312 Commentary §§ 19-20
§ 20. The Turkish Pechenegs
V. G. Vasilyevsky, Byzantium and the Pechenegs (in Russian) in
the author's Trudı̊,
SPb., 1908, i, 1-175 ; P. Golubovsky, The Pechenegs, Torks,
§ 20 The Turkish Pechenegs 313
and Polovtsi before the Mongol Invasion (in Russian) in Kiev. Universit. Izv., 1883-4 (not found in London or Paris libraries); Marquart, Streifzüge, 63 ; Marquart, Komanen, 25-6, 98-9, &c. A short survey in English is given in C. A. Macartney, The Pechenegs, in The Slavonic Review, viii, 1929, pp. 342-53. J. Németh, Die Inschriften des Schatzes von Nagy-Szent-Miklós, in Bib. Orient. Hungarica, ii, Budapest, 1932 (inscriptions found on vessels dating, as it appears, from the beginning of the tenth century; the author attributes them to some princes of the Pechenegs, who shortly before that time settled in the present-day Hungary, and it is curious to read in Gardīzī that the Pechenegs possessed numerous gold and silver vessels). D. A. Rasovsky, The Pechenegs, Torks, and Berenders in Russia and Hungary (in Russian), in Seminarium Kondakovianum, Prague, 1933 (concerns later times; very complete Russian and Hungarian bibliography).
§§ 20 and 22, as well as 43-4 and 48-52, find close parallels in the respective chapters of I.R., Gardīzī, Bakrī, and 'Aufī who all depend on one principal source and vary only in details.
Our author speaks of the Pechenegs in two chapters: under § 20 is described the old Pecheneg country and under § 47 their new habitat. Taking his information from two distinct sources he presents the two consecutive stages of the Pecheneg peregrinations as existing simultaneously.
The fullest presentation of the facts is found in Constantino Porphyrogenitus,
administrando imperio, chap. 37, which Marquart, Komanen, 25,
calls the "basis of the historical ethnology of Southern Russia". The Byzantine
author says that the seats of the
were first between the Volga ()
and Yayq (,
the "Ural river") where they had for neighbours the *Majars ()
and the Oghuz ().
Fifty-five years before the composition of the book (written a.d. 948)
the Khazars and the Oghuz simultaneously attacked the Pechenegs and drove
them out of their country, which was occupied by the Oghuz. The Pechenegs
settled in a new country (namely that formerly occupied by the Magyars)
 from which the distances were as follows: 5 days both
to the Khazars and the Oghuz, 6 days to Alania (cf. § 48), and 10 days to Mordia
(cf. § 52). In chap. 42 of his work Constantine explains that at a later date
(after the expulsion of the Magyars from Atelkuzu, § 22) the Pecheneg
possessions extended from a place opposite Distra  on the lower Danube to Sarkel (a Khazar
fortress on the Don). These events of the end of the ninth century are
known to Iṣṭ.,
10, who says: "A tribe of Turks called Bachanāk
1. Cf. Ibn Faḍlān on the Bāshghurt = Majghār, v.s., p. 312, line 19.
2. In 889, according to Reginonis Abbatis Prumiensis Chronicon. Cf. Németh, o.c., p. 48.
3. More precisely the region which Constantine calls and which must be located somewhere north of the Azov sea, its river alias being sometimes identified with the Chingul (?) river flowing into the Molochnaya. The Magyars moved to the country called Atelkuzu ("between the rivers" ?) stretching between the Dniepr and Sereth. A new advance of the Pechenegs made the Magyars move across the Carpathians into their present land (shortly before A.D. 900).
4. Distra = DurustUlūm = Silistria.
314 Commentary § 20
having been ousted from its land settled between the Khazars and Rum. Their place is not their ancient home, but they have come to it and occupied it." In our author the seats of the Pechenegs near the Azov Sea are described under § 47, and in that connexion we shall have occasion to examine 'Aufī's interesting text on the further migrations of the tribes.
