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leroy Curtis 

Presented to the 

LIBRARY of the 








"The Heart of Asia" 

BY n 







Pictures by John T. McCutcheon 





Copyright, 1911, 
By George H. Doran Company 






I. — A Lesson in Geography .... 3 

II. — The Central Asia Railway . . .19 

III. — The Turkomans and Their Neighbours . 31 


V. — Merv, " Queen of the Ancient World " . 61 

VI. — Khiva and the Kirghiz .... 79 

VII. — The Oasis of Bokhara .... 99 

VIII. — "Bokhara the Noble: the Sublime" . 119 

IX. — " The Pride of the Mohammedan World " 145 

X. — The Bazaars of Bokhara . . . .161 

XI. — Tamerlane and His Conquests . .186 

XII. — The Memohis of Timour the Tartar . 208 

XIII. — Samarkand, the Ancient Capital of Asia 225 

XIV. — Mosques and Mausoleums of Samarkand 2i8 

XV. — Tashkend, Capital of Turkestan . . 279 

XVI. — The Cotton Industry of Turkestan . 302 

XVII. — The Russian Policy in Asia . . . 331 



Inscription over the entrance of the Tomb of Tamer- 
lane, Samarkand (see page 259) Frontispiece 

Turkestan cotton awaiting shipment at Krosnovodsk 16 

The way the native farmers do their plowing . . 40 

Street in the Russian city of Askabad ... 49 

The Abode of Eternity, Tomb of the Sultan Sanjar, 
among the ruins of Ancient Merv, erected some- 
where about the year 1100 A. D. ... 73 

Transportation De Luxe on Deserts of Central Asia 80 

A Turkestan lady starting on a journey ... 97 

Glimpse of a Turkestan farmhouse . 

Sayid Abdul Ahad, Emir of Bokhara 

Prime Minister of Bokhara 

Street leading to the Great Gate of Bokhara 

Gateway to the Ark, Headquarters of the 
eminent of Bokhara 

The Keeper of the Ark, Bokhara 

Sayid Mir Alim Khan, Crown Prince of 
hara, born January 3, 1880 

Mosque in Bokhara .... 

Mosque of Musfid Kalian and the Minar Kalian 

— Bokhara 153 








A pottery merchant in the Bazaars . 

Market Place in Bokhara .... 

Timour. Bodleian Library, Oxford 

Tomb of Tamerlane's grandfather, near the city of 
Samarkand .... 





A glimpse of Samarkand .... 

A street in the Russian city of Samarkand . 
The Meddresse of Shir-Dar (The Lion Bearer) 

fronting the celebrated square at Samarkand . 240 

Meddresse of Tillah Kar at Samarkand, erected 
in 1641. The front of this building was covered 
with gold leaf 254 

Gur-Emir or Tomb of Tamerlane, at Samarkand, 

erected by himself in 1400-1404 . 259 

Ruins of the Mosque of Bibi Khanum, erected by 
Tamerlane in memory of his Queen, between 
1385 and 1400 at Samarkand . . . .263 

Mausoleum of Bibi Khanum, wife of Tamerlane, at 

Samarkand. Erected about the year 1400 . . 268 

Guardian of the Tomb of Tamerlane . . . 272 

Guardian of the Mosque of Shah Zindah . . 272 

Mausoleum of Shah Zindah, " The Living King," at 
Samarkand, erected by Tamerlane in the latter 
part of the fourteenth century .... 276 

Glimpse of a residence in the native city of 

Tashkend 287 

A Sart family at Tashkend 297 

The belle of Old Tashkend in wedding costume. . 306 

A young man of Tashkend 306 




\ LARGE section of the continent of Asia, which has 
■**> been added to the Russian Empire by conquest 
within the last half century, is known as Turkestan. It 
lies south of Siberia, between the Caspian Sea and China, 
and touches the northern boundaries of Persia, Afghanistan, 
and India. Its distances are approximately sixteen hundred 
miles east and west, and about seven hundred miles north 
and south. Archaeologists say that it has been inhabited 
for ten thousand years by successive races who have cul- 
tivated the soil and have raised cattle, sheep, and horses. 
The first settlers may have come from Mesopotamia, the 
cradle of our race, but it has been overrun by several human 
hordes of Chinese, Mongols, Tartars and Turks, who have 
occupied the territory for centuries at a time, and from there 
have spread over its western boundaries into Europe. 
It was known to the ancients as Bactria, and to the Greeks 
as Scythia; the Romans called it Tartary; and it derives 
its present title from the Turks, who were originally a tribe 
of nomadic Chinese, and were masters of the desert until 
they passed on across the Bosphorus. The residue that 
remained are known as Turkomans. 



When the Russian conquest began in the Ws, Turkestan 
was divided into several independent khanates, governed 
by khans or emirs, which were conquered one after another 
and consolidated into a single province, under a viceroy, 
whose capital is the city of Tashkend, in the foot-hills of 
the Chinese mountains, twelve hundred miles east of the 
Caspian Sea. 

At several periods in their history the inhabitants of 
Turkestan have reached a high degree of wealth and culture. 
The latter part of the XlVth and the former part of the 
XVth centuries was probably their golden age, but war and 
neglect and misrule have left only a few ruins to remind 
the present generation of the prosperity and splendour of 
the past. It is now a closed country, a military despotism 
governed by the army of Russia, with a few civilians in 
charge of the finances and other peaceful departments. 
Foreign immigration is prohibited; foreign visitors are not 

By permission of the Russian Minister of War, I spent 
the spring and early summer months of 1910 in Turkestan, 
for the purpose of writing a series of letters which were 
published in the Chicago Record-Herald and other news- 
papers, and, with the approval of Mr. H. H. Kohlsaat, the 
editor, they are offered in permanent form in this volume. 

The readers are indebted to Mr. John T. McCutcheon 
of Chicago for the admirable illustrations, which are made 
from Kodak pictures taken by him in the summer of 1906. 

I acknowledge with pleasure my great obligations to 
Baron Rosen, Russian Ambassador to the United States, 
for letters of introduction, and especially for an open letter 
of commendation which was of the greatest service to me on 


several occasions when my identity and intentions were 
the subject of police investigation. Mr. Nicholas Tchary- 
kow, the Russian Ambassador to Constantinople, also gave 
me helpful letters and much valuable information. Mr. 
W. W. Rockhill, United States Ambassador to St. Peters- 
burg, was good enough to obtain for me the permit from 
the Minister of War, which was absolutely necessary. 
Without it we would not have been allowed to land at 

There are three ways to get to Turkestan — one by 
railway from St. Petersburg and Moscow over the Great 
Siberian road to Samara, and then southward by way of 
Orenburg to Tashkend, Samarkand, and Bokhara. Through 
sleeping cars run once a week from Moscow to Andijan, 
the eastern terminus of the Central Asia Railway. 

A more interesting route would take you through the 
Cossack country in the valley of the Don, and along the 
northern side of the Caucasus Mountains to Baku, where 
steamers cross the Caspian Sea to Krasnovodsk, the western 
terminus of the Central Asia Railway. 

A still more interesting route, and the one we followed, 
is to take a steamer at Constantinople, cruise along the 
north coast of Turkey, visiting Trebizond, the capital of an 
ancient empire, and several other interesting places, to the 
terminus of the steamship line at Batoum. From there we 
crossed the Caucasus by rail to Baku, a distance of five 
hundred miles, stopping at Tiflis, a most interesting city, 
from which a detour can be made to Erivan, at the foot 
of Mt. Ararat, a comfortable journey of eighteen hours 
by rail. From Baku we crossed the Caspian Sea to 


There is a large fleet of small vessels on the Caspian Sea, 
exclusively under the Russian flag. The largest, which are 
named in honour of two famous generals, Skobeleff and 
Kuropatkin, are twin-screw steamers, with electric steering 
apparatus and about 3,000 tons burden, but the majority- 
are between 1,200 and 1,800 tons, and most of them are 
old-fashioned side-wheelers, which have been in service 
for a long time. 

All of them have limited accommodations for first and 
second class passengers, and carry large numbers of third 
class passengers — Persians, Tartars, Turks, Afghans, 
Turkomans, Georgians, Armenians, Kalmucks, and other 
native races — who have a passion for travelling and camp 
out on the decks with big pillows and thick rugs, their pots 
and kettles, saddle-bags and baskets, scattered around them. 
The deck of a Caspian steamer for this reason is one of the 
most interesting sights you could see in that part of the 
world, and usually every inch of space is occupied by 
reclining passengers in picturesque garbs, so that the officers 
and crew have to step over them when they go about 
attending to their duties. 

Even the first-class passengers are expected to bring their 
own bedding. The cabins are clean and comfortable, with 
ordinary bunks and mattresses, but no sheets, blankets, 
pillows, or towels, although the stewardess will supply them 
from her own private stock if she is paid extra. It is 
customary, however, for travellers on railways as well as 
steamers to carry rolls of bedding, because they will need 
it at most of the hotels. The custom has probably grown 
up in that way, just as it has in India. There, outside of 
Calcutta and Bombay and other large cities, every hotel- 


keeper expects his patrons to furnish their bedding and 
towels, and in the interior your "bearer," or body servant, 
takes care of your room, and waits on you at the table. 
The landlord and servants of the hotel leave you entirely 
to his tender mercies. 

Excellent meals are served to the first-class passengers 
of steamers on the Caspian Sea, but there, as everywhere, 
the quality of the food and the character of the service 
vary according to the taste and the refinement of the 
captain, who is a dictator aboard his craft and has things 
as he wants them. Our experience was entirely satisfactory. 
I do not know of a steamer in Europe or the United States, 
except perhaps those of the Great Northern line on the 
lakes, on which better meals are served than we had offered 
to us on the Caspian. 

There are several important ports, and the territory and 
traffic seems to have been divided up among several steam- 
ship companies. Baku is the headquarters and starting- 
point for the southern Caspian, and Astrakhan for the 
northern coast. A steamer sails every other day from Baku 
for Persia and visits five of the ports. Resht is the landing 
place for Teheran, the capital of Persia. The Russians 
have built a fine road all the distance between them and have 
established a line of diligences which make the journey in 
thirty-two hours; but it is a hard trip. The construction 
of this road, although a universal blessing to everybody 
who has to travel in Persia, was not entirely a benevolent 
act, and its chief purpose was to enable the Russian govern- 
ment to throw a military force into the Persian capital 
promptly whenever needed. The town of Kazvin, which 
is half way to Teheran, is an important commercial centre, 


and has an American school and a missionary settle- 

Other lines of steamers, and a much larger number, ply 
between Astrakhan, altogether the most important port 
upon the Caspian, and Krasnovodsk, the terminus of the 
Central Asia Railway, bringing the supplies needed by at 
least a hundred thousand troops who are occupying Central 
Asia, and carrying back cargoes of raw cotton, wool, and 
other natural products from a territory as large as the Mis- 
sissippi valley. The Russian manufacturers now depend 
upon Turkestan for a large amount of their raw cotton and 
the product is increasing in volume rapidly. Moscow is 
the source of supply of all kinds of merchandise required in 
Central Asia, and a paternal government protects the manu- 
facturers against the competition of the rest of Europe. 

Tank steamers and barges carry crude and refined petro- 
leum from Baku to Astrakhan and up the Volga River, 
which is navigable as far as Moscow. The interior of Russia 
is supplied with its burning fluid in that way. Astrakhan, 
at the mouth of the Volga, is a city of 200,000 inhabitants, 
and the centre of a large trade in wool, hides, sheep pelts, 
and other ranch products. Millions of sheep, cattle, and 
goats are pastured in that neighbourhood, and the steppe 
of the Kalmucks, which was formerly one of the wildest 
sections of the world, is now almost entirely under cultiva- 
tion with American machinery and produces immense 
quantities of wheat, barley, and other grains. 

Derbend and Petrovsk are both important towns upon 
the west coast of the Caspian, and a railway passes through 
them from Baku to Moscow, Odessa, and other parts of 
Russia. They have their share of the trade and are 


well equipped with docks and facilities for loading and 

The Caspian Sea is a strange body of water. The geolo- 
gists call it "a survival of former oceanic areas," and show 
us how it was once connected with the Arctic Ocean by the 
way of the Sea of Aral and the river Obi. There seems 
to be no doubt of that fact, and it is demonstrated by 
several interesting signs. The Caspian Sea has seals, her- 
ring, salmon, and other marine life which seems to be un- 
mistakable evidence of its former communication with the 
ocean. At various places along the coast are water lines 
which show that it was much higher than it is now, and that 
the depression of its surface to its present level has been 
gradual through the ages. A slight elevation would again 
restore connection between the Caspian and the Arctic seas. 
A rise of 158 feet would bring the Caspian up to the level of 
the Sea of Aral; a farther rise of sixty-two feet, making 220 
feet in all, would turn the waters of both into the Tobol, 
one of the tributaries of the river Obi, which flows into the 
polar sea. Between the Caspian and the Arctic Circle is 
only a low steppe or prairie, with depressions that were 
undoubtedly once filled with water. Strabo and other 
ancient geographers describe such communication between 
the Caspian basin and the northern ocean in unmistakable 

The mean level of the Caspian is now eighty-four feet 
below that of the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, and the 
Atlantic. Although it varies with the winter floods and 
summer droughts, it is gradually subsiding; so gradually, 
however, that it will take a thousand years or more to ex- 
haust the water. The northern portion is extremely shallow 


and is being filled up with silt brought down from the in- 
terior of Russia by the Volga, the Ural, and the Kuma, 
three great muddy streams which traverse the steppes for 
thousands of miles. They have already converted the 
northern part of the Caspian into a salt marsh, and are 
encroaching upon the sea itself every year. The distance 
in a straight line between the extremes of north and south 
of the Caspian is 740 miles. The average width is 210 
miles, but at one spot the distance is 300 miles across. At 
one time the Caspian was more than 300 miles longer than 
at present, and the southern part was 130 miles wider. 
There are several spots on both coasts where signs of the 
subsidence appear very plainly; indeed, geologists say that 
the biography of no body of water, unless it be the Dead 
Sea, is written in language so clear as that of the Caspian. 

There is no outlet, and the drainage area is one of the 
largest of any body of water. The Volga River, which 
rises in northern Russia, alone drains an area of more than 
half a million square miles. The Ural drains the mountains 
of that name, an area of more than 300,000 square miles. 
These two rivers bring down more water than the Danube 
and the Don combined pour into the Black Sea; and on the 
west coast five great streams, the Kamu, Kur, and the 
Terek, which drain the Caucasus Mountains, the Arax — 
the Araxes of Scripture — and the Attruk, which drains 
the mountains of Armenia, pour enormous volumes of fresh 
water into the Caspian, which is diluting the original salt 
water to such an extent that its specific gravity is now only 
a little more than 1 per cent. This makes the Caspian, to 
use an Irish bull, the freshest body of salt water in the world. 
For quite a distance around the mouths of the rivers named 


the water is only slightly brackish, but on the eastern coast, 
which is a hopeless desert lined with bleak and barren moun- 
tains, the salt deposits are extensive and the water is very 

You can imagine the rapidity of evaporation when I tell 
you that all the water poured into the Caspian every 
year is sucked up by the sun. Year after year the average 
level does not vary much, and is lowered in a slight degree 
with every passing season. The summer heat is intense, 
and frequently rises to 110 degrees in the shade, while 
during the winter a temperature of 30 degrees below zero 
is not considered remarkable, making a total range of 
140 degrees Fahrenheit. The shallow portions of the sea, 
including about one third of its area, are always frozen 
over from November to March, and the ice sometimes 
extends to the middle basin. The southern part, which is 
much deeper, and where the water is more dense, never 

The Caspian is a stormy sea, particularly between October 
and March and between July and September, when the gales 
rage with such violence that navigation has to be entirely 
suspended for days. The water is usually rough at all 
seasons; a quiet passage is rare. There are no regular tides, 
but changes of level occur frequently, because of the atmos- 
pheric pressure being greater in one part than in another, 
the inequality of evaporation, and the floods of fresh water 
from the inflowing rivers. 

A mysterious phenomenon is a current, always perceptible, 
running at an average rate of three miles an hour. It is 
about one hundred and fifty yards wide, and its limits are as 
distinctly marked as those of the Gulf Stream. It is more 


rapicTin the summer than in the winter season. In periods 
of extreme heat it has been known to exceed five miles an 
hour, and in very cold winters it has been known to slow 
down to a mile and a half an hour. The native boatmen 
believe that this current is due to a subterranean abyss 
through which the waters flow either into the Persian Gulf 
or the Black Sea, a hypothesis for which there is not the 
slightest justification as long as water will not flow uphill, 
the mean level of the Caspian being eighty-four feet lower 
than that of either the Persian Gulf or the Black Sea. 
Although scientific observers are not entirely agreed in 
their explanation, the majority of them are convinced that 
the current is due to an indraught produced by the excess 
of evaporation in a basin or bay known as the Karaboghaz, 
on the central part of the eastern coast, about ninety miles 
across and almost entirely cut off from the main sea by a 
long, narrow spit of land. The entrance is not more than 
a thousand feet wide. The Karaboghaz is in a rainless 
and cloudless region, the area of the greatest extremes of 
heat as well as the greatest density of salt. Therefore it 
is natural that evaporation should be more rapid there 
than elsewhere, and the current is supposed to be caused 
by the attraction of the water in that direction. 

A good deal of salt is taken out of the Caspian Sea — an 
average of about 400,000 tons every year — but the supply 
is inexhaustible because around it, particularly on the 
northern coast, are innumerable little salt lakes. They are 
supposed to have been at one time a part of the sea, and 
being left isolated by its subsidence gradually dried up by 
the action of the sun. Big beds of rock salt are sometimes 
found at the bottom of these little lakes, which receive 


enough water from the rain, snow, and streams to compen- 
sate them for the loss sustained by evaporation. The most 
notable of the lakes, called Elton, lies about two hundred 
miles north of the present border of the Caspian, in a de- 
pressed area seventy-nine feet below the present level of 
the Caspian and 160 feet below that of the Black Sea. 

For a radius of nearly four hundred miles north of the 
Caspian Sea the soil of the steppes contains a large admixture 
of salt, often associated with marl, shells, and fish bone. 
This leaves no doubt that the waters of the Caspian once 
covered the locality and in their recession left the sediment 

The Sea of Aral, about four hundred miles northeast of 
the Caspian, is also salt, but has been diluted by floods 
of fresh water from the Syr Daria (the ancient Jaxartes), 
which rises in the mountains on the Afghanistan frontier, 
and the Amu Daria (the ancient Oxus), which rises among 
the peaks of the Pamirs in Hindu Kush and then descends 
into the great Turkoman desert to irrigate hundreds of thou- 
sands of acres in the oases of Merv and Khiva. A large pro- 
portion of both these rivers is withdrawn for irrigation before 
they reach the Aral Sea, and the supply they bring is not 
sufficient to keep it up to its normal level, so that, like the 
Caspian Sea, it is gradually receding. 

The topography of the desert shows that the Amu Daria 
formerly flowed into the Caspian through a furrow which 
may still be easily followed along the southern border of the 
Ust-Urt, the great desert through which the Central Asia 
Railway now runs. 

Russian engineers have a scheme to divert a portion of 
the waters of the Oxus back into its ancient bed and thus 


reclaim a large portion of what is now a desert of drifting 
sand. Like many other deserts, the soil is richly loaded 
with plant nourishment and produces with great profusion 
wherever water can be brought to moisten it. 

We left Baku on the steamer Skoheleff at 8 o'clock in 
the evening and arrived at Krasnovodsk, the western 
terminus of the great Central Asia Railway, at 11 o'clock 
the next morning, after a delightful voyage, without feeling 
any of the annoyances which have given the Caspian 
Sea a bad reputation among seasick people. When we 
approached the dock we saw what looked familiar — a town 
of one-story whitewashed adobe houses, with wide, dusty 
streets, precisely like those along the line of the Santa Fe 
and the Southern Pacific railways in New Mexico and Ari- 
zona. If a Tombstone miner should drop down there in the 
night, he would feel perfectly at home in the morning, es- 
pecially after the breeze comes up about 11 o'clock and what 
he is accustomed to call "real-estate activity" begins in 
the dusty streets. Krasnovodsk also resembles the mining 
towns on the nitrate coast of Chile, especially where the 
gloomy, barren mountains come down to bathe their feet 
in the water. 

As far as you can see in every direction there is nothing 
but rock and sand. There is not a green thing within miles 
and miles of the place except a few struggling cottonwood 
trees that have been planted in a little park and are kept 
alive by constant irrigation. The water supply is furnished 
by companies which condense the contents of the Caspian 
Sea into vapour, as people are said to distill whiskey from 
corn, extract the salt, and sell the purged water by the quart 
and gallon from house to house as milk is sold in America. 


Two or three hundred feet above the town, in a little crack 
in the mountain side, is a group of three iron tanks, put 
there as a safety reservoir and kept filled with water to be 
used in case a fire should break out upon the docks. Lines 
of hose are stretched through the different warehouses, but 
so far they have never been needed. There has been no 
damage of consequence from fire since the town was built. 

Most of the houses are one story, with thick walls sur- 
rounding patios in the Spanish style, which experience has 
demonstrated is the coolest and most comfortable for a 
tropical climate. The exteriors of the houses are washed with 
blue, green, red, yellow, and other bright colours, in order 
to make the place look as cheerful as possible, and two or 
three government buildings have been raised to two stories. 

There is no hotel, but stranded travellers who have no 
friends to entertain them can find lodgings in what are 
called "Numeras," a name applied throughout Turkestan 
to houses where lodgings are let. Several respectable- 
looking restaurants supply meals, but altogether the best 
place is the railway station, where excellent luncheons 
and dinners are served. Unlike corresponding towns in 
America there are no saloons, gambling houses, dance 
houses, or other disreputable resorts. Krasnovodsk is 
strictly a "dry town." The soldiers, sailors, railway em- 
ployes, and dock-wallopers who furnish the greater part 
of the population are entirely protected from the temptations 
to which we permit the working classes in our frontier 
towns to be exposed. And, what is still more remarkable, 
Turkestan is a prohibition country. 

Except in Bokhara, which is nominally an independent 
khanate still, Central Asia is "dry" in more senses than 


one. The native races have not been allowed to acquire 
European vices. 

There are excellent bathing establishments along the 
shore of the Caspian, with clean and commodious dressing 
rooms, and stairs that lead down into the water. There is 
a hard, sandy bottom, but very little surf, and every one is 
surprised because the water is not salty. It is only 

There is deep water close to the shore, which of course 
is a great advantage to shipping, and long piers extending 
out into the sea are covered with warehouses filled with 
military supplies and merchandise brought down from Mos- 
cow and other parts of Russia by boats on the Volga River. 
These are to be sent to Samarkand, Bokhara, Tashkend, 
Andijan, and other cities in Central and Eastern Asia, to 
be distributed among the native tribes as far as the Chinese 
border, even across into Persia, British India, Afghanistan, 
and Thibet. 

The outgoing freight brought down on long trains from 
Central Asia is piled up neatly, awaiting shipment. Vast 
stacks of baled cotton are on their way from Tashkend and 
the Merv oasis to the mills of Moscow and other manufac- 
turing towns of Russia. It will be carried by steamers to 
Astrakhan and there trans-shipped upon barges to be towed 
up the Volga River. There are immense quantities of 
wool and hides in bales destined for England, Germany, 
and even for the United States; for cotton, wool, and skins 
are the chief products of Central Asia and the most profit- 
able. There is much rice also, but that is nearly all con- 
sumed in the cities around the Caspian Sea. 

I noticed a good deal of railway construction material 


piled up along the docks, which indicates that the system 
is being extended; and there are rumours of new tracks 
being laid from certain points upon the main line of the 
railroad to the borders of Persia, Thibet, and Afghanistan. 
But that is a secret which the Russians are trying to conceal, 
because England is so jealous of her Asiatic territory and 
is almost frightened out of her wits whenever she sees the 
cap of a Russian soldier approaching boundary lines. 

Immense quantities of sugar, coffee, hardware, furniture, 
cotton fabrics, and the other necessaries of life are shipped 
into Asia by Krasnovodsk, for that is the only port of entry 
for a vast territory and the chief outlet for the products 
of between 10,000,000 and 12,000,000 people. The natives 
are beginning to need modern merchandise. They are 
acquiring a taste for foreign goods, and are thus providing 
a market of great value for the manufacturers of Russia, 
which is of course a very important consideration for a 
government. And there are at least 2,000,000 Russian 
emigrants living on the line of the Central Asia Railway 
whose wants must be supplied. 

Therefore Krasnovodsk is a busy as well as an important 
town, and one of the most important in all Asia, although 
it is only a railway terminus and a military station and has 
nothing but manufactured water to drink. It was created 
for a single purpose, and no one would live there unless 
he were compelled to do so. The labouring element are 
Persians and Tartars and make good hands. They are 
energetic, muscular and willing, and are paid about thirty 
cents a day in our money. The machine and repair shops of 
the railway are manned by Russians and Armenians, more 
than one thousand in number. Nearly all the cars used on 


the Central Asia Railway are made in the shops there, 
but the locomotives are brought from Moscow in sections. 
There is a garrison of about two thousand men, which 
constitutes almost one-half the population. During working 
hours, when the labouring element are busy, almost every 
person you meet upon the street is a soldier. There are a 
few shops where the necessaries of life are sold, and the people 
get as much pleasure out of existence as they can, although 
conditions are not encouraging. 



OHORTLY after the Russian occupation of Turkestan 
^ in 1865, the necessity of a railway for the transpor- 
tation of troops and supplies was realized and various 
plans were suggested. In 1873 Ferdinand de Lesseps sub- 
mitted to Alexander II the details of a scheme for a line 
from Moscow to Calcutta, a distance of about five thousand 
miles; that portion which lay west of India to be built by 
Russia and the remainder by England. De Lesseps formed a 
company with French capital to undertake the preliminary 
surveys, and the Russian government gave him a concession 
for six years while he unfolded the scheme, with the promise 
of a charter and a liberal guarantee. But the British gov- 
ernment declined to concur in the project. When the 
French engineers reached the frontier of Afghanistan they 
were prohibited from proceeding farther and returned to 
Europe. After a prolonged controversy De Lesseps dropped 
the project and transferred his attention to the Panama 

The necessity was too great, however, to permit the enter- 
prise to be abandoned. In 1879 Russian military engineers 
surveyed the first section to Merv, and in 1880 General 
Skobeleff, who had been appointed commander-in-chief, 
was given carte blanche to go ahead with construction, 
which was completed to Samarkand in 1885 and to 



Andijan in 1892. An American contractor named Berry 
offered to build the first section at his own expense with 
material from the United States, and operate it upon 
completion for an annual guarantee of $750,000; but, as 
the road was required for military purposes chiefly, the 
goverment rejected his proposal, and General Anenkoff, 
comptroller of the transport department of the Russian 
army, who had charge of all the transportation arrange- 
ments during the war with Turkey, was directed to take 
charge of the work. 

The Central Asia Railway runs from Krasnovodsk, on 
the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, to Andijan, on the west- 
ern boundary of the Chinese Empire, a distance of 1,256 
miles. Two hundred miles west of Andijan the track 
branches off northward to Tashkend, the capital of Russian 
Turkestan, and the residence of the viceroy, and from there 
extends northward and westward along the shores of the 
Aral Sea to the city of Orenberg, where it connects with the 
Great Siberian Railway at Samara. It is possible to go 
by rail from Andijan to Moscow, or to Vladivostok, the 
Russian port on the Pacific, or Peking or Tien-Tsin. A line 
has been surveyed from Tashkend eastward to connect 
with the Great Siberian Railway at Omsk on the northern 
boundary of China, and sometime it may be built. 

