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SAMARKAND

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 113 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SAMARKAND, a province of Russian Turkestan, formerly Zarafshan or Zerafshan. It is the ancient Sogdiana and was known as Sughd to the Moslems of the middle ages. It has on the N. and N.E. the province of Syr-darya, on the E. Ferghana, on the W. Bokhara and on the S. the khanates of Hissar, Karateghin and Darvaz. Its area is 26,627 sq. m. It is very hilly in the S.; where it is intersected by ranges belonging to the Alai system. The Hissar range is the water-parting between the Zarafshan and the upper tributaries of the Amu-darya; another high range, the Zarafshan, runs between the two parallel rivers, the Zarafshan and its tributary, the Yagnob; while a third range, often called the Turkestan chain, stretches W. to E. parallel to the Zarafshan, on its N. bank. It is very probable that the three ranges referred to really possess a much more complicated character than is supposed. All three ranges are snow-clad, and their highest peaks reach altitudes of 18,500 ft. in the W. and 22,000 ft. in the E., while the passes over them, which are difficult as a rule, lie at altitudes of 12,000 ft. Several Alpine lakes, such as Iskander-kul, 7000 ft. high, have been found under the precipitous peaks. The Alpine zone extends as far N. as the 40th parallel, beyond which the province is steppe-land, broken by only one range of mountains, the Nuratyn-tau, also known as Sanzar and Malguzar in the S.E. and as Kara-tau in the N.W. This treeless range stretches 16o m. N.W., has a width of about 35 M. and reaches altitudes of 7000 ft. It is pierced, in the Sanzar gorge, or Tamer-lane's Gate, by the railway leading from Samarkand to Tashkent. 14 Translated in Bibliotheca sacra (1906), p. 385, &c. The other mountains in the province are well wooded, and it is SAMARKAND, a city of Russian Central Asia, anciently estimated that nearly 4,500,000 acres are under forests. The Maracanda, the capital of Sogdiana, then the residence of the N.W. portion is occupied by the Famine Steppe—which probably Moslem Samanid dynasty, and subsequently the capital of the might be irrigated—and by the desert of Kyzyl-kum. The Mongol prince Tamerlane, is now chief town of the province of Famine or Hungry Steppe (not to be confounded with another the same name. It lies 220 M. by rail S.W. of Tashkent, and 156 desert of the same name, the Bek-pak-dala, to the W. of Lake m. E. of Bokhara, in 390 39' N. and 66° 45' E., 2260 ft. above the Balkash) occupies nearly 5,000,000 acres, covered with loess-like sea, in the fertile valley of the Zarafshan, at the point where it clay. In the spring the steppe offers good pasture-grounds for issues from the W. spurs of the Tian-shan before entering the the Kirghiz, but the grass withers as summer advances. Nearly steppes of Bokhara. The Zarafshan now flows 5 M. N. of the 1,500,000 acres might, however, be irrigated and rendered city. In 1897 the population numbered 40,000 in the native available for the cultivation of cotton; indeed a beginning has city, and 15,000 in the new Russian town, inclusive of the been made in that direction. The Kyzyl-kum .Steppe, 88,000 military (8o% Russians). The total population was 58,194 in sq. m., is crossed by rocky hills, reaching an altitude of 3500 ft., 1900, and of these only 23,194 were women. and consists in part of saline clays, patches of prairie land and Maracanda, a great city, was destroyed by Alexander the Great sand. The sand is especially prevalent on the margin, where the in 329 B.C. It reappears as Samarkand at the time of the moving barkhans (crescent-shaped sandhills) invade the Kara-kul conquest by the Arabs, when it was finally reduced by Kotaiba oasis of Bokhara. The vegetation is very poor, as a rule; grass ibn Moslim in A.D. 711-712. Under the Samanids it became a and flowers (tulips, Rheum, various Umbelliferae) only appear brilliant seat of Arabic civilization, and was so populous that, for a short time in the spring. The barkhans produce nothing when besieged by Jenghiz Khan in 1221, it is reported to have except Haioxylon ammodendron, Poligonum, Halimodendron, been defended by 110,000 men. Destroyed and pillaged by that Atraphaxis and