Showing posts with label Samarkand. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Samarkand. Show all posts

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Chingis Khan Rides West | March from Bukhara to Sarmarkand

By the beginning of March Chingis Khan was ready to march on Samarkand. The two Jewels of Mawarannahr, Bukhara and Samarkand, were linked by the so-called Royal Road, an ancient thoroughfare following roughly the course of the Zarafshan River. Samarkand is 135 miles east of Bukhara as the crow flies, but upstream from Bukhara the Zarafshan River loops to the north before continuing on east, and the distance between the two cites via the Royal Road, which roughly follows the river, was between thirty-seven and thirty-nine farsakhs (148 to 156 miles)
Zarafshan Valley from Bukhara to Samarkand (see Enlargement
This was a journey was six or seven stages, or days, by camel. Accompanied by the huge flock of levies who had been dragooned in Bukhara for the anticipated siege of Samarkand, the Mongol army proceed north on the Royal Road, probably passing once again through the towns of Shargh, Iskijkath, and Vabkent and finally reaching the edge of the Bukhara Oasis at Tawais . . . Continued.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mongolia | Chingis Rides West | The Khwarezmshah Prepares for War

Even before the arrival of the last Mongolian embassy led by Ibn Kafaraj Bughra the Khwarezmshah had sought the advice of his military and political advisors about what to do in the case of war with Chingis. Thus he himself had probably concluded that the massacre of the merchants in Otrār had made war inevitable. One of his military advisers, Shihab ad-Din Khiwaqi, counseled that the Khwarezmshah should concentrate his entire army on the banks of Syr Darya and confront the Mongol army in one huge battle before the Mongols had time to recover from their long march. The downside of this idea was the all of the Khwarezmshah’s generals, many of whom belonged to the Turkmen aristocracy loyal to his mother, would be gathered together in one place along with all of their soldiers. Their loyalty to the Sultan himself was by no means certain, and there was a very real possibility of a coup d’état by generals who would overthrow their command-in-chief. This proposal was dismissed. 

Another proposal was to allow the Mongols to enter Transoxiania uncontested and then, taking advantage of the defenders’ knowledge of the local countryside, ambush the invaders on numerous fronts. Still others advised abandoning Transoxiania to its fate and retreating south to Khorasan. The Khwarezmshah’s armies would then have to defend only the fords on the Amu Darya to keep the Mongols bottled up in Transoxiania north of the river. Others, the most pusillanimous of his counselors, argued that both Transoxiana and Khorasan were indefensible and that the Sultan and his armies should cross the Hindu Kush Mountains and seek refuge in India . . . Continued.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Uzbekistan | Khoresm | Khiva | Samarkand | Bukhara | 1910 Photos

Below are some photos (cropped versions of the originals) by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) who traveled through the Russian empire, which then included modern-day Uzbekistan, in the years 1909–1912. The photos in Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand were taken around 1910. Who knew they had color photography back then?  Prokudin-Gorskii used an experimental color process which had apparently been invented in Russia. 
Emir Seyyid Mir Mohammed Alim Khan, the Emir of Bukhara
Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva, now a part of modern Uzbekistan)
 A group of Jewish children with a teacher in Samarkand
A boy sits in the court of Tillia-Kari mosque in Samarkand
For the original versions of these photos and many more see Photos of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. Thanks to a fellow Wanderer in Virginia USA for sending along this link . . . 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Uzbekistan | Samarkand | Sarai Mulk’s Mausoleum

Although concerned mostly with the remnants of the city which survived the sack of Samarkand by Chingis Khan in 1220 I would be remiss if I did not wander by other Mongol-related sites in the city. Perhaps the most famous of these is the mausoleum and tomb of Sarai Mulk, also known by the title Bibi Khanum, the Mongolian wife of Amir Timur (Tamurlane). Whether Amir Timur (1336–1405), was related to the Chingisids by blood is a matter of some dispute. He was a member of the Turco-Mongol Barlas tribe and thus may have been part Mongolian, but it seems unlikely that he was actually a member of the royal line of Chingis. In any case he never dared to take the title of Great Khan, which according to the unwritten laws of the steppe could only be held by a Chingisid, a lineal descendant of Chingis Khan, but instead took the title of “Amir”—military commander. In order to further legitimize his rule he married the Mongolian princess Sarai Mulk, the daughter of Khazan, the last ruler of the Chagatai Khanate founded by Chagatai, Chingis’s second son, and thus a legitimate Chingisid. Sarai Mulk was a legendary beauty, to say nothing of willful and domineering, and she eventually became the favorite wife of Amir Timur. 

At some point she ordered the construction of a madrassa, an Islamic school, and a mausoleum for herself and immediate family. Little else is known about her life. There is a legend that the architect who was building what became known as the Bibi Khanum Mosque, near her Mausoleum, fell madly in love with her and was constantly seeking her favors. Trying to dissuade him, she pointed out forty dried gourds used as water containers which were lined up against a wall. “See those gourds?” she said, “they are all filled with water and are all the same. Women are like the gourds. They are all the same. It matters not which one you use to slake your desires. Choose any of my servant girls you want and spent the night with her. That should be enough to satisfy your needs.” The architect replied, “Thirty-nine of the gourds are filled with water and one is filled with wine. You are the one filled with wine and I must drink from your gourd.” She still refused him entry to her Jade Gate, but finally she did let allow him to kiss her on the cheek. Amir Timur was in India at the time leading a military campaign. When he returned to Samarkand he somehow found out about this kiss (the legend states the kiss was so passionate that it left a mark on her cheek) and in a fit of jealousy he threw Sarai Mulk off the top of a minaret. She was then buried in her Mausoleum. This is the legend anyhow. As far as I know, history does not record any other version of Sarai Mulk’s death. 
Sarai Mulk’s Mausoleum. Her Madrassa, which was directly in front of the Mausoleum, no longer exists. 
Inside the Mausoleum. Sarai Mulk and her relatives are entombed in the basement crypt.
The Caskets of Sarai Mulk (left), and her Mother and Sister

The Casket of Sarai Mulk
Caskets of two of Sarai Mulk’s servants, perhaps the very ones which the architect unwisely spurned.
Another view of Sarai Mulk’s Mausoleum