Republic of Tajikistan
Prezident of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon. Republic of Tajikistan is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and People’s Republic of China to the east. Tajikistan also lies adjacent to Pakistan but is separated by the narrow Wakhan Corridor.
Most of Tajikistan’s population belongs to the Persian-speaking Tajik ethnic group, who share language, culture and history with Afghanistan and Iran. Once part of the Samanid Empire, Tajikistan became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union in the 20th century, known as the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR). Mountains cover over 90% of this Central Asian republic.
After independence, Tajikistan suffered from a devastating civil war which lasted from 1992 to 1997. Since the end of the war, newly established political stability and foreign aid have allowed the country’s economy to grow. Trade in commodities such as cotton and aluminium wire has contributed greatly to this steady improvement.
Modern Tajiks regard the Samanid Empire as the first Tajik state. This monument in Dushanbe honors Ismail Samani, ancestor of the Samanids and a source of Tajik nationalism.
The territory of what is now Tajikistan has been inhabited continuously since 4000 BCE. It has been under the rule of various empires throughout history, for the longest period being part of the Persian Empire.
Most of modern Tajikistan had formed parts of ancient Kamboja and Parama Kamboja kingdoms, which find references in the ancient Indian epics like the Mahabharata. Linguistic evidence, combined with ancient literary and inscriptional evidence has led many eminent Indologists to conclude that ancient Kambojas originally belonged to the Ghalcha-speaking area of Central Asia.
Acharya Yasaka’s Nirukta (7th century ) attests that verb Śavati in the sense “to go” was used by only the Kambojas. It has been shown that the modern Ghalcha dialects, Valkhi, Shigali, Sriqoli, Jebaka (also called Sanglichi or Ishkashim), Munjani, Yidga and Yaghnobi, mainly spoken in Pamirs and countries on the headwaters of the Oxus, still use terms derived from ancient Kamboja Śavati in the sense “to go”. The Yaghnobi language, spoken by the Yaghnobis in the Sughd Province around the headwaters of Zeravshan valley, also still contains a relic “Śu” from ancient Kamboja Śavati in the sense “to go”.Further, Sir G Grierson says that the speech of Badakshan was a Ghalcha until about three centuries ago when it was supplanted by a form of Persian. Thus, the ancient Kamboja, probably included the Badakshan, Pamirs and northern territories including the Yaghnobi region in the doab of the Oxus and Jaxartes. On the east it was bounded roughly by Yarkand and/or Kashgar, on the west by Bahlika (Uttaramadra), on the northwest by Sogdiana, on the north by Uttarakuru, on the southeast by Darada, and on the south by Gandhara.Numerous Indologists locate original Kamboja in Pamirs and Badakshan and the Parama Kamboja further north, in the Trans-Pamirian territories comprising Zeravshan valley, north up parts of Sogdhiana/Fargana — in the Sakadvipa or Scythia of the classical writers.Thus, in the pre-Buddhist times (7th–6th century ), the parts of modern Tajikistan including territories as far as Zeravshan valley in Sogdiana formed parts of ancient Kamboja and the Parama Kamboja kingdoms when it was ruled by the Indian Kambojas till it became part of Persian Achaemenid Empire. After the Persian Empire was defeated by Alexander the Great, the region became the northern part of Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian Kingdom.
Provinces of Tajikistan and Districts of Tajikistan
Tajikistan consists of 4 administrative divisions. These are the provinces (viloyat) of Sughd and Khatlon, the autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan (abbreviated as GBAO), and the Region of Republican Subordination (RRP – Raiony Respublikanskogo Podchineniya in transliteration from Russian or NTJ – Ноҳияҳои тобеи ҷумҳурӣ in Tajik; formerly known as Karotegin Province). Each region is divided into several districts (Tajik: Ноҳия, nohiya or raion), which in turn are subdivided into jamoats (village-level self-governing units) and then villages (qyshloqs). As of 2006, there were 58 districts and 367 jamoats in Tajikistan.
Division ISO 3166-2 Capital Area (km²) Pop (2008)
Sughd TJ-SU Khujand 25,400 2,132,100
Region of Republican
Subordination TJ-RR Dushanbe 28,600 1,606,900
Khatlon TJ-KT Qurghonteppa 24,800 2,579,300
Gorno-Badakhshan TJ-BG Khorugh 64,200 218,000
Historically, Tajiks and Persians come from very similar stock, speaking variants of the same language and are related as part of the larger group of Iranian peoples. The Tajik language is the mother tongue of around 80% of the citizens of Tajikistan. The main urban centers in today’s Tajikistan include Dushanbe (the capital), Khujand, Kulob, Panjakent and Istaravshan.