The Central Asia Railway extends about halfway across 
the continent of Asia, over "the roof of the world," and 
through one of the oldest settled portions of that continent. 
A scientific commission from the Carnegie Institution at 
Washington, which spent two years among the ruins and 
the deserts of Khiva and Kizil-Kum and through the oases 
of Merv, Bokhara, and Samarkand, estimates from the 


archaeological evidences that this section of the earth's 
surface has been cultivated by human beings with cattle and 
horses for at least ten thousand years, and that several 
"cultures" or periods of civilization have succeeded each 
other, each with its own individuality. 

The principal cities along the line are Askabad, which 
is the capital of the Russian province of Trans-Caspia; Merv, 
which is surrounded by twenty square miles of ruins; Char- 
jui, Bokhara, Samarkand, Kokand, Andijan, and Tashkend. 
There are altogether eighty-five stations, but most of them 
are for the convenience of the military management rather 
than for the accommodation of the public. 

Passing southeastward from Krasnovodsk on the eastern 
shore of the Caspian Sea, the track follows the northern 
boundary of Persia for two hundred miles. It is only 
thirty miles across to that historic country and from the 
station at Askabad a fine wagon road has been built to the 
sacred city of Meshed for the accommodation of multitudes 
of pilgrims who visit that place every year to venerate 
the Saint Ali Rizi, eighth in descent from the Prophet, 
who lies in a large tomb covered with silver gilt. 

After leaving Persia the track trends northeastward to 
Bokhara and then follows an almost direct easterly course to 
the Chinese border. 

At Merv a branch line runs down to a place called Kushk 
on the frontier of Afghanistan, where the Russians have 
fortified themselves and maintain a large garrison of troops. 
It is only a short distance from Herat, the second important 
city in Afghanistan, and the Russian military authorities 
are always ready to throw a force of infantry, artillery, and 
cavalry over the line at a moment's notice. This fact is the 


cause of great nervousness in India and with the British 
government. Afghanistan is a bumper between Russia 
and England, and while the emir is theoretically under a 
protectorate of England, it would be convenient for Russia 
to interfere with the situation in a very serious manner if 
England should attempt to make the relations any closer. 

Other branch roads are contemplated and surveyed, 
and the material for their construction is piled up at conve- 
nient places whenever it may be needed. England is the 
only power that Russia fears, and although their relations at 
present are entirely friendly, and they have an amicable 
understanding concerning the control of Persia, what diplo- 
matists call "eventualities" are possible at any time, and the 
aggressive policy of Russia is no secret to the world. The 
Central Asia Railway and its branches are intended to aid 
and extend Russian supremacy in the East, just as they 
were built to aid in the subjugation of the native rulers 
who governed what is now called Turkestan. 

There were half a dozen or more independent khanates, 
each governed by a khan, with capitals at Khiva, Merv, 
Samarkand, Charjui, Kokand, and other cities along the 
line of the road, which, one by one, were conquered and 
annexed to the Russian Empire and now compose the terri- 
tory on the modern maps covered by the word Turkestan. 
The khanate of Bokhara is still nominally independent 
and remains so because the emir, who realized that submis- 
sion was the better part of valour, invited a protectorate 
instead of a battle. He has since been allowed to main- 
tain a show of independent authority under the advice 
of a Russian general. 

The most interesting of all the khanates thus conquered 


and annexed was Samarkand, the home, the birthplace, 
and the tomb of Tamerlane, or Timour, the great Tartar 
chieftain, who once conquered half the world and ruled an 
empire extending from the Danube to the Ganges and from 
the Mediterranean to the Bay of Bengal. The khan of 
Samarkand was foolish enough to resist the Russians and 
lost his life, and the proudest capital in Asia is now ruled by 
a Russian general. 

Within this immense area are various climates and mete- 
orological conditions. For a larger part of the distance the 
railway runs through deserts, but wherever water is poured 
upon the soil it produces profusely. The hillsides are 
covered with flocks and herds and the oases are now pro- 
ducing immense crops of fine cotton from American seed, 
which has been introduced by the Russian government. 

There are no general industries, but the women of every 
household are always engaged at the loom, and produce 
the finest rugs and carpets that are made outside of Persia. 
The Bokhara rugs are known to everybody. From this 
territory come those pelts of fine curly black wool so much 
in favour for women's wraps, known as Persian lamb. Char- 
jui is the centre of the trade, and trainloads of lamb-skins 
are shipped from there and neighbouring towns to Moscow, 
London, and other distributing points. 

The extremes of temperature are very great. Cyrus the 
Younger, boasting of Persia, said: 

"My father's kingdom extends so far to the south that 
men cannot live there because of the heat, and so far to the 
north that they cannot live there because of the cold." 

This is a fair description of the contrast between the torrid 
summers on the Persian Gulf and the frigid winters in the 


mountains of Kara Dagh and other points in northern 
Persia; and the same might be said of Turkestan. In the 
winter the tracks of the railway have to be protected by 
snowsheds, and in the summer the heat is terrific and almost 

There was great difficulty in constructing the railway 
because of the drifting sand, which lies in loose hillocks in 
several places upon the desert and drifts about with the 
breeze without regard to railway trains or caravans. The 
grains are so fine that the sand is difficult to handle. It 
cannot be transported in a car because the motion of the 
train creates such a breeze that it is blown away. And it 
cannot be shovelled because it is so light that a breath will 
scatter it in every direction. A similar difficulty prevails 
upon the Oregon Railway and Navigation tracks along the 
Columbia River in Oregon and on the Southern Railway in 
Peru. The track is a five-foot gauge, uniform with the 
railways of European Russia. Most of the ties are of iron 
and the rails are sixty-pound steel. 

It is entirely a military road. It was surveyed and built 
and is managed by soldiers. Civilians have been employed 
as surveyors, architects, and engineers, but not only was the 
construction intrusted to a lieutenant-general, the famous 
Annenkoff, but the larger part of the manual labour was per- 
formed by military battalions selected for their aptitude 
or experience in railway work. The engineers are old 
soldiers; the station masters and attendants are veteran 
officers or enlisted men who have been wounded in battle; 
the guards, conductors, ticket collectors, telegraph operators, 
and all other employes are detailed from the army or are 
on the retired or reserve list. 


The unskilled labour was performed by Turkomans, Bok- 
hariots, Sarts, and other natives, who were paid good wages, 
and their employment had a great deal to do with the rapid 
pacification of the country. The rolling stock, rails, and all 
other materials came from Russia, most of it from Moscow, 
because there is no timber or other material to be had on the 
ground ; and the scarcity of water was another serious em- 
barrassment. Artesian wells were failures. Pipes have been 
laid from the mountains across the desert wherever it is 
possible, and more than a thousand tank cars are still in use 
transporting water where it cannot be otherwise obtained. 

There are three tremendous rivers, but only fifty-six 
bridges in all for a distance of 1,200 miles, including those 
over the ditches and dry water-courses. The largest 
bridge, about a mile and a half long, is that which crosses 
the ancient Oxus River, now known as the Amu Daria, near 
the city of Charjui, and there is another at Merv over the 

The station houses are solid structures of stone of attrac- 
tive architecture, with long platforms always crowded with 
curious natives, for the iron horse and the vehicles it hauls 
have never lost their interest. All of the principal stations 
are provided with excellent restaurants and conveniences in 
the way of hot water, bread, and other simple foods for third- 
class passengers. 

The trains run very slowly, the fastest not more than 
twenty miles an hour; the track is solid and smooth; the cars 
are large and luxurious, and to each of the through express 
trains a primitive dining car is attached, which is not 
attractive in appearance but is of great convenience. The 
bill of fare is not suited to epicures, but people who are not 


too particular can get plenty of fresh eggs, good bread, and 
excellent coffee and tea. 

The railway station at Krasnovodsk is a handsome 
building of Oriental and therefore appropriate design, with 
arabesque treatment of the roof and built of alternate courses 
of dark and light gray stone. A wide terrace with a balus- 
trade overlooks the tracks where the people gather daily 
to see the trains go out. It is the one diversion of an other- 
wise barren town. The express train for Tashkend leaves 
at 8 o'clock in the evening, local time, and a convenient 
hour for everybody. The men folks have finished their 
work and eaten their suppers, and it is not yet time to put 
the babies to bed. They all come down — men, women, and 
children — to gossip and watch the strangers and spend an 
hour or so in the cool twilight. 

I do not understand why the railway management makes 
up its schedules on St. Petersburg time, for there is two hours' 
difference, but for the convenience of the public the clocks 
in the station houses are rigged with two sets of pointers; 
one painted black, which represents the railway, and the 
other red, which indicates the local time. 

Several years ago, while riding about the city of Savan- 
nah during a wait of a couple of hours between trains, 
I happened to look up at the clock in a church steeple, 
noticed that I had only a few minutes to spare before my 
train left, and directed the old coloured driver to hurry. 
He replied that we had more than an hour to spare, and in 
answer to my inquiry explained: 

"We has two kinds of time in Savannah, boss; de 
standard time and de Mediterranean time. De cyars 
runs by de standard time, but de people ob de town gits 


np and goes to bed by de Mediterranean time, which am 
de time ob de sun." 

In Turkestan there is a similar practice. The inhabitants 
rise and shine by meridian time and the railway trains run 
by St. Petersburg time. 

There is an excellent restaurant in the station at Kras- 
novodsk, where we were eating a very satisfactory dinner 
when an imperious young officer, in the uniform of the gen- 
darmes, or imperial Russian police, stepped up and in an 
arbitrary and insolent manner asked who we were and where 
we were going, as if we were tramps and he a policeman. 
We told him we were respectable Americans on our way to 
Bokhara simply as tourists and showed him our passports 
and permit, which a very courteous senior officer in charge 
of that business had pronounced regular and satisfactory. 
But the subaltern evidently suspected that we had designs 
upon the peace and tranquility of Turkestan and was 
determined to avert the danger if possible. We made an 
effort to satisfy him of our innocence and respectability, but 
he looked very distrustful as he left the dining room. 

Our passports and our permits had been inspected, ap- 
proved, and returned to us by the officials in charge of such 
matters, and this young subaltern was informed by the senior 
officer in command that everything was satisfactory; but his 
suspicions had been aroused by something about our conduct 
or appearance, and after we had purchased our tickets to 
Tashkend he came around again to inquire why we had done 
so, when we had just told him that we were going to Bokhara, 
which is only a little more than halfway. We explained that, 
having found the train so comfortable, we had concluded to 
continue our journey to the end of the line and to stop at 


Bokhara on our return; but he seemed to consider this a 
suspicious circumstance and made himself very obnoxious 
by his inquisitiveness. An officer who had been at the 
same hotel with us at Baku and had crossed the Caspian 
on the same steamer, put in a good word for us, but the 
young captain refused to be convinced and, as we learned 
the next day, telegraphed his suspicions to the chief of the 
political police at Askabad, which occasioned an excit- 
ing little episode. 

Turkestan is a closed country. The regulations are very 
strict about strangers. The Russian government does not 
want tourists to come to Turkestan, especially newspaper 
men, and evidently the officials make it as disagreeable as 
possible for them. All foreigners are unwelcome; com- 
mercial travellers from every other country are excluded; 
no German or Frenchman or Englishman can sell goods 
there. The trade is protected in an arbitrary manner for 
the merchants and manufacturers of Moscow and other 
Russian cities. There are Russian agents of foreign com- 
mission houses buying wool, cotton, hides, skins, and other 
products of the country, and they are never interfered with, 
because the products of Turkestan must find a market 
outside of Russia to a certain extent, but Russia can supply 
all the needs of the people without the aid of foreigners. 

The Central Asia Railway is maintained to transport 
troops and supplies to the Russian possessions in Asia, and 
no one can pass over it without a special permit in addition 
to the regular passport, which a foreigner can only obtain 
through his ambassador at St. Petersburg, from the Minister 
of War. The Ministry of the Interior has jurisdiction over 
ordinary passports, but the Central Asia Railway is outside 


its jurisdiction and under the control of the War Depart- 
ment. No one can go aboard a steamer on the Caspian Sea 
or buy a railway ticket or enter a train in Turkestan with- 
out an "ocriti lista," as the permit is called, and even then 
it must first be compared with the duplicate which is for- 
warded to the police bureau at Krasnovodsk whenever one 
is issued at St. Petersburg. 

Our train consisted of six carriages — one first, one second, 
and two third class, with a primitive dining car similar to 
those used with construction trains on American railroads, 
and a separate kitchen car, which was very much like an 
American caboose. The locomotive was an oil burner, 
and a tank car of oil was attached to it, in addition to the 
tender. The first-class cars are very comfortable, divided 
into compartments for two and for four passengers, and 
arranged so that the backs of the long couches used for seats 
can be lifted and fastened in a horizontal position to make 
an upper berth. The beds made up this way are just as 
comfortable as those of a Pullman sleeper. But we had to 
bring our own sheets, pillow-cases, blankets, and towels, for 
they furnish nothing of the kind either on the train or in the 
hotels of Russia, except at St. Petersburg, Moscow, Warsaw, 
and perhaps one or two of the other larger cities. 

The conductor, porters, and the policeman who accom- 
panied the train were all very attentive, some of them 
for political and the others for pecuniary reasons. We were 
under suspicion from the start. The Russians have a 
delusion that the British government is possessed of an 
insatiable curiosity to know what is going on in Turkestan, 
and no Englishman can cross by the Caspian steamers with- 
out being subjected to most annoying espionage. The 


officials are too stupid to distinguish between English and 
Americans, and very few of them are able to read any lan- 
guage but their own; hence, notwithstanding the fact that 
our passports were issued by the United States government 
and our permit contained the statement that it was issued 
to us as Americans at the request of the American ambas- 
sador, the police officials were possessed of the notion that 
we were English spies. 

After the train started we made up our own beds, wrapped 
our steamer rugs around us, and lay down to pleasant 
dreams. There is no inducement for a passenger to sit up 
late upon a train, for the compartments are lighted with a 
single candle, set in a little glass box over the door next 
to the ceiling, which does not make enough light to throw 
a shadow. The motion of the train is as soothing as a rock- 
ing chair. The speed is never more than twenty miles an 
hour, the track is smooth, there is no jolting, and what 
motion there is is as regular as the ticking of a clock. 

We wakened early in the morning at the Kizilerrat, 
315 versts — or about 225 miles — east of Krasnovodsk, 
where we saw our first Turkomans, our first kibitka, as the 
curious tent is called in which they live, and our first camels, 
which were slowly pacing off the desert in a long caravan 
over a trail which runs parallel with the railway track. 
Samovars of hot water and bottles of milk, big piles of 
bread and bowls of hard-boiled eggs were the first things we 
saw when we looked out of the window of the train at the 
station, and these were offered by a row of Russian women 
with white handkerchiefs tied over their blonde hair, who 
stood behind tables upon which their wares were spread. 
And they were well patronized by the third-class passengers. 


WE SAW our first oasis at Bacharden, a station 426 
versts, or about three hundred miles, east of Kras- 
novodsk, where the platform is surrounded by a glorious 
grove of locust and mulberry trees. As far as we could see 
in every direction the earth was green with growing wheat, 
barley, and other grains; vast fields of alfalfa were ripe and 
half-naked Turkomans were cutting them with sickles. 
Several orchards were within view from the car windows as 
we jogged along, and the contrast between this landscape 
and that through which we had been passing before we 
entered the irrigated area was similar to that which a trav- 
eller in southern California experiences when he suddenly 
emerges from the dusty desert into a paradise of orange 

The track runs parallel with the boundary line between 
Russia and Persia, which was fixed by a treaty in 1881, and 
it is only thirty miles south. The line is marked for three 
hundred miles or more by two ranges of mountains, the 
first range, called Kuren Dagh, rising between two thousand 
and three thousand feet, and the second range, called Kopet 
Dagh, between six thousand and eight thousand feet, all of 
the higher peaks being covered with heavy blankets of snow. 

On the northern side of the track is a desert called Kara- 
Kum, which extends seven hundred miles east and west 



and about six hundred miles north and south, broken by an 
occasional oasis or belt of cultivated land wherever water can 
be turned upon the soil; but few streams are bold enough to 
venture out of sight of the Persian mountains, because they 
are so soon swallowed by the thirsty ground. There is a great 
deal of drifting sand and in winter much snow, and for mile 
after mile the bare clay is baked so hard by the sun that it 
will not show a hoof mark; but it is enlivened by a bright 
green shrub of stunted growth similar to our sagebrush, 
which is found everywhere on the deserts of Asia. It is 
called saxoul by the Russians and zak by the natives, who 
burn it for fuel, and the camels use it for food. The leaves 
are tough but nourishing and the limbs and trunk and roots 
make a hot fire. 

All this part of Asia was once covered by the Caspian 
Sea, as is proved by numerous marine fossils that are found 
embedded in the clay and rocks. 

Among the group at the station when the train arrived, 
was a benevolent-looking old man with a long white beard, 
an unusually large shako, and a very much soiled dressing 
gown. He was conspicuous among the rest because of a 
silver chain worn around his neck, from which a medal was 
suspended, and two other medals were pinned to his breast. 
Upon inquiry I found that he is mayor of the town, or the 
chief of the tribe that lives there, and that the chain and 
medal are the insignia of his office. He is responsible 
to the Russian military commander of that district for the 
good behaviour of all the families in that village and the 
encampment in that neighbourhood, and this distinction 
was conferred upon him because of his high character and 
recognized wisdom. 


Crowds of savage-looking barbarians were standing 
around the platform, as we saw them afterward at all the 
other stations. We had seen several Turkomans at Baku 
and at Krasnovodsk and three or four had crossed the Cas- 
pian Sea on the same steamer, but they were more or less 
diluted, so to speak, or corrupted by contact, and these were 
the real things. They looked very fierce, but we were as- 
sured that this was due chiefly to their sheepskin caps of 
shaggy wool hanging down over their swarthy faces and 
piercing black eyes. 

The Turkomans are of Mongolian origin, are Mohamme- 
dans and nomads with large flocks and herds and droves of 
camels and horses. Like the Bedouins of Arabia they have 
regular camping places and regular trails and follow the 
pasturage as the season wanes. They inhabit the western 
part of Turkestan, along the eastern shores of the Caspian 
Sea, and until they were overcome by the Russians had a 
government of their own under a khan, or overlord, whose 
authority was acknowledged by the chieftains of many 
local tribes and clans. They are entirely illiterate, but are 
gifted with remarkable intelligence, and many of them 
have acquired large wealth, which is represented by camels, 
cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. Their dress is striking and 
varies according to the wealth and position of the wearer. 
Their faces are distinctly Mongolian. They have slanting 
eyes like the Chinese, but 'resemble the Koreans more 

An ordinary Turkoman wears a pair of wide cotton trousers 
over his bare brown legs, and usually bare feet, although in 
the winter he puts on boots with high heels and toes which 
turn up Chinese fashion. He wears no stockings, but winds 


strips of woollen cloth around his legs to protect them from 
cold. In summer the higher classes wear sandals. His 
shirt of gay colours is usually open to show his hairy breast, 
and over it he wears a tunic of bright-coloured cotton, 
which reaches to his knees. And over that again he 
wears a long garment like an old-fashioned dressing gown 
of quilted cotton of brilliant colours and conspicuous pat- 
terns — yellow, pink, blue, scarlet, and green being the 
favourite hues. It is made with wide, open, flowing sleeves, 
Chinese fashion. The richer Turkomans wear silk instead 
of cotton and present a gorgeous spectacle. 

On the head is an enormous shako or cylindrical hat of 
sheep or lamb's wool, usually very shaggy, and it looks 
heavy, hot, and greasy. Every man wears a beard. They 
never shave, except on either side of the lower lip, leaving 
an imperial. They wear sashes of brilliant colours tied 
around their waists, in which they carry their valuables. 

The Central Asia Railway was originally a military scheme 
of imperative importance for the subjugation and the Russo- 
fication, if I may coin a word, of the inhabitants of the half- 
dozen or more khanates which composed the territory known 
as Turkestan, and the commercial consideration was not 
regarded of importance. But it is now doing an enormous 
freight business for a distance of more than twelve hundred 
miles on a direct line for a population of 10,000,000 people, 
has caused numerous small new towns to spring up, and 
ancient towns and cities to grow and flourish, and the traffic 
is increased at almost every station by camel caravans, which 
bring in produce from the surrounding country on both 
sides of the track, and carry back merchandise. 

Business has developed enormously. It was originally 


estimated that the maintenance of the road would cost the 
war department not less than $200,000 a month, but the 
freight revenues alone pay for maintenance and the operat- 
ing expenses. Passenger and freight rates have been made 
low in order to develop business, especially outgoing traffic 
and third-class fares in order to tempt the natives to travel. 
This furnishes a healthful diversion, and is said to have more 
influence than any other modern innovation the Russians 
have introduced in civilizing the natives and making them 
contented. The Central Asia Railway is altogether a 
remarkable example of the success of government control. 
All the railways in Russia, including the Great Siberian 
road, belong to and are operated by the government, and 
they are as well managed as any railways in the world. 
Another important consequence of Russian control has 
been to put an end to the incessant feuds and fighting 
between the various tribes, such as used to occur between 
rival tribes of Indians in the United States. While the term 
"Turkoman" is applied to the inhabitants of the entire 
country west of the Oxus River, at least seven distinct peoples 
are included in that category, each with its own history, 
individuality, and peculiar customs. They are all Mo- 
hammedans, they are all semi-nomadic, and, like the North 
American Indians and the Bedouins of Arabia, have fol- 
lowed their flocks and herds as the pasturage improved 
or became exhausted. Each tribe has fixed villages of mud 
huts, usually beside springs and rivers, where the land can 
be irrigated and cultivated. Russian influence and disci- 
pline and the construction of the railway have preserved 
peace and have created a larger demand and better prices 
for everything that the Turkoman tribes produce; and they 


have therefore virtually abandoned their nomadic life. The 
majority have settled in villages, and their flocks and herds 
are sent out under shepherds and herders like those of the 
farmers in more civilized countries. Those who stay at 
home cultivate the fields and engage in other industries. 
It will not be long before the population, which was entirely 
migratory twenty-five years ago, is settled in permanent 

There are about 2,000,000 Russians in the country, not 
including 135,000 soldiers. The 8,000,000 natives are not 
only producing valuable crops, but are beginning to use 
foreign goods. At the time of the Russian invasion they 
were almost entirely self-dependent, excepting the caravans 
from China, which brought tea, and those from Constanti- 
nople and Smyrna, which brought cotton goods, hardware, 
and other merchandise. To-day the wearing apparel of the 
entire population comes chiefly from Moscow and other 
Russian manufacturing towns. Very little, except rugs, 
silk scarfs, and woollen coats, is woven in the country. The 
owners of flocks get more money out of their wool by ship- 
ping it than by working it up at home. And the machine- 
made goods from Russia are clever imitations of the home- 
made product. The bazaars of the native towns now handle 
comparatively few domestic manufactures. Tourists who 
want examples of Turkestan weavings and embroideries are 
compelled to search diligently for them, and even then are 
likely to be deceived by Moscow imitations. 

Although there are 2,000,000 Russians in Turkestan, the 
policy of the government is against immigration. It does 
not permit foreigners to come in, and Russians are not 
allowed to compete with natives in the lines of business 


which the latter were pursuing before annexation. As an 
eminent official explained the policy to me, "Immigration 
is not encouraged, but is permitted." New Russian towns 
have sprung up along the railway. There is a Russian city, 
distinct but adjoining every native city of importance, and 
as many Russians as please can take up their abode and en- 
gage in business within its limits, but they cannot settle 
in the native towns or engage in business there. Newcomers 
may open up new country, but they cannot buy land that 
is being cultivated by the natives. 

There is plenty of agricultural land, millions and millions 
of unoccupied acres, which immigrants may purchase at a 
nominal price and settle upon, but it is necessary for them 
to provide new irrigation systems. This means the invest- 
ment of large capital and the introduction of much labour, 
which the government encourages, and the emperor himself 
has set an example in developing the cotton industry around 
Merv, where he has an enormous plantation. 

One of the grand dukes has been very enterprising in the 
same direction, and several companies have been organized 
at St. Petersburg and Moscow for construction of irrigation 
systems, the establishment of colonies, and the cultivation 
of cotton on a large scale, with the ultimate hope that the 
Russian manufacturers shall not be dependent upon the 
United States or any other foreign country for their raw 
material. The success of cotton culture in Turkestan by 
the Russians has been very much greater than the attempts 
of Germany and Great Britain in South Africa, and to-day 
nearly one half of the agricultural population of Turkestan 
are engaged in the cotton fields, and nearly one half of the raw 
cotton consumed by the Russian mills comes from that source. 


Water and kerosene oil are the largest items of freight 
on the Central Asia Railway — tank cars filled with refined 
petroleum from Baku for the firing of the locomotives, 
and tanks of water hauled from pumping stations on the 
banks of the two or three rivers that the railroad crosses, 
for the locomotives, and the people to drink. Raw cotton 
is the next item in volume of the freight list, and after that 
wool and hides. 

The wisdom of the policy I have described is not to be 
doubted, and it is in striking contrast with the history of 
our relations with the aborigines of our soil and that of 
the English in South Africa. An autocracy can thus be 
made exceedingly useful, for without dictatorial powers 
it would have been impossible to have carried out such 
a plan. 

I will not attempt to enter into an ethnological description 
of the Khivans, Kirghiz, Mervis, Sarakhs, Salors, Yutelano, 
Tekkes, and various other distinct tribes that are included 
under the generic term of Turkoman, because what is said 
of one applies generally to the others, although each has its 
own distinct individuality. 

They are becoming settled, as I have said, in permanent 
villages, each under the immediate control of a native 
chief, who is responsible to the Russian military commander 
for the good conduct of his people. Most of them are culti- 
vating the ground and raising cattle, horses, sheep, and 
camels with remarkable success. Railway stations have 
been located at frequent intervals convenient to their towns, 
which, however, are only clusters of adobe houses surrounded 
by adobe walls, and if a gentleman from Arizona or New 
Mexico or the northern part of old Mexico should happen to 


come out this way he would find himself among familiar 

I suppose all deserts are more or less alike and that the 
people who dwell in them are apt to do the same thing under 
the same circumstances. Some years ago I was visiting 
one of the islands in Lake Titicaca, Peru, where Adolph 
Bandelier, the celebrated archaeologist, was digging among 
the ruins of the Inca cities and turning up pots and kettles 
and other things that are almost exactly like those found in 
the buried cities in Egypt. And when I asked him if it 
were possible that Peru was settled by Egyptians, he ex- 
plained that human beings of whatever race and of all ages 
felt the same needs and had the same requirements, and, 
as their intelligence was cultivated, developed the same 
tastes and ideals. Therefore under the same circumstances 
they would be apt to do the same thing whether they lived 
in Egypt or in the heart of the Andes. That explains the 
similarity between the products, the buildings, the arts, 
and habits of the Chinese, the Aztecs of Mexico, the Mayas 
of Yucatan, the Incas of Peru, and the other native races 
of America with those of the older cultures of Syria, Central 
Asia, and Egypt. 

