Reviews

According to the author, private appropriation of land among nomadic groups had two variants in the medieval period.  One was the direct use by a group of a determinate track of land, a corridor which could be several hundred and even a thousand kilometres long for each nomadic year, with a short seasonal stay on the pastures.  In this line the right of property of a given group was seasonal in conformity with its productive cycle. (We may reply to the author that from a sociological and juridical point of view, this right of use is not identical to a right of property.)  The other variant was an indirect right of possession through the seizure of a given territory vital for the feeding of the big herd of a clan community.  During campaign conquests, pastures and towns with their populations were first subjected to the direct appropriation by a family group.  Later on, the kagan could regulate an indirect and long-time possession of the subjugated territory by military leaders and their family or clan:  For example, in the Qarakhanid State, there was the institution called iqta‘.  This kind of possession included tombs, sacred places and watered pastures.  With the diffusion of Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity, there appeared pieces of lands owned in mortmain by their inhabitants for the construction of religious buildings.  The kagan could also free from taxation a land with a settled agricultural community and give it for life (but without right of inheritance) to a so-called tarkhan.  Finally, lands under ancient Turkic power were divided into three categories: 1) the domain of the tutuq and shad; 2) the pastures of other Turks; 3) the pastures of native nomads.  In places where power was exercised, a fortress was constructed and a town developed.  However, as their inhabitants did not have a tradition of a settled way of life, the town generally disappeared with the moving of the administrative centre or the end of the Khaganate. (The short bibliography consists only in old-fashioned Russian titles.)

Françoise Aubin, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-3.4.A-264