The author of a previous monograph on the history of Kulab in the sixteenth century, and of studies on several Islamic sanctuaries of the Khatlan province, in the south of Tajikistan—see Abstracta Iranica 22 (1999), notices 259 and 297—, Gh.Gh. proposes a work of historical geography of this country’s central region and of a part of Uzbekistani Surkhan-Darya, around the fortress of Hisar [ancient Shuman], the Tajikistani capital city Dushanbe, and the city of Dehnau in Uzbekistan.  The book’s most significant chapter is devoted to the Manghit period (i.e., from the late eighteenth century to 1921 as far as the studied regions are concerned), that the author has been studying according to his usual method, each event being documented by a specific local narrative source in Persian language (the Tuhfa-yi khani by Muhammad-Wafa Karminagi, the Zafar-nama by Mulla Rajab “Pari” Hisari, or still poetry by Farigh), with a particular interest in the rivalries between the begs of Hisar, Kulab and Darwaz during the nineteenth century.  A short final chapter brings about some elements to the history and historical geography of Dushanbe (with paragraphs on this city’s promotion to the status of centre of the Hisar Valley, and on the situation of Dushanbe and of its rural satellites in the first years of the twentieth century, on the basis of Russian statistics, pp. 170-6). The large variety of documentary resources used by the author does not protect him against a teleological interpretation of history, characterised by the use of an anachronous vocabulary:  The main theme of this interpretation is made of by the struggle of the “vernacular” populations of present-day central Tajikistan for their “independence” notably against the incursions by an “Uzbek” ruler, Muhammad-Rahim Khan of Kokand (see pp. 97-123).

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-3.4.A-252