And that explains why this country, in the heart of Asia, 
resembles the high plateaus of Chihuahua so closely and 
reminds the traveller continually of Arizona, New Mexico, 
and the southern half of California. The surface of the 
ground is incrusted with alkali; the barren ranges of moun- 
tains along the border of Persia in the distance are covered 
with snow, and every now and then the train passes through 
a village of adobe houses, or a herd of cattle or a flock of 
sheep. Excepting the enormous adobe fortifications which 


the Turkomans thought would enable them to resist the 
Russian invasion, the camels, and the fantastic costumes 
which the people wear, Central Asia looks exactly like Ari- 
zona; and the similarity is emphasized now and then when 
the train passes through an oasis with orchards like the 
orange groves around Riverside, and fields of grain and 
alfalfa, and vegetable gardens wherever water has been 
brought. Back along the far horizon we can see the source 
of this life and luxuriance — the snow-banks that fill the 
hollows in the mountains, which might irrigate much larger 
areas and increase the wealth of that country to a very great 
degree if capitalists would go there and invest their money 
in irrigation systems. There is room for many millions 
of people upon land within twenty miles on either side of the 
railway track, and the bright green spots on the landscape 
show what they might do. 

Every day we saw hundreds of farmers plowing with 
camels and oxen, and sometimes they have a camel and a 
horse, or a camel and an ox, hitched together. We saw im- 
mense flocks of sheep and herds or droves of camels — which- 
ever term is right — and baby camels that follow their 
mothers just like colts. They are awkward-looking objects 
though, with their long necks and long legs that look as 
slender as pipe stems, and they lift their noses and gaze 
stupidly at the train in an indifferent sort of way. At every 
railway station caravans are loading and unloading mer- 
chandise that has come from or is intended for the villages 
in the interior. 

It didn't cost much to build this part of the Central Asia 
Railway, for there are few grades and few curves, few cuts 
and few fillings. The steppes of Central Asia are like the 


prairies of Kansas, and the railway track often runs 
in an absolutely straight line for long distances — as 
far as you can see ahead — until the two rails come to- 
gether at a point where the blue sky and the gray earth 

All that region is practically rainless, never more than 
five or six inches precipitation in a year, and often twelve 
months will pass without a drop of water from the sky. 
Most of the precipitation is in the winter, and from the 1st 
of December to the 1st of April the cold is intense. Some- 
times there is a terrible tempest, a blizzard of wind and snow, 
which destroys entire herds of cattle and sheep and often 
many human lives. In summer the heat is intense. The 
atmosphere of the steppes, which is the Russian name for 
prairie, is heated seven times, like the furnace of Shadrach, 
Meshach and Abednego. The same thermometer often 
registers 110 in the shade at the railway stations in August 
and 20 below in January. The railway company brings 
water from the Persian mountains, where are many cool, 
unfailing springs, but it is expensive business to lay a pipe 
for thirty miles. 

Deserts are all alike, and Kara-Kum bears a close re- 
semblance to certain sections of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, 
and the southern part of California; but it is not so bad 
as Death Valley, because its elevation is between seven and 
eight hundred feet above the level of the sea. The same 
mirage appears here, and often Russian soldiers have been 
deceived by delusive lakes of water and islands of trees when 
they were perishing of thirst during the campaigns which 
conquered Turkomania. 

The popular impression of an oasis, formed from descrip- 


tions in geographies we studied in our school days, is very 
different from the actual thing. The kind's eye recalls a 
cluster of palms, with a group of thatched huts under their 
grateful shade, bubbling fountains of water, tall, waving 
grass, orange, lemon, and banana trees laden with fruit, and 
a herd of camels munching the fragrant grass. The reality as 
we saw it in Asia is a wide stretch of wheat, oats, and alfalfa 
fields, divided by irrigating ditches; groves of locust trees 
laden with blossoms, which emit an odour as sweet as honey; 
a few fruit trees — apricots, peaches, and cherries — and 
perhaps a small vineyard. As I have said before, an oasis 
exists wherever water can be brought upon the soil, and the 
extent of the cultivated area depends entirely upon the 
abundance or capacity of the stream. The soil is rich in 
plant food. It produces luxuriant crops of grain and forage 
plants, and in the spring, when the water is first turned on, 
the steppe is carpeted with myriads of flowers. 

It is one of those inexplicable mysteries of nature, a 
miracle it often seems, that the most barren and repulsive 
desert will suddenly blossom into life and beauty whenever 
it is awakened by rain. 

There is a decided difference of opinion as to the character 
of the Turkomans, but I suppose there are good ones and 
bad ones, just as there are differences among all other of 
God's creatures, and no doubt the judgments pronounced 
upon them by various writers have been coloured by per- 
sonal experience. General Alikhanoff, one of the Russian 
military commanders there for several years, was very severe 
in his denunciation. He declared that the Turkomans 
"never keep a promise or an oath if it suits their purpose 
to break it. In addition to this they are liars and gluttons. 


They are frightfully envious, and finally there is not a people 
so unattractive in any moral respect." 

The reputation the Turkomans claim for themselves may 
be illustrated by some of their own proverbs: 

"The Turkoman needs neither the shade of a tree nor the 
protection of a roof." 

"When the sword has been drawn, no Turkoman needs 
an excuse." 

"The Turkoman in war knows neither father nor mother." 

"Where there is a city there are no wolves; where there 
are Turkomans there is no peace." 

The Persians, who are not a fighting race but are more 
given to the trades and industries, are frightfully alarmed 
whenever the Turkomans come near their border, and in 
olden times, before the Russian occupation, they suffered 
from frequent raids. A story is told of a Persian who was 
attacked by a Turkoman in the night. Being the stronger 
of the two, he threw his assailant to the ground and was 
about to cut his throat when the Turkoman called out : 

"What are you going to do? Don't you see that I am 
a Turkoman? " 

The Persian dropped his knife instantly and started to 
rise from the body of his victim. The Turkoman, as soon 
as his arms were free, seized the knife and plunged it into 
the Persian's heart. 

In their fights with the Russians the Turkomans have 
shown marvellous bravery but no military skill, and it is 
acknowledged that on equal terms, among semi-savages 
of their own class, they are masters of the art of war, re- 
sembling the North American Indian more than the Eastern 
races to which they are related. And, while they have no 


codes of morals or standards of honour to advertise, travellers 
who have passed much time among them and people who 
have employed their services testify to their loyalty, hos- 
pitality, and truth. Turkomans are very proud, and it is 
said that the poorest of them will never accept charity or a 
gift that he has not earned. Russians who employ them as 
servants explain that they must be treated with great 
consideration in order to get any work out of them. They 
will follow but will not be driven, and they will do anything 
upon request but nothing upon command. They are de- 
voted to their women, although the latter are nothing but 
slaves, and treat them with great generosity. They are 
the only Mohammedan women who go without veils and 
mix freely with men. They wear masses of silver jewellery, 
bracelets, anklets, necklaces, and breastplates, and braid 
silver chains into their hair. Their head-dresses are usually 
loaded with coins, and the more silver a woman carries upon 
her person the greater her husband's reputation for wealth. 

Although the Turkomans are a nomadic race, they have 
regular places for encampment which are near groups of 
adobe houses used for the storage of their surplus forage 
and food supplies. In each of these settlements is a mosque 
built entirely of mud; and a medresse,or school, at which the 
priests are educated. They are the only persons in the tribe 
who are able to read, and their literary accomplishments 
are usually limited to the reading of the Koran. 

The government has organized a militia of Turkomans with 
Russian officers, and in this way has found employment and 
kept under discipline the most dangerous and turbulent 
characters among the several tribes. They are armed with 
rifles and cavalry sabres, and their uniform is the national 


kahlat or dressing gown, a shako of sheepskin, a broad 
sash of brilliant colour around the waist, and Russian top 
boots. They are paid $12.50 a month, out of which they 
provide their own horses and rations, the government sup- 
plying them only with ammunition. Wherever they have 
been tried the Turkoman militia have proved worthy of 
confidence, and I understand it is the intention of the gov- 
ernment to enlarge their functions and convert them into 
regular cavalry regiments. 


ALL Turkestan, like Gaul, is divided into three parts — 
the khanate of Bokhara, which retains its former 
limits; the province of Trans-Caspia, which lies between 
Bokhara and the Caspian Sea, and the province of Turk- 
estan proper, which lies on the eastern boundary between 
Bokhara and China. Askabad is the capital of the prov- 
ince of Trans-Caspia, the residence of the governor-general 
and commander-in-chief of the military forces, and head- 
quarters of the several branches of the civil and military 
administrations. The Russians have avoided the difficulty 
which has perplexed England in India by concentrating 
both civil and military authority in a single head, which is 
supported by a cabinet or ministry and a large staff of civil 
and military officers, each having his own bureau and juris- 
diction. The organization is similar to that in Poland, 
the Caucasus, and other outlying provinces of the Russian 
Empire. Civilians are employed in the financial, auditing, 
post-office, judicial, and other departments where the duties 
are purely civil. The railway, the engineering works, and 
similar technical branches of the government are under 
military control. 

The people of the towns and villages take care of them- 
selves and have as much home rule as is practicable, the 
local governments being continued upon the ancient native 



plan. Trans-Caspia is divided into several districts, and 
each district into volosts. Each volost elects an elder, 
called an aksakal (literally, a graybeard), who acts in an exec- 
utive and a judicial capacity, and is assisted in the adminis- 
tration of his office by representatives of the people, chosen 
usually for their dignity and wisdom. The aksakal is a 
little czar in his own jurisdiction, and the government 
officials do not interfere with him so long as he does nothing 
to weaken their authority. The iron hand is hidden in a 
velvet glove. 

The viceroy supervises the governors and through his 
ministers looks after the finances, the army, the railway, 
and other public works, the postal and telegraph service, 
and exercises both legislative and executive functions. 
There are two kinds of courts, Russian and native, but 
when the litigants happen to be of different races, the former 
have jurisdiction. All the decisions may be appealed to 
the viceroy, who investigates and acts through his legal 
advisers upon the recommendation of the council of state, 
but he seldom interferes unless some political question is 
involved. Native customs, hereditary claims, property 
rights, and religious observances of the natives are recog- 
nized in the most scrupulous manner. 

While Russian immigrants may appropriate unoccupied 
land by regular procedure under the department of public 
works, they are not permitted to purchase property from 
the natives or compete with them in the native town in 
any line of business or occupation. Russian soldiers 
who desire to settle in Turkestan, upon their discharge, 
receive allotments of land. All residents with fixed homes 
pay a regular tax upon their property, as in other countries. 


The nomads pay a tax of four rubles, which is equivalent 
to two dollars in our money, for every kibitka, or tent. The 
government collects 10 per cent on the assessed value of 
the gross products of irrigated land, and 6 per cent upon 
the gross profits of unirrigated land, which consists of 
wools, skins, and hides, and other pastoral products. 

The most important feature of the government is the 
management of the irrigation systems, because the life of 
the country depends upon the economical use of the water. 
Irrigation is looked after by an official called the " miraby," 
and under him are special agents, who turn on and off 
the water in the private ditches as it is needed. It is their 
duty to investigate and settle disputes between the farmers 
over the use of water, for nearly all the trouble between 
neighbours arises from a suspicion that one man is getting 
more than his share. 

The police, called gendarmes, are a separate organi- 
zation from the army, and are under the control of their 
own officers, who report to the governor-general and com- 
mander-in-chief. There are officers on every railway train, 
usually a captain or a lieutenant or both, who exercise 
almost arbitrary authority, so far as the passengers are con- 
cerned, and can put them off the train and send them to 
prison from any station, according to their judgment. 
These train officers have regular beats, covering distances 
from 250 to 300 miles, and a compartment is always 
reserved for them in the first-class coach. 

Askabad is a splotch of green upon the desert — a city 
of about 15,000 inhabitants, in addition to a garrison of 
10,000 soldiers living in enormous white barracks, one- 
story adobe buildings, and long rows of tents enclosed by 


mud walls that have been whitewashed. The town covers 
a very large area, like all Russian settlements in Turkestan. 
The streets are very wide, and everyone who settles there 
is allowed all the ground he wants, for there is plenty of 
room. Trans-Caspia is a big country and most of its surface 
is unoccupied. The streets are paved and well shaded with 
trees. The railway station is hidden in a grove of locusts 
and mulberries, and for a wide area around the city are 
luxuriant gardens enclosed within mud walls. 

In the centre of the town is an obelisk, erected in memory 
of the artillerymen who were killed at the massacre of Geok- 
Tepe, and around the pedestal are planted several guns that 
were captured from the Afghans several years ago. The 
green domes of two big Russian churches arise above the 
greener boughs of the trees, and the gilt crosses upon their 
crests signify much to the people. The German element, 
from the Baltic provinces of Russia, have a Lutheran 
church of neat design near the railway station, but there 
is no sign of a mosque or a synagogue, although the activity 
of the business quarter has attracted a large number of 
Persians and Jews. 

There is a neat museum filled with military mementoes 
and specimens of natural history; a high school for boys and 
one for girls ; and a military school, in which young Turko- 
mans, the sons of the chiefs and other men of importance, 
are educated for military careers. There are several news- 
papers printed in the Russian language, a theatre subsidized 
by the municipality for the diversion of army officers who 
are exiled there, a military club, numerous shops with at- 
tractive show windows, and various other features of a 
flourishing Russian city. 


This leads me to remark that the government of the 
United States might find it profitable to imitate the Russian 
policy by furnishing more diversions for the officers and 
soldiers it sends to the Philippines. The Russians act on 
the theory that contentment is necessary for the proper 
performance of military and civil duty, and to make their 
soldiers contented a good deal of money is expended for 
amusements. There is always a race course, gymnasium, 
a theatre, and a club for social purposes, and the government 
usually provides the land and the buildings. In every room 
in every barracks is a portrait of the Czar, and every soldier 
takes off his hat in its presence. A list of military honours, 
especially those conferred upon enlisted men, is constantly 

Askabad is an ancient settlement, although it never had 
any particular importance, and it is in the centre of a very 
fertile district and a prosperous population. An idea of the 
financial condition of the Turkomans may be gleaned from 
the official statistics relating to the Akhal district, an oasis 
about two hundred miles long and one hundred and fifty 
miles wide, which is well watered from a never-failing source 
of supply in the mountains of Persia. In this district, 
according to the latest returns, there are about 113,000 
inhabitants housed in villages and in 27,812 kibitkas, the 
circular tents or tepees used by the nomadic portion of 
the population. There are in this district 111,000 camels, 
27,500 horses, 1,530,000 sheep, and 160,000 other cattle. 
The tendency of the population is to settle down into fixed 
places of abode and increase the area of cultivated land so 
far as the supply of water will permit. The government 
gives every encouragement to agriculture. 


Askabad was selected as the capital of Trans-Caspia 
because of its highly strategical situation regarding both 
Khiva to the north and Persia to the south. Fine mac- 
adamized roads, twenty-four feet wide and of easy grades, 
so that artillery and army wagons can be hauled over them 
rapidly, have been constructed in both directions. That 
which runs southward to Persia reaches the two great pillars 
which mark the boundary line near a village called Bazdirha, 
thirty miles from Askabad, and within the last few years 
the road has been extended eighty miles farther to the 
sacred city of Meshed, Persia, which is the burial place of 
a much-venerated saint of the Shiite sect of Islam. A 
regular line of diligences runs in connection with the railway 
trains from Askabad to Meshed, making the journey in 
five days, and they are patronized by thousands of pilgrims 
who come from western Persia and from the cities on the 
Caspian every year. Nearly all the third-class passengers 
on our train were Shiite pilgrims, dark-skinned men with 
intensely black beards and serious faces, wearing the black 
fez and the long-tailed coat of black or gray broadcloth, 
with full skirts gathered at the waist, which are affected 
by the Persians. Most of them were men of dignity and 
apparently of education. Some of them were accompanied 
by their wives, and more of them by their children. The 
boys were dressed exactly like their fathers, which made 
them look like Tom Thumbs — dwarfs dressed in clothes 
usually worn by people of full stature. The government 
encourages these pilgrimages because they increase the 
traffic of the road and promote a friendly acquaintance 
between their own people and their Persian neighbours. 

A railway has been surveyed from Askabad to the 


Persian boundary, and rails and ties are piled up in the train 
yards ready to be laid at any time they may be needed, but 
the protest of Great Britain has thus far prevented that 
enterprise from being carried out. The English think 
that the Russians take altogether too much interest in 
Persia, but a year or two ago they were consoled by a treaty 
in which the Russians agreed not to annex any more 
Persian territory, nor make any further demonstrations 
in this locality. At the same time Russia agreed not to 
interfere with the British sphere of influence in southern 
Persia and along the Persian Gulf. Nevertheless the Rus- 
sians are ready for any "eventuality" that may occur, and 
should it ever become necessary to move artillery and other 
troops they will have the use of two wide, level, and perfect 
highways which they have constructed, ostensibly for 
commercial purposes, from Resht to Tabriz and Teheran, 
and from Askabad to Meshed, the most important points 
in northern Persia. 

The road from Resht to Teheran has changed traffic con- 
ditions on the Caspian Sea greatly to the benefit of Russian 
steamship companies, which have a monopoly of freighting 
on those waters. The road to Meshed, besides being a great 
accommodation to pilgrims, is also an important feeder to 
the Central Asia Railway. Over it is brought by camel 
caravans an immense amount of freight from the interior of 
Persia, and a glance at the warehouses and freight cars at 
Askabad will give you an idea of the tons of merchandise 
that are sent into Persia from this point. 

The province of Trans-Caspia is entirely dependent upon 
Persia for water, and a treaty between the Czar and the Shah 
in 1881, which fixes the boundary, article 4, solemnly guar- 


antees that His Majesty the Shah will not on any account 
whatever permit the establishment of new settlements 
among the course of the streams and rivulets that water the 
soil of that province from their sources to the point where 
they leave Persian territory. He pledges himself not to ex- 
tend the area of land in that part of Persia now under cultiva- 
tion, and under no pretence whatever will he turn off the 
water in larger quantities than is necessary for irrigating the 
fields now under cultivation within Persian territory. 

There are unmistakable evidences, however, of a meteor- 
ological revolution in this part of the world. Those who 
have followed the trail of Alexander the Great declare that 
to-day it would be utterly impossible to conduct such an 
army as he led through regions where small caravans of 
twenty and thirty camels can scarcely find sufficient water 
and forage. 

When Alexander returned from the subjugation of India 
he divided his army into two columns, one of which was 
attended by the elephants, the invalids, the heavy baggage, 
and was led by Krateros, a Macedonian, one of his ablest 
generals, through Afghanistan, Seyistan, and Persia. Evi- 
dently they met with no special difficulties and suffered no 
hardships. Otherwise such things would have been men- 
tioned. There must have been, therefore, an ample supply 
of water along the trail, while to-day it covers for almost 
the entire distance a lifeless desert, either entirely waterless 
or supplied only with a few brackish wells. Twenty-five 
hundred years ago this route was so important that it was 
defended by strong fortifications, supplied with frequent 
and enormous caravansaries, and the ruins of populous 
cities occur at frequent intervals. Either perennial springs 


which have since dried up or a regular rainfall furnished 
a water supply for a dense population, but to-day all the 
moisture in the country comes from the melting snows in 
the Persian mountains. 

Twenty-eight miles west of Askabad, when the train 
stops at a station called Geok-Tepe, about 10 o'clock in 
the morning, all the passengers make a rush to a little 
memorial museum 300 or 400 feet from the track on the 
opposite side from the depot. It is an artistic little building 
of brick covered with stucco painted white, and is filled 
with relics of a horrible massacre that occurred there in 
1881, when the Turkomans made their last stand against 
the Russians and 20,000 human beings were slaughtered 
in the most merciless and inexcusable, manner. Guns 
picked up on the battlefield, that were actually used in 
the fight, are artistically arranged upon the walls, and sev- 
eral small cannon that were engaged in the bombardment 
are parked on the outside before the entrance. Within 
are portraits of the men that were conspicuous on both 
sides. Makdum Kuli Khan, who commanded the Turko- 
mans; Tekme Sidar, the second in command; Nazar, Ogeri, 
and other chieftains who led the natives, have their photo- 
graphs exhibited in a large frame, and it seems as if every- 
body who had anything to do with the battle is represented 
by an oil painting or a photograph except the famous General 
Skobeleff, for years the idol of the Russian army, who was 
in command of the attacking party and was responsible 
for the massacre. Modern history has recorded few such 
horrible atrocities, but perhaps, after all, General Skobeleff 
was right when he said: "My system is to strike hard and 
keep on striking until resistance is completely subdued; 


then cease slaughter and be kind and humane to the prostrate 

The terrifying effect of such a massacre upon a semi- 
savage people is perpetuated for generations, and the ruined 
walls of the fortress, several monuments to the heroism 
of the various regiments and brigades, and this memorial 
museum are maintained by the government as a perpetual 
reminder to the sons and the grandsons of those who were 
slain by the strength and the merciless energy of Russia. 
A new generation occupies the land, although many Turko- 
mans who had a prominent part in the battle are still living 
and holding honourable positions in the Russian service. 
As soon as the natives submitted, honours, offices, and pen- 
sions were bestowed upon them, and, as one might say, the 
governor-general of Russia has ever since been leading by 
the hand the orphans of those who fell in the fight. 

"I hold it as a principle that in Asia the duration of peace 
is in direct proportion to the slaughter you inflict upon the 
natives," said Skobeleff in defence of his tactics. "The 
harder you hit them the longer they will be quiet afterward." 

And Skobeleff makes a rather striking comparison with 
the British policy of moral suasion with India, which has not 
been so effective as the brutal blows that the Russians 
have inflicted upon the people they have conquered. There 
can be no doubt that the Russian tactics are exceedingly 
effective from a practical point of view, because the Oriental 
mind recognizes in every terrible disaster the all-powerful 
will of Allah, and the Oriental being a fatalist, that means 

The emir of Bokhara, when he saw what was happening 
around him, shrewdly placed himself under the protection 


of the Czar and has been allowed to maintain a nominal 
and somewhat ostentatious independence ever since. The 
remaining rulers made the hardest fight they could. They 
resisted the invaders to the limit of their strength and the 
conquest cost Russia an enormous number of lives as well 
as rubles. Every now and then you can see from the car 
window a ruined town or a crumbling fortress, all built 
of mud and incapable of sustaining an attack from modern 
artillery. Those ruins mark the spots where the natives 
endeavoured to repel the invasion, and it is said that for 
two or three years it was impossible for a horseman to ride 
over the steppes without the hoofs of his animal striking 
a human skull. 

In the fall of 1880 the Tekkes, one of the strongest of 
the Turkoman tribes, driven from one point to another, 
decided to make a final stand at Geok-Tepe, where they 
expected to annihilate the Russian invaders of their country. 
If they had scattered to the mountains, which were only 
thirty or forty miles away, they might have carried on a 
guerilla warfare and harassed the Russians indefinitely, 
but their confidence in their own prowess and in the strength 
of an enormous mud fortress which they had erected, was 
so great that they thought it best to concentrate their forces. 

Therefore more than 35,000 persons, including 10,000 
mounted warriors, with as many horses and 8,000 camels, 
assembled within the walls of one of the largest fortresses 
that was ever built. Its walls of mud surrounded a quad- 
rilateral enclosure measuring 980 yards on the north, 1,680 
yards on the east, 1,575 yards on the west, and 560 yards on 
the south side, making a total circuit of 2.6 miles. These 
walls were fifteen feet high, thirty-five feet thick at the base 


and twenty -one feet thick at the top, made of mud thrown 
up and trodden hard by men and horses. There were 
twenty-one gates, masked by large semicircular traverses 
outside and protected by rifle towers. Outside the wall was 
a ditch the entire distance, varying from six to nine feet 
deep and from twelve to sixteen feet wide. 

A branch of the Sakiz-Yeb River was conducted into the 
fort through an opening under the wall, and after supplying 
seven or eight large reservoirs dug in the ground, passed 
out again. At various points along the inside of the walls 
were warehouses for the storage of supplies and ammunition, 
which had been gathered from all parts of Turkestan and 
were supposed to be sufficient to maintain the garrison 
for a year. In a broad open space in the centre of the 
enclosure were 13,000 kibitkas — circular huts resembling 
the tepees of the North American Indians — in which the 
nomadic Turkomans live. With extraordinary confidence 
in their ability to resist the advance of the invaders, the 
10,000 warriors of the Tekke clan brought their wives and 
children within these walls prepared to remain indefinitely. 

The country around Geok-Tepe is rich and highly cul- 
tivated. The oasis extends about one hundred miles east 
and west and between thirty and forty miles north and south, 
and nearly all of those who came into the fortress were men 
of substance — the cream of the Tekke population, a tribe 
which numbers several hundred thousand souls. Their confi- 
dence was strengthened by the presence of their khan or king, 
Makdum Kuli, and their greatest general, Tekme Sidar. 

During the fall of 1880 General Skobeleff "felt " the Turko- 
man position, as military writers say, and then retired to 
the Caspian, where he completed his plans and preparations. 


In January he returned with 7,000 men and sixty guns and 
pitched his camp about a mile from the fortress. For three 
weeks there was casual fighting. The natives, impatient 
of the delay and irritated by the peril that surrounded them, 
made four desperate sallies upon the Russian camp under 
cover of darkness, and kept up a continual fusillade upon 
the earthworks that had been thrown up around them. 
The Russians easily repelled their attacks and occasionally 
answered their fire, but made no offensive demonstration, 
and continued to push their lines forward until they were 
so close that conversation could be heard on either side. 
When the Russians began to undermine the walls of the 
fortress their advance redoubt was only seventy yards 
distant, and the Tekkes frequently crawled over the sand 
at night and stole the rifles in the Russian trenches. 

On the 20th of January the attacking force was divided 
into three columns, one of them under command of Colonel 
Kuropatkin, since famous as commander-in-chief of the 
Russian army in China, and at daylight a combined attack 
was made. The mines were sprung, and tore great gaps 
in the mud walls, through which the Russian troops entered 
with bands playing the Russian national anthem, drums 
beating, and colours flying. They were promptly engaged 
in a terrific hand-to-hand fight with bayonets and swords. 
The Tekkes fought with amazing courage, but their pride 
had been stunned and their confidence destroyed by the 
ease with which the Russians had battered down their 
defences, and within two or three hours after the attack 
began thousands of fugitives streamed out of the gates upon 
the plains, with troops of Cossacks and other Russian cavalry 
pursuing them and cutting them down. 


Skobeleff ordered both horse and foot to pursue the re- 
treating enemy and to give no quarter. This command was 
obeyed with vigour for eleven miles, and in the morning 
8,000 bodies of both sexes and of all ages were lying upon 
the plain. In the fort were found the bodies of 6,500 dead 
warriors and several thousand living women and children. 
The troops were allowed to loot without interruption, and 
booty valued at $3,000,000 is said to have been found within 
the fortress. The Russian loss was only sixty killed and 
340 wounded. Skobeleff in his official report boasted that 
he had destroyed 20,000 of the enemy, which is considered an 
accurate estimate. You can understand why the Turko- 
mans called him Guenz Kanli, which means "bloody eyes," 
and that the survivors of that day even now shudder when 
they hear a band play the Russian national anthem. 

Skobeleff 's "victory" made him the most conspicuous man 
in Russia, but the consequences were fatal. He went to St. 
Petersburg and to Paris, and to other places more perilous to 
one of his convivial disposition than the deserts of Turkestan, 
and engaged in a campaign with the evil one, in which he was 
utterly routed. He was one of those rare soldiers who 
combined magnetic influence with magnificent courage and 
strategic ability. He was a general at 30 years of age; 
he died at 38. There is no telling what he might have 
become if he had lived and behaved himself. No soldier 
in Russia for generations was more beloved or admired, 
and none surpassed him in ability. 

