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


1. Description of the Ms
2. Discovery and publication of the H
3. The translators's task
4. The commentary: explanation of the text
5. The commentary: the sources of the Ḥ.-'Ā
6. Loyalties


The anonymous [1] geographical work called Ḥudūd  al-'Ālam, i.e. "The Regions of the World", [2] was compiled in 372/982-3 and dedicated to the Amīr Abul-Ḥārith Muḥammad b. Aḥmad, of the local Fārighūnid dynasty which ruled in Gūzgānān in what is now northern Afghānistān (see notes to § 1 and § 23, 46.). The unique manuscript was copied in 656/1258 by Abul-Mu'ayyad 'Abd al-Qayyūm ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn 'Alī al-Farīsī (v.i., p. 166). The same half-erased name appears on the title-page: sāḥibuhu [3] kātibuhu al-'abd al-mudhnib al-muḥtāj ilā raḥmati'llāhi ta'ālā Abul-Mu . . . 'Abd al- . . . ūm ibn . . . yn ibn 'Alī al-Fārisī....

The MS. consists of 39 folios measuring 28 x 18 cm., while the size of the written text (within ruled frame) is 20 x 13 cm. Each page has 23 extremely regular lines written in good and personal naskhthulth script. The paper is of khānbāliq description.

On the whole the text is very well preserved. Ff. 28 and 29 are slightly damaged. The lower part of f. 39 (viz., half of the lines 17-23) has been torn, so that not only the text relating to the African countries but the colophon, too, has greatly suffered. The text begins on f. 1b. The title-page (f. 1a) is occupied by the title of the book, by some mediocre verses in the same hand, but having no relation to the text, and by some later entries of no interest. Marginal notes which are found on ff. 19b, 20a, 22b and 30a, have no great importance [cf. Appendix A].

The Ḥudūd al-'Ālam forms only one part of a bound volume of which all the folios are of the same size (28 x 18 cm.). It contains:

a. The geographical treatise Jihān-nāma (ff. 1b-27a) by Muḥammad ibn Najīb Bakrān [4], copied by 'Ibād-allāh Mas'ūd ibn Muḥammad ibn-Mas'ūd al-Kirmānī on 28 Ramaḍān 663 (14 July 1267).

1. On the author cf. p. xii; he was a sunnī, cf. pp. 375, 392.

2. v.i., p. 30. The word ḥudūd (properly 'boundaries') in our case evidently refers to the 'regions within definite boundaries' into which the world is divided in the Ḥ.-'Ā., the author indicating with special care the frontiers of each one of these areas, v.i., p. 30. [As I use the word "region" mostly for ḥiyat it would have been better, perhaps, to translate Ḥudūd al-Ālam as "The limited areas of the World".]

3. Certainly in the sense of 'possessor' and not in that of 'author', as confirmed by the colophon of the Jāmi' al-'ulūm, v.i. p. vī.

4. Cf. Rieu, Catalogue Pers. Mss. Brit. Mus. i, 423; Bibl. Nationale, anc. fonds persan, 324.

viii   The Translator's Preface

b. A short treatise on Music (ff. 27b-28b) by Ustādh 'Ajab al-Zamān bul-Ustādh-Khorāsān Muḥammad ibn Maḥmūd ibn Muḥammad Nīshāpūrī.

c. Ḥudūd al-'Ālam (see above).

d. The well known encyclopedia Jāmi' al-'Ulūm (ff. 1-50) [1] by Fakhr al-dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/1209) with the colophon: waqa'a al-firāgh min taḥrīrihi yaum al-jum'a lil-sādis wal-'ishrīn min jumādā al-ūlā sana thamānī wa khamsīn wa sitta-mi'a 'ala yadī. Aḍ'afu 'ibād allāh wa aḥqaruhum Abul-Mu'ayyad 'Abd al-Qayyūm b. al- Ḥusayn (?) b. 'Alī. Consequently this work, too, was copied by the scribe of the Ḥudūd al-'Ālam on Friday, 26 Jumādā al-ūlā 658 (Thursday [2] 10 June 1259). He must have been an eager student to transcribe in his careful regular hand a series of important works for his personal library at the momentous epoch when the Mongol invaders were exterminating the Assassins, destroying the Baghdād Caliphate and remodelling the administration of Persia! [3]



The discovery and publication of the Ḥudūd al-'Ālam have a long history not devoid of romance.

The Russian orientalist, Captain (later Major-General) A. G. Toumansky, was a great friend of the Bahā'īs whom he first met in Askhabad in 1890. He eagerly studied their religious literature [4] and rendered some signal services to the thriving Bahā'ī colony established in the Russian Transcaspian province, for example at the time when the first temple of the new religion (mashriq al-adhkār) was being built in Askhabad.

