Reviews

This monumental work is the result of an independent research work accomplished by Kazakh historian T. Beisembiev, the connoisseur of the chronicles of the Kokand Khanates, from 1984 to 1996 on card files, before its gradual transfer into electronic support during the following decade till 2008. In his substantial introduction, the author divides the some forty works that make up the mainly Persian-language Central Asian historiography of the Khanate into two categories: (1) early chronicles (1810s-40s), from the ‘Umar-nama of the late 1810s to the Muntakhab al-tawarikh of 1843-4; (2) later chronicles (1850s-1910s), themselves divided into four subgroups: a) those written by supporters of Khudayar Khan; b) lesser in number, those composed by adherents of Khudayar Khan’s adversary Mulla ‘Alimqul [see notably Central Eurasian Reader 1 (2008), review 284 pp. 238-9]; c) works of the Eastern Turkistan circle; d) local chronicles of the Fergana and neighbouring regions. The volume provides exceptional insights on the numerous interconnections, in both content and form, between these chronicles. The author notably shows how, in writing their works, the chroniclers applied common methods: the compilation of precedent chronicles; the adoption of a narrative line predetermined by the structure of other chronicles, with additions on varied events; the careful selection of material lacking in the best-known chronicles for novelty and originality; the repeated reference to a particular event or factual detail, examined in different section in a new light. All also share indeed a common belief in the legitimacy of the dynastic rule of the Khans of Kokand, as reflected in the legend of their origin. As stressed by the author, in addition to their historical value the chronicles are also of considerable linguistic interest. First because the Persian language in which so many of them have been written remains almost unstudied, though it represents the last pre-Soviet phase of the development of Central Asian Persian, with particular Turkic impacts. For each cross-reference, the author has precisely indicated the manuscript, much more rarely the edition of the chronicle or of the opuscule mentioned.

The Redaction
CER: II-3.4.B-245