Nourished at the same time by Turkic-language manuscript chronicles (notably Muhammad-‘Aziz Marghilani’s Ta’rikh-i ‘azizi) and by Russian-language statistics and archive documents (a rare combination in recent historical studies on early modern Central Asia), this study depicts the economic and cultural evolution of the city of Marghilan as the capital of the district (uezd) of the same name, between the abolition of the Khanate of Kokand in 1876 and the end of the Tsarist period. The author shows particularly interested in the boom of textile activity in the ‘Silk City’ from the 1880s onward, especially after the coming of the railway, and the growth of factories and of export companies specialising in varied silk mill techniques (khan-atlas and adras, in particular). The data of the Ta’rikh-i ‘azizi have been solicited for the reconstruction of public building activity by local tycoons, notably the construction of fifteen mosques by entrepreneurs from the city. The second half of the article deals with varied productions, notably with oil exploitation from the 1860s onwards (under the control of the local ruler Sultan Murad Bik during the last decade of the Khanate); the author evokes the role played in oil extracting companies by representatives of the Muslim autochthonous population. The last paragraphs provide statistical data of the time on the demographic and economic expansion of the city. Contrary to leitmotivs of Soviet historiography of Tsarist Central Asia, the author stresses the key role of vernacular craftsmanship and local entrepreneurship in this development ― even if conceding that the main beneficiary of this transformation was the colonial metropolis: an overall explanation to the relative conservative aspect of the city in the decades preceding (and following) the Bolshevik takeover.
Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris