Hudud al-'Alam, The Regions of the World
V. Minorsky
 

§ 43. The Slavs.

See especially Chwolson, Izvestiya . . . Ibn Dasta [*Rusta], pp. 123-45; Baron Rosen and Kunik, Izvestiya al-Bakrī (Ibrāhīm b. Ya'qūb, circa A.D. 965); Westberg, Ibrâhîm's-ibn-Ja'ḳûb's Reisebericht, 1898, and Kommentariy, 1903; also passim in Beiträge, 1899, and K analizu, 1908; Marquart, Streifzüge, 95-160 (Mas'ūdi on the Slavs), 188-206, 466-73 ("Jayhānī" on the Slavs) and passim; Lévi-Provençal, Ṣaḳāliba in EI (the Slavs in Spain), Barthold, Slav in EI. Our §§ 43 and 44 have been edited and translated by Toumansky in Zap., X, 1896, pp. 121-37 (where the names quoted are illustrated by parallel readings in the other authors).

Of the sources which were undoubtedly utilized by our author, I. Kh. must be responsible for the item on the Slavs living on the upper course of "the Rūs river"; Iṣṭ. (< Balkhī), pp. 4, 7, 10, besides being too vague, has very little to say on the Slavs whom he probably mixes up with the Rūs; the third and most complete source, which was also utilized by I.R., Gardīzī, and 'Aufī [1] has principally influenced our text, as will be seen from
 

1. Bakrī used it, too, but with regard to the Slavs he chiefly quotes the independent and excellent source — the record of the Jewish traveller Ibrāhīm b. Ya'qūb


428   Commentary   § 43

the following comparison [D.—ditto; N.—absent; A.—approximate likeness].
 
I.R.
Gardīzī
 Ḥ-'Ā. 
10 days' distance from the Bajanāk   D. and 10 days from the Majgharī different
town of  near the frontier D. Vāntīt D. Vābnīt
wooded plains; no vines or fields D. A. vast wooded plains
bee-hives, 10 ibrīqs honey from each

 

D. each hive 50-100 mann honey; some people possess 100 khum of honey A. much honey; honey-wine; wooden casks; some people prepare 100 casks of wine
herds of swine D. D.
the dead burnt; women scratch their faces; commemorative feasts on the
tumuluus
D. A. the dead burnt
favourite wife hangs herself N. A. commits suicide
fire-worshippers cow-worshippers D. as in I.R.
sow millet; thanksgiving for harvest D. A. sow millet
string instruments and flutes  D. A. various string instruments
honey-wine and music at funeral feasts A. N.
horses scarce D. N.
N. shirts and ṭabarī shoes shirts and shoes
javelins and spears D. D. and shields
chief called  D.  N.
principal chief Swyyt-mlk lives in Jrwāb D. Swyt-mlk, Jrāwt D. Smūt-swyt, Khurdāb
and drinks mare's milk N. A. drinks milk
N. build fortresses against the Majgharī N.
cold climate; people live in underground huts; heat them with vapours in winter in fortresses, in summer in woods underground dwellings in winter
the king receives a garment from each member of a household N. A. the Slavs serve the king
thieves punished D. N.
N. adultery punished N.
N. marriage customs: dowry N.

The geographical data on the Slavs scattered in our source seem to refer to two different groups of this people. On the one hand in § 3, 6., the

(A.A. 965), adding to it some details from Mas'ūdī. Of this account, as well as of Mas'ūdī's detailed chapter on the Slavs (Marquart, Streifzüge, 95-160), there is no trace in our author. [Some expressions in Ibrāhīm (e.g. on the women scratching their faces with knives after a death) point to the use of the literary source utilized by I. Rusta.]


§ 43   The Slavs   429

Ṣaqlāb are placed to the north of the Black Sea, between the Inner Bulghārs and the Burjān. The identity of these Slavs is disclosed by the comparison with §42, 16.-18. where the "Christianized Slavs" come in the enumeration between the Burjān and the Bulgharī. [1] With this agrees the beginning of § 43 which places the Inner Bulghārs to the east of the Slavs. As explained in the note to § 42, 17. the "Christianized Slavs" correspond to the Macedonian Slavs, and only through a misunderstanding they have been transferred to the shores of the Black Sea.

The essential characteristic of the other group is that it lives in the immediate neighbourhood of the Rūs [the latter not being mentioned among the nations living on the Black Sea coast]. In § 6, 44. the Rūs river flowing eastwards is said to rise on the Slav territory, then skirt the Rūs towns, and finally fall into the Ātil. In § 44 [2] the Rūs are positively the eastern neighbours of the Slavs, but in § 43, by some sort of compromise, our author wants the Slavs to border in the east both on the Inner Bulghār "and some (!) of the Rus". In § 3, 8. the Maeotis (i.e. the northern Russian lakes or the Baltic, v.s., p. 181) is placed north of the Ṣaqlābs.