The Pamiri people of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the southeast, bordering Afghanistan and China, though considered part of the Tajik ethnicity, nevertheless are distinct linguistically and culturally from most Tajiks. In contrast to the mostly Sunni Muslim residents of the rest of Tajikistan, the Pamiris overwhelmingly follow the Ismaili sect of Islam, and speak a number of Eastern Iranian languages, including Shughni, Rushani, Khufi and Wakhi. Isolated in the highest parts of the Pamir Mountains, they have preserved many ancient cultural traditions and folk arts that have been largely lost elsewhere in the country.
The Yaghnobi people live in mountainous areas of northern Tajikistan. The estimated number of Yaghnobis is now about 25,000. Forced migrations in the 20th century decimated their numbers. They speak the Yaghnobi language, which is the only direct modern descendant of the ancient Sogdian language.
Tajikstan artisans created the Dushanbe Tea House, which was presented in 1988 as a gift to the sister city of Boulder, Colorado.
Dushanbe, the capital city of the republic, is located in Hissar Valley in the south of Tajikistan. Before the revolution the site of the present capital of Tajikistan was occupied by three small kishlaks: Sary Assija, Shahmansur and Dushanbe (dushanbe means “Monday” in Tajik; the market-day in the kishlak). Although the name of the city is rather new, its historical past dated back as far as 3 thousand years. Archeologists have dug out the remains of Greek-Bactrian settlements, the site of ancient settlement from Kushan period (7th – 8th centuries), site of ancient Shishi Khon village and other medieval settlements. In the early 20th century Dushanbe was the summer residence of Hissar beks. In 1920 the last of Bukhara emirs Said Alimhon fled from Bukhara and made Dushanbe his residence. But Bolsheviks forced him to leave Dushanbe and run abroad. On July 14th, 1922 Dushanbe was taken by Bolsheviks. The Soviet power was established in the city. Dushanbe became the capital of newly-formed Tajik SSR. However, it could hardly be calle a city. There was a small settlement of 4 houses with wooden floors, 42 wagons and 283 inhabitants. In than 70-year’s time a small mountain kishlak has grown into green, modern, industrial city with more than 600 thousand inhabitants. From 1929 to 1990 it was the capital of Tajik SSR, and since 1991 it has been the capital of independent Tajikistan. From the last quarter of fourth century until the first quarter of the second century , it was part of the Bactrian Empire, from whom it was passed on to Scythian Tukharas and hence became part of Tukharistan. Contact with the Chinese Han Dynasty was made in the second century , when envoys were sent to the area of Bactria to explore regions west of China. Arabs brought Islam in the 7th century . The Samanid Empire supplanted the Arabs and enlarged the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, which became the cultural centers of Tajiks (both of which are now in Uzbekistan). The Mongols would later take partial control of Central Asia, and later the land that today comprises Tajikistan became a part of the Emirate of Bukhara. A small community of Jews, displaced from the Middle East after the Babylonian captivity, migrated to the region and settled there after 600 , though the majority of the recent Jewish population did not migrate to Tajikistan until the 20th century.
Khujand city – the Sogd Region
Khujand (Tajik: Хуҷанд,خجند),also transliterated as Khudzhand, Russian: Худжанд, formerly Khodjend or Khodzhent until 1936 and Leninabad (Leninobod, Ленинобод, لنینآباد) until 1991, is the second-largest city of Tajikistan. It is situated on the Syr Darya River at the mouth of the Fergana Valley. The population of the city is 149,000 (2000 census), down from 160,000 in 1989. It is also the capital of the northernmost province of Tajikistan, now called Sughd.
Classical authors state Alexander of Macedon founded a Greek settlement near the site of today’s Khujand in 329 BC called the city of Alexandria Eschate (Ἀλεξάνδρεια Ἐσχάτη) or “Alexandria The Furthest” – modern Khujand. It would have formed a bastion for the Greek settlers against the Scythian tribes to the north of the Syr Darya, which the Greeks called the Jaxartes River. It became a major staging point on the northern Silk Road.
During much of its history Khujand like the rest of Central Asia was once a part of the Persian Empire and its history is a part of the Persian history. Some of the famous Persian poets and scientists come from this city.
Historical Museum of Sughd
Khujand was captured by the Arabs in the 8th century and strongly resisted the Mongol hordes five centuries later. Timurids ruled the area including the whole Tajikistan before it became part of the Kokand Khanate. In 1866, Central Asia was occupied by Russia, pushing back the borders of Kokand Khanate.
