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An introduction to the geography and history of India, and the countries adjacent; online

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Inhabit- The principal are the following :
First, the Dooranee, formerly called the
Abdallee, which includes amongst its
clans the Populzye, the head Khail of
which is the Suddoozye, the chief divi-
sion of the whole of the Dooranees and
containing the royal family ; the Barik-
zye, the Achikzye, Noorzye, and others.
Second, the Ghilzees. Third, the Ber-
dooranees, or eastern Afghans, including
the Yoosoofzyes, Khyberees, and others.
The termination Zye, means son, cor-
responding with the Mac prefixed to
Scotch names.

There are also in the towns many of
mixed descent, from different parts of
Asia; amongst whom are the Kuzzil-
bashes and Tajiks of Persian origin, and
the Hindkees, the descendants of settlers
from Hindoostan. The inhabitants of
Kafiristan, which means the land of the
infidels, are called the Syah posh, or
Syah posh Kafirs, from their usually
wearing dresses of black sheep skin ; syak
signifying black, and posh a covering.
They are a fine handsome race, very fair,
many of them having light hair and blue
eyes, on which account it has been con-
jectured that they are the descendants
of the Greeks. There seems reason,
however, to believe that this is not the
case, and that they are the descendants
of the original inhabitants of Cabul and
Candahar. They are a brave and hos-
pitable people, though in a rude state,
and have never been conquered by the
Afghans. They have no king, but are
divided into a number of independent
tribes. Some of the tribes, occupying the



276 AFGHANISTAN.

inhabit- borders, are termed Neemclm-Moosul-
mans, or half Moosulmans, from their
having partially adopted the Mahomedan
faith. They are generally idolaters.

History. Little is known of the early history of
this country, the first mention of it being
made by the Greeks, who traversed it
under Alexander the Great. In A. D.
664, the Arabs who were then actively
engaged in extending their conquests and
propagating their faith, invaded Afghan-
istan; and by the year 700 succeeded in
effecting the general subjugation of the
country, and making converts of the ma-
jority of the inhabitants. It subsequent-
ly became the scene of repeated invasions
by the Tartars until 977, when a per-
manent government was established by
Subuktageen, under whose son, the cele-
brated Sooltan Mahmood, the empire of
Ghuznee was extended over the whole of
Afghanistan and various provinces of
India. The Ghuznee monarchy continu-
ed, with various alterations, until 1171,
when it was subverted by an Afghan
chief, named Mahomed Ghourie, who
took and destroyed the capital, and ex-
pelled the whole of the royal family.
The dynasty of Ghor continued until
about the year 1208, when on the death
of the last king, Mahomed Ghourie, a
general civil war ensued ; the country
was plunged into a state of miserable
confusion; and, in 1215, was conquered
by the king of Kharizm. It appears,
however, again to have recovered its
independence, when it was invaded and
overrun by Tymoor Lung. Another






AFGHANISTAN. 277

History, blank occurs in its history until 1506,
when Cabul and Ghuznee were conquered
by Sooltan Baber, prior to his invasion,
of Hindoostan. From that period Af-
ghanistan continued to form part of the
Mooghul empire of Delhi, until the death
of Aurungzeb, when like many other
provinces of that vast kingdom, it resum-
ed its independence.

In 1720 the Afghans invaded Persia,
and captured Ispahan, but were not able
to retain their conquest ; and in 1737
their own country was completely sub-
jugated by Nadir Shah.

