Eugene Schuyler.

Turkistan; notes of a journey in Russian Turkistan, Khokand, Bukhara, and Kuldja online

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ministry is one of the piurest in Russia, a new set of officials,
especially with the work they would have to do, would give
additional chances of extortion and corruption.

Closely connected with land tenure, is the subject of taxes
on land. At present these are of two kinds, haradj and tanap.
As the zelcat, or tax on trade, was originally a contribution for
carrying on war against the infidels, the support of Islam, and
the maintenance of the poor and needy, so haradj was a con-
sequence of religious war, being the impost on those inhabitants
who were allowed to retain possession of their lands, although
now applied to all lands, Mussulman or non-Mussulman. It
was of two kinds, proportional {mekasim), a certain part of the
harvest of grain lands, and usually paid in kind ; or fixed
{mudazer), a. stated sum levied on lands of fixed dimensions.
In Central Asia the fixed haradj was usually levied on garden-
lands, or orchards and meadows, and, as the unit of land-
measure was the tanap, it became to be known as the tanap
tax, in distinction from the ordinary haradj. Under Bukharan
rule the haradj was nominally one-fifth of the harvest, and
frequently more, and it remained so in the Zarafshan valley
' until the spring of 1 87 3, when just before the Khivan Expedition,
in order to quiet the population, it was reduced to one-tenth,
the same as it had been in the districts of the Syr Darya since
the Russian occupation. Under the Bukharan administration the


taxes in eacli of the many districts were collected by an officer
called serker, who, with his large staff of assistants, — scribes and
land-measurers, — inspected the cultivated lands during the
whole summer, kept accoimts of the amount imder cultivation,
and of the probable size of the crop, and finally after the harvest
visiCed each thrashing-floor, and took the portion of grain
falling due to the government. His salary was paid by an
additional tax, Iciafnen, which was estimated at about one-
tenth of the government tax.

This system opened the way to concealment of the true
harvest on t!ie part of the inhabitants, and to a great deal of
extortion on the part of the officials. The serker would make
arrangements with the richer inhabitants, letting them off a
part of their tax on receipt of a sufficient bribe', and exacting
from the poorer proprietors much more than their due. Here
is an authenticated instance which occurred under the Russian
administration. On the thrashing floor of a small proprietor
there were 320 lbs. of corn. The tax collector arrived and first
took as his pay one quarter of it. His assistant took his usual
pay, — his sleeveful, — but as he had very large sleeves for the
pm-pose, this amounted to an eighth, or 40 lbs. The messenger
of the imam also took 40 lbs., for the religious officials were by
custom allowed their share. The scribe also took an eighth.
The baker who accompanied the tax-collector then laid two or
three small cakes on the thrasliing floor and was allowed to
take 20 lbs. The pipe-bearer handed to the tax collector his
pipe, holding in the other a nosebag in which he was allowed
to place also 20 lbs. A gipsy prostitute spread out before the
serker a pair of new trousers and a cap, and received not only
30 lbs., but an invitation to (ea as well, There remained,
therefore, only 50 lbs. This was then carefully divided into
five parts, one of which (10 lbs.) went to the government,
while the proprietor had left an e'ghth of his harvest. It was
remarked that in this flagrant case, the agriculturist made no
complaint. In all probability he had suffered no real loss, as
he had previously succeeded in concealing the greater part of
his harvest.

From 1868 to 1871, as the fate of the Zarafshan valley was

' The exemption from taxes for honourable, or distingiiiBhed people — rigaya —
is well recognised throughout Control Asia.


Still iindetermiTied, and there was an expectation of returning
it to Bulihara, the native system of tax collecting was kept up.
The evils of it, as carried on under Russian supervision, became
at last very manifest ; for it was found that the tax collectors
stole a considerable part of the tax, and in 1871 they were
obliged to refund more than 165,000 rubles. A change was
therefore made in the method of collecting, by abolifhing the
greater part of the ofBcials, and by imposing tlieir duties on the
village authorities. The receipts of taxes since that time have
much improved. In other parts of Turkistan tlie taxes are
collected by the boards of rural administration.