Skobeleff's blow at Geok-Tepe was fatal to Turkoman 
independence, and the Russians have had no trouble in 
western Turkestan since. As soon as the excitement 
quieted down, Makdum Kuli Khan, Tekme Sidar, and other 


Turkoman leaders were invited to a conference and cordial 
relations were restored. Decorations were bestowed upon 
them in a most lavish manner. They were appointed to 
military positions, given gorgeous uniforms, and invited 
to Moscow in 1883 to attend the coronation of the Czar, 
where they were shown distinguished attention and flattered 
into the belief that their services were essential to the peace 
and prosperity of the Russian Empire. Their sons are 
now captains, majors, and even colonels in the Russian 
army, and the Czar has no subjects more loyal than they. 
The greater part of the walls of the fortress remain, either 
to their full height or several feet from the ground. Every 
visitor is astonished at the enormous area of the enclosure 
and the folly of the Turkomans in placing themselves in 
such a trap, where they were at the mercy of Russian sabres 
and artillery. There are a dozen or more monuments in 
different parts of the enclosure, erected by the several 
regiments and brigades engaged in the attack, as memorials 
to their fallen comrades. Opposite the entrance to the little 
museum is a shaft of granite erected by the Russian govern- 
ment as a tribute to its faithful soldiers. 


THE city of Merv, once "the queen of the world," is 
now a small, commonplace Russian town, with a bad 
reputation for malaria. Like all of the new Russian towns 
in Central Asia, it was laid out in generous proportions, 
with wide streets shaded by rows of thriving poplars and 
lined with one-story brick buildings with whitewashed walls. 
There are a number of shops containing the necessaries of 
life, and some of the luxuries can be purchased. The 
residences extend back from the street a considerable 
distance and usually surround a courtyard or patio in 
Spanish style. As there is plenty of room upon the steppe, 
there has been no crowding. Everybody was allowed to 
enclose as much room as he wanted for garden and groves, 
but those attractions are hidden by high walls. The offices 
of the Russian administration are plain but commodious 
buildings; there is a large church of Byzantine architecture 
with the conventional five domes almost always found 
in orthodox Greek architecture; and a schoolhouse near by, 
where, I am told, excellent teachers are employed. There 
is an officers' club, with a mess for bachelors, which affords 
a social centre for the Russian population, and enormous 
barracks, as usual, accommodating a garrison of several 
thousand men. 

One is inclined to speculate whether so many soldiers 



actually are needed in Turkestan. There is no danger 
of revolutions or insurrections among the natives, and 
certainly Persia, which is the only neighbour in that part 
of Turkestan, has sufficient troubles of her own to look after 
without interfering with Russian affairs. 

There is a pretty public square, well watered and well 
shaded, and in the morning you can see groups of neat, 
intelligent Russian girls with blond hair and blue eyes, 
wearing long white aprons to protect their frocks and white 
handkerchiefs over their heads, on their way to school. 
Their "shining morning faces" are plain but attractive. 
Any fair-haired, pink-faced young woman looks pretty in 
those surroundings. A great deal more attention is given 
to the education of women in that part of Russia than in 
Europe, particularly as there is a great demand for teachers 
in the public schools. 

The Merv oasis is in some respects the greatest in Asia, 
and has the largest area of cultivated soil, all of which is 
owing to the Murghab River, or the "Moorghub," as 
Matthew Arnold calls it in his poem: 

"I have seen Afrasiab cities; Samarkand, 
Bokhara, and lone Khiva in the waste; 
And the black Toorkmen tents, and have drank 
The desert rivers Moorghub and Tejend, 
Kohik, and where the Kalmucks feed their sheep, 
The northern Syr and the great Oxus stream — 
The yellow Oxus." 

And genial Tom Moore sang the praises of this same river : 

"And fairest of all streams, the Murga roves 
Among Merou's bright palaces and groves." 

The Moorghub, the Murga, and the Murghab of the 
present day are the same river, and Merou is the Persian 


for Merv. But neither Matthew Arnold nor Thomas Moore 
ever saw the place. If they had, they would not have 
written those lines. Merv and the Murghab may be full 
of romance, but they are not beautiful to look upon, and a 
painful disenchantment is in store for sentimental persons 
who go there, or who visit any part of Central Asia with 
the expectation of seeing things as they are described in 
"Lalla Rookh." 

"The fairest of all streams" is a muddy, turgid river, 
the colour of poor coffee, flowing in a channel of brown clay, 
between high banks which cave in every year during high 
water and always are likely to crumble. In the spring 
months, when the snow is melting in the mountains, the 
Murghab is a terrible torrent, tearing its way through the 
desert with irresistible force. In the fall of the year, ex- 
hausted by those exertions, emaciated by evaporation and 
the demands of the irrigation canals, it is a sullen, stagnant, 
unwholesome stream. The annual overflow usually covers 
the low places in the valley with water, which remains in 
stagnant ponds after the flood recedes, and slowly evapo- 
rates, leaving slimy acres of decaying vegetation to poison 
the air. 

The Tejend, of which Mr. Arnold writes, is similar in 
appearance and habits, but, like plain people, unlovely rivers 
have their uses, and both the Murghab and the Tejend are 
the most precious gifts that nature could have bestowed 
upon a desert. They are inexhaustible. They have met 
all demands that have ever been made upon them, and 
cause the desert to smile about two hundred miles in one 
direction and 145 miles in another. Besides this local 
irrigation, they spread their blessings by railway for many 


more miles. Long trains of cars bearing huge water tanks 
occupy every side track, and when they are filled locomo- 
tives haul them to the thirsty communities in both direc- 
tions, the most important and profitable freight that the 
Central Asia Railway handles, because without it the desert 
would win. 

The Kohik River, referred to by the gentle poet, is the 
modern Zerafshan, which waters the oases of Samarkand 
and Bokhara, and without it neither of those cities could 
survive a fortnight. The "great Oxus stream — the 
yellow Oxus," is one of the largest and most important 
bodies of water in the universe and the longest river in Asia. 
It is called the Amu Daria and is altogether worthy of the 
rhapsody in which Lord Curzon indulges in his well-known 
book on Central Asia. He says : 

"The Gihon of Eden, 'that encompasseth the whole land 
of Ethiopia,' the Vak-Shu of Sanscrit literature, the Oxus 
of the Greeks, the Amu Daria or River Sea of the Tartars 
— no river, not even the Nile, can claim a nobler tradition 
or a more illustrious history. Descending from the hidden 
Roof of the World, its waters tell of forgotten peoples and 
whisper secrets of unknown lands. They are believed to 
have rocked the cradle of our race. Long the legendary 
watermark between Iran and Turan, they have worn a 
channel deep into the fate of humanity. World-wide 
conquerors, an Alexander and a Tamerlane, slaked their 
horses' thirst in the Oxus stream: eastern poets drank 
inspiration from its fountains; Arab geographers boasted 
of it as ' superior in volume, in depth, and in breadth to all 
the rivers of the earth.' 

"The bed of the Amu Daria — i.e., the depression which 


is covered in time of high water — is here between two and 
three miles wide, though in summer, when more swollen 
by the melted snows of the Hindu Kush and the Pamir, 
the inundated surface sometimes extends five miles. In the 
autumn and winter, when the waters have shrunk, the 
channel is confined within its two banks and is then 
from half a mile to a mile in width, flowing with a rapid 
current of most irregular depth over a shifting and sandy 
bottom. Mud banks, covered with ooze or sand, show 
where the current has only recently subsided. Still, how- 
ever, did it merit the title, 'the great Oxus stream — the 
yellow Oxus.' The colour of the water is a very dirty coffee- 
hued brown, the facsimile of that of the Nile, but it is ex- 
tremely healthful and can be drunk with impunity. I was 
strongly reminded by the appearance of this great river, 
by the formation of its bed, by the structure of its banks, 
and by the scenery and life which they displayed, of many a 
landscape on the Nile in upper Egypt. There is the same 
fringe of intensely fertile soil along its shores, with the same 
crouching clay-built villages, and even a Bokharan counter- 
part to the Sakkiyeh and Shadoof for raising and distributing 
the life-giving waters of the stream. Only, on the Oxus 
there is no cliff like the eastern wall of the Nile at Gebel-el- 
Tayr, and alas, in this northern latitude there is no belt of 
coroneted palms." 

The ruins of a big mud fortress called Koushid Khan 
Kala, which the Turkomans were building to hold back 
the Russian invasion when the massacre of Geok-Tepe 
ended all resistance, stands alongside the railway track as 
a mute but convincing witness of the superiority of a live 
civilization over a dead one. As an object lesson to the 


natives, it has been of great effect, because they believed 
their fortress to be impregnable. And, to make it still 
more forceful, the railway engineers cut off a corner of the 
walls to make room for a side track. Near-by is an American 
cotton gin. The fortress was erected in 1880-1881 by the 
forced labour of 8,000 Tekkes, members of a tribe of Turko- 
mans, and the mud walls, which are between thirty and 
forty feet high, sixty feet thick at the base, and twenty feet 
thick at the top, enclose a space nearly one mile square. 
In striking contrast to the impotent mud walls are a few 
neatly compact batteries of Russian artillery, half concealed 
by trees. 

The Russian government has planted more than 3,000,000 
trees in the Merv oasis, mostly poplars, mulberries, and 
locusts. The mulberries feed the silkworms, the poplars 
make the best roof poles for the thatched cabins of the 
natives, and the locusts perfume the atmosphere with a 
honeyed odour. 

The Merv oasis has the most fertile soil and the densest 
population of the several cultivated areas in Turkestan. 
The "Mobrghub," as Matthew Arnold calls it, gives life 
to about 16,000 square miles of farms, tilled by about 
135,000 farmers, who are raising vast quantities of cotton, 
wheat, rye, barley, sorghum, rice, melons, vegetables of 
all kinds, grapes, berries, peaches, apricots, and other orchard 
fruits. Millions of cattle and sheep drink from the tawny 
stream; hundreds of thousands of camels are bred on the 
prairies; the Merv horses are the best in Central Asia, and 
when the Russians first occupied the land they seriously 
discussed the policy of making the Mervi surrender their 
mounts, as they had surrendered their guns. No native 


is allowed to have a rifle or a revolver unless he belongs to 
the militia, but all are permitted to wear their ancient 
daggers, which are as much a part of their native costume 
as their boots or their shirts. 

There is a railway south from Merv to Kushk and a branch 
to Maruchak, both unimportant towns upon the borders of 
Afghanistan, but the trains carry no freight except military 
supplies and no passengers except soldiers. No civilian 
is allowed to pass over that road. It is as much as a man's 
life and liberty are worth to ask permission to do so, because 
the Russian secret service would at once have a conniption 
fit for fear the applicant was an English spy. There are 
supposed to be strong fortifications, with heavy armament, 
on the border, but no one is allowed to see them. Every- 
body knows, however, that large garrisons are kept continu- 
ally under arms and ready for action, and the warehouse? 
at Merv are filled with military supplies. The Russian 
viceroy can throw 10,000 troops into Afghanistan in forty- 
eight hours if it should ever become necessary, and, notwith- 
standing the recent treaty of amity and alliance with Great 
Britain, this menace of Herat and Kandahar, the two princi- 
pal cities of Afghanistan, is maintained. The Russians also 
have a pretender to the Afghan throne living at their expense 
in Tashkend, Samarkand, and Bokhara in turn, who might 
be made useful in an emergency by putting in a claim to 
the authority and emoluments of the present emir. 

The Russians found Merv an insignificant Turkoman 
encampment of kibitkas, surrounding a village of mud huts, 
and have made it a military post of great strategic impor- 
tance, commanding the western approaches of Afghanistan. 
This means a great deal to England, with India on the 


other side of that semi-civilized buffer state, but of greater 
interest to us are the successful efforts of the Russians to 
introduce American cotton into Asia so as to supply their 
own mills with raw material and thus escape their present 
dependence upon the planters of the United States. 

The soil and climate of the Merv oasis are especially 
adapted to raising cotton, and immediately after Russian 
occupation in the early '80's tons of seed were imported 
from the United States and distributed among the native 
farmers. The ancient irrigation system was overhauled 
and rebuilt by government engineers and extended as far 
as the resources of the Murghab River would permit. 
Two hundred thousand acres of the land thus added to 
the cultivated area were made over to Alexander II, a 
monarch of noble character and benevolent disposition, 
who established there a model plantation and colonized it 
with about three hundred emancipated serfs. The head- 
quarters of the plantation, which are on an excessive scale, 
are located at the railway station called Bairam Ali, about 
ten miles east of Merv and immediately south of the ruins 
of the ancient city of that name. 

The Czar's plantation has never paid a profit. Indeed, it 
costs an average of $50,000 a year to meet the deficits. But 
if the privy purse were not behind the enterprise the manage- 
ment would doubtless be more economical and the expenses 
would be diminished, even if the earnings were not in- 
creased. There are about three hundred workmen — Rus- 
sians, Kirghiz, Tekkes, Afghans, and other natives — under 
the direction of a Russian superintendent and several assist- 
ants who are provided with comfortable residences and are 
furnished with most of their supplies. Several American 


experts have been employed at one time or another to 
instruct the colonists in the art of cultivating cotton and 
in the use of modern implements and machinery. There 
is a Greek orthodox church where the employes may worship; 
a hospital and free dispensary, with a surgeon and free 
nurses, where they may go if they are sick or injured. The 
repair-shops are big enough for a dozen such plantations; 
there is a ginhouse, a compress and a cotton-seed-oil mill 
with American machinery; a bakery where the employes 
can buy bread, a bazaar where they can obtain other sup- 
plies, and a fruit-canning establishment equipped with the 
latest apparatus, where tomatoes and other vegetables are 
canned, and strawberry and apricot jams and preserves are 
made for the market. Everything is run by electricity 
generated with petroleum fuel. 

The cotton crop will average about 500 pounds to the 
acre, with 150,000 acres under cultivation. Part of it is 
leased on a cash rental, part is worked by shares, and the 
remainder is cultivated by the superintendent of the estate 
as a model for the education of the farmers of Turkestan 
and for experimental purposes. It is altogether an expen- 
sive, fancy plant with several purely ornamental features, 
and a great deal of the earnings are wasted in the purchase 
of new machinery that is not needed and in experiments 
that are not always wise. 

There is a decided difference of opinion as to the effect 
of the Czar's example. Some critics insist that it is perni- 
cious and that it has done a great deal of harm by mislead- 
ing the native farmers into the adoption of extravagant 
methods. The usefulness of such an establishment is always 
governed by the economies it can teach, and, as one well- 


informed gentleman remarked, economy is the only thing 
that is not taught on the Czar's farm. 

Turkestan ranks second to the United States as a cotton 
producer, and the annual crop is now greater than that of 
Egypt or India. Cotton has always grown there. It is 
indigenous to the soil, and so far back as tradition reaches 
the people have produced the material out of which their 
cotton gowns were made. Knowing this, General Kauf- 
mann, .the conqueror of Turkestan and the first governor- 
general, following the broad-minded policy that character- 
ized his administration from the start, introduced American 
seed and methods of cultivation and interested the mill 
men of Moscow and other manufacturing cities of Russia 
for the encouragement of the native planters. To him 
Russia owes the success of the most important economic 
problem ever undertaken in this part of the world. Russian 
manufacturers have invested considerable capital in plan- 
tations and irrigation works, and the industry has been ex- 
tended until it is now the most extensive and the most 
profitable in Turkestan. The limits of the irrigated area 
extend as far north as Tashkend and as far east as Andijan, 
the terminus of the Central Asia Railway, upon the borders 
of China. Millions of acres more might be reclaimed, and 
a considerable acreage is being added to the productive 
area every year, but the cost of irrigation plants requires 
a large capital. It is a matter for syndicates, not for 

The cotton-seed-oil industry is also very important. 
The natives will consume all of the oil that can be produced, 
and the cake proves to be the best camel food known. It 
is so conveniently carried; it contains a higher degree of 


nourishment for its bulk and weight than any forage; heat 
and dampness do not spoil it, and it can be handled with 
the minimum of trouble. There are American compressor 
ginneries, and oil mill* in connection with all the large plan- 
tations, and they look exactly like those that you can see 
around Memphis and Atlanta. 

Ancient Merv has been the scene of much history and 
more romance. Two thousand years ago Merv was "the 
Queen of the World." Its glories have been described 
by the poets; its sieges have been the themes of military 
experts for centuries; its scholars have contributed much 
to human learning, and its wealth has been coveted by 
conquerors of all ages. Few cities have a larger place in 
the history of mankind or have been the stage of events 
of greater moment. 

Merv was founded about 400 or 500 B.C. It was the 
Antiochia of the ancient Greeks, and by that name is known 
in ancient history. Darius the Persian, Alexander the Great, 
the Caesars of Rome, Khan Genghis the Mongol, Tamerlane 
the Tartar, and all the great warriors of Asia have fought 
over it and have looted its treasures. It has been twice the 
residence of a Christian bishop, in the fifth and again in 
the fourteenth century. The Persians, Greeks, Romans, 
Mongols, Tartars, and finally the Russians have made it 
their capital in turn, and twenty square miles — some 
writers say forty — of ruins indicate what the city has been 
and what it is to-day. 

Although Mesopotamia is believed to have been the scene 
of the origin of mankind, China was a source of a large 
portion of the world's population. In early times the 
congestion in China forced out tides of emigration and 


conquest. Advancing westward through the vast region 
now known as Turkestan, they drove their flocks and herds 
beyond the boundary between the continents, over-running 
Austria and Germany, and even France, where they were 
known successively as Goths, Vandals, Huns, Tartars, and 

The habitat of the original Turks, called in Chinese 
Tu-kaiu, was in the Altai Mountains of China, whence they 
migrated in large numbers at an early day, and gave the 
name of Turkestan to the territory they occupied. From 
there they moved westward, because in that direction they 
met with least resistance, and therefore wandered in the 
greatest number. With intervals of two hundred years 
several great Turkish waves poured over western Asia and 
southern Europe. 

The first flood took the form of religious invasion of Chris- 
tian countries, and under Alp Arslan they invaded the 
Roman Empire. His career was cut short in 1063 by a 
mortal wound received at the hands of a man whom he 
had condemned to death. Merv was his capital, and there 
to-day stand the ruins of his tomb. His reign was attended 
by a degree of material prosperity, an advance in learning, 
culture, and in the development of literature and architecture 
that have never been surpassed in the history of Turkestan. 

He was followed by a grandson, Sanjar, also a man of 
intelligence and learning, whose reign was one of the most 
brilliant of that century. His capital, however, was de- 
stroyed by invaders during his absence on a military cam- 
paign, and when he returned he was so shocked at the 
desolation that met his eyes that he sickened and died. 
The ruins of his splendid mausoleum, which was built 





during his lifetime, are still in the centre of ancient Merv, 
and so massive were the walls that the natives called it 
Dar-nl-Akhirat, "the Abode of Eternity." Sixty years 
after his death it was destroyed by Ghengis Khan and 
his horde of Mongols, who swept over the country like 
meteors. He was a Chinese and one of the most remarkable 
of men. He conquered the continent from the Yellow Sea 
to the Black Sea, and the great Tamerlane was one of his 
descendants. Tamerlane was half Chinese, half Turk, and 
all Tartar. 

There were three cities of the same name in successive 
periods upon adjoining sites. At one time "the Queen 
of the World" had a population of a million or more — 
perhaps several times in its history. Its commercial im- 
portance was greater than that of any city between China 
and Greece. It was the central point on the caravan route 
between the east and the west and the north and the south. 
Its khans and caravansaries were the largest in Asia, and 
were filled with the goods of China and India, which met 
the merchandise of Europe there. 

The visitor at Hairam Ali will find no accommodations, 
although he can get a wholesome meal at the railway station 
and a carriage that will take him as far as he cares to go 
through a wilderness of roofless walls, heaps of crumbling 
brick and stone, and ghostly remnants of palaces, castles, 
towers, ramparts, and other military works, and the domes 
of mosques, meddresses, and tombs. Most of the buildings 
are shapeless masses of debris and crumbling walls. A 
few preserve their outlines sufficiently to give an idea of 
their ancient dimensions and grandeur, but I do not believe 
such a wreck of human habitations exists anywhere else in 


the world. There is no map or diagram by which they can 
be traced or identified. There is no one to guide a stranger 
about or point out the objects of interest. All is confusion 
and the visitor will be bewildered at what seems to be a 
limitless labyrinth of ruins. 

Archaeologists have been there again and again, but the 
task of investigation is so prodigious that it frightens them 
away. They usually study the situation for a few days, 
sometimes for a week, but they never come again, although 
it is difficult to imagine any field of research that offers so 
much in return for labour. 

The climate is severe in the summer because of the heat 
and in the winter because of the cold, but the spring and 
autumn months are congenial and cloudless, and railway 
trains go by in both directions every few hours, with an 
express each way daily. Camping equipment can be 
bought without much expense, and provisions can be ob- 
tained at the neighbouring cities as easily as in New York 
or London. There is no difficulty that cannot be easily 
overcome, and yet nobody can be induced to rummage 
about the ruins of ancient Merv and tell us who lived there 
and what happened to them. 

There is not a single perfect building in an area of from 
twenty to forty square miles, thickly covered with crumbling 
walls, where three famous cities have risen and flourished 
and fallen, but many a lofty dome and much masonry 
remain in their original condition. The first city, called 
Giaour Kala — that is, the first we know about — is be- 
lieved to have been founded by Zoroaster, the Persian fire 
worshipper — date unknown. The second is said to have 
been built by Iskander — the Turkoman name for Alexander 


the Great — upon the ruins of the first, which he destroyed 
on his return from India, 3-28 B.C. The third city is 
attributed to Alp Arslan, "the Great Lion," and was 
destroyed in the twelfth century by a son of Genghis Khan 
and his Mongol hordes. 

The tomb of Alp Arslan still stands, partly preserved. 
The inscription which Genghis is said to have written upon 
it can no longer be found, but it was this: 

"All ye who have seen the glory of Alp Arslan exalted 
to the heavens, come hither to Merv and behold it buried 
in the dust." 

The tomb of Sanjar, erected 1100 A.D., is 110 feet high 
from the ground to the crest of the dome and was built of 
brick covered with Persian tiles. Much of the porcelain 
veneer is still preserved, and the beautiful blue tints have 
not been dimmed by the ages. A curious feature is the 
use of that common design known as "the wall of Troy" 
in the friezes. 

There are Persian tiles enough among the ruins to build 
the biggest mosque in the world. They must have been very 
popular, and at the same time very expensive, because 
there was no way to bring them there in those days except 
on the backs of camels. 

It was a fashion of the sultans and the khans to build 
their own tombs. There was much rivalry in the successive 
generations, and the efforts of those proud and determined 
men to preserve their names from oblivion challenge the 
admiration of the present age. 

A great deal of damage is done by Turkoman pilgrims 
and other visitors which the Russian authorities should 
prevent if possible. A beautifully sculptured tomb was 


recently destroyed by vandals, and wherever a tile can be 
detached from a wall it is carried away. An ancient writer 
refers to a reservoir which supplied Merv with water from 
the Persian mountains, but no traces can be found. The 
canals or aqueducts can be identified and some of them are 
still in use, but the reservoir has disappeared. 

The Merv oasis extends forty-five miles east of the banks 
of the river Murghab, and then comes a barren and dreary 
plateau, which is so high that it must always be as it always 
has been. There are no indications of human life except 
in the spring of the year, when the flocks and herds of the 
Mervi pick up a little bunch of grass here and there, so 
little that it scarcely pays them for nibbling. This desert 
can never be irrigated, and therefore can never be inhabited 
— a strip about eighty miles wide, running north and south 
for 300 miles or more and bounded on the east and west 
by an exuberance of vegetation which tries to make up 
for the barren wastes. There are many great orchards on 
the gentle slopes, and between them fields of cotton and 
growing wheat, and one can follow the ariks, or irrigation 
ditches, with the eye because of the tall plumed grasses 
which grow on either side of them, five and six feet high, 
like the pampas grass that we have in our gardens. 

This plateau presents the same phenomenon that is found 
upon a similar waste near Arequipa, Peru — masses of 
drifting sand which move hither and thither, according to 
the direction of the wind, but always lie in crescent-shaped 
mounds from five to fifteen feet high and from twenty to 
fifty feet across between the points. The sand is very fine. 
You can blow up a cloud of it with your breath and it obeys 
the slightest motion of the air, but, strangely enough, 


whenever it changes its position, as it does with the shifting 
of the wind, it always assumes the form of a crescent in 
perfect proportions, and the natives have a notion that the 
same grains of sand stay together like a family, or the 
members of a clan, and never stray from one mound to 
another. Of course this is impossible to determine, but 
it is a pretty fancy. 

In 1404 an illustrious hidalgo crossed these deserts with a 
camel caravan as an ambassador from the King of Spain 
to the court of Tamerlane, then at the zenith of his power 
and glory. And he wrote a book which contains a great deal 
of interesting description of Central Asia and its people five 
hundred years ago. Referring to this sand, he says: "On 
the banks there were great plains of sand, and the sand was 
moved from one spot to the other by wind, and was thrown 
up in curious semi-circular mounds, and the wind blew the 
sand from one mound to another, for it was very light, and 
on the ground where the wind had blown away the sand the 
marks of the mounds were left." 

And in a description of the country by Quintus Curtius, 
the Roman historian and essayist, translated into English 
in 1553, the same phenomenon is described. The writer 
adds that people travel across these plains at night: "To 
observe the starres as they do that sayle the seas, and by 
the course of them directe their journey, wherefore in the 
daye time the countrey is wild and unpassable, when they 
can finde no track nor waye to go in, nor marke or signe 
whereby to passe." 

In the construction of the railway the engineers had great 
difficulty with this sand, and even now, in the winter months, 
gangs of men are kept moving up and down the line with 


shovels to dig out the track where crescent mounds have 
formed upon the right of way. 

The Oxus River, or the Amu Daria, as it is called in modern 
times, is the boundary between the Russian province of 
Trans-Caspia and the semi-independent state of Bokhara, 
of which I shall have much to say hereafter. West of it 
the inhabitants are called Mervi, for they belonged to the 
former khanate of Merv. The people of Bokhara are called 
Usbegs and Bokharoits. The people of Samarkand are 
called Sarts. Their languages are distinct dialects, although 
similar in many respects, like Portuguese and Spanish. 
They can understand each other, but not accurately. 


KHIVA represents a larger outlay of blood and money 
than any other of the several oases that have been 
conquered by Russia in Turkestan; and it is one of the most 
important. The Khiva oasis is capable of greater develop- 
ment than most of the others. Already a large amount of 
raw cotton is produced there, more than in any other section 
of Turkestan, and it can be doubled without constructing a 
new irrigation system, but, until better transportation facili- 
ties are afforded, the area planted to cotton will not be 
extended. Although the Amu Daria will float a considerable 
part of the crop to the railway at Charjui, that method is 
almost as expensive as carrying it by camel caravans. A 
railway will sometime be built, and then rapid and extended 
development may be expected. 

Khiva is between three and four hundred miles from Merv, 
across a trackless desert; one of the dry est and dreariest in all 
Asia. The trip may be made on the back of a camel, but that 
is very hard for people unaccustomed to such a journey. 
My friend, Vladimir Fabyan Gnesin, who represents a 
Moscow cotton factory at Tashkend, as he formerly did in 
New York, once crossed the four hundred miles from Merv to 
Khiva in seven days in a wagon drawn by a camel, a funny- 
looking outfit. He didn't see a drop of water all the way 
except that which he carried with him. 



Khiva is a thriving city, the centre of a prosperous agri- 
cultural country, with 800,000 population, and Professor 
Pumpelly, of Harvard, who made an archaeological investi- 
gation in behalf of the Carnegie Institution at Washington, 
believes that cereals were cultivated there more than eight 
thousand years before the Christian era and that the domes- 
tication of cattle, pigs, and sheep, and the breeding of 
horses and camels, were common between seven and eight 
thousand years before Christ. He believes that agricul- 
ture preceded pastoral pursuits by several centuries; that 
the original settlers of this section of the globe had 
fixed habitations and cultivated the soil before their 
nomadic habits were involuntarily acquired because of the 
necessity for seeking new pastures for their increasing 

Cotton was growing wild from the beginning of time, 
but was not cultivated until many centuries later, and 
American cotton dates from the Russian occupation. There 
are to-day in Khiva several American cotton gins and com- 
presses, and two factories for extracting the oil from cotton 
seed. The machinery was brought in by way of the Black 
and the Caspian seas and carried overland from Merv on 
the backs of camels. 

