The first Persian historical work produced in Central Asia (Transoxiana, Ḵʷārazm, Farḡāna, and Eastern Turkestan) was the 4th/10th century translation of the history of Ṭabari by the vizier of the Samanids, Abu ʿAli Moḥammad Balʿami. While no works on the history of the Samanids themselves were written for them as far as we know, the historians of the Ghaznavids wrote both general histories and histories of Khorasan; events in Transoxiana and other parts of Central Asia would sometimes occupy a prominent place in these works, but their general approach to Central Asia was from an outsider’s perspective, and they cannot be considered a part of regional historiography. The historiography of the Qarakhanids (or “the Khans of Turkestan,” as they were called in Islamic literature), the first Islamic Turkic rulers in Central Asia, was extremely meager; and only one work, which is merely of secondary importance, has come down to us (see Barthold, Turkestan3, pp. 17-18). Although titles of works on the history of the Ḵwārazmšāhs, some of which were probably in Persian, are known (see ibid., pp. 31-32), none has survived. Under the Samanids and the Qarakhanids several works were written on the history of such major cities as Bukhara (by Moḥammad b. Jaʿfar Naršaḵi, 10th century) and Samarqand (originally by ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Edrisi, 11th century, continued by ʿOmar Nasafi, 12th century). Both of the aforementioned works, however, were written originally in Arabic (and the latter was more a theological than historical work, as was the case with many early Islamic “city chronicles”), though they were later translated into Persian: the work by Nar-šaḵi in the 11th century (see text ed. Schefer, Description topographique; text ed. Rażawi, Tāriḵ-e Boḵārā; English tr. Frye as The History of Bukhara) and that of Edrisi/Nasafi much later (see Qandiya). They became very popular in Central Asia, circulating in numerous copies and being further amended by later editors. There was a kind of continuation of this genre of “historical” literature in post-Mongol Central Asia, in the form of works like the Ketāb-e (or Tāriḵ-e) Mollā-zāda by Mo ʿin-al-Foqarāʾ (15th century), which is a description of mausoleums, mainly of holy men buried in Bukhara, with brief biographical data (see Moʿin-al-Foqarāʾ). Such works, however, belong more to hagiography (q.v.) than to histori-ography. No original historical works were written in Central Asia during nearly three centuries following the Mongol conquest. Even the histories of Timur and the Timurids were written outside of Central Asia, sometimes in Herat, but often elsewhere in Persia, which is remarkable given the fact that the center of Timur’s own power was in Samarqand. Moreover, after the final break-up of the Timurid empire in 1469, no historical works seem to have been written for and about the Timurids of Transoxiana.

Thus, a genuine Persian historiographical tradition in Central Asia, as it is known to us from surviving texts, began in the early 10th/16th century with the Uzbek conquest of the region. Initially, there were attempts, supported by some members of the Shïbanid–Abulkhayrid dynasty, beginning with Šïbāni Khan himself, to have their history recorded in Turkic, the language of the conquerors. Šïbāni Khan’s cousin, Keldi-Moḥammad b. Söyünč-Ḵᵛāja Khan, who in the 930s/1520s ordered ʿAbd-Allāh b. Moḥammad Naṣr-Allāhi to write a Turkic (Ča-ḡatay) history of his dynasty, is said to have explained the need for this in the following words: “The descendants of Čengiz Khan who ruled the countries, as well as the descendants of Timur Bek, were all Turks. Why are all the historical works about them written in Persian? Since they were all Turks, it is necessary that their histories be also written in Turkic language” (Zobdat al-āṯār, ms. now belonging to Mr. Simon Digby, England, fol. 53b). However, Turkic historical literature under the Uzbeks emerged only in Ḵwārazm, whose population seemed to be the most Turkicized among the inhabitants of the sedentary regions of Central Asia, while the historiography of the Abulkhayrids and their successors in Transoxiana, with the exception of the three early Čaḡatay works written in the first quarter of the 10th/16th century, was in Persian. The development of historical literature in Persian under the Abulkhayrids was prompted by the influx of Sunnite refugee writers from Safavid Persia after the rise of Shah Esmaʿil. Already the histories of Šïbāni Khan were written in Persian, both in prose and verses (see below), and the authors of four out of five historical and biographical works written in Persian under the first Abulkhayrids were émigrés from Khorasan. Further growth of Persian historical literature in Transoxiana was facilitated by the tradition of court patronage adopted by the Uzbek rulers from their Timurid predecessors (see Subtelny). There seemed to be no official post of a historiographer under the Abulkhayrids and their successors similar to the wāqeʿa-navis in Persia, but almost all historians, with very few exceptions in the 13th/19th century, enjoyed at least the royal patronage as well as, sometimes, the patronage of high officials, and their works were usually commissioned. Sometimes histories were written by royal secretaries (monši) and court poets; in the latter case they were usually versified and imitated the Šāh-nāma following the tradition well established by the time of the Timurids (see Mortażawi). Prose works usually included poems, sometimes in large numbers, written by the historians themselves, but occasionally quoted from the works of other authors.

