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The Ferghana Valley at the crossroads of world history: the rise of Khoqand, 1709–1822

  • Scott C. Levi (a1)

The Khanate of Khoqand emerged, flourished and collapsed during the era of Chinese and Russian imperial expansion into Central Asia. While eighteenth-century Central Asia has long been considered to have been an unimportant backwater ‘on the margins of world history’, this essay juxtaposes focused research in local primary sources with a world historical perspective in an effort to illuminate some of the ways in which the region remained interactively engaged with its neighbours and, through them, with historical processes unfolding across the globe. The essay argues that these interactions were substantial, and that they contributed to Khoqand’s emergence as a significant regional power and centre of Islamic cultural activity in pre-colonial Central Asia.

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1 The term Central Asia is used here in reference to the sedentary and steppe areas to the north of Afghanistan and Iran, east of the Caspian Sea, south of Russia, and west of China, but including the westernmost Chinese province of Xinjiang.

2 While Russia officially extinguished the Khanate and annexed the Ferghana Valley in 1876, Khoqand effectively lost its autonomy in 1868.

3 In Uzbek, the word ming means one thousand. It bears no relation to the Chinese Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

4 The work of Timur K. Beisembiev stands as an exception. See especially Ta’rikh-i Shakhrukhi: kak istoricheskii istochnik, Alma-Ata: Nauka, 1987, and The life of ‘Alimqul: a native chronicle of nineteenth-century Central Asia, London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.

5 See Vladimir Petrovich Nalivkin, Kratkaia istoriia Kokandskago khanstva, Kazan, 1886. See also the French translation, Histoire du Khanat de Khokand, Auguste Dozon, trans., Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1889.

6 For a recent example, see Crews, Robert D., For prophet and tsar: Islam and empire in Russia and Central Asia, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006.

7 The author has presented a critical analysis of this historiographical trend in Levi, Scott C., ‘India, Russia and the eighteenth-century transformation of the Central Asian caravan trade’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 42, 4, 1999, pp. 519–48. See also the more recent summary of the debate provided in the Introduction to Levi, Scott C., ed., India and Central Asia: commerce and culture, 1500–1800, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007.

8 In addition to the multiple works on Central Asian relations with India and China cited throughout this essay, seeGunder Frank, Andre, ‘The continuing place of Central Asia in the world economy to 1800’, in Ertürk, K. A., ed., Rethinking Central Asia: non-eurocentric studies in history, social structure and identity, Reading, UK: Ithaca Press, 1999, pp. 11–38; Burton, Audrey, The Bukharans: a dynastic, diplomatic and commercial history, 1550–1702, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997.

9 Tignor, Robertet al., Worlds together, worlds apart, New York: W. W. Norton, 2002, pp. 102–4.

10 See Blanchard, Ian, Russia’s ‘age of silver’: precious-metal production and economic growth in the eighteenth century, London: Routledge, 1989.

11 See the essay, ‘Another new world, another windfall: precious metals’, in Pomeranz, Kenneth, The great divergence: China, Europe and the making of the modern world economy, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000, pp. 269–74. See also Reid, Anthony, ed., The last stand of Asian autonomies: responses to modernity in the diverse states of Southeast Asia and Korea, 1750–1900, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997.

12 Arguments in support of an intensification of India’s relations with Central Asia in this period are summarized in the Introduction to Levi, ed., India and Central Asia. See also James A. Millward, ‘Was there an early modern Silk Road decline’, unpublished paper delivered at the sixth annual meeting of the Central Eurasian Studies Society, Ann Arbor, 30 September 2006; Gunder Frank, ‘The continuing place’.

13 Schafer, Edward H., The golden peaches of Samarkand: a study of T’ang exotics, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963, p. 58.

14 Gommans, Jos, The rise of the Indo-Afghan empire, c. 1710–1780, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995, p. 89.

15 Ibid.; Manucci, Niccolo, Storia do Mogor, or Mogul India, 1653–1708, 4 vols., W. Irvine, trans., London: John Murray, 1913, II, pp. 390–91; de Modave, Comte, Voyage en Inde du Comte de Modave, 1773–1776, Deloche, J. , ed., Paris: École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 1971, p. 327.

16 Khodarkovsky, Michael, Where two worlds met: the Russian state and the Kalmyk nomads, 1600–1771, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992, p. 28.

17 Excepting those years when the trade was obstructed. Blanchard, Russia’s ‘age of silver’, pp. 269–70n.

18 Burton, The Bukharans, pp. 427, 441, 448, 455, 502, 521.

19 Khodarkovsky, Where two worlds met, p. 28.

20 Millward, James A., ‘Qing silk-horse trade with the Qazaqs in Yili and Tarbaghatai, 1758–1853’, Central and Inner Asian Studies, 7, 1992, pp. 142.

