This collection of papers by leading archaeologists and historians of the Ferghana and Semireche consists in detailed presentations of different kinds of primary written documents on various periods of the history of present-date Kyrgyzstan, according to lasting Marxist-Leninist categories: 1) prehistory, proto-history and ancient history; 2) early middle ages; 3) “the period of developed feudalism”; 4) later middle ages and modern times.
Beside captivating contributions by first-rank scholars on ancient Turkic written material (by S. G. Kliashtornyi, 40-64), or on Soghdian texts, documents and epigraphy (by V. A. Livshits, 117-48), the reader specialising in late medieval, and modern history finds in the volume a large range of studies on the most varied written source materials: sources in Latin (by K. I. Petrov, 180-96); in Persian (by I. K. Petrova, 196-221); in Chinese (by G. P. Suprunenko, 221-7); epigraphic sources in Arabic script (by V. N. Nastich, 227-45); Nestorian monuments in Syriac and Turkic languages (by Ch. Dzh. Dzhumagulov, 245-50); written monuments on the Qarakhanids (by T. D. Dzhumanaliev, 250-7). These general articles are followed by more punctual studies: on the attribution of the mausoleum in south Uzgen, through numismatic and epigraphic data (by V. N. Nastich and B. D. Kochnev, 257-69); on the methods of dating medieval epigraphic monuments in Arabic script in the Fergana and Semireche area (by V. N. Nastich, 269-79); on Yuan-Shi’s testimony on the thirteenth-century migration of the Kyrgyz (by E. I. Kychanov, 279-84); on the Kyrgyz epic tradition as a historical and ethnographical source (by I. B. Moldobaev, 284-90); on the narrative sources about the Chaghatayid state (by T. D. Dzhumanaliev, 290-300); on the respective contributions of Shah Mahmud Churas’ “Chronicle” and of the Ta’rikh-i Kashghar (by the same, 300-9).
The section on the late middle ages and modern times follows the same patterns, with panoramic contributions on sources in Iranian (309-16) and Turkic languages (316-25, both by A. M. Mokeev—who, too often, contents himself with a common-sense critic of the “irrational character” of hagiographic literature); on Chinese sources (by G. P. Suprunenko, 325-30—through a rich Russian and Soviet historiography); on Russian scholars and travellers of the eighteenth century to the 1870s (330-43, by V. M. Ploskikh & V. A. Galitskii—with special attention for the history of the texts, and their frequent vicissitudes in the hands of military sponsors), and on Russian documents of the same period (343-50, also by Ploskikh & Galitskii—who deplore the fragmentary character of statistical information, a fetish of Soviet historiography, but trace interesting qualitative perspectives on the basis of documentary sources). Then come several papers on more particular topics, such as: the contribution of Russian sources to questions of the history of Semireche in the second quarter of the eighteenth century (by M. B. Dzhamgerchinov, 350-4—a study of the way Russian diplomatic sources assess the weigh of the early eighteenth century Junghar power on the territory of present-day Kyrgyzstan); on the history of the Khanate of Kokand through the biography of ‘Alimqul (by T. K. Beisembiev, 354-63—see notably the reviews of this author’s later monograph on ‘Alimqul’s biography, by A. Papas in Abstracta Iranica 26 (2003): 117, and by self in Cahiers du monde russe 45/3-4 (2004): 741-4—; on a newly discovered source for the history of the Khanate of Kokand (by A. M. Mokeev, 363-6: see my review of this article in infra 276). The volume is concluded with a short study on N. A. Aristov’s contribution to the study of the sources of the history of present-day Kyrgyzstan (by V. A. Galitskii & V. M. Ploskikh, 366-9). Notwithstanding a unexpected amount of misprints, and an overall tendency, common to Soviet and post-Soviet historiography, to project towards a remote past the current boundaries of modern politities, the readers can only be rejoiced by such a collection of studies on so different periods of history, by a multinational team of authors (although, apparently for linguistic reasons, key Western or Japanese contributors have been kept out of the undertaking).