The tanap tax varied from 40 kopeks to 3 rubles and 60
kopeks per tanap of ground. Besides this there were some
other taxes left by the Bukharan government, which continued
to remain in force. The most important of these was the
kosh-pul, a tax laid on each Icosh of land during the reign of
Shah Murad Khan, 1782-89, for the piu-pose of building and
repaij'ing irrigating canals.

This tax, which originally was only 40 kopeks on a hosk,
was increased at different epochs to five and nine times that
amount, and when the territory was occupied by the Rupsians
amounted to 3 rubles and 61 kopeks.

It now goes directly into the treasury, and is no longer
applied, as it should be, to purposes of irrigation. For repairs of
roads, bridges, ferries, and for what in Russia are called zeynahy,
or provincial purposes, the Russians were obliged to levy
another tax, which in the Zarafshan x'alley was fixed at 25
kopeks on each house or kibitka, amounting in all to 10,000
rubles. In the Syr Darya districts the house-tax, which is
there 75 kopeks per house or kibitka, is not sufficient for the
provincial needs, and it is necessary to levy another general
tax, which, as I said before in speaking of Tashkent, is pro-
portioned directly among the inhabitants.

The amounts of taxes resting primarily or ultimately on
land in the Zarafshan district were in


284.043 rubles


408,770 „


649,800 „


. 1,190,970 „



In the rest of the Eussian province of Turkistan. the taxes
of the same character amounted to the following sums* :


693,970 rubles
1,125,038 „
1,416,196 „
1,185,075 „

The native population in the Zarafshan district is about
281,000, and the land taxes, to say nothing of taxes of every
other kind, such as the zekat, and trade duties, amounted in 1868
to one ruble (2s. 9d.) per head ; in 1869 to one ruble and forty-
five kopeks (4s.); in 1870 to two rubles and thirty-one kopeks
(6s. Ad.^; and in 1871 to four rubles and twenty-three kopeks
(1 Is. 7d:). The increase in this case is more apparent than real,
it being due chiefly to the better collection of the taxes rather
than to their augmentation.

It is proposed, in case the land settlement should go into
effect, to turn all these taxes into rent, and after dividing the
land according to its returns into eight categories, to fix the
average harvests and make the lent ten per cent, of their worth,
which would bring in from twenty-five kopeks to five rubles a
desLatin, or from 3d. to os. an acre. The zemsh/ tax would be
one-tenth of that amount, and the few lands, the absolute pro-
perty in which will be allowed to the natives or to Russians, being
freed from the rent, will pay only the zemsky tax, whereby the
richer portion of the community will pay no taxes at all, these all
falling on the poorer agriculturists. The officials defend this
arrangement on the ground of its similarity to what now exists
in European Russia. They find these taxes light in com-
parison with those which are imposed on the Eussian peasants,
who sometimes have to pay in this way more than the incomes
of their farms and holdings : and there is even noticeable a tone
of dissatisfaction at not being able, after all the pain and cost
of conquest, to grind out of the population as heavy taxes as
are obtained in Russia, where the peasants are still practically
fixed to the soil.'

One reason for this feeling is the natural annoyance felt by
the Russian officials on finding that the expenditure necessary

' See the work of Colonel Sobolef, already cited, and the 'Golos,' No. 134, of
16tli (28th) May, 1875.


for the government of the country so far exceeds the revenue,
and that all the country which the Eussians have annexed of
late years is a useless acquisition, and for all practical purposes
of trade and agriculture is worthless. But this subject I shall
discuss more at length in the subsequent chapter.

Under all this, too, there is a lurking feeling, — which is
perhaps innate in every man of 'a conquering race with regard to
those conquered, — that the natives, even in their own country,
have no rights, and that admitting and granting them are acts
of a pure, if not self-injurious, liberality. Such a feeling has
been very noticeable in the ideas expressed by the Russians
with regard to trade.




KenoontreatJizakh — Zamin — Ura-tepe — Peakof Altyn-bishik — Wau — Hod-
jent — Its situation — Defence against the Khokandians — Coal mines —
Lead — Gold — Naphtha — Exaggerated accounts of mineral wealth — Bridge
OTer Syr Darya — Prefect's residence — Population of Kurama — Stock-raising
— Climate of Central Asia — Earthquakes —The Calendars — Agricultural
solar year — Zodiacal montlis — Their Chaldseau origin— The Kirghiz
Calendar derived from the Mongol — The Twelve-year Cycle.

