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

§ 51. [The Bulkār.]

Frähn, Drei Münzen and Die ältesten arabischen Nachrichten über die Wolga-Bulgharen, 1832 (still valuable); Chwolson, Izvestiya . . . Ibn Dasta [*Rusta], 80-101; Barthold, Bulghār in EI (in great detail); R. Vasmer, Über die Münzen der Wolga-Bulgaren, in Wiener Numism. Zeitschrift, 57 (1924), pp. 63-84 (instead of  read on some coins Vasmer restores the well-known title of the Bulghār kings ); Marquart, Arktische Länder, 365-77.

There are two gross misunderstandings in the present chapter.

Its title "Burṭās" is entirely wrong (cf. also § 20). Burṭās is only another form of *Burdās (see § 52), whereas here the Volga Bulghārs [2] are described, i.e. the northern colony of the people from which the Danube Bulghārs had separated. The language of the Volga Bulghārs of which we possess only a few specimens in the late funeral inscriptions was probably related to the present-day Chuvash (a special and very aberrant member of the Turkish family). The Danube Bulghārs had, at an early date, adopted a Slav language, but some expression in the original Bulghār language are found in the inscriptions, as well as in a Slavonic chronicle discovered by A. N. Popov in 1866. They are still the subject of much speculation, see J. J. Mikkola, Die Chronologie d. türkischen Donaubulgaren, in Journ. de la Soc. Finno-Ougrienne, xxx (1918), fasc. 33, pp. 1-24 (with a survey of the former tentatives of decipherment). Perhaps the strongest argument for the Chuvash language being a remnant of the old Bulghār is the great number of loan-words in Hungarian which have a striking resemblance to the Chuvash ('bull" is ökör in Magyar and wăkăr in Chuvash) as well as the enormous number of Chuvash cultural words in the languages of their Finnish neighbours of the Volga basin, see N. Poppe, Chuvashi i yikh sosedi, Cheboksar 1927. The present-day Chuvash are of course only a poor and small fraction of the old Bulghārs who for the most part have been turkicized. This latter part of the old Bulghārs probably can be traced in the so-called "Volga Tartars".

The outstanding authority on the Volga peoples is Ibn Faḍlān , who in 309-10/921-2 took part in the embassy sent by the caliph Muqtadir to the
 

2. As Barthold has pointed out, the Bulghār and Burṭās are also confused in Yāqūt, i, 567.


§ 51   The Bulkar   461

Bulghār khāqān in view of the latter's desire to be advised on religious matters.

The present chapter is a poor abstract chiefly of Iṣṭ. The details on the special language and the number of the Bulghārs and their towns remind one of this latter author who, p. 225, says that the Bulghār language has a resemblance to the Khazar language (the latter, p. 222, being an idiom apart), and that in the towns of Bulghār and Suvār there are some 10,000 men (nās). Gardīzī, 97, gives an entirely different number (500,000 ahl-i bayt). The names of the three tribes have the following close parallels:
 
 Ḥ.-'Ā.
Ibn Rusta
Gardīzī
B.hḍūlā B.rṣūlā B.rsūlā
Ishkil (?) Isghil (?)  Iskil (?) [1]
B.lkār B.lkār  B.lkār

The form of the latter name points to the Persian (?) origin of the basic source:  *Bulgār. The name B.rṣūlā (*B.rchūlā) is known in two places: since the fifth-sixth century a.d. the Byzantine and other Christian authors mention , &c., in the north-eastern Caucasus whereas Muslim authors (tenth century) speak of the *Barchūlā off the middle Volga. According to Marquart this tribe of unknown origin was turkicized by the Huns, see Die Chronol. d. alttürk. Inschr., 87-93, Streifzüge, pp. 490-1, and Arktische Länder, p. 328. The name seems to have found an echo even in the Shāh-nāma, ed. Mohl, iv, 70, where Afrāsiyāb is accompanied by his grandsons  (cf. the name of the river Ili < Ilä) and  Barzuvīlā (the Mujmal al-tawārīkh gives: B.rzīlā). Justi's Iranian etymology in Iran. Namenbuch, p. 74, is certainly inadequate. Idrīsī, ii, 398, mentions on the Dniepr a place  which lay at one day's journey upstream from Pereyaslav (), i.e. in the neighbourhood of Kiev. More to the south from this point a station Birzula exists on the Kiev-Odessa railway.

The king M.s in Ibn Faḍlān 's original risāla is called  *Almush and this name resembles the name Almus which was borne by the father of Arpád, founder of the first Magyar dynasty, Chwolson, Isvestiya, 91, Marquart, Streifzüge, 497. Our author dropped al which he evidently took for the Arabic article. Blṭwār must be perhaps restored as  *Yltuvar or Yiltüver in view of the Hunnic (= Turkish) title Alp-Ilutver found in Moses Kałankatvats'i, Part ii, chap. 41, Patkanov's transl., p. 198. [Marquart:  Alp-ilätvär ?.]

The second error in our text is that the description of the two Bulghār towns is inserted out of place between § 53 and 54. The ruins of Bulghār (cf. § 6, 43.) are situated near the village Bolgarskoye, or Uspenskoye, in the Spassk district, 115 Km. south of Kazan and at 7 Km. from the left bank of the Volga. Suvār lay on the river Utka near the present village Kuznechikha, cf. Barthold, Bulghār in EI. [2] See Map xii.
 

1. Chwolson, Izvestiya, 97, compares this name with that of the Transylvanian Szekler (?). [Cf. supra p. 320, line 2.]

2. Smolin, Po razval. Drevn. Bulgara, Kazan, 1926.
 

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