For our author all the Slav lands look apparently as one stretch of territory and in this respect he may have been influenced by I.Kh. who, p. 105, mentions the Ṣaqāliba as the western neighbours of Macedonia (cf. our § 42, 17.), couples them, pp. 92 and 119, with the Avars (al-Abar), and places them "north of Spain". On the other hand, p. 124, he says that the Khazar town Khamlīj (§ 50, 3 b.) "lies on the river (Volga) which comes from the land of the Ṣaqāliba" and further, p. 154, adds that the Rūs merchants "who are a kind of Ṣaqāliba" travel from the farthermost region of Ṣaqlaba to the Rūm sea (Black Sea?); if eventually they "travel by the Tanīs [*Tanais = Don], river of the Ṣaqāliba, they pass to Khamlīj" [3] , and finally starting from Spain they either visit Africa or "follow the road behind Rome in the Slav lands and then to Khamlīj" (). I. Kh., 17, gives the king of the Slavs the title  qinnāz, i.e. knz' (from Germanic *kuning), common among Slav nations.

The source utilized by I. Rusta and Gardīzī seems to have in view a more definite territory. The items regarding the habits and customs of the Slavs are somewhat ambiguous, but the names of the rulers and towns may serve as clues. According to Ibn Rusta, 144, the supreme chief of the Slavs bore the name of Swyyt-mlk (); the vice-regent (khalīfatu-hu) (living in the centre of the Saqlāb country?) [4] was called  or  [Similar forms are found in Gardīzī whereas in the Ḥ.-'Ā. only the king is
 

1. Burjān = Inner Bulghār = Bulghāri.

2. Ibid. the Slavs among the Rūs.

3. Though the Don and Volga are often connected in Muslim geographers, here the verb marrū may indicate that the merchant had to cross over from the Don to the Volga. The two rivers off Tsaritsin flow very near to each other. The sources of the left affluent of the Don Ilovl'a almost reach the Volga near Kamshin. See Map xii.

4. The text is suspect here, Marquart, o.c., 470.


430   Commentary   § 43

mentioned whom the people call S.mūt-swyt. Westberg, o.c. (1918), p. 12, very ingeniously supposed that the first part of the name is only a disfigured  ("they call him") standing in the Arabic text.] [1] Chwolson restored  as  Suwīt-bulk < Svetopluk (< Svtoplk), and  as upanets (?) and thought that the first referred to the well-known king of Moravia proper, Svetopluk I (870-94) whom Const. Porph., De admin, imp., cap. 40, &c., calls. Marquart, Streifzüge, 470, admits that this identification dawns naturally on the reader. However, thinking, ibid., 200, 203, that I. Rusta's report is based on Muslim al-Jarmī and refers to an earlier epoch, namely to the time before the advent of the Norman dynasty in Kiev (and even before the subjugation of the Pol'an'e by the Khazars) Marquart himself suggests, ibid., 471, the identification of the Slav king with the king of the White Croatians , whose capital must have been Cracow-on-the-Vistula. [2] The king's capital  (Gardīzī, , Ḥ.-'Ā. , 'Aufī) is then restored as Khorvāt[3] and taken as a confirmation of the above theory. Apart from the still doubtful attribution of I. Rusta's report to [or rather exclusively to] Muslim al-Jarmī, the weak point of Marquart's theory is that no Svetopluk has yet been discovered in Cracow. A fact which remained unknown to Marquart is that according to the Ḥ.-'Ā., § 6, 45., the capital of Khurdāb was situated on the Rūtā river. It is difficult to say whether this detail belongs to the original source, or is merely our author's guess. The description of the Rūtā flowing from the Rūs to the Ṣaqlābs, i.e., westwards (?) is very embroiled (v.s., § 6, 45. and cf. § 45) and the river could perhaps with some imagination be taken for the Vistula on the upper course of which Cracow stands. However, this interpretation of a doubtful passage would not be supported by any other contemporary evidence and the comparison of our text with Gardīzī, who apparently is more faithful to the source responsible for the details on the Magyars, V.n.nd.r, and Mirvāt (§§ 22, 46, 53), suggests that the prototype of our Rūtā is *Dūnā (Danube). In this case the town of *Khorvāt standing on the *Dūnā might refer to the capital of the southern Danubian Croatia. As regards the king's name, it seems safer to revert to Chwolson's hypothesis. The Moravian king Svetopluk was certainly a close neighbour, if not the suzerain of the southern Croats. Const. Porph., cap. 13, says that south of the Magyars
 

1. 'Aufī, Or. 2676, fol. 676 says: va īshān-rā ra'īsī-st ki ū-rā Swyt khwānand.

2. There is not much certainty about this kingdom "dessen Existenz auf Grund der späteren polnischen und čechischen Sagen notwendig vorausgesetzt werden musste, für welche aber bisher nur äusserst dürftige und unbestimmte Zeugnisse aus älterer Zeit beigebracht werden konnten", ibid., 471. Very characteristic, too, is Marquart's admission, ibid., 139: "wenn wir nun auch Chorwātīn unzweifelhaft [sic. V. M.] mil den Bĕlochorwaten an der Weichsel gleichzusetzen haben, so scheint es doch, dass er selbst [i.e. Constantine] sie mit den illyrischen Chorwaten zusammengeworfen hat" [sic. V. M.].

