Reviews

Published both in Tajik and Russian, this book offers a survey of the Islamic holy places located in Northern Tajikistan.  The volume is composed of four sections: (1) a description of the mazars / ziyaratgahs located in various areas (Maschah, Falghar, Panjakat [Penjikent], Istrawshan, Ghunchi, Khujand, Isfara); (2) a typology of the mazars according to their “human” nature (saint’s identity, relics, qadamjay) or their physical nature (mountain, plain, source, stone, cave, doll); (3) a valuable analysis of the numerous rituals performed during the visits to mazars; (4) a study of the mazars’ financial system based on waqf documents from the nineteenth century till the Soviet period.  Regrettably, beside this endowment documentation the author mentions without using the Persian primary sources that provide a historical background to—at least—the main mausoleums (see, for instance, the famous Dar bayan-i awsaf-i tabi‘i wa mazarat-i Samarqand by Abu Tahir Khwaja Samarqandi (1251/1835), usually called Samariyya).  Nevertheless, this well-informed book represents a first step for further research on the cult of saints in Tajikistan:  In the near future, one would expect comparable surveys on other regions and, from a larger perspective, anthropological essays dealing with sacred space and sanctity, or social aspects such as rural calendars (in accordance with religious festivals), pilgrims’ sociability (during pilgrimages and around holy places) and so on.  Last, slight differences can be noticed between the Tajik and the Russian versions:  The latter contains a translation of the introduction into English and several interesting b/w photographs.  Full reference of the Tajik version: Mazorhoi shimoli Tojikiston [The Holy Places of Northern Tajikistan], Dushanbe: Devastich, 2004, 193-20 p., bibliography.

Alexandre Papas, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-5.3.D-476