Probably through Baron V. Rosen, who was his teacher, or through Barthold, who then was at the beginning of his scientific career, Toumansky heard of the interest of Ulugh-beg's lost work Ulūs-i arbaa and made a search for it through his Persian friends. The importance of Bukhārā as a market for rare manuscripts was fully realized only after 1900 when special expeditions were sent there by the Russian Academy, yet even before that time it was natural to turn one's attention towards that Muslim centre. Toumansky

1. Probably composed in 574/1178, cf. Rieu, Supplément, p. 102 (Or. 2973 contains 188 folios each side being of 17 lines).

2. Thursday evening is called in Persia shab-i jum'a and considered as the beginning of Friday.

3. The data on the manuscript are partly borrowed from Toumansky's article (v.i., p. ix, n. 2) and partly based on the notes personally taken in Paris in 1921.

4. See his edition of the Kitāb-i aqbas, SPb. 1899 (Mémoires de l'Académie des

The Translator's Preface   ix

availed himself of the occasional visits to Bukhārā of the learned Bahā'ī of Samarqand Mīrzā Abul-Faḍl Gulpāyagānī who soon after, in a letter in Persian dated 2 Rabī' II, 1310 = 25 October 1892, reported as follows: "During my stay in Bukhārā all my efforts to find the Ulūs-i arba'a proved unsuccessful but I have found an ancient bound book which is very good and contains four treatises of which the first has geographical contents and formed a Preface to a Map (muqaddama-yi naqsha būda); the second, composed 943 years ago and copied 808 years ago, is also geographical and mentions the names of towns which now are absolutely unknown; the third treats of Music, and is short; the fourth is the Jāmi' al-'ulūm of Imām Fakhr-i Rāzī." When, in 1893, Toumansky joined Mīrzā Abul-Faḍl in Bukhara, his Persian friend made him a present of his find "on condition that it should be edited and not be lost for science".

A journey to Persia and the vicissitudes of a military career made it impossible for Toumansky to publish the manuscript immediately but in an article which appeared in 1896 [2] he explained the circumstances which led to the discovery of the Ḥ.-'Ā., gave its description (date, colophon, dedication to the Fārighūnid ruler Abul-Ḥārith, complete table of contents &c.), and, as a sample of the text, published the Persian original and a Russian translation of the chapters on the "Christianized Slavs", the Slavs, and the Rūs (ff. 37a-38a), with a short commentary.

Toumansky reserved the right of final publication of the MS., or more precisely, of the Ḥudūd al-'Ālam, but in spite of some preparatory work done by him, [3] was unfortunately unable to carry out his intention during his lifetime.

Sciences, t. viii, No. 6) and his articles in the Zap. Vast. Otd.: The two latest "lauḥ" of the Bābīs, vol. vi, 1896, pp. 314—21, Bahā'ullāh's last words, vol. vii, 1892, pp. 193-203; The author of the history known under the name of "Tārīkh-i Manukchī," or "Tārīkh-i Jadīd", vol. viii, 1893, pp. 33—45. Toumansky maintained a correspondence on the subject of their mutual interest with E. G. Browne, see the latter's Tārīkh-i jadīd, pp. xxxiii, lii and passim, and the review of the Kitāb-i aqdas in JRAS, 1900, pp. 354-7. Among Toumansky's other works may be quoted: Note on the Kitāb-i Qorqud, in Zap. Vost. Otd., vol. ix, 1895, pp. 268-72; the interesting report on his journey in Persia From the Caspian sea to the Hormuz strait in 1894, SPb. 1896; a translation of Abul-Ghāzī's Pedigree of the Turkomans, Askhabad 1897; A survey of the vilāyats of Erzerum and Bitlis, Tiflis 1909; The Arabic language and Caucasian studies, Tiflis 1911.

1. On Mīrzā Abul Faḍl see E. G. Browne's Tārīkh-i jadīd, Index.

2. Zapiski Vost. Otd., x, 1896 (printed in 1897), pp. 121-37: The newly discovered Persian geographer of the 10th century and his reports on the Slavs and the Rūs. In the same number of the Zapiski appeared the text of Barthold's opening lecture at the St. Petersburg University, held on 8 April 1896.

3. So I was informed by Mme. Toumansky. In fact he published only the fragments on Samarqand (in the Russian

x   The Translator's Preface

With the owner's permission a photograph of the manuscript was taken in Si. Petersburg in 1894, and Karon V. R. Rosen copied the whole of the text with his own hand. Both the photograph and the copy were left in the possession of the Musée Asiatique ot the Russian Academy and Toumansky very liberally allowed other Russian scholars to make use of single passages having special interest to them. V. A. Zhukovsky was thus able to utilize the passage relative to Marv in his standard description ot that province (see note to § 23, 37.). V. V. Barthold quoted extensively from the Ḥ.-'Ā in his early Report on a Scientific Mission to Central Asia (1897), then in his famous Turkestan (1900), in his History of Irrigation in Turkestan (1914), and occasionally in many other of his books and articles. [1] After Toumansky's death he published the fragment on Tibet (see notes to § 11) and summarized the contents of the chapter on Gīlān (see notes to § 32, 35.).