All known historical works written in Central Asia since the 10th/16th century fall within the categories of either general (or “universal”) history or dynastic history. In the first case they would usually begin with creation followed by a brief account of the prophets culmi-nating in Moḥammad, whose biography is followed by those of the first four caliphs (the Rāšedun); and the rest would typically be divided into chapters for each Islamic dynasty, in more or less chronological order. Pride of place was usually reserved for the history of the particular dynasty (the Abulkhayrids, the Janids, etc.) to whose representative the work was dedicated. General histories were strongly influenced by and dependent upon the Rawżat al-ṣafā of Mirḵᵛānd (but not the Ḥabib al-siar of Ḵᵛāndamir), which enjoyed great popularity in Central Asia. It is also interesting that, out of the seven general histories written in Persian by Central Asian authors from the 16th century through the first half of the 19th century, four were written in India or by authors who lived in India, some of them for a long time; it remains to be studied whether this was a result of their greater acquaintance with Persian historical literature in India, where general histories proliferated during the same period (cf. Storey–Bregel, pp. 416-72). The importance of all these works for modern scholarship lies usually in the sections dealing with their contemporary dynasties, so that in this respect they do not differ from the dynastic histories. One genre of historiography that was prominent in Persia was absent in post-Timurid Central Asia: local and city histories (with the exception of the late redactions of Nar-šaḵi and the Qandiya).

Dynastic histories either took the form of the history of a particular dynasty, beginning with its origin (or genealogy), or the history of the reign of a single ruler, beginning with his genealogy or birth. These works were, as a rule, highly partisan, having as their main purpose the glorification of the ruler and vilification of his enemies; at the same time they had to teach political wisdom through historical examples and to provide an entertaining reading. Florid language, which helped to achieve all these goals, was a common feature of almost all Persian historical works written in Central Asia since the 16th century (on the very few exceptions see below); in this regard later Central Asian historiography faithfully continued the Timurid tradition. The sources utilized by the historian were sometimes mentioned in his introduction (especially in general histories), much less commonly in connection with specific information; quite often the existence of a written source was hinted at, but the source itself not named. Oral tradition and oral information were used sometimes extensively, which, however, was not always explicitly acknowledged. On relatively rare occasions documentary sources were quoted; exceptional in this respect was the early 18th century work by Moḥammad Salim (see below).

The following survey will discuss the Persian historical literature in Central Asia by main regions and dynasties. It includes selective references to the available text editions and translations, and, in the absence of such pub-lications, to the manuscript catalogs, in which the works are described. Complete lists of the existing manuscripts, text editions and translations, as well as studies of individual historical works, can be found in Storey–Bregel, II, pp. 1108-1201 (the English edition, Storey, I, pp. 369-93, is outdated in its Central Asian section and should not be used); some additions (works published since 1974) are given in the Bibliography below.


Abulkhayrids. Šïbāni Khan, the Uzbek conqueror of Transoxiana and Khorasan, showed much interest in having his deeds immortalized in historical works, and had a Turkic chronicle of his victories compiled entitled Tawāriḵ-e gozida-ye noṣrat-nāma (according to some modern scholars, he wrote it himself, at least partially; cf. MIKKh, pp. 9-16). The first two Persian histories of the reign of Šïbāni Khan were based on this work, namely, the versified Fatḥ-nāma by a certain “Šādi,” a poet at the court of Maḥmud Sultan, brother of Šïbāni Khan (see SVR VIII, No. 5630; MIKKh, pp. 44-90, 504-6), and the Šaybāni-nāma by Kamāl-al-Din Benāʾi Heravi (and its expanded version, Fotuḥāt-e ḵāni) (see SVR I, No. 139; MIKKh, pp. 91-127, 507-11; Samoĭlovich; Mirzoev, Bi-noī, pp. 154-56, 357-75). Another work dedicated to Šï-bāni Khan was written by a Persian émigré, Fażl-Allāh b. Ruzbehān Ḵonji, under the title Mehmān-nāma-ye Bo-ḵārā, but it was not so much a history of the khan, as an eyewitness account of his military campaign against the Kazakhs (facsimile edition of a Tashkent manuscript, an autograph, with a Russian tr. Fazlallakh ibn Ruzbikhan Isfakhani; printed edition, Mehmān-nāma-ye Boḵārā; German tr. Ott).

Between the death of Šïbāni Khan (916/1510) and the reign of ʿAbd-Allāh Khan (from 991/1583) no historical works seem to have been written in Transoxiana, with the single exception of the Tāriḵ-e Abu’l-Ḵayr-ḵāni by Masʿud b. ʿOṯmān Kuhestāni (finished under ʿAbd-al-Laṭif Khan ca. 947/1540); this was not a history of the author’s patron, but a florid general history (the first one written under the Uzbeks) with a special attention to Abu’l-Ḵayr Khan (q.v.), the founder of the dynasty (see Miklukho-Maklaĭ, Nos. 303-5; MIKKh, pp. 135-40; Akh-medov, Istoriko-geograficheskaya literatura, pp. 37-39). The largest, as well as the most ornate, historical work written under the Abulkhayrids was Šaraf-nāma-ye šāhi (commonly known as ʿAbd-Allāh-nāma) by Ḥāfeẓ-e Tanïš, a history of ʿAbd-Allāh Khan b. Eskandar (q.v.) from his birth to 997/1588-89 (see SVR I, Nos. 149-51; Miklukho-Maklaĭ, Nos. 426-27; Akhmedov, Istoriko-geograficheskaya literatura, pp. 47-54; facs. ed. and Russian tr. Khafiz-i Tanysh). Two more works were written on the history of ʿAbd-Allāh Khan, of which one, a poem entitled Jahān-nomā, or Tāriḵ-e ʿAbd-Allāh Ḵān, by the well-known court poet, ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān “Moš-feqi” Boḵāri, has been lost; the second, by a certain “Moqimi,” entitled Ẓafar-nāma-ye Moqimi, is the history of the 10 years of reign of ʿAbd-Allāh Khan, from 986/1578 to 996/1588, in prose and verse (mss. in Tashkent: see SVR IX, No. 6014, and Dushanbe, see Katalog vostochnykh rukopiseĭ I, No. 60). The last historical work written during this period was a versified general history Rosol-nāma by Badr-al-Din Kašmiri (on this author cf. Mirzāyef [Mirzoev]), of which the fourth part, under a separate title Ẓafar-nāma, was finished in 1001/1593 and contained the history of ʿAbd-Allāh Khan (the only known ms. in Dushanbe: see Katalog vostochnykh rukopiseĭ I, No. 61). Badr-al-Din was one of very few Central Asian historians who did not write for royal patrons. He served the Juybāri shaikhs of Bukhara, to whose biographies he devoted a large work Rawżat al-reżwān wa ḥadiqat al-ḡelmān (see on it Akhmedov, Istoriko-geograficheskaya literatura, pp. 182-88). The latest work dedicated to the history of the Abulkhayrids was the Mosaḵḵer al-belād by Moḥammad Yār b. ʿArab Qataḡān, who wrote under the patronage of the Janid Khan of Bukhara, Bāqi-Moḥammad, and finished his work probably between 1015/1605 and 1019/1610 (see Abuseitova; Akhmedov, Istoriko-geograficheskaya literatura, pp. 57-62). This work gives the history of the Abulkhayrids from Abu’l-Ḵayr Khan to ʿAbd-al-Moʾmen Khan (son of ʿAbd-Allāh Khan) and contains valuable material not found in earlier Abulkhayrid works.

Janids. The only known historical work dedicated to the most powerful ruler of this dynasty, Emāmqoli Khan (r. 1020-51/1611-42), is Emāmqoli-nāma, a versified history by a certain “Sohaylā,” which is mentioned in the catalog of the Tashkent manuscript collection (see SVR V, No. 3507) but has not been studied yet. The successor of Emāmqoli, Naḏr Moḥammad Khan, when he was still the ruler of Balkh, commissioned the largest work ever written by the historians of Central Asia, the Baḥr al-asrār fi manāqeb al-aḵyār by Maḥmud b. Amir Vali. The author, who lived in Balkh, had spent seven years in India before becoming a ketābdār of Naḏr Moḥammad Khan. His work is a general history in seven volumes, of which only the first volume (cosmographical and geographical introduction) and the sixth volume (history of the Mongols, Čengiz Khan and his successors, up to the Janids, brought down to 1050/1641-42) have been preserved (see Ethé, Catalogue, No. 575; SVR V, Nos. 3563-65; V. Bartol’d, “Otchet o komandirovke v Turkestan [1902],” pp. 170-96; Akhmedov, Istoriko-geograficheskaya literatura, pp. 65-71; publication of facsimile of fragments from the geographical part of vol. I, with Russian tr., see Makhmud ibn Vali). This work is one of the most important sources for the study of the 17th century Central Asia (including Eastern Turkestan), but it remained apparently unknown to later authors and did not influence Central Asian historical writing. Several historical works were written for the last Janids, or at least during the time of their rule, at the end of the 11th/17th and early 12th/18th centuries, including Sobḥānqoli-nāma (a versified history of Sobḥānqoli Khan by Moḥammad-Ṣalāḥ Balḵi; see Bartol’d, “Otchet o komandirovke v Turkestan [1920],” pp. 380-83), Moḥiṭ al-tawāriḵ (a short general history by Moḥammad-Amin Kirāk-Yarāqči, finished in 1119/1699, in which the last chapter, on the history of Sobḥānqoli Khan, occupies the main place; see SVR I, No. 87; Sobranie vostochnykh rukopiseĭ, Nos. 248-51), “ʿObayd-Allāh-nāma” (original title unknown; a history of ʿObayd-Allāh Khan, 1114-23/1702-11, by Moḥammad-Amin Boḵāri, finished ca. 1128/1716; see Teufel; Russian tr. by A. A. Semenov: Mir Mukhammed Amin-i Bukhari), Taḏkera-ye moqim-ḵāni (a history of the Abulkhayrids and the Janids, but mainly of Balkh under the Janids, by Moḥammad-Yusof Monši, finished ca. 1116/1704; see Senkowski; Russian tr. A. A. Semenov: Mukhammed Yusuf Munshi); a history of the first ten years of reign of Abu’l-Fayż Khan (1123-34/1711-21; original title unknown) by ʿAbd-al- Raḥmān Ṭāleʿ (see SVR I, No. 194, IX, No. 6016; Russian tr. by A. A. Semenov: Abdurrakhman-i Taliʿ); Tāriḵ-e Qepčāq-ḵāni, a general history with a valuable last section on the Abulkhayrids and the Janids, written by Ḵᵛājamqoli Bek Balḵi known as Qepčāq Khan, a high official of the Janids in Balkh, who lived in India (Lahore) from 1107/1695-96, where he finished his work in 1138/1726 (see Blochet, I, 348; Bodleian, 117; Khurshut, “Tarikh-i Kipchak-khani”). The latest historical work that may be considered a part of the Janid historiography was “Selselat al-salāṭin” (the original title unknown) written in 1143/1730-31 in India and dedicated to the Mughal emperor Moḥammad Shah by a Janid prince Moḥammad-Salim, who left Central Asia in 1123/1711; this is a general history, two-thirds of which deals with the Abulkhayrids and the Janids (see Bodleian, 169; Akhmedov, Istoriko-geograficheskaya literatura, pp. 101-10). The work of Moḥammad-Salim is distinguished by its relative objectivity, great attention to chronology, and the inclusion of many pieces of diplomatic correspondence between Central Asian, Persian, and Indian rulers. However, it remained totally unknown in Central Asia, and the only known (and defective) copy of it, in the Bodleian Library, comes from India. Ironically, it was the Taḏkera-ye Moqim-ḵāni, the most biased and the least reliable of all works of the Janid historiography, that enjoyed the greatest popularity in Central Asia and has been preserved in numerous copies.

Manḡïts. The historiography of the Manḡïts is the subject of a very detailed and thorough study by Anke von Kügelgen, Die Legitimierung. The earliest work on the history of the Manḡïts was Toḥfat al-ḵāni (also called Tāriḵ-e Raḥim-ḵāni), a history of the first Manḡïts from 1134/1722, but mainly of the first khan of this dynasty, Moḥammad-Raḥim Khan (actual ruler of Bukhara from 1160/1747, khan in 1170-72/1756-58), by Moḥammad-Wafāʾ Karminagi. By the order of Moḥammad-Raḥim Khan’s successor, Dāniāl Biy Atalïq, this work was continued until 1182/1768-69 by ʿĀlem Bek b. Neyāzqoli Bek Išān (see Miklukho-Maklay, Nos. 443-48; Akhmedov, Istoriko-geograficheskaya literatura, pp. 114-20; Von Kügelgen, pp. 106-11). The third Manḡït ruler, Amir Šāh-Morād (r. 1200-15/1785-1800), had no historian of his own. His son, Amir Ḥaydar (1215-42 /1800-26), soon after his accession, ordered Moḥammad-Šarif b. Moḥammad-Naqi to write a history of the Janids and the Manḡïts; this work, entitled Tāj al-tawārikò, was written in 1215/1800 in an extremely florid style and, apparently, included important information concerning the time of Dāniāl Biy and Šāh-Morād; but this section is missing in all available manuscripts of this work (see Bregel, The administration, pp. 31-33; on the work in general see Von Kügelgen, pp. 111-20). Among the works written in the following several decades we see a substantial departure from the uniformly ornate style that had dominated the Bukharan historiography until then. The first such work was written, however, outside of Central Asia, although by a Bukharan author: it was an untitled history of Central Asia (Bukhara, Ḵiva, and Ḵoqand) and Afghanistan by ʿAbd-al-Karim Boḵāri, who served with Bukharan embassies to Russia and Turkey. He wrote his work in 1233/1818 for an Ottoman official, whom he was serving at that time as secretary (a text edition, by Ch. Schefer, with a French tr.: see Mir Abdoul Kerim). The structure of this work has no parallels in Central Asian historiography, and it seemed to have remained unknown in Central Asia (see Von Kügelgen, pp. 127-35). However, several works devoted entirely, or primarily, to the history of Amir Ḥaydar and written soon after his death are also distinguished by their simple style and impartiality. Two of them were written by his uncle, Mo ḥammad-Yaʿqub b. Dāniāl Biy: Golšan al-moluk, a general history, with the main emphasis on the Janids and the Manḡïts, completed in 1242/1827 or soon after, and Resāla, a history of the Manḡïts, finished in around 1246/1830-31 (see Ivanov, pp. 44-46; Miklukho-Maklaĭ, Nos. 449-52; Von Kügelgen, pp. 150-57). Another contemporary of Amir Ḥaydar, who possibly had a pen name “Moʿin,” or “Moʿini,” wrote at about the same time Tāriḵ-e awāʾel wa awāḵer, a history of the Abulkhayrids, Janids, and Manḡïts, but mainly of Amir Ḥaydar, in a similarly simple style of prose (see Katalog vostochnykh rukopiseĭ, I, No. 100; also SVR IX, No. 6020, under the title Ḏikr-e taʿdād-e pādishāhān-e Uzbek; see Von Kügelgen, pp. 143-50). In the 1240s/1830s, another member of the royal family, Moḥammad-Ḥosayn “Miri” b. Šāh Morād, who was an enemy of Ḥaydar, wrote Ma-ḵāzen al-taqwā fi tāriḵ Boḵārā; it is a versified but unsophisticated work, mostly autobiographical and highly partisan, but it contains some interesting details about the history of the Manḡïts (see Bartol’d, “Zanyatiya,” pp. 456-59; Von Kügelgen, pp. 135-43). The history of Amir Ḥaydar was also the subject of an anonymous work Tāriḵ-e Amir Ḥaydar (around 1242/1826), which, however, is more a popular romance (dāstān) than an historical work, since it combines historical facts with numer-ous legendary and fantastic stories (cf. SVR I, No. 216; Ivanov, pp. 49-50, 95-119). The long reign of Ḥaydar’s successor, Amir Naṣr-Allāh (r. 1242-77 /1827-60), was the subject of only two known historical works. The first of them, Fatḥ-nāma-ye solṭāni by Mir ʿĀlem Boḵāri, a secretary to a provincial governor, covers only the first years of Naṣr-Allāh’s reign (see SVR I, No. 218; Ivanov, pp. 47-48, 120-23; Von Kügelgen, pp. 393-96) and is marked by almost total lack of dates. The second, Ẓafar-nāma-ye ḵosravi, finished in 1279/1862-63 by an anonymous author who, probably, occupied a high position at the court, contains the history of the entire reign of Naṣr-Allāh, and is distinguished by its attention to exact chronology (facsimile edition: see Ẓafar-nama-ĭi Khusravi). The last court historian of the Manḡïts was ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓim “Sāmi” Bustāni, a monši of Amir Moẓaffar-al-Din (r. 1277-1302/1860-85). In 1319/1901 he wrote Toḥfa-ye šāhi, a history of Bukhara from the early 12th/18th century to the time of compilation, in which only the second half (the reign of Moẓaffar-al-Din, but not of his successor ʿAbd-al-Aḥad) contains original material (see SVR I, No. 235). Later, in 1324/1906-07, when the author was in disgrace, he wrote an “unofficial” version of the same history, this time including ʿAbd-al-Aḥad, entitled Tāriḵ-e salāṭin-e manḡiṭiya; it is highly critical of the last three amirs (facsimile edition, with Russian tr.: Mirza ʿAbdʿaẓim Sami). The last historian of Bukhara before the revolution was Moḥammad-Salim Bek “Salimi,” who held various high posts in the Bukharan administration and was the author of a number of works of prose and poetry; his Tāriḵ-e Salimi, finished in 1339/1920, is a history of Bukhara from Čengiz Khan to the time of compilation, in which the last three-quarters, beginning with his account of the reign of Moẓaffar-al-Din, from 1277/1860, is a valuable eyewitness account of his time (see Norkulov; Vil’danova).


The oldest Central Asian historical work that includes a special short section on the history of the Khanate of Ḵoqand (until 1233/1818) was the above-mentioned work by ʿAbd-al-Karim Boḵāri. But an independent historiography of Ḵoqand begins with the time of Moḥammad-ʿOmar Khan (1225-37/1810-22), the second khan of the Ming dynasty, who was himself a poet and patronized poets and artists (see Nettleton). The two historical works written in Ḵoqand under ʿOmar Khan were commissioned by him to his court poets. The first of them, ʿOmar-nāma (also called Šāh-nāma and Ẓafar-nāma) by ʿAbd-al-Karim “Fażli” Namangāni, is a versified chronicle of the reign of ʿOmar Khan finished in 1237/1822 (the only known manuscript is in St. Petersburg), which the author considered a continuation of the Timur-nāma by ʿAbd-Allāh Hātefi” (this is connected with the official genealogical legend, according to which the Ming dynasty traced its origin, through Bābor, back to Timur). The same year ʿOmar Khan ordered another court poet, Qalandar “Moš-ref” Esfaragi, to write a prose account of his reign. It was finished the same year, but already after the death of ʿOmar Khan. Entitled Šāh-nāma-ye ʿOmar-ḵāni or Šāh-nāma-ye noṣrat-payām, and written in a highly ornate style, it was based largely on the aforementioned ʿOmar-nāma of “Fażli” (see Miklukho-Maklaĭ, No. 456). The next and arguably the most interesting work of Ḵoqandian historiography was written by Moḥammad-Ḥakim Khan b. Maʿṣum Khan, a relative of the Mings, who was Šayḵ-al-Eslām under ʿOmar Khan and the governor of several provinces under ʿOmar Khan’s successor, Mo-ḥammad-ʿAli Khan, before falling from grace. He spent almost seven years in exile, traveling through Russia (where he was received by Tsar Alexander I) to Turkey and Mecca; and, after his return, he lived in the semi-independent Uzbek principality of Šahresabz, where he finished his work entitled Montaḵab al-tawārikò in 1259/1843. This is a general history which includes detailed accounts of the Manḡïts of Bukhara and, in particular, the Mings of Ḵoqand (the latter occupies one half of the entire work), combined with descriptions of travels and adventures of the author (see Miklukho-Maklaĭ, No. 457; Khurshut, “ ‘Muntakhab at-tavarikh’ i ego istochniki”; idem, “ ‘Muntakhab at-tavarikh’ kak istochnik”; facsimile edition: see Mukhammed Khakimkhan). Although the work is marred by some factual errors, especially in chronology, it stands out for the independent judgements of the author, who was not a court historian, its fairly simple style and its wealth of factual information making it comparable with the Tāriḵ-e Rašidi of Moḥammad-Ḥaidar (see below). Two works of Ḵoqandian court historians written in the 1280s/1860s, namely the Merʾāt al-fotuḥ of Tura Ḵᵛāja Andejāni and the Tāriḵ-e ʿAzizi of ʿAziz b. Moḥammad-Reżā Marḡilāni, manuscripts of which were described by Bartol’d (see his “Otchet o komandirovke v Turkestan [1902],” p. 207), Zimin (see his “Zertsalo pobed”), and Validov (A. Z. V. Togan; see his “Vostochnye rukopisi,” p. 309), are apparently lost. In 1275/1859, a certain ʿAbd-al-Ḡafur wrote Ẓafar-nāma-ye Ḵodāyār-ḵāni, a versified history of the first reign of Ḵodāyār Khan (r. 1261-75/1845-58; see Bartol’d, “Otchet o komandirovke v Turkestan [Avgust-dekabr, 1920 g.],” pp. 372-73). About a decade later, in 1286/1869 or 1289/1872, ʿAvaż-Moḥammad ʿAṭṭār (a grocer from Ḵoqand), another author unconnected with the court, completed a lengthy, two-volume historical work. The first volume, entitled Tāriḵ-e jahān-nomāy, is a general history entirely based on earlier works; and the second, entitled Toḥfat al-tawāriḵ-e ḵāni, is a history of the Khanate of Ḵoqand up to the time of writing, in which the parts dealing with the 1250s/1840s and beyond have some value (see Bartol’d, “Otchet o komandirovke v Turkestan [1902],” pp. 206-7; Nabiev; Miklukho-Maklaĭ, No. 458). At about the same time Niāz-Moḥammad b. ʿAšur-Moḥammad Ḵoqandi, a military officer, by order of Ḵodāyār Khan wrote his Tāriḵ-e Šāhroḵi, or Tawāriḵ-e Šahroḵiya, an ornate history of the Khanate of Ḵoqand under the Mings; it was finished in 1288/1871-72, and it is an important source particularly for the reign of Ḵodāyār Khan (1261-92/1845-75, with interruptions), while it also contains some original information about the earlier periods (see Beĭsembiev; Bartol’d, “Izvlechenie”; idem, “Tuzemets”; text edition (uncritical), Taarikh Shakhrokhi). The last major work on the history of the Khanate of Ḵoqand was written in 1279-1304/1862-86 (thus, finished already after the Russian conquest) by a native of Tashkent, Mo-ḥammad-Ṣāleḥ Ḵᵛāja Tāškandi, a teacher in a traditional school. It is entitled Tāriḵ-e jadida-ye Tāškand and divided into two volumes, the first of which (less than one-third of the entire work) is a general history based on earlier works, while the second contains a very valuable history of Tashkent, Farḡāna, and the Khanate of Ḵoqand, with a detailed account of the Russian conquest (a Russian tr. of an extract: Chekhovich).


