1In Central Asia during the 18th and 19th centuries, one of the most common forms of « historical » writing was a particular sub-genre of collective hagiography, combining a « city history » that recounted the origins, blessings, and tribulations of a particular town, as well as the contributions of its eminent natives, with a catalogue of the town's holy places that served, in effect, as a guide for pilgrims. The historical value of such works has usually been rejected out of hand : the city history is typically dismissed by labeling it « legendary », while the shrine catalogue, rooted in two phenomena — hagiography and « popular » religious practice — with which historians of Central Asia have traditionally been uncomfortable, might at most be granted some grudging attention as a source on urban topography.
2What these works offer, however, is not merely the preservation — admittedly quite imperfect from a narrow historicist perspective — of local legends and traditions, but a complex and coherent vision of a locality's legitimation and sanctification as a human community ; they are sacred histories, fitting diverse elements of local lore into a narrative structure determined by an Islamic « historical » framework, and marked by recurrent evidence of the town's providential blessing and preservation. The shrine catalogues typically joined to such narrative histories in effect complete the vision of the town's sacrality, both by recounting the lives of later exemplars of Islam's ideal, and by affirming the continuing, tangible presence of the saints through their sanctifying shrines ; those shrines, moreover, structure the town spatially, providing the fundamental orientation points for its sacred topography. The works thus join hagiographical accounts of saints whose shrines were locally prominent to legends of origin and narratives of communal history often tied to renowned figures of universal Islamic lore, and the combined effect of the two components — narrative history and shrine catalogue — is to situate the town both temporally and spatially within an Islamically defined sacred universe ; the vision thus constructed of the town's place in the world, we may add, was a central component in local and regional identities among the sedentary population of Central Asia on the eve of the transformations brought on by the Russian conquest, the establishment of Soviet power, and the formulation of new « national » boundaries and identities.
- 1 For a survey of works of this sort (including one extant Arabic version) focused on Samarqand, see (...)
- 2 The Bukharan example is almost entirely a shrine catalogue ; see Mu'in al-fuqarā', 1960 ; PL, 1972, (...)
3Compilations such as these have a long pedigree, and may find their earliest antecedents in the classical « city histories », cast as biographical compendiums of a locality's eminent figures, from pre-Mongol times ; these works, of which the most familiar examples are focused upon Samarqand, Balkh, and Nishāpūr1(to mention only Central Asian towns), have been relatively well-known, but a series of later compilations produced from the 15th to 17th centuries, though less familiar, may be considered in part as continuations of those earlier biographical traditions and as the direct inspiration for the later works of primary interest here. Examples of this second generation of local biographical compendiums, all in Persian, include the Tārikh-i Mullāzāda from early 15th-century Bukhāra ; the Qandiya that seems to have taken shape by the latter 16th century in Samarqand ; a series of unpublished works on Balkh produced evidently in the 16th and 17th centuries ; and two better known works devoted to Herat.2
- 3 See the comments of Paul (1993, p. 80) on the shifting focuses of these genres.
4The local hagiographies of this period, we may stress, are marked already by a clear concentration upon the graves of eminent figures, and they are in many respects best understood as shrine guides rather than as biographical compendiums like those of the pre-Mongol era ; at the same time, these later works incorporate a wider range of figures, encompassing not merely jurists or traditionists, but Sufis of various stripes, as well as pre-Islamic prophets and sacral figures from early Islamic history, transplanted to Central Asia. In general it is not difficult to see in these works the beginning, at least, of a transition from one style of validating a local community to another : in the pre-Mongol city histories, towns such as Samarqand were praised for their fine qualities, including the number and quality of scholars they produced, while in the later works it is the continued presence of both scholars and other types of saints, through their shrines, that validates, and indeed sanctifies, a given locality.3
- 4 These works mark, in effect, a third generation of locally oriented biographical works, which not o (...)
- 5 The most remarkable is an unstudied verse catalogue of shrines prefaced by a sacred history of Khor (...)
- 6 MS St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, C (...)
- 7 IVANUz, N° 9455/IV, fol. 387a-388b, an untitled verse work in praise of the shrines of the Farghāna (...)
5The late 18th and 19th centuries, however, witness, in addition to a proliferation of local hagiographies focused on these same cities,4 thespread of this sub-class, of sacred history joined with shrine guide, to serve other, narrower local and regional constituencies (with an accompanying shift in language from Persian to Turkic). Such works are focused on regions that had traditionally been, or had more recently come to be, on the periphery of traditional Muslim cultural, religious, and political centers, even from a Central Asian perspective ; they include « sacred histories » and shrine guides focused on the region of Khorezm ;5 sacred histories of the town of Osh in the Farghāna valley ;6 a brief poetic treatment of the shrines of the Farghāna valley ;7 a number of narrative traditions, recorded in Tsarist times, focused on the sacred history of towns such as Tashkent and Awliyā Atā ; and a set of works, providing an exemplary combination of sacred history with hagiographical shrine guide, devoted to the town of Sayrām (in the south of present-day Kazakstan, near the city of Shï'mkent).
6Here I would like to consider the latter works, focused on Sayrām, which offer a good illustration of the adaptation of a quite old hagiographical genre to evoke and shape local and regional identities in 19th-century Central Asia. The quite limited aim of the present paper is to call attention to the remarkably rich tradition of local hagiography focused on what is, after all, a quite modest town, and to suggest both its general parallels with other examples of local shrine guides from the same era, and its distinctive evocation of both local traditions drawn from Sayrām and from nearby regions, and of more widely known Islamic models. The works in question combine a collection of narratives about the prophets, saints, and local rulers who shaped Sayrām's history with a catalogue of shrines that continued to define the town as a sanctified space ; together the two components may be considered a comprehensive hagiographical sacred history that situates Sayrām and its distinct local traditions within a framework of providential protection and patronage, and calls attention to the tangible legacy of the town's sacralized past.
- 8 See al-Kāsyari, II, p. 241.
- 9 In « Karamurt-kapka », p. 180, the Tsarist-era Russian orientalist N. S. Lykoshin is cited affirmi (...)
- 10 See Bretschneider, 1910, I, p. 74.
- 11 This was 'Ala' al-Din 'Ali b. Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Sayrāmi al-Hanafi (d.790/1388) ; see Ib (...)
7Sayrām is today a small town, located about ten kilometers east-southeast of the larger industrial center of Shïmkent (Russian « Chimkent ») in southern Kazakstan, about 120 kilometers north of the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. The town's antiquity is well attested : Sayrām is identified with the city more often called, in Islamic sources of the pre-Mongol era, Isfïjāb, a place that figures prominently in Central Asian history beginning from the 8th century. Already in the Divān lughāt al-turk, the « Compendium of Turkic Dialects », of Mahmûd Kāshghari, from the second half of the 11th century, however, the town is assigned three names, identified as Arabic, Persian, and Turkic, respectively : it was Madinat al-bayzā, the « white city », it was Isfijāb (for which the Iranian etymology usually cited echoes a similar meaning) ; and it was Sayrām.8Kāshghari's work likewise notes, already, a metathesized variant of this latter form that, to judge from its wide occurrence in later times, appealed to both popular and learned imagination both on euphonic grounds and as me basis for fanciful etymologies ;9 it is this variant, « Saryam », that appears in most of the local hagiographies to which we will turn shortly. In any case, the wider currency of the form « Sayrām » already in the early 13th century is affirmed by its reflection in the Chinese travel account of Ch'ang-ch'un, the Taoist monk summoned to Chingiz Khān during his campaign in Central Asia ;10 from the following century we know of a prominent Hanafi jurist bearing the nisba « Sayrāmi » who established himself in Égypt.11 The name Isfijāb nevertheless continued to be used in historical sources throughout the Timurid and Uzbek periods, perhaps as a classicist affectation, and several noted saints of the town are known not only by the nisba « Isfïjàbï », but even as « Bayzāvi », a nisba reflective of the name « Madinat al-bayzā ».
- 12 On Isfijāb's history and historical geography in the pre-Mongol era, see Bartol'd, 1965a, p. 222-22 (...)
8Isfïjàb/Sayrām appears to have been an important caravan center on the eve of the Arab conquest of Central Asia, and, as one of many independent city-states in the region, managed to resist Arab domination longer than the towns of Mawarannahr. It is not mentioned prominently in accounts of the initial Arab conquest, but the sources' silence changes with the Sāmānid era. Isfijāb was subdued by the Sāmānid Nûh b. Asad in 840, and Sāmānid armies reached as far as Tarāz (present-day Jamb'il) by 893 under Nûh's nephew Ismā'il (who figures in our sacred history as the « ruler of Samarqand » and as the captor, albeit ultimately benevolent, of a prominent ruler of Sayrām). The town became known in the Sāmānid era for its many ribāts, the « frontier » military posts often associated with raids against unbelievers ; Sāmānid control in Isfijāb, however, was largely nominal, and the city retained, well into the 10th century, an essentially independent local dynasty, most likely of Turkic origin, that paid only token tribute to the Sāmānids and dominated the steppes as far east as Semirechye.12
9This independent dynasty of Isfijāb, of which little is known, may well have provided the earliest environment in which Islam was integrated with local Turkic political, cultural, and religious traditions, prior even to the Islamization of the Turkic dynasty that has come to be known as the Qarākhānids ; it is thus not surprising, considering the ribāt tradition as well, that Isfijāb came to be closely associated with the Islamization of the Turks and with the ethos of holy war on the frontiers of Islam ; the latter element indeed pervades the sacred history of Sayrām.
- 13 See al-Muqaddasi, ed. 1906, p. 273, and the translation by Collins, 1994, p. 244.
- 14 Barthold, 1977, p. 176, cites Ibn al-Athir (early 13th century) on the grave of Qarā Tekin at his r (...)
- 15 The significance of the last element of his usual appellation (khamir = leaven, leavened, ripe, mat (...)
10The only two members of the local dynasty of Isfijāb to be mentioned in early sources may also provide a point of contact with the sacred history. One of those figures, called Qarā Tekin, was governor of Balkh under the Sāmānid Nasr b. Ahmad, and is explicitly identified as belonging to the « ruling family » of Isfijāb ; he endowed a prominent ribāt in the city, and as noted already by the geographer al-Muqaddasi, writing in the latter 10th century, was buried near that structure.13 The other figure is Qarā Tekîn's son, Mansūr, whose grave was near his father's.14 It is no doubt noteworthy in this regard that two of the most prominent rulers associated with Sayrām mentioned in our sacred history bear the names « Qarā Tekin » and « Mansūr ». « Qarā Tekin » appears near the end of the sacred history, but the old Turkic title « Tekin » is attached to several other rulers associated with Sayrām in the work ; at the same time, the longest narrative in the sacred history is devoted to a ruler of Sayrām called « Sultān Mansūr Khamir ».15
- 16 See Barthol'd, 1977, p. 211-212.
- 17 For the history of Sayrām in post-Mongol times, see Ivanov, 1923a, p. 46-56 ; Ivanov, 1927, p. 151- (...)
11Isfijāb's local dynasty appears to have survived down to the time of the Qarākhānid conquest of the town in 980, when it became the staging ground for the Qarākhānid seizure of Bukhāra from the Sāmānids.16In this regard it may be noted that our sacred history of Sayrām seems to conflate, perhaps purposefully, what we might recognize as the local dynastic tradition of Sayrām with one more clearly evocative of the Qarākhānid tradition rooted, originally, in Kāshghar. In any case, Sayrām seems not to have suffered significantly from the Mongol conquest, but from the 13th century on the town belonged to an important frontier region,17 first between the Chaghatayid and Jöchid realms, and later between the Timurid domains and those of the Uzbeks ; it was incorporated into the Shïbānid Uzbek state early in the 16th century, but from the latter 16th century, Sayrām was most often under the rule of the Chingisid khāns of the Qazaqs of the Middle Horde. It suffered from devastating raids by the Junghars — who came to embody the infidel threat to Muslim communities of Central Asia — during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, but appears to have remained in Qazaq hands until its conquest by 'Umar Khān of Qoqand in the early 19th century. It fell to the Russians late in 1864.