other steppe bushes; occasionally Stipa grass chieftain, its population was reduced to one-quarter of what it is seen on the slopes of the sandhills, while Artemisic and Tamarix had been. When Timur made it his residence (in 1369) the bushes grow on the more compact sands. Water can only be inhabitants numbered 150,000. The magnificent buildings of obtained from wells, sometimes 140 ft. deep. A few Kirghiz are the successors of Timur, which still remain, testify to its former the sole inhabitants, and they are only found in the more hilly wealth. But at the beginning of the 18th century it is parts. reported to have been almost without inhabitants. It fell under The chief river is the Zarafshan, which, under the name of Chinese dominion, and subsequently under that of the amir of Mach, rises in the Zarav glacier in the Kok-su mountain group. Bokhara. But no follower of Islam enters it without feeling Navigation is only possible by rafts, from Penjikent downwards. that he is on holy ground; although the venerated mosques and The river is heavily drawn upon for irrigation; and to this beautiful colleges are falling into ruins, its influence as a seat of it probably owes its name (" gold-spreading ") rather than to the learning has vanished, and its very soil is profaned by infidels. gold which is found in small quantities in its sands. Over 8o It was not without a desperate struggle that the Mahommedans main canals (ariks) water 1200 sq. m. in Samarkand, while permitted the Russians to take their holy city. 164o sq. m. are watered in Bokhara by means of over 40 main The present city is quadrangular and is enclosed by a low canals. Beyond Lake Kara-kul it is lost in the sands, before wall 9 M. long. The citadel is in the AV., and to the W. of this reaching the Amu-darya to which it was formerly tributary. the Russians have laid out since 1871 a new town, with broad The N.E. of the province is watered by the Syr-darya. One of the streets and boulevards radiating from the citadel. lakes, the Tuz-kaneh (40 M. from Jizakh) yields about 1300 tons The central part of Samarkand is the Righistan—a square of salt annually. fenced in by the three madrasahs (colleges) of Ulug-beg, Shir-dar The average temperature for the year is 55'4° F, at Samarkand, and Tilla-kari; in its architectural symmetry and beauty this is and 58° at Khojent and Jizakh; but the average temperature rivalled only by some of the squares of certain Italian cities. for the winter is only 340, and frosts of 4° and 11° have been An immense doorway decorates the front of each of these large experienced at Samarkand and Khojent respectively; on the quadrilateral buildings. A high and deep-pointed porch, reaching other hand, the average temperature for July is 79° at Samarkand almost to the top of the lofty facade, is flanked on each side by a and 85° at Khojent and Jizakh. The total precipitation (includ- broad quadrilateral pillar of the same height. Two fine columns, ing snow in winter) is only 6.4 in. at Khojent,12 in. at Samarkand profusely decorated, in turn flank these broad pillars. On each and 24 in. at Jizakh. The hilly tracts have a healthy climate, side of the high doorway are two lower archways connecting it but malaria and mosquitoes prevail in the lower regions. with two elegant towers, narrowing towards the top and slightly The estimated population in 1906 was 1,090,400. The Uxbegs inclined. The whole of the facade and also the interior courts form two-thirds of the population, and after them the Kirghiz are profusely decorated with enamelled tiles, whose colours—and Tajiks (27%) are the most numerous; Jews, Tatars, blue, green, pink and golden, but chiefly turquoise-blue—are Afghans and Hindus are also met with. wrought into the most fascinating designs, in striking harmony In 1898 nearly 1,000,000 acres were irrigated, and about with the whole and with each part of the building. Over the 800,000 acres partly irrigated. The chief crops are wheat, rice interior are bulbed or melon-like domes, perhaps too heavy for and barley. Sorghum, millet, Indian corn, peas, lentils, haricots, the facade. The most renowned of these three madrasahs is flax, hemp, poppy, lucerne, madder, tobacco, melons and that of Ulug-beg, built in 1434 by a grandson of Timur. It is mushrooms are also grown. Two crops