This beautifully and richly edited volume ― its sixty-two-page critical apparatus (241-303) could be taken as a model for historical publications ― deals in detail with the formation and development of the historiography of the Khanate of Crimea from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, viz. during its period of independence and after its annexation to the Russian Empire. On the basis of a wide range of often manuscript texts from public collections in the Federation of Russia, Egypt, France, Great Britain, Iran, Turkey, Ukraine and other European countries, the author, a leading historian of Muslim states in present-day southern Russia (cf. Central Eurasian Reader 1 , review No. 201 pp. 173-5), has endeavoured to reconstruct the inner evolution of this historiographical tradition, and its reactions to successive influences from abroad. Great care has been given to the introduction and description of these texts, from the contexts of their writing to their sources and to the transmission of data and proceedings from an epoch to another. The opportunity has also been seized by the author for an evocation of the Arabic script written legacy of the Crimea in Arabic, Persian and Turkic languages.
The works successively dealt with in the volume are: the “History of Khan Sahib Giray I” (Ta’rikh-i Sahib Giray Khan, 960/1553), by Nidayi Efendi; the “Chronicle of the Qipchaq Steppe” (Tawarikh-i Dasht-i Qipchaq, c. 1638) by Ottoman author ‘Abd-allah b. Rizwan; the “Seven Planets on Information on Tatar Tsars (al-Sub‘ al-siyar fi akhbar muluk al-tatar)” by Sayyid Muhammad Riza, and its abridged version; the histories of individual khans (Islam Giray, Mehmed Giray, Sa‘id Giray) and texts immediately related to them; an anonymous history of the Khans of the Crimea from Mengli Giray I to Shahin Giray, probably achieved during the latter’s reign (1777-83); the late eighteenth-century “History of Tatar Khans, Dagestan, Moscow and the Qipchaq Steppe (Tawarikh-i tatar khan wa Taghistan wa Muskuw wa Dasht-i Qipjaq ulkelerinindir)” by Ibrahim b. ‘Ali Kefevi; the “History of the Crimea” (Ta’rikh al-Qirim, 1197/1782-3) by Mehmed Nejati; an anonymous “History of the Crimea” not earlier than the early 1790s; different histories elaborated on Ottoman models; repertories with the genealogy and reign of khans of the Crimea; the genealogies of dynasties of beys; and historical dastans.
I. V. Zaitsev places the origins of the Crimean historiography in the Golden Horde (through the transmission of genres like dastan and shajara), in the Ottoman Empire (through the adoption and transformation in the Crimea of genres like ghaza-nama, ta’rikh, and waqayi‘-nama), and beyond them in the Arabic and Persian literary traditions. He also reconstructs the emergence of the genealogies and posterities of individual khans, during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, as a genre specific to the Crimea. Special attention is devoted too to the authorship of historiographical literature in the Crimea, with particularly active involvement of khans themselves and of the ‘ulama. Contrary to the Volga region, the author observes the absence of a specific tradition in local history of individual cities and villages. The escheat of history writing in the Crimea, and the disappearance of traditional literary genres, during the nineteenth century is attributed to the impact of Russian and European culture in a context of urban and rural colonisation of the peninsula. In all, this extremely erudite and well presented book offers the most complete, to date, survey and analysis of historical narratives produced in the Crimea from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. It also constitutes a major reference book on the development of the most varied Tatar-language pre-modern literary genres in the Crimea.