21 See the essay, ‘The Qing conquests as a world historical event’, in Perdue, Peter C., China marches west: the Qing conquest of Central Eurasia, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005, pp. 9–11.

22 Newby, Laura J., The empire and the Khanate: a political history of Qing relations with Khoqand c. 1760–1860, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2005.

23 For another important study in this field, see Millward, James A., Beyond the pass: economy, ethnicity, and empire and Qing Central Asia, 1759–1864, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.

24 Newby, The empire and the Khanate, p. xi.

25 There still exists a small selection of archival records from the era of Khudayar Khan, the last of the Khoqand Khans. SeeTroitskaia, A. L., comp., Katalog Arkhiva Khokandskikh Khanov XIX veka, Moscow, 1968. See also Nabiev, R. N., Iz istorii Kokandskogo Khanstva (feodal'noe khoziaistvo Khudoiar-Khana), Tashkent, 1973.

26 Muhammad Fazil Bek b. Qadi Muhammad Atabek, Mukammal-i tārīkh-i Farghāna (MTF), Oriental Studies Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan (OSIASRU), MS. no. 5971; Muhammad Sālih Khwāja Tāshkandī, Tārīkh-i jadīdah-i Tāshkand (TJT), OSIASRU, MS. no. 5732; Niyaz Muhammad b. ‘Ashur Muhammad Khoqandī, Tārīkh-i Shahrukhī (TS), OSIASRU, MS. no. 1787; Hajji Muhammad Hakim Khan, b. Said Ma’sum Khan, Muntakhab al-tawarikh (MT), ed. by Mukhtarov, A., Dushanbe: Donish, 1985; Mulla ‘Avaz Muhammad b. Mulla Ruzi Muhammad Sufi (‘Attar-i Khoqandi), Tārīkh-i jahān-nūma-ī (TJN), OSIASRU, MS. no. 9455/I.

27 The area known today as southern Xinjiang was commonly known as Altishahr.

28 See Jo-Ann Gross and Asom Urunbaev, The letters of Khwajah ‘Ubayd Allah Ahrar and his associates, Leiden, 2002; Gross, Jo-Ann, ‘Multiple roles and perceptions of a Sufi Shaykh: symbolic statements of political and religious authority’, in Gaborieau, Marc, Popovic, Alexandre and Zarcone, Thierry, eds, Naqshbandis: cheminements et situation actuelle d’un ordre mystique musulman, Istanbul and Paris: IFEA et Éditions ISIS, 1990, pp. 109–21.

29 See Togan, Isenbike, ‘The Khojas of Eastern Turkestan’, in Jo-Ann, Jo-Ann, ed., Muslims in Central Asia: expressions of identity and change, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992, pp. 134–48. See also Schwarz, Henry, ‘The Khwājas of Eastern Turkestan’, Central Asiatic Journal, 20, 4, 1976, pp. 266–96; Fletcher, Joseph, ‘The Naqshbandiyya in Northwest China’, in Lipman, Jonathan and Forbes Manz, Beatrice, eds, Joseph Fletcher: studies on Chinese and Islamic Central Asia, Aldershot: Variorum, 1995.

30 Ironically, the order to install them as such came from the Dalai Lama.

31 TS, fols. 12a–16b; MTF, fols. 15a–18a.

32 TS, fol. 14a; TJT, fol. 18b.

33 Cf. TJT, fols. 18b–19a; TS, fol. 14b; MTF, fol. 17a–b.

34 For a thorough treatment of one of these, see the chapter ‘Jahangir Khoja and revolt in Altishahr’ in Newby, The empire and the Khanate, pp. 95–123.

35 Cf. TS, fol. 21a–b; TJT, fol. 21a; MTF, fols. 22b–23b.

36 TJN, fol. 25a. See also MT, pp. 391, 700.

37 TJN, fol. 25a.

38 This event seems to have escaped notice in the Chinese records. For valuable insights into the Qing Empire’s relations with the Jungars, see Perdue, China marches west, pp. 256–92.

39 TJN, fol. 25a.

40 Cf. TS, fol. 22a; TJT, fol. 21b. More exactly, Jungar Mongols were involved, and this took place before 1771, when most Qalmaqs in the west abandoned Russia for Jungaria, suffering heavy mortality.

41 Newby, The empire and the Khanate, pp. 27–9.

42 Tōru, Saguchi, ‘The eastern trade of the Khoqand Khanate’, Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko (The Oriental Library), 24, 1965, pp. 47114.