One of the most important 16th century works of the Central Asian historiography in Persian is the Tāriḵ-e Rašidi. Its author, Moḥammad-Ḥaydar of the Moḡul tribe Duḡlāt (often called Mirzā Ḥaydar or Ḥaydar Mirzā), was, on his maternal side, a grandson of the khan of Moḡulestān, Yunos, and a cousin of Ẓahir-al-Din Bābor (q.v.). By both his upbringing and literary tastes he was close to the Timurids, and his work is in many ways similar to Bābor’s memoirs. He wrote his work in Kashmir (which he conquered in the service of the Mughal emperor Homāyun [q.v.] in 948/1541) in 948-53/1541-46. It is divided into two books (daftar), the first of which contains a systematic history of the Chaḡatayids of Mo-ḡulestān from 748/1347-48 until the time of the author, based on oral tradition, while the second (written before the first) is the author’s memoirs containing a wealth of material on political and cultural history and historical geography. The Tāriḵ-e Rašidi enjoyed a great popularity in Central Asia and India, and it was used extensively by Amin b. Aḥmad Rāzi in his Haft eqlim (see Storey, I/2, pp. 1169-71), by Ḥāfeẓ-e Tanïš in his Šaraf-nāma-ye šāhi, and by Maḥmud b. Vali in his Baḥr al-asrār (see above). It has also been translated several times into Turkic languages (text edition, with an English tr. W. M. Thackston: Mirza Haydar Dughlat’s Tarikh-i-Rashidi; English tr., with some omissions: Muhammad Haidar; Russian tr.: Mirza Mukhammad Khaĭdar; see also Sultanov, “‘Tarikh-i Rashidi,’” and Tumanovich). More than a century later, in 1083-87/1673-76, Šāh-Maḥmud b. Amir Fāżel, from the Moḡul tribe Čorās, wrote his historical work, which is usually referred to simply as Tārikò (it does not have a title) and which may be considered as a continuation of the Tāriḵ-e Rašidi. The first half of this work is a summary of the contents of the Tāriḵ-e Rašidi, while the second half, containing a continuation of the history of Moḡulestān up to the time of compilation, is based on oral tradition and the author’s own observations. The work is written in simple Persian, apparently close to the vernacular Tajik of Eastern Turkestan, although that was not the author’s mother tongue (see text ed. of the original part, with Russian tr.: Shaikh-Makhmud ibn Mirza Fazil Churas). With the end of Chaghatayid rule in Eastern Turkestan, the Persian historiographical tradition in the region came to an end, although Persian was still the language used for a number of subsequent hagiographical works. Historical works written in Eastern Turkestan in the 19th century, mainly during the Muslim rebellions against the Manchu and at the time of Yaʿqub Bek, were all in Turkic, with the exception of two poems on the rebellion of Rašid-al-Din (Ḵān Ḵᵛāja) in 1281/1864-65 and an anonymous history of Yaʿqub Bek, entitled Tāriḵ-e ṣeḡāri, written in 1291/1874, the first quarter of which is a history of Farḡāna and Ḵoqand until the reign of ʿĀlem Khan (r. 1213-25/1798-1810; see Bartol’d, “Otchet o komandirovke [1923],” pp. 407-8).