If you will look at the map of Central Asia you will see 
that Khiva is about equidistant from Persia on the south, 
the Aral Sea on the north, and the Caspian Sea on the west; 
and that it is situated on the west bank of the Amu Daria 
River, surrounded by deserts in every direction, except in the 
valley of the Amu. It has always been an important town 
and has had a large trade in cattle, horses, camels, sheep, and 
goats, as well as the products that are derived from them. 


The shipments of wool are next in amount to those of cotton 
and were formerly much larger. 

Khiva is very old, older than history, and at one time was 
celebrated for its colleges and the scholarship of its priests. 
The mullah in charge of the library of the Mosque of St. 
Sophia at Constantinople once showed me a book which he 
said was written in Turki, a dead language older than 
Sanscrit or Arabic, the original basis of the present Turkish 
tongue, and he declared that nobody in Constantinople was 
able to read it. It could only be deciphered by some ven- 
erable priests in Khiva, where, he said, the most learned 
men in the world were living. While Khiva does not en- 
tirely merit that reputation to-day, it was at one time the 
centre of theological and literary activity in Asia, and as 
the capital of a khanate attracted men of wealth and fame 
and ambition. 

The Russians first came into contact with the Khivans 
during the early part of the seventeenth century. In 1620 
a band of Cossacks plundered a caravan of Khivan merchants 
and, having found out from them about the wealth of their 
city, dashed across the desert and raided the town, which 
was taken absolutely by surprise and suffered an entirely 
new experience. The Cossacks loaded a thousand carts with 
their spoils and carried off a thousand women, but soon paid 
the penalty of their audacity. Their success made them 
reckless, and a band of Kirghiz, starting in pursuit, drove 
them into the desert, where all those who were not cut down 
in their saddles perished of thirst. The memory of their 
exploit is one of the most vivid pages in Khivan history. 

It was a long time before the Cossacks of the Don learned 
the fate of their comrades, and when the knowledge came 


to them they sent another expedition of 2,000 warriors to 
punish the Khivans, but most of them died in the desert. 
A third expedition fared even worse, for those who survived 
the perils of thirst and starvation were captured and made 
slaves by the Khivans. Several managed to escape and 
found their way back to Russia, from whom a knowledge 
of Khiva came to Peter the Great. 

Soon afterwards that enterprising sovereign received in- 
formation from the governor of Siberia that gold was to 
be found along the valley of the Amu Daria, and two ex- 
peditions were fitted out to explore the country, one starting 
from Siberia and the other from the Caucasus. The former 
went as far as the valley of the Syr Daria. The latter fell 
into the same trap in which the Cossacks had been caught, 
and those who survived the desert were apportioned among 
their captors as slaves. The khan of Khiva sent the head 
of Prince Bekovitch, the commander of the Russian expe- 
dition, as a present to the emir of Bokhara, who, however, 
was afraid to accept it. 

These events advertised Khiva to the world, and several 
adventuresome spirits managed to cross the desert and 
reach the city. Some of them were allowed to escape alive, 
others were detained in bondage, and the enslavement of 
several Russian adventurers who fell into the hands of the 
Khivans caused Russia to undertake a new expedition in 
1829. An army of 5,000 men with 10,000 camels attempted 
to cross the desert, but they were obliged to turn back before 
they got halfway, and one-third of those who started 
reached the shores of the Caspian in a wretched, starv- 
ing condition, with only a thousand of their camels. In 
1840 another attempt was made, and up to 1869 and 


1870 there were constant and serious causes of provo- 

The Khivans defied the Czar and all his army, and felt 
themselves entirely protected by the fortifications with 
which nature had encompassed them in the form of a desert. 
In 1872, however, a new expedition was sent out under com- 
mand of General Kaufmann, who had conquered eastern 
Turkestan, with a larger force and a better equipment than 
any previous party had been provided with. Accom- 
panying the expedition was His Imperial Highness the 
Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovitch and the Grand 
Duke Eugene, cousins of the Czar. There was much oppo- 
sition to the undertaking in Russia, and the vote in the 
Imperial Council, presided over by the Czar in person, 
stood 35 to 9 in favour, with Prince Gortchakoff, the Prime 
Minister, in the negative. General Kaufmann was given 
full powers and was authorized to enter into negotiations 
with the khan for his submission and a protectorate from 
Russia similar to that which the emir of Bokhara had 
recently accepted. 

About 5,000 men and 12,000 camels made up the expedi- 
tion and every precaution was taken for its safety. As the 
column advanced explorers were sent ahead to find water 
and to dig wells in anticipation of the approach of the troops. 
In that way a line of water holes now marks the Russian 
trail from Tashkend to the Aral Sea, but there were wide 
plateaus of sand where no water could be found, and for 
several weeks General Kaufmann led his weary and thirsty 
men hither and thither until the desert of Kizil-Kum was 
strewn with the skeletons and decaying bodies of camels, 
horses, and human beings, camp equipage, officers' baggage, 


rifles, and other munitions of war. Much ammunition and 
stores which had to be abandoned were buried in the sand 
with the intention of sending out detachments to recover 
them. Of the 12,000 camels with which the expedition 
started only 1,200 survived, and only twelve or fifteen horses 
out of several thousand. When half his men were lost, 
Kaufmann's imperious spirit was sunk so deeply in despair 
that he wrote a pitiful valedictory explaining and defending 
his action, and gave orders that if anything should happen 
to him the command of the remnant of the expedition was 
to be given, not to General Golovatcheff , the next in rank, 
but to Colonel Trotzky, his chief of staff. 

The limit of endurance was almost reached, and the entire 
command would have perished within a few days, when the 
scouts happened to capture a ragged Kirghiz, who told them 
that a few miles to the right of the trail were the wells of 
Alty-Kuduk. General Kaufmann handed him a canteen 
and offered him one hundred rubles if he would fill it with 
water. Before night the nomad returned with a dozen drip- 
ping canteens suspended from his shoulder, and the column 
was turned toward the wells, which were found to be few, 
but filled with water. The expedition was thus saved, and, 
after recovering from its fatigue, pushed on to the capture 
of Khiva, which was accomplished without much difficulty, 
and on June 11, 1872, a "Te Deum" for the repose of the 
soul of Peter the Great was sung in one of the mosques by 
the soldiers. 

Khiva at last was in the hands of the Russians, but at a 
frightful cost. The khan fled, but afterwards came to the 
Russian camp and gave himself up. General Kaufmann 
restored him to authority and appointed a special council 


or divan, composed of Russian officers and the "elder 
statesmen" of Khiva, to advise him in the administration 
of the government. Kaufmann issued a proclamation de- 
fining the policy and intentions of the Czar, assuring 
the people that they would not be interfered with as long 
as they lived quietly and occupied themselves with their 
ordinary pursuits. Strict orders were given for the soldiers 
to take nothing from the inhabitants and to pay cash for 
whatever they accepted. One soldier was sentenced to be 
hanged for stealing a cow, six were ordered shot for robbing 
houses, but at the personal request of the two grand dukes 
the men were pardoned, on the ground that their minds 
were unsettled by the hardships of the campaign and the 
loss of their baggage. 

The people of Khiva were surprised, but satisfied, and 
presented a memorial to General Kaufmann, accepting 
Russian authority with gratitude. Slavery was abolished 
by proclamation, and about 30,000 who were in bondage, 
mostly Persian prisoners of war, were released and allowed 
to go back to their country or remain in Khiva, as they 
pleased. Finally General Kaufmann signed a treaty with 
the khan of Khiva in which the latter renounced his inde- 
pendence, and acknowledged himself a faithful servant of the 
Czar, promising not to undertake any military expeditions 
or to enter into negotiations or communication with neigh- 
bouring khans, except through the Russian authorities, and 
agreeing to pay 2,000,000 rubles, in installments of 200,000 
rubles a year, as indemnity to cover the expenses of the 

In 1874, two years later, the khan was deposed for treason, 
and the khanate of Khiva was made a part of the Trans- 


Caspian province and placed under the authority of the 
governor-general, who resides at Askabad. 

Thirty years ago the entire world was electrified by the 
stories of "Burnaby's ride to Khiva," which was heralded 
as one of the most daring and audacious acts of heroism ever 
performed. The hero was Capt. Fred Burnaby of the 
Horse Guards, a rich, handsome, popular Englishman, who 
wrote a book to describe his experience and of course it had 
a wide circulation. But since the actual facts have been 
known, the feat is considered neither difficult nor dangerous, 
and was performed by hundreds of Cossacks and Russian 
officers about the same time. Of danger, there was none 
whatever. The steppes all around Khiva were as safe as 
those of central Russia, and the trail was plain. The 
weather, which was cold when Burnaby started, grew warmer 
within a few days and he and his party were abundantly 
supplied with warm clothing and had a kibitka, one of the 
tents in which the Turkomans and Kirghiz spend the winter 
on the plains of Turkestan. Furthermore Burnaby had an 
escort provided with excellent horses and three camels to 
carry his equipment. He made the journey of 370 miles in 
thirteen days, and it was after the capture and occupation 
of that city by the Russians. At the time of Burnaby's 
journey the Russian outposts were stretched at frequent 
intervals along his trail and merchants were going and com- 

This famous ride was insignificant compared with that of 
Captain Marsh of the British army a few years previous. He 
rode fourteen hundred miles from Asia Minor to India 
through Persia and Afghanistan, among the wild tribes, 
without escort or even an extra horse. Nor can it be 


compared with a three-thousand-mile ride made by Cap- 
tain MacGregor in 1875, the entire distance from Asia 
Minor to the Chinese mountains. Yet, such is the caprice of 
fame, not one person in a million ever heard of Marsh or 
MacGregor, while every schoolboy in England and many 
in America were thrilled by Burnaby's book. 

The most daring and dangerous of such exploits in modern 
times was the chase of the Russian army by Januarius 
Aloysius MacGahan, of Toledo, Ohio, a correspondent of 
the New York Herald, who was sent to Turkestan to 
observe and report the war of conquest. MacGahan reached 
the Caspian Sea several weeks after the departure of the 
Russian army, and on April 30, 1872, with an interpreter 
and a young Kirghiz to look after the horses, started across 
the desert. As a journalistic achievement it was never 
surpassed, and was never approached, except, perhaps, by 
the ride of Archibald Forbes from Ulundi to the coast of 
Africa through a forest swarming with Zulus. MacGahan 
was in the saddle for thirty days, and made nine hundred 
and thirty miles. Sometimes he was entirely without food 
and he and his native companion nearly perished from 
thirst. He was several times surrounded by hostile natives 
and his escapes were miraculous. 

MacGahan afterwards took part in the Carlist war in 
Spain, in which he narrowly escaped being hanged as a 
spy. He investigated the Turkish atrocities in Bulgaria 
for the London Daily News; he represented the same paper 
during the war between Russia and Turkey in 1877-1878, 
and nursed Lieut. F. V. Greene, now Major-General Greene, 
U.S.A. (retired), through a siege of typhoid fever. Greene 
was the military attache of the United States legation in 


St. Petersburg and was sent to observe the war. Mac- 
Gahan caught the disease from Greene and died in a Russian 
camp. He was buried in Constantinople and a few years 
later his body was brought back to the United States upon 
a naval cruiser and buried beside his father and mother 
in a Toledo cemetery. 

MacGahan reached Khiva and entered that city before 
the Russian army arrived, and remained there through the 
siege. Burnaby did not arrive until two years later. 

Another remarkable feat of journalistic enterprise that 
occurred about the same time was the ride of O 'Donovan, 
son of a famous Irish scholar and antiquary, through Persia 
to Merv, reaching that city in advance of the Russian army. 
O'Donovan represented the London Daily News, and with 
two servants, a Persian and a Kurd, he crossed the moun- 
tains that now form the boundary between Persia and Turk- 
estan, and after a ride of 140 miles reached the city of Merv, 
where the Turkomans were preparing to defend themselves 
against the Russian advance. He was the first foreigner 
to enter that city and the first European to traverse that 
route. He did not know what sort of a reception he would 
have at Merv. The chances were against a friendly one, 
but the people received him kindly, although, fearing lest 
he was a Russian spy, they made him a prisoner for twenty 
days. He finally gained their confidence, and was not 
only able to serve his newspaper, but his presence proved 
of great advantage to the Turkomans in their dealings with 
the Russian invaders. 

Turkestan is believed to be one of the oldest spots on 
this dear old world, and, according to the records that time 
has made in the book of nature, the carving on the rocks 


and the scattered signs of culture that are buried deep down 
beneath the surface, human beings were living there, culti- 
vating the ground and raising cattle, sheep, and children, 
more than ten thousand years ago. To study the physi- 
ography of the Central Asian deserts and oases and the 
human and animal remains that are buried under the dust 
of ages, the Carnegie Institution at Washington sent out an 
expedition in 1904 to make explorations in Turkestan, 
hoping to discover something concerning the people of that 
prehistoric civilization, their origin, their growth, their 
environment, and their influence upon the development of 
the rest of the human race. This expedition consisted of 
Dr. Raphael Pumpelly, of Harvard University; Dr. Hubert 
Schmidt, archaeologist ; Ellsworth Huntington, assistant and 
interpreter; Langdon Warner, Miss Hildegarde Brooks, and 
R. Welles Pumpelly, physiographer and surveyor. They 
spent the year of 1904 among the deserts and oases of 
Turkestan and made an elaborate report, which has been 
published in two ponderous volumes by the Carnegie Insti- 
tution. These, like all its publications, are for sale at 
cost price. 

Professor Pumpelly, in summing up the results of his work, 
says: "The investigation was proposed because, (1) there 
is a school that still holds the belief that Central Asia is the 
region in which the great civilizations of the far East and 
of the West had their origins; and (2) because of the sup- 
posed occurrence in that region in prehistoric times of great 
changes in climate, resulting in the formation and recession 
of an extensive Asian Mediterranean, of which the Aral, 
Caspian, and Black seas are the principal remnants. 

"It had long seemed to me that a study of Central Asian 


archaeology would probably yield important evidence in the 
genealogy of the great civilizations, and of several, at least, 
of the dominant races, and that a parallel study of the traces 
of physical changes during quaternary time might show some 
coincidence between the phases of social evolution and the 
change in environment; further, that it might be possible 
to correlate the physical and human records and thus furnish 
a contribution to the time scale of recent geology. 

"In our earliest historical records we find the country 
occupied as now by dwellers in numerous cities, surrounded 
by deserts in which lived nomad peoples. To what different 
races may they have belonged? Whence did they come into 
the land? What were their civilizations and what their 
relations to other civilizations and to those of the modern 
world? These are our questions, and they can be answered 
only to a greater or less extent by a study of the results of 
excavation and in the concentrated light of comparative 
science in archaeology, ethnology, and language, and of 
survivals in arts and customs; for the answers to some of 
these questions will be found rooted deep in the human 
strata of the ancient world. 

"The ruins of ancient Merv are said to cover about thirty 
square miles and consist of several cities of different ages. 
The ruins of Paikent represent the type of cities abandoned 
for lack of water and then buried by the progressing desert 
sands. Paikent was a great centre of wealth and of com- 
merce between China and the west and south till in the 
early centuries of our era. Next to those of Merv the 
ruins of Samarkand are the most extensive. Its position 
must have made it an important centre of commerce and 
wealth probably throughout the whole period of prehistoric 


occupation, as it has been during historic times. Situated 
in the heart of the very fertile oasis of the Zerafshan River, 
it lies also on the easiest caravan routes connecting China 
and eastern Turkestan with Afghanistan, India, and Persia. 

"Samarkand has, even within the past two thousand 
years, been sacked, destroyed, and rebuilt many times. 
Like Merv, its rebuildings have often been on adjoining 
sites. The most ancient seems to be the plateau to which 
tradition assigns the site of the Maracanda of Alexander 
the Great. It is covered to a great extent with Mohamme- 
dan cemeteries, with some traces of Mussulman occupation, 
and with fragments of pottery and of bricks. The former 
walls of the city are represented now by ridges rising twenty 
or thirty feet above the surface within. The many immense 
and wonderfully decorated mosques built by Tamerlane, 
though now falling into ruins, belong among the wonders of 
the world; and this not only on account of their great size, 
but also because of the beauty of their decoration. Seen 
from Afrosiab, these ruins tower high above the rich foliage 
of the oasis city, evidence of the wealth of treasure that 
Tamerlane had accumulated in Turkestan within two cen- 
turies after Genghis Khan had sacked the country and mas- 
sacred most of its population. 

"Our reconnaissance covered a territory nearly fourteen 
hundred miles long. It was necessarily only of a prelim- 
inary character, and intended to supply a general idea of 
the problems to be solved and of the best points at which to 

"Archaeologically, this region has, through a long period, 
been a centre of production and commerce, connecting the 
eastern, western, and southern nations, and its accumulating 


wealth has made it repeatedly the prey of invading armies. 
It has been from remote time the field of contact and con- 
test between the Turanian and Aryan stocks; but its prob- 
lems, both physical and archaeological, are parts of the 
greater problem underlying the study of the development 
of man and his civilization of the great continent and of the 
environment conditioning that development. 

"The many fragmentary peoples surviving in the remote 
corners and protected mountain fastnesses of Asia, preserv- 
ing different languages, arts, and customs, indicate a very 
remote period of differentiation, with subsequent long periods 
for separate development. They point also to the long 
periods of unrest and battling in which the survivors of the 
vanquished were forced into their present refuges. Asia 
is thus the field for applying all the comparative sciences 
that relate to the history of man. The materials lie in cave 
deposits, in rock pictographs, in tumuli, dolmens, and ruined 
towns, in languages, customs, religions, designs, patterns, 
and anthropological measurements." 

Science has never been able to solve the mystery as to 
the disappearance of the races which formerly occupied these 
deserts, and the causes of their disappearance are equally 
mysterious. There are, however, various theories on the 
subject, some investigators believing that the failure of 
the supply of moisture necessary for their crops or the de- 
struction of their irrigation systems caused their settlements 
to be abandoned. Others are convinced that the hostile 
tribes destroyed each other in war. Professor Pumpelly, 
taking Persia as his theme, discusses the subject as follows: 

"Several theories have been advanced in explanation of 
the gradual ruin of Persia and its neighbours, but all of 


tliem can be summed up under two. According to one 
school, in which Curzon is the most prominent writer, the 
climate of Persia has remained practically unaltered through- 
out historical time. The decay of the country is due to 
wars and massacres and the frightful misgovernment which 
has prevailed century after century. If a strong, just 
government were established the former conditions of pros- 
perity would be restored. The progress which has been 
made under British rule in the arid portions of India and 
under Russian rule in Trans-Caspia shows what can be done. 

"The other school, of which Blanford is the best-known 
representative, holds that during the last two thousand years 
the climate must have changed. Wars and misgovernment 
have been a fearful curse, but their influence is not sufficient 
to account for the location of large towns in places where 
to-day a caravan can with difficulty find a pool of brackish 
water. The just rule of a European power may do much in 
favoured localities, and it would be an immense blessing 
everywhere; but it cannot restore the ancient prosperity. 

"The depopulation caused by wars is one of the best- 
known facts of history. The question now before us is 
whether, other conditions remaining unchanged, frequent 
wars must cause permanent and progressive depopulation. 
Examples from many lands might be quoted, but Persia 
itself furnishes an answer. The province of Astrabad is one 
of the few in Persia which is blessed with an abundant 
rainfall and great natural advantages. For centuries its 
inhabitants have been exposed to the terrible raids of the 
fierce Turkomans and have also had the disadvantage of a 
very unhealthful climate. Yet in the province of Astrabad, 
which has suffered so severely from these invasions, villages 


of from twenty to thirty houses are being scattered every 
five or six hundred yards. The fertility of the region is so 
great that the people persisted in coming into it, in spite of 
the fact that their numbers were frequently decimated by 
the Turkomans. 

"Azerbaijan, the northwestern province of Persia, fur- 
nishes a more striking example of the same sort. This, 
according to Curzon, is the province which, excepting only 
Khorasan, has more often been violated by foreign invasion 
than any other part of Persia. Its fertility of resources 
entitles it to be called the granary of northern Iran. Tabriz, 
the capital, has fallen the first victim to invading armies, 
and has been successively held by Arabs, Seljuks, Ottomans, 
Persians, and Russians. What the rage of conquest has 
spared, nature has interfered to destroy. The city has 
been desolated by frequent and calamitous earthquakes. 
Twice we hear of it being levelled to the ground. In 1392 
it was sacked by Timour, whose path was strewn with ruins 
that vied with the convulsions of nature. Five times during 
the last two centuries has it again been laid low. Yet in 
spite of wars and calamities the fertility of the province 
is such that the city of Tabriz now numbers a population 
of nearly 200,000 and is the commercial metropolis of Persia, 
while the province contains 2,000,000 inhabitants, or from 
twenty-five to forty per square mile, according to the esti- 
mate which is put upon its area. 

"If war and misgovernment are the causes of depopulation 
of Persia, it is remarkable that the two provinces which have 
suffered most from war and not less from misgovernment 
should now be most prosperous and least depopulated, while 
the two which suffered less from war and no more from mis- 


government have been fearfully and, it would seem, irrepa- 
rably depopulated. It is also significant that the regions 
which have suffered the greatest ruin are those where water 
is least abundant, and a decrease in the supply would most 
quickly be felt. Wars and misgovernment do not seem to 
necessarily cause depopulation, nor has that process gone 
on most rapidly where war has been most prevalent." 

The territory north of Charjui, toward the Aral Sea, is 
occupied by the Kirghiz, also known as Kazaks, a nomadic 
tribe of nearly 2,000,000 members, with about 300,000 
warriors. The Kirghiz speak a language which is considered 
the purest of all the Tartar dialects, although as a race they 
contain many foreign admixtures. The tribe was formerly 
divided into "the Great Horde," who occupied the eastern 
part of the desert; "the Middle Horde," in the central part; 
and "the Lesser Horde," to the west and north — all of 
them under their independent chiefs, but subject to a central 
khan, who reigned in Khiva until they became subject to 
the Russians in 1824. The establishment of Russian forts 
and garrisons in Turkestan in 1865 brought the Kirghiz 
immediately under Russian rule, although the khan of 
Khiva considered himself an independent authority until 
Khiva was finally conquered in 1872, when the pretence was 

The flocks and herds of the Kirghiz form their only wealth 
and are the source of large incomes. They are the best 
breeders of cattle, sheep, and camels in Asia, and the necessary 
search for fresh pasture is the cause of their migrations over 
the steppes. Like the Bedouins of Arabia, they do not 
wander indiscriminately, however, but have settled quarters 
for the different seasons of the year, with many fixed villages 


of mud huts and large cultivated areas. Agricultural pur- 
suits are looked down upon by the haughty horsemen, but 
are so profitable as to counterbalance the contempt that 
those who plow the ground are obliged to submit to. Most 
of the Kirghiz warriors devote themselves entirely to breed- 
ing animals, leaving all the other work to be done by the 

They are tireless rough riders and occupy the saddle for 
days at a time without showing the slightest fatigue. They 
are hospitable, generous, and amiable to those whom they 
consider friendly, but their promises are not to be depended 
on. They never fulfil a contract unless it is for their interest 
to do so. Their unreliability and untruthfulness, however, 
are due to indifference and laziness rather than to a vicious 
disposition. They are light-hearted, fickle, easily influenced, 
and affectionate, and one of their best traits is their respect 
for age and authority and their chivalry toward women. 

Eugene Schuyler, who spent much time among them, says : 
"The Kirghiz, owing to the simplicity of their lives, are far 
more children of nature than other Asiatics, and have all 
the faults and virtues of children. Probably the first ac- 
quaintance with them will be found disagreeable, and cer- 
tainly the side the casual traveller sees is their worst, but, 
upon knowing them more intimately, one cannot help liking 
and even respecting them, and it is the verdict of everyone 
who has lived in Central Asia that the Kirghiz are superior 
to all the other races." 

In religion they are Mohammedans, although they have 
no knowledge of religious doctrines or principles, no settled 
priests, and few of them can read or write. They rarely 
pray, they neglect all of the injunctions of the Koran, as 



they do every other moral principle, but would resent an 
insinuation that they are not good Mussulmans. They shave 
their heads and allow their beards to grow, wear baggy 
leather breeches, coarse shirts with wide, striped collars, and 
from one to three padded dressing gowns of brilliant colours, 
according to the weather. The rich indulge in velvet and 
silk robes, often heavily embroidered with gold and silver 
braid. The government has frequently encouraged their 
pride and vanity by presenting red velvet robes to the chief- 
tains as marks of distinction. On their heads they wear 
little skull caps embroidered in an elaborate manner under 
enormous shakos of sheepskin. Much of their wealth is 
invested in ornaments for their saddles and bridles, which 
are sometimes heavy laden with silver and gold. 

The Kirghiz look like Mongols and as a rule are short of 
stature, with round, swarthy faces, flat noses, high cheek 
bones, sharp black, slanting eyes, and tightly drawn eyelids. 

They live in kibitkas, which are circular tents made of 
felt, of their own weaving, stretched over frames of willow 
which can be taken apart and packed easily, and one kibitka 
makes a load for a single camel. The entrance is protected 
by a flap of felt. The interior of the tent is carpeted with 
rugs and hung with embroideries, the trappings of horses, 
and the robes of the owner, of more or less value according 
to his wealth. A rich Kirghiz will sit upon a priceless rug, 
sleep upon a mattress covered with silk, and carry several 
hundred dollars' worth of precious metal upon his person 
in the form of ornaments. 

The Kirghiz that wander and live in kibitkas are called 
kara-Kirghiz, which means black; and those who live in 
villages are known as Kirghiz-kaizaks, which means 


"located," but you generally find them together. Every 
village of mud huts is surrounded by an encampment of 
round movable tents made of a framework of willow withes 
and covered with felt. 

If you inquire of a Kirghiz concerning his ancestry he will 
tell you that Noah had nine sons, one of whom, after the 
flood, moved to Turkestan and settled on the banks of the 
Oxus. This son had forty daughters and became famous 
for that reason — "kir" being the Persian word for forty, 
and "ghiz" the word for daughters. Hence the descendants 
of this prolific family became known as Kirghiz and the 
name has stuck to them. But they have no history, no 
literature; scarcely a written language. Very few of them 
can read or write, and printed words have no meaning for 
them. It is believed that they are decreasing in numbers, 
although they have never been counted and will not permit 
themselves to be seen by the census agents. As soon as any 
attempt of that kind is made they scatter over the plains. 

But comparing accounts that are given of them by ancient 
authors with their condition to-day it is very plain that they 
are a dying race. 


