In this article Mirkasym Usmanov calls attention to yet another part of the scholarly legacy of Qurban-‘Ali Khalidi (1846-1913), an imam, qadi, and amateur historian and ethnographer of present-day Kazakhstan and Eastern Turkistan, some of whose works and materials have recently been published, in the originals and English translations, by M. Usmanov himself and Allen J. Frank (Materials for the Islamic History of Semipalatinsk: Two Manuscripts by Ahmad Wali al-Qazani and Qurban-‘Ali Khalidi, Berlin, 2001; and Qurban-‘Ali Khalidi, An Islamic Biographical Dictionary of the Eastern Kazakh Steppe, 1770-1912, Leiden, 2004 ― cf. Central Eurasian Reader 1 (2008), review No. 109 p. 84-5). The article focuses on three yarliqs issued by the Moghol khans of Turfan in the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries and published by Khalidi in his Kitab-i tarikh-i jarida-yi jadida in 1889, in Kazan. The whereabouts of the originals, if they survive, are unknown, but the texts of two of the yarliqs have now been discovered among partially preserved drafts of the Kitab-i tarikh-i jarida-yi jadida, presently in Professor Usmanov’s private collection, thus allowing for a comparison of the low-quality published versions of the yarliqs with Khalidi’s transcriptions.
The yarliqs, which bear the dates of 1518, 1650 (or 1656), and 1667, include a suyurghal grant; a grant of the right to dispense of the revenues of the waqf entrusted to the recipient; and a grant of immunity from taxes and services in kind (tarkhan) to the keepers of a local holy place and their children. A comparison of the published versions of the yarliqs with their transcriptions in the book’s drafts has allowed M. A. Usmanov to suggest that Khalidi had access to the originals of the second and third yarliqs and perused the first one in copy. M. A. Usmanov appears to consider the yarliqs genuine and their transcriptions made by Khalidi accurate, though these issues probably deserve further scrutiny; for example, it remains to be explained why the Hijri and Twelve-animal cycle forms of the year of the issue of the second and third yarliqs do not agree. Although the yarliqs from Turfan are written in a mixture of Uighur and Chaghatay and enumerate taxes and services specific to the region, the structure of the documents, some of the formulas used, and the seals described or, one one occasion, drawn by Khalidi, are remarkably similar to those of the yarliqs issued by the Chinggisid rulers of some of the other Muslim successor states of the Mongol Empire, most notably the Jöchid states. The importance of the three yarliqs, which, despite their earlier publication, remained largely outside the scholarly purview until very recently, lies, as stressed by M. A. Usmanov, the world’s foremost authority on Jöchid yarliqs, in the extreme rarity of these materials as well as in their value both for the history of Eastern Turkistan and for comparative research into the chancery practices of the Mongol and post-Mongol states of Central Eurasia. This necessitates a new publication of the yarliqs and their in-depth study.