- 18 That is, we should expect neither (1) historical information about the pre-Islamic or early Islamic (...)
12Although we may find, in the traditions assembled in the 19th-century « sacred histories » of Sayrām, occasional echoes of events or personalities known from earlier historical sources, the region of Sayrām is quite poorly reflected in sources from either the pre- or post-Mongol period. This naturally complicates the problem of trying to find recognizable correspondences between the sacred history of Sayrām and the town's « real history », since its « real history » is so poorly known ;18 but the lack of sources on Sayrām also makes it difficult to trace the development of local traditions and historical projections, and even to suggest the historical circumstances that evoked the development and circulation of the narratives we find compiled in the sacred history of Sayrām.
13It is my assumption that the compilation of the work as it survives may reflect the aftermath of the Junghar invasions, and thus date to the middle of the 18th century ; the atmosphere of communal protection and saintly patronage that pervades the work seems to reflect a period of heightened communal anxiety, and we know of other Central Asian works focused on sacred origins and protection evidently prompted by the Junghar threat that reached its peak during the early 18th century. On the other hand, although some of the material compiled in the work appears to be quite archaic, reflecting locally preserved traditions dating from well before the Mongol conquest, let alone the Junghar invasion, it is also quite possible that the work in its present forms was not put together until the second half of the 19th century, in the aftermath of Sayrām's last foreign conquest, by the Russians ; and indeed, no manuscript copy clearly datable to before the Russian conquest has so far been identified.
14If the historical circumstances reflected in the work's contents and compilation are difficult to trace, however, the style of religious thought that permeates the sacred history of Sayrām is somewhat easier to identify for comparison. Sayrām was long regarded as a special, sacred town, closely associated with sacred narratives about Central Asia's Islamization and with its most popular saints ; these associations may reflect the early Islamization of Sayrām/Isfïjāb, and above all its status not only as an outpost of Islam on the steppe frontier, but as the venue for the parallel processes of Islamizing native traditions and nativizing Islamic lore. It is, after all, those processes that we find reflected, in their latest pre-Soviet stage of development, in our sacred history of Sayrām (and here I would mention, without digressing to explore the issue, that both processes are resuming now in post-Soviet Sayrām) ; without presuming to find specific echoes of the earliest phase of those processes, we can assume that this earliest phase must go back, in essence, to the 9th century.
- 19 The tradition appears in the Turkic collection of stories of the prophets assembled at the beginnin (...)
- 20 See Rashid al-Din, p. 17 ; cf. the Russian translation, 1987, p. 25.
15Specific echoes come only later, however. By the late 13th century, for example, Sayrām was said to have been the native town of Khizr ;19 it is a small step from there to the claim made in our 19th-century sacred history, that Khizr's parents lie buried in the city, and that step was no doubt virtually inevitable insofar as a grave of Khizr himself was out of the question as a tangible, physical sign of his association with the town. In any event, Khizr's appropriation for Sayrām signals the nativized strength of Islamic narrative traditions in the town. From roughly the same period, on the other hand, we find evidence of Sayrām's continued association with Turkic and Inner Asian traditions, as the town was identified, in the Islamized version of the legendary history of Oghuz Khān reflected in Rashid ad-Din's world history, as the capital of the ancestor of the Turks, Yāfith b. Nüh ;20 the sacred history evokes similar associations by presenting a succession of specific rulers linked by name and titulature with Turkic traditions.
- 21 For a preliminary discussion of these narratives, see DeWeese, 1990.
- 22 See Divaev, 1896.
16By the middle of the 14th century, moreover, Sayrām figured prominently in a cycle of narratives, focused on Central Asia's Islamization as led by a figure called Ishāq Bāb, that directly parallel some of those reflected also in the sacred history of Sayrām (including, for instance, the rulership of « Mansur Khamir ») ; these narratives linked Sayrām to local' shrine traditions and sacred lore associated with other nearby towns stretching from the middle and lower Syr Darya basin, from Otrār to Jand, eastwards as far as Awliyā Atā(the medieval Tarāz, or Talās, known in Soviet times as Jambïl and now renamed « Taraz »).21 Those narratives were first recorded in connection with a 14th-century Sufi shaykh, known as Ismā'il Atā, who was regarded as a descendant of Ishāq Bāb's brother, and who dwelled near a mountain south of Sayrām called Qazghird ; the mountain, known now as Qazï'qurt, appears often as a central toponym in the sacred history of Sayrām, and came to be known in popular tradition asthe place where Noah's Ark came to rest22 (this tradition, too, is at least echoed in the sacred history).
- 23 On Muslim traditions about Idris, see al-Kisā'i, p. 87-91 ; al-Rabghuzi, I [text], p. 40-43, II [tr (...)
- 24 The first hand account, reflecting events from ca. 821-822/1418-19, is preserved in the work of « I (...)
17As we will see, the sacred history of Sayrām assigns a prominent place in local lore to the figure of Idris as well, and the central role of Idris' shirt in the town's sacred history suggests that his image in Islamic lore as the « culture hero » who first wore cloth clothing instead of animal skins, and who became thereby the patron-saint of tailors, was well understood in local lore ;23 in this regard we may suppose that a reference, dating to the early 15th century, to a mazār of « Darzi Bābā » (darzi = « tailor »), located « near Chimkent »24, might echo local tradition already current about Idris.
- 25 The tradition that Yasavi was born in Sayrām is first attested in the Ottoman Turkish Javāhir al-ab (...)
- 26 Mullā'Avaz-Muhammad b. Mullā Rùzi-Muhammad Sufi 'Attār, Tuhfat al-tavārikh-i khānî, IVANUz 9455, f (...)
- 27 See the chants given, in text and translation, by Divaev, 1899 , Divaev's material was repeated (wi (...)
18By the 16th century, further, it would appear that local tradition of Sayrām had laid claim to the legacy of the pivotal Central Asian saint more closely associated with the nearby town of Turkistān, namely Khoja Ahmad Yasavi, who against the record of earlier traditions was declared to have been a native of Sayrām ;25his parents' graves are noted in the sacred history of Sayrām, and Sayrām is today an important focus of regional lore associated with the Yasavi tradition. By the 19th century, finally, Sayrām had come to be regarded as a town especially marked by the kind of sanctity signaled above all by the sacralizing presence of saints' shrines, in great numbers. A history of the khanate of Qoqand written around 1870 refers to Sayrām as « the [resting] place of most of the Turkic shaykhs » (mashā'ikh-i atrākiyah),26and the notion of Sayrām as the spiritual home of « innumerable saints » [Sayrām-da sansïz bāb] was frequently invoked bothin popular poetry, and in shamanic invocations, addressed to helping spirits, recorded among Qazaq baqsi's beginning about a century ago.27
- 28 On the shrines popular in Sayrām during the late 19th and early 20th centuriés — far fewer than tho (...)
19Aside from these echoes of local lore, we have no sources from before the second half of the 19th century through which to confirm or refute the circulation of the traditions we find in the sacred history of Sayrām, or of other local hagiological lore not incorporated into that work. The same uncertainty prevails with regard to the shrine traditions as well, whose antiquity may be presumed but rarely pinpointed. Most of the surviving structures at the shrines appear to date only from the 19th century ; this in part explains why the shrines of Sayrām attracted little attention as archeological sites or architectural monuments — and Soviet scholarship only rarely considered shrines as anything else — but the relative youth of the structures may in fact reveal only the vitality of the shrine tradition, as an indication of frequent renovation and reconstruction.28
- 29 See, for example, the recent broader survey of shrines in southern Kazakstan, with some reference t (...)
- 30 We may argue, of course, that these narratives' evocation signal an attempt to « compete » with oth (...)
20These considerations allow us to suppose, then, that elements of traditional lore suitable to suggest as the narrative foundations for the Saryām tarikhi were in circulation at least as early as the 13th century and continued to be developed down through the 19th century. Many of these traditions, indeed, and still others of less certain antiquity echoed in the sacred history of Sayrām, are also preserved separately, in independent familial traditions of southern Kazakstan, in local lore of nearby cities such as Tashkent, Awliyā Atā/Taraz, and Turkistan, and in various genealogical and hagiographical traditions (some of this material was recorded in pre-Soviet times, but much is just now coming to light).29 It must be stressed, however, that they are used quite independently in the account of Sayrām's sacred history, in which they have been integrated, almost seamlessly and with virtually no allusion to other environments in which they are preserved as well, to present a coherent and connected, if inevitably contrived, narrative of a particular town's hallowed origins and repeated divine protection. What matters in this sacred history is not the connection of these no doubt originally independent narratives with specific familial lineages,with nearby towns, or with particular Sufi communities ; such connections are almost never mentioned. What matters is their connection with Sayrām : other ties are all but dissolved.30
- 31 We may stress again the preliminary character of the present survey, since additional versions yet (...)
21After all we must conclude that without a clearer idea than the foregoing discussion allows regarding the antiquity of the traditions preserved in the various versions of the sacred history of Sayrām,31it is difficult to assess the environment in which the work took shape in its surviving form ; nevertheless, the apparent provenance of all copies from the early years of Russian rule in Central Asia suggests that the work's wider circulation, if not its actual compilation, may be linked with the communal anxieties evoked by foreign, non-Muslim domination — of which the Russian conquest was only the most recent example. It was, in any case, from the era of Russian rule that we first find allusions to a written work on Sayrām's antiquities, as Russian scholars and officials began to take note of the town's extensive network of shrines and hagiological narratives.
- 32 Masson, 1928, p. 25.
- 33 Ivanov, 1923a.
- 34 Basilov, 1975, p. 155 ; Professor Basilov notified me by letter dated December 24, 1991, that a pre (...)
- 35 Ageeva and Patsevich, 1958, p. 129 ; the authors refer to the Russian translation, by G. V. Iskhako (...)
- 36 See Castagné, 1951, (the material published here was distilled from the author's earlier publicatio (...)
- 37 The work, ascribed to Mullā Bek-Muhammad Qāzi-kalān and bearing the title Sāryam shähridä ötgān äzi (...)
- 38 Mirahmad Mirkhaldar-oghli, Sayrām tārikhi, Chimkent, 1991, cited in Muminov, 1996, p. 364, n. 39. (...)
- 39 IVANUz, N° 8197, 11367 and 12708 ; I have utilized the two latter manuscripts for the present study (...)
22A Russian archeologist, writing in 1928, remarked that « what is especially characteristic of Sayrām, and distinguishes it from other towns and from cities of later emergence, is the extraordinary abundance of holy places or mazārs, which are the pride of [its] inhabitants and are described in a special risāla. »32The latter reference is one of several allusions to what is clearly a copy of a version of the sacred history of Sayrām under consideration here. Another discussion of such a work, by a Russian historian of Central Asia, appeared in 1923 ;33 a Soviet ethnographer mentioned a manuscript of a similar work in 1975 ;34 yet another copy is mentioned in a review of archeological sites in southern Kazakstan, withreference to an unpublished Russian translation ;35 another copy appears to have been examined by a Tsarist-era ethnographer and archeologist who collected extensive material on Central Asian shrines ;36 a version was evidently lithographed in Tashkent in 1884 ;37 what is clearly another version of the work was published in Shïmkent in 1991 ;38 and three uncatalogued 19th-century manuscripts are preserved in the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan in Tashkent.39No doubt additional copies are still held in private hands, and may be brought to light as a result of changing attitudes toward local religious history in post-Soviet Central Asia.
- 40 See in this regard the comments of Paul (1993, p. 78-79).
23The two original manuscript versions I have been able to examine signal the variety that may be expected in additional copies ; while clearly reflecting the same structure and stock of traditions, the two copies differ substantially in language, volume, and often content. We should no doubt expect to find that each copy amounts to a distinct version of the « work », which itself must be understood not as a single text, but as a body of traditions freely adjusted, condensed, expanded, and supplemented according to the tastes of individual copyists or « sponsors », a similar « flexibility », which should caution us against assuming we have a single work with an established (or establishable) text, is also evident in the case of the 19th-century shrine guides for Bukhara and Samarqand.40 Both manuscripts of the sacred history of Sayrām, however, bear the generic « title » « Saryām tārikhi »and both include the two sections, of roughly equal length, that together form the work as we have it. These sections do not bear separate headings, but the second part begins with a new bismillāh and brief introduction ;nevertheless, despite the likelihood that the two sections, and possibly even portions within each section, were originally independent, no separate copies of the two sections, let alone of smaller fragments of the work, have yet been identified.
