Reviews

This bilingual (Tajik & English) volume of a genre now very much cultivated in former Soviet Central Asia introduces thirty-two Islamic and Islamised holy places of central and southern Tajikistan (in the districts of Wahdat [former Kafirnihan, former Orjonikidzeabad, former Yangi Bazar . . .], Yawan, Shahr-i Tus, Jill-i Kul, Panj, Danghara, Kulab and Mu’minabad).  Beyond the approximate ethnological vocabulary used by the authors (‘totemism,’ ‘animism,’ and the like) in their too general and poorly informed introduction on “The Human Being and the Sacred,” the book provides a range of descriptive information (sometimes borrowed from Hamza Kamol’s previous publications) on a relatively wide typology of mazars.  Each notice comprises en evocation of the mazar’s location, of its dedicatee (from the legendary Bibi Sawr in Sim-i Ganj to the early-twentieth century reformist Bukharan ‘alim Damulla Ikram in Mu’minabad), of its caretakers (mutawallis), as well as a short physical description of the holy place, and for some the relation of karamat attributed to it by local tradition.  Though quickly made and often superficial, the book provides interesting data for the typology of holy places in Transoxiana and their contemporary reappraisal.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-5.3.D-485