Reviews

The second volume of a series inaugurated eleven years earlier with a first opus on the proverbs of the Pamir (Dushanbe: Donish, 1984), this compilation provides one hundred and thirty-two mythic or legendary tales in varied Pamirian languages (Shughnani, Rushani, Bartangi, Ishkashimi and Wakhi) collected between 1961 and 1992 from inhabitants of the predominantly Isma‘ili districts of Rushan, Shughnan, Roshtkala and Ishkashim of Tajikistani Badakhshan.  These tales are preserved in a transcribed (or more rarely taped) form in the rich collection of the Institute of Human Sciences in the Pamirian Section of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan (in Khorog).  Each text, transcribed into Cyrillic script in its original language, is followed by a Tajik and a Russian translation.  In the volume’s rich critical appendixes (362-414), the compiler proposes, for each, a precise specification of the date, place and conditions of its collection, the identification of the collector and of the informant, and a succession of local or regional variants—trying to identify each original text and its respective derivations.  These invaluable data, extremely rare in publications on oral traditions as far as Tajikistan is concerned, are enriched with comments of different categories of proper names, and with ethnographical explanations on traditional beliefs of the Isma‘ilis of Badakhshan.  The volume ends with just as unusual indexes of legendary and historical figures, of place names, of the collectors of the tales, and of their informants.  The texts have been classified according to key subjects: (1) creation of the world; (2) legendary and historical figures; (3) the figure of Luqman and medicine; (4) historical events and their echoes; (5) natural phenomena; (6) holy places; (7) supernatural phenomena; (8) different kinds of animals.  Among captivating materials on the state of collective memory in Tajikistani Badakhshan, the reader will find elements on the memory of the Mongol conquest of Transoxiana; numerous mythic accounts on Badakhshani holy places; and riwayat on founding figures of medieval and modern Isma‘ilism (see notably Shughnani narratives about the late nineteenth-century pir Sayyid Yusuf-‘Ali Shah, or those on the karamat by Mulla Nazardad).  Further volumes should see the light in the future, of which the compiler would do best to enlarge his collections and bibliography to the left, Afghan bank of the Panj River.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-6.2.C-561