are often taken from the smaller than the others, but it was to its school of mathematics same piece of land in one season. Cotton is extensively grown, and astronomy that Samarkand owed its renown in the 15th and 21,000 acres are under vineyards. Sericulture prospers, century. especially in the Khojent district. Live-stock breeding is the A winding street, running N.E. from the Righistan, leads to a chief occupation of the Kirghiz. Weaving, saddlery, boot- much larger square in which are the college of Bibikhanum on making, tanneries, oil works and metal works exist in many the W., the graves of Timur's wives on the S. and a bazaar on the villages and towns, while the nomad Kirghiz excel in making E. The college was erected in 1388 by a Chinese wife of Timur. felt goods and carpets. There are glass works, cotton-cleaning To the N., outside the walls of Samarkand, but close at hand, is works, steam flour mills and distilleries. Some coal, sulphur, the Hazret Shah-Zindeh, the summer-palace of Timur, and ammonia and gypsum are obtained. Trade is considerable, the near this is the grave of Shah-Zindeh, or, more precisely, Kasim chief exports being rice, raw cotton, raisins, dried fruit, nuts, ibn Abbas, a companion of Timur. This was a famous shrine in wine and silk. The Central Asian railway crosses the province the 14th century (Ibn Batuta's Travels,iii. 52); it is believed that from Bokhara to Samarkand and Tashkent. The province is the saint will one day rise for the defence of his religion. The divided into four districts, the chief towns of which, with their Hazret Shah-Zindeh stands on a terrace reached by forty marble populations in 1897, are: Samarkand (q.v), Jizakh (16,041), steps. The decoration of the interior halls is marvellous. Kati-kurgan (10,083) and Khojent (30,076). Another street running S.W. from the Righistan leads to the Gur-Amir, the tomb of Timur. This consists of a chapel crowned with a dome, enclosed by a wall and fronted by an archway. Time and earthquakes have greatly injured this fine building. The interior walls are covered with elegant turquoise arabesques and inscriptions in gold. The citadel (reconstructed in 1882 and preceding years) is situated on a hill whose steep slopes render it one of the strongest in Central Asia. Its walls, 3000 yds. in circuit and about to ft. high, enclose a space of about 90 acres. Within it are the palace of the amir of Bokhara—a vulgar modern building now a hospital—and the audience hall of Timur—a long narrow court, surrounded by a colonnade, and containing the kok-tash, or stone of justice. Ruins of former buildings—heaps of plain and enamelled bricks, among which Graeco-Bactrian coins have been found—occur over a wide area round the present city, especially on the W. and N. The name of Aphrosiab is usually given to these ruins. Five m. S.W. of Samarkand is the college Khoja Akrar; its floral ornamentation in enamelled brick is one of the most beautiful in Samarkand. Nothing but the ruins of a palace now mark the site of a once famous garden, Baghchi-sarai. Of the Graeco-Armenian library said to have been brought to Samarkand by Timur no traces have been discovered, and Vambery regards the legend as invented by the Armenians. Every trace of the renowned high school Kalinder-khaneh has also disappeared. The present Moslem city is an intricate labyrinth of narrow, winding streets, bordered by dirty courtyards and miserable houses. The chief occupation of the inhabitants is gardening. There is a certain amount of industry in metallic wares, tallow and soap, tanneries, potteries, various tissues, dyeing, harness, boots and silver and gold wares. The best harness, ornamented with turquoises, and the finer products of the goldsmith's art, are imported from Bokhara and Afghanistan. The products of the local potteries are very fine. The bazaars of Samarkand are more animated and kept with much greater cleanliness than those of Tashkent and Namangan. The trade is very brisk, the chief items being cotton, silk, wheat and rice, horses, asses, fruits and cutlery. Wheat, rice and silk are exported chiefly to Bokhara; cotton to Russia, via Tashkent. Silk wares and excellent fruits are imported from Bokhara, and rock-salt from Hissar. (P. A. K.; J. T. BE.)
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