America symptoms of the greatest danger for English
interests? Indeed, when the decisive moment comes for acting,
Russia will be able to avail herself of many ways and many means,
which, however little worthy of notice they may seem to English
statesmen, will be carefully pre-arranged without any noise.

Nevertheless, we are willing to allow that the actual shock will
follow only in some very distant future. Gladly, too, will we bear
to be pointed at as a false prophet. But how is it that English
statesmen will proclaim as harmless the more and more manifest
advance of their northern rival; how disguise and palliate the
mischievous menace of that rival's aims?

The body of English politicians friendly to Russia is wont,
whenever this question comes up for discussion, to reply that the
neighbourhood of a well-ordered State is more acceptable to them,
than several wild nomad tribes living in anarchy and plunder.
An Englishman once asked me, whether I would not prefer to sit
beside an elegantly-dressed fine gentleman, instead of a dirty and
uncouth boor. People may wish success with all their might to a
Muscovite neighbour; yet to me it is not at all clear, why those
gentlemen should wish for the neighbourhood of a sly and powerful
adversary in the room of an unpolished but essentially-powerless
foe. What happened once in America, in the north of Africa, and
even on Indian ground, between rising England on the one hand,
and waning Holland and Portugal on the other, has often been and
will yet often be repeated in the pages of history. As in ordinary
life two strong, selfish individuals, will but rarely thrive in
one same path; so does the same impossibility exist in the case
of two States;--a fact, of which the long war between France and
England for the superiority in India furnishes the best proof.
Even if she followed the best aims, how could Russia, backed as
she is by the gigantic power of the whole Asiatic continent;--she,
whose policy for the last hundred years, has led her through desert
regions with a perseverance so great, at a cost so lavish,--refuse
a hearing at once to her own designs and to the insinuations of her
abettors? Will she have sufficient self-control to forbear from
profiting by the happy occasion which plays into her hands the
Mohamedan population of India, more than thirty millions strong? The
last-named, being the most fanatical of all who profess Islam, are
filled with unspeakable hatred of the British rule. Their religious
zeal, fostered on one side by Bokhara, on the other by the Wahabies,
goes so far, that, in order to drain the cup of martyrdom, they
often murder a British officer walking harmlessly about the bazaar,
and even give themselves up to the headsman's axe.[61] In India,
where religious enthusiasm has ever found a most fruitful soil,
Islam has revealed itself in the oddest forms. The brotherhoods
introduced in the days of the Taimurides, are there more powerful
and important than elsewhere; and not Scoat alone, but every place
has an Akhond of its own to show, whose summons to a crusade would
be followed by thousands. In spite of the manifold blessings which
English rule has secured to the Mohamedans, it is they alone who
form the nest of revolutions; they alone who gave most support to
the rebellion in its last disorders; they alone who take chief
delight in conspiring for a Russian occupation, and proclaim in all
directions the advantages of Muscovite rule.

  [61] Query--Hangman's halter? (Trans.)

Should we not also take this occasion to think of the Armenians,
who, scattered through Persia and India, form single links of the
chain wherewith the court of St. Petersburg conducts the electric
stream of its influence from the Neva to the Ganges; aye, even to
the shores of Java and Sumatra? The hard-working, wealthy Armenians,
who in their religious sentiments are inclined to be more catholic
than the Papist, more Russian, more orthodox than the Tzar himself,
will assuredly not recommend the Protestant church and Protestant
power to the natives of India, to the injury of supremely Christian
Russia. How many zealous subjects of British rule in Calcutta,
Bombay, and Madras, are not enrolled at Petersburg as yet more
zealous promoters of Russian interests! Every member of this church
in Asia is to be regarded as a secret agent of Muscovite policy; and
if the moment came for a decision, the English would be amazed to
see what kind of chrysalis emerged from this religious, moral, free
and industrious people.