I NEVER saw a more glowing picture of human kind than 
appeared on the platform as our train upon the Cen- 
tral Asia Railway drew up at Kagan, the station of Bokhara, 
the famous old city which was a centre of learning and 
wealth and power six hundred years ago, but to-day is chiefly 
known for the beautiful red rugs that are manufactured there 
and in that vicinity. The background of the picture was an 
arabesque building, a perfect example of that school of 
architecture, in alternate layers of light and dark gray 
stone, with pinnacles at the corners and a cornice of square, 
even notches in stone. The stations all along the Central 
Asia Railway, from the Caspian Sea to the Chinese boundary, 
are substantial buildings of stone, and of admirable design. 
The architects have shown a sense of what is appropriate 
to the individuality of each town in which they are placed, 
and none of them is more commendable than that at Kagan. 
Scattered along the platform was a crowd of 300 or 400 
human beings of all ages, representing a dozen different 
races, and nearly all of them clad in fantastic garb. The 
Turkomans could be identified by their enormous shakos 
of sheep or lamb -skin, some as big as a beer keg, notwith- 
standing the intense heat. Some of the wool was long, 
shaggy and curly, which gave the wearer a fierce and bar- 
baric aspect. Others wore closely curled lamb-skin like that 



which is so fashionable for ladies' wraps in the United States. 
There were many dark-eyed, serious-looking Persians, who 
always wear fezzes of black felt or lamb-skin witlr long, 
clerical frock coats buttoned up to the chin, the skirts being 
gathered at the waist and hanging full over the hips. There 
were many Jews, who can also be identified by the distinc- 
tive features of their race. The old men wore patriarchal 
beards under their snowy white turbans. They looked like 
men of intellect and learning, and of all the people in the 
East none carry themselves with a more dignified and serene 
air. The young Jews are alert and active, and the children 
have most interesting faces. 

There was a scene in the shadow of the train that I shall 
never forget. A Jewish patriarch, with a long, snowy beard, 
a noble forehead, a prominent nose, and large, thoughtful, 
brown eyes, was leaving. He might have been a rabbi, and 
a large number of his friends, perhaps forty or fifty, had come 
to the station to see him off. On the Central Asia Railway 
the conductor gives the passenger plenty of notice before 
the cars start. A bell attached to a bracket over the door 
of the station rings three times : first, to give general warning; 
after five or six minutes, again, to get on board; and then, 
after two or three minutes more, a single stroke is followed 
by the whistle of the locomotive and the start. 

After the first bell the Jews gathered in a circle apart 
from the rest of the crowd, with half a dozen little children 
in the centre, and the patriarch, who was going away, 
folded his hands upon his heart and. offered a prayer, while 
the rest reverently bowed their heads. Then one after 
another, young and old, passed before him and he kissed 
them on both cheeks. The children came last, and he 


blessed them, with his fingers resting upon their heads; 
then lifted each one in his arms and kissed him affectionately. 
Every one in the party was weeping; one of the children 
became hysterical and would not be comforted. He was 
carried away crying just as the third bell struck, when the 
patriarch mounted the platform of his car and extended his 
hands as if pronouncing a benediction. 

The Usbegs, as the inhabitants of the khanate of Bokhara 
are called, are quite as dignified and stately in their move- 
ments as the Jews and wear the same serene expression 
upon their faces. They are unusually handsome men. I 
have never seen so many men at a railway station anywhere 
in the world of such impressive appearance, and the young 
men and boys are as handsome as their fathers. 

The population of the city of Bokhara is about 325,000, 
including, perhaps, 250 Europeans, chiefly Russians, Ger- 
mans, or Poles. There are many Persians, the descendants 
of slaves captured in war, and a large number of Hindus 
who went there to seek their fortunes. The Usbegs, who 
constitute the native population, belong to the aboriginal ! 
Iranian stock, and many of them are of light complexion, 
witnblond hair and beards. Every man wears a beard, a 
large turban of forty folds of spotless muslin, and a long 
khalat or coat of silk or cotton, of radiant colours which gives 
him a graceful as well as a picturesque appearance. The 
Oriental fancy for bright colours is developed here to the 
highest degree. The most conservative and respectable mer- 
chant will wear a robe of alternate stripes of crimson, purple, 
orange, and scarlet as gracefully as an angel wears its wings. 

We saw nothing of the women; strangers are not admitted 
to the homes, and the Bokharoits are very strict in main- 


taining the old-fashioned ideas of seclusion. Women never 
leave their houses except when concealed behind heavy 
black veils of horsehair falling from the forehead to the 
bosom, and loosely wrapped in shawls of silk or cotton, 
which cover their heads as well as their bodies. A Bokharoit 
woman never allows her face to be seen by a man, excepting 
her husband and sons, from the time she is twelve years old, 
when she puts on a veil forever. There were no Usbeg 
women at the station, but we occasionally saw one at other 
stops getting in and out of the train, shrouded with a shawl 
and a black veil pulled down over her face as if she were the 
man in the iron mask. 

There were plenty of Russian women, however, fair-faced, 
blond-haired Gretchens, both among the passengers and 
the loiterers around the station, and a row of matronly 
peasant wives sat behind tables laden with steaming samo- 
vars, jars of milk, bowls of hard-boiled eggs, bottles of 
koumiss, raspberry shrub, cider, sandwiches, and other 
home-made refreshments, while itinerant natives peddled 
sweetmeats, sherbet, tea, coffee, bread and cakes, and even 
cold water, among the passengers. 

The oasis of Bokhara and that of Samarkand, which is 
150 miles distant by rail, are due to the abundant waters 
of the Zerafshan River, which rises in the mountains of 
India and runs for 426 miles through Russian Turkestan, 
irrigating with its branches 250 square miles of territory 
of the most fertile part of Central Asia. Forty-three large 
canals, with a total length of 600 miles, divert the water 
upon the fields far and wide, and there are 600 miles of smaller 
canals and 939 miles of ditches, which reach every part of 
the oasis. 



This system dates back to prehistoric times. It is 
described by Arabian, Egyptian, and Persian writers before 
the Christian era, and the Greeks called the river Zerafshan 
the "Polytimetus," which means "very precious," while the 
name means in the native tongue "the gold strewer." It 
is a remarkable fact that the largest supply of water comes 
in July from the melting snows in the mountains, when it 
is most needed, and the river is at its lowest level in January. 

Cotton is the most important product, and after that 
wheat and other grain. Cotton has been grown there from 
the earliest times. The Spanish ambassador who visited 
this country in 1404, during the reign of Tamerlane, speaks 
of the cotton plantations and describes the vineyards and 
gardens and melon fields, which he said produced wonderful 
quantities of delicious fruit. 

Between Bokhara and Samarkand all the land is under 
cultivation, and we saw the grain and alfalfa being harvested 
in an old-fashioned, clumsy way with sickles. Men cut it 
laboriously, creeping along on their knees, and other men, 
following after, pick up the stalks by handfuls and bind 
them with their hands in small sheaves, which are then 
loaded upon the back of a donkey or a camel or a man and 
carried to a mud hut, where it is stored until it can be thrashed 
or rather trampled out, as used to be done in the days of the 
patriarchs of the Old Testament. 

Every few miles the train passes a village of mud huts 
where the labouring farmers live; one-story cabins like those 
of Egypt, of mud walls made with very little, if any, straw 
to hold them together. They look as if a heavy rain would 
melt them and wash them away. That has been the fate 
of several villages whose ruins we saw by the roadside. 


Acres and indeed miles of the steppe are covered with roofless 
walls that have crumpled or have been washed down to 
about half their original height by the winds and the rains, 
and the inhabitants have calmly picked up their beds and 
other furniture and moved away. These mud houses are 
tolerable only in rainless regions, and the rainfall there varies 
from nothing to thirteen or fourteen inches. Sometimes 
the entire twelve months will pass without a drop of moisture, 
either rain or dew, while another year may be brightened 
with frequent showers, and all of the oldest inhabitants are 
familiar with snow. 

Around the railway stations are cabins built of railway 
ties placed on end, such as you see in similar situations in 
New Mexico, Arizona, and other timberless regions of our 
own West. Several of the railway officials and military 
officers have erected log houses on the Russian plan, which 
are familiar to those who have travelled in the northern part 
of the empire, and have painted them green and blue and 
other bright colours. There are Russian peasants at every 
station, unmistakable mujiks with long blond beards and 
their hair chopped off around the neck as if it were cut by 
a washbowl. They wear the same linen blouses and broad- 
crowned caps that you see around the villages near Moscow 
and St. Petersburg. 

The houses are windowless. All the light and ventila- 
tion come through the doors, and the owners have to keep 
patching up the walls all the time to prevent them from being 
worn away by the constant beating of the wind against the 
dry particles of mud. Inside, a mud floor, a straw mattress 
laid upon a platform of boards, a few simple cooking utensils 
and articles of furniture make up the outfit of an absolutely 


comfortless home, even more comfortless than the kibitkas 
of the Kirghiz or the tepees of the North American Indian. 

Strangers are always interested in seeing droves of camels 
feeding in the fields like flocks of sheep or goats, and little 
baby camels trailing along like kids or lambs. The camel 
is a good deal like the goat in his dietary. He will eat 
anything he can chew. All flocks and herds, including 
camels, are usually attended by shepherds or herdsmen, 
and it seems queer to see farmers wearing quilted dressing 
gowns of brilliant colours while watching their flocks in the 
pastures and while working in the fields. The children 
are dressed like their parents. It is the ambition of every 
man and child to have a silk coat like that of Joseph — of 
many colours. 

The "Gate of Tamerlane" is a narrow gorge between 
lofty, jagged precipices on both sides, which the river 
Jizak has cut through the foot-hills. It is known on the 
map as the Pass of Jilanuti, and is the only way across the 
range without a detour of twenty-five or thirty miles in one 
direction or the other. 

This rocky portal commands the approach to the city of 
Samarkand in one direction and the city of Tashkend in 
the other, and many a bloody conflict has been fought 
during the centuries for its possession. Some of the victors 
have boastfully inscribed a record of their triumphs upon the 
smooth faces of the rock, as Trajan did above the iron 
gates of the Danube. The oldest, carved in Arabic, an- 
nounces that the great Tamerlane (Timour) passed this gate 
in 1369 after five days of battle with his enemies, when the 
Jizak ran red with their blood. "Henceforth no human 
being can pass without his permit." The next inscription 


announces a victory of the forces of Ulugh Beg, a grandson 
of Tamerlane, and the other is that of Abdullah, khan of 
Bokhara in 1571, who boasts that he slew 400,000 of his 
enemies, "so that for a month the water was bloody in the 
River of Jizak." 

Under these imperishable boasts of ancient braggarts is 
a small bronze tablet, bearing in relief the imperial eagle 
of Russia and a few words saying that "Alexander II, Czar 
of all the Russias, built a railway through this gate in 1892." 

The conductor of our train, from whom I sought informa- 
tion concerning the inscriptions, gave a slightly different 
version. Tamerlane, he said, wrote on the rock that nobody, 
and especially Russians, should pass that way without his 
permission, and that they should not build a railway through 
the gorge under any circumstances; but the railway was 
built just the same, and the Czar now rules in this country, 
and he threw up his hands with an expression of defiance 
against the rest of the world and their armies. 

The gorge of Jilanuti is very much like the royal gorge of 
the Arkansas in Colorado, although it is a little wider. The 
walls rise a thousand feet or more on either side. The 
Jizak goes roaring through in triumph on its way to water 
the oasis of Samarkand, and it does good work when it gets 
beyond the mountain. 

On both sides of the pass for a distance of two hundred 
miles are ranges covered with cattle, goats, sheep, horses, and 
camels. It takes some time to become accustomed to black 
sheep, which, as you know, have disreputable associations, 
but out there you see nothing else, and, strange to say, black 
lambs are more valuable than white ones and are even worth 
more than sheep, because their skins, covered with fine curly 


hair, with a lustre like polished ebony, are needed for 
miladi's wraps. The ranchmen are compelled to keep a 
certain number of lambs every year, of course, or their 
flocks would become exterminated, but most of the annual 
crop are sold for their skins when they are only a few months 
old. The meat is practically worthless. 

At the station called Chernyaevo, which is 1,064 miles 
from Krasnovodsk on the Caspian Sea, the Central Asia 
Railway divides. One branch runs north to Tashkend 
and then on about 1,200 miles through the desert of Kizil- 
Kum, along the valley of the Syr Daria and the eastern 
shore of the Aral Sea, to the city of Orenberg and a junction 
with the Great Siberian Railway. Through sleeping cars 
run daily from Andijan to Moscow over this line, and the 
journey is made in five days. It is possible, therefore, 
to make a circular trip from the Black Sea, across the Cau- 
casus, then across the Caspian Sea to Krasnovodsk, and 
from that point by railway to Moscow, St. Petersburg, 
Berlin, and Paris, the entire distance to the English Channel 
being about 5,000 miles by rail. 

Another branch has been surveyed from Tashkend 
northeastward, parallel with the Chinese boundary, to a 
junction with the Great Siberian Railway at Omsk. It 
follows the valley of the Kuragati River and then that of 
the River Chu, skirting the foot-hills of the Alexandrian 
Mountains south of Lake Balkhash. Sometime this road 
will be built, which will considerably shorten the journey 
from southern Europe and Constantinople to China, Man- 
churia, and Japan. 

Sooner or later, also, there will be a through line from the 
Caspian Sea to India. The gap which remains between 


Kushk, the terminus of a branch of the Central Asia Rail- 
way running south from Merv, and the borders of Afghan- 
istan, is comparatively short, and a route has already been 
surveyed by M. Lessar, a Russian engineer, up to the very 
walls of Herat and Kandahar, and almost to the boundary 
of Baluchistan, the westerly province of India. 

The distance from Kushk to Herat is only eighty-two 
miles, and from Herat to Kandahar 398 miles, making the 
total distance between the eastern terminus of the Russian 
railway system in Turkestan to the western terminus of 
the British railway system in India only 471 miles. M. 
Lessar reports that there are no engineering difficulties in 
the way. The route he selected follows the banks of streams 
and requires very little blasting, few bridges and tunnels, 
and the construction will not be more expensive than that 
of the Central Asia Railway in Turkestan. When that 
line is built, if ever, one can travel from the Caspian Sea to 
Calcutta in about six days, and the journey from London 
to Calcutta by rail need not be more than ten or twelve days. 

There is another line in contemplation, and perhaps 
someday, it may be built, across the extreme northern bor- 
ders of Afghanistan along the valley of the Amu Daria or 
Oxus River into northern India via Kabul and the Khyber 
Pass, to join the railway system of India at Peshawur. That 
line, however, will have to overcome two ranges of moun- 
tains with heavy grades, and the construction would be 
much more expensive and difficult than that of the lower 

The greatest obstacle and one that now seems insur- 
mountable, is the opposition of the British government 
to any scheme that will bring Afghanistan into closer rela- 


tions with Russia or make its cities more easy of access 
for commerce or for war. The Russian outposts, all strongly 
fortified, are now only fifty-five miles as the crow flies 
from Herat, while the British outposts are 460 miles distant. 
Herat is the most important city of Afghanistan except 
Kandahar, and Kabul, the capital. 

In the event of war between England and Russia the latter 
would of course naturally strike immediately at India, the 
most sensitive spot in the British Empire, with two lines 
of advance — first, from Merv via Kushk across to Herat; 
and, second, from Samarkand and Tashkend via the Oxus 
upon Kabul. Russia could reach both of these places in 
10 or 15 per cent of the time that the British army would 
require to come from India. The Czar has 125,000 fighting 
men under arms in Turkestan to-day, while most peaceful 
relations are existing. With two lines of railway, one to 
Moscow and the other to the Caucasus, he could send a 
million troops without interruption, while Great Britain 
would be compelled to ship all of her re-enforcements and 
all of her supplies to India by steamer through the Strait 
of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal. 

It will thus be seen that Russia enjoys an incalculable 
advantage if hostilities ever occur, and she would have 
an equal advantage in commerce if her system of railways in 
Turkestan were ever united with the British system in India. 

Afghanistan has long been regarded as the private preserve 
of English manufacturers, who distribute their goods by 
means of native caravans through Khyber Pass, which is 
the terminus of the railway system of India. Since the 
Trans-Caspian Railway has been built, the manufacturers 
of Moscow, through the merchants of Bokhara, Samarkand, 


Merv, Kokand, and other cities, have been building up an 
extensive and valuable interchange of merchandise with the 
Afghans. Russia has thus been provided with a new and 
profitable market for her merchandise. The merchants of 
Bokhara and the other cities fully realize their advantages, 
and the trade has affected the political relations in a quiet 
but influential manner. The Russians are sending cotton 
sheeting and prints, woollen fabrics, sugar, hardware, drugs, 
matches, and every other sort of merchandise into Afghan- 
istan in exchange for wool, skins, indigo, medicinal plants, 
tea, and other natural products of India. The cotton- 
goods trade alone, which is growing more rapidly than any 
other, is a serious matter for England just now, and the 
falling off of the imports of that character into Afghanistan 
from British sources corresponds in a significant manner 
with the increase of the Russian exports. The factories 
of Moscow can sell plain and printed cotton goods cheaper 
than those of Manchester, and if a trade war should take 
place the Russians would have every advantage. In fact, 
British merchandise is being gradually pushed out of Afghan- 
istan, while Russian goods are taking its place. 

The exports from Turkestan, caravan borne between 
Bokhara and Afghanistan, have increased 400 per cent 
within the last ten years, and if the figures could be obtained 
from other shipping points, I am told that similar increases 
would be shown. You will therefore appreciate the signifi- 
cance of the situation, commercially as well as politically 
to Great Britain. The aggressive policy of the Russians 
in Turkestan threatens her commercial prosperity in the 
East and her most valuable colonial possessions in war. 

The anxiety with which every movement on the part 


of the Russians is regarded in India has long been the source 
of amusement and ridicule by outsiders, but although the 
advantages are entirely on the Russian side, her officials 
in Turkestan seem to be quite as apprehensive. Every 
Englishman who appears in that vicinity is regarded with 
suspicion and is watched with greatest vigilance until he 
leaves the country. And if you can manage to get into 
confidential relations with a .Russian official he will tell 
you in whispers that the government has indisputable 
evidence that the British Foreign Office in London is receiv- 
ing regular and voluminous reports from Armenian spies 
in every city of Turkestan. What these imaginary reports 
contain it is impossible to say, for there is nothing, so far 
as I could discover, that the Russians should object to the 
whole world knowing, and if England is employing Armenians 
as spies in Turkestan she is wasting the money she pays them. 
Charjui, another typical Russian town, about halfway 
between Merv and Bokhara, is of importance because it is 
the only station of the Central Asia Railway upon the Amu 
Daria, or Oxus, River. It irrigates a vast area of desert 
for more than 900 miles, including the oasis of Khiva, which 
is one of the most important in Turkestan and one of the 
oldest human settlements on the globe. The Amu Daria, 
which Lord Curzon rhapsodizes about in his book on Cen- 
tral Asia, is navigable for stern-wheel flatboats, like those 
on the Ohio River and other tributaries of the Mississippi, 
and they carry a good deal of cotton and other freight 
from Khiva to Charjui during the season of high water, 
but are compelled to lay up a large part of the year because 
of sand bars, which check navigation. At Charjui the prod- 
ucts find a way to market over the railroad. 


The Amu Daria is the largest river in Asia and the most 
important for these reasons in Turkestan. In addition to 
the irrigating systems which it supplies, a large quantity 
of water is shipped by train to desert points along the 
railway, both east and west, and at the western end of a 
long bridge that carries the railway tracks is a pumping 
station, where the tank cars are filled. 

It is the most important bridge in Asia, about 5,000 
feet long and built of iron, and there is a story connected 
with it that sounds like a miracle to those who are familiar 
with Russian official morals and methods. A certain 
gentleman, whose name, unfortunately, I have not been 
able to obtain, was awarded a contract for building this 
bridge for 6,000,000 rubles by the Ministry of War at St. 
Petersburg. At the end of the second year after the con- 
tract was let the work was completed, inspected, accepted, 
and paid for in full, whereupon the contractor returned a 
check for 3,000,000 rubles to the Minister of War with an 
explanation that the bridge had cost less than half the 
contract price because of miscalculations, and he, therefore, 
could not accept the money. You can imagine the sensation 
that such an unprecedented act caused, but the government 
promptly recognized the honesty of the contractor as 
fully as possible. He was decorated with the Order of 
St. George; he was granted a certificate of honour, pre- 
sented with a handsome residence in the city of St. 
Petersburg, and an imperial edict was issued exempting 
him and the head of his family from taxation forever. The 
offence has never been repeated, and many people believe 
that the contractor was insane, but so far as I know he lived 
happily ever afterward and the Lord prospered him. 


Charjui is the central and the largest market for that soft, 
glossy, black curly fur now so fashionable and known as 
Persian lamb-skin. The skins come from the flocks of the 
Tekkes, the Kirghiz, and other tribes of Turkomans which 
range upon the deserts of Khiva, Kizil-Kum, and Kara- 
Kum, as far east as the mountains of China and as far 
north as the Aral Sea. The lambs are killed when they 
are about six months old, being bred entirely for the skins, 
which are in great demand in all parts of the Western 
world for dress trimmings, ladies' wraps, muffs, and 
collars, and in Persia and certain parts of Turkestan for 
hats. They cost in the Charjui market from five to twenty 
rubles a skin (a ruble being worth fifty cents in our 
money), and are sold in packages of one dozen. 

The farmers bring them in and the commission merchants 
in the several cities have agents canvassing the villages 
and kibitkas of the Turkomans, buying them for cash. 
After they are brought in they are assorted, classified, put 
in packages, and sold at an exchange very much like the 
Board of Trade in Chicago or Produce Exchange in New 
York, or similar organizations, the price being regulated 
by the demand and the supply, as is the case with every 
other commodity. Just now prices are very high, because 
Persian lamb is in fashion throughout the world, especially 
in England and America. The younger the lamb the finer 
the fur and the higher the price, although the wastage is 
greater than in older skins. It takes from twenty to 
twenty-five lamb-skins to make one of the long cloaks that 
ladies wear. An ordinary muff of the fashionable size 
requires three or four skins and a Persian fez requires an 
entire skin. 


The market is held in a large khan; that is, an open 
courtyard, surrounded by two-story buildings , usually with one 
entrance. The ground floor is occupied as warehouses for 
the storage of skins, the upper floor is used for the offices 
of the commission men, and during the greater part of the 
day the dealers sit around cross legged at their thresholds 
with bunches of skins stacked up around them waiting for 
customers. Trading in lamb-skins is conducted very much 
like that in every other sort of produce. The buyers take 
advantage of an abundance of skins and the sellers of a 
scarcity, to manipulate prices. 

The buyers ship to Germany, England, and France, 
and all the big fur houses of London, Geneva, Moscow, and 
other European cities have resident agents there. The 
trade has grown in importance very rapidly during the last 
few years. 

Charjui has a native governor, and a system of local 
self-government which is entirely in the hands of the natives, 
and it seems to work very well, although the Russian 
authorities keep a sharp lookout for any lapses in loyalty 
and sand bars in the political sea. There seems to be perfect 
peace, however, and a good understanding between the 
conquerers and the conquered. Russia has certainly set 
a good example for England to follow in her treatment 
of the natives of India, particularly in giving them as little 
government as possible and limiting the exercise of Russian 
authority to a minimum. 

The Aral Sea is a curious body of water about 270 miles long 
and 160 miles wide, and very shallow, while the surrounding 
country is a flat, desolate, and lifeless desert. The deepest 
spot is 240 feet, but along the eastern and southern shores 


the water is so shallow as to prohibit the use of boats, and 
sometimes when the wind is strong it will blow the sea 
away and leave the bottom uncovered as far as the eye can 
reach. There are no harbours, and because of the difficulty 
of reaching the shore the sea is practically useless for navi- 
gation. In two or three places at the northern and narrower 
end, docks have been built a mile or more from the bank 
to points where the water is deep enough to load and unload 
a vessel, but three-fourths of the entire shore line is useless 
for docking purposes, because the water will not be more than 
a few inches, or perhaps a foot or two, deep several miles 
from the beach. 

The level of the Aral Sea is 170 feet above that of the 
Caspian and thirty -three feet above that of the Mediterra- 
nean and the Atlantic Ocean. There is no outlet, but the 
inflow of fresh water from the two great rivers, the Amu 
Daria and the Syr Daria, is lapped up by the sun as fast as 
it comes. The evaporation is much greater in shallow 
than in deep water, and probably no other body of water 
of equal area has less depth. 

There is very little salt in the analysis of the water of the 
Aral Sea, but it contains a great deal of soda, magnesia, 
potassium, and sulphate of lime. To the taste the water is 
only brackish, and horses and cattle will drink it. It 
was formerly a part of the Caspian, and it is now only a 
little below the level of the desert that surrounds it. Its 
waters formerly found their way into the Arctic Ocean 
and a slight amount of excavation would reopen the old 
channel. There is one town on the Aral Sea and that is 
a station on the railway which connects the Central Asia 
and the Great Siberian roads, running north and south 


through the desert of Kizil-Kum. The track skirts the 
eastern shores for forty or fifty miles and a station named 
Kasalinsk handles whatever freight comes off that body of 

In the neighbourhood of Charjui, and within sight from 
the railway track between that city and Merv, are many 
ruins; vast areas of roofless mud walls, which represent 
more or less the ravages of war, but are not altogether due 
to that cause. Some of the towns were voluntarily abandoned 
by their former residents because of the lack of water. 
Several have been shaken down by earthquakes and in some 
cases the inhabitants have removed en masse to more con- 
venient points along the railway. It doesn't cost much to 
build a mud house. There is plenty of material within 
reach of the poorest comer and a new town can be erected 
about as easily as an old one can be repaired. Hence 
the Turkomans, who love excitement and have strong 
social inclinations, have seldom been unwilling to pick up 
their lares and penates and build a new lot of mud cabins 
beside the railway track, just to be near the centre of things 
and enjoy the excitement of seeing the trains go by. They 
are a migratory race by nature and two-thirds of the popu- 
lation still live in kibitkas, the round tents peculiar to Tur- 
kestan, but similar to the tepees of the North American 

The walls and roofs of kibitkas are made of braided wil- 
lows and are covered with felt. A curtain of felt, made in 
their own tents, serves for a door. The interior is carpeted 
and sometimes hung with rugs, according to the wealth of 
the occupant. Sometimes we found very valuable rugs 
upon the floors of kibitkas. The walls are also hung with 


saddlebags, riding cloaks, embroideries, and other ornaments, 
and the floor is covered with cushions, pillows, and blankets. 
There may be chests filled with silks, embroideries, and orna- 
ments for the women of the family, who wear coins sewed 
upon their caps, upon the breasts of their blouses, their 
girdles, and other outer garments, and have additional 
evidences of wealth in the form of bracelets, necklaces, and 
anklets of heavy silver rudely worked. The favourite wife 
of a Turkoman chieftain will carry a load of several pounds 
of silver ornaments, and without complaining wear a neck- 
lace as heavy as the collar of a mastiff. 

Although a portion of the native population is settled 
in fixed villages and cultivates the ground, the majority 
still live like the Bedouins of Arabia, and from the car 
windows we could see them on horseback and on camels, 
and they are always standing around the stations waiting 
for the train to come. The men have a dignified and stately 
bearing and serious, thoughtful faces which do not conform 
to the gay colours they wear upon their backs. They are 
crazy to travel. They are never weary of the motion of the 
cars, and the third-class carriages of the train are always 
crowded with them. The first-class passengers are nearly 
all army officers, and most of the second-class also, but they 
seem to be of lesser rank. 

As the train approaches Bokhara the landscape brightens 
again, and far away across the barren tableland, which has 
been lifted above the surrounding country, you can see 
evidences of verdure ten or twelve miles before the bounda- 
ries of the oasis are reached. Then you first come to culti- 
vated areas surrounded by mud walls six and eight feet high, 
with the boughs of fruit trees hanging over them and poplars 


standing in low rows like sentinels to guard them on either 
side. These enclosures are the country seats of the rich 
men of Bokhara, who are compelled to protect their 
gardens and their fruit in this way from the wandering 
tribesmen of the desert and the followers of the caravans 
that even now are continually crossing the sandy wastes. 
As long ago as the tenth century an Arab traveller wrote 
a description of this country in which he described the 
suburbs of Bokhara as the most beautiful scenes on earth, 
and declared that he never again hoped to see anything so 
lovely as where the green of the earth and the azure of 
the heavens were united among the villas of that noble city. 


