The first Arab and Islamic knowledge of China relied on travellers’ accounts pertaining to the rihla type of literature, which aimed at giving some useful information to traders, especially to seagoing ones.  But generally speaking these accounts did not reflect first-hand experience and gave pride of place to the marvellous.  The best known works pertaining to this category are the Akhbar al-Sin wa’l-Hind (ca. 851), the Silsilat al-Tawarikh (ca. 916 by Abu Zayd al-Sirafi) and the ‘Ajayib al-Hind (ca. 953).  The main medieval geographical works dealing with China are the Kitab al-Masalik wa’l-Mamalik (1st version in 846, 2nd one in 885, by the Persian Ibn Khurdadhbih), the Mukhtasar Kitab al-Buldan (ca. 902, by Ibn al-Faqih).  An anonymous account, dating from ca. 982-983 (no further identification), gives precious clues about Chinese Central Asia.  It was not until Ibn Battuta in the fourteenth century that fresh data were brought about China.

Françoise Aubin (National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris).

173. Jackson Peter, “Golden Horde,” in Ehsan Yarshater, ed., Encyclopaedia Iranica, 11/1, New York: The Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation, 2003: 75-6, bibliography

Professor Jackson of Keele University succinctly encapsulates the political and religious history of the Golden Horde, and then pays particular emphasis to its most relevant aspect for Iranian history, namely, the wars the Jochids fought without success for over a century against the Il-khanate for control of the rich pastures south of the Caucasus, including Azerbaijan.  These wars dominated the foreign affairs of the region, catalysing the alliance of the Golden Horde with the Egyptian Mamluks.  After the dissolution of the Il-khanate, Golden Horde Khan Janibeg finally succeeded where his predecessors had failed, taking Azerbaijan and executing its Chobanid ruler.  But the Golden Horde could not hold this territory, and withdrew under Janibeg’s son and successor Berdibeg.  Ordoid Khan Tuqtamysh of the White Horde ascended the throne of the Golden Horde upon the extinction of Batu’s line.  He invaded Azerbaijan for the last time after falling out with his patron Timur over Khwarezm.  Timur’s punitive response ended Golden Horde involvement in Persia.  The Golden Horde later fragmented.  By focusing on Jochid-Iranian relations, Jackson indirectly points out the geopolitical continuity of Horde aspirations toward Azerbaijan despite the dynastic shift from the Batuids to the Ordoids.  Unfortunately, Jackson does not mention the anachronistic nature of the term “Golden Horde” (more properly, the Jöchid Ulus) or scholarly disagreements about whether Tuqtamysh came from the White or the Blue Horde.  The extensive bibliography of fourteen articles and books comprises nearly one-third of the entry.

Charles Halperin, Indiana University, Bloomington
CER: I-3.1.B-172