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

§ 48. The Alān.

Vsevolod Miller, Osetinskiye et'ud, iii, Moscow, 1887, pp. 1-116; J. Kulakovsky, Christianity of the Alans (in Russian), in Vizantiyskiy Vremennik, v, 1898, pp. 1-18 [according to the author the Alans were converted en masse only in the beginning of the tenth century, while Nicholas the Mystic was patriarch in Constantinople in 901-7 and 912-25] ; J. Kulakovsky, The Alans according to Classical and Byzantine Authors (in Russian), Kiev 1899 [a very thorough study]; Marquart, Streifzüge, pp. 165-71; Täubler, Zur Geschichte der Alanen, in Klio, ix, 1909, pp. 14-28 (notes on ancient history); Barthold, Allān in EI; Marquart, Komanen, pp. 107-9 (the Alāns to the east of the Caspian Sea); Bleichsteiner, Das Volk d. Alanen, in Berichte d. Forschungs-Institutes f. Osten und Orient, Wien, ii, 1918, pp. 4-16; Marquart, Iberer und Hyrcanier, in Caucasica, fasc. 8, 1931, pp. 79-88 (critical remarks on Täubler). [J. Charpentier, Die ethnographische Stellung d. Tocharer, in ZDMG, 71, 1917, pp. 347-88, contains (pp. 357-66) a detailed study of the Osset connexions; the author makes a point of showing the identity of the Wu-sun (Chinese name of a people in the neighbourhood of the Issikul), , Asiani (who towards


§48   The Alan   445

A.D. 200 became the lords of the Tocharians, as results from Justin's epitome of Trogus Pompeius) and Alani [?]. As regards the Caucasus Charpentier, p. 363, considers the Ossets as an independent branch of the great Alān people.] [1]

§§ 48 and 49 ought to come logically after § 36 (Shirvān).

The Iranian Alāns, later called Ās (cf. § 50, 4. Ṭūlās) were the ancestors of the present-day Ossets (from Georgian Ovs-et'i < As). All the bearings of the frontiers in this paragraph must be rectified by 90° (e.g., instead of east read: north; instead of west read: south). The item on the Alāns bordering in the west (*south) on the Rūm is explained by the fact that the Georgians (Gurz) are described under the Byzantine Empire (§42, 15.).

[Additional note. In the Armenian Geography composed towards the eighth century (?) the westernmost Alāns are called Ashtigor. The name, most probably, is an Armenian rendering of *As-Digor. Digor (further appearing in the same Geography as Dik'or) is the name of the present-day western Ossets, cf. Marquart, Streifzüge, 170. Ash as an original form is hardly possible there being no š in Osset (at least in the present-day dialects and the appearance of this foreign sound must account for the surd t of Tigor (instead of *Digor). [2] The restoration *As can be supported by the fact that nowadays the Ossets call their western neighbours the Balqar Turks Asiag and their territory Asi[3] having evidently transferred to them the name of their own tribe which formerly occupied the region near the Elburz. [4] Some temporary elevation of this particular branch may account for the generalization in Muslim literature of the Mongol epoch (thirteenth century) of the term Ās, instead of the older Alān. However, the Mongol dominion, under which many Ās were carried away as far as China must have dealt a fatal blow to the western Ossets. Probably at that time (?) the region near the Elbrus (i.e. the valleys along the westernmost sources of the Terek and the easternmost sources of the Kuban), was occupied by the Turks now respectively called Balqar and Qara-chay.

According to I.R., 148, the noblest (ashraf)of the four Alān tribes, the one to which the king belonged, was called  *D.khs-Ās. [5] The *Ṭuwal-Ās mentioned in our § 50, 4. may be another ramification of the Ās. As the Ṭuwal-Ās are coupled together with the Abkhaz their notoriety may be due to their holding some important pass (e.g. the Klukhor connecting the Qara-chay territory with Abkhazia). At present Twal-tä is the name of the Ossets living on the southern slope of the Caucasian range but they may have been pushed south-eastwards by some wave of Turkish invasion.]
 