EVERYBODY has heard of Bokhara, because of its 
rugs, if for no other reason, and it is usually conceded 
to be the most interesting town in Turkestan, although there 
is room for a difference of opinion, so far as Samarkand is 
concerned. The two cities, however, are very much unlike, 
as different as San Francisco and Boston, although there 
is nothing in either of them, except the traditions of culture, 
that would resemble Boston, and nothing but their total 
depravity that would resemble San Francisco. As one star 
differs from another star in glory, so Bokhara and Samarkand 
each has its strong points of individuality, its history and 
traditions, its romances, tragedies, growth and decay. The 
ancients called Samarkand "the Queen of Asia," and Bok- 
hara "the Noble, the Sublime." But if anybody should 
start out to search for the sublime in Bokhara to-day he 
would become more and more disheartened as he proceeded. 
It is in all respects the most antiquated, the most depraved, 
the ugliest, and the least progressive city in Turkestan, 
although there are fascinations in such places that more 
enterprising and attractive cities do not possess. 

Bokhara differs from other cities of Central Asia also 
because it is nominally independent of Russian authority. 
All the other cities and provinces are a part of the Russian 
Empire, governed by a viceroy of the Czar from Tashkend. 



Bokhara is entirely surrounded by them, but its territory, 
about one hundred and fifty miles by three hundred miles 
in extent, is the only independent province between the 
Caspian Sea and the Chinese border and between the 
mountains of Persia, Afghanistan, and India, and the Arctic 
Ocean. This happens to be so because the emir was either 
too cowardly or too indolent or too wise to resist the Russian 
invasion. When Samarkand, Khiva, Merv, and the other 
provinces were fighting for their political lives, Bokhara 
lay down in the road and appealed for the Great Bear's pro- 
tection. Therefore its independence was not disturbed, 
and, with the consent of Russia, it continues to be an inde- 
pendent khanate, governed by a khan or emir of autocratic 
powers, who collects the taxes, directs the expenditure of 
the funds, appoints the officials and the courts, and performs 
executive, legislative, and judicial functions through subor- 
dinates, who are responsible to him alone. The khanate is 
a petty autocracy, subject to Russian approval, divided into 
districts governed by officials called begs, who exercise similar 
authority to the satraps of ancient Persia. They are auto- 
cratic in their way and responsible only to the emir, who 
appoints, removes, or punishes them at will; and they in 
turn have the authority to put to death any person who 
offends them, or to deprive him of his property or his liberty. 
The late Emir Mozaffur-ed-din died in 1885, a drunken 
debauchee, leaving five sons. Before his death he asked 
the Russian authorities to recognize his fourth son, Sayid 
Abdul Ahad, as his successor. Although he was the child of 
a slave, the young man was his father's favourite, and was 
sent to St. Petersburg to be educated. At the time of his 
father's death Abdul, a mere boy, was the beg, or governor, 


of Kermineh, where the emir's country palace is located, 
and the situation was concealed for twelve hours until he 
could be brought to Bokhara. Under the protection of 
General Annenkoff, commander of the Russian forces, he 
was able to assume power without objection. The eldest 
brother, Melik, who had rebelled against his father and 
had fled to India, remained there until his death. Another 
older brother was continued as beg of Hissar for some 
time, but was afterwards accused of contemplating rebel- 
lion and was quietly "removed." A third brother was 
sent to prison upon some pretext and died within the 

Sayid Abdul Ahad was twenty-one years old when he 
became emir, and for twenty-five years he has done very 
little that is either good or bad, but has been a sort of 
gilded marionette in the hands of his Russian adviser. 
He has spent his time in indolence and luxury, with a 
good cook and a large harem, a well-supplied wine cellar 
at a country villa at Kermineh, seventy miles from Bokhara, 
at a winter villa at Yalta, the Russian Newport, on the 
coast of the Crimea, and at a country place a few miles 
from that delightful resort.* 

The railway station of Bokhara was placed nine miles 
from that city and given a different name out of politeness 
to the emir, whose pride the Russian government and its 
agents endeavoured to protect in every possible way. His 
Highness, to all intents and purposes, is entirely independent, 
and the Russian agent at Kagan is instructed not to interfere 
with him in any manner unless it is necessary to maintain 

♦Sayid Abdul Ahad, emir of Bokhara, died on the 5th day of January, 1911, and was 
succeeded on the throne by his son, Sayid Mir Mm Khan. 


the statu quo. He will not give permits to enter the ark, 
or citadel, in which the emir has his palace in Bokhara, for 
example, but gives his card with a few words of introduction 
and commendation to the officer in charge, which, of course, 
answers every purpose. 

The relations between Russia and Bokhara are defined 
by two treaties concluded in 1868 and 1873 between General 
Kaufmann, commander-in-chief of the Russian forces, and 
the first victor of Turkestan, on behalf of the imperial govern- 
ment, and the late Emir Mozaffur-ed-din. These treaties 
place Bokhara in a position of qualified independence under 
the protection of the Russian government, but prohibit 
the emir from communicating with any other government 
except through the Russian agent, and surrenders the water- 
way of the Oxus and certain strategic positions to Russia. 
It is not only a safe but an economical arrangement, be- 
cause Russia is relieved of the trouble and expense of main- 
taining the government and possesses every advantage, 
although the people are very restless and rebellion is im- 
minent at any time. They realize that the inhabitants of 
Samarkand, Tashkend, and other neighbourhood khanates 
are a great deal better off under the broad, tolerant policy 
of Russia than they are under the non-progressive, narrow, 
and corrupt rule of the native khans. 

The emir allows his begs to do pretty much as they please 
with their subjects, provided each of them supplies him with 
a stated amount of revenue. The system of taxation is 
very severe and exacts from the farmers at least one-third 
and often more of their crops and from other people a 
corresponding share of their incomes. The begs must 
collect enough taxes in addition to satisfy their own avarice 


and maintain their local governments. They furnish so 
many soldiers to a useless army and equip them. It is a 
sort of a militia, which is to be called out when needed, and 
is organized under the direction of the Russian inspectors 
and drillmasters. The emir has a bodyguard composed of 
ruffians modelled after the Cossacks. They are the terror 
of the country because they can do no wrong. They rob 
and kill without interference, and so long as they do not 
strike the wrong man they are not even reprimanded. 

The emir has a cabinet of seven or eight ministers, who 
have charge of the various branches of administration, and 
are assisted by many officials, great and small, usually 
poor relations and proteges, who have difficulty in finding 
anything to do. The actual head of the government, or 
prime minister, is called the kush-beg; the minister of 
finance is the divan-beg and the minister of the interior is 
the oolah-beg. The latter has immediate control of the 
local governments throughout the khanate, and is thus able 
to come more closely in touch with the population than any 
other minister. These are the only important officials, and 
they are under the supervision of a Russian resident called 
an "agent," who lives at Kagan, the railway station nine 
miles from the city of Bokhara, and keeps in the background 
as much as possible. 

The palace of the emir, the residence of the prime minister, 
the offices of the various other departments of the govern- 
ment, the headquarters of the army, and the prison are 
located in the centre of the city of Bokhara and are protected 
by a high wall pierced by a single gate. This citadel is called 
the "Ark," the palace is called the "Khele-Sarai," and the 
throne of the emir is called the "Koktash." 


The cities, villages, and towns are governed by an "ak- 
sakal" (literally, a gray beard), who corresponds to the 
elder of the Russian mir, or the mayor of our towns. He 
is elected by the people for a term of three years and has 
autocratic powers, so far as the beg will permit. Every 
fifty householders elect an ellik-bashi (literally, a head of 
fifty). They compose a board of aldermen or a common 
council, and perform similar functions to those bodies in the 
United States, subject always to the approval of the beg. 
Thus there is, at the bottom, a foundation of representative 
government, even among the Bokharoits. 

The railway station of Bokhara is called Kagan, and is 
nine miles from the ancient city. It consists of a group of 
one-story buildings, fronting wide streets, which are not 
so well paved nor so well shaded as those of other Russian 
settlements in Turkestan. The residences, as in other 
Russian settlements, are protected by high walls surrounded 
by gardens and shaded with fine trees. In the centre of the 
town is a large parade ground upon which most of the shops 
and business houses are situated. There are several manu- 
factories around the railway station, which have tall chim- 
neys that shed a good deal of smoke. There is a little 
branch railway from Kagan to Bokhara, and there are four 
trains each way daily, which make the trip in about twenty 
minutes, but it is more interesting to go by carriage, a dis- 
tance of nine miles and a two hours' drive. The landscape 
is not nearly so attractive as that around Samarkand. It 
seems lifeless and exhausted, and the villas are not so com- 
fortable or prosperous looking. Perhaps the summer heat 
may have something to do with appearances, for the rays 
of the sun are so fierce that all nature seems to fear them. 


The earth becomes so thirsty that wide cracks open in the 
soil, like chaps on the lips of a man in the desert. We were 
glad that we came so early, but we should have come earlier. 
I cannot recommend anyone to visit that country, because 
of certain embarrassments and difficulties imposed by the 
Russian police, but whoever insists upon facing them should 
go in March, and certainly not later than the middle of May. 

Just beyond the railway station at Kagan is a large yellow 
building with numerous windows and balconies, cupolas 
and pinnacles. It is covered with wooden gingerbread 
work, and looks as if it were intended for exposition purposes. 
It resembles the pavilions that are often built on fair grounds. 
Such fantastic Oriental designs are considered attractive by 
some people. This particular building stands about 100 
yards back from the highway, in the midst of large grounds, 
which are protected by a fine iron fence, in much better taste 
than the building. Splendid iron gates are mounted in a 
stately portal, but they are locked; the building is vacant, 
abandoned, and evidently left to decay. The paint has 
peeled off in places, several windows are broken, some of the 
cupolas have fallen in and herds of sheep are grazing in 
the grounds. This building was erected for some fanciful 
reason by the emir of Bokhara when the railway first came 
so that he might be near the Russian settlement and the 
station, but he did not occupy it long and it has been 
deserted for several years. 

The fields on both sides of the highway are well cultivated 
and are open nearly all the way. You catch glimpses of 
several villas, surrounded by orchards and gardens, half 
hidden behind high walls, and two or three villages where 
the farmers live who till the ground. We passed an exten- 


sive cemetery, with curious-looking tombstones, and several 
ruined habitations, whose mud walls are slowly crumbling 
away; and we met many travellers of various conditions 
of life in odd-looking vehicles, on their way from the city to 
the station or to their homes. Nearly every horseman 
carried a rifle across the pommel of his saddle, which is an 
evil omen, because such things are not used for ornament. 

Finally we came to the gate of Bokhara and saw the high 
mud wall which has separated that city from the outer 
world for twenty centuries. Samarkand has had a checkered 
existence. Its population has been more than 1,000,000, 
some writers say 2,000,000, at different periods of its 
history; and it now has about 180,000. There have been 
several cities of the same name upon the same site, or in that 
immediate neighbourhood, and for several miles in every 
direction the earth is covered with ruins. But Bokhara 
has had no such experience. Its population has never been 
greater than now, and numbers about 200,000. The same 
walls have encircled it for one, or perhaps two, thousand 
years and the generations of men who have lived and 
laboured and died during those centuries have passed in 
and out through four gates, which still exist and serve the 
same purpose, protected by queer old towers with mud 
walls seven or eight feet thick. 

The gates are guarded and the towers are garrisoned by 
fierce-looking soldiers, wearing a uniform similar to that of 
the Cossacks of the Don, and they are under the command 
of Cossack officers, detailed by the Russian governor-general 
of Turkestan. The towers look formidable, but modern 
artillery would knock them into smithereens in five minutes. 
The gates are monumental, made of enormous planks of 


oak, covered with wrought-iron ornaments and studded 
with enormous nails. There isn't much ceremony when an 
ordinary tourist in a carriage wishes to pass, but a tax 
collector is always present to exact a farthing or two from 
every farmer who brings in a chicken or a dozen eggs or a 
basket of vegetables, and he cannot reach the market with 
his produce unless he pays. There are continuous lamenta- 
tions because of this oppression, but the emir cannot hear 
them; he is too far away, and if he were in Bokhara his 
ears would be stuffed with troubles by the contractors 
who are collecting the revenues of the government for a 

"Bokhara the Noble" is a great disappointment. Senti- 
mental readers of its romances should stay away. With the 
exception of the mosques and meddresses, it is nearly all mud, 
without a single attractive feature, and very different from 
Tashkend, Samarkand, Kokand, and other cities under Rus- 
sian jurisdiction. The streets are shut in between high 
walls and the roadways have been worn down by the travel 
of ages until they have become troughs, which are growing 
deeper all the time, because the hoofs of animals and the 
sandals of men continue to wear out the soil, which pul- 
verizes and blows away. Few of the houses have windows 
on the streets. They are all protected by thick dead walls, 
and are reached through gateways closed by solid doors. 
When the gates are open you often catch a glimpse of the 
interiors, but they are uninteresting, merely more mud 
buildings, with flat roofs thatched with straw, and a good 
deal of rubbish lying about. The family lives somewhere 
back in the courtyard, but the women are never visible; 
naked children play about in the dust; there are no gardens 


or flowering plants or shrubbery, or similar decorations, 
which make other Turkestan cities so delightful, and the 
people have no inducement to sing "Home, Sweet Home." 

Even the ruins are a disappointment. It is difficult to 
work up any enthusiasm over shapeless heaps of mud, no 
matter what their historical associations may have been. 
There is no marble, no stone work, no architecture except 
half-ruined mosques and meddresses of brick, which were 
formerly veneered with tiles. Even the palace of the emir, 
which has been the scene of untold misery, cruelty, and 
crime, is built of mud, and so are the official edifices which 
surround it. The only architectural effects Bokhara could 
ever boast of are the blue and white tiles that are stuck upon 
the walls to hide their ugliness, and the owners of the build- 
ings that were so ornamented have evidently never attempted 
to keep them in repair, or to preserve them when they have 
commenced to decay. 

The streets are always crooked, none are straight; and 
as all mud walls look alike, it's a good deal of a puzzle 
for a stranger to find his way through the labyrinth. The 
widest of them is scarcely wide enough to let two wagons 
pass, and the hubs of the wheels have ground deep grooves 
on both sides almost the entire length of every street 
throughout the city. 

There are no parks or playgrounds, and nothing. attrac- 
tive or artistic or even picturesque. The only foliage to 
be seen is that of a few trees which overhang filthy, stag- 
nant pools of water used for drinking, washing clothing, 
and for promiscuous bathing. You often see people bathing 
and washing their feet or their garments, and filling jugs and 
jars and buckets for drinking purposes at the same time. 


The water is always covered by a yellowish green scum, and 
is alive with germs of loathsome diseases, including one 
which has attracted the interest of medical science through- 
out the world. A microbe called the "Reshta," or guinea- 
worm, often lodges somewhere in the veins and produces a 
worm two or three feet long, which has the appearance of a 
string of vermicelli. It must be removed entire with a 
knife, because if a particle is left, blood poisoning is sure to 
follow. The operation, which is usually performed by bar- 
bers, is not difficult or dangerous, but is fatal unless it is 
complete. The disease is very common in Bokhara. In- 
deed, it has been asserted that every fifth person is carrying 
one of these worms around with him, and they were described 
by Sir Anthony Jenkinson, of London, who visited Bokhara 
as an envoy from Queen Elizabeth three hundred years 
ago. It is believed that the disease could be eradicated if 
the people were furnished with a pure water supply and were 
prevented from drinking from these filthy pools. 

There is a restaurant and hotel of rather a primitive sort, 
called the "Aim-Sarai," on the top of a house, or rather 
a combination of houses, kept by Mrs. Kibabidge, a Russian 
widow, who does her best to reach the unattainable. It 
isn't a bad place. It has several good rooms, but you would 
not choose it if more comfortable accommodations could 
be had. Its patrons are chiefly Russian and Jewish drum- 
mers, rug and fur buyers, who come here regularly as 
representatives of big houses in Moscow, Constantinople, 
Berlin, London, and Paris, to purchase Persian lamb-skins, 
carpets, and wool, and they do a very large business. 

The Bokharoits are handsome men as a rule, dignified 
and graceful in their movements. They all wear beards, 


and their dark Oriental features and flashing black eyes are 
intensified by their white turbans, and long robes of the 
most brilliant colours you can imagine. Every citizen is 
an animated rainbow and the greater variety of colours 
he can get in his coat the more attractive it is 'to him. 

We didn't see much of the women. They never ap- 
pear. Bokhara is one of the most fanatical Mohammedan 
towns in all the Islam world, and the seclusion of women is 
the first article in their creed. Hence a stranger never has 
an opportunity of seeing their wives and daughters, no 
matter how intimate he may become with his friends. 

The children are especially attractive; they are always 
neatly dressed and always well cared for. You never see 
a child with dirty face or hands and the parents take a 
great deal of pride in dressing them. They wear little 
gowns of the same pattern and material as their fathers 
and imitate them in demeanour as well as in dress. 

Bokhara and every other town in the khanate of Bokhara 
has its regular police, with a kur-bashi, or chief, who is 
responsible to the Russian commander of the gendarmes. 
They are dressed in military uniform and organized on a 
military basis and perform the ordinary police duties. In 
addition there are night watchmen, who go about the 
streets beating small drums in order that offenders may 
know where they are and keep out of their way. They 
are like the "Serenos" in the old-fashioned towns of Spain 
who strike the pavement with heavy iron-shod staves as 
they tramp their beats, so as to cause terror in the hearts 
of evil-doers. In Salamanca, Valladolid, and other ancient 
cities of Spain you can hear them crying in the night: 

"Sereno! Sereno! It's midnight and all's well!" In 


Bokhara the watchmen have a similar cry, a sort of pro- 
longed wail, beginning at a high key and gradually going 
down the scale until it ends in a sort of low moan, but I 
could not get a translation of it. 

When the gates of Bokhara are closed at sunset the keys 
are deposited with the chief of police and are called for by 
the captain of the guard at sunrise in the morning. When 
the latter is late, as is frequently the case, there is a crowd 
of clamouring market women and hucksters on the outside 
waiting for him, and as soon as the gates are open the col- 
lectors of taxes take their places and demand octroi on 
every article of produce that is brought in for sale. 

Bokhara is a very orderly place, however. There is no 
drunkenness, because the Koran prohibits the use of wine 
or liquors or alcohol of any kind, and the people are gen- 
erally peaceful and orderly. Disorderly conduct is very 
rare and burglars are unknown. Turkestan is a prohibition 
country throughout, so far as the natives are concerned. 
Military officers, first and second class passengers on the 
railway, and other members of high society can obtain 
wines, brandy, vodka, and every other kind of drink at the 
clubs, railway restaurants, hotels, and other places, and 
drunkenness among that grade of people is common. Every 
day we were on the railroad the dining cars were crowded 
with army officers drinking around the tables from morning 
till night, and the mountain of bottles in the steward's 
closet gave an idea of the amount of liquor consumed. The 
lonesome life, the isolation, the absence of restraint, and 
the other causes and excuses for intemperance in far-off 
countries apply to Turkestan as they do to the Philippines 
and Alaska, but the natives are not allowed to have liquor. 


The Russian government has treated its conquered tribes 
with a great deal more consideration for their health and 
moral welfare than the government of the United States 
has given to the Indians. The penalty for selling or giving 
liquor to a native is 500 rubles fine for the first offence, 
imprisonment for one year for the second offence, and for 
five years for each subsequent offence. The license to sell 
is forever forfeited on the first offence. This law is strictly 
enforced, and in that way the natives have been protected 
from a debasing vice which the Koran forbids. 

Bokhara has been " dry " for more than four hundred 
years. Master Anthony Jenkinson, the envoy of Queen 
Elizabeth, in his account of his visit to Bokhara in the 
sixteenth century, says: 

"It is forbidden at Boghar to drinke any other thing 
than water and mare's milke; and whosoever is found to 
breake the law is whipped and beaten most cruelly in the 
open markets. And there are officers appointed for the 
same who have authoritie to goe into any man's house to 
search if he have either aquavitae, wine or brage, and, 
finding the same, doe breake the vessels, spoil the drinke 
and punish the masters of the house most cruelly; yea, 
and many times if they perceive by the breath of a man 
that he hath drunken, without further examination he 
shall not escape punishment from their hands." 

In the centre of the city, on the summit of an artificial 
mound about three hundred feet high and a mile or more in 
circumference, is a citadel called "the Ark, "within which are 
the palace of the emir, the treasury, and other departments of 
the government and the prison. Similar enclosures are 
found in nearly all the Oriental capitals, like the "Forbidden 


City" of Peking and the Kremlin of Moscow, and they are 
intended for the protection of unpopular rulers against 
the wrath of their subjects. Most of them are needed. 

The Ark of Bokhara was built in the twelfth century by 
Alp Arslan, a khan who reigned at that date near Khiva, 
and whose tomb was described in Chapter VI. The Ark 
is surrounded by a high, crenelated, mud wall, twenty feet 
thick, and has only one entrance, which is approached by 
a broad stairway from the righistan or market place, and is 
guarded by two round towers, pierced with rifle holes. On 
either side of the entrance are guardhouses occupied by 
soldiers, and within the gates, under the archway, is a plat- 
form where the kush-beg, or prime minister, sits as the 
vicar of his sovereign for two hours every morning to hear 
complaints and receive petitions from the people. This 
official can delegate the duty to one of his subordinates with 
the consent of his sovereign, but such an evasion would 
make him very unpopular and result in his downfall if it 
occurred often. Although it is a cruel, corrupt, and anti- 
quated government, the public have a reverence for this 
ancient custom, which is common in the East, and they 
are not satisfied unless they have a hearing from the head 
of the administration. In the Old Testament we read about 
Daniel and other prime ministers "sitting in the gate of 
the king." 

Over the gate to the Ark is a large clock that has a tragic 
history. It is the only modern thing about the place. 
In the early '-40's a Russian nobleman living at Orenberg, 
Siberia, and the richest man in all that country, was in the 
habit of kidnapping men and women and selling them as 
slaves in Samarkand, Bokhara, Khiva, and other cities of 


Turkestan. Among his victims was a wandering Italian 
named Giovanni Orlandi, of Parma, who made friends with 
his master, Nasrullah, at that time the emir of Bokhara, 
and the wickedest of all the khans for centuries. Nas- 
rullah had a passion for mechanical work, and Orlandi, who 
was a clockmaker by trade, offered to build a large clock 
and place it over the gate of the Ark as the price of his 
liberty. The work was done in a most satisfactory manner 
and Orlandi became a free man, but the emir was not 
inclined to lose so valuable an attache of his court and kept 
him busy upon various jobs. One day Orlandi made the 
mistake of getting drunk and offended the dignity of the 
emir by his familiarities. He was arrested, imprisoned, and 
condemned to death, but was offered a pardon if he would 
renounce the Roman Catholic religion and become a 
Mohammedan. This he stubbornly refused to do and 
Nasrullah put him to torture, but the Italian clung to his 
faith, even after the executioner had cut the skin around his 
throat from ear to ear, with a threat that the knife would 
go into the flesh in the morning if he did not recant. This 
did not move him and the next day he was beheaded. 

Another Italian named Modesto Gavazzi visited Bokhara 
in 1863 for the purpose of buying silkworm eggs and was 
imprisoned for thirteen months, until he was released at 
the time of the Russian invasion. 

No foreigner is allowed to enter the Ark without a permit, 
which can only be obtained through the influence of the 
Russian agent at Kagan, and he is not often willing to grant 
that privilege. Natives, however, come and go at pleasure, 
and there is a continuous stream of employes and visitors 
passing in and out of the gates. When we tried to enter 


the guard stopped us by bringing his rifle to a horizontal 
position against our chests. After a brief parley he called 
the officer of the day, who was exceedingly courteous and 
explained the regulations he was required to enforce. He 
suggested that the only way we could procure a permit 
was through the Russian agent at Kagan, and feared we 
would not be able to obtain one because the Russians were 
always on the lookout against English spies. We explained 
that we were Americans, and he consented to refer the matter 
to the governor of the citadel, who proved to be an ancient 
Bokharoit, with a full, gray beard, a genial manner, and 
a pleasant face. He wore the customary dressing gown 
of silk in wide stripes of the most brilliant colours — green, 
yellow, red, and purple — a full, white turban, and a girdle of 
scarlet india mull. 

He told us, as the captain of the guard had done, that all 
foreigners, especially English, were strictly forbidden to 
enter the Ark, and while he would like very much to make 
an exception in our case, as we were the first Americans 
he had ever met, he would undoubtedly be deprived of his 
rank and position if he disobeyed orders. He asked the 
privilege of retaining my card as a souvenir of the only 
American he had ever seen, and was polite enough to ex- 
press a hope that our visit to Bokhara would be pleasant 
and profitable. 

It is said that the chief reason why Englishmen are not 
permitted to enter the Ark is not so much the Russian fear 
of spies, but an apprehension on the part of the emir's 
government lest Great Britain should finally attempt to 
retaliate for his grandfather's treatment of Messrs. Stoddard 
and Connelly, two commissioners who were sent upon a 


friendly mission to the khans of Central Asia in 1840 to 
promote trade. They visited Khiva, Merv, and other cities, 
where they were received with friendly courtesy, but Nas- 
rullah, at that time the emir of Bokhara, and the same man 
who beheaded the Italian, threw them into a dungeon called 
the "Zindan," in which they were confined for several 
months and then beheaded. 

The only European writer who ever saw this horrible 
place, where the prisoners were slowly devoured alive by 
sheepticks and other vermin, was a Russian named Khanioff . 
He says that there were two subterranean apartments, the 
Zindan-i-dala, or upper dungeon, and the Zindan-i-poin, 
or lower dungeon. The first is about forty feet square, 
entirely underground, without windows or other means of 
ventilation except the shaft through which the prisoners 
were lowered by ropes, and was used for culprits guilty of 
minor offences. The lower dungeon, beneath the upper, 
was a deep pit twenty -five or thirty feet square into which 
the prisoners were lowered by ropes from the upper dungeon 
and from which they seldom emerged. They were fed and 
given a scanty supply of water, but sooner or later were 
murdered by inches with the most excruciating agony by 
sheepticks and other vermin which were placed in the 
dungeon for that purpose. The Russian I have referred 
to says that when there were no prisoners to feed upon, the 
insects were fed on raw meat to keep up their appetites. 
These horrible places were closed and sealed by order of 
General Kauffman, the Russian viceroy. 

The disappearance of Stoddard and Connelly was never 
officially explained. They were known to have reached 
Bokhara, and Connelly's brother received a letter written 


at that place. This was the last heard from them, and, 
strange to say, the British government never made any 
official inquiry into their fate, which was unknown until 
Rev. Mr. Wolff, an American missionary now in Persia, 
managed to reach Bokhara several years after and obtained 
what he believed to be reliable information. He reported 
that after being confined in the lower dungeon for four 
months without change of raiment, and having half their 
flesh gnawed off their bones by vermin, they were taken 
out and beheaded in the market place by order of the emir, 
who was alarmed by a rumour that their government would 
send an expedition to rescue them. 

It is an extraordinary fact that the British government 
has permitted this atrocious barbarity to remain unpunished. 
Nasrullah, grandfather of the present emir, came to the 
throne in 1826 upon the death of his brother, Husseim, who 
died very suddenly of poison. To prevent interference with 
his administration from the members of his family, Nasrullah 
had his three remaining brothers and thirty of his other 
relations put to death. 