How, then, can England look on with indifference, to say nothing of
her desire to have as neighbour a great and certainly unfriendly
power, in a land where such inflammable elements are to be found?
Trade will spring up, I hear from all sides; yet, to all seeming,
the prospect of the commercial advantages, which British statesmen
behold in Russia's oncoming, and in the removal of anarchical
conditions in Central Asia, rests rather on a pretended hope than on
true conviction. Is it not strange, that a people, so practical in
its ways of thinking as the English, should for one moment entertain
the hope that some profit would arise for England out of the plans
which Russia has followed up for years with toil, and expense, and
self-sacrifice; that English goods will get the upper hand in the
markets of Central Asia, as soon as they have passed under the
Russian rule? Henry Davies, in his commercial report, may point to
the considerable figures which the export trade through Peshawar,
Karachie, and Ladak, to Central Asia, has to show; and yet he must
allow that this would be ten times larger, were it supported by
English influence beyond the frontier of northern India. And in
the same proportion will it diminish, in which the Russian eagle
spreads out his wings over those regions. To Lord William Hay's plan
for laying down a commercial road through Ladak, Yarkend, Issiköl,
and Semipalatinsk, the Petersburg cabinet has given its seeming
assent; yet, in fact, nobody wanted to support the plan, nor will
it occur to any Russian statesman to carry it out. The Chinese are
far superior not only to the Russians, but even to the English,
in mercantile zeal; and yet they trade along the great commercial
road from Pekin through South Siberia only to Maimatshin, while
from Kiachta the Chinese exports are forwarded, mainly through
Russian hands, to Petersburg and Europe. And how fared the Italian
silk merchants, who, under Russian protection, found their way to
Bokhara, but were there arrested and robbed of their goods and
possessions? One of them, Gavazzi, lets us feel very forcibly
in his report, that he could never place full faith in Russian
letters commendatory, in spite of all after applications from St.
Petersburg. The products of English manufacturing towns are wont
to drive Russian manufactures out of every market. The merchants
of Khiva and Bokhara still carry with them Russian articles from
Nijni-Novgorod and Orenburg, which they sell to Central Asiatics
under the name of _Ingilis mali_, or English wares; such being
always in most demand among the latter. People in England forget
that plain dealing will for some time yet be wanting to Russian
policy, and that, on the commercial roads which its arms have
opened out, it will throw, of a certainty, in the way of foreign
interests, obstacles of a like nature, if not indeed the same, as
one now meets with from Afghan rapacity, from Œzbeg lawlessness,
on the commercial roads to the Oxus. In the year 1864-5 America
alone disposed of more than fifteen million pounds' worth of linen
and cotton goods, which was naturally possible only under the free
institutions of England. Do the gentlemen in Calcutta expect any
similar dealings with the Russians?

Ephemeral, alas! are the calculations formed by people in England on
behalf of Russia's future policy with reference to India. Just as
the fabric of security which the statesmen of Downing Street are now
building within their brains, can soon be shattered to the ground;
so the arguments for a future _entente cordiale_ are but slight
indeed. Instead of a bootless refutation, we would rather point out
former mistakes, would rather touch on the means by which the danger
of a direct collision,--that most perilous of all games for English
interests,--may yet be avoided.


In order thoroughly to understand the misconceptions of English
politicians concerning their Russian rivals, it is necessary for us
to consider all the advantages which the latter always enjoyed, and
still enjoy, on the field of action. In Europe, we are wont to look
with amazement on Russia's gigantic empire in Asia; and yet nobody
thinks of the means which have rendered essential service towards
the acquisition of it. The Russians are Asiatics, not so much in
consequence of their descent as of their geographical position and
their social relations; and it is only because with the Asiatic
_laisser-aller_ they combine the steadfastness and resolution of
Europeans, that they have mostly been a match for the Asiatic
races. In their contact with Chinese, Tartars, Persians, Circassians
and Turks, they have always shown themselves as Chinese, Tartar,
Persian, and so forth, according to circumstances. An English
historian says, pretty correctly, if not without ill-will, that the
Russians moved forward like a tiger. "At first, creeping cautiously
and gliding stealthily through the dust, until the favourable
moment admits of its taking the fatal spring. With smiles of peace
and friendship, with soft smooth words on their emissaries' part,
have they often averted every fear, every precaution, until the
certain success of their schemes made all fears profitless, and
baffled every precaution. Blind, therefore, and ill-advised must
every government be, which can go to sleep over Russian advances
towards its frontiers, be those never so slow, or the interval
between the conqueror and the goal of his endeavours be never so
great!" As Asiatics, they are wont to hold out less rudely against
their neighbours in manners, customs, and modes of thought, than
the English, for whom, on account of their higher culture, such a
renunciation would be a great sacrifice, incompatible with their
efforts after civilisation. They seldom offend against the national
ways of thinking, and easily conform to them when their interests
require it. In England the Government has hitherto disdained to
place itself in direct correspondence with the Ameer of Bokhara, for
what the chief city in Zarif-Khan obtained up to this date from the
British cabinet was always enjoyed through the Governor-General
of India. In Russia they think differently; and even the haughty
Nicholas, that stern autocrat, who long shrank from calling the
French emperor "mon frère," behaves, in presence of the Tartar
princes of Central Asia, not as Emperor of all the Russias, but as a
Khan on the Neva. As a result of such procedure, we find the nations
all along the Russian frontier of Asia, whether nomad or settled,
Boodhist or Mohamedan, in such a state of intimacy at this moment,
if not of actual friendship, with the Russians, as happens nowhere
else in the foreign possessions of a European power.

These advantages, however, of Asiatic modes of thought, which might
properly be specified as excessive slyness and craftiness, are,
even in political intercourse, far more profitable than the open
and upright language employed on principle by Englishmen from of
old. It is only Great Britain's foes in Europe, only the enviers of
her power, who can find fault with the English in India; and yet
whoever is sufficiently informed as to their political dealings with
native princes and neighbours on the border, whoever is thoroughly
conversant with Asiatic character, will, in the utter absence of
this very defect, discover the one great fault of English statesmen.