1. All this is rather obscure.

2. That the Osset s sounded to a foreign ear like š is shown by such names on the Turkish (former Osset) territory as Ashtotur < Oss. Was-Totur "Saint Theodore", Miller, Oset. Et'ud, iii, 8.

3. Miller, o.c., iii, 6-7.

4. Const. Porph., De cerimoniis, ii. 48, speaks separately of the  and the  (in whose land the  = Darial are situated). This  may possibly refer to the Ās?

5. Perhaps Rukhs-Ās, cf. Roxalani?


446   Commentary   § 48

1. Kāsak (as in Mas'ūdī, Tanbīh, 184: ) but Murūj, ii, 45: , [1] corresponds to Byzantine , old Russian , [2] i.e. the present-day Cherkes (Circassians) who are of Caucasian race and speak a non-Indoeuropean language. According to the Murūj, ii, 45-6, the Kashak who did not live united under one king, were weaker than the Alāns but could resist them in the fortresses situated along the coast. Our author must have misunderstood his source for he speaks of the Kāsak under the Alān and consequently draws the latter's northern (read: *western) frontier along the Black sea coast. Marquart, Komanen, 181 , explains the later name Cherkes from Persian *chahār-kas "the four tribes of the Kas" ( ?), cf. also Streifzüge, 10, 145, 161, 175, 479. The Cherkes call themselves by an entirely different name Adge.

The Kashak are not mentioned in I.R., Iṣṭ, or Gardīzī and here again, as in the account of Lyzān (§ 36, 36.) we find in the Ḥ.-'Ā. some common traits with Mas'ūdī.

2. Khaylān ( ?) is otherwise unknown, unless it is a repetition of Khaydān mentioned under the Sarīr (§ 49, 2.), but Khaydān was separated from the Alān territory by the whole length of the Sarīr.

3. Dar-i Alān, cf. § 5, 18 D., is the celebrated Bāb al-Lān, i.e. the Darial pass in Central Caucasus on the Military Georgian road connecting Vladikavkaz with Tiflis. The Ossets now live astride of the pass [cf. § 36, 33.]. Our author shows no direct knowledge of the description of the Alān castle (Qal'at al-Lān) in Mas'ūdī, ii, 42. The item about the 1,000 guards of the fortress is found in Ibn Rusta, 148. [3] The detail about the Christian religion of the king agrees with Ibn Rusta, 148, and Gardīzī, where it is expressly stated that the king's subjects are heathens. V.s., p. 444, 1. 26.

According to Mas'ūdī, ii, 42, the capital of the Alāns was called  *Maghaṣun meaning "piety" (diyāna). It is not mentioned in any other Muslim source but may be connected with the city A-su Mie-k'ie-sz' (probably "M., city of the Ās") which is several times mentioned in Chinese sources (Yuän-shi, &c.) in the accounts of Mangū's expedition in Northern Caucasus in A.D. 1239, cf. Bretschneider, Mediaeval researches, i, 316-7. [4] See also Pelliot, Jour. As., April 1920, pp. 168-9, who further identifies the town of the Chinese sources with  or  mentioned in Rashīd al-dīn, ed. Blochet, pp. 43, 47, after the expeditions to  (Qrim? "Crimea") and before that to Darband. However, in Juvaynī, GMS, i, 222,  (var. ) mentioned together with Bulghār seems to refer to the Moksha (a Mordvan tribe, cf. § 52) and such may be the case of p. 2251 ; p. 2244 is perhaps also a mis-spelling of the same name.
 

1. In the Tanbīh, 184, both Kāsak and Kashak are mentioned erroneously as separate peoples.

2. Instead of Garš and K'ut in the Armenian Geography, Marquart, Komanen, 181, suggests to read K'arš (i.e. Kashak, Cherkes) and Gut (i.e. Crimean [?] Goths).

3. V.s. p. 68, note 1.

4. It is more difficult to connect the Chinese name with the eastern neighhours of the Ossets the Chechen called in Russian sources Michkiz, Mizjeg, &c.
 

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