Nevertheless, in Western Europe very little was known about the Ḥ.-'Ā, and J. Marquart who had access only to the quotations found in Toumansky's article (ZVO, 1896), in Barthold's Report, and in Westberg's Beiträge (v.i. p. 427), several times expressed his regret that the MS. still remained unpublished. [2]

On 13 December 1921 in a Russian paper edited in Paris I published an obituary notice of the head of the Bahā'ī community 'Abbās Efendi (d. in Ḥaifa, 28 November 1921). In it I mentioned both E. G. Browne's and A. G. Toumansky's close connexion with the representatives of the faith preached by the Bāb and the Bahā'-allāh. My article happened to be read in Constantinople by Madame Toumansky who hastened to communicate to me the sad news of her husband's death (in Constantinople, 1 December 1920) asking me in the meantime for advice as to his MSS. which remained in her possession and with which, in view of the circumstances, she was obliged to part. The Ḥ.-'Ā. was among them, and soon after the precious MS. was on my desk in Paris. Madame Toumansky fully realized the intense interest taken in Russia in the Ḥ.-'Ā and the amount of work already done on it. I offered to communicate with the Leningrad Academy, and when a favourable answer came, through the late S. F. Oldenburg (d. 28. ii. 1934), she most generously agreed to repatriate the MS. to Russia, though more advantageous conditions could have been obtained elsewhere.

Paper Okraina, 2 May 1893) and on the Burṭās-Barādhās (as a supplement to A.V. Markov, Russo-Mordovan relations, Tiflis 1914, v.i., p. 462).

1. C.f. p. 169.

2. See for instance Streifzüge, 1903, pp. xxx-xxxi, 172, note 4; Komanen, 1914, p. 37.

The Translator's Preface  xi

Some time later we had the satisfaction of hearing that the publication of the Ḥ.-'Ā. was being undertaken by V. V. Barthold. By March 1930 the plates reproducing the 78 pages of the original, as well as 32 pages of Preface and 11 pages of Index, were printed, but for some technical reasons the publication of the book met with delay. On 18 August 1931 Barthold wrote to me that the difficulties were being overcome, but this letter reached me in London an hour after I had read in The Times the two lines which came like a blow, announcing the death of the great historian on August 19.

Barthold had not the satisfaction of seeing in final form the work which had been a companion of all his scientific life. The now posthumous book appeared in the editions of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. under the title:



In the concluding words of his Preface (v.i. p. 32) Barthold says that his chief reason for abandoning the idea of giving a complete translation of the manuscript was the "great number of geographical names, of which the reading remains unknown". Probably for the same reason the text was not printed but photographically reproduced. As regards the Persian original, such a procedure can only meet with our full approval, for the risks of publishing such a complicated text from a single manuscript would be too great, and a printed text would never replace the paleographically very important original in doubtful places. [1] As already mentioned the MS. is written in a script clear enough and yet in some places presenting considerable difficulties. Barthold (letter of 5. iii. 1930) was ready to admit with regard to the photographic reproduction of the MS. that "it would not be an edition in the proper sense, and orientalists who had no great experience in the reading of Muslim MSS. would feel disappointed". In such circumstances, many people interested principally in the geographical contents of the book were likely to be hampered by the character of the script, while Barthold's Preface, though extremely valuable, is far from exhausting the problems raised by the text.

I have decided therefore to take a resolute step in rendering this

1. Lately Sayyid Jalāl al-dīn Tehrānī has, more or less successfully, printed the text of the Ḥ.-'Ā., together with that of Part III of the Tārīkh-i Jihān-gushā, as an annex (!) to his Calendary (gāh-nāma) for the Persian year 1314 (= A.H. 1353-4 = A.D. 1935), Tehran 1352. TheḤ.-'Ā. occupies pages 1-114 and on pp. 115-49 Barthold's Index is reproduced.

xii   The Translator's Preface

important tenth-century text more accessible to the public, by translating the whole of the Persian original and by supplementing it with a translation of Barthold's Russian Preface and with my own detailed commentary. [1] Lacunae and uncertainties are inevitable in such an enterprise, but only the sieve of translation is capable of separating what is clear from what remains doubtful. I only hope that my work will stimulate a further examination of the respective chapters by Turcologists, Indianists, Byzantologists, and other specialists. The present book comprises the following parts:

1. A translation of V. V. Barthold's Russian Preface.

2. A complete translation of the Persian text of the Ḥudūd al-Ālam.

3. My commentary on the text, disposed in the order of the chapters.

4. Appendices containing remarks on the marginal notes, the language of the Ḥ.-'Ā., &c., as well as a Glossary of the rare and less usual words and expressions. [2]

5. A Romanized Index based on my translation and consequently differing in a number of transcriptions from Barthold's Index (in Arabic characters). It also serves my Commentary.