24The first section of the sacred history is the narrative that recounts Sayrām's origins, tracing the rule of its ancient kings and affirming the foundational and protective intervention of various prophets in the town's past ; the second section is the catalogue of saints' shrines, first those within the city and then those found nearby.
- 41 The name is spelled clearly in both manuscripts as « B.r.q.'.n » , MS 11367 says « there was a city (...)
- 42 The « name » is of course a composite of titles, with bāsh meaning « head » or « chief. » (...)
- 43 Thus in MS 12708 ; MS 11367 gives « bir til birle », i.e. « in one language », but in subsequent ca (...)
25« History informs us », the account begins, « that there was a city named B.r.q.'.n » — an unknown place name that from the logic of the narrative must be identical with or close to Tarāz41 — « and that city had a ruler called Tekin-bāsh Malik » ;42 this ruler had no son, and prayed to God for one, until one day the holy prophet Idris came to spend the night in his home. Thereafter Tekin-bāsh's wife became pregnant, and this happy event was credited to the presence of the holy visitor, who was honored with a fine robe (khal'at) ; when his wife bore a son, Tekin-bāsh named the boy « Akhnūj Malik », which, we are told, means « guest » in Hebrew ( 'ibrï tili).43The name of the son, which clearly reflects the name « Akhnuh » or « Akhnukh » — i.e., the Biblical Enoch — is consistently written in these texts as « Akhnûj », and the difference in forms, rooted in the placement of a single dot, is significant for indicating a written rather than oraltransmission, at some point, for this story. The story's content, however, departs even more strikingly from conventional Islamic lore in distinguishing « Akhnūj » from Idris : Enoch is typically identified as Idris himself, but the sacred history of Sayrām, for unclear reasons, splits him into two figures with quite different roles.
- 44 The term translated as « helmet » is « yoshuq » or « yushuq »(MS 12708, yūshūq ; MS 11367, yūsh.q), (...)
26The account continues noting that Akhnūj Malik became king at age 15, upon his father's death, and then began to ask his father's vazirs why he had been given that name ; the vazirs told him the story of how he was born, and Akhnūj at once had Idris found and brought before him. He honored Idris with fine robes, and also gave him in marriage « a girl from among his own relatives » ; Idris then lived for several years in the city of B.r.q.'.n — or, according to another copy, in the city called « Talāsh » (an evident error for Talās, the form typically used in these texts to refer to Tarāz). In any case, Idris then decided to build his own city at a considerable distance from « Talāsh » (at this point both texts use this name) : he chose a site evidently called « the place of the helmet »,44 built his city, and dwelled there for 27 (or 23) years, performing for the people there the proper Islamic duty of « commanding the good » (amr-i ma'rūf). Then, however, Idris resolved to build « an even bigger and better city », and with several wise men decided on a spot between the Bādām river and the Aq river. There he built the city of « Sayrām » with 400.000 homes, four gates, six ribāts at each gate, and one well for each 100 dwellings. Sayrām is thus the second, more perfect city established by Idris, and we hear no more about the first one.
- 45 This designation would appear to conceal the name that appears in the narrative cycle of Islamizati (...)
27Idris, the story continues, spent 30 years in Sayrām. He established a hermitage (sawma'a) for himself, on the site where a prominent mosque of Sayrām (called here the masjid-i jūy-ābi)45would later be built, and spent most of his time sitting there. The city was still surrounded by a wilderness (changalistāri), however, and no one would go outside the city until Idris, implored by Sayrām's people, went out and commanded all the wild animals to go away and not to harm God's servants ; the creatures obeyed, and the people were freed from danger. A brief excursus follows on the threenames of Sayrām, two of which are declared to be of Hebrew origin : the Arabic « Madinat al-bayzā », we are told, is the Hebrew equivalent of « Üriing-kent »,a rather archaic Turkic phrase meaning « White City » ; the Iranian « Isbijāb » is said to be the Hebrew name for « a dry and rocky place between two streams » ; and « Saryām » is identified as the « Turki » designation for a rocky place between two streams.
28The foundation story for Sayrām concludes with an account, focused on Idris' departure from the town he had established, that evokes his reputation as a tailor and as the first person to wear a sewn shirt instead of animal skins. « He gathered the people and khojas of Saryām, took off his blessed old shirt (köylak), and gave it to them ; he said to the people of Saryām, “If after me trouble and distress should come upon you, use my shirt as your intercessor (shaft'), and no affliction or enemy will be able to harm you.” ». Idris thus bade farewell, and the people of Sayrām took his shirt and placed it inside a cave. After several years there was a plague in the city, which took the lives of one quarter of its people ; the inhabitants of Sayrām searched but were unable to find Idris' shirt (as we will see, however, it served its purpose during a later, more urgent threat).
- 46 So in MS 12708 ; in MS 11367, « they would exalt someone at each gate » (and the apparent shift in (...)
29The account notes that in Idris' time, no city was greater than Saryām, and then turns to the next phase of Sayrām's history, the time of the prophet Nūh. Nûh's summons to the true faith was accepted by only a few, who became Muslims ; the rest were destroyed in the storm (tūfān) sent by God, but Nūh and those who accepted the faith entered the ship and were saved. Nūh then made Saryām flourish (ābād) once again ; beyond this we are told only of a curious custom among the people of Saryām in the era immediately after the flood. « The people (él) of Saryām would make someone their bék each year ; when the new year came, they would kill him. Later they would make someone a bék for each gate ;46 and when he reached the end of his year, they would kill him too ». This story, unfortunately, is not further elaborated ; it seems to echo traditions of sacral kingship involving a prescribed term followed, in some cases, by ritual execution, that are paralleled in various ancient societies, and are echoed in an Inner Asian context in stories focused on the Khazars and on the Turks of Mongolia, but it is regrettable that we cannot be more certain of its sources.
- 47 The term used here is érkiik, « authority », which often conveys a sense of independence and free w (...)
- 48 On the range of equivalents attested for this unit of weight, see Clauson, 1972, p. 305-306 ; Budag (...)
- 49 The likelihood of a garbled text here is strengthened by the appearance at the end of this passage, (...)
30After several years in which this custom was maintained — the story is evidently intended to show how Sayrām was ruled between the Flood and the next conqueror — Jamshid emerged and conquered the world ; and so inall the world there was tyranny.47 At this point we find a somewhat garbled account of an army commander of Jamshid's called « Ashqar-sālār », who was sent to « the province of Turkistān » ; he came upon Tàshkand, where there was a mound (tepe) that existed, we are told, even in the time of Sām b. Nūh. One night the mound collapsed, 40 vats (khums) emerged from inside it, and in each vat were 200 mithqāls of gold ; Ashqar-sālār took all of it and sent it to be placed inside Sayrām's treasury. Then he came to Sayrām himself and was greeted by the city's elders ; they provisioned his troops, and as he departed he imposed a tax of ten bātmans48of wheat upon each of the city's 100,000 dihqāns.49
31Next Iskandar Dhū'1-Qarnayn conquered the world, built Samarqand, and marched toward the east ; he came upon Sayrām, and resolved to select a ruler for the town from among the khojas. They affirmed mat there was no one wiser among them than the Prophet Khizr ; Iskandar liked him too, showed him great esteem, and conferred his entire army upon him. The account does not explicitly emphasize that Khizr was a native of Sayrām, though it implies as much through his selection by the townsmen as their « ruler » ; as we will see, however, Khizr's association with Sayrām plays an important role in the town's sacred history as outlined in this work, and it may well be that we should see in his prominence a separate tradition paralleling the focus on Idris. In any case, Khizr's special relationship with Sayrām is attested, as noted, already at the beginning of the 14th century.
- 50 It is not clear whether this « Mosque of the Cloak » (the term « palās » is used especially to refe (...)
32The narrative, however, next turns to a series of harsh and accursed oppressors and the heroes who undo or evade them. The first is Nimrūd, who sought to cast Ibrāhim in the fire ; he charged the people of Sayrām with delivering 40,000 donkey-loads of firewood, but Ibrāhim had relatives in Sayrām who turned hostile (yāv bolup) and refused to give the firewood to Nimrūd's agents. The story is left undeveloped, however ; we are told merely that some of these relatives managed to flee and were spared Nimrūd's wrath, and mat God made the fire like a rose-garden for Ibrāhim. Beyond this, the account affirms that Ibrāhim lived for twelve years inSayrām, and established his hermitage on the site of the « Mosque of the Cloak » (palās masjidi).50
- 51 I have not traced this character in stories of the pre-Islamic prophets.
- 52 MS 11367 : sūyrāb söngäkini qāzūgūrt tāgïda alïb barïb qoydï. In MS 12708 a somewhat different vers (...)
- 53 The shirt of Idris is not mentioned again in the « sacred history » section of the work ; but as no (...)
33Next the accursed Nūh b. Basra51 conquered the world, and tyranny (érklik) reigned ; he sought to conquer Sayrām, but failed, and finally set about destroying the town's citadel (qal'a). It was at this point that the people of Sayrām found the blessed shirt of Idris and brought it forth as their intercessor. At that moment a piece (késak) fell from the top of the citadel's wall and struck Nūh b. Basra, who died and fell from his horse ; one foot remained caught in his stirrup, however, and before anyone could take hold of his horse, « it dragged him and left his bones atop Qāzûghûrt mountain. »52 Here we are reminded that Idris had declared, « I will always pray to God for this city's well-being and prosperity, and until the Day of Resurrection not one of its streets will be destroyed. »53
- 54 In MS 12708, the word used is simply orda ; MS 11367 uses the Mongol-era term and explains it ; « h (...)
- 55 Chumushlaghu, or « Jūmūshlāghū » asoften spelled in the sacred history, is mentioned as a settlemen (...)
34The next conqueror and oppressor, Fir'awn (i.e., Pharaoh), likewise tried to take Sayrām but could not ; in his days 'Isā lived in the city for four years, and at first most of the city's people were Magians and Christians (rnûgh tarsa). Some of them came to the true faith, while others did not, until those who did not were struck by famine. Sayrām itself was preserved by God's protection, and people came from all around to get the food available there. Then Nûshirvān the Just conquered the world, and gave the region of Turkistān and Sayrām to his son « Yazdjir Malik » ; Yazdjir came to Sayrām and drove out the Magians and Christians, killing some of them. He lived in the city for 13 years, and established his palace54 there at a place called mahār-téfa ; the account identifies the borders of this palace (or, in another version, the citadel he also built), as Shirkent, Chumushlaghu, Chimkent, and Mahār-téfa.55
35By a standard reckoning the time of Nūshirvān would bring us close to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, and in this instance the history of Sayrām adheres to a relatively more recognizable chronological sequence. Two stories are told about the Prophet Muhammad's dealings with Sayrām ; he too, like Idris, Nūh, Khizr, Ibrāhim, and 'Isā, is said to have spent time in the town. According to the first anecdote, the Prophet assembled his Companions and came to Sayrām for ziyārat (to whom this visitation was intended is not specified, but mention of it may allude to another episode noted shortly) ; he and his Companions stayed in the city for a year, and the infidels, who were very numerous in Sayrām, fled from them and took refuge in the citadel. We are not told if or how they were dislodged ; rather, there follows a story in which Khālid b. Walid, amazed to see the very waters of Sayrām break into pieces before his eyes, declares to the Prophet that this wonder was evoked by « fear of our swords » ; it is left to 'Ali to explain that « the lands of 'Ajam are very cold », and that what Khālid had seen, without understanding it, was simply ice.
- 56 Here again MS 12708 inserts the word « tammat », suggesting the end of some written source.
