Reviews

A locally famous representative of the Tajik intelligentsia from Samarqand, and a renowned specialist of the history of Islamic reform in the Emirate of Bukhara, the author provides us with an interesting study in the historical geography of the Timurid capital, through a long stroll in the city’s neighbourhoods.  The book is open with a well-informed historical overview of the last developments of historical geography and urban history in Tajikistan (unfortunately with some pages, now inevitable, about the formation by the Samanids of the first Muslim state of the peoples “of Iranian race (irani nezhad)” enriched with notations on the political developments during Perestroika).  The most captivating part of the work is constituted by the chapter on the city’s neighbourhoods, their formation and organisation, as well as their varied components: basins, mosques, tea houses, private residences, etc.  A special chapter is devoted to the city’s gardens, another one to the most famous monuments of the past (with a particular interest of the author in holy graves, that is very characteristic of urban historical erudition as it is practiced nowadays in Central Asia), with sections on bazaars, caravanserais, madrasas and bathhouses.  In spite of its lack of any critical apparatus, the book is worth of interest as a testimony of the present-day revival of traditional local history in former Soviet Central Asia.  It also brings numerous notations and elements on the holy places and their respective attendance, as well as on the city’s contemporary history—all based on the collective memory of a lineage of literati originating from Samarqand, on the author’s rich personal erudition, and by his regular dealings with the antique city and its neighbourhoods.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-2.4-136