From the largest province on the Amoor, to the smallest of the
possessions latest won by Russia on Asiatic ground, may we always
find one same procedure of intrigues and wiles,--a scattering of
the seeds of discord, bribery and corruption, through the vilest
means,--all serving as forerunners of invasion. Men come first
through commercial relations in contact with foreign elements; then
the slightest differences come to be readily employed as _casus
belli_; failing these, the ground will be undermined by emissaries,
the chiefs bribed by presents, or bemuddled with lavish draughts
of vodki (Russian brandy), and drawn on into the dangerous magic
circle. A well-founded cause of war and of invasion would nowhere be
easy to discover; and certainly the gigantic empire of the House of
Romanoff has been builded up more through the wiles of its Asiatic
statesmen than by the might of its arms. Moreover, in consequence
of the qualities lately named, Russia is more conversant with the
relations of Asiatic peoples, far better informed of all that is
passing in the border-states, than the English and other Europeans.
To the great watchfulness of her emissaries, to the unwearied zeal
of her diplomatists, is she indebted for the fact that her cabinet
is often more quickly and fully informed of the most private
doings of her neighbours, than the particular native government
itself. Passing over the fact that, in Petersburg, a company of
the cleverest men can make money out of their experiences through
the different parts of Asia, there is here and there a Kirghis,
a Buryat, a Circassian, or a Mongol, who, after being trained in
Russian learning and modes of thought, becomes a most serviceable
tool against the wholly or half-subjected land of his birth.

In England we meet everywhere with the sharpest contrasts.

Whoever is aware of the great ignorance of public opinion in England
about events in India, about the relations between those great
possessions and the neighbouring States; whoever in the course
of a year has noted down those absurd and ridiculous news, those
telegraphic despatches in the English papers, which reach Europe and
England through Bombay and Calcutta; whoever is aware of the very
small number of English statesmen who are so carefully informed on
Asiatic relations, that they can pass a sound judgement on questions
of Eastern policy;--such a one must surely be amazed at the way in
which Great Britain founded her foreign possessions, to say nothing
of her being able to hold them until now.

And just as even those among the English public who have lived any
time in India have kept aloof from the natives, in accordance with
their national character, and are but seldom conversant with their
language and manners,--so, too, can the English Government entrust
to naturalized Levantines, and not to Englishmen, the Dragomanate,
that necessary organ of mutual intercourse, in such important
embassies as that, for instance, of Constantinople. While Russia,
France and Austria, have long had Oriental academies for diplomatic
beginners; in England, with her rich dower of colleges, schools, and
universities, no one has ever thought of such an institution. And so
again in the legislative body as well as in the ministry, where the
smallest questions often have a special advocate, there are but very
few men competent to discuss the important relations in Asia; and
even these, on account of the prevailing nepotism, are but seldom
allowed to turn their experiences to account.

This indifference must surprise all foreigners. Still more amazed
will they be to hear men of the liberal party say: "What does
Asia concern us; what the swarm of barbarous races that cause us
more trouble than profit; what the wealth of India, whose income
has long ceased to cover her expenditure, to say nothing about
the costs of the conquest?" I have often heard remarks of this
kind from the most famous leaders of this party. The sincerity of
their confession defies questioning; and yet they have always left
me without an answer, when I have asked them how they would make
up for the loss of that political influence which springs from a
great colonial empire. People seem wholly to forget that a large
number of young Englishmen, of all ranks, are pursuing military
and political careers in India; they seem to be unaware how many
sons of clergymen and officers, to whom no sphere of action offers
itself within their island home, earn wealth in lucrative offices
on the Ganges and the Indus, with the view of spending at home
in a calm old age the outcome of their earlier years. They seem
to leave entirely out of their reckoning the enormous number of
merchants dwelling in their great Asiatic dominions amidst the most
extensive commercial interests, through whose hands English capital
multiplies by millions. Those liberals are very short-sighted, who
deem the possession of such a colony as India an indifferent or
superfluous matter. That they should wish to see the greatness of
their fatherland founded on the flourishing condition of inland
manufactures, and not on their dominion over foreign peoples, can no
longer be regarded as a view generally valid in England, now that
more than sixty millions pounds sterling are laid out in Indian
railway undertakings alone; for that neither manufacturing industry
nor the enterprising spirit of English merchants can succeed, to any
great extent, without the supporting hand of English rule, is amply
shown by the circumstances of British trade in Algiers, Central
Asia, and other non-British territories.

It is faulty views like these which neutralise all the advantages
of English individualism in the presence of Russian policy, which
always acts with steadfast consistency. To these errors may be
ascribed the fact that Russia, having grown up into a powerful
rival in a space of time incredibly short, is treading so close on
the Achilles-heel of Great Britain. With the position she holds on
the Aral and the Caspian Seas, after conquering the whole of the
Caucasus, after her enormous successes in Central Asia, it would now
be useless to try and force back that giant power. What might with
no great trouble have been attained twenty years ago, it is now far
too late to attempt; but if England would avoid the usual lot of
commercial states,--the doom of Carthage, Venice, Genoa, Holland,
and Portugal,--there is but one way left to her: a policy of stern
watchfulness, a swift grasp of the measures still at her command.


To think of moving out in open hostility to the growing power of
Russia, were now, on England's part, just as great an error as the
strange inaction she has displayed for the last twenty-five years
amidst all the occurrences beyond the Hindu-Kush. Russia will
establish herself on the right bank of the Oxus, will absorb the
three Khanats, and perhaps Chinese Tartary, will make everything
Œzbeg to acknowledge her supremacy. That can no longer be
prevented; but thus far and no farther should Englishmen allow their
rivals to advance.