Our § 20 undoubtedly has in view the situation before a.d. 893 (or 889). It is true that Const. Porph., o.c., admits that until his own time () some of the Pechenegs () stayed on under the Ghūz, but according to our author the Turkish Pechenegs were at war with their neighbours which shows that they were still independent. This is still clearer from the parallel text of Gardīzī who uses the same source. He describes the Pechenegs at the zenith of their power possessing herds, horses, precious vases and girdles, battle-trumpets in the form of bulls' heads, and plenty of arms. Gardīzī, 95, describes a road from Gurgānj (in Khwārazm) to the Pechenegs which touched the Khwārazmian mountain  and left the Aral Sea to the right. After a journey in the desert, where water was found only in wells, on the tenth day a more pleasant country was reached with springs and abundant game. The whole journey to the Pechenegs took seventeen days. Their country stretched for 30 days and their neighbours were: towards the east the Qipchāq, towards the southwest (at 10 days' distance) the Khazars, and to the west the Slavs (sic). This picture is entirely different from what Ibn Faḍlān as an eye-witness found in 922. He met the Pechenegs to the south of the river (A. Z. Validi: *Jayikh = Yayı̊q) and he opposes their poverty (undoubtedly a result of the events of a.d. 893) to the wealth of the Ghūzz. A. Z. Validi, o.c., p. 246, thinks that these Pechenegs belonged to the class of nomad "proletarians" (jataq) adding that they, too, shortly after crossed the Volga in a westerly direction. 
Our author considerably embroils the
description of the Pecheneg frontiers. He does not say that their lands reached
the Uninhabited Northern Zone, but the comparison with the Kimäk country shows
that the Pechenegs lived in a very cold region. Under § 44 it is said that east
of the Rūs lay the Pecheneg
mountains under which only the Ural mountains or their (western) spurs
can be understood.  Under § 6, 43. the Itil downstream
separates the Turkish Pechenegs from the "Burṭās"
by which, owing to some mistake, our author (see § 51) usually means the Volga
Bulghārs. In our § 20 the
are mentioned to the south of the Pechenegs. In § 19 the Ātil
(Volga) forms the western and northern frontier of the Ghūz
while according to § 20 the western neighbours of the Ghūz
were the Turkish Pechenegs. Did, then, our author think that the Pecheneg
territory somehow stretched from the Urals down to the right (western) bank of
the Volga? Still more embarrassing is § 6, 45.,
1. i.e. the Chink of the Üst-yurt. Bakrī, 42, places the mountain at 10 farsakhs from Gurgānj.
2. But v.s., Const. Porph., o.c., cap. 37.
3. At its northern and southern extremity respectively the Rūs and the Kimäk were supposed to live, cf. § 18.
§§ 20-1 The Turkish Pechenegs 315
according to which the enigmatic Rūtā river (flowing westwards!) rises from a mountain on the frontier between the Pechenegs, Majgharī, and Rūs. Such an involved idea would be comprehensible to some extent only if the author imagined that the Pechenegs and Majgharī, or a part of them, were found to the south-west of the great bend of the Volga (in the region of Kazan).  The Rūtā was evidently considered as the frontier between the Pechenegs and Rūs (cf. § 42).
It is curious that neither in § 20 nor in § 50
are the Turkish Pechenegs and the Khazars explicitly considered as neighbours,
though from Const. Porph. we know that the Pechenegs were ousted from their
former seats by the concerted action of the Ghūz
and Khazar. Gardīzī's
text (v.i.) is also clear in this respect.
1. If the Pechenegs lived north
of the Burṭās
how could they neighbour on the Ghūz
along the Volga, unless under Ātil
we have to understand the Kama? But this surmise would create new difficulties.
According to Mas'ūdī,
160, the operation zone of the Pechenegs extended (at some time?) down
to the Aral Sea.
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