3. Chwolson, o.c., p. 142, took  for Grādist < Hradišstye, the residence of Svetopluk, cf. Safarik, Slavische Alterthümer, ii, 501. [Very doubtful.]


§ 43   The Slavs   431

() lay "Great Moravia, that is the land of Sfendoplokos, which was totally ruined by these Magyars and occupied by them", whereas the Croats [1] lived "next to the Magyars on the mountain side". In cap. 40 Constantine positively says that the Croats are the southern neighbours of the Magyars. From the comparison of these two passages it appears that at least some Croats lived immediately south of Great Moravia which had belonged to Svetopluk. [P. 67, 1. 24 on Khurdāb is fantastic.]

Although the recent authority, F. Dvorník, Les Légendes de Constantin et de Méthode vues de Byzance, Prague, 1933, p. 240, admits that Svetopluk's conquests in Pannonia (i.e., the region between the Danube and Sava) had an ephemeral character, they may have been sufficient to create the impression that he was the supreme lord (ra'īs al-ru'asā) of the Khorvāt. Already Marquart, o.c., 470, pointed out that I.R.'s text on the relations between Swyyt-mlk and the sūbanj is out of order. The real ruler of the southern Croats was perhaps the sūbanj (*shūbāng ?) and Chwolson's restoration of it as *žzupanets (*župan ?), if right, would tally with Const. Porph., according to whom, cap. 30, Croatian lands were divided into . [2]

Very uncertain is the reading of the other Slav town. I. Rusta says that the journey from the Pechenegs to the Slavs lasted 10 days and thereupon adds that at the beginning of the Slav land (fī awā'il ḥaddihā) stands the town . In Gardīzī,  follows the mention of the road from the Majgharī to the Slavs (10 days' journey). In our text  is the first town on the east of the Slavs and a resemblance of its inhabitants to the Rūs suggests that it lay on the Rūs frontier. Already Harkavy thought to connect this town with Kiev, the capital of the Slav Pol'an'e. Marquart, Streifzüge, 189, first restored the name as Dānast but finally, ibid., 509, read it Zānbat, which he compared with  which in Const. Porph., cap. 9, is a surname of Kiev (). [3] Marquart's theory is hardly contradicted by the fact that in the chapter on the Rūs (§ 45) Kiev seems to come up again under a name belonging to a different tradition (Iṣṭ. < Balkhī), but in principle it is strange that in Arabic script z should correspond to Greek s. [4]

In any case the two towns of the Slavs very probably were situated at the
 

1. It is not clear whether northern (White) Croats, or southern (Danubian) Croats are meant here.

2. Niederle, Manuel, 1, 141, note 1: "les comitats (župa) ne sont attestés que chez les Slaves du Sud et les sources ne nous autorisent pas à les transporter dans le Nord." In the north "les termes župan et župa (préfet, comitat) ne sont attestés que plus tard et dans un autre sens, celui de 'fonctionnaire' et de 'service de ce fonctionnaire'".

3. The origin of the name is still a moot question. A.I. L'ashchenko, Kiev i, in Dokladi Akad. SSSR, 1930, No. 4, pp. 66-72, mentions 22 different explanations of Samvatas (Slavonic,  Scandinavian, Hungarian, Armenian, Lithuanian, &c.) and inclines towards the Khazar origin of the name as suggested by Y. Brutzkus.

4. If the previous restoration of the name by Marquart as Dānastbe adopted, the eastern Slav town might be sought on the Dniester, cf. Idrīsī, p. 395, . Westberg, o.c., 1908 (March), p. 22, connected *Vāntīt with the Vęntiči (), the Slav tribe on the Oka, which is very doubtful.


432   Commentary   §§ 43-4

opposite ends of the Slav territory. Nor is it necessary to think that such details as the heathen customs of the Slavs, [1] or the cold climate of their country belonged to the lands under Svetopluk's control. In a text referring to a vast territory they may have in view the eastern Slavs, living under the Rūs, p. 159, the Bulghārs, and the Khazars, cf. Barthold in EI. [2]
 

1. Const. Porph., cap. 31, calls the  (White Croats to whom perhaps the name of the Carpathians Karpat due) .

2. Chwolson, Izvestiya, p. 143, pointed out that in Swyyt-mlk the first element as restored *Svet- suggests an eastern Slav transmission instead of which one would expect in the West a nasalized form Sveęt < Svent, cf. . The exact time at which nasal sounds disappeared in Slavonic languages is of course difficult to define. According to Shakhmatov in the ninth century no more nasal sounds were in existence in Russian. As regards the Czech the ninth-century form of the name in question was probably Sveęntopḷk > now Svatopluk (my friend Dr. B. Unbegaun's letter, Paris, 23.ii.1936).
 

[Previous] [Next]
[Back to Index]