All that lies between the Oxus and the Indus should remain neutral
territory. Through her physical conformation, through the warlike
character of her inhabitants, and specially through their great
aptitude for diplomacy, Afghanistan would be altogether suited to
form a military and political barrier against any possible collision
between the two giants. That country would cost the conqueror,
coming whether from North or South, a tenfold harder struggle than
did the Caucasus. Besides, the possession would not for a long while
make good the material advantage of an expensive war; and although
the continual disorders that prevail in the mountain-home of the
Afghans may be of no advantage to either neighbour, still the danger
is not so great as to justify any schemes of conquest on one side or
the other.

How, then, in case Russia continues her policy of aggression, may
England secure the neutrality of Afghanistan? What must she do to
set up with her influence there a solid barrier, without coming
forward as a conqueror?

That is the work of a skilled diplomatic intercourse, the work of an
uninterrupted alliance, carried on by agents, who, acquainted with
the Afghan character, and eschewing English modes of thought, can
conduct themselves as Asiatics.

The same fault which Lord Auckland committed in 1839, by his active
interference in Afghan affairs, that fault and one far greater still
did his successors prove guilty of, through their utter withdrawal
from the scene, through their strange indifference in respect of the
concerns of the neighbouring State. The English resemble a child
which, after having once burnt itself at a fire, will not for a
long time venture to draw near its warmth. The catastrophe of the
Afghan campaign, the thirty millions sterling in costs, dwell even
now, after a quarter of a century, with such fearful vividness in
the eyes of every Briton, that he trembles at the very thought of
political influence beyond the Hindu-Kush. Have we not here two
sharply-opposed extremes? First, armed to the teeth in support of
the interests of a prince so little loved as Shah Sujah; and then,
after the annexation of the Punjab, scarce willing to give one more
thought to Kabul! And why should the frontier above Peshawar be so
dangerous a barrier for every Englishman and European? If several
thousands of Kakeries, Lohanies, Gilzies, and Yusufzies, yearly
pass over the northern frontier of Hindostan,--some for mercantile
purposes, others to graze their flocks,--why should British
travellers not be allowed to venture over the Hindu-Kush, let alone
a few hours' journey beyond Peshawar? Afghan merchants drive a
flourishing trade with Mooltan, Delhi, Lahore: why, from the English
side, may not one mercantile firm or another betake itself for the
same end to Kabul?

In truth, this state of things has always astonished me; the more
so, when I heard that the officer whom Sir John Lawrence sent to
Kabul to offer welcome to Shere Ali Khan had to be always escorted
there by a strong detachment of troops, to guard himself from the
rage of a fanatic population. This is surely a mode of proceeding
at once wrong and ridiculous, for giving Asiatics a lesson in
European magnanimity and European love of justice. England, who
has long dealt with the Asiatics after this fashion, resembles a
person trying with all his might to make a blind man comprehend
the beauty of one of Raphael's cartoons. In this respect Russia is
far more practical. She knows that such proofs of magnanimity and
humanity are only ridiculed by the Orientals; that, so far from
taking the example to themselves, they misuse those proofs for their
own special ends; and, instead of wasting moral preachings on them,
England would act shrewdly by helping herself to the same weapons,
and treating Orientals in Oriental fashion.

At the time when the martyrs Conolly and Stoddart were pining in
cruel imprisonment, out of which they were afterwards delivered
only by the headsman's axe, there happened to be in British
territory a number of Bokharians, Khokandies, and other Central
Asiatics, by whose arrest the lot of the English officers might
have been alleviated, and their deliverance from death assured.
In such cases Russia is wont to clear herself from the dilemma by
the law of retaliation. England acts differently. She would play
the high-minded part; and what has she gained by it? When I was in
Bokhara, I heard how this very act of British generosity had missed
its mark. England, said the Bokharians, dares not awaken the wrath
of the Ameer of Bokhara: her weakness commands this moderation.

Do the gentlemen in Calcutta imagine that the Afghans think
otherwise? No; and they likewise say: protected by the might
and greatness of Islam, our indigo and spice merchants, our
camel-hirers, can venture unharmed on British ground; whilst not one
infidel soul dares show himself among us.

