CENTRAL ASIA, IRAN, AFGHANISTAN
IN KHAVAREZM [UZBEKISTAN]
then travelled on to Khavarezm, between which and this place [Constantinople]
is a journey of forty days, through a desert in which there is but little
water and grass. There are carriages in it, which are drawn by camels.
After ten days I arrived at the city of Sarai Juk, which is situated upon
the banks of a large and full river, which they call the Ulu su or great
water. Over this is a bridge joining its nearest parts, like the bridge
of Bagdad. From this place I travelled for three days with all the haste
possible, and arrived at Khavarezm. This is the largest city the Turks
have, and is very much crowded, on account of the multitude of its inhabitants.
It is subject to the sultan Uzbek Khan, and is governed on his part by
a great Emir, who resides within it. I have never seen better bred, or
more liberal, people than the inhabitants of Khavarezm, or those who are
more friendly to strangers. They have a very commendable practice with
regard to their worship, which is this: When any one absents himself from
his place in the mosque, he is beaten by the priest in the presence of
the congregation; and, moreover, fined in five dinars, which go towards
repairing the mosque. In every mosque, therefore, a whip is hung up for
[=outside] this city is the river Gihon, one of the four rivers which flow
from Paradise. This river, like the Athal, freezes over in the cold season
and remains frozen for five months, during which time people travel over
it. Without this city also, is the grave of the Sheikh Najm Oddin the Great,
one of the great saints, over which there is a cell. Here also is the grave
of the very learned Jar Allah El Zamakhshari. Zamakhshar is a village at
the distance of four days from Khavarezm. The prevailing sect at Khavarezm,
is that of the Schismatics [who deny predestination]. This, however, they
keep secret, because the Sultan Uzbek is a Soonnee.
have in Khavarezm a melon to which none, except that of Bokhara, can be
compared: the nearest to it is that of Isphahan. The peel of this melon
is green, the interior red. It is perfectly sweet and rather hard. Its
most remarkable property is, that it may be cut in oblong pieces and dried,
and then put into a case, like a fig, and carried to India or China. Among
dried fruits there is none superior to this. It is occasionally used as
a present to their kings.
Khavarezm I set out for Bokhara, and, after a journey of eighteen days
through a sandy and uninhabited desert, arrived at the city of El
Kat which is but small, then at Wabkana: then, after one stage, we came
to Bokhara, which is the principal city of the country beyond the Gihon.
After it had been ravaged by the Tartars, it almost entirely disappeared:
I found no one in it who knew any thing of science.
ABOUT THE TARTARS
said that Jengiz Khan, who came with the Tartars into the countries of
Islamism and destroyed them, was in his outset a blacksmith in the country
of Khota. He was a liberal-minded, powerful, and corpulent person. His
practice was, to assemble and feast the people; who in consequence joined
him in considerable numbers, and made him their leader. He then conquered
the district in which he lived; and, with this accession of strength and
followers, he next subdued the whole country of Khota, then China: after
this the countries of Khashak, Kashgar, and Malik. At this time Jalal Oddin
Sanjar, son of Khavarezm Shah, was king of Khavarezm, Khorasan, and Mawara
El Nahr, a powerful and splendid prince. Jengiz Khan, on account of an
affair which had happened among the merchants, and in which some property
had been taken, invaded his territories. This is well known. When, however,
Jengiz Khan had entered upon the frontiers of Jalal Oddin's countries,
he was met by the king's army, which, after some fighting, was put to the
route [=routed]. After this Jalal Oddin himself met him, and some such
battles took place, as have never been witnessed among the Mohammedans.
event, however, Jengiz Khan got possession of Mawara El Nahr, and destroyed
Bokhara, Samarkand, and El Tirmidh; killed the inhabitants, taking prisoners
the youth only, and leaving the country quite desolate. He then passed
over the Gihon, and took possession of all Khorasan and Irak, destroying
the cities and slaughtering the inhabitants. He then perished, having appointed
his son Hulaku to succeed him. Hulaku (soon after) entered Bagdad, destroyed
it, and put to death the Calif El Mostaasem of the house of Abbas, and
reduced the inhabitants. He then proceeded with his followers to Syria,
until divine Providence put an end to his career: for there he was defeated
by the army of Egypt, and made prisoner. Thus was their progress in the
Mohammedan countries put an end to.
epitomator Ibn Jazzi El Kelbi states, that he has been told by the Sheikh
Ibn El Haji, who had heard it from Abd Allah Ibn Roshaid, who had met Nur
Oddin Ibn El Zajaj one of the learned men of Irak, with his brother's son
in Mecca, and who told him as they were conversing together, that in the
war with the Tartars in Irak not fewer than four and twenty thousand learned
men perished; and that himself, and that man, pointing to his brother's
son, were the only learned men who had escaped.