The city was renamed Leninabad on October 27, 1939, and re-established on December 23, 1970. It reverted to its original name in 1992 after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and is now in the republic of Tajikistan.
Khujand is the capital of northern Tajikistan and the second largest city in the country. The city’s history dates back to ancient times. In the opinion of historians legendary city of Alexander-Eskhata (Alexandria Extreme) was constructed by Alexander the Great on the place of the present Khujand (the 5th century BC) and become the city of highly developed culture, important commercial and crafts center. It in many respects speaks it can be explained by its favorable position. Khujand stands at the entrance to the fertile Fergana Valley. Owing to this it was one of the main centers of the Great Silk way and enjoyed prosperity and richness. One of the ancient cities of the Central Asia Khujand has been known since the 7th century. In the 19thcentury after the Russian intrusion Khujand became the center of district of rapid industrial development. The railway was built there which allowed the city to become the center of cultural life. From there came many known representatives of Tajik intelligentsia. The city has 20 large enterprises, universities, cultural establishments.
Khujand is attractive to tourists due to its numerous ancient monuments. There have survived medieval citadels and mosques. The most known are the mosque and the mausoleum of sheikh Muslekheddin (17th-18th centuries.).
The city’s past is eloquently told in the History and Local Lore Archeological Museum. Close to the city is located the well-known Kairakum man-made lake. This is the most visited place thanks to its very beautiful scenery, mild climate and picturesque landscape. Pure transparent waters of the lake are great for fishing, boating and swimming.
Khujand is one of the centers of mountaineering. Climbers prefer Ak-Su area located in one of the most picturesque corners of Kyrgyzstan near Khujand. This massif is distinguished by the beauty of wild nature and very tall rocks. Their height often exceeds 5.000 meters (Ak-Su – 5,355 m, Block – 5,239).
On the picture on the lef side It’s a new Ismoili Somoni square which was made by Tajik nation in center of Khujand city with dancing fountains and some historical pictures. Also in Khujand is located the biggest eastern market Panjshanbe.
Penjikent (Tajik: Панҷакент; Persian: پنجکنت; Russian: Пенджикент), also spelled Panjikent or Panjekent, is a city in the Sughd province of Tajikistan on the Zeravshan river, with a population of 33,000 (2000 census). It was once an ancient town in Sogdiana. The ruins of the old town are on the outskirts of the modern city.
Ancient Panjekent was a small but flourishing town of the Soghdians in pre-Islamic Central Asia. It served as the capital of Panch and was known as Panchekanth
The ethnic and territorial name “Soghd/Soghdian” ur Sughd/Sughdian was mentioned in history as early as the Iranian Achaemenid Dynasty (6th century B.C.). The Achaemenids founded several city-states, as well as cities along the ancient Silk road and in the Zarafshan valley.
The town grew in the 5th century A.D. and many professionals such as established businessmen and landowners made their livelihoods in Panjakent. In A.D. 722, Arabian forces besieged and annexed the town.
The last ruler of the town Devashtich fled into upper Zarafshan but he was captured and sentenced to death. For around 50 years, ancient Panjakent was ruled by new administrators but towards the end of the 8th century the town on the upper terraces was depopulated and relocated. Many ancient ruins of the old city, particularly the city architecture and works of art remain today.
According to Arab geographers, Panjakent in the 10th century had a formal Friday mosque that distinguished the place as a town from a village. It was the easternmost city of Soghd, and became well known for its walnuts.
Russian archaeologist Boris Marshak spent more than fifty years excavating the ruins at Panjakent. He remained there even after Tajik independence as director of the excavation of the Panjakent ruins, even during the years of Civil War in Tajikistan from 1992-1997. Through close cooperation with the government of Tajikistan,
Mausoleum of RudakiMarshak ensured the protection and continued excavation of the Panjakent ruins. An important feature of the ruins is the frescoes which show details of dress and daily life.
The city of Penjikent (“five villages”) is located in Khujand area of Tajikistan in a picturesque Zeravshan river valley. Quite possibly the five villages started the history of this remarkable city which originated in the 5th-8th centuries AD. Penjikent of that time was one of the most important cultural and crafts centers of Sogd. It was even named “Central Asian Pompeii”.
It was a superbly fortified well-organized city with a ruler’s palace, two temples, markets, rich dwelling houses decorated with numerous paintings, wooden and clay statues of ancient gods. Penjikent was the last city on the way from Samarkand in Kukhistan
Mountains. It was a very favorable location since no caravan or person going from the mountains or returning to Samarkand could bypass Penjikent.
