This volume of tribute to J. Wood sis composed of twenty-four articles grouped by the Editors into six parts: “The Mongol Empire,” “The Age of Timur,” “The Safavids and Their Legacy,” “Memluk Studies,” “Historical Geography” and “Inter-Regional Contacts and Cross-Cultural Transmissions.” This review will assess the contribution of those dealing specifically with Central Eurasia and its relations with Iran and Anatolia in the Mongol and Timurid periods.
The first part is constituted notably by papers by P. Jackson (“World Conquest and Local Accommodation: Threat and Blandishment in Mongol Diplomacy,” 3-22, see the review infra 175); D. DeWeese (“‘Struck in the Throat of Chingiz Khan:’ Envisioning the Mongol Conquests in Some Sufi Accounts from the 14th to 17th Centuries,” 23-60), I. Togan (“The Qongrat in History,” 61-83), Zeki Velidi Togan (“References to Economic and Cultural Life in Anatolia and the Letters of Rashid al-Din,” 84-111), J. Pfeiffer (Ahmad Tegüder’s Second Letter to Qala’un (682/1283),” 167-202) [see the reviews infra in 6.2.B.]. Two other articles deal with Anatolia: in the first one H. Inalcik (“Autonomous Enclaves in Islamic States: Temlîks, Soyurghals, Yurdluks-Ocakliks, Mâlikâne-Mukâta’as and Awqâf,” 112-34) studies a number of terms designating donations of pieces of lands by sultans, from the Mongols to the Ottomans. The contribution by Ch. Melville (“The Early Persian Historiography of Anatolia,” 135-66) is devoted to three major Persian primary sources on Saljuq and Mongol Anatolia. The author notably analyses the structure of these works, by Ibn Bibi, Aqsarayi and the Ta’rikh-i al-i Saljuq achieved in October 1363. His conclusion is that these three texts are essential for the reconstruction of the political and administrative history of Anatolia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. One also must take into account the significance of Persian language, the language of culture in this region whence the bulk of the population was Turkic-speaking.
The book’s second part comprises notably an article by R. McChesney (“A Note on the Life and Work of Ibn ‘Arabshah,” 205-49) in which the author offers an interesting glance at the life and work of one of Timur’s biographers. Of Syrian origin, Ibn ‘Arabshah had been captured at the age of fifteen after Timur’s capture of Damascus in 1400, then brought to Samarqand where he lived from 1401 to 1409. His Arabic-language biography of Timur was written well after the conqueror’s death, and concerns for a significant part events posterior to this event. However, the text is an important source on Timur’s reign since, whilst royal biographies are mere panegyrics, Ibn ‘Arabshah casts a rare critical light on this period. The contribution by Mano Eiji (“On the Persian Original Validiyya of Khvaja Ahrar,” 250-66) is a tentative reconstruction of the original Persian version of this text by a leading Naqshbandi Sufi master of the Timurid period. This text, none copy of which seems to have survived, was translated into Chaghatay language under Babur in early Mughal India. In the section on “Historical Geography” we have selected the short article by D. Bazargur & D. Enkhbayar (“A Closer Definition of Geographical Names in the Secret History of the Mongols,” 458-64), who try to localise some place names from the only indigenous medieval Mongol source beside diplomatic correspondences. The authors have been taking into account environment and socio-economic factors, and their study of tribe migrations integrates the data of physical geography. A part of the analysed material comes from the Laboratory for Toponymy and Cartography of the Institute of Geography of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences in Ulaanbaator. Some of the elements provided in this paper have been published in the monograph published ten years ago by the same authors (Chinggis Khan Atlas, Ulaabaator, 1997).
Though of an uneven quality, the papers published in the present collection bring a significant contribution to our knowledge of the history of medieval Central Eurasia.