Upon the death of Nadir Shah in
1747, Ahmed Shah Abdallee, who had
been a distinguished general under the
Persian monarch, succeeded in establish-
ing his authority over his countrymen,
and founded the Dooranee empire. Un-
der this brave and enterprising leader,
the Afghans rapidly extended their
power, and made conquests both in In-
dia and Persia ; in the former of which
countries, after capturing Delhi, he com-
pelled the emperor to cede to him the
provinces of Lahore, Mooltan, and Sind
Their occupation of these provinces soon
brought them into collision with the
Mahrattas, and in 1761 one of the most
remarkable battles ever fought in India
took place between Ahmed Shah and the
Mahrattas at Paniput. The Mahrattas
were defeated, and their immense army,
amounting with its followers and families
to nearly five hundred thousand persons,
was almost wholly destroyed either in
the fight or the pursuit. Ahmed Shah
died in 1773, and was succeeded by his



278 AFGHANISTAN.

History. gon Tymoor Shall. Little of any note
occurred during the reign of this prince,
, who was of an indolent character. On
his death in 1793, the throne was seized
by his son Zuman Shah. A succession
of disorders followed. After frequent re-
bellions on the part of different members
of the royal family, Zuman Shah was de-
throned in 1800 by his brother Shah
Mahmood, by whose orders he was de-
prived of his sight. Shah Mahmood's
authority was soon contested by Shooja-
ool-moolk, the next brother of Zuman
Shah, who though at first defeated, suc-
ceeded in 1803 in driving out Shah Mah-
mood, who took refuge with his son Shah
Kamran, then in possession of Herat.
After repeated conflicts, Shah Mahmood
with the powerful aid of Futih Khan,
the head of the Barukzyes, obtained in
1809 a final victory over Shooja-ool-
moolk, who fled to Hindoostan. Shah
Mahmood remained for some years in
security, leaving his government chiefly
in the hands of the vizier Futih Khan.
But his son Kamran, dissatisfied and sus-
picious, determined to remove this for-
midable chief, and having succeeded in
leading his father to adopt the same
views, Futih Khan was seized by Kam-
ran at Herat, and immediately depri-
ved of sight. A few months afterwards
Kamran, with the full consent of the
king, put the unfortunate vizier to
death.

The tragedy which terminated the life
of Futih Khan is perhaps without pa-
rallel in modern times. Blind and bound,
he was led into the court of Mahmood,



AFGHANISTAN. 279

where he had so lately ruled with abso-
lute power. The king taunted him with
his crimes, and required him to use his
influence with his brothers then in rebel-
lion. Futih Khan replied, with calm
firmness, that he was now but a poor
blind man and had no concern with af-
fairs of state. Mahmood irritated by his
refusal gave the last order for his death,
and the chief was deliberately cut to
pieces in the Shah's presence by the
nobles around. Joint was separated
from joint, limb from limb; his nose
and his ears were lopped off, nor was
life extinct until the head was separated
from the mangled body. Futih Khan
endured these cruel tortures without a
groan, exhibiting the same reckless con-
tempt for his own life that he had so of-
ten shown for the lives of others. This
brutal murder was perpetrated in 1818,
and drove the whole of Futih Khan's
brothers into open rebellion. Shah Mah-
mood fled to Herat, and after some years
of fearful disorder, in the course of which
Shooja-ool-moolk and his brother Shah
Eyool were successively placed upon the
throne and again driven out, the differ-
ent brothers succeeded in establishing
their authority over nearly the whole
kingdom. Dost Mahomed Khan obtain-
ed possession of Cabul and Ghuznee,
and the other brothers of Candahar and
Peshawur, leaving Herat as the only
relic of the Dooranee sovereignty. Shah
Mahmood died in 1829, and was suc-
ceeded by his son Kamran, who still re-
tains the province. Their old enemies
the Sikhs did not fail to take advantage



280 AFGHANISTAN.

History. o f these disorders, and Runjeet Singh first
succeeded in conquering the valley of
Cashmeer, which has ever since formed
a province of the Sikh kingdom, and af-
terwards obtained possession of Pesha-
wur. In 1839 the British Government,
apprehensive of the result of an alliance
which was supposed to be in progress
between Dost Mahomed and the Per-
sians and Russians, came to the deter-
mination of restoring the exiled monarch
Shooja-ool-moolk, who had for some years
been residing in India as a pensioner of
the state. A British army accordingly
entered Afghanistan, and in the course
of a few months Shooja-ool-moolk was
replaced upon the throne. Ghuznee hav-
ing been taken by storm, and his troops
having been defeated in repeated actions,
Dost Mahomed suddenly made his ap-
pearance unattended at Cabul, and sur-
rendered himself a prisoner to the Eng-
lish.

