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Ibn Hawqal, a scholar of the X century, writings about the city of Samarkand and the Pai ditch

Abul Qasim ibn Hawqal al-Mausili al-Nasibi, who lived and scientist in Baghdad in the X century and was a prominent geographer, had traveled through the month of Ramadan in 942. He had been in North Africa, Spain, Sicily, Mesopotamia, Iran, India, and his book what he had been seen.

There are several manuscript copies of Ibn Havqal’s work that have reached us, they are being kept in libraries in countries such as the Netherlands, Turkey, France, England, and Germany. And also, a copy of the work is being kept in the library of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul with the number 3346.

Some parts of Ibn Havqal’s work have been translated into Russian. In particular, with E.K. Bedger in Tashkent (1957) had been translated into Russian some chapters as Samarkand, Nasaf, Kesh, Shash, Ustrushana, Isbijab and Ferghana. Also the chapter “Movarounnahr” of the work was published by H. Mamadaliev and translated into Uzbek by R. Hudoyberganov. This book was “Kitab surat al-Ard” (picture of the earth planet) wich wrout in 977-978. It contains the great deal of information about Samarkand and its provinces.

For example, the introduction to chapter 30 of the book says about the city of Samarkand: “Everywhere you look in the city, you see beautiful places and feel it pleasant”. Whatever you look at, you will accept it too beautiful and attractive.

The spaces are separated, and the magnificent buildings that surround the city were built. There are beautifully planted cypress trees, and they have unusual shapes of various animals – elephants, camels, oxen, and other wild animals.

They are opposed to each other as if they were attacking and testing each other as if preparing for a fight or a battle. What a magnificent view, how much money was spent on it, and how amazing it is. These views are also reflected in the running water here, and the level of attractive pools is constantly shaken. Of course, this is the fruit of reason! The city is packed with towers and tall buildings. They consist of luxurious mansions and magnificent palaces, all of which show that in the past great and powerful kings ruled.

Samarkand was surrounded by a fortress wall and has four gates. One is to the east, the gate is called Bob as-Sin, and it is at an altitude. From there it descends through numerous stairs to the As-Sughd River. The gate to the west is called Bob an-Nawbahar, which is also at an altitude. The northern gate is called Bobi Bukhara and the southern gate is called Bobi Kesh.

Samarkand has a large bazaar and mahallas, bathrooms, caravanserai, and homes, just like in all major cities. Samarkand has running water which enters the city through lead ditches. A high barrier has been built to carry this ditch. In the middle of the bazaar in the Say-Sayifa neighborhood, there are some rocks on the top of the hill, with water flowing over it from the Safforin neighborhood and entering the city through the Bobi Kesh Gate. The surface of this hanging ditch is entirely made of lead. The fact is that the suburbs have passed through a deep downtown, and earlier clay was used to build the city wall. As a result, a large trench was formed from the volume of soil and mud extracted from it. Therefore, a high barrier was required in this trench to transfer water to the city. This hanging ditch was built in pre-Islamic times, passing through the city bazaars, the place called “Ras-at-Toq”, and the most populous of Samarkand. On both sides of this hanging ditch are foundations of the wall, and the proceeds from them were used for its repair and improvement. The firefighters have to look after him in the summer, and according to a special agreement, they have not received any personal income tax[1].

“Samarkand is one of the most fertile and dry soils. If there is no evaporation from the ditch in the houses of the people on the roadside and no dense trees are growing on them. Some doctors said that there is excessive dryness, but it would certainly hurt them. The buildings, they are built of wood and mud alloy here. The people of the city are very beautiful. They are overworked in generosity, over-spend and taking care of themselves, which outweighs many cities in Khorasan, and this will have diminished their finances. Samarkand is the place where people of Movarounnahr gather, and the best people in Movarounnahr are brought up in Samarkand. The distance between the town and the nearest mountains is a slight margin, only a small mountain called Kokhak is connected to it, and its skirt extends until to the Samarkand wall. Its length is one mile. From this mountain, stone and glass are extracted for the construction of city buildings, as well as mud and lime used for glass bottles… In addition, the thirty-first chapter of this historical book is about Samarkand and its ditches.

“Their water flows from the Sogdian River. The water flows from the district between the mountains and goes to Bunjikat and then to a place called Varag’Sar, which means” Turan head “. Samarkand ditches are cut off from here, and residents of the western part of the valley are directly connected them. The ditches in the eastern part of the valley begin with the land called Gubar, opposite Varag’sar, where it is the place where the mountains are separated and the lands where planting and irrigation can be planted. The ditches are called Nahri Barsh, Nahri Bormish and Nahr Boshmin. Nahri Barsh flows to the western part of the city of Samarkand, where ditches from the city ditches and villages along these channels flow from start to finish. Nahri Bormish is located to the south of this ditch, with villages situated about a day’s drive from the beginning to the end. As for the Boshmin ditch, it flows south from the Bormish ditch and irrigates a large number of villages, from the beginning to the end, but ends before the two canals mentioned above.

The largest of these streams is Barsh, then Burma. Both of them are walking deer. Smaller canals are separated from these ditches and are numerous in number so that villages and fields can blossom. From Varagarsar to the end of the large ditch, the area occupies the rust called Dargham, its length is 10 distance and its width is about four to one-inch distance. The rusted here are known as Varag’sar, Moymurg, Sanjarfagn, and Dargham. The canals that flow through the gutter are Nahri Ishtikhan, Nahri Sinovob, and Nahri Buzmojan.

This book says about Ishtikhan: “The test canal runs behind the Buzmozan canal and irrigates several villages until it reaches the Vidor rust, then flows through it to the end of Ishtikhan district and forms approximately two miles from the beginning to the end. Buzmozhan ditch is located just below the town and irrigates the territory of Buzmozhan. Its water is not used for about four feet from the beginning of the Ishtikhan canal, and then it is divided into small ditches. Nine territories have irrigated the area until they reached Ishtikhan. Then he irrigates Ishtikhan and his friends. It is the largest of these canals.

All of these ditches the primary ditches are separated from the Sogd River. On the west side of the river, there is no canal until it passes through Samarkand. The distance from the beginning of the river to the city of Samarkand is more than twenty miles.

In the book also says about Pay ditch in Samarkand region: There is no other canal in all Sughd, where the area of ​​cultivated land, the population density, the wealth of the peasants, the magnificence of the castles, the prosperity of the villages and the fortifications are the heart of the whole Sughd.

“The river flows out of Samarkand for about two days and leaving the canal with the name Pay. Many ditches come out of the Pay, but I could not be more precise. This ditch irrigates the area for more than two days miles. ”

Obviously, Ibn Hawqal tried to make the truth as accurately as possible. In the past, Samarkand and its provinces were truly beautiful, magnificent, were truly paradise dwellings.

Ochil Rustamov
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Associate Professor
Head of the department at Imam Bukhari International Scientific Research Center
Nuriddin Yusupov
Research staff of the Imam Bukhari International Scientific Research Center
Master degree

[1] Ibn Havqal. Movarounnakhr. Arab tilidan tarjima, izohlar muallifi Sh. S. Kamoliddin. Т., 2011.

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