At last I left Samarkand one evening, and the next day at
noon found myself at Jizakh, where I was told that horses
were already waiting for me. I had mentioned in Samarkand,
that I should be glad, if possible, to make a detour to Hodjent,
and as the road thither from Jizakh was not a post road, the
Prefect of Samarkand had been kind enough to send on a
message that horses should be prepared for me all along the

While I was in the midst of an improvised breakfast, a
thick-set Cossack officer dropped into the post-station, nominally
to look at the wares of a commercial traveller who had fixed
himself there for a day or two, but really I think to inspect
me. I found out that he was the commandant of the place,
but as he himself did not choose to inform me of his rank, I
pretended ignorance and answered his questions, which out of
politeness he addressed to me in French, as indifferently as I
could. I came near laughing when he put, as he thought,
some rather adroit inquiries about the movements of MacGahan,
whom he evidently supposed to be an English spy, and when
he tried to find out whether 1 had ever seen or heard of him,
and whether it was not true that he had travelled in my
company. I do not think, however, that he got very much
satisfaction. I learned afterwards that on that very day, or


the next, he started off with a troop of Cossacks in pursuit of
MacGahan, having just leceived orders to that effect. As I
had then heard nothing from MacGahan since he had left me
at Perovsky, I do not think that, had I desired, I could have
afforded this worthy officer any information to guide him on
his road.

Turning south-east towards the mountains, we went along
what seemed a good country road, through a well-cultivated
region partly irrigated from the mountain streams, but chiefly
composed of rain-lands on the hill slopes. The path of the
moisture was visible in the steppe by the profusion of flowers,
and even the drier portions were covered with capers, yellow
larkspurs, and clumps of yucca. Far up on the mountain-
sides we could see yailalcs, or summer encampments of Uzbeks,
and flocks and herds. After changing horses twice and driving
at a fast pace about forty miles we reached Zamin, now a small
town of only twenty houses, at the foot of the large dilapidated
citadel which still frowns upon it from a high mound. It was
formerly the residence of a Bek more or less dependent upon
Ura-tepe. On this by-road travellers were evidently of rare
occurrence, and I was probably mistaken for some Eussian
official, for all the inhabitants turned out to see me, received
me with great respect, and showed me to a platform in front of
one of the houses which had been prepared for my reception
with rugs and pillows. I was no sooner seated than the
aksakals of the village came to pay their respects, bringing
with them trays of fruits and sweets. After walking up and
down the one street which constitutes the town, and then dining,
we set out again, but after about an hour's drive the daylight
suddenly changed into darkness, and the inexperienced drivers
missed their road. At first we did not notice it, but we soon
began bumping over uneven ground, and finally brought up in
a diy ditch, when we peioeived that we were lost. Lighting
our lanterns we found that no damage had yet been done, but
as no one had any idea how far we were from the road, or in
which direction it lay, we resolved to remain there until morn-
ing. While we were still discussing and endeavouring to put
the best face on the matter some Kirghiz came up, having
probably been attracted by our light, and set to work to find
the road for us. How they found it I do not know, but they


•walked about for some time closely esaminiiig the ground, and
even I think smelling it, sometimes lying flat to discover some
traces. At last they told us to start, and moving on with great
caution we soon came again to the road, although at a very dif-
ferent place from that at which we had left it. We were still
reflecting on the wonderful instinct of the Kirghiz in setting us
right, when we reached the hamlet of Sabat, where we waited
for daylight, and arrived at Ura-tepe at 10 o'clock in the