My translation of the Ḥ.-'Ā. (Part II) follows the Persian text strictly and literally. I do not even say "wood" when the original speaks of "trees". In a unique manuscript of one of the earliest prose works of Persian literature, [3] older than the Shāh-nāma, every word and turn of phrase is interesting and I have made a very liberal use of Romanized quotations with the double object of elucidating the difficult and doubtful readings and of affording a means of control.

1. P. Pelliot in his note on Barthold's edition of the Ḥ.-'Ā. in T'oung-Pao, 1931, No. i, p. 133, writes: "Puisque l'ouvrage est enfin accessible il faut espérer qu'un iraniste donnera en caractères typographiques une édition critique des sections concernant l'Asie Centrale et Orientale, et lui adjoindra une traduction annotée."

2. [For some imperious material reasons only the Appendix on the marginal notes could be incorporated in the present volume. The rest will be published as an article in the Bull. of the School of Oriental Studies. Cf. however, even now Index E.] (See now BSOAS, vol. xvii, 1955, p. 250-27.)

3. The ancient Preface to the Book of Kings, 346/957; Bal'amī's translation of Ṭabarī's History, 352/963; translation of Ṭabarī's Commentary on the Qor'ān by a group of Transoxanian scholars, under Manṣūr b. Nūḥ who reigned 350-65/961-75, mentioned in Muḥammad Qazvīnī's Preface to Marzubān-nāma, p.  [cf. also E. G. Browne's description of another very archaic Commentary in the Cambridge University Library, JRAS, 1894, pp. 417-524]; Abū Nasr Ḥasan b. 'Alī Qumī, Kitāb-i mudhkil dar 'ilm-i nujūm, 365/975, see W. Ahlwardt, Verzeichnis d. arab. Handschr., Berlin, 1893, v, 149,  No. 5663 [I owe the reference to my friend S. H. Taqi-zadeh]; the first edition of the Shāh-nāma, 384/994. As Shaykh Muḥammad Qazvīnī tells me (30.VI.1936), Abū Manṣūr Muvaffaq al-dīn 'Ali Haravī's Kitāb al-adwiya can hardly pretend to the same antiquity, for the scribe's entry on the back of the book of suggests that the author was still alive in 447/1055.

The Translator's Preface   xiii

Practically all the rarer words and expressions figure in my translation.

I have numbered all the chapters of the Ḥ.-'Ā. (§§ 1-61), and, within every single chapter, all the separate items which in the original appear in red ink (these latter numbers being followed by a dot: 1. 2. 3., &c.). This system of chapter and verse has proved of great convenience for quotations and cross-references.



The object of my Commentary (Part III) is twofold: (a) to explain the text by identifying the places and names mentioned in it, and (b) to ascertain the sources of the book.

My explanation of the less interesting chapters, such as the middle zone of Islām (§§ 27-31 and 33-4, cf. p. 223) is very brief and only checks the names, locates the places, and gives the immediate parallels. On the contrary, whenever the text contains traces of some new information I have done my utmost to elucidate the question in the light of all accessible data, using by preference the sources contemporary with, and older than the Ḥ.-'Ā. Of the slightly younger works I constantly quote Bīrūnī (inclusive of his Canon, Br. Mus. Or. 1997), Gardīzī(containing a number of invaluable parallels to the Ḥ.-'Ā.) and Maḥmūd al-Kāshghari. Having myself experienced great difficulties in finding the explanations of the names and facts relating to territories as different as China and Spain, India and the Volga Bulghārs, I could not help bearing in mind the interests of the readers who cannot be satisfied with mere references to doubtful passages in the sources and to little accessible works. Therefore at the beginning of the chapters (especially those on India, China, Tibet, the Turks, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe) I have not only prefixed brief indications of authorities and literature, but summed up the present-day situation of the question, comprising tentative hypotheses and doubtful points, and have made my personal suggestions supplementing or modifying my predecessors' views. Though my definite object has been to comment on the particular geographical work written in a.d. 982 and conspicuous for its well-balanced brevity, my commentary may eventually prove of more general utility as covering the whole field of the Orbis Terrarum Musulmanis notus [1] and making

1. Le Strange's excellent book The Lands of the Eastern Caliphate, 1905, describes only the countries between Asia Minor and Transoxiana; P. Schwarz's amazingly full Iran im Mittelalter (in progress since 1896), covers only Persia. See my reviews of these books resp. in BSOS, vi/3, 1931, pp. 802-3, and Journ. As., July 1932, pp. 175-9. For the rest of the lands the information is very scattered. It is to be hoped that a translation of the BGA carried out, on the initiative of G. Ferrand, by a group of French Arabists, will see the light before long.

xiv   The Translator's Preface

a point of referring to the special sources and to recent investigations. [1] I have used notes and references very liberally in order to show respect for my predecessors' opinions and to lay stress on the great fellowship of the living and dead by whose efforts the fabric of our knowledge has been reared.

