Reviews

This luxuriously published album, the result of internationally financed expeditions to Khwarezm from 1998 to 2002, and of a richly sponsored editing work, introduces 73 unpublished qazis’ documents from a private collection, 5 khan’s yarlïqs from another private collection, and 14 khan’s yarlïqs from the collection of the Ichan-Qal‘a Reserve-Museum.  The earliest of these pieces is a khan’s yarlïq from 1665, the latest a qazi’s document of November 16, 1925, whence a majority is related to the nineteenth century, especially to the reigns of Sayyid Muhammad Khan (1856-64) and Muhammad-Rahim Khan ii (1864-1910).  Relying for his bibliography and interpretation on the classical historical works by R. G. Mukminova about land and landownership in pre-modern Transoxiana, and loftily ignoring the sometimes pioneering contributions by Western and Japanese authors (like those by Isogai Ken’ichi, curiously absent from the present work’s numerous footnotes), the author, in his extremely detailed and sometimes verbose introduction, proposes a reinterpretation of some technical terms (like those, mutually related, of tarkhan and suyurghal); he then underlines the prerogatives conferred to the mutawallis of mortmain foundations; sheds light on the significant sums devoted to the financing of Qur’an recitation in the provisions of mortmain deeds (waqf-namas) as far as Khwarezm is concerned—which is interpreted by the author as a means for the local religious personnel to promote its financial interests.  In the catalogue properly said, each document is introduced from the viewpoints of its content and physical aspect, then transcribed in Arabic script and transliterated into Latin alphabet.  The catalogue is then followed by 101 high-resolution black-and-white photographic reproductions of the documents.  Though limited by the author’s conservative approach (see his tentative rehabilitation of pre-Soviet qazis according to the criteria of Marxism-Leninism), by his very elliptic evocation of the private collections studied here, and by his omission of significant Western and Japanese contributions of the past decade to the study of Central Asian qazi’s and khan’s documents, however the description, transcription and photographic illustration of the catalogue provide interesting first-hand material to all those interested in vernacular primary sources of the history of pre-modern Transoxiana.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-1.1.C-22