The same unpardonable weakness did the Viceroy of India show in
1857, when he was sent by Lord Canning to Peshawar to conclude,
in conjunction with Edwardes, an offensive and defensive alliance
against Persia with the then reigning Dost Mohamed Khan. At that
time the Afghans were hard pressed; they wanted arms and money: the
grey-haired Barukzie chief, attended by his sons, betrayed this
fact in every word; and yet his demands were fulfilled in every
point, without his yielding in the least to any of England's leading
claims. Four thousand stand of arms, with bayonets, sabres, pouches,
and twelve lakhs of rupees a year, were promised him, so long as
England was at war with Persia. Of this large sum they received,
even after the conclusion of peace at Paris, a considerable
instalment; and yet the chief end of the negotiations at Kabul and
Kandahar--the appointment of a permanent English representative--was
not attained. Dost Mohamed Khan avowed, as Kaye tells us in his
"History of the Sepoy War," that he would not take on himself the
responsibility of such a step; that he could not protect English
agents against Afghan fanaticism; that every step of theirs might
compromise, &c., &c. I cannot comprehend how John Lawrence, one of
the few men acquainted with Eastern character, could yield to the
endearments of the grey Afghan wolf,--how he could believe those
false apprehensions. If even Dost Mahomed could say that an English
mission might tarry in peace at Kandahar, why could it not fare as
well in Kabul? The British commissioners were greatly in the wrong
if they doubted even for a moment the supreme power of the Afghan
ruler. With a very little more persistency, the English, who then
appeared as helpers in need, might have obtained not two but several
posts of embassy. The Afghans would soon have grown used to their
presence, and the diplomatic alliance, once made easy, would have
been maintained unbroken.

In a semi-official article, which appeared in the _Edinburgh Review_
for January, 1867, Sir John Lawrence now strives to show how hard
and vain it is to enter into diplomatic intercourse with neighbours
so wild and turbulent as those who surround India on all sides.
Still, I cannot understand why the Viceroy should not take example
from Russia, who, with the same elements on her frontier, sends
envoy after envoy, knows how to obtain for them respect and safety,
and so keeps moving forward to her wished-for goal. Why does not
England pursue, in this case, the same policy which she once began
in China, Japan, and other Asiatic countries? It seems to me that
people are less convinced of the difficulty of carrying out such a
purpose, than of the extreme remoteness of the consequent gain. Or
are these gentlemen really unaware of the permanent support thus
rearable, not only for English interests in Afghanistan, but even
for the special welfare of the Afghans themselves?

Sir Henry Rawlinson's diplomatic bearing in Kandahar, which enabled
him so long to maintain himself there with his suite in the most
difficult position, at a period the most critical, is a splendid
proof that even the rudest Asiatics are not unmanageable. And if the
said officer could accomplish so much in the threatening attitude
of a conqueror, what might not first have been attained through
political tact and friendly persuasion?

The tangible results of uninterrupted diplomatic intercourse would,
if we mistake not, be:--

1st. A greater impulse given to trade; for, as English goods have
long enjoyed a good name in Central Asia, English products, imported
direct from England, could certainly drive similar but less-prized
Russian products out of the market. At present this is naturally
not the case: at this moment, in the bazaars of Kabul, Kandahar,
Herat, and other places, there is much more sold of many Russian
articles,--such as ironware and working tools, coarse cotton and
handkerchiefs,--than of English ones; solely because the former,
owing to the lower price at which they were first saleable, are
not raised by the additional payments to so high a figure as the
English goods, whose value, originally dear, is raised twofold in
the transit. Moreover, in Bokhara, here and there in Khiva and in
Karshi, Russian traders may be found who, secure in the energy of
their government, can of course advance their own interests better
than foreign mercantile agents. In vain should we seek for a better
apostle, a better pioneer for civilisation, than trade; in vain,
for a better teacher to turn men to our own ways of thinking, than
the silent bales of goods which are carried over from Europe; and
England, apart from her commercial interests, is bound, for the ends
of humanity also, to help forward trade in Central Asia.

2. The Afghans, who, under the name of Ingilis or Feringhi,
have hitherto been acquainted with but one armed power, one
conquest-seeking neighbour, will easily, in the peaceful garb
of diplomatic intercourse, in well-meaning counsels, accept the
teaching of a better one. In the year 1808, when the Afghans had
little fear of an English invasion, the ambassador, Mountstuart
Elphinstone, with a numerous following, whose escort amounted
to only four hundred Anglo-Indian soldiers, was well received
throughout Afghanistan, for fear and mistrust had as yet taken no
root. Down to the beginning of this century the same state of things
might be found in all parts of the Ottoman Empire. European and
enemy were deemed identical things; but now, after our embassies and
consulates have pushed themselves, spite of the Porte's reluctance,
into many places, will Osmanlis and Arabs no longer cherish the
same sort of views? They have clearer notions about the generic
term, "Feringhi," and know for certain that Russia, for instance,
feels just as friendly to the Porte as England feels inimical; that
this government has one set of plans, the other another; and so
on. Without consulates such a result could not have been attained.
And so the Afghans, until they have been brought into nearer and
peaceful intercourse with the English, will never understand what
England or Russia may do for their weal or woes; whose friendship
will render them the more or the less service.

3. The Afghans, most warlike of all Central Asiatics, might,
with the powerful support of English counsels, easily be raised
into a military power of some importance. What the _Instructeurs
Militaires_ of their day accomplished in the army of Sultan Mahmood
and Mehemed Ali Pasha; what English officers accomplished with the
troops of Abbas Mirza,--would be as nothing in comparison with
the consequences of a similar undertaking among the Afghans; out
of whom, so far as one may judge from the military bearing and
manœuvring of a Kabul regiment drilled by Sepoy deserters, a
regular army will very easily be formed. Such a result may also
be attained with the fortresses of Herat and Kandahar, whose
fortifications, in the event of their coming under the charge of
a second Pottinger, would certainly prove a far harder prize for
Russian besiegers than if they were given over to the warlike skill
of Afghans alone.