In studying the Ḥ.-'Ā. and in preparing the Commentary it has been my particular endeavour not to lose sight of geographic realities. I hope that my sketch maps illustrating the less known regions will be found useful by all those who like myself had to toil through the wonderful works of Barthold [2] and Marquart, [3] unaccompanied by such graphic aids. I take this occasion to say in pious gratitude what I owe to these two great scholars who by their contributions (so different in method, yet equally admirable as results) have shed light on numberless points of Muslim historical geography.



The second object of the commentary has been to ascertain the sources of the Ḥ.-'Ā. Our geographer was evidently but a "cabinet scholar" and not a traveller. Only in the description of Gūzgānān (§ 23, 47.), and maybe of Gīlān (§ 32, 24.-5.), does the text reflect some personal experience. For the rest, the information evidently depends on other people's materials, which seem to have been of two classes, viz. books, [4] and any other information coming under the rubrics of yādhkird-i ḥakīmān "memories of the sages" (f. 2a2), [5]akhbār "information [heard]" (cf. f. 13b3: ba-akhbār-hā ba-shanīdīm), or simply dhikr "mention" (f. 12a2). There is no indication in the text as to which particular details were derived from non-literary sources, unless we

1. Comprising works in Russian, very insufficiently known in Western Europe. [On the as yet unedited sources cf. p. 480.]

2. Barthold's (15.xi.1869-19.vī.1930) bibliography comprises over 300 titles of books and articles. See Umniakov, V. V. Barthold, on the occasion of 30th year of his professorship (in Russian) in Bulletin de l'Université de l'Asie Centrale, 1926, No. 14. pp. 175-202; Milius Dostoyevsky, W. Barthold zum Gedächtnis, in Die Welt des Islam, xii, Heft 3, 1931, pp. 89-135; Th. Menzel, Versuch einer Barthold-Bibliographie, in Der Islam, xxi (1933), pp. 236-42, xxii 2 (1934), pp. 144-61.

3. See V. Minorsky, Essai de bibliographie de J. Markwart [Marquart] (9.vii.1864-4.ii.1930), in Journal Asiatique, October 1930, t. ccxvii, pp. 313-24 [where the obituary and bibliographic notices by G. Messina, H. H. Schäder, &c. are quoted],

4. Kitāb-hā-yi pīshinagān "books of the predecessors", folios 2a1 and 13b3; or simply "books", folios 4a19, 9a9 (concerning the Kucha river). Under 11b18  kitāb-hā va akhbār-hā are clearly distinguished.

5. I see that the reading yādhkird has been accepted also in the text of the Ḥ.-'Ā. printed in Tehran, p. 4 (contrary to Barthold, v.i., p. 31, note 1).

The Translator's Preface   xv

include in this category the above-mentioned details regarding Gūzgānān and Gīlān.

Abul-Faḍl Gulpāyagāni (v.s., p. ix) made an interesting suggestion in taking the Ḥ.-'Ā. for "a Preface to a Map". In several passages, in fact (folios 5b11, 8b10, 25b13, 33b16, 37a15), our author mentions a Map prepared by himself, which was certainly more than a simple illustration of the text. We know, for example, that on it were shown the stages between Rukhud and Multān (v.i., p. 121) of which there is no mention in the text. A close scrutiny of the text has convinced me that in numerous places the peculiar order of enumeration is a result of "reading off the Map", [1] often without any regard for the natural divisions of territories, ranges of mountains, watersheds and roads. [2] This discovery has facilitated the explanation of numerous passages in the text. It appears then that the Map was compiled before the text, and if so, we cannot help inferring that the author worked on the basis of some previous MAP which we must consider as one of the important sources for his compilation. In his Preface (v.i., p. 18, note 5) Barthold suggests that Balkhī's book may have been only an explanation of Abū Ja'far al-Khāzin's maps. The latter (in a more or less modified [3] form) may have been worked upon by our author as well.