36The next narrative belongs to the genre of mi'rāj stories, a common motif in tales of Islamization and legends of origin, in which the Prophet blesses a people or a place during his ascent through the heavens ; here we find a quite interesting variation on this theme. According to this account, when the Prophet looked out over the world during the mi'raj, he saw a great light stretching from a certain place on earth all the way to the Throne ('arsh) of God ; he asked Jibrā'il about it, and Jibrà'il explained that this was the light, of divine origin, that illuminated the city called Madinat al-bayzà. The Prophet affirmed that it was truly a fine and blessed city, and expressed his desire to circumambulate it ; Jibrā'il was commanded by God, « Lift up the city of Madinat al-bayzà to the sky, and let my beloved Muhammad circumambulate it. » Jibrà'il thus raised Sayrām up to the heavens, and the Prophet performed two rak'ahs of namāz at the site of the masjid-i jûy-ābï, he also recited a prayer (du'ā) of blessing for the city, given in utterly garbled Arabic but explained as meaning, « Not a single part of the city of Sayrām will be destroyed down to the Day of Resurrection, nor will there be any famine. » At last, Jibrā'il put Sayrām back in its place, but it was nevertheless « forty cubits (qari) higher than other cities. »56
- 57 In the Ishāq Bāb narrative, the rulers whose names are echoed in the sacred history of Sayrām are i (...)
37After this passage, we come upon the beginnings of a more connected legendary history of Sayrām that seems to echo, if faintly, the early Islamic period as reflected in local traditions of the Syr Darya basin. The names ofseveral rulers mentioned in the account echo, as noted, those of historical figures from the pre-Mongol era, but there is a far closer correspondence with names and titles known from the narrative of Islamization focused on Ishāq Bāb ; and like that narrative, first recorded in the 14th century, the sacred history of Sayrām links the town's ruling house with that of Kāshghar (though without ever losing its focus on Sayrām), as noted below.57
- 58 This figure's name seems clearly to echo that of the famous Sebuktegin, father of Mahmūd of Ghazna, (...)
- 59 MS 11367 says instead that Sebük Tekin-bāsh was of the lineage of Qarā Bughrā Khān, but later in th (...)
- 60 This name, meaning « Fortunate Town » echoes the designation (« Qutlugh Bal'igh ») reportedly appli (...)
- 61 In MS 11367, bālchiq va kirfij ; in MS 12708, lāy va khisht.
- 62 The narrative is extremely condensed here, and does not make clear how or when Qarā Bughrā Khān exp (...)
- 63 So in MS 12708 ; in MS 11367, « Qarāmûrûd ». The name « Qaramurt » is applied to a particular villa (...)
38After the Prophet's visitation, the account continues, Sayrām's sultān was Sebük-Tekïn-bàsh,58in whose time thievery was unknown ; he ruled 70 years, and built 4,000 mosques. He was succeeded by a figure called Qarā Bughrā Khān,59described as mild and just ; he dwelled in Talās, and appointed his relative (he is later called Qarā Bughrā Khān's ini, « younger brother »), Chaghir Tekin, to rule in Sayrām. The latter ruler, although he was supportive of students and scholars, was oppressive ; once when hewas building a city, which he named Qūtlûq Ként,60 he forced the people of Sayrām to transport the mud and bricks61 for the city's buildings, prompting them to appeal to Qarā Bughrā Khān, who became angry upon hearing of his kinsman's oppression. He decided to trap Chaghir Tekin with a ruse, and spread the rumor that he was leaving to perform the hajj ; « he passed through Sayrām and pitched his tent at the base of Qāzghûrt mountain », sending this message to Chaghir Tekin : « I am going on a journey toward the qibla ; I entrust the kingdom to you. Let no foreigner (yāt kisi) become master of the kingdom. » Chaghir Tekin, however, became covetous of power and held a royal audience ; Qarā Bughrā Khān then confronted him,62 accused him of oppressing God's servants, not fearing God, and claiming divinity « like Shaddad », and held him while the executioner killed him on the banks of the Bādām river. His coffin (tābūt) was placed, we are told, « next to his own ribāt on the road that goes up to Qaràmūrt. »63
- 64 MS 12708 calls it again thejûy-āb mosque, but MS 11367 hints at the form in which we most likely fi (...)
39Despite his inglorious end, Chaghir Tekin is a prominent figure in the narrative (and is mentioned in the shrine catalogue, as we will see) ; the account here not only reaffirms that he used to treat scholars favorably and behave humanely (insānlik qïldi), but lists his good works as well. There were, in his time, 444 muftis in Sayrām, and Chaghir Tekin used to give to each mufti « 100 bātmans of wheat and 10,000 gold coins (āltūn yarmāq) ; he renovated old ribāts throughout the country, as well as one of Sayrām's principal mosques.64 All waqfs still existing in Sayrām, furthermore, aresaid to have been established by Chaghir Tekin, in support of « 50 madrasas [...] from Qūylūq » [or, in MS 12708, « Tūtlùq »] as far as the border of the Keläs (i.e., the Keles river). The ambivalent depiction of Chaghir Tekin, who in the shrine catalogue is even more straightforwardly included among the saints whose graves sanctify Sayrām, may suggest that traditions about two figures with similar names have been conflated, or simply that one historical figure inspired different sorts of traditions among different communities, which were only clumsily reconciled.
- 65 65. In MS 11367, she is called « turk.n » (explicitly vowelled with a dhamma), but in MS 12708, sh (...)
- 66 Thus MS 11367 ; MS 12708 says only that from her were born Arslān Khān and 'Abd al-Khàliq Khān. As (...)
- 67 The accounts differ here, above all with regard to the name of the guilty community. In MS 11367, i (...)
40In any case, the account then, for once, draws an explicit connection with a separate tradition. Qarā Bughrā Khān, 'Ali Khān, Hasan Khān, and Chaghir Tekin Khān were all brothers, we are told, as two additional figures are named alongside the subjects of the preceding narrative ; the four brothers sent their wise and beautiful sister65 to the region of Kāshghar, and for this reason (though we must assume a rather flexible understanding of a « Lineage »), « all the Kāshghar khāns are from the lineage of the holy Qarā Bughrā Khān. »66The account then turns abruptly to a figure who is evidently to be understood as one of these khāns of Kāshghar — namely the Arslān Khān mentioned next as the ruler of Sayrām — before recounting a division of the kingdom that seems to dispose, finally, of the Kāshghar branch. In Arslān Khān's time, the account affirms, the town boasted 300,000 « flourishing palaces » [ma'mûr sarāy], and 400,000 windmills ; inside the citadel, further, were 50 madrasas, upon each of which Arslān Khān bestowed 50 gold pieces and 100 sheep. It was also in his time that the arïq (irrigation canal) of the Bādām river was dug. Arslān Khān assigned responsibility for this work to various groups in turn, but a story is told of one group that, for reasons that are not explained, killed Arslān Khān's agent when its turn came ;67 consequently the khān imposed the blood-price on the community, and levied a tax of one-half tenge on each person. We are told, further, that at that time there were 10,000 each of blacksmiths, firewood collectors, and soapmakers working in Sayrām, and that Arslān Khān's era was one free of tyranny. In his time, finally, the citadel (qal'à) of Sayrām was repaired and strengthened, with four gates, and walls 19 cubits thick and 19 cubits high ; 100 (or 1000) master craftsmen directed the work, and 12°,000 persons labored for ten years, each receiving in exchange 100 bātmans of wheat and 100 gold pieces.
- 68 In the 19th-century reworking of the Ishāq Bāb narrative reflected in « Rodoslovnaia Karakhana », « (...)
- 69 It is not clear whether this form should be understood as an oral deformation of « Qarā Āsmān », or (...)
41Then follows a somewhat obscure passage outlining the division of « the realm » between Arslān Khān and 'Abd al-Khāliq Khān, who as noted are in one version portrayed as nephews of Qarā Bughrā Khān, 'Ali Khān, Hasan Khān, and Chaghir Tekin Khān ; in one version (MS 11367), both are said to have been rulers over Otrār, and the division leaves Arslān Khān in control in Sayrām, with 'Abd al-Khāliq Khān ruling in "Qarā Asmān" ;68according to the other version, 'Abd al-Khāliq alone was the khān of Otrār, and upon the division of the kingdom, Sayrām fell to Arslān Khān and Otrār together with « kh.rāsmān »69fell to 'Abd al-Khāliq. The passage may be understood, no doubt, as yet another allusion to links between the ruling house of Sayrām and that of Kāshghar, a theme stressed also in the Ishāq Bāb narratives ; whether this reflects the obscuring of dynastic boundaries, as memory of the Qarākhānid conquest of Isfijāb in 980 receded from historical significance, or a more conscious attempt (at some stage in the narrative's development) to connect those two apparently separate dynasties is impossible to say. In any case, we hear no more of 'Abd al-Khāliq or of the Kāshghar lineage. We are told, rather, that Arslān Khan died in a plague « several years » after the division of the kingdom, and that his successor in Sayrām was Sultan Mansūr Khamir.
- 70 MS 11367, fol. 320a-325a ; MS 12708, fol. 52a-59a.
- 71 This passage appears near the beginning of the account in MS 12708, but follows his release by Ismā (...)
42The latter figure is the subject of the longest extended narrative in the history of Sayrām ;70 as noted, he appears also, though as a relatively minor figure (primarily a genealogical place-holder), in the Ishāq Bāb narrative. The account of Mansūr Khamir in the sacred history of Sayrām begins with a few comments on the eminent figures and buildings of his era : it notes that two prominent religious leaders lived during Mansūr Khamir's reign, the shaykh al-islām Ra'is al-Din, and the qāzi 'Abd al-Rahmān, and that the minaret of the town's Friday mosque was built in his time as well, on land purchased from 'Â'isha Khātūn, wife of a certain Ibrāhim, and converted into waqf (this made possible, we are told, a meal every Friday prepared from 20 bātmans of flour and 20 sheep). The account also includes a curious section on three wondrous and unmatched feats Mansūr claimed to have performed,71 but is otherwise taken up by a long description of his troubled reign : first his divinely-aided victory over an infidel army that attacked Sayrām, then his imprisonment by Ismà'il Sāmānï, his release upon demonstrating his benevolent concern for his realm, befitting a true king, and finally his return to Sayrām to live not as a king, but as a hermit.
- 72 A different version of this story is told in the second part of the work, the shrine catalogue, in (...)
43The story of his tribulations begins with an attack on Sayrām. An enemy army came and surrounded the city ; the Prophet, in a dream, charged Mansūr to drive them away, and the ruler went up to the top of the wall during the middle of the night to survey the enemy forces. There he found the Imam Ra'is al-Din, who as it turned out had had a similar dream, and who explained that Mansūr had been honored with this dream for his justice, and he himself for his knowledge. The two men prayed together, prepared to go out against the foe, and saw that the enemy army stretched from Chumushlaghu to Chimkent. Mansūr, trusting in God, took his sword and went out among them, and, finding that the enemy troops were asleep, he slew so many that their corpses formed heaps ; when at last the enemy troops became aware of what was happening, in their confusion they killedone another, and the rest of them fled.72 One of them was captured and asked why they had fled ; he explained that their attackers were seen to have lances 40 cubits long, which they simply could not withstand. Mansūr then returned to the city and proclaimed that whoever wanted the spoils of war should go out and take what he could ; and indeed the people of Sayrām went out and took the defeated army's property, « and the poor people became wealthy ».
- 73 The phrase recurs in both versions, in a later episode. Appropriately enough, while in historical t (...)
- 74 Ismā'il Sāmāni says, « O Mansūr Khamir, your rulership and your justice were well-known throughout (...)
- 75 In MS 12708, the fourth question reads thus each time it is repeated : « mu'min-lar choq choq-mu ya (...)