ABOUT SULTAN TARMASHIRIN
proceeded from Bokhara for the camp of the Sultan Ala Oddin Tarmashirin,
and, in my way, passed by Nakhshab, the place to which the patronymic of
the Sheikh Abu Turab El Nakhshabi is referred. From this place I proceeded
to the camp of the Sultan, the king of Mawara El Nahr. This is a powerful
prince, who has at his command a large army, and is remarkable for the
justice of his laws. The, territories of this king occupy a middle station
among those of the four great kings of the world, who are, the king of
China, that of India, that of Irak, that of the Turks Mohammed Uzbek Khan:
all of whom send presents to him, give him the place of honour, and very
highly respect him. He succeeded to the kingdom after his brother Jagatai,
who was an infidel, and had succeeded to his elder brother Kobak, who was
also an infidel: he was, nevertheless, just, and much attached to the Mohammedans,
to whom he paid great respect.
said that this king Kobak was one day talking with the doctor and preacher
Badr Oddin El Maidani, when he said to him: you say that God has left nothing
unmentioned in his book. The preacher replied, it is even so. Shew me,
then, said he, where my name is to be found. The reply was, In the passage
“In which form he pleased hath he fashioned thee” [which ends with the
letters of that name]. This astonished him, and he said, Bakhshi, that
is, well done! I spent some days in the camp of Tarmashirin. Upon a certain
day, however, I went to the mosque, which was in the camp (the camp they
call the Urdu) for I had heard that the Sultan was to be in the mosque.
When the service was ended, I approached in order to pay my respects to
him, as he had heard of my arrival. He was pleased with me, and treated
me very respectfully. After this he sent for me. I went to him, and found
him in his tent, and there paid my respects to him. He then asked me of
Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Damascus, and Egypt; as also of El Malik El Nasir,
the kings of Irak, and Persia. To all of which I gave suitable answers,
and received marks of distinction.
of the odd things that happened respecting him, was, that once when the
hour of prayer had arrived, and the people were assembled in the mosque,
the Sultan delayed. One of his young men coming in, said to the priest
Hasam Oddin El Yaghi, the Sultan wishes you to wait a little. Upon this
the priest got up and said: I ask, are prayers had here for the sake of
God, or of Tarmashirin? He then ordered the Moazin to proclaim the prayers.
So the Sultan came in after two prostrations had been performed, and went
through his prayers at the extremity of the part in which the people stand,
and which is near the door of the mosque where they usually leave their
mules, and there went through what he had missed. He then came and seized
the hand of the priest, who laughed heartily at him. He then sat down in
the oratory, the priest by his side, and I by the side of the priest. He
then addressed me. When, said he, you go back to your own country say,
that a doctor of the Persians sat thus with the Sultan of the Turks (or
in a variant reading: that a poor man of the poor of the Persians thus
did with the Sultan of the Turks). This priest it was who succeeded in
reducing the King to the observance of all the positive and negative commands.
The Sultan very much respected, loved, and obeyed him. But the Sheikh accepted
of no gifts from the King; nor did he eat any thing but what he acquired
by the labour of his own hands. This King, when I wished to travel on,
provided me with 700 dinars for my journey. We broke up our intercourse,
therefore, and I set out accordingly.
Tarmashirin (it may be remarked) had broken some of the statutes of his
grandfather Jengiz Khan, who had published a book entitled El Yasak, the
prohibition, which enacted, that whosoever should oppose any
one of these statutes, should be put out of office. Now, one of the statutes
was this, that the descendants of Jengiz, the governors of the several
districts, the wives of the nobles, and the general officers of the army,
should assemble upon a certain day in the year which they call El Tawa,
i.e. the feast; and that should the Emperor have altered any one of these
statutes, the nobles should stand up and say, Thou hast done so and so
upon such and such a day, and hast made an alteration in the statutes of
El Yasak (i.e. that which is not to be changed), and, therefore, thy deposition
is a necessary consequence. They are then to take him by the hand, and
remove him from the throne, and to place in it another of the descendants
of Jengiz Khan. And, should any one of the nobles have committed any crime,
he is to be duly adjudged on this occasion.