The authority of Shah Shooja appear-
ed to be established throughout the Idng-
dom, and in 1841 the British Govern-
ment were preparing to withdraw the
last division of their troops, when in the
month of November, an insurrection,
which had long been secretly preparing,
broke out simultaneously in all parts of
the country. Shut up without supplies,
and surrounded on all sides, the envoy
and other officers having in the interim
been treacherously murdered, the Eng-
lish general agreed to evacuate the place
under an oath of protection from Dost
Mahomed's son, Akber Khan, the princi-
pal leader of the Afghans. The troops



AFGHANISTAN. 281

History. we re betrayed, and partly overwhelmed
by numbers, but chiefly overcome by ex-
posure without cover in the depth of a
severe winter, and the want of food,
nearly the whole force was miserably
slaughtered. In the conflicts which en-
sued amongst the Afghans, Shah Shooja
was murdered ; and in 1842, Candahar
and Jullalabad having meanwhile been,
successfully defended by the troops un-
der Generals Nott and Sir Robert Sale,
a fresh army was despatched from India.
Ghuznee and Cabul were again captured,
and the few English prisoners having
been recovered, the British finally evac-
uated the country, and Dost Mahomed,
who had from the time of his surrender
been residing in India, was permitted to
return to Cabul.

Religion. Mahomedanism of the Soonnee sect.

Language. The language of the Afghans is call-
ed Pushtoo. It is written in the Per-
sian character. Persian is also used by
the chiefs, and the descendants of the
Hindoo settlers speak a mixed dialect
resembling Hindoostanee, called Hind-
kee.



282 TARTARY.



CHAP. XII.



Tartary*

Tartary, properly so called, lies be-
tween about 34 and 50 north latitude,
and 50 and 75 east longitude. It is
bounded on the north, by Russian Tar-
tary; east, by Chinese Tartary ; south,
by Afghanistan and Persia; west, by
Persia, the Caspian Sea, and part of Rus-
sian Tartary.

Divisions. Toorkistan, Khiva, Kokan, Bokhara,
Toorkmania, Koondooz, each of which
will be separately noticed.

Kivers. The principal rivers are the Jaxartes,

Zur-Ufshan, the Oxus, and the Moorg-
hab.

The Jaxartes, called by Asiatics the
Sir or Sihoon, rises in the Beloot Tagh,
and flows westerly and northerly through
Kokan, Bokhara, and Toorkistan, into
the sea of Aral.

The Zur-Ufshan, (scatterer of gold)
called also the Kohuk, rises in the moun-
tains eastward of Samarcand, and flows
westerly and southerly past Samarcand
and Bokhara, some distance to the south-
ward of which last city, it forms a small
lake.

The Oxus, called by Asiatics the Ji-
toon, and more commonly the Amoo 7



TARTARY. 283

Rivers. nas fa source on the northern side of the
Hindoo Khoosh, and flows westerly and
northerly through Koondoor, Bokhara,
and Khiva, into the sea of Aral.

The Moorghab, or river of Merue,
rises on the northern side of the Paropa-
misan mountains, and flows north-west-
erly past Merue, fifty miles beyond
which place it falls into a small lake.

Between the northern part of Khiva
and Toorkistan is an inland sea, about
200 miles in length from north to south,
by 70 in breadth, named the sea of Aral.
It is supposed by the common people of
the country to flow below ground into
the Caspian.

Mountains. The principal mountains are the Be-
loot Tagh, running from north to south
along the eastern frontier; and the Ghour
mountains, Hindoo Koosh, and Paropa-
misan on the south.