44The real point of this story of Mansūr's single-handed defeat of the attackers, and of his generosity in consigning all the spoils to his subjects, is evidently to highlight the ungrateful response of the people of Sayrām, and thereby to set the stage for his « retirement » from rulership several years later. Immediately after this victory, unspecified « backbiters » denounced Mansūr to Ismā'il Sāmānï, the ruler of Samarqand, who came, seized Mansūr, carried him off, and threw him in a dungeon. Then, we are told, the infidels came — in one version, they are explicitly called the infidels of Iran73— and besieged Sayrām, but after seven years they were unable to take the city and went away. At that point, the relatives of Mansūr assembled and decided to send several men to Samarqand to appeal for their kinsman ; in Samarqand Ismā'il Sāmānï ordered them to be taken to Mansūr in his dungeon, but told two of his vazirs to listen secretly and report all that was said. When they did so, what Mansūr had asked his kinsmen seemed so strange to Ismā'il Sāmāni that he had the prisoner brought before him to see if he had indeed lost his senses during his imprisonment.74 His questions were four ; « Is it snowing a lot in the mountains ? Is the grass sprouting in the steppe ? Are boys studying in school ? Are the believers ofmany minds or are they united ? »75Mansūr explained to his captor that to ask those questions was obligatory for him ; and when further pressed by his captor, he explained more fully. « I was the ruler of that region ; it was my duty to be concerned about the inhabitants and to ask about their condition. If snow is abundant on the mountains, the streams will be full of water [or, in MS 12708, there will be a lot of water for crops] ; if the grass is abundant, the worms and birds will eat their fill [and not harm the crops] ; if boys study in the maktab, the prayers will be performed among the people, and Islam will be strong ; and if the believers are of many minds, the realm is ruined, but if they are united in concord, the realm will be at ease. »
- 76 That is, he performed dihqānchïlïq ;does this conceal an allusion to his status as one of the arist (...)
45This explanation impressed Ismā'ïl Sāmāni, who acknowledged Mansūr's kingly character and set him free ; and the Prophet, too, we are told, appeared to Mansūr in a dream and approved of his concern for his realm. As Mansūr returned to Sayrām, he was greeted by all the people, including its khojas, to whom he declared that he would no longer serve as ruler : « For seven years I lay in a dungeon, and I swore to God that I should spend the rest of my life in a wretched state ; what was it that I did to deserve being held captive in a dungeon for seven years ? Why would I become ruler again only to once more be held captive in a dungeon ? » Instead he lived as a farmer,76 driving 400 yokes of oxen and providing 100,000 bātmans of wheat and 100 sheep to the poor and orphaned each year ; each Friday he provided a meal prepared from 100 bātmans of flour, and would then engage in worship. The account of his other good works suggests that, ruler or not, he continued to look after the city : he established āshkhānas on all four sides of the city and staffed them with servants to provide meals to all who came : and he also had water brought into the city and ensured a sufficient supply to irrigate its fields.
- 77 We may note here the introduction of new figures into the sacred history, perhaps revealing the nar (...)
46After Mansūr Khamir died, Sayrām was without a pādshāh for forty years ; the infidels of Iran heard of this and took advantage of the opportunity to besiege the city once more. The shaykh al-islām Ra'is al-Din was still alive, however, and an extended passage recounts his calm assurance to the people that Sayrām was divinely protected during this interregnum. First, he told them, Khizr comes every Monday during the day and every Friday evening in order to circumambulate the graves of his parents ; no enemy would be able to harm the city. He reminded them that the Prophet Muhammad had prayed for Sayrām « several hundred years ago », that the prophets Idris and Dā'ûd protected the city, and that the prophets 'Isāand Yûsha' and Ilyās were natives of Sayrām and had also prayed for it77. After hearing the Imam Ra'is al-Din's reassurance, the people of Sayrām found that the infidel troops were fleeing, and captured one of them to bring before the Imam. He asked why they had run away, and the infidel explained : his army numbered 50,000, he said, but when they had entered Sayrām, they had seen a very tall person leading 100,000 troops, each armed with immensely long lances ; « their lances reached us, ours did not reach them, and so we fled ». The tall person was Khizr ; and the explanation again rehearses the blessings and protections provided to Sayrām by so many prophets :
- 78 Thus in MS 11367 ; in MS 12708, « and many prophets and holy men ('aziz) and saints (vali) have pra (...)
- 79 MS 11367 alone adds that « whoever makes water flow in the city and gives a cloak to a naked person (...)
« Every Monday Khizr comes for ziyārat to the blessed graves of his parents ; the holy Prophet prayed for this city a hundred years ago ; the holy Ibrāhim lived here for twelve years, and it is mentioned in the Torah (tùrāyt) as well that “Not a road of this city will be destroyed until the Day of Resurrection.”78 If someone enters by one gate of this city and goes out by another, not a speck of his sins will remain [or, in 12708, « he will be untouched by the fires of hell »]. [Whoever sits with people of Sayrām and eats a morsel of food with them, God willing, will obtain abundant rewards.] If he gives food to fill one hungry person there, it will be as if he has fed all the dervishes of Mecca. Whoever dies in this city will never face the final questioning [of the Day of Judgment]. »79
- 80 MS 11367, « vali-i sāhib-i bātin » ; MS 12708, « valî-i sāhib-i hāl ».
47The narrative resumes following this litany of blessings, and focuses on yet another ruler connected with Sayrām. Sultān QarāTekin Atā, we are told, was a native of 'Irāq, and had a slave named Aflah ; QarāTekin was a « saint by mystical experience, »80 and used to read the Torah (tūrāyt) constantly. One day he « heard » (though it is implied that he read this in the Torah) that there was a city called Madinat al-bayzāin Turkistān, and that whoever should place one brick atop another on a building in that city would never see the face of hell (or, in MS 12708, « would be spared from the fires of hell »). QarāTekin immediately sent his slave Aflah to Sayrām with all his master's wealth and with instructions to consult with the khojas and elders there, to buy up suitable sites for mosques and ribāts, and to restore waqf-properties that had been ruined. Aflah did as commanded, and the city was made to flourish ; when he had spent all his money, he sent a messenger to QarāTekin for further instructions. Qarā Tekin moved to Sayrām with his clan and relatives, and they pitched their tents at the base of Qāzghûrt mountain. Aflah went to greet his master, who asked him what Sayrām was like ; the slave told him Sayrām was indeed better than Qarā Tekin's place, and suggested that his master « enter the city, walk about it, and see the structures built up inside it ». At that moment, however, God's command went out to Azrā'il to take Qarā Tekin's soul ; he thus died before entering Sayrām, but his body was taken and buried inside the city, and thus he reached his goal.
48Sayrām's sacred history ends abruptly with this episode.
- 81 MS 11367, fol. 328a-351b ; MS 12708, fol. 63b-77b. The summary of the shrine catalogue given below (...)
49The shrine catalogue is presented here in summary form,81 but its style is already quite simple and direct. In both sections an initial shrine is identified by the name of the saint supposedly buried there (most often without extensive epithets), and subsequent shrines are located roughly with directional indicators (and less often with indications of distance) given in reference to the preceding shrine (or occasionally using a shrine noted earlier as a reference point) ; regardless of whether locations are indicated, however, the entries usually note whether the grave in question is marked by some visible sign or not. In some cases we are given little more than the name of the saint, but usually we find also some account of the saint's life and familial and spiritual relationships, and occasionally longer anecdotes as well. As noted, the catalogue is divided into two sections focused on saints buried inside and outside the city, respectively ; eachsection includes approximately 30 saints, but entries in the first section tend to be somewhat shorter than those in the second.
50The saints whose shrines are noted represent several distinct types of figures. They include :
511. figures mentioned in the narrative sacred history of Sayrām, both rulers and scholars [I/8, I/15, II/26] as well as the parents of Khizr [II/14, II/24] ;
522. saints ascribed a role in Islamization and/or holy war, including some known from other narrative traditions [II/1, II/2, II/31] ;
533. relatives of Khoja Ahmad Yasavi [I/6, I/11, II/28, II/32] or other figures linked with lore about Yasavi [II/5, II/15] ;
544. figures identified as Sufi disciples of prominent saints of Naqshbandi (Khoja Ahrār, Bahā' al-Dïn Naqshband) and Yasavi (e.g., Zangi Atā, Ismā'il Atā, Mawlānā Shams Uzgandi) affiliation [I/12, I/13, I/16, I/17, I/21, II/3, II/9, II/19, II/23, II/27], as well as figures identified as disciples of otherwise unidentified Sufi shaykhs [I/20, I/22, I/26, I/27, I/28, II/11] ;
555. jurists and scholars otherwise unknown from available biographical sources [I/1, I/24, II/8, II/10, II/18, II/21] ;
566. otherwise unknown figures of evident local prominence, to judge from the frequent allusions to them as teachers or relatives of other saints [I/9, I/10, II/12, II/13, II/17, II/22, II/23] ;
577. figures ascribed particular efficacy in resolving specific types of individual illnesses or communal threats [I/2, I/25, II/l, II/8].
58Several quite interesting figures do not fit neatly or exclusively into one of these categories [I/4, I/14, I/29, II/5, II/15] ; and in addition, the account notes several mosques or sites of mosques [I/3, I/18, I/28, II/16b], as well as two sites linked especially closely to the « men of the unseen world » [I/28, II/8].
591. Mawlānā 'Imād al-Dïn Isbijābi, a khalifa of Sa'd al-Dïn Nishāpūri ; he was born in « Jùmūshlāghù », but taught in Herat ; MS 11367 includes a longer story about his seven school-companions who came to visit him, and, aware of his reputation in his native region, to test him.
602. Khoja 'Abd al-Samad, known as Kôk Tonluq Atā [MS 12708, Kôk Ton Atā], regarded as a protector against whooping cough (kôk yùtāl) in children.
613. The mosque of Idris, without further details.
- 82 I.e., Muhammad b. al-Hanafiya, son of 'Ali by a woman other than the Prophet's daughter, and a figu (...)
624. Imām Abu 'AU Hanafi, whom some associate with « Muhammad Hanafiya ».82 he served at the mosque of Idris, and a story is told of his weekly disappearances, each Thursday, and of how it was ascertained that these were due to his miraculous travel to the Ka'ba [MS 12708 calls him « Imām Hana-fi » and says only that he taught and served as imam at the mosque, omitting the story and the link with « Muhammad Hanafiya »].
635. Sūfi Nawrūz, a contemporary of the preceding [who is called « Imām Hanafiya » in MS 11367, « Imām 'Ali » in MS 12708].
646. The mother of the holy Sultān Khoja Ahmad Yasavi : MS 11367 adds here that it would be improper (bi-adab) to mention her name (her shrine is nevertheless well known as that of Qara-sach Ana, « Black-Haired Mother », whence the compiler's reticence may be understood as a sign of his reluctance to mention the hair of the holy woman to whom he was na-mahram. MS 12708 notes here that four saints are buried at her shrine, namely Khoja Ibrāhim, Khoja Sulaymān, Khoja Salim, and Dā'ūd ; MS 11367 names four saints under the following entry, but later (see N° I/11) refers back to the first of them as being buried at the grave of Yasavi's mother suggesting that MS 12708 more accurately reflects the tradition. In any case, MS 11367 gives their names thus : « Khoja Ibrāhim, Khoja Sulaymān, Khoja Tir-tarāsh [“arrow-maker”] ātlarï Khoja Salim » (the phrasing would seem to indicate that the real name of Khoja Tir-tarāsh was Khoja Salim, but most likely the text is corrupt, and Khoja Salim was intended as the fourth saint). Both manuscripts affirm that there is no longer any trace of these four saints' graves. (This shrine was noted in Masson ; visited in April 1995.)
657. Nūr al-Din Atā, called « Bābā Taghāy Vali » (taghāy = « maternal uncle ») [MS 12708 gives his first appellation as « Nûr al-Din Àmāni »].
668. Mawlānā Rā'is al-Din, the contemporary of « Sultān Mansūr Khamir Atā »referred to in the narrative history ; MS 11367 alone recounts here a slightly different version of their cooperation in warding off an enemy attack (see above, note 72).
679. Khoja Nasir al-Din Vali, a murid of Mir 'Ali Bābā [N° II/13].
6810. Khoja Abu Nasr Fārsā, the son of the same Mir Ali Bābā ; MS 11367 alone tells of his father's approval of this figure's vision of two cities, explained as heaven and hell [MS 12708 gives his name as « Khoja Nasr Fāri-sā »]. His grave is longer visible. [His name echoes that of the son of Khoja Muhammad Pārsā, the famous disciple of Bahā' al-Din Naqshband].
6910a. Shāh 'Abd al-Bāq, mentioned only in MS 12708 ; his grave is not visible.