The city was destroyed by Arabs in the eighth century (the key battle took place on Mount Mug). The ruins of this ancient city were found only in the last century. Today the tourists can see the remains of dwelling houses and office buildings, the citadel with the palace, the house of craftsmen, and fire worshipers church.
In the outskirts of Penjikent one can find a “piece” of the past: a site of ancient settlement with the medieval citadel surrounded by dwelling and public buildings, some of which still have wall paintings. Nearby there is a necropolis. The clay and wooden figures found during excavations are kept in Rudaki History and Local Lore Museum.
The place of excavation ha been turned into the memorial reserve.
Not far from Penjikent on Mount Mug the archive of documents belonging to a Penjikent ruler, written in Sogdian language was found. The interpretation of these documents offers a possibility to judge about social, economic and political life of the population of Central Asia in the 8th century.
The mausoleum of the world-renowned poet Abu-Abdullo Rudaki, the ancestor of classical Tajik poetry was constructed in … 1958. This historical paradox is in the fact that this famous poet’s biography had not been studied in full, and consequently, the place of his burial was not determined. What known is that Rudaki who lived in the late 9th – early 10th centuries (during Samanids rule) had spent his last days in poverty and died in 941 in his native Pandzhrud village Pendzhikent. Some data testify that the poet died blind.
It was due to the laborious efforts of the famous Tajik writer Sadriddin Ajni hat some important facts from Rudaki’s life have been exposed. Having thoroughly studied all available historical manuscripts he managed to identify the great poet’s burial place, and the well-known sculptor – anthropologist Michael Gerasimov restored his appearance on the basis of the found remains.
In 1956, the year of Rudaki’s 1,100th birthday, the tomb, where the poet had been supposedly buried, located in Pjandzhrud kishlak was dug out. The burial contained the skeleton bones, which belonged to a man who had died at the age of around 85-87 years. The objects found in the grave were related to the time in which the poet had lived. There were some other evidence proving the fact that it WAS Rudaki’s grave.
Muhammad Bashoro Mausoleum (11th – 14th centuries)
Located in a pituresque Mazori Sharif village among арчовый groves is the Mausoleum of Muhammad Bashoro who was an expert in khadises (the legends of deeds and pronouncements of Prophet Muhammad and his associates). Originally the building had no portal. It was added only in the 14th century. The portal was distinguished by a special beauty: it had graceful and noble proportions and was decorated with carved terracotta of unique beauty and complexity. The portal is bicolor – pink patterns of terracotta are placed within double frame of glazed turquoise bricks – and has the exact date preserved among the inscriptions (743 year of Hidzhra which corresponds to the years of 1342-1343).
The center of the building hosts a spacious domed hall with a number of vaulted rooms on its left and right. The main facade of the mausoleum faces a small mountain river where you can get using the only available road.
A clay mikhrab with graceful ornamental and calligraphic inscriptions towers in the center of the hall.
The presence of mikhrab (a niche in a mosque wall indicating the direction to Kaaba – the main relic of Islam) testifies that originally the building might have not been a mausoleum but a mosque. This is not the only mystery of Muhammad Bashoro Mausoleum: another one is whether the remains of this notorious religious figure ARE buried there.
Istaravshan city (Ura-Tyube)
Ura-Tyube is one of the ancient cities of Central Asia, sprang up more than 2500 years ago. The city is situated at an altitude of about 1000m above sea level on the Aksu mountain river at the west side of the Turkestan Ridge.It is believed that Ura-Tyube was established by Persian king Kir. The city became an extreme point of his great state in the Nord-East. Accordingly to the Greek sources, in 329 B.C. this city named Kiropol was conquered by Alexander the Great. But accordingly to the notices of sultan Baber, the city was the capital of Utrusana land and had the same name.
As Ura-Tybe (“ura” –hole, “tepe” -hill) it has been known only since 15th c. (after an Uzbek invasion). And on the 10th November 2000 the government of Tajikistan decided to return the city its historical name Istaravshan (translated from Persian “istaravshan” means a bright star). A legend about the city’s origin tells that Istaravshan, situated on a high rock, was as leading light for numerous caravans, went along the Great Silk Road. Ura-Tyube is an original museum in open air. At present on its territory and suburbs are represented more than 150 historical, cultural and art monuments. Among them are:
Ak-Tepa temple of fire (4-7th cc. B.C.). The ancient building consists of a center room surrounded by corridors on every side and strengthened by four corner towers.
Nur-Tepa town, Kok-gumbaz mosque-madrasah (the first half of the 16th century, turned into madrasah in the middle of 17th century) with the central domical hall (the dome is not saved), Bobo Tago Mausoleum (the 16th century), Sari-Mazar complex (16-19th cc.), wire frame houses of the 18th- early 20th centuries with ornament patterns are also of big historical interest. In the northward direction are represented ruins of Kimpirduval mound, protected the city from raids of nomads in old days.