General As the several divisions of this coun-
tion! 1P try differ a good deal in their general
character, each will be separately de-
scribed.

Produc- The southern and eastern parts of
the country produce rice, wheat, barley,
and other grains, with fruits of differ-
ent kinds in great abundance. Horses,
camels, and sheep, are very numerous
throughout, particularly in the northern
and western divisions, where each horde
has large herds and flocks of them. The
horses of Bokhara called Uzbekees, and
of Toorkistan and Toorkmania known
as Toorkmanees, are particularly cele-



284 TARTARS.

Produc- brated for their great strength and
power of enduring fatigue. The camel
is of a large strong breed with two
humps, commonly known as the Bac-
trian camel; the Indian camel with the
single hump, being properly the drome-
dary. The wild animals are principally
tigers, which are found in the Beloot
Tagh mountains, wolves, horses, asses,
and the chamois goat. There are also
numerous smaller animals, such as er-
mines, and others affording valuable furs.
Gold is found in the sand of the Oxus,
and to a smaller extent in the Zur-Uf-
shan, and other rivers ; and the moun-
tainous parts contain silver, copper, iron,
vitriol, and different kinds of valuable
stones and marbles. There are large
cotton manufactories at Bokhara, and a
considerable trade with the neighbour-
ing countries in silk, wool, and lamb
skins. The people of Bokhara make
great use of tea, which they obtain from
China.

TOORKISTAN.

General This division occupies the northern
part of the country. It is generally
open, but not cultivated, and devoted
chiefly to pasturage. It is inhabited by
wandering tribes of Toorkmans, who
have large herds and flocks of horses,
camels, cattle, and sheep, with which
they move from place to place according
to the season. They have no towns,
but live in camps formed of tents, made
of woollen, like thick black cumlies.
Each tribe or horde is independent. No



!



TARTARY. 285

General estimate can be formed of the total pop-
Account, j ,.

ulation.



KHIVA,

Descrip- a | so called Orgunje, and anciently Khar-
izm, occupies the western part, between
Bokhara and the Caspian Sea. Except-
ing in the immediate vicinity of the
Oxus, this province is almost entirely
a sandy desert, its inhabitants depend-
ing for their support principally upon
their camels, which are bred in great
numbers, and upon the sale of slaves
captured in the adjoining territories of
Russia and Persia.

Towns. The only places of any note in the
province are Orgunje and Khiva.

Orgunje, which is situated about six
miles from the bank of the Oxus, is the
principal place of trade in the country.
It contains about 12,000 inhabitants.

Khiva stands about 15 miles to the
southward of the Oxus. It is a modern
town, and only distinguished on account
of its being the residence of the khan.
It contains about 6,000 inhabitants.

The inhabitants of this province are
chiefly Toorkmans, consisting principally
of wandering tribes, under the immediate
control of their several chiefs, but sub-
ject to the general government of an Uz-
bek, who has the title of khan of Khi-
va. The total population is supposed
not to exceed 200,000.

This province is the "country of the
Chorasmi" noticed in Arrian.



286 TARTARY.

KOHAX,

General called also Ferghana, occupies the north-
eastern part of the country, separated by
ranges of mountains from Toorkistan on
the north, and Koondooz on the south,
and bounded on the east by the Beloot
Tagh. It may be described as the val-
ley of the Jaxartes, which flows through
the middle from east to west. It is a
fertile and well cultivated district, and
its productions are similar to those of
Bokhara. It is celebrated for its silk.
The principal town is Kokan, situated
on the Jaxartes, and containing about
150,000 inhabitants.

This province forms an independent
principality under an Uzbek chief who
bears the title of khan, and claims his
descent from Alexander.