7011. Ibrāhim Atā : both versions note that there are four figures called Ibrahim Atā among the saints of Sayrām, two inside and two outside the city ; of the first group, one is in the cemetery of Yasavi's mother [N° I/6], and the other, evidently this one, is said (in MS 12708 alone) to be at the base of Sayrām's qal'a (discussion of the other two is deferred until the second part of the shrine catalogue). Both versions note that some people regard this Ibrāhim Atā as Yasavi's father. (Noted in Masson ; visited April 1995).
7111a. Mir 'Ajam, mentioned only in MS 12708, with no further details.
7212. Khoja Burhān [al-Din] Vali, called in MS 12708 a murid of « Khoja Ahrār Vali », but in MS 11367 a contemporary of Khoja Ahrār Vali and a murid of « Khoja Nizām al-Dîn Khāmùsh Tāshkandi » (i.e., the figure typically cast as Khoja Ahrār's master) ; his grave is not visible, according to MS 11367.
7313. Khoja Ismā'il Pùstïn-dùz (« the furrier »), identified as a murid of « Khoja Shams al-Din Uzgandi » (and in MS 11367 alone as a contemporary of « Qāsim Shaykh Karmi », i.e. the 16th-century Yasavi saint Qāsim Shaykh Karminagi) ; his grave is not visible, according to MS 11367.
- 83 Cf. Clauson, 1972, p. 392, and Budagov, 1960, I, p. 280 : bozla-, « to bellow », « to groan », « t (...)
7414. Shaykh Kamāl al-Din Bayzāvi, called Bozlaq Atā because he « bellowed »83 in mourning for his son who perished during a plague that struck Sayrām. (The site was shown to us as the shrine of « Bozluq Ata » in April 1995.)
7514a. Hājji Nazar Pāyband, mentioned only in MS 12708, without further details.
7615. Sultān Mansūr Khamir Atā, mentioned in both versions with reference to narratives recounted earlier.
7716. Hāfiz al-Din Bākharzi [so MS 12708 ; MS 11367 here gives his nisba as « Bākharzin »], a murid of Ishāq Atā (MS 11367 alone further identifies the latter as the son of Ismā'il Atā) ; his grave is not visible, according to MS 11367.
7817. Shaykh 'Attār Vali, a murid of « Shah Naqshband Bukhāri » (MS 11367 alone, though linking him more strongly with Bahā' al-Din Naqshband — he clearly echoes the latter's well-known disciple 'Āla' al-Din 'Attār — further identifies him with Farid al-Din 'Attār and relates a story about his encounter with a beggar drawn from traditions about the eminent poet).
7918. The mosque of Khizr, called the masjid-i qazā.
8019. Sayyid Badr al-Din, a contemporary of Mawlavî Jāmï.
8120. Mawlana Nāsir al-Din Bayzāvï, a murid of « Mir Bahā' al-Din Yak-pā » [N° II/17].
8221. Khoja Husayn Saryāmi [his nisba is given as « Bayzāvi » in MS 12708], a murid of Zangi Atā ; MS 11367 alone adds that this Khoja Husayn took care of tending Zangi Atā's cattle when Zangi Atāwas busy providing guidance to the people, and through this service attained his spiritual goal.
8322. Khoja Hakim Akhcha-lik, identified in MS 11367 alone as a native of Akhcha, a dependency of Balkh, who came to Sayrām by his master's command ; his master is identified only as « Mawlāna Sayf ad-Din », and a story is told of Khoja Hakim's role in presenting his master's case before Khizr, who was to choose either Mawlana Sayf ad-Din or a certain « MawlanāAhmad Samarqandi » to enter the ranks of the chihil-tan (none of this appears in MS 12708, which notes only, as affirmed in MS 11367 as well, that his grave is not visible).
8423. Mustafā Quli Khoja, identified as a contemporary of Shaykh Kamàl al-Din Juvānmard [in MS 12708, he is called a contemporary of « Shah Kamāl Jùmard » ; N° II/21 is the grave of a figure identified in MS 11367 alone as a son of Shaykh Kamāl al-Din Juvànmard] ; his grave is not evident. This figure is of interest because of the prominence, in local tradition of Sayrām reported by Ivanov and Masson, identifying a shrine of « Mustafa-qul » or « Mustaba-qul » as that of a son of Ahmad Yasavi ; the shrine of a figure bearing this name is mentioned, in MS 11367 [see N° II/32], as that of a grandson of Yasavi (mentioned in Masson).
8524. 'Allāma Tāj al-Din [thus in MS 12708 ; MS 11367 gives the form « ‘Allāma Tājdin »], said to be the master of all the muftis (said to number 400 in MS 11367) of Sayrām.
8625. Shaykh Vali [called « Sultān Vali » in MS 12708], called Qābiz Atā because if someone appeals to his spirit when gripped by pain (qabz), the saint relieves the pain if God so wills (MS 11367 adds that this saint "partook of God's quality of qahhār-lik', i.e. of the divine wrath).
8726. Khoja 'Abd al-Rahmān and 27. Khoja 'Abd al-Rahim, two brothers who were murids of Shaykh Abu Sa'id Otrāri ; MS 11367 says they both performed the duty of spreading prayer-rugs (farrāsh-Uk) in a local mosque, while MS 12708 says they served as watchmen in the Masjid-i Palas.
8828. Shaykh Ishāq Vali, a murid of Shaykh Nūr al-Din Tāshkandi ; some call him the « gatekeeper » (darvāza-bān) of Sayrām.
8929. The mosque of the mardān al-ghayb [MS 12708 alone gives this designation, but MS 11367 describes the same place], where the people of the unseen world gather from evening until dawn to confer together ; no trace of the mosque itself remains.
- 84 MS 11367 says merely that his eyebrows were « long » (uzun), but in MS 12708 they are described as (...)
9030. Nāsir al-Din Barāq, the son of Shaykh Ishāq (N° I/28), who is said to have gained the appellation « Barāq » because his blessed eyebrows were thickly overgrown and practically covered up his eyes ;84 his grave is not visible, according to MS 11367.
91At this point the first section ends, and the author appeals to those who examine the book to correct it, since there is no longer any sign of the graves of many of the saints, and because he had abbreviated what he found in books of history even in the case of those of which some trace remained.
- 85 Yuvāsh Bāb, whose grave is said in other traditions to be in Chumushlaghu, is mentioned already in (...)
92In MS 12708 this section begins immediately with 'Abd al-'Aziz Bāb ; in MS 11367 we find this brief and evidently truncated listing : « Ishāq Bāb ; second, the holy Yuvāsh Bāb85was the brother of Ishāq Bāb ; third, the holy 'Abd al-'Aziz,... » (continuing as in the entry below).
931. 'Abd al-'Aziz Bāb, called « the best and foremost and most perfect of all the eminent [saints] who are in Saryām ». He was, the account affirms, among the tābi'in, and was the standard-bearer ('alam-dār) of Ishāq Bāb, and for this reason they call him "Khoja 'Alamdār Bābā" in Tashkent ; what is there, however, is his qadam-jāy. His grave in Sayrām is said to be a place where prayers are answered (ijābat-i du 'a), and the account makes it clear that its power is felt in a communal sense :
- 86 Masson (1928, p. 26-27) discusses this shrine, which he calls that of « Balā-gardān » (i.e. « warde (...)
« Whenever some misfortune befalls the region of Saryām, if the people of the region will offer a certain amount as sadaqa, pray at his grave, and appeal to his noble spirit, then God willing that affliction will be removed. The difficulties of many people have become easy at this shrine ; and it is hoped that from now on whoever seeks aid from this person will not go away in despair. »86
94The account notes further that he was martyred in holy war with the infidels, and that some affirm that he left one child (specified as a daughter in MS 11367), while others say he had no children. (Visited in April 1995.)
- 87 Masson (1928, p. 26) however, insists that it is the shrine of 'Abd al-'Aziz Bāb that is ascribed b (...)
952. Sayyid Khoja Khān Atā, identified as the son of Awliyā Atā (i.e., the patron saint of Tarāz/Talās/Jambïl, usually identified also as « Qarā Khān ») ; his shrine, the account says, was built by Amir Timūr, but was destroyed and rebuilt (of brick, says MS 12708, but of stone according to MS 11367) in the time of « Amir Nawrūz Barāq Khān » (the latter figure is clearly identifiable with the Shïbānid ruler of Tashkent in the mid-16th century, called Nawrûz Ahmad Khān, or Barāq Khān).87
963. Ismā'ïl Atā, called here the « son » of the holy Muhammad Darvish Atā (this brief notice would appear to refer to the Yasavi saint of the early 14th century known as Ismā'ïl Atā, whose Sufi lineage is linked to Ahmad Yasavi through Sufi Muhammad Dānishmand, but whose father is called, in early sources, Ibrāhim Atā ; this Ismā'il Atā, likewise according to early sources, was buried in the town now called Turbat, after his grave and that of his son, about halfway between Sayrām and Tashkent).
974. Hājji Khoja Atā, identified only as the son of « Bikja Atā » (the latter name resembles those of « Biktāw Ata » and « Bigich Atā » invoked by the Qazaq shaman recorded by Divaev).
985. The master (ūstādh) of Khoja Ahmad Yasavi : the text in MS 12708 reads, against all probability, as if this is the grave of Ahmad Yasavi himself, but MS 11367 seems more clearly to indicate that the grave is that of Yasavi's teacher, called here « Shaykh Shihāb al-Dïn Isbijābi » ; this might be understood as an allusion to the widespread tradition identifying Ahmad Yasavi as a disciple of Shihāb al-Din Suhravardi. However, MS 11367 adds an extended narrative drawn from popular lore about Yasavi's relationship with Arslān Bābā (the episode in which Yasavi, as a boy, walks backward with the Qur'ān on his head so as not to turn his back on his teacher, and in that state is spied by Arslān Bābā, who had been commissioned by the Prophet to deliver Yasavi's amanat, a date). If MS 11367 means to imply, by including this narrative, that « Shaykh Shihāb al-Din Isbijābi » was the real name of Arslān Bābā, its claim that this figure's grave is in Sayrām is hardly less improbable than a claim to find Ahmad Yasavi's tomb there (Arslān Bābā's shrine is well-known near Otrār). None of this narrative about Arslān Bābā appears in the corresponding account in MS 12708, which mentions only that near this Shihāb al-Din's grave, « the holy Sultān Khoja (Ahmad Yasavi) ate the blessed date (khurtnā), water came forth from his mouth, and several men, drinking of that water, became saints (ahlu'llāh) » ; the account, evidently corrupt, then notes that « there is a bridge there now », and evidently begins to affirm that « whoever, by that bridge, [does something, e.g. drinks ?] », before turning abruptly to the following entry, on Ibrahim Namad-pūsh (it may be, however, that the account is merely condensed, and intended to situate the next grave with respect to the bridge). The allusion to drinking water from Yasavi's mouth, in connection with the story of the date, and the mention of a bridge, however, allow us to connect this garbled account from MS 12708 with an extended entry in MS 11367 devoted to the grave of « Sultān Sanjar Lāy-khūr » (see N° II/15 ; MS 12708 mentions this figure's name but offers no narrative), whose spiritual realization is explicitly linked to the story of Arslān Bābāpassing the date to Yasavi.
996. Ibrahim Namad-pûsh, identified as a servant of 'Abd al-'Aziz Bāb ; his grave is not visible.
1007. Gharib Shāh Shaykh, the son of Hājji Khoja Atā [N° II/4] ; his grave is not visible.
1018. Khoja Hasan Bayzāvi, identified as a scholar in the exoteric and esoteric sciences ; his grave is said to be a gathering place for the abdāl and awtād, having been made a ziyārat-gāh by the mardin al-ghayb after his death, and the account notes that « his prayers have never been rejected » by God (his grave is nevertheless not visible).
1029. Shāh Ghāziyàn Bābā, said to have been a murid of « Bābā-yi Sammāsi » (the Khojagāni saint typically cast as the direct master of Bahā' al-Din Naqshband) ; he performed the dhikr-i qalb, we are told, and wherever he lay down, everyone would hear his heart saying « Allah, Allāh ».