The city is also renowned for knifes- and musical instruments “Karnay”-maters, whittlers, artists and “Syuzane” embroiderers. The handicrafts (fabrics, shoes, knifes decorated with carving, dishes and decorative needlework) always have great value in Central Asia.
Istaravshan is a museum city, the ancient center of trade and crafts, one of the most ancient cities of the Central Asia. In 2002 Istaravshan turned 2,500 years old.
The city was founded in the sixth century B.C. by a Akhemenid king Cyrus who fortified the settlement by means of three wall lines and a citadel.
In the second -seventh centuries B.C. the ancient sentiment Mugteppa was located on the territory of Istaravshan. Mugteppa was the residence of the local aristocracy who erected there numerous palaces distinguished by original expressive architecture. The evidence of that was found in Bundzhikat (Kala and Kakh-Kakh) and Chil’khudzhra settlements which had fortified structures with palaces and cult buildings decorated with paintings and carved panels. For example in Bundzhikat the archaeologists found the painting with the image of a she-wolf feeding two babies – the symbol of contacts between the West and the Orient.
Only the gate with a dome and columns on the sides has survived on Mug Hill where the residence of the local governor used to be. During the years of Arabian sovereignty Istaravshan became a province Arabian Caliphate. It was at this time when Islamic architectural structures of portal-dome design such as mosques, madrasahs, mausoleums, minarets, etc. started to appear. The rapid development of Istaravshan is connected with the rule of the first ethnic Tajik Samanid dynasty (the 9th – the 10th centuries). In the 13th century the city was destroyed by Mongols. The second period of Istaravshan development began in the 14th century when the powerful Timurid Empire was formed. Now the city is called Ura-Tube. In the 16th century Maverannakhr (along with Ura-Tube) lost its significance as a result of formation on a new Shejbanid state with the capital in Bukhara. In the 18th century Ura-Tube entered another stage of its development. It was then that the citadel and the fortress walls were restored and reinforced and new structures capable of resisting attacks of numerous nomadic tribes were erected. In 1886 Ura-Tube became a part of Russia. Today Istaravshan has a number of interesting historical and architectural monuments which bear the evidence of its bright historical past.
Khazrati-Shokh Mausoleum (18th century)
If you ask any local resident who is buried in Khazrati-Shokh Mausoleum you will get the answer that this sacred place is the tomb of St. Khazrati-Shokh -the brother of Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of Prophet Muhammad buried in the 11th century in Samarkand complex of Shakhi Zind. This is the way the legend is told in this place.
The mausoleum itself being one of the most ancient landmarks of Tajikistan is a part of the historical-architectural complex “Khazrati Shokh” located in the old part of Istaravshan. The complex consists of three cult structures: Khazrati-Shokh Mausoleum, Khudoyor Valami Mausoleum and Khazratishokh Mosque (also known as Namozgokh) built in the 19th century. All three structures stand in a semicircle. Each of them was erected at different times and has its own history of creation and purpose. In the past the city cemetery and the madrasah were also a part of the complex.
Today Khazrati-Shokh Mausoleum is a modest two-dome brick building with a tomb (gurkhan) and a chapel (ziyoratkhon) which has been repeatedly restored.
In front of the mausoleum there is a spring the water in which is considered holy and medicinal. According to a legend the spring was formed after caliph Ali dropped his crosier into a high-mountain Lake Ojkul. The crosier emerged at the feet of Khazratishokh buried in Ura-Tyube right where the spring was born. It was from this spring that the history of the mausoleum started. According to the scientists the Moslems consider a spring as a source of life; this is why the burial place of the honored religious figure appeared there. Later the mausoleum was erected above his tomb.
The complex is dated the 18th century though historically it emerged much earlier – in the 10th – 11th
Khorog – Gorno Badakhshan
Khorog is the capital of Gorno-Badakshan oblast (since 1925). It is a comparatively small city. Before the revolution there were only two kishlaks. They were connected by mountain paths. The valley in these places is very narrow, so city consists of one street. It is surrounded by gardens. Its green costume is made of apple, apricot and mulberry trees.Next to Khorog on a hill is Pamir botanical garden. Plants, trees and bushes almost from all countries of the world are gathered there. Khorog has a small but beautiful park with a lake and a stadium. Long time ago the people of this area were completely illiterate. During the Soviet period dozens of schools, libraries, technical schools, colleges began to appear. Automobile tracts which connected Pamir with the railway and the entire country were built.