On the whole, the Persian historiography of Central Asia after the Timurids was a well-developed branch of literature showing, not only the continuity of historiographical tradition in a variety of styles, but also its ability to adjust, within certain limits, to the changing times. However, its development was brought to an end by the Russian conquest of Western Turkestan, and especially the revolution, while in Eastern Turkestan this tradition, which had never been very strong in the first place, died out with the end of royal patronage.

The relationship between the post-Timurid historiography of Central Asia and that of Persia was mostly one-way: the works of Persian historians would be brought to Central Asia, used and quoted in Central Asian works, and they can be found now in Central Asian manuscript collections; in contrast, Persian historians, from the time of the Safavids onwards, seem not to have used works by their Central Asian counterparts, and no manuscripts of Central Asian historical works are registered in the catalogs of Persian collections (one manuscript of the Tāriḵ-e Rašidi in Tehran is probably the sole known exception). Among the post-Timurid historical works written in Persia the most frequently referred to by Central Asian authors are Ḥasan Rumlu’s Aḥsan al-tawārikò, Eskandar Monši’s Tāriḵ-e ʿālamārā-ye ʿAbbāsi, and Mahdi Khan’s Tāriḵ-e jahāngošā-ye Nāderi (there seem to be no traces of acquaintance in Central Asia with Qajar historiography).

The state of scholarship in Persian historiography of Central Asia is nothing but deplorable. Out of about 40 extant historical works, only 8 are available in text editions: the Mehmān-nāma-ye Boḵārā by Ruzbehān Ḵonji, ʿAbd-al-Karim Boḵāri’s aforementioned untitled work (a poor edition, without scholarly apparatus), the Tāriḵ-e salāṭin-e manḡitiya by ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓim “Sāmi” (a facsimile edition, with Russian tr.), the Montaḵab al-tawāriḵ by Moḥammad-Ḥakim Khan (a facsimile edition), the Tāriḵ-e Šāhroḵi by Niāz-Moḥammad (a very poor edition, without scholarly apparatus), the Ẓafar-nāma-ye ḵosravi (a facsimile edition), the Tāriḵ-e Rašidi (a modern, but not a critical edition), the Tārikò by Šāh-Maḥmud Čorās. In addition, the first half of the Šaraf-nāma-ye šāhi by Ḥāfeẓ-e Tanïš is published in facsimile with a Russian tr. and three works, ʿObayd-Allāh-nāma, Taḏkera-ye Moqim-ḵāni, and the history of Abu’l-Fayż Khan, are published in Russian translation only. Among the most important works still to be edited are Tāriḵ-e Abu’l-ḵayr-ḵāni, Šaraf-nāma-ye šāhi, Baḥr al-asrār, Selselat al-salāṭin, Toḥfat al-ḵāni, Golšān al-moluk, and Tāriḵ-e jadida-ye Tāškand. Unfortunately, various circumstances, mainly the difficulty of access to the manuscripts of these works and the lack of qualified scholars willing to devote their time to this demanding task, make such a goal hardly achievable in the foreseeable future.



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(Yuri Bregel)

Originally Published: December 15, 2004

Last Updated: March 22, 2012

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