10310. Mawlānā Lutfullāh Saryàmï, « called by the people of Saryām “Bàbà-yi Mashvarat” » (mashvara = « counsel ») ; he was a direct pupil of Qāzi Bayzāvi, wrote 37 books, and was for 19 years the most learned man in the region of Sayrām. MS 11367 alone adds an anecdote about his relationship with an unnamed ruler, in which the scholar's justification for his own retirement from scholarship induces the pādshāh to abandon his rule.
- 88 Perhaps « annual pilgrim » ( ?), written « y.la-kan »in both copies.
10411. Hājji 'Abdullāh Saryāmi, a murid of ShaykhSayf al-Din Khwārazmi ; he performed the pilgrimage to Mecca 52 times, for which reason he was called among the people « Yïllagān Hājji ».88
10511a. Iskandar Bābā, whose grave is not visible, mentioned only in MS 12708.
10612. Padshāh Malik Bābā, a contemporary of Khoja Yûsuf Hamadāni (traditionally cast as the spiritual ancestor of the Naqshbandiya) ; according to MS 11367 alone, the two exchanged letters.
- 89 Masson (1928, p. 25-26) speaking of only one shrine « of Pādshāh Malik Bābā or of Mir-'Ali Bābā », (...)
10713. Mir 'Ali Bābā, called a sayyid and identified as the son of Pādshāh Malik Bābā ; MS 11367 alone adds an apparently garbled passage seemingly affirming that after his father's death, Mir 'Ali Bābā was served for 15 years by one « Muhammad Sharif Bāy Ghijduvāni » (but more likely intending a reversal of those roles). Both versions affirm that Mir 'Ali Bābā had two sons, Khoja Nasrullàh Fārsā and Khoja Fathullāh Majdhūb ; some say their graves are beside their father's, some say they are elsewhere, and in fact, the account concludes, their resting places are not known [nevertheless, Nos I/9 and I/10 are « Khoja Nāsir al-Din », identified as a disciple of Mir 'Ali Bābā, and « Khoja Abu Nasr Fārsā », identified as a son of Mir 'Ali Bābā, respectively]. (Visited in April 1995).89
10814. Bibi Ghiyāth Anā, the mother of Khizr [her notice comes immediately before N° II/12 in MS 12708].
- 90 The term "lāy-khùf' as applied to figures appearing in mystical poetry is usually translated as « d (...)
- 91 MS Aligarh Subhanullah N° 297.71/1 (uncatalogued), fol. 28b. I have not yet traced this figure else (...)
10915. Sultān Sanjar Lāy-khūr : in MS 12708 this entry comes after N° II/11a, and gives only his name, but MS 11367, which notes that his shrine is on the bank of a stream, adds an anecdote explaining the saint's name (lāy-khûr = « mud-eater »90) ; the story alludes to the account of Ahmad Yasavi and Arslān Bābā noted in N° II/5 above (but not found in MS 12708). He heard, the account explains, that after Arslān Bāb had given the date (khurma) to AtāYasavi, the two of them sat beneath a bridge on the bank of a stream. Sultān Sanjar came there and resolved that he would drink water from that blessed spot, but it happened that there was no water in the arïq at that time ; so « he ate of the mud of that place, and attained perfection ». [« Shaykh Sanjar Lāy-khûr » is mentioned in the Jāddat al-'āshiqin, a hagiography from the second half of the 16th century devoted to the Kubravi shaykh Husayn Khorezmi ; his eating of mud is noted as an ascetic example that inspired Husayn Khorezmi during a period of seclusion in the deserts of Khorezm91].
11016. Qudratullāh Vali, whose grave is not evident ; in MS 11367 it appears that some words are missing from a slightly longer passageindicating his relationship with some other figure (« Qudratullah Khoja Vali Andïjāni-ge dākhil érdiler »).
11116a. Shāh Jamāl al-Dïn, whose grave is not visible, mentioned only in MS 12708.
11216b. A mosque, not further identified, is mentioned in MS 12708 alone.
11317. Mir Bahā' al-Dïn Yak-pā, for whom MS 11367 alone presents an anecdote explaining his name (yak-pā = « one-leg ») : he sought to rise from the ranks of the saints (awliya) into those of me prophets (anbiya) ; but a blow from the unseen world struck his leg, and he was left lame. [For this figure's disciple, see N° I/20].
11418. Qāzi Khoja, identified as a commentator on the Qur'ān ; MS 12708 says only that his grave is not now visible, but MS 11367 adds a long (and occasionally garbled) anecdote about a ruler who sought from the 'ulamā a rivāyat legitimizing his marriage to a woman (called « thrice-divorced ») whose lawfulness for him was questionable ; several Hanafi jurists refused, but the ruler was advised to seek out the Shāfi'i scholar, Qāzi Khoja. The ruler did so and made him qāzi over his entire realm ; the account notes that some blame him for approving the ruler's plans in order to become qāzi, but that in fact it is not known whether he approved it or not. Some say, the account concludes, that when doing tafsir, he would indicate one judgment based on rules of syntax, and another based on rules of morphology ; and the entire account is cited from « a book of history » (sahifa-i tārikh).
11519. Mawlana Hakim Isbijābi, identified as a son of Ishāq Atā ; the text in MS 11367, evidently conflated again, notes that he attained perfection through his father, and then mentions, without explanation, a « Khoja 'Abd-i Samï' Vali », the son of Ishāq Atā.
11620. Khoja Islām, the son of « Khoja Hakim », evidently referring to me figure in the preceding notice ; his grave is not visible.
11721. Mawlānā Qutb al-Dïn 'Allāma Bayzāvï (called in MS 12708 « 'Allāma Qutb al-Dïn Isbijābi »), identified in MS 11367 alone as the son of Shah Kamāl al-Dïn Juvānmard [see N° I/23 for another reference to this figure] ; MS 11367 is likewise alone in noting that according to an unidentified risāla, this Qutb al-Dïn was the son of « Imām Bakr Qaffāl » (a name inspired by that of the 10th-century Shāfi'ï jurist of Tashkent), but that this may be rejected insofar as Mawlānā Qutb al-Din's grave is near that of Kamāl al-Dïn. (It is not clear which of the various figures assigned the nisba « Bayzāvï » is to be linked with the shrine of « Qāzi Bayzāvï » which is mentioned frequently in the shrine catalogue, as a reference point, and which we visited in April 1995 ; probably it is this Qutb al-Dïn Bayzāvï).
11822. Bibi Maryam, the daughter of Hājjï Hāmid ; she was majdhūb, and because of the confusion and enticements of the jinns, she wandered in the steppes and deserts throughout the world. The account notes that some identify her with the mother of 'Isā. (This site was mentioned in Ivanov, 1927, and Masson ; Masson noted that a structure there built in the 1890s had soon collapsed, leaving no trace. A new mosque, built with foreign funds, was standing near the site in April 1995.) [This and the following five entries do not appear at all in MS 12708.]
11923. Otluq Yûnus Atā, said to have been a ruler in 'Ajam ; an anecdote is told to explain how he became a disciple of Ismà'ïl Atā. One day he went out to hunt, strolling, with 70,000 slaves, through the fresh grass of early spring on the steppe ; he came to a stream, where he saw four men lying one on top of the other, and asked them why they were tormenting themselves in this way. They informed him that they were servants of Ismà'ïl Atā, and that through their exertions they were watering the fields of their master, in the hope that « he might give the water of his attention to the fields of our hearts » ; when they then stood up to brush the dust off their clothing, the water did not adhere to them at all, and the pādshāh, seeing this wonder, abandoned his rule. He became a devotee of Ismā'ïl Atā, and reached his goal ; « and the reason he was called Otlugh Yûnus Atā is that whenever he engaged in the dhikr, plumes of fire would come out from his blessed body, and flames would burst forth from his mouth ».
12024. Khoja-i Tāli' Atā, the father of Khizr [not found in MS 12708]. (This shrine was shown to us, as that of « Khoja-yi Tāl », in April 1995.)
12125. Mawlànā 'Izām al-Dïn Bayzàvï, a scholar in aql and naql, who combined hal and qāl ; his grave is not known [not found in MS 12708].
12226. Chaghïr Tekin Atā, called here one of the brothers of Awliyā Atā, implying the latter's identity with the Qarā Khān mentioned in the sacred history (but without reference to the stories about Chaghir Tekin there).
12327. Sar-halqah Bābā : the brief passage devoted to him appears to link, in an obscure and no doubt syntactically garbled way, three saints known from the Yasavi tradition : it reads « he belonged to the family (spelled “khāndān”) of Ismā'ïl Atā Sadr Atā Badr Atā ; for this reason, out of respect, they would make him the circle-leader (sar-halqa) for all dhikrs, and therefore they called him Sar-halqa Bābā ». His real name, however, was Khoja Hàmid Bayzàvï.
12428. Ibrāhim Atā (once again mentioned in MS 12708 also, where he follows immediately after « 'Allāma Qutb al-Dïn Isbïjābï », N° II/21) ; as both versions affirm, most agree that this grave belongs to the father of « the holy Sultān » (i.e., Khoja Ahmad Yasavi). (Mentioned in Masson, visited in April 1995.)
12529. The qadam-jāy of the holy Yūsha' [i.e., Joshua], near which were the graves of two saints, of which only one is named : Khoja 'Abdullah Bāghistāni, identified as a companion of Khoja Rawshanāy Tāshkandi (his grave, however, is not now visible). (The site is mentioned by Masson.)
12630. Khoja 'Abd al-Qahhār Saryāmï, whose grave is near an irrigation ditch (arï'q) ; the ruler of his time, we are told, gave to him as a votive offering the waters of the arï'q, and he spent the substantial income its produce yielded on his khānqāh.
- 92 His name is presumably derived from oz-, « to precede », « to surpass », « to outstrip » . Masson, (...)
12731. Mir Shāh Bābā-yi Ghāzî, leader of ghāzis, of which he commanded an army 400 men strong (in MS 12708, 4,000) ; the infidels found him and his troops at prayer and martyred them all, and the martyrs lie buried around him. His grave is located, the account affirms, in « a place which people call Jūmūshlāghū » ; MS 11367 alone adds that Mir Shāh Bābā-yi Ghāzî is popularly called « Ūzghān Atā ».92
- 93 The Turkic sūzūk, meaning « strained », « clarified », « purified », might be appropriate for a sai (...)
12832. A grandson of Khoja Ahmad Yasavi : with this, the last entry in both versions, the two copies offer substantially different accounts. According to MS 11367, the last entry is mat of Shaykh Mustafā Quli Khoja (the same name appears at N° I/23, where there is no discussion of his parentage) ; here the account specifies that Mustafā Quli Khoja was the son of 'Ali Khoja by a daughter of « the holy Sultān » (i.e., Ahmad Yasavi) ; MS 12708 affirms that the grave in question is that of « a grandson from one of the daughters of the holy Sultan Khoja Ahmad », but names neither the grandson nor his father. Both accounts agree that this grandson was brought, as a child, to Yasavi, who showed him affection and greeted him saying, « Welcome, my sūzūk » ;here the versions diverge again. According to MS 12708, Yasavi also said « Welcome, my kûzùk », and the account notes, rather vaguely, that « for this reason, people called him Sùzùkùm Atā ». In MS 11367, we find the still more curious explanation that Yasavi addressed his grandson thus because the child's eyebrows were connected (« payvasta-abrū-chashm »), and « in 'Arab and 'Ajam, they call a person of that appearance 'sùzûk'. »93Both accounts then note that thisgrandson had a chilla-khāna, located in a cave, which became his burial place : once again in agreement, the two versions explain further that after the grandson died, a certain « Sufi Nazar » served as chirāghchï at his grave, having been instructed to place his body in the cave ; he did so, and men closed up the mouth of the cave. MS 11367 alone adds that there is no grave (turbat) inside the cave ; but both versions note that according to some accounts, Sufi Nazar's grave was near that of « Qāzi Bayzāvi ».
129Both accounts then conclude, as the author affirms that he has related what he had seen in « a book of history », but recalls the adage that there are innumerable saints buried in the region of Sayrām ; nevertheless, « if one seeks assistance from the spirits of the eminent saints mentioned in this treatise, then if God wills, whatever is his goal will be obtained ». MS 11367 alone adds a ghazal in praise of Sayrām.