4. The prime gain, however, which we look for from a permanent
agency is, that England, being accurately informed of proceedings
in Central Asia, of the military and political movements of Russia,
will no longer be exposed to the danger of finding herself suddenly
surprised on one point or another, and, through the continual
uncertainty in which she wavers touching the true state of things,
of being disabled from taking the right precautions. At this moment,
the Viceroy maintains a few Moonshies without any official character
in Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat; Moonshies, that is, scribes, and
Mohamedans, who, being among other things well paid, are engaged to
furnish occasional news. Besides these, there are also spies, or
secret emissaries, despatched in this or that direction on special
conjunctures, who roam in the disguise of a merchant or a pilgrim
through Turkestan, and furnish tidings of political events. Letting
alone the fact that I regard both the former and the latter class as
alike unfit for such an office, because they never enter in their
memorandum-books anything but bazaar-reports and the politics of the
caravan, I may, as one who has lived whole years among Orientals,
be allowed to place the very smallest faith in those people. Do
persons in Calcutta consider what Mohamedan fanaticism is; are they
aware that no amount of gold will succeed in turning one Mussulman
to the account of the Feringhie against another Mussulman? To all
appearance these emissaries and spies will display the greatest
diligence, the most reckless loyalty, the most forward zeal; and
yet in the interior of Central Asia they will fulfil the commands
of their order by squatting on the self same carpet with those
religious comrades, with whom they repair to one common mosque.
On this point British statesmen will certainly not agree with me,
though that is the very reason why they are so little acquainted
with what goes on in Central Asia,--why the absurdest stories spread
through India into Europe,--and why they can regard the affairs of
the Khanats in the light which Russian diplomacy has kindled for

Far as I am from wanting to set up as a political advice-giver,
I find that these unpretending counsels point out the only means
whereby Afghanistan's neutrality can be secured, and herself erected
into a powerful barrier against Russia's further progress in Central
Asia. In view of so weighty a question as the possession of the
East Indies is for the greatness and continuance of English power,
it were too dangerous to seek a false protection in palliative
measures. Political errors, however trifling, form in time so many
links in one unbroken chain of disasters,--a chain which, presently,
the greatest struggles, the most clear-eyed statesmanship, may
trouble themselves to break in vain.


It still remains to answer the one further question, why we cannot
look with indifference on the danger for English interests from
Russian ascendancy, and for what special reason it is that the
decline of England's power seems to us so detrimental, that we see
in Russia's undue influence a bar to the advance of the spirit of
our age.

The answer is very simple: Russia was, is, and long will be
Asiatic. The cheering prospect that the overgrown body of Russian
power will, according to the laws of nature, necessarily break up
hereafter into two or more sections, and the danger that threatens
us be thereby lessened, is one which we cannot for a moment
entertain. We need only fix our eyes on the character of political
life in Russia, its social circumstances, the relation of the people
towards the upper castes of the governing circle, the general
state of popular culture, and the modes of popular thought, to see
how everything there is Asiatic, aye, wildly Asiatic in tendency;
and how little, in spite of the long struggle after European
civilisation, has yet been taken in, to speak comparatively, from
what we call European or Western life. Without repeating the
well-worn adage, "Scrape a Russian and you will lay bare a Tartar,"
it is none the less impossible, whether from personal experience,
or the reports of later, and to Russia most friendly travellers, to
help acknowledging how much may yet be found, on the Neva and in
other large Russian towns, of that surface civilisation which many
Asiatic governments bring successfully to bear on short-sighted
Europe. No doubt this pretence of civilisation succeeds better in
Petersburg, wielded by a government containing a strong admixture
of Christian and European elements, than in Cairo, Constantinople,
and Teheran. The Russian noble, in appearance a finished European,
thoroughly versed in our language, manners and modes of thought,
will certainly cut a better figure than the semi-European Effendi
on the Bosphorus, or the Persian Mirza. A government which draws
towards itself, at a cost so heavy, so many scientific and artistic
forces, which has lately advanced with so much zeal in founding
schools, universities, scientific associations, which hires persons
in Europe to blazon forth the progress of Russian civilisation,--can
assuredly reap for itself greater credit than the Porte or the
Persian ministry, which, engaged in upholding their weakly
existence, cannot bestow so much attention on the needful pageantry.

No wonder, then, if to a superficial glance Russia seems more
European, more imbued with the spirit of our civilisation, and can
easily win the sympathy of those who would love her with all their
might. But if once we try impartially to lift up the outer covering
and peep into the inside of the great Russian community, what shall
we behold?

Great, indeed, is the disenchantment that awaits us at every step,
when we seek to discover in the majority of the Russian people those
traces of progress, which ought to exist according to the statements
of Russian hirelings in the European press. The Englishman who,
in 1865, in a pamphlet called "Russia, Central Asia, and British
India," sought to indoctrinate the English public with the same
idea, and, inferring the commencement of many reforms from the
bearing of such innovations as slave emancipation, placed such a
conversion in the foreground, though even Russian writers like
Herzen and Dolgorukoff are doubtful of it, would in all likelihood
have thought very differently, if he had drawn the parallel, not
between persons of intelligence, but between the Russian people and
the Asiatics.