At the station some message was given to the driver, and I
was taken to a large comfortable house, which, as I afterwards
understood, belonged to a Russian officer who was then absent
on the Khivan campaign, and which was placed at my dis-
position while I stayed there. At the time, however, I could
find out nothing, — neither to whom the house belonged, nor
who was its occupant, nor in what light I was considered. I
had a vague impression that I was being billeted upon some
one by superior order, and that I might be putting him to
inconvenience, which made my position very awkward and
caused me to hasten my departure. Soon after the com-
mandant came in full uniform to make a formal call and invited
me to breakfast, but yet vouchsafed no explanation. His official
residence was on the side of a steep hill opposite the town,
and above it were the cumbling walls of the old citadel, one
of the strongest in Central Asia, now occupied by but a few
Eussian soldiers. From here I think you get the finest town
view in Central Asia. At the bottom of the hill is a little
stream, now narrowed, and dammed, and spanned by bridges,
hemmed in on each sirle by walls and houses, now flowing
through many channels over a wide gravelly bed. Above it
the flat roofs rise terrace-like on the hill side, broken occasion-
ally by a dome or cupola and surmounted by the long decorated
fapade of the college of Eustam Bek, which was built some
thirty years ago in imitation of the Shir-dar at Samarkand.
The town is full of gardens, and tall trees rise up everywhere
between the houses, thus taking off that dead grey colour of
di]-t which so wearies the eye in all Asiatic towns. Gardens
and green fields stretch far up the hill side, and beyond these
are the ridges of other low hills, and finally the two chains of
the Turkistan and Zarafshan mountains with their many snow-


capped peaks. To the south-east these mountains grow higher
until they culminate in the sharply outlined pyiamidal mass
of the Altyn-Bishik, the summit of which is always clearly
illuminated by the sun. This is the highest of the three peaks
of Abdu-Baisher (20,00u feet), and to account for its name the
natives tell the following legend. A rich Tadjik in Hodjent
)iad had several children, but they had all died young. At
last, when a son was born, his wife consulted a witch as to the
fate of the child, and was told that up to the age of sixteen
the boy would be liable to die from the bite of a tarantula.
The father, wishing to ward otf this danger, and knowing that
in high places where it is cold there are no tarantulas, scor-
pions, or serpents, took his son to the very top of the moun-
tain, and set his cradle there. All went well for a time. The
boy grew up strong and well in the fresh air of the mountain.
At last his sixteenth birthday came, and the parents made a
great feast on the mountain-top. When the festivity was at
height the youth cried, fell down and died. The attendants
then found an immense tarantula which had been hidden in
a basket of grapes, and had thus worked the will of the fates,
for the sixteen years had not yet been fully completed. The
youth was buried on the mountain-top, and, in pity of the
mourning parents a large cloud came and covered them and
their dead child with snow, which sank down into the valleys
of the mountain, while the rocky ribs stood out strong and
black, as though in mourning. From that time the snow has
never left it, but clouds no longer touch it, and every day, in
remembrance of the past when it shone on the cradle of the
boy, the sim comes to gild it with its rays.

I wandered for a long time through the curious winding
bazaar of Ura-tepe, particularly attracted by the green riding
boots studded with silver nails, and the large wooden sabots,
each on three stout wooden feet, into the ends of which were
driven nails. These are worn by the Graltchas from the moun-
tains and from Karategin, who frequently come down to this
bazaar. I visited the college of Eustam Bek, and the old
mosque of Abdullatif, which I found without special interest,
and far more beautiful in the distance than near at hand, and
then returned to the bazaar, where I would willingly have
lingered, — for the inhabitants were all kind and well disposed.


and inclined to conversation, — had not a rain storm driven me

Ura-tepe, the ancient Usrushna (Oshnisene and Satrushna),'
vias in the old times an appanage of Fergana, but was fre-
quently for a time independent, and during the present century
has been a constant apple of discord between Khokand and
Bukhara. Its recent history, as related by its last Bek, Abul
GrafFar, was a yearly succession of broils, rebellions, campaigns,
sieges, and family murders ; but still, throughout it all, whether
mider the dominion of Khokand, Tashkent, Hodjent or Bukhara,
Abul Gaifar's family succeeded, in spite of temporary disasters,
in maintaining its hereditary right to rule. The battle of
Irjar in 1866 broke the power of Bukhara, and led to the fall
of Hodjent. It was not, howe\'er, until four months later, that
in consequence of the hitch in the negotiations with the Amii',
a detachment was sent against Ura-tepe, which, after much
difficult work, succeeded in establishing batteries. The citadel
was finally taken by assault on October 14, after a siege of
eight days, and a hard struggle of an hour and a half. Abul
Gaffar Bek, and most of the garrison, managed to escape to the
m(juntains, but the retreat of many of them was cut off, and
the hundreds of corpses which were found during the next few
days showed how many of the defenders had perished in their
flight. Besides many prisoners, the Russians took 15 cannon
and 4 standards, but lost 3 officers and 200 soldiers killed and
wounded. Since that time Ura-tepe has been peaceful enough,
and although a town of more than 10,000 inhabitants, has
required but a very small garrison.