BOKHARA

General forms a part of Toorkistan, or the land
tton? P of the Toorks, and is so denominated by
the Natives themselves, though generally
known to Europeans by the designation
of Bucharia, from the name of the city
of Bokhara. It is an open champaign
country, and in the vicinity of its rivers
rich and fertile, but at a distance from
them barren and uncultivated.

The valley of Samarcand especially
has always been celebrated for its fruit-
fulness and beauty.

Included in this province is the coun-
try of Balkh, formerly the seat of the
Greek kingdom of Bactria. In its gen-
eral appearance it resembles the rest of



TARTARY. 287

Bokhara, the southern parts in the vi-
cinity of the rivers being fertile and well
cultivated, while the north are composed
chiefly of naked and sterile plains.

The climate of Bokhara is very plea-
sant and healthful. It is dry, and in the
winter very cold, as is usual in elevated
sandy countries, the Oxus being fre-
quently frozen and the snow lying for
three months at the city of Bokhara.

The climate of Balkh, to the south-
ward of the Oxus, is quite the reverse,
being oppressively hot and very un-
healthy, owing as is supposed by the
Natives, to the bad quality of the water.

The principal towns are Bokhara,
Sam arc and, and Balkh.

Bokhara stands about six miles from
the southern or left bank of the Zur-Uf-
shan, in lat. 39 43' N. long. 64 30' E.

This is a city of great antiquity, and
particularly celebrated amongst the Ma-
homedans from its having been at an
early period conquered and converted to
their faith. On this account, as well as
because of the number of learned men
whom it produced, its Mahomedan rulers
gave it the title of shureef or holy, by
which name it soon became distinguished
in the east. It was for many centuries
a very rich and populous city, but in
common with all other places under
Mahomedan rule, it has undergone many
changes and has long ceased to be of
any importance. The present city is
about eight miles in circumference, and
is surrounded by a wall having twelve
gates. It has a great many mosques



283 TARTARY.

Towns. with lofty minarets, particularly the
Great Mosque, part of which was built
by the renowned Tymoor ; besides col-
leges of various kinds, said to be 366 in
number, frequented by students from all
parts of the country. It has a popula-
tion of about 150,000, including about
4,000 Jews of a remarkably handsome
race, emigrants from Meshid in Persia,
and about 300 Hindoos chiefly Shikar-
poorees from Sind. In this city may be
found Persians, Turks, Russians, Tar-
tars, Chinese, Afghans, and Indians, all
assembled together in the same bazars.
This city is remarkable for the preva-
lence of guinea-worm, nearly one-fourth
of its population being attacked by it in
the course of every year.

Samarkand is situated near the south-
ern bank of the Zur-Ufshan, about 120
miles to the eastward of Bokhara. This
was in the early times of the Mahome-
dan power one of the most renowned
cities in the east, and it is still regarded
with great veneration by the people of
the country ; and no king of Bokhara is
considered by them to be the lawful
sovereign who has not possession of
Samarcand. It was the capital of Ty-
moor, whose tomb still remains. It has
now declined to a provincial town of not
more than 10,000 inhabitants, and gar-
dens and fields occupy the place of its
former streets and mosques. A few col-
leges and other buildings still exist, some
of them of beautiful architecture, particu-
larly one which originally formed the ob-
servatory of the celebrated astronomer,
Ulug Beg. The manufacture of paper



TARTARY. 289

was introduced into Europe from this
city, on its conquest by the Mahomedans
about the year 710.

Ealkh is situated in lat. 36 48' N.
long. 65 16' E. It is believed to be one
of the most ancient cities in the world.
By Asiatics it is commonly designated
as the mother of cities, and it is said
by them to have been built by Kya-
moors, the founder of the first empire
of Persia. It was long celebrated after
the conquest of the country by Alex-
ander, as the capital of the kingdom of
Bactria ; and it was the residence of the
chief of the Magi or fire worshippers of
Persia, until conquered by the Mahome-
dans about the year 710. In the early
part of the 13th century, the city was
taken and plundered by the celebrated
Juugez Khan ; and in the course of the
many vicissitudes to which it has since
been exposed, it has decayed into an in-
significant town, of not more than 2,000
inhabitants, though its ruins extend
over a circuit of about twenty miles.
It is remarkable for a great abundance
of fruit of various kinds, apricots for
example being commonly sold at the
rate of two thousand for a rupee. Snow
is brought from the mountains, about
twenty miles distant, and sold in the
bazar during the summer.

