September 15, 2016

Delimitation of Afghanistan. Negotiations between Russia and Great Britain, 1872‒1885

Afganskoe razgranichenie (Delimitation of Afghanistan) was published by the Russian Foreign Ministry in 1886 to inform national and international audiences about the negotiations between the Russian and British governments in 1872‒75 and in 1883‒85 about demarcation of the northern border of Afghanistan. The book is in Russian and French, with the identical text on facing pages. Part one is an introduction that provides a historical overview of the negotiations; part two provides the texts of 159 documents produced by or relevant to the negotiations. Documents are presented in Russian and French; British official documents are also presented in their original English. At the end are three maps. The topics covered include the negotiations of 1869‒73 and the occupation by the Afghans in 1883 of the territories of Shugnan and Roshan (on the border of present-day Tajikistan and Afghanistan); the Russian conquest of the territory of the Ahal Teke (in present-day southern Turkmenistan) and the negotiations between Britain and Russia of 1882; and the Russian occupation of Merv (Mary) and the negotiations of 1884‒85 concerning the city and oasis. Among the documents reproduced in the volume are correspondence by Prince Gorchakov, foreign minister of Russia from 1856 to 1882, and by his successor Nicholai Karlovich Girs; dispatches from Saint Petersburg to London by Sir Edward Thornton, the British ambassador to Russia; and important bilateral documents such as the protocol defining the frontier between Russia and Afghanistan signed on August 29, 1885, by Lord Salisbury, the British prime minister, and Baron de Staal, the Russian ambassador in London.

Turkmenistan and the Turkmens

Turkmenistan i turkmeny (Turkmenistan and the Turkmens) is a book on Turkmenistan published in 1926, early in the Soviet period. Part one, in four chapters, is devoted to Central Turkestan and also explains the broader geographic context of Turkmenistan. The chapters cover the history of Turkestan and its importance as the link between Persia and China; the 17 main ethnic groups in Turkmenistan (including the Turko-Mongol Altai people, Mongols, Arabs, Jews, Taranchi, Kalmyks, and others); clan tradition and its influence on modern life in the central Asian republics; and an overview of the nationalities in the Soviet republics bordering Turkmenistan (Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgyz or Kirgiz, Kara-Kirgiz, and Karakalpaks). Part two, in 15 chapters, is devoted to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Turkmenistan. The chapters cover such topics as the history, geography and topography, administrative divisions and population centers, agriculture, irrigation, transport, industry, vegetation and wildlife, and the size, ethnic composition, and distribution of the population of the republic. Part three covers the Turkmens, in three chapters, devoted to the genealogy of the Turkmens and their migrations, modern clan division and clan locations in Turkmenistan, and national characteristics of the Turkmens and their clan life, which included high status for women.

Afghan Key

Kalīd-i Afghānī (Afghan key) is a Pushto textbook that was originally published in 1872 in Lahore. It was produced for the use of British Indian military personnel and missionaries stationed in the Northwest Frontier Province of British India and living among the Pushtuns. Its purpose was to acquaint English speakers with colloquial and standard forms of Pushto as well as with Pushtun history. The compiler was Thomas Patrick Hughes, priest at the Peshawar Mission in 1865‒84. The textbook is dedicated to the lieutenant governor of Punjab, Sir Robert Henry Davies (1824‒1902). Presented here is the second edition of the work dating from 1893. The contents are a compilation of eight works of prose and verse from Pushto literature, language, and history. Ganj-i Puṣhto (Treasury of Pushto) written by Mawlawi Ahmad of Tangi, an Afghan poet, discusses 49 literary tales in pure colloquial Pushto that is lacking Persian and Arabic words (pages 5‒130). Tārīkh da Sult̤ān Maḥmūd Ghaznavī by Mawlawi Ahmad (a translation of the Persian Tārīkh-i Firishtah) deals with the life and career of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (971‒1030; pages 131‒204). Tārīkh-i Muraṣṣaʻ (Gem-studded history) by Afzal Khan (died 1748), a local writer, is a miscellaneous local history that starts with a discussion of the creation of the world through biblical and Qur’anic lenses and proceeds to the migration and ancestral origin of some of the Pushtun tribes, such as the Khattaks, Ghurids, and others living between Afghanistan and the Peshawar Valley (pages 205‒40). Shahzādah Bahrām wa Gulandām (Story of Prince Bahram and Gul Andam) by Fayyaz is a mystical love story that was originally Persian (pages 241‒96). Da Dīwān d ʻAbd al-Raḥman (Collection of poetry by ʻAbd al-Rahman) is a selection of poems by the famous Pushto mystic-poet, Rahman Baba (1651‒1709; pages 297‒328). Da Dīwān da Khūshḥāl Khān Khaṭak is also a selection of poems of the Pushtun poet-warrior, Khushal Khan Khatak (also called Khwushhal, 1613‒89; pages 329‒60). Chaman-i Bīnaẓīr (Unique garden) is a selection of poetic sonnets from 35 Pushtun poets, most of whose works are no longer extant (pages 361‒402). Inshaʼ da Puṣhto (Writing in Pushto) is a compilation of 19 Pushto letters that supplements the textbook.