The improvement due to him personally seems to be in the first place a clearer division of the chart into "limited areas" with rigorously indicated frontiers, as recapitulated in the description of each single country. Even the title of the Ḥudūd al-Ālam indicates the importance which our author attached to this task. In the better known countries the problem presented no difficulty, though in the eastern region beginning with Khorāsān the bearings [4] usually show some error, mostly as if the author took the north-east or east for the north (cf. notes to §§ 7, 4., 12 [p. 270], 17, 23, 24, 25, 48, &c.). This is a common mistake with Muslim geographers, cf. Iṣṭ., 253, quoted on p. 351, and may be partly due to the difference between the places where the sun rises and goes down in summer and in winter. [5]

1. A striking example is offered by the themes of the Byzantine empire, v.i., p. 420, line 32.

2. V.i., pp. 239, 338, 376, 392 (§ 33, 11.), 394, 414 (especially § 38, 15.). On the contrary in some places the enumeration follows the roads, as quite clearly appears from a comparison with Gardīzī's parallels, v.i. p. 229, 260; cf. also pp. 251, 289, 293, 363, 380, 382, 391. [Cf. Index E: Map.]

3. By Iṣṭakhrī, at least in such regions as Fārs? Cf. I.Ḥ., 236 [V.i. p. 381, 1.16.]

4. Cf. Index E: bearings.

5. Reinaud, Géographie d'Abulféda, i, (Introduction générale), pp. cxcii-iii: "Les Arabes, pour désigner le sud-est, disent quelquefois l'orient d'hiver, et pour indiquer le nord-est, l'orient d'été; de même, pour marquer le nord-ouest, ils se servent des mots occident d'été, et pour  dire le sud-ouest d'occident d'hiver." Cf. the Qor'ān, lv, 16, where the "two Orients" and "two Occidents" are mentioned. [V.i. p. 285, I. 4: mashriq-i ṣayfī.]

xvi   The Translator's Preface

Perhaps also the confusion of the qibla with the south, natural in the Middle East but very misleading farther east, accounts for the irregularities in our text. [1] In the less-known territories, the author would have been wiser not to have tried to be too precise and to have left due latitude to the imagination. He, however, wanted to force his data into map form and this is the reason of such blunders as his location of the V.n.nd.r and Mirvāt  explained in the notes to §§ 46 and 53, as well as of his vagaries about the Pechenegs and Qipchaqs (§§20-1). He has fallen a victim to the desire for cartographic accuracy. Moreover, with the sole exception of the Pechenegs, [2] he did not distinguish between the historical moves of the tribes and the different forms of their names. This is particularly felt in the north-western corner of the Black Sea (see notes to § 22, § 42, 16. and 18. and §§ 45, 46, 53).

Whatever the influence of the Map on the Text, the latter, as it stands, certainly forms a complete description of the world known to the Muslims in the 10th century a.d. In spite of the vague references to the "books", akhbār, &c., the number of the original sources at the disposal of our author cannot have been considerable. We must certainly make due allowance for the fact that earlier data were transcribed by later authors, and not necessarily imagine, for example, that our author had a direct knowledge of Aristotle and Ptolemy (in Khuwārizmī's rifacimento?), who are the only authorities quoted by name (resp. fol. 2a ult., 4a20, and 5a9). [3] With this reservation, we may enumerate our author's more obvious authorities as follows:

    (a) IBN KHURDĀDHBIH, as appears from the paragraphs on China (§ 4, 9.), on Khūzistān (§ 30, 7. and 8.), on the Byzantine Empire (§ 42, as well as the points in §§ 3, 5, 6 mentioned on p. 419), on Nubia (§ 59), and the Sūdān (§ 60). Possibly the text of I.Kh. which was at our author's disposal was more complete than that reproduced in BGA, vi. As the names of the kings of Nubia and the Sūdān are quoted after I.Kh., one may surmise that other curious details on Africa (cf. §§ 59, 60) also belong to the same author (v.i, p. 476, line 33). However, according to Maq., 41, I.Kh.'s work was sometimes confused with that of Jayhānī, and as the reason of this confusion was that Jayhānī incorporated I.Kh.'s data, [4] it is quite possible that echoes from I.Kh. penetrated into the Ḥ.-'Ā. indirectly through Jayhānī.