Four hours' fast driving brought us to the little town of
Nau, which, instead of being the fortress I supposed, is only an
insignificant collection of hou: es well situated in a pretty
country. At the post-station tliey were expecting us, and had
prepared a room for us, and we had no sooner taken possession
of it, than the aksakcds presented themselves with a deputation
from the town. The rain which we had met at Ura-tepe
overtook us again here, lasted all night, and accompanied us to
Hodjent in the morning. Everyone assured me that it was a
most unusual circumstance, as in the summer there was rarely

' An interesting discnsbion on the primitive form of this word will be found
in Mr. P. Larch's valuable piiper on the ' Coins of the Bukhar-Khudats,' p. 78, ff.


any rain at all. Perhaps the summer of 1873 was an unusual
one, for this was not the only time I met with a pouring rain.

The approach to Hodjent was very pretty. The road all
the way from Nau lay between gardens and fields, and I
noticed here that the clay walls, instead of being high and
completely shutting out the view, were low, and merely intended
to keep out the cattle. This added greatly to the charm of the
landscape. The fields, however, — whicti in the immediate
vicinity of Hodjent were either cotton plantations or vine-
yards, — had each two or three towers or observatories, from
which the guardians could see the approach of marauders.
The mulberry trees along the walls had been stripped of all
their branches to feed the silkworms, so that they looked like
so many dead trunks. When we reached the gate of Hodjent,
we were met by two jigits, who accompanied us to the houKC of
the judge, on whom we were billeted. Here I was able to
understand the conditions on which I was received, but they
were not calculated to render my stay more pleasant, and I
therefore hastened my departure. I was neither a guest nor a
stranger ; that is, I was never allowed to pay for my lodging
or for my provisions, nor was I received as a guest of the
family, but certain rooms were set apart for me, and every-
thing which I wanted was placed at my disposition. In fact,
I was quartered on the owner of the house, who in this case
was the judge, and who probably was only too glad to get rid
of me. Curiously enough a year later, while on an official visit
of investigation to Ura-tepe, he was murdered by the officer on
whom I was quartered in that place, who, it seems, saw no
other method to relieve himself from the accusations brought
against him.' The prefect, Baron Nolde, a Swede from the
Baltic provinces, who had been educated at the University of
Dorpat, received me very kindly, and had me shown the bazaar,
under an escort of aksakals, interpreters, and jigits. I visited
some mosques and seme schools, made the acquaintance of
some Kazis, and rode through the bazaar ; but even had there

' This oiEcer was tried and found guilty of premeditated assassination, and
was sentenced to the mines in Siberia. Fumilj influence, however, at St. Peters-
burg, procured a delay in carrying the sentence into execution, and General Kauf-
mann, on returning to Tashkent in 187S, at once released him, and the next day
invited him to dine — much to the scandal of the law-abiding inhabitants.


not been a pouring rain, my suite was too large for either
amusement or inquiry. Subsequently, on going to Khokand, I
remained in Hodjent several days, and had a better opportunity
to make myself acquainted with that place.

Hodjent has a pleasanter air than almost any other Central
Asiatic city, due, I think, in part to its situation on the river
bank, and in part to the sociable and pleasure-loving character
of its inhabitants, for by far the majority of them are Tadjiks.
In being so close to the river, Hodjent is an exception to most
Asiatic cities, but the native toiin was never exactly on the
shore, the intervening space haviag been since filled up by the
Eussians, a small colony of whom is stretched along the bank
with bathing houses and washing places below. The bank
being high, the river is of no use whatever to the town, which
receives its water supply frorn the little stream of Hodja
Bakargan. Towards the end of summer, this stream frequently
dries up, and the city then often sufferis for want of water,
there being no pumping-maehines to furnish water from the
river for the gardens and houses. The distress from lack of
water is greatly intensified by the heat. Just across the Syr
Darya is a high rocky hill, called Mogul-tau, which, absorbing
the sun's rays all day long,' gives out heat like a furnace, when-
ever the wind blows from "the north. In one corner of the
town, not far from the river, is the old citadel, built on an

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