Creation of the Universe

Āfarīnish-i Dunyā (Creation of the universe) is a book about cosmogony. It describes and compares several cultural, religious, and scientific narratives about the origins of the universe. The book is a translation into Tajik Persian from a Tatari Turkic language (most probably from Azari), and it was published by the Tajik government press in Tashkent and Stalinabad (present-day Dushanbe) in 1929. The translator is identified as ʻAbd Allah Shinasi, about whom nothing else is known. The book is organized in three sections. Section one discusses and criticizes Judaic, Islamic, and several other religiously inspired ancient and medieval descriptions of the creation of the universe. The author (or possibly the translator) makes fun of these narratives, such as Mesopotamian, Judaic, and Islamic narratives holding that God created the world in six days or that the earth rests upon the two horns of a cow that resides over a fish that swims in the waters. After outlining the various Mesopotamian, Judaic, and Islamic creation stories, the author devotes section two to a discussion of the scientific explanation of the creation of the universe, including such topics as the rotation of the Earth and other planets in the solar system. Section three concludes the book with a critique of the Qur’anic verses that Muslims take as evidence regarding the creation of the universe. The book is typical of works produced in Central Asia in the early 20th century, when Muslim modernists, known as Jadids, were questioning the role of religion in society.

The Way of Pushto Language or Pushto Grammar

Da Puṣhto da Zhabe Liyārah Liyā Puṣhto Ṣarf aw Naḥo (The way of Pushto language or Pushto grammar) is a language textbook. The author, Muhammad Gul Momand, was a famous (and controversial) Pushto literary-political nationalist. He appears to have written the book in Balkh, Afghanistan, where he was posted as governor in the 1920s. It was published in Lahore in 1938 by the Feroz Printing Press, at a time when Afghan Pushtun nationalist literati were advocating the institutionalization of the Pushto language throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan. The contents of the book include an 11-page preface, two main sections, and a supplementary section at the end. In his long preface Momand emphasizes the importance of language for the development of every nation. He suggests that formalization and nationalization of the Pushto language is directly related to the well-being of Pushtun individuals, society, culture, and identity. Section one is on morphology. It has three sub-sections: on the parts of speech; on lexicology, negation, pluralization, gender, and gerunds; and on prepositions. Section two is devoted to syntax and discusses sentence structure and formation. The supplementary section at the end was prepared by another author, Abdul Azim Safi, and includes a list of infinitives. The pages are numbered. Momand mentions in the preface two other individuals who assisted in the production of the book, Mohammad Qasim Khan Ibrahim Khele and Mullah Obaidullah Khan Safi. The book seems to have been produced for a Pushtun audience as well as for non-Pushto speakers interested in learning the language.

Pushto‒Urdu Dictionary of Khairullah

Kitāb K̲h̲airullug̲h̲āt yaʻnī Pushto Urdū Lugh̲āt (Pushto‒Urdu Dictionary of Khairullah) was published in a lithographic version in Lahore in 1906. The author, Qazi Khairullah, took six years to produce the work. Khairullah, who is pictured in a simple drawing at the beginning of the book, was a church missionary and teacher of Pushto. The book has a preface in Urdu (pages 1‒3), in which the author discusses the importance of having a Pushto‒Urdu dictionary and its use as a supplementary book for schools that were being established in the borderland regions of the Northwest Frontier Province of British India. This is followed by a brief essay (pages 3‒6) in Urdu, “Tārīkh-i Zabān-i Pushto” (History of the Pushto language), in which the author identifies Pushto as an Indo-European language (like Persian, Latin, and Sanskrit). He states that there is no textual evidence predating the arrival of Islam to support that Pushto had an ancient alphabet. The bulk of the work (pages 7‒192) is the Pushto‒Urdu vocabulary. The dictionary does not include the many words in Pushto that start with the letter ya, the last letter of Pushto alphabet. The volume presented here is the first Pushto‒Urdu dictionary ever compiled. It was produced at a period in the history in the Northwest Frontier Province when Pushto- and Urdu-speaking peoples were interacting with each other in increasing numbers through contacts with the British Indian Army and at schools in the region.