TOORKMANIA

occupies the southern and western part
of the country, from Balkh to the Cas-
pian sea ; having Khiva and the Oxns
along its northern frontier, and ranges

Bb



290 TAllTARY.

General O f mountains separating it from Persia

Account. -, A ,. , . , 7

and Afghanistan on the southern. In
the south-western parts it is mountain-
ous, but for the rest it consists of sandy
desert, very scantily supplied with water,
in some places quite flat, and in others
rising up into mounds, some of which,
towards the Caspian, attain a height of
from sixty to eighty feet.

There are no towns or villages pro-
perly so called, the Toorkmans being all
nomade, that is wandering tribes, mov-
ing from one well to another with their
flocks and herds, and taking their coni-
cal huts, called khirgahs, with them, in
search of water and pasture.

The only fixed settlement worth no-
ticing is Shurukhs, situated in lat. 36 31'
N. It consists of a small fort almost in
ruins, and a few mud huts, which have
been built by Jews from Meshid in Per-
sia, the Toorkmans living in their khir-
gahs. These are huts of a conical form,
constructed of wood, surrounded by a
mat of reeds, and covered on the roof
with felts. In lat. 36 N. long. 61
1' E. stand the ruins of Merve, formerly
the capital of a principality of the same
name, and said to have been built by
Alexander the Great. It is still styled
by the Natives u Merve Shah-i- Julian,"
or Merve the king of the world ; and a
celebrated epitaph on one of its kings is
often quoted by eastern writers. "You
have witnessed the grandeur of Alp
Arslan exalted to the skies : repair to
Merve, and $ee it buried in the dust."

Under the government of the Persians,
Merve was long a great and opulent



TARTARY. 291

General city, and the surrounding district was
one of the most fertile in the world.
But in the latter end of the 18th cen-
tury the district was conquered by the
king of Bokhara, who destroyed the
canals, and drove out the inhabitants;
and the country soon became as sterile
as the rest of Toorkmania, while its
former fixed population has been suc-
ceeded by the wandering tribes of Toork-
mans.

Inhabit- The inhabitants of this province are
Toorkmaris, divided into a number of
independent hordes or tribes ; they have
no permanent ruler, and acknowledge
only the general direction of their Ak-
sukals or elders. Their life is passed
in the most reckless plunder of the
neighbouring countries, from which they
carry off the men and women as slaves.
Their children are brought up from their
earliest years in the same habits. They
have a proverb, which very aptly illus-
trates their character, namely, that a
Toorkman on horseback knows neither
his father nor mother.

They have no science nor literature,
nor any mosques, though nominally Ma-
homedans. Their food consists of the
milk and flesh of their herds and flocks,
the milk of the camel especially being a
favourite drink.



KHOONDOOZ,

General which now includes Budukhshan, is sit-
uated in the south-eastern part of the
country, between Bokhara and Balkh,



292 TARTARY.

General an( j Afghanistan ; having the Beloot

Account, mi ! i i .-i

lagh along its eastern side, and on the
southern the Hindoo Koosh.

The district of Khoondooz consists of
a valley among low hills, which extend
from east to west for about thirty miles,
and from north to south forty. Its cli-
mate is very unhealthy, the heat of the
summer being excessive, while in winter
the snow lies upon the ground for three
months. The greater part of the valley
is so marshy that the roads across are


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Online LibraryCharles Alfred BrowneAn introduction to the geography and history of India, and the countries adjacent; → online text (page 17 of 26)