43 Cf. ibid., p. 51; Adshead, S. A. M., Central Asia in world history, London: Macmillan, 1993, pp. 196–7.

44 Newby, The empire and the Khanate, pp. 48–50.

45 Ibid., pp. 45–50, 64–6.

46 Newby, The empire and the Khanate, pp. 129–35.

47 Ibid., p. 135.

48 TS, fol. 22a–b; TJT, fols. 21b–22a.

49 TS, fols. 23a–24b.

50 MTF, fol. 25a.

51 TJN, fol. 38a.

52 TS, fol. 25a.

53 TS, fol. 27a–29b.

54 Askarov et al., eds., Istoriya Uzbekistana, tom III: XVI–pervaya polovina XIX Veka, Tashkent: Fan, 1993, p. 228.

55 V. V. Bartol’d, ‘K istorii orosheniia Turkestana’, in Sochineniia, 9 vols., Moscow: Nauka, 1965, vol. 3, pp. 97–233. For later developments in the global cotton market, including Central Asia, see Beckert, Sven, ‘Emancipation and empire: reconstructing the worldwide web of cotton production in the age of the American Civil War’, in American Historical Review, 109, 5, 2004, pp. 1405–38.

56 Thurman, Michael, ‘Irrigated agriculture and economic development in the Ferghana Valley under the Qoqand Khanate’, MA thesis, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1995, pp. 12–13. See also N. N. Negmatov, ‘Iz istorii pozdnesrednevekovogo Khodzhenta’, in S. P. Tolstov et al., eds., Materialy vtorogo soveshchaniia arkheologov i etnografov Srednei Azii. 29 oktiabria–4 noiabria 1956 g., Stalinabad, Moscow, 1959, pp. 71–2.

57 Encyclopaedia Iranica, s.v. ‘Central Asia in the 12th–13th/18th–19th centuries’, p. 195; Mary Holdsworth, ‘Turkestan in the nineteenth century’, Central Asian Research Centre, 1959, p. 8.

58 TS, fol. 31a–b.

59 TJT, fol. 23a. This effort is explored further in Scott C. Levi, ‘The legend of the Golden Cradle: Babur’s legacy and political legitimacy in the Ferghana Valley’, unpublished paper delivered at the 120th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, Philadelphia, 8 January 2006.

60 TS, fol. 31a–b; MT, p. 403.

61 TJT, fol. 48a; TS, 45b.

62 TS, fol. 31a–b.

63 Beisembiev, Tarikh-i Shahrukhi, p. 67.

64 TS, fols. 32b–34a; TJN, fol. 39a. Ghalcha refers to mountain Tajiks who speak non-standard dialects.

65 TS, fols. 34b–37b.

66 TS, fol. 81b.

67 MT, pp. 410–13.

68 TJT, fol. 25a; MT, p. 407.

69 MT, p. 415.

70 Newby, The empire and the Khanate, pp. 60–2, 67–8.

71 TJT, fols. 43b–46b.

72 MT, p. 431; TS, fol. 64b; MTF, fol. 42a.

73 TJT, fol. 49b; TS, fols. 65b–69b.

74 TS, fol. 69a.

75 MTF, fol. 44a–b.

76 There has been debate regarding the date, but it seems likely that ‘Alim Khan died in January 1811. Chinese records show him ruling until 1811, Niyazi reported that ‘Umar Khan succeeded his brother during the winter in the year 1225 AH, and the first day of the first month of 1226 AH corresponds to 26 January 1811. Newby, The empire and the Khanate, pp. 32, 60, 68; TS, fol. 72a.

77 MTF, fol. 46a; TJT, fol. 49b; TS, fol. 71b.

78 MT, pp. 449–51.

79 Newby, The empire and the Khanate, p. 49.

80 MT, p. 452. The title is a deliberate variation on the Arabic ‘amīr al-mu’minīn’, ‘Commander of the Faithful’.

81 Khoqand’s efflorescence during ‘Umar’s reign has attracted some attention in English-language publications. See Nettleton, Susanna S., ‘Ruler, patron, poet: ‘Umar Khan in the blossoming of the Khanate of Qoqan, 1800–1820’, International Journal of Turkish Studies, 2, 2, 1981–2, pp. 127–40. I am grateful to Shawn Lyons for bringing this article to my attention.

82 Beisembiev, Timur K., ‘Farghana’s contacts with India in the 18th and 19th centuries (according to the Khokhand Chronicles)’, Journal of Asian History, 28, 2, 1994, pp. 124–35.

83 N. I. Potanin, ‘Zapiski o Kokanskom khanstvie khorunzhago Potanina’, Viestnik Imperatorskago Ruskago geograficheskago obshchestva, pt. 18, no. 2, 1856, p. 281. Cited in Nettleton, ‘Ruler, patron, poet’, p. 135.

The author is indebted to William Clarence-Smith of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Roger Beck of Eastern Illinois University, Karen Spierling of the University of Louisville, and the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful critiques of this article and suggestions for its improvement. Justin McCarthy of the University of Louisville generously took valuable time from a sabbatical to prepare the accompanying map. This research was assisted by an award from the Eurasia Program of the Social Science Research Council with funds provided by the State Department under the Program for Research and Training on Eastern Europe and the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (Title VIII).

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