Tarmashirin had entirely abolished the observance of this day, which gave
very great offence. Some time, therefore, after we had left the country,
the Tartars, together with their nobles, assembled and deposed him, appointing
for a successor one of his relations: and to such an extent was the matter
pressed, that Tarmashirin took to flight and was put to death.
proceeded to Samarkand, which is a very large and beautiful city. Without
it is the tomb of Kotham, son of Abbas, who was martyred on the day the
city was taken. After this I arrived at the city of Nasaf, to which the
patronymic of Abu Jaafar Omar El Nasafi is referred. I then went onto the
city of Tirmidh, to which is referred the patronymic of Abu Isa Mohammed
El Tirmidhi, author of the Jamia El Kebir. This is a large and beautiful
city, abounding with trees and water. We then passed over the Gihon into
Khorasan; and, after a journey of a day and half over a sandy desert in
which there was no house, we arrived at the city of Balkh, which now lies
in ruins. It has not been rebuilt since its destruction by the cursed Jengiz
Khan. The situation of its buildings is not very discernible, although
its extent may be traced. It is now in ruins, and without society.
mosque was one of the largest and handsomest in the world. Its pillars
were incomparable: three of which were destroyed by Jengiz Khan, because
it had been told him, that the wealth of the mosque lay concealed under
them, provided as a fund for its repairs. When, however, he had destroyed
them, nothing of the kind was to be found; the rest, therefore, he left
as they were.
story about this treasure arose from the following circumstance. It is
said, that one of the Califs of the house of Abbas was very much enraged
at the inhabitants of Balkh, on account of some accident which had happened,
and, on this account, sent a person to collect a heavy fine from them.
Upon this occasion, the women and children of the city betook themselves
to the wife of their then governor, who, out of her own money, built this
mosque; and to her they made a grievous complaint. She accordingly sent
to the officer, who had been commissioned to collect the fine, a robe very
richly embroidered and adorned with jewels, much greater in value than
the amount of the fine imposed. This, she requested might be sent to the
Calif as a present from herself, to be accepted instead of the fine. The
officer accordingly took the robe, and sent it to the Calif; who, when
he saw it, was surprised at her liberality, and said: This woman must not
be allowed to exceed myself in generosity. He then sent back the robe,
and remitted the fine. When the robe was returned to her, she asked, whether
a look of the Calif had fallen upon it; and being told that it had, she
replied: No robe shall ever come upon me, upon which the look of any man,
except my own husband, has fallen. She then ordered it to be cut up and
sold; and with the price of it she built the mosque, with the cell and
structure in the front of it. Still, from the price of the robe there remained
a third, which she commanded to be buried under one of its pillars, in
order to meet any future expenses which might be necessary for its repairs.
Upon Jengiz Khan's hearing this story, he ordered these pillars to be destroyed;
but, as already remarked, he found nothing.
front of the city is, as it is reported, the tomb of Akasha Ibn Mohsin
El Sahbi; who, according to what is related in the Athar (a book so called),
entered paradise without rendering up an account (of his deeds).
MORE TRAVELS IN KHORASAN
I travelled from Balkh for seven days, on the mountains of Kuhistan, which
consist of villages closely built. In these there are many cells of religious
[men], and others who have retired from the world. I next came to the city
of Herat, which is the largest inhabited city in Khorasan. Of the large
cities of this district there are four: two of these are now inhabited,
namely, Herat and Nisabur; and two in ruins, namely Balkh and Meraw. The
inhabitants of Herat are religious, sincere, and chaste, and are of the
sect of Hanifa. The King of Herat was at this time the Sultan, the great
Hosain son of the Sultan Giath Oddin El Gauri, a man of tried valour. From
Herat I went to Jam, which is a moderate sized city, abounding with
water and plantations. From this place I went to Tus, one of the largest
cities of Khorasan. In this the Imam Abu Hamed El Ghazali was born, and
in it we still find his tomb. From this place I went to the Meshhed of
El Riza, i.e. of Ali Ibn Musa El Kazim son of Jaafar Sadik. It is
a large and well peopled city, abounding with fruits. Over the Meshhed
is a large dome, adorned with a covering of silk, and golden candlesticks.
Under the dome, and opposite to the tomb of El Riza, is the grave of the
Calif Harun El Rashid. Over this they constantly place candlesticks with
lights. But when the followers of Ali enter, as pilgrims, they kick the
grave of El Rashid, but pour out their benedictions over that of El Riza.
