Bukhara, one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, was already a town in the first millennium BC, it became important historically in the eigth century, when it was conquered by the Arab Abbasid Caliphate (709 AD/90 AH). Bukhara flourished both intellectually and commercially, and by the tenth century, under the powerful Samanid Dynasty, it became a renowned center of the arts and learning, especially the sciences and mathematics. The city's rich cultural heritage, commissioned by the patronage of its rulers, includes many architectural landmarks of the Islamic world. Recent excavations by the Uzbek Academy of Sciences have revealed that present day Bukhara is built up on layers of past settlements. By dating some of the discovered remnants that have been excavated, it is quite likely that Bukhara can be considered at least 2,500 years old.
Bukhara lies on a flat plain and is surrounded by semi-desert lands. It is situated on the edge of the Kizilkum desert and has a dry and arid climate. In the past, the Bukhara oasis formed part of a vast region of Central Asia which had been conquered by Alexander of Macedon. These events led to the forming of feudalism in the Bukharan oasis.
The new social system introduced a social hierarchy: the individual principalities were ruled by kings supported by armed nobility. The process of town formation became very active and the ancient settlements surrounding Bukhara developed into the towns of Varakhsha, Vardanzi, Ramish, and Kermine. All these towns followed a similar structural pattern, they all were made up of: the Ark (citadel), the Shakhristan -well planned residential; core, and a necropolis on the outskirts of the city.
Bukhara in this period followed the same layout and pattern of development. It sprawled over an area of forty hectares. The Shakhristan which was rectangular was cut into four sections by two crossing main streets which led to gates opening out on all four sides of the city. At the turn of the tenth century, Bukhara had developed into a major cultural and religious center. Bukhara was almost leveled by Gengis Khan in 1226/623 AH; few monuments survived the destructiveness of the Mongol hordes. Bukhara revived under the Shaybanid Dynasty in the sixteenth century, but it's importance decreased with the decline in traffic along the Silk Road. In 1753/1166 AH, Bukhara became an independent emirate and remained so until 1868/1285 AH, when it was incorporated as a vassal state under Tsarist Russia. Bukhara was forcefully taken by the Bolshevik forces after WWI; a number of monuments suffered great destruction during the bombardment.
Kalonov, Askarsho. “English abstract of 'Sadr of Bukhara'". Translated by Morgan Stark. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 112. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
This book concerns the life and works of Sharifjan-makhdum Sadr Ziya (1865-1932), as well as his place and role in the literary history of the Tajik Fararud. It is intended for a broad readership, but will be of particular interest to literary specialists working on the history of Tajik literature in the early 1920s.
The author discusses materials relating to Sadr Ziya’s enlightenment work and its historical context in Bukhara. He also looks at the influences acting on his creative work and on the development of Tajik enlightenment thinking more broadly. The author considers Sadr Ziya’s role in the formation of enlightenment thinking to be particularly significant, and asserts that any claims to the contrary are without basis.
This book is set in opposition to recent Tajik scholarly publications (2001-03), notably S. Tabarova’s Mubokhisai zieii dekhoti va muzofotshuur bo zieii shakhri, and R. Masov’s The Legacy of Mangit Rule. In these texts, according to Shakuri, not only do the authors baselessly criticise Sadr Ziya and misrepresent his role in the history of Tajik literature and enlightenment, but they also express quite abusive opinions concerning this celebrated scholar of the early twentieth century. Sadr Ziya, Shakuri maintains, was an outstanding Tajik scholar who dedicated his entire life to justice and enlightenment in Bukhara. The desire to re-establish his reputation as such is thus one of the chief motivations behind the book.
The author mentions the importance of Sadr Ziya’s debating gatherings in Bukhara, which attracted many members of the Tajik intelligentsia. Here philosophers, poets and writers would interpret the poetry of modern Tajik writers such as Shahin and Ahmadi Danish. Young Tajik poets such as Aini, Munzim and Hamdi emerged from these circles. Sadrinnam Aini frequently asserted the importance of these gatherings.
In view of its significant role, this circle has been named the school of modern Tajik literature. The group also allowed Tajik intellectuals and poets to discuss the principal problems and difficulties of their times.
Shakuri discusses the difficulties Sadr Ziya encountered at that time on account of the work he did for society. It particularly notes the support Ziya rendered to the Jadid and other young reformers who opposed the system of government operating in Bukhara at that time. He also mentions Sadr Ziya’s contribution to the development of education and culture in Bukhara, and depicts him as a socio-political reformer.
A notable feature of the book is the author’s comprehensive account of Sadr Ziya’s work, along with the details on the broader circle of Tajik poets and writers who worked on similar themes.
Unfortunately, Shakuri does not provide the references for the historical documents he discusses in the book.