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Rethinking the Ḥamzahids of Ḥiṣār


Welsford, T (2011). Rethinking the Ḥamzahids of Ḥiṣār. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 65(3):797-823.

Abstract

This article considers a hitherto understudied episode in the history of 16th-century Central Asia. The Ḥamzahids of Ḥiṣār were a family of actors who for approximately 70 years governed a territory to the east of central Mā warā al-nahr, in what is today southwestern Tajikistan, and whose activities have long been regarded as marginal to the history of Central Asia under Abū’l-Khayrid rule. Drawing upon material from a range of narrative, epistolary and epigraphic sources, I argue that the Ḥamzahids were in fact a highly influential party who maintained close relations both with their Abū’l-Khayrid neighbours and with the rulers of Badakhshan and elsewhere. By comparing the treatment accorded to the Ḥamzahids in contemporary sources with what we find in sources composed after their downfall in 1573, I argue that ideas of a ‘marginalised’ Ḥamzahid Ḥiṣār stem largely from a later, Bukharo-centric narrative tradition which has often exerted undue influence on modern scholarly perspectives. I conclude that rethinking the history of the Ḥamzahids of Ḥiṣār may allow us to gain a clearer perspective upon the nature of dynastic politics more generally in early modern Central Asia.

Abstract

This article considers a hitherto understudied episode in the history of 16th-century Central Asia. The Ḥamzahids of Ḥiṣār were a family of actors who for approximately 70 years governed a territory to the east of central Mā warā al-nahr, in what is today southwestern Tajikistan, and whose activities have long been regarded as marginal to the history of Central Asia under Abū’l-Khayrid rule. Drawing upon material from a range of narrative, epistolary and epigraphic sources, I argue that the Ḥamzahids were in fact a highly influential party who maintained close relations both with their Abū’l-Khayrid neighbours and with the rulers of Badakhshan and elsewhere. By comparing the treatment accorded to the Ḥamzahids in contemporary sources with what we find in sources composed after their downfall in 1573, I argue that ideas of a ‘marginalised’ Ḥamzahid Ḥiṣār stem largely from a later, Bukharo-centric narrative tradition which has often exerted undue influence on modern scholarly perspectives. I conclude that rethinking the history of the Ḥamzahids of Ḥiṣār may allow us to gain a clearer perspective upon the nature of dynastic politics more generally in early modern Central Asia.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 65 (2011) > 3
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:13 Mar 2012 09:20
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 12:32
Publisher:Schweizerische Asiengesellschaft / Verlag Peter Lang
ISSN:0004-4717

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