1. In § 4, 33. Sardinia is located to the south of Rūmiya. Has Sardinia been confused with Sicily?

2. Cf. also § 13, 1., § 15, 12.-13.

3. Cf. also § 8, 5. "the Greeks".

4. Maq., 271: idhā naarta fī kitābi-'l-Jayhāniyyi wajadtahu qad iḥtawā 'alā jamī'i aṣli Ibn Khurdādhbih.

xvii   The Translator's Preface

    (b) Some unknown work which was also utilized by I. Rusta, Bakrī, Gardīzī, 'Aufī, &c., [1] and which is usually identified with Abū 'Abdillāh Muḥammad b. Aḥmad JAYHĀNĪ's lost Kitāb al-mamālik wal-masālik. [2] The risk of exaggerating the importance of an unknown source is, of course, obvious and Barthold's cautious remarks, v.i., p. 25, must be kept in mind. However, according to the additional passage in the Constantinople MS. of Maq., BGA, iii, 4, Jayhānī's work was in seven volumes and this great bulk made it possible for later authors to select from the book different details. [3] This may be the explanation of the fact that the peoples V.n.nd.r and Mirvāt  figure only in the Ḥ.-'Ā. and Gardīzī. The rare reports quoted by name in I. Rusta (e.g. Abū 'Abdillāh b. Isḥāq on India, v.i., pp. 235 and 241, [4] and Hārūn b. Yaḥyā on the Byzantine Empire and the Balkans, v.i., pp. 320, 419, 468) may have been originally collected by Jayhānī. Through him may have been transmitted even the echoes of Khuwārizmī[5] and Sulaymān-the-Merchant, [6] found sporadically in our text. Some of Jayhānī's written sources (Tamīm b. Baḥr's complete report?) may be responsible for the details about China which point to a time before the middle of the 9th century a.d. (v.i., pp. 26 and 227).

Jayhānī's personal position gave him excellent opportunities for collecting independent intelligence. When during the minority of Naṣr b. Aḥmad he became vazīr (in 301/913-14) "he wrote letters to all the countries of the world and he requested that the customs of every court and dīvān should be written down and brought to him, such (as existed in) the Byzantine empire, Turkistān, Hindūstān, China, 'Irāq, Syria, Egypt, Zanj, Zābul, Kābul, Sind, and Arabia". After having examined the reports he retained for observance in Bukhārā whatever he found suitable, see Gardīzī-M. Nāim, pp. 28-9.

1. Particularly with regard to Eastern Europe.

2. On Jayhānī see Marquart, Streifzüge, xxxi-xxxii and passim, Barthold, Turkestan, pp. 11-12, and Preface, v.i., p. 23, cf. also S. Janicsek, Al-Djaihāni's lost 'Kitāb al-Masālik val-mamālik'. Is it to be found at Mashhad? in BSOS, v/1, 1926, pp. 14-25. [We now know that the rumour about the discovery of Jayhānī's work in Mashhad was premature.]

3. According to the Fihrist, p. 154, Ibn al-Faqīh "borrowed (data) from the books of various authors and plundered (salakha) Jayhānī's book." However I.F.'s text as published in BGA, v, has been of almost no use for the explanation of the Ḥ.-'Ā. Cf. infra, p. 182, on K.rkh (*Karch?), and p. 480.

4. Though some of his details seem to have been known to I.Kh., v.i., p. 27, note 2.

5. Cf. note to § 6, 16. as well as the Ptolemaic data in § 3, 6. and 8., § 4, 1.-4., 18., 20.-3., 26., § 9, 12., several of which are also found in I. Rusta who was perhaps the earliest among those who made use of Jayhānī's book.

6. The relation of Sulaymān to I.Kh. is still obscure (v.i., p. 236 ult.). In T'oung-Pao, 1922, pp. 399-413, Pelliot cast doubt on the authenticity of Sulaymān's travels.

xviii   The Translator's Preface

Maq., pp. 3-4, says that Jayhānī "assembled foreigners, questioned them on the kingdoms, their revenues, the kind of roads leading to them, also on the height of the stars and the length of the shadows in their land, in order in this wise to facilitate the conquest of provinces, to know their revenues, &c. . . . He divided the world into seven climes [1] and assigned a star to each. Now he speaks of stars and geometry, anon of matters which are of no use to the mass of people, now he describes Indian idols, now he relates the wonders of Sind, now he enumerates taxes and revenues. I myself have seen that he mentions also little-known stations and far-distant halting-places. He does not enumerate provinces, nor forces, he does not describe towns. . . . On the other hand, he speaks of the roads to east, west, north, and south, together with a description of the plains, mountains, valleys, hillocks, forests, and rivers found thereon. Consequently the book is long, yet he neglected most of the military roads, as well as the description of the chief towns." [2] We may then attribute personally to Jayhānī many interesting items in our book on the Farther East [3] and the Turkish tribes. The data on the Turks living round the Issik-kul (§ 12) reflect the complete disintegration of the former dominions of the Türgish, and even the latter's successors the Khallukh seem to be under pressure from the south by the Yaghmā (future Qarā-khānids). In some details we may even recognize traces of Jayhānī's interested curiosity to which Maq. alludes (cf. infra, p. 270). Some Arabic forms of names (§ 10, 45. and 46., § 15, 9., § 17, i., § 42, 17.) may also be due to Jayhānī's original text.