On that immense frontier where Russia touches Asia, we shall
everywhere find the Russians standing on a markedly lower level of
development, and in freedom of manners far behind those Asiatic
peoples to whom we would impart the advantages of our younger
European as compared with their old Asiatic civilisation. Alexander
Michie, a traveller from Pekin to Petersburg, and so great a friend
of Russia that he calls Siberia a second Paradise, and deems the
exiled Poles enviably fortunate, cannot, however, help proclaiming
aloud the superiority of the Chinese to the Russians, wherever
he finds the two holding intercourse with each other. And this
is the case not only in Maimadshin and Kiachta, but even among
the Mussulmans. The Russian, as a northerner, will display more
energy than the Asiatic _de pur sang_; but his remarkably dirty
exterior, his drunkenness, his religion bordering on fetishism, his
servility, his crass ignorance, his coarse, unpolished manners,--are
characteristics which make him show very poorly against the supple,
courtly, keen-sighted Eastern. Just as I have heard a cultivated
Moslem Tadjik in Bokhara speak with contempt of the uncivilised
Russians, whom he set above the Kirghis only, so in all likelihood
will every Chinaman, every Persian in Transcaucasia, and every
well-educated Tartar in Kazan, say the same. What can these nations,
then, learn from Russia?

Can her forms of government awaken any envy in Asiatic races? The
corruptibility of the placemen, their tyrannical and arbitrary
conduct under Nicholas, the mass of more than fifty million peasants
who occupied the lowest of all positions beside the caste of
placemen and nobles,--all this really is not particularly alluring
for those among whom the wildest autocratic institutions are yet
combined with patriarchal mildness.

Yes, it is hard, not only at present, but even in the distant
future, to discover in Russia's craving for conquests the prospect
of a profitable change in the social life of the Asiatic peoples, a
change in the direction of European ideas. If we ask ourselves what
has become of the Tartars, who for more than two hundred years have
dwelt under Russian protection; what of the great number of Siberian
tribes,--such as Bashkirs, Voguls, Tzeremisses, Votjaks,--which have
been or are on the point of being absorbed into the Russian nation,
must we not everywhere regard the Russianising as the chief result?

Russianising is naturally a step from Asia towards Europe, as the
government of an Alexander II., so far as it has gone, may even
be called a turning-point: and yet who will blame us, if to this
wearisome process, whose results seem always doubtful, we prefer
the English scheme of civilisation, which has at this moment such
splendid and surprising results to show in India, and wherever else
it deals with Asiatics?

That the peoples of broad India, of the land which has been the
cradle and the fountain-head of that Asiatic civilisation which we
show up and fight against as unfit to live, hold very persistently
to their old usages, to their own ways of thinking, no one will
dispute; and yet how great a change has come over India, even since
the beginning of the last century! Methinks, even the worst enemies
of Great Britain will be unable to deny that the caste-system of the
Hindoos and their many inhuman customs have suffered a mighty blow
from English influence. No one can deny that these wild Asiatics,
in spite of all their stiff-necked bearing, are advancing with
wonderful strides on the path of our civilisation. We find at this
moment in India a great number of people thoroughly convinced of
the blessed influence of their conqueror: numerous schools and
institutions spread the light of the new world abroad through all
classes of the population. Not only are there many well versed in
the English tongue; they also take an active part in our scientific
discussions, are enrolled as members of learned European societies,
and sometimes even take up the pen to emulate the writers of the
West. Rajah Radakant Deb Bahádur, Maharajah Kali Krishna Bahadur,
Baboo Rayendra Lala Mitra, a good many pundits (priests), and other
learned gentlemen, may be found on the list of French, German, and
Anglo-Asiatic societies, and are known in distinguished circles
by their works. Strong in their own sense of nationality, the
Hindoos are now better acquainted with their language, history and
philosophy, than ever they were in the days of their inland princes.
Societies are formed, as in England, for the extirpation of certain
prejudices, for doing away with so many shameful habits and customs,
for the advancement of social intercourse; and if we consider how
much the reading world increases day by day, how large a circle has
been procured from among the natives for such Hindustani papers as
the _Hirkara Bengála_ ("Bengal Messenger"), the _Suheili Panjábi_
("Punjaub Star"), the _Audh Akbar_ ("Oudh News"), _Khairkah Panjábi_
("Punjaub Wellwisher"), and how greatly the press is rising day by
day into a powerful factor of Europeanism, we shall be obliged to
own that England's subject races stand, in respect of culture, not
only above their yoke-fellows in Russia, but even above many of the
Russians themselves.