130What, after all, may we derive from the sacred history of Sayrām as outlined above ? The traditions are quite rich, and we will not pretend to analyze them exhaustively here, but a few general comments are in order with regard to the ways in which the work conveys its religious meaning, and with regard to its relationship with other examples of local sacred histories (and with other types of works that appear to have served similar functions).
131The work's religious meaning, to begin with, is conveyed both by its contents and its structure. The essential message of the narrative history, simply put, is that Sayrām's sanctification as a human community goes back already to the first prophetic generations after Adam : the town was founded by Idris during his earthly sojourn ; it was implicitly the first place re-settled and sanctified, after the Flood, by Nūh ; and it produced its own « native » prophet in Khizr. Thus founded and blessed by the pre-Islamic prophets — Ibrāhim and 'Isà are mentioned too — Sayrām predates even the formation of the historical Muslim community ; its people, moreover, though subject to the temptations of unbelief in the time before Muhammad, were more often a bastion of the true faith against the attacks of tyrannical conquerors heedless of God's will. Then Muhammad himself took note of the town's special sanctity and paid it an honor otherwise reserved for the Ka'ba itself ; and after the confirmatory, re-sacralizing attention of the last Prophet, Sayrâm was blessed both by a series of just and solicitous Muslim rulers and by further examples of divine protection mediated by prophetic pronouncements. The shrine guide, in effect, records the continuing presence during more recent times of pious figures who contributed to the proliferation of sanctity's signs in the city, and the presentation as a whole thus evinces both the antiquity and sanctity of Sayrâm, and the antiquity — or perhaps more properly the metahistorical character — of the Islamic revelation itself.
132It is in the fusion, indeed, of the local, particular focus on Sayrâm with the universal and extra-temporal character of Islam that the sacred history most effectively advances its « argument » about Sayrâm's special status as holy space in a Muslim religious framework ; and that fusion is perhaps most vivid in the rich blending of purely local figures, situated in the framework of Islamic-era history, with universal figures of Islamic lore contextualized locally within Sayrâm's more ancient past. Of special interest in this regard is the symbolic inversion of Sayrâm's remoteness, in space and time, from the centers and origins of Islam, accomplished through the Prophet Muhammad's sanctifying visitation (which appropriately enough is recounted twice, once « historically » and once metahistorically) : Sayrâm's spatial distance from the center of the Muslim world, and the temporal remoteness of the original sanctification asserted for it from the historical circumstances of the central Islamic revelatory event, are in effect negated by the Prophet Muhammad, thus ensuring the essentially Islamic character of a sacred history originally hallowed by Muhammad's precursors.
- 94 In this regard it is noteworthy that the most important pre-Islamic prophets in Sayrâm's sacred his (...)
133Yet these distances in space and time are not so much traversed by the Prophet as dissolved by him. Muhammad does not bring Sayrâm to an Islamically-defined center, nor does he significantly redefine its sanctity in terms of the new revelation of Islam ; rather, he confirms the town's sacred, axial character, despite its remoteness, through his spiritual circum-ambulation, and implicitly endorses earlier prophets' sanctification of Sayrâm.94Muhammad thus serves not as a bridge, linking Sayrâm spatiallyand temporally with Islamic centers and beginnings, but as a narrative hinge, a sanctifying pivot that both affirms Sayrām's pre-Islamic sanction and confirms its Islamic character. The effect, of course, is achieved within a thoroughly Islamic framework, for by the Prophet's endorsement, the inhabitants of Sayrām are assured that they have been, in effect, Muslims from all time, since their adherence to divine revelation goes back not just to Muhammad, but very nearly to the beginning of humanity.
134This, incidentally, is the more fundamental reason why the sacred history of Sayrām should not be approached as defective history or as a garbled recording of « real » events ; what the narratives reflect, after all, is paradigmatic history structured to achieve at every step, and within a framework set by a thoroughly nativized Islamic dispensation, the symbolic assimilation, or perhaps even reidentification, of the periphery with the center. The significant, valued narrative « core » that we may presume to have been transmitted over several centuries was not a record of specific events in need of sanctification or even simply of a « modernized » explanation, but a more fundamental vision of Sayrâm as a holy space, sacralized by figures who though historically « pre-Islamic » nevertheless made Sayrâm a Muslim town. That is, the sacred history of Sayrâm should not be thought of as a « mere » sacralization, much less a « fantasization", of real historical memories that had somehow lost meaning for the town's inhabitants and thus had to be reinfused with new content, but rather as a narrative built originally on the dual foundations of Sayrām's special character and of broader Islamic mythic and theological themes. The latter themes, in turn, include not only particular legendary cycles about the pre-Islamic prophets, but the general historical and metahistorical understanding of the Muslim world, in which adherence to divine revelation is possible, even in a place as remote in time and space as Sayrâm from the sacred centers of the last Prophet's community. Indeed, the Islamic vision of pre-Islamic history finds a place not only for thejāhiliya (which is itself conceptually dissolved in the sacred history of Sayrām), but for communities that managed, through special divine protection, to maintain the true faith revealed through other prophets before Muhammad ; and it is precisely on the peripheries of the Muslim world that such special communities are typically located, whether in the mythic imagination that gives us the stories of 'Adites and the people of Jābilqâ and Jâbilsâ, or in the concretized mythic history that gives us the account of Sayrâm.
- 95 That is, despite its composite and cumulative character, the sacred history of Sayrām should not be (...)
135The very possibility of Sayrām's pre-Islamic sacralization was thus ensured by its spatial remoteness and its externally peripheral status. By being located far from the places where the historical revelation of Islam unfolded, Sayrām could be Muslim before Muhammad ; and yet its historically Muslim character is ensured by Muhammad himself, when he first recognizes the holy character it was accorded by his predecessors and men actively endorses its sacrality by making it a center for his own exemplary ritual performance. The Islamic vision of divine revelation's accessibility before Muhammad's career allows the possibility that Sayrām's people indeed belonged among communities fortunate enough to adhere to such a revelation ; that they definitely did so is affirmed by the acts of the various prophets, but above all by the sanctifying visitations of the Prophet Muhammad. In any case, we may be sure mat me framework of sacred history took precedence, at least in thematic terms as applied to the Saryâm tārîkhi in the forms in which it survives ; it was the nativized Islamic framework that found a place for local traditions, not the local traditions that were merely adjusted to accommodate a new historical vision imposed upon mem by an alien and essentially superficial « ideology ».95
- 96 For example, Khorezm is Islamized in the time of the Prophet ; the Uzbeks arc formed as a people wh (...)
- 97 Cf. the comments of Paul (1993, p. 76-79).
136That this is so may be suggested by the recurrence of many similar thematic elements in other local sacred histories of Central Asia, from the same era, that we have not the space to explore.96 In this connection, however, we must note also how the sacred history of Sayrām compares with other works mat resemble it thematically, structurally, or functionally. What perhaps most distinguishes the Saryâm târîkhi in this regard is its remarkable autonomy ; its autonomy in the handling of traditions also preserved in other settings was noted earlier, but the work's autonomy is also evident if we consider the parallel works, noted at the beginning of this article, comprising sacred histories and shrine guides, that were produced in the same era as the Saryâm târîkhi but for other cities. The latter point isworth stressing, because in both structure and content, the history of Sayrām shows close parallels with the works devoted to Samarqand, especially, in which a sacred history of the city and its environs is followed by a review of the city's holy sites.97 There is no clear indication, however, that the history of Sayrām was directly modeled on the sacred histories of Bukhāra or Samarqand, or even that its anonymous compiler was familiar with such works ; if their similarity leads us to suspect that he was, we nevertheless lack any allusion to traditions associated with those works, much less direct citations from them. The sacred history of Sayrâm is distinguished, indeed, by such a remarkably narrow focus on Sayrâm and its environs that not only those other, similar sacred histories, but even the cities that inspired them, are all but invisible in it ; aside from a brief reference to Iskandar's establishment of Samarqand — which incidentally makes it younger and less hallowed than Sayrām, founded much earlier — the narrative history of Sayrām never attempts to fit the city into a broader Central Asian framework, while even the shrine catalogue mentions links between those buried in Sayrâm and individuals from other towns, but rarely links them with more broadly-defined Sufi communities, juridical schools, or regional traditions.
- 98 For example, a prominent saint such as Otluq Yûnus Atāmay be identified as a ruler in '"Ajam", whil (...)
137The history of Sayrām, then, however much it parallels other Central Asian sacred histories, preserves quite independent traditions, an independent cast of characters, and an independent self-assurance that the significant sacred history of the community of Islam — a community understood to predate even the last Prophet — left clear marks on Sayrâm itself. In this regard, finally, we may note one particularly distinctive feature of the sacred history of Sayrām, in the context of another widespread genre that served also, but in different ways, to construct a sacralized local heritage for Central Asian communities. The sacred history of Sayrām pays virtually no attention to what is arguably the most fundamental idiom of social organization, and hence of projections of communal identity, in Central Asia, namely the idiom of kinship and heredity ; that idiom, however, lies at the heart of the other genre, comprising genealogical traditions tracing the origins of families, tribes, and villages in terms of natural descent. Those genealogical traditions appear to assign a much more central position to Arab origin than we find in the narratives about Sayrām ; they typically legitimize existing social structures in terms of descent from the Prophet, or the Caliphs, but rarely evoke links with the pre-Islamic past (even though such links were claimed in earlier genealogical formulations of Central Asian communal origins). Even when the stories about Sayrâm appear to privilege « foreign » origins for its saints or legendary rulers,98they do so outside any genealogical framework. What appears, then, as an almost pointed neglect of such a framework suggests that those who compiled and transmitted the sacred history of Sayrām, as well as those who learned from it, understood communal bonds in a different way, in terms of a religious unity sanctioned not by the Prophet's descendants, but by his spiritual attention to their town, a spiritual attention for which the model was, in turn, the deeds of the pre-Islamic prophets ; the sacralizing effects of those deeds, after all, served to place Sayrām on a par with the traditional sacred centers of Islam by lending antiquity to (or by completely de-temporalizing) its involvement with a revelatory experience that, while Islamically-defined, was understood to transcend the confines of a conventional rehearsal of Islamic history.
- 99 Though as of yet little studied, such narrative and genealogical traditions have been recorded for (...)
138We may conclude, after all, that despite its remarkable autonomy in terms of its contents and its vision of Sayrām's sacrality, the Saryâm târikhi shares several features with other late Central Asian examples of the genre of local sacred histories, especially in terms of sources, form, and function. The compilers of these works drew upon local oral tradition as well as earlier written material ranging from narrative histories and hagiographies, to family genealogies, to grave inscriptions ; their synthetic accounts may be considered the discursive counterparts to the more concrete (and often ritually-oriented) sacralization of local space through shrines (and occasionally natural features) associated both with local or regional saints, and with sacred personages shared with the entire Muslim world. They may also be considered as the equivalents (functionally and often structurally), for the sedentary population of Central Asia, of the narrative complexes, involving legends of origin and genealogical traditions, that sacralized tribal structures and relationships, and legitimized communities defined in terms of shared descent from saintly ancestors, for the nomadic population ;99 the city histories and shrine guides, however, provide closer parallels than are found among the tribal traditions to the literary conventions of Islamic hagiography.
139In each case, we may detect a balance between narrative and descriptive elements linking a particular place with the Islamic world as a whole (by evoking ties with the sacred centers or « founders » of Islam), elements insistent upon the distinctive virtues, and distinctive history, of the local community, and elements seemingly intended to link these two aims, of which the clearest example is the treatment of pre-Islamic prophets. These prophets, whose tangible reminders are noted along the streets of Sayrâm, are shared with the entire Muslim world, to be sure, and are ascribed particularly close ties with Sayrâm ; but they also serve to situate the local community within an Islamically-defined sacred history, and perhaps more importantly, to place that community at the center of a more universal and metahistorical Islam, an Islam envisioned as anterior to, and not confined by, the « normative » historical vision of Islamic origins and centers.