    (c) IṢṬAKHRĪ (< Balkhī) is without doubt the source most systematically utilized in the Ḥ.-'Ā. The chapters on the countries between the Indus and the Mediterranean are practically a mere abridgement of Iṣṭ., sometimes with a verbatim translation of details, v.i., p. 21. For my commentary I first of all compared the text with BGA, i, and in cases of coincidence made no further references to parallel texts. As the names of places in Iranian and Caucasian regions have a distinctly iranicized form [4] one would infer that Iṣṭ. was used in a Persian translation. Several points in Central Asia have parallels only in IbnḤauqal (BGA, ii) and Maqdisī (BGA, iii). However, our author could not have utilized I.Ḥ., as otherwise we should find in the Ḥ.-'Ā. traces of I.Ḥ.'s original chapters, such as those on Africa and Spain (cf. §§ 40 and 41). Probably, therefore, the addi-

1. On this point our author totally disregards Jayhānī, for the only passing reference to a “clime” is found in our text in  § 5, 2.

2. Cf. Barthold, Turkestan, p. 12.

3. Cf. the reference to the “books” with regard to the Kuchchā river, § 6, 4.

4. Cf. Index E.

xix   The Translator's Preface

tional items on Transoxiana, &c. existed in the original Iṣṭ. and were preserved both by I.Ḥ and the Ḥ.-'Ā. As regards Maq. even the earliest date in his book precludes the possibility of its use by our author. [1] Consequently in cases of coincidence we have to suppose that Maq., too, BGA, 5a (Const. MS.), utilized some additional passages in Balkhī > Iṣṭ., which were also available in our author's copy.

    (d) More than problematic is the influence of MAS'ŪDĪ on our author. Apart from the dubious case of the two "Artush" rivers (§ 6, 41. and 42.), a conspicuous parallelism is found in the chapters on Shirvān (mountain Niyāl !), Daghestan, and the northern Caucasus (§§ 35-6, 48-9), but our author adds several details not found elsewhere and we should rather assume that he utilizes a source of which Mas'ūdī possessed only an abstract. Possibly the same source is responsible for the interesting details on Gīlān.

    (e) Very curious are a few original points on Arabia. One might suppose (v.i., p. 411) that some of them are due to an early knowledge of HAMDĀNĪ's Jazīrat al-'arab but even Hamdānī does not seem in account for all of them. Do they, like some details on the African lands, belong to the more complete I.Kh., or to some unknown Book of Marvels?


My thanks go first to the Trustees of the Gibb Memorial who in 1931 accepted my work for inclusion in their series, Sir E. D. Ross, with his usual kindness, acting as my sponsor. To the latter, as well as to my friends Prof. R. A. Nicholson, Prof. H. A. R. Gibb, Dr. A. S. Trilton, and Dr. (now Prof.) H. W. Bailey I am deeply obliged for their great help in checking my copy. Dr. W. Simon has kindly tried in unify my transcription of Chinese names though he certainly is not responsible for any eventual mistakes in cases where the Chinese original was not available. I hope my memory has not played me false in thanking in the text the numerous scholars of many lands who readily answered my queries on matters within their competence.

My dedication confirms the debt of gratitude which I have contracted towards the great Persian scholar who during the fifteen years of our friendship has been lavish in his aid to me in hundreds of my perplexities. My long, frequent and always instructive conversations with him constitute one of the very pleasant recollections of my life.

1. See de Goeje in BGA, iv, p. vi: Maq. himself, p. 8, dates his preface A.H. 375/985 but certain passages point to the years 377 and even 387/997 (p. 288r).

xx   The Translator's Preface

My commentary would never have been written without the extensive use of the treasures of the British Museum, the Bibliothèque Nationale, the School of Oriental Studies, and the École des Langues Orientales. The latter's librarian Mile Renié (now Mme Meuvré) very kindly allowed me to keep for long periods great numbers of books not found elsewhere.

I must thank Dr. John Johnson, Printer to the University of Oxford, and his staff and collaborators who have so successfully overcome the difficulties of a text bristling with difficult names, references and quotations.

My wife helped me with the translation of Barthold's Preface, prepared about 4,500 cards of the Index and several times typed out the revised text of my manuscript (some of the chapters four and five times!).

The printing of my book has extended over a period of three years, during which time many more sources have been consulted by me, and many more materials collected. Even Barthold's Vorlesungen, in Prof. Menzel's excellent edition, became available only when the whole text had been set up. Wherever possible I have introduced the requisite additions, but it must be borne in mind that the date of my Preface is not that of my text. By the end of June 1936 my commentary was in page proofs and no further important alterations were possible. Some additional notes will be found in Appendix B.

10 December 1936.

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