From this place I went to the city of Sarakhas, then to Zava, the town
of the Sheikh Kotb Oddin Haidar, from whom the Fakeers of the sect called
the Haidaria, take their name. These men place an iron ring on their hands
and their necks; and, what is still more strange, on their virilia, in
order to prevent intercourse with women.
this place I went to Nisabur, one of the four principal cities of Khorasan.
It is also called the Little Damascus, on account of the abundance
of its fruits. The city is handsome, and is intersected by four rivers.
I here met the Sheikh Kotb Oddin El Nisaburi, a learned and accomplished
preacher, and he took me to his house. It happened that I had purchased
a slave. The Sheikh said to me: Sell him, for he will not suit you; and
I sold him accordingly. I was told, after a few days, that this slave had
killed some Turkish children, and had been executed in consequence. This
was one of the Sheikh's great miracles.
this place I proceeded to Bastam, the town to which the patronymic of Abu
Yezid El Bastami is referred. His grave is also here, under the same dome
with that of one of the sons of Jaafar Sadik. I next proceeded to Kundus
and Baghlan, which are villages with cultivated lands adjoining each other.
In each of these is a cell for the sainted and recluses. The land is green
and flourishing, and its grass never withers. In these places I remained
for some time for the purpose of pasturing and refreshing my beasts.
this I proceeded to the city of Barwan, in the road to which is a high
mountain, covered with snow and exceedingly cold; they call it the Hindu
Kush, i.e. Hindoo-slayer, because most of the slaves brought thither from
India die on account of the intenseness of the cold. After this we passed
another mountain, which is called Bashai. In this mountain there is a cell
inhabited by an old man, whom they call Ata Evlia, that is, the Father
of the Saints. It is said that he is three hundred and fifty years old.
When I saw him he appeared to be about fifty years old. The people of these
parts, however, very much love and revere him. I looked at his body: it
was moist, and I never saw one more soft. He told me, that every hundredth
year he had a new growth of hair and teeth, independently of the first,
and that he was the Raja Aba Rahim Ratan of India, who had been buried
at Multan, in the province of Sindia. I asked him of several things; but
very much doubted as to what he was, and do so still.
arrived at the city of Barwan. In this place I met the Turkish Emir Barantay,
the largest and fattest man I had ever seen. He treated me very respectfully,
and gave me some provisions. I then went on to the village of El Jarkh,
and thence to Ghizna, the city of the warrior of the faith, and against
India, the victorious Mahmud, son of Subuktagin. His grave is here. The
place is exceedingly cold: it is ten (or: three) stages distant from Kandahar.
It was once a large city; but is now mostly in ruins.
FROM KABUL TO THE PANJ AB
went on to Kabul; which was once a large city; but is now, for the most
part, in ruins. It is inhabited by a people from Persia whom they call
the Afghans. Their mountains are difficult of access, having narrow passes.
These are a powerful and violent people; and the greater part of them highway
robbers. Their largest mountain is called the mountain of Solomon. It is
said that when Solomon had ascended this mountain, and was approaching
India from it, and saw that it was an oppressive country, he returned refusing
to enter it. The mountain was therefore called after his name: upon this
the king of the Afghans resides.
left Kabul by the way of Kirmash which is a narrow pass situated between
two mountains, in which the Afghans commit their robberies. We, thank God,
escaped by plying them with arrows upon the heights, throughout the whole
of the way. The next place we arrived at was Shish Naghar, which is situated
at the extremity of the Turkish dominions. From this place we entered the
great desert, which is fifteen days in extent. In this no one can travel
except in one season out of the four, on account of the Samoom, by which
putrefaction takes place, and the body as soon as dead falls to pieces
in its several members.
to the Panj Ab (i.e. the five waters), in safety. This is the junction
of five different rivers, and which waters all the agriculture of the district.
We were comfortable enough when we got on the river, which happened in
the beginning of the month Moharram, A.H. 734 (A.D. 1332). From this place
the informers wrote of our arrival to the court of the Emperor of India.
It is a custom with them, that every one who enters India with a wish to
see the Emperor, must be described in writing from this place, stating
the particulars of his person and the objects he has in view, which is
sent off by a courier. For no one is allowed to appear at court, unless
the Emperor has been previously acquainted with all the circumstances of
*on to chapter 3*