If to the above-named unfitness of Russia for civilising India we
superadd the important circumstance that Russia, in thus absorbing
half the world, and blending many millions of Asiatics into her
own body, presents herself in an attitude of powerful menace, not
to Great Britain only, but to all Europe as well, we shall find
this immense predominance more hurtful to our own existence than
advantageous to the leading Tartar races of Asia. Russophobia,
we are told, is a foolish crotchet; and I am willing to think so
myself. Still, if we contemplate the mighty influence of the Russian
two-headed eagle in all parts of Asia; if we reflect, that through
its position on the Hindu Kush the court of St. Petersburg will
solve, in its own favour, the Eastern question on the Bosphorus,
it is hard to feel perfect peace of mind with regard to the future
destiny of our own hemisphere. The diplomacy of to-day, which pays
more homage to fashion than to good sense, makes merry enough with
Napoleon's prophecy regarding Cossack rule in Europe. But people
forget how much may be accomplished with our present means of
communication by a power which will extend from Kamshatka to the
Danube, or perhaps to the shore of the Adriatic,--from the icy zones
of the North Sea to the burning banks of the Irawaddy. Visionary as
it may seem to many, it is in nowise impossible that some hundred
thousands of Asia's wildest horsemen may readily follow the summons
of such a power into the midmost heart of Europe. In the beginning
of this century the possibility of such an inroad, à la Djinghis
Khan and Taimur, was shown by the Don Cossacks on the banks of
the Seine. And why might this not be repeated now-a-days, with
railroads and steamers at their disposal? Our European war-science
may overcome this savage power: no member of the House of Romanoff
could long play among us the part of a Djinghis or a Taimur. Yet
a struggle of that sort, however momentary, would evolve mournful
issues; and it is now a matter of pressing need to keep off the
approach of such an event, while measures of precaution are still
within our reach.

Apart, however, from these far-reaching calculations, can any one
doubt that England's power and greatness are of more advantage than
Russian supremacy to the general interests of Europe? England has
many foes, or perhaps we should rather call them, enviers. Certain
voices in the continental press will always, under the sway of
passion, discover in her conduct selfishness, greed, and pride.
Enthusiasts will see the blindest materialism in every move; and
yet people must be blind and carried away by prejudice, not to see
the triumphs won by English greatness, English capital, and English
endurance, for our civilisation and our scientific researches.
Is it not England alone, whose powerful flag has opened Eastern
Asia to our trade? Who else but English travellers have been
driven by a daring spirit of inquiry into the farthest regions,
in order to enrich our geographical and ethnographical knowledge;
and what happens on the Thames, what in every other town of that
ever-stirring and busy island-realm? Do those haughty spirits
who are continually finding fault with English materialism, ever
consider that these brokers, in spite of their lively interest in
trade and money-making, still render the greatest service in the
advancement of science, in the enlightenment of the world? What
country is there, in which Government gives its millions so readily
for an institution like the British Museum; where a hundred thousand
pounds is laid out with so free a hand on the mere catalogue of a
library, as lately happened in London; where Government fits out
ships and expeditions in quest of an imperilled traveller, as they
have lately done in behalf of Livingstone?

Yes; in spite of all her faults, from which no country is free, we
must allow that England, whether in consequence of the materialism
thus strongly censured, or of the thirst for power so often laid to
her charge, anyhow stands at the top of European civilisation. For
if France and Germany furnish indispensable aid in diffusing the
light of our higher civilisation, still, the chief agent is England
alone. With her flag emerges the day-dawn of a fairer era in every
zone, in every part of the world. What the enviers of Great Britain
tell us of her tyrannical behaviour, is mainly an untruth. It is not
at the writing-table and in easy arm-chairs, but in the countries
of the Asiatic world, that these sentimental fault-finders should
inform themselves about England's influence; and if they saw how
the march of our western civilisation drives out the vices of the
old Asiatic, how it seeks to upraise the downtrodden rights of man,
and freeing millions from the absolute sway of a single tyrant,
leads them on towards a better future, then assuredly they could not
remain indifferent to England's influence in foreign lands.

And would it not be grievous, if Muscovite ascendancy should do harm
to such a State? The strong will of a free people governs on the
Thames; on the Neva the ambition of an Asiatic dynasty, a system of
government so framed that its capacity for reform in the future
remains doubtful, while its great perniciousness in the present is
all the more assured.

Yes; only in Russia's approach towards India, that Achilles-heel
of British interests, may we discover the infallible sign of
serious danger for England. A greater struggle than that which the
British Lion had to encounter in the south with France, for the
establishment of its power on the Ganges, it has still to look for
in the north. The first-named foe, weaker in numbers and endurance,
had but a small fleet, and a sea at that time unnavigable behind
her back, and could easily be overcome. The last-named, on the
contrary, will be supported by an unbroken chain of fortresses,
garrisons, guarded roads; her weapons are a boundless ambition, the
blind devotion of millions of subjects, and the sympathy of rude
neighbour-states. Victory over such a power will be far less easy,
and the consequences of defeat far greater.

Be on thy guard, therefore, Britannia! For if the star of thine
ancient fortune should now begin to wane, then will that verse--

    "The nations not so blest as thee
       Must in their turn to tyrants fall,
     While thou shalt flourish great and free,
       The dread and envy of them all,"

--have to remain unread in the different zones.

  LEWIS & SON, Printers, Swan Buildings, Moorgate Street, London.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.
Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have been retained as

Mismatched quotes are not fixed if it's not sufficiently clear where
the missing quote should be placed.

The cover for the eBook version of this book was created by the
transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

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