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

§ 46. The Mirvāt .

Marquart, Streifzüge, 118-20 and 539; Bury, The Treatise "De admin, imperio" in Byzant. Zeitschr., xv, 1906, pp. 511-77 (especially pp. 561-8); Geza Feher, Ungarns Gebietsgrenzen in der Mitte des 10. Jahrhunderts, in Ungar. Jahrbücher, ii/1, 1922, pp. 37-69; Macartney, The Magyars, pp. 147-51; F. Dvorník, Les Légendes de Constantin et de Méthode, Prague, 1933, pp. 212-47, 276.

This chapter ought to come logically  after §53. Our author's geographical indications can be resumed in the following schemes:

but all the tentatives to disclose the identity of the Mirvāt  from this internal evidence have lamentably failed. [1] The solution came from another side.

1. I have been trying successively to identify the Mirvāt  with the Magyars expelled by the Pechenegs from their Azov seats (cf. §47), with the Crimean Goths, and with  mentioned by Const. Porph., v.s., notes to § 20.

§ 46   The Mirvat   441

The only sure parallel of our Mirvāt (so vocalized) is Gardīzī's M.rdāt. The discovery of our author's basic mistake with regard to the Majgharī territory (see notes to § 22) has shown the futility of the attempts of reconciling the views resulting from this erroneous conception with Gardīzī's passage which follows the tenor of the original report without trying to fit it into an imaginary scheme of "frontiers" (ḥudūd). Assuming that Gardīzī describes the Atelkuzu stage of Magyar migrations we have further identified the N.nd. r/V.n.nd.r with the Onoghundur-Bulghars living beyond the Dūbā/Rūtā, i.e. Danube, or perhaps Sereth (§ 53), and we shall now proceed one stage farther along the same road suggesting that the M.rdāt/Mirvāt must be the "Moravians". Const. Porph., De admin. imper., ch. 38, p. 170, says that after several years spent in Atelkuzu the Magyars were attacked by the Pechenegs and had to look for a new habitat; so they drove out the inhabitants of Great Moravia () and settled in the land "in which they are still living". In ch. 40, p. 173, the mention of  (situated at 2 days' distance from Belgrade at the estuary of a river), [1] is accompanied by the note that beyond it () lies "the Great Unbaptized Moravia which the Magyars () destroyed and over which previously ruled Sventopluk ()". Finally, ch. 42, p. 177: "The Magyars live beyond the Danube in the Moravian land () and also on this [i.e. southern] side of it between the Danube and Sava."

Gardīzī's source undoubtedly refers to the Magyars before their occupation of their present country ("Landnahme"). If so, this country lying to the north-west of the Carpathians was still in Sventopluk's possession and following Const. Porph.'s use could be called Moravia, to which  strikingly resembles. [2] The distance of 10 days which according to Gardīzī separated the N.nd.r from the M.rdāt is also acceptable [3] if we consider the difficulty of communication across the Carpathians.

The name  (var. ) is indeed found in Mas'ūdi's report on the Slavs, Murūj, iii, 61-5, [4] where it is associated with *Khurvāt-in (Northern Croats? v.s., § 42) and *Ṣākh-īn (Czechs?). As Mas'ūdī wrote in A.D. 943-4, i.e. after the "Landnahme", it is natural that he restricts the use of the term to Moravia proper and that he mentions the kingdom of the Turk ( = Magyars) in the neighbourhood of the kingdom of *al-Firagh (Prague). [5]

1. Sirmia (Sryem) lies north of the Sava and upstream from Belgrade.

2. A transposition of  and  in Arabic script is extremely frequent, and for the substitution in Persian of a  for the final , we have an example in  for  in § 22, v.s., p. 323.

3. If the N.nd .r = Danube Bulgarians, we have to reckon these 10 days from the old Bulgarian capital Prĕslav (at 4 hours' distance to the west of Shumen).

4. The text was first edited and explained by Charmoy, in Mém. Acad. SPb., ii, 1834, pp. 297-408, and in the last place by Marquart, Streifzüge, pp. 95-160.

5. In Mas'ūdi's Tanbīh, 67, the "Slavonic Nāmj-īn and Murāwa" are mentioned on the river called *Dunabawa-M'lāwa. Mas'ūdī adds that many Burghar settled in this locality after their conversion to Christianity. Marquart, o.c., 116, thought that this

442   Commentary   § 46

We can now return to our author who has complicated the situation by arraying the triad of nations: Majgharī-V.n.nd.r-Mirvāt from north to south, so that the Mirvāt, instead of being found "behind the [Carpathian] mountains", came to live on the northern coast of the Black sea, to the west and north of the Khazarian Pechenegs (§ 47); from the latter they were screened by a phantom mountain which (v.s., the sketch) was apparently imagined as a southern continuation of the "V.n.nd.r mountains" forming the frontier in the north. This mountain is a reminiscence of Gardīzī's mountain standing on the bank of the river "above" the N.nd.r, [1] i.e. north of them. In the west and north the Mirvāt  are made to border on the "Inner Bulghārs", whose name belongs to a different source (§ 45). All this is possible only in total oblivion of the Magyar seats on the Black sea coast!

As regards the general characteristics of the people in question Gardīzī says that the Christian M.rdāt dress like the Arabs and trade chiefly with them. The vestimentary detail has nothing strange in itself but the second item is more puzzling, unless we admit that Arab merchants could penetrate into Moravia from the Adriatic coast, or through Macedonia. Both Mas'ūdi's report and that of Ibrāhīm b. Ya'qūb, though of a later date, render possible the supposition that some relations existed between the Arabs and Sventopluk's dominions. Entirely fantastic are our author's assertions that the Mirvāt  knew Arabic and were tent-dwellers. These may be merely personal deductions from the fact that the Mirvāt  dressed like "Arabs". [2]

The confusion in our source is blatant and we are obliged to go in the first place by Gardīzī's less sophisticated parallel text. It could be objected that the identification of Mirvāt  with Moravia conflicts with the description of the Ṣaqāliba (§ 43), subjects of the same Sventopluk. We must, however, admit that the source on the Ṣaqāliba has been utilized by I. Rusta, the Ḥ.-'Ā., and Gardīzī, whereas the combination of V.n.nd.r and Mirvāt is known only to the Ḥ.-'Ā. and Gardīzī who in this case must have used some special source [or additional passage!] to which we have to assign a date of circa A.D. 900. Therefore the mention of Moravia (= ) could easily be disconnected from its famous ruler, associated in the other source with the Ṣaqāliba.

passage referred to the Serbian Morava, i.e. to the southern affluent of the Danube, downstream from Belgrade. This Morava lay in the immediate neighbourhood of Bulgaria and from king Krum's times (d. A.D. 844) was under Bulgarian sway.

1. Looking from Constantinople as the point of observation.

2. All these details made me at first suspect the author of some knowledge of the Crimean peoples, of whom the Goths were Christians, recognized the supremacy of Byzantium, entertained good relations with their Turkish neighbours of the steppe, and probably carried on maritime trade. See Westberg, Die Fragmente des Toparcha Gothicus [circa A.D. 963], in Zap. Akad. SPb., 1901, series VII, tome v, No. 2. and lately A. A. Vasiliev, The Goths in the Crimea (in Russian), Izv. Gosud. Akad. Istorii Materialnoy Kultur, i, 1-80, ii, 179-282 (especially 239-491. Cf. also note to § 50, 4.

[Previous] [Next]
[Back to Index]