However, until the Russians took control of Turkestan 
the native rulers were always adverse to the presence of 
Europeans. The policy of exclusion was vigorously enforced 
by citizens as well as the officials, just as it is in Thibet 
and Afghanistan to-day. No foreigner is safe in either of 
those countries, and explorers who have entered them have 
been compelled to disguise themselves and endure much 
hardship and suffering. Fifty years ago it would not have 
been safe for any European to show his face in the bazaars 
of any city of Central Asia. 

In addition to heavy wooden doors, which are always 


closed and barred at nightfall, and sentinels on watch in the 
towers, an enormous chain, with links of iron as thick as 
your wrist, is stretched across the approach to the citadel 
and secured with a curious old padlock about as large as a 
ham. It reminds me of the chain that was stretched across 
the Hudson River during the Revolution of the American 
colonists, to prevent the British fleet from passing West 

Of course it was a great disappointment not to be able 
to see the interior of the citadel, but we were consoled by an 
assurance that we didn't miss anything. The emir has not 
lived in his palace for two years because he is afraid of a 
revolution, and remains at his country seat thirty miles 
from the city or at Yalta in the Crimea. The palace of the 
emir is occupied by retainers and poor relatives. 

Outside the gate of the Ark is an arsenal and a large 
barracks for the regular army. They contain a collection 
of antiquated cannon and other arms of the greatest value to 
a museum, but they would not be of the slightest use in 
war. We saw hundreds of old-fashioned cast-iron cannon 
twelve and fifteen feet long, mounted upon carriages with 
wheels eight feet in diameter, which have been handed down 
for several generations, but when we approached them the 
sentinels on duty warned us away, and the officer of the 
guard would not permit us to go farther than the courtyard 
of the arsenal. That, however, was a most agreeable place 
to rest, because it was cool and quiet, while outside the sun 
was pouring its fierce rays upon a clamouring multitude, 
and trains of camels and donkeys continually passing 
through the righistan kept the air filled with dust. 

Within the entrance to the arsenal sat a fortune teller, 


who seemed to be doing a good business, and several pro- 
fessional letter writers squatted like Turks, with their 
legs crossed, before low tables upon which their stationery 
and writing materials were spread. Their clients sat beside 
them, dictating the text of letters or contracts which they 
desired drawn. These writers, who perform the functions 
of notaries as well as amanuenses, are found in every mosque 
and market place throughout the East. When traders 
have reached a bargain they go at once to the nearest public 
writer and have the terms recorded. Contracts and agree- 
ments, bills of sale, receipts, and other commercial docu- 
ments are drawn up the same way because business men 
throughout the Eastern countries are seldom able to write 
more than their own names. 

The first Englishman who visited Bokhara was Master 
Anthony Jenkinson, who went as an ambassador from Queen 
Elizabeth in 1558 to open up trade with the people of Tur- 
kestan in the interest of the Muscovy Company. He re- 
mained two months and a half and was treated with much 
consideration. His report was published by the Hakluyt 
Society of London from the original manuscript several 
years ago, and is exceedingly interesting as a narrative of 
adventure and a description of the magnificence of the 
courts of Bokhara and Samarkand. From that date until 
1841 no European was permitted in the country, and those 
who came in defiance of the prohibition suffered the penalty 
of death. 

The first modern book on Turkestan was written by a 
Hungarian named Vambery, who went into Bokhara in 
1863 in the garb of a mendicant dervish. Eugene Schuyler 
of the American embassy in St. Petersburg passed several 


months there under the protection of the Russians in 1873 
and wrote a book entitled "Turkestan" which is the highest 
authority. Since then, however, there has been no danger 
to visitors except from religious fanatics, who are apt to 
take offence at any lack of reverence or any intrusion upon 
sacred precincts, but the Russian military authorities, who 
control the railroad and have autocratic powers, do not 
encourage the presence of tourists, and prohibit commercial 
travellers from any country but their own. There are 
political rivalries and conspiracies and agitations in Bokhara 
as well as in Turkey and Ireland and the United States. 
There are rival parties and active partisans, a craving for 
liberty and for emancipation from the political restrictions 
and the tyrannical authority of the emir, who is an auto- 
crat. There are no newspapers in Bokhara, a city of 
200,000 inhabitants, nor in the province, with a population 
of nearly a million and a half of souls. The administration 
is as autocratic as that of Morocco or Abyssinia, but the 
recent political transformation of Turkey and Persia in- 
spired a movement for a similar purpose among the educated 
and thinking element of an enslaved people. 

The germ of liberty was dropped in Bokhara from Turkey 
and Persia and infected the public to such an extent that 
several secret societies have been formed to carry on a propa- 
ganda that is active, energetic, and influential, and which the 
kushbeg has not been able to suppress. As fast as he discovers 
and disbands one political society a dozen others spring up 
in its place, and matters are rapidly approaching a crisis 
which may perhaps cause a thorough reformation in the 
government there. Unfortunately the province is entirely 
surrounded by Russian Turkestan, and although it can 




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boast of a nominal independence, the great white czar holds 
the only key that can unlock the future of Bokhara politics. 
He alone will determine the form of government which will 
prevail hereafter. 

In August, 1909, delegations from the political secret 
societies notified the emir that his prime minister, or kush- 
beg, must go. They submitted a list of charges against 
him, with evidence to prove them. The emir promised to 
comply with their demand, but asked for time on the ground 
that the affairs of the khanate were so complicated that he 
could not make a sudden change in the administration. 
When the time was up, in February, 1910, the same prime 
minister remained in power, having, in the meantime, 
strengthened himself in some respects, and weakened his 
authority in others, by arresting and putting to death 
several of the most active agitators and throwing others 
into prison. 

A demonstration was provoked on Febuary 24, 1910, by 
the arrest of several more suspects, whose friends attempted 
to rescue them and, having failed, attacked the residence 
of the prime minister, smashing the windows, defacing 
it with filth, and manifesting their hostility in other ways. 
The troops were called out and fired into the mob. About 
sixty citizens were killed and several hundred were wounded. 
The emir was so badly frightened that he relieved the 
offensive prime minister, and let him down easy by sending 
him on a mission to St. Petersburg, where he is expected to 
secure the approval and support of the Russian government 
for drastic measures to exterminate the advocates of a more 
liberal government and strengthen the hands of the present 


The riot was declared to be a religious demonstration in 
order to deceive people outside the city and the public 
generally. The two sects of Mohammedans there, as in 
Persia, Arabia, and other parts of Islam, are very bitter in 
their hostility. Frequent collisions occur between them. 
The late prime minister was a Persian by birth and a con- 
spicuous member of the Shiite sect. His partisanship caused 
him to fill most of the offices with his fellow believers. All 
of the members of the emir's cabinet are Shiites. Most 
of the agitators and the leaders in the political societies 
are Sunnites, and there is undoubtedly a good deal of sec- 
tarian feeling mixed up in the liberal movement. Nearly 
all of the men who were killed by the soldiers in the riots 
were Sunnites, and that circumstance furnishes a justifica- 
tion for the claim that the demonstration was religious 
rather than political. The new prime minister is also a 
member of the Shiite sect, which continues in control of 
the government, and the leaders of the opposition continue 
to be Sunnites. 

A few weeks after the riots the secret societies formulated 
other petitions which were submitted to the emir and have 
much greater significance than the first. They demanded 
a constitution, a legislature, a free press, freedom of speech, 
and the privilege of electing by ballot municipal and provin- 
cial officials. They submitted the form of a constitution 
similar to that of Turkey and gave the emir six months more 
to answer and act. When the time was up, nothing was 
done; but the spirit of freedom is growing. 

The emir, whose name is Sayid Abdul Ahad, is an easy- 
going, luxurious, and lazy Oriental, who has all the vices and 
virtues of his predecessors on the throne. He is a glutton, 


indulges himself in every form of intemperance and extrava- 
gance, and requires his subordinates to extort a sufficient 
amount of money from the people to pay his bills. He 
has practically nothing to do with his government. He 
farms out the taxes, and so long as his purse is filled does 
not inquire into the measures that have been taken to raise 
the money. He has lost a good deal of his prestige by sub- 
mitting to the Russian invaders. His person is no longer 
considered sacred, as that of the Emperor of China used to 
be. His subjects have discovered that he is only a human 
being, made of very ordinary clay. Formerly, when he 
graciously granted an audience, it was customary for the 
master of ceremonies to seize the person to be presented, 
and drag him violently to the foot of the throne. This 
comedy was intended to flatter the emir into the delusion 
that everybody who approached him was overcome with 
awe and fright by his majestic appearance. But since the 
Russian conquest, this and every other pretense of the sort 
has been abandoned. 

The crown prince is Sayid Mir Alim Khan, said to be 
an improvement upon his father in some respects, because 
he has had the advantage of European travel and observa- 
tion. He has spent several months in St. Petersburg on 
several occasions, has met many Europeans during his winter 
visits at Yalta, speaks French fluently, and is quite familiar 
with modern civilization. This knowledge and experience 
has broadened his mind and increased his intelligence, but 
has not improved his habits. He is said to be very dissipated 
and even more extravagant than his father. 

There is a division of opinion among the agitators. Both 
want to get rid of the emir. The radicals want an inde- 


pendent liberal monarchy. The conservatives, who have 
the common sense to realize the difficulties of the situation, 
advocate annexation to Russia. They have seen the ad- 
vantage of such a connection at Samarkand andTashkand. 
When a change is made that will happen. There will be 
no constitution and no parliament. 


THERE is little doubt that Bokhara is one of the most 
ancient cities in the East. It had a place in history 
long before the Christian era and for 2,000 years has been 
enriched and despoiled in turn by the conquerors of Asia. 
It has been a pillar of Islam, the capital of some of the great- 
est kings of the East, and its universities and schools have 
been the pride of the Mohammedan world. Their faculties 
have consisted of the most learned mullahs and have drawn 
scholars there to study and to discourse. Bokhara has 
been the object of pilgrimages from every country in the 
East, and there is a proverb which describes the veneration 
in which this city was formerly held: 

"In all other parts of the world light descends upon the 
earth; from old Bokhara it ascends." 

The wealth and commerce of Bokhara have equalled 
in fame its piety and learning. Its silks were the most 
delicate, expensive, and beautiful in design in all Asia; its 
carpets and brocades have been unrivalled; and even to-day 
its rugs rank next to the finest of Persia. The products 
of China and India and Europe changed hands in its 
khans and its merchants were among the richest and most 
influential in all the world. 

Alexander the Great occupied Bokhara for several months, 
and reigned there afterwards in the person of one of his 



trusted lieutenants. Quintus Curtius tells us that here he 
overcame a lion in single combat, at which the envoy from 
Sparta exclaimed: 

"Well done, Alexander; nobly hast thou won the prize 
of kingship from the king of beasts." 

The same authority tells us that Alexander sacrificed 
4,000 animals to the gods upon his return from India, and 
it was here that he killed his old friend and comrade, Clytus, 
in a drunken passion. 

The exploits of the great Macedonsky, as the Russian 
writers refer to him, are quite as familiar to the people as 
those of Tamerlane, and several prominent families claim 
descent from him. He did little for Samarkand or for 
Bokhara himself, but the governments he organized there 
existed for three hundred years, until a short time before 
the Christian era, and introduced a considerable degree 
of Greek culture, of which, unfortunately, no traces remain. 
The only tangible evidences of the presence of the world 
conqueror in those parts are the remains of a few mud walls 
and a few coins bearing his bust, which are occasionally 
discovered in the ruins around Samarkand. That city was 
also the headquarters of Alexander for several months and 
he fortified it. 

For more than a thousand years Bokhara was ranked 
next to Mecca as the most influential educational and ec- 
clesiastical centre in the Mohammedan world. It was 
famous for the number and the grandeur of its mosques, 
the scholarship of its meddresses — which are divinity 
schools — the piety of its priests, and for the fanaticism 
and intolerance of the people. The learning and fame of 
the faculties who taught in its schools attracted scholars 



and students from India, Arabia, Persia, Egypt, Afghanistan, 
Morocco, and other countries of Islam; and its meddresses 
were the scenes of frequent theological controversies between 
the rival sects. It was the headquarters of the principal 
Moslem religious orders; its streets were thronged with 
monks and other zealots, and it is still the home of a colony 
of dervishes who claim to have direct descent from Ishmael, 
the son of Abraham and Hagar, and they call him the first 
dervish. They wear long hair and beards and live lives of 
celibacy. Their costume is a long cloak of camels' hair 
of light brown colour, with a high cap of the same material, 
shaped like a sugar cone. There are two classes of dervishes. 
The more intellectual and intelligent are supposed to be 
engaged in profound theological study and meditation, 
while another class, under the direction of their sheikh, 
are sent out through the country to beg at the doors of the 
houses and in the bazaars, and to stand at the street corners 
and pray that Allah will shower blessings upon those who 
give them alms. Each of these beggars carries a money box, 
usually made from a gourd, and a staff with an iron ring 
attached to the end, which is rattled to attract attention. 

There are said to have been 197 mosques and 167 med- 
dresses or Mohammedan colleges in Bokhara, but this 
number has been reduced more than one-half by decay and 
dilapidation. Those which still exist are very badly out 
of repair and have had the beautiful Persian tiles, in- 
scribed with texts from the Koran in blue and white char- 
acters, torn from their walls by vandals and the weather. 
Everything about them is in a pitiable state. Nothing is 
whole or perfect, and the famous buildings which gave the 
city the name of "Bokhara the Noble," are now falling 


into ruins without any attempt on the part of the priests, 
the people, or the government to preserve them. 

The most famous mosque in the city is called Masjid 
Baliand, or Kalian, and when it was first built it was one of 
the grandest temples in Asia. It can accommodate 10,000 
worshippers. It dates back to the tenth century ; was restored 
by Timour the Tartar in the early part of the fifteenth, 
and up to the present generation has been attended by the 
emir every Friday with great ceremony; but it is now crum- 
bling to pieces and there is no hand to stay its fate. Its 
dome is covered with azure tiles, which are gradually 
falling off, leaving conspicuous scars. The condition of 
these buildings is typical of the religious life and the morals 
of the people. 

In 1219 Genghis Khan rode an Arabian stallion into this 
mosque, and when the mullahs expostulated with him for 
the profanation he threw himself from the saddle, climbed 
into the pulpit, cast the Koran on the floor, and shouted to 
his soldiers: 

"The hay is cut, give your horses fodder!" which was the 
signal for his savage horde to begin a wholesale massacre and 
to loot the city of its boasted wealth. 

The great central court is enclosed by vaulted cloisters 
of brick. Heavy arches support the upper stories and the 
ponderous roof. The facade, which is in very bad repair, 
and is rapidly losing its veneer of porcelain tiles, which were 
once of great beauty, is one of the finest in Asia. In some 
respects it is thought to surpass those at Samarkand, but 
that can scarcely be possible. It is a matter of taste, how- 
ever. There is no standard or rule by which comparisons 
/nay be made. 


The interior of the Masjid Baliand mosque was formerly 
lined with tiles throughout, and they were ornamented with 
geometric figures, but they are nearly all gone except those 
in the high places and the dark corners, where the weather 
cannot affect them and the hands of vandals cannot reach 
them. They are of the same material and pattern as those 
at Samarkand, and it is believed that this mosque was built 
by Tamerlane upon the ruins of another, and restored by 
Abdullah Khan in the sixteenth century. The style of 
architecture is identical with other buildings erected by the 
great Tartar. 

An inner court is surrounded by cloisters and cells, which 
are occupied by 250 mullahs and students. Some of the 
cells are fitted up in comfort and even luxury. Others are 
decorated with considerable taste. The mullahs attached 
to this mosque have a high reputation for scholarship and 
ability, as well as for fanaticism and intolerance. The emir 
formerly went there to pray every Friday when he lived in 
Bokhara, with a ceremony similar to that of the Selamlik 
of the Turkish sultan at Constantinople. 

Another important meddresse is called Irnazar-Eltchi, 
in honour of an ambassador sent by the emir of Bokhara to 
Catherine the Great at Petersburg. The story goes that the 
empress, who was notorious for her amours, fell in love with 
the handsome Oriental envoy, and enjoyed a prolonged 
liaison with him. Upon his departure from the Russian 
capital she presented him with a purse containing fifty 
thousand gold rubles and, evidently repenting of his sin, 
he used the money to found this institution for the education 
of Tartars and other Russian Mussulmans. 

It would require a large book to contain an account of all 


the mosques and meddresses, but they are generally alike 
in architecture and arrangement, as they are in purpose. 
Each has a dome of splendid proportions, either painted 
blue and dotted with golden stars, or green, which is the 
sacred colour of Moslems, or is covered with tiles which 
glisten in the sun. The storks have built nests in the cozy 
corners on all the roofs and on the tops and the balconies of 
the minarets. 

The storks are regarded as sacred in Bokhara and there- 
fore are very tame. They come into the market place to 
pick up garbage, and the peasants treat them almost with 
reverence. Anyone who should injure a stork would be 
roughly treated, and, indeed, one has to be exceedingly 
discreet in his conduct here because of the hatred of 
foreigners, especially Europeans and Christians. 

The spirit of fanaticism is not so intense as it was before 
the Russians came. People are now accustomed to seeing 
foreigners in the streets, and many of their prejudices have 
dissolved under the magnetic influence of foreign money, 
but Bokhara is, perhaps, the most intolerant community out- 
side of Thibet. The Jews have always been kindly treated, 
and Hindu Brahmins are now safe. There is a large colony of 
them selling tea, buying skins, and engaged in other business. 

The largest seminary in Bokhara, and one of the largest 
in Asia, is called Miri Arab and stands on the other side of a 
plaza from the great mosque. Its cloisters contain 114 
cells and are occupied by 230 mullahs (priests) and softas 
(students). It was originally a beautiful building and has 
been often mentioned as exhibiting in its structural detail 
the best designs and decorative work in Central Asia, but, 
like everything else, it is going to pieces. 


Between the Masjid Baliand and the Miri Arab stands a 
lofty tower, 212 feet high and 42 feet in diameter at the 
base, built in the tenth century. The material is ordinary 
gray bricks, which are stamped with decorative patterns 
and laid in belts, some twenty and others fifteen and ten 
feet wide. At the summit is an open gallery from which 
criminals formerly were thrown headlong upon the pavement 
below; but of late years this penalty is inflicted only upon 
counterfeiters, matricides, and persons guilty of treason to 
the government. Such executions are announced by public 
criers, and are witnessed by enormous crowds. The sentence 
is read by a herald and the culprit is then hurled from the 
platform between two of the arches and falls a crushed and 
bleeding mass upon the paving stones at the base of the 
tower. There have been no such spectacles for three years, 
the Russian adviser to the government having suggested 
to the emir that they give his government a bad reputation. 

The tower is called the Minari Baliand, which means 
the minaret of the mosque Baliand. 

There is, of course, a stork's nest on the top of the tower 
— more than one I should judge — and near the base is a large 
pool of putrid yellow water, with eight steps leading down 
to it. It is surrounded by shops for the sale of meat and 
groceries, two barbers have their chairs on the pavement 
outside, and peddlers of sweetmeats, cakes, and other forms 
of food are numerous. 

On the other side of the tower, in a low building, is a 
maktab, or primary school, to which we were drawn by the 
murmur of children's voices. In Eastern schools pupils 
always study aloud and create a babel of voices. This is 
permitted on the theory that the human mind absorbs 


information through the ears better than through the eyes, 
and you are continually reminded of it by hearing people read 
aloud from newspapers, books, and other printed or written 
documents. If an Oriental looks at a railway time-table he 
reads it aloud; and he will tell you that he could not under- 
stand it unless he did so. Hence, at the primary schools, 
where this habit is acquired, you can hear the little ones 
shouting their A B C's, older classes repeating extracts from 
the Koran and reciting to themselves whatever lessons have 
been assigned to them — all in loud tones. It is difficult to 
understand how they can learn anything in the confusion. 

As we entered the maktab the boys, who were squatting 
on the floor, began to yell out their lessons louder than ever, 
evidently for the purpose of convincing us of their diligence. 
They were bright little fellows, with keen eyes and regular 
features, clean faces and hands, and neatly dressed in gor- 
geous colours. Every one wore an embroidered skull cap 
upon his head. I don't remember having ever seen a more 
intelligent or attractive lot of youngsters. The teacher, 
who wore a green turban, indicating his descent from 
Mahomet, was a fine looking man and greeted us cordially, 
but we did not stop. 

The books from which the children were studying are 
printed in Russia, except the Koran, which is printed here. 
The boys are first taught the alphabet and when they are 
able to read and write they are required to copy extracts 
from the Koran, which are committed to memory. Then, 
when they have completed that task, they are given other 
books, usually of a religious nature, which are also com- 
mitted to memory. There are very little mathematics 
except the use of the counting machine used by all Orientals. 




History and geography are seldom taught. The school 
sessions begin after the call to prayer at 7 o'clock in the 
morning and continue until the call to evening prayer at 
5 o'clock, with an hour recess at midday for luncheon, 
which is usually limited to a piece of bread, an onion, or a 
little fruit. The school week begins Saturday morning and 
ends Thursday night, Friday being the Sabbath, or day of 
rest and worship among the Mohammedans. The school- 
master does not receive a regular salary, but is paid by the 
parents of the pupils, according to their means, and on his 
birthday and other anniversaries he expects presents. 

You have doubtless read a good deal about the piety and 
virtues of the Moslems and the good example that they 
furnish for the Christian world to imitate. You have 
doubtless read, too, about the wisdom of the teachings of 
the Koran and its beneficial influence upon the human 
race, much of which is possible, because all maxims of 
virtue and honour are of value, provided they are practised. 
I knew an old lady once who used to say that religion is 
a good thing if it is lived up to, but a bad thing if it isn't 
— and there is a sermon on hypocrisy in that quaint epigram. 

There is no doubt that the Mohammedans have many 
virtues, and one of the most noticeable is the diligence with 
which they attend to their religious duties and the fervency 
and regularity of their prayers. They are a very temperate 
people, too. A drunken Mohammedan is as rare as a white 
blackbird, although some of the most pious followers of 
the Prophet permit themselves to fall from grace occasion- 
ally. I once had a dragoman in India who was a very 
devout Mussulman and never neglected to say his prayers 
when the hour was called by the muezzins in the minarets. 


Sometimes his conscientiousness was a little inconvenient, 
but we never complained; yet the injunctions of the Koran 
did not prevent him from drinking wine or beer when it was 
offered to him. I asked him about it one day as he sat with 
an empty stein before him: 

"I was under the impression that your religion forbade you 
to drink wine?" 

"It does, my master,"he answered," but Allah is merciful.'' 
It is amusing to watch the application of the rules of life 
as laid down in the Koran, and the laws of the shariat, the 
Mussulman code of practice, which is based upon them. 
The original legislation of Mahomet was made for the Arabs 
of the desert. Hence there is quite as much difficulty in 
applying it to civilized communities as there would be in the 
application of the Mosaic code to the administration of the 
United States government at Washington, or the transaction 
of mercantile business in Chicago or New York. The pro- 
visions of the Koran and the shariat concerning trade are 
too limited to suit modern methods of doing business. 
For example, it is prohibited to purchase or sell articles 
which are not in existence; speculation of all kinds is forbid- 
den; it is not lawful, under the letter as well as the spirit 
of the Koran, to accept a profit on the barter or exchange 
of articles of value, or to collect interest on loans. These 
restrictions are successfully evaded by the business men of 
Bokhara and other Mohammedan cities, just as the business, 
men of the United States skate around the outside of the 
moral law. Were the precepts of the Holy Scriptures applied 
to the every-day habits and transactions in life of Chris- 
tian communities, as we expect the commandments of the 
Koran to be obeyed by the Moslems, civilization would be 


impossible, and, so far as the practice of what we preach is 
concerned, the adherents of all religions are in the same boat. 

It is, nevertheless, amusing to see the ingenuity by which 
the pious Mussulman evades the rules of his religion to 
accomplish what the late Thomas B. Reed said was the just 
ambition of every citizen of the State of Maine — " to get 
7 per cent on his money, and 10 per cent if possible." 

The chief money lenders and bankers of Turkestan are 
Jews. There are a few Armenians in the business also, 
but they are exceedingly unpopular because of a general 
impression that all Armenians are English spies. This is 
based upon the fact that Great Britain has endeavoured to 
protect the Armenian people from the persecution of the 
Turks. There are some Afghan and Hindu bankers also, 
and occasionally a native Bokharoit goes into that business. 
There are more natives engaged in banking and money lend- 
ing in the Russian provinces of Khiva, Merv, Samarkand, 
Kokand, and Tashkend than in Bokhara, however. The 
more a community becomes civilized the less scrupulous are 
the Moslems in the observance of the teachings of the Koran. 

Each community has its peculiar methods of evading the 
injunction against collecting interest on money loaned, and 
among Mussulman capitalists throughout Turkestan 4 
per cent a month is not considered excessive. The mullahs, 
or priests, do not condemn the practice, but encourage it 
by teaching the principle that lending money to the poor 
is giving to the Lord, and that all worthy actions are en- 
titled to a just reward. 

The various methods of collecting interest are called 
"paths," and we hear of " Bokhara paths," "Khiva paths" 
"Tashkend paths" and others. The "Bokhara path" 


is an arrangement under which a man who borrows money 
sells the lender some article of nominal value — a ring or a 
watch or a whip — and agrees to buy it back within three 
months or six months at an advance over and above the 
purchase price, equivalent to the interest at a given rate for 
the interval. 

The "Tashkend path" is for the borrower to buy of the 
lender a piece of property and agree to pay him a certain 
amount on a certain date, provided he is allowed the use 
of the funds in the meantime. 

As some good Christians often make light of their own 
sins, so do pious Mussulmans joke each other concerning 
the evasion of the Commandments of their Holy Scriptures, 
and there are numerous stories more or less apropos. For 

When a Mussulman money lender died and went to the 
gates of paradise, Satan grabbed him by the arm and rushed 
him down a steep and rocky path into a very hot furnace 
room, where he could see the blazes through the cracks. 
Satan jammed him roughly into an iron cage, and, calling 
his stokers, opened the furnace door and ordered them to 
cast him into the flames. The poor sinner remonstrated 
piteously and begged for mercy. Inquiring the reason for 
his punishment, he was informed that it was the penalty 
for collecting interest upon the money he had loaned. 

"But I did not collect interest," he cried. "I only sold 
my horse at an advance." 

"That's true," said Satan, "and I'm not going to burn 
you; I'm only going to heat the irons of this cage." 

One of the most interesting of the legends of the Bokha- 
roits concerns the origin of silk, which came from the patience 


and piety of the prophet Job, under the following circum- 

God said to His archangel Gabriel: "Take all the riches 
from this man." 

The archangel came down from heaven with a hundred 
thousand angels, and took away everything that Job pos- 
sessed; and Job increased his prayers ten times in order 
that he might show his gratitude for the goodness of God in 
relieving him from the responsibility. And then God said 
to Satan: 

"Oh, cursed one, thou hast seen that I have taken away 
all his wealth, and yet he praiseth my goodness!" 

Satan answered : " Send disease into his body and he will 
curse thee." And the body of Job was covered with worms. 
Still he lifted up his spirit in praise and thanksgiving. 

After some days the worms increased until it seemed as 
if they would eat up his whole body. There was not one 
spot upon him that was not covered with sores. He was 
so weak that when a worm fell off he begged his wife to pick 
it up and place it back again in the wound, saying: "If 
God has ordered me to feed worms with my body it would 
be sinful to deprive them of their food." And the wife 
of the prophet fulfilled his command and placed the worms 
back upon the body of her husband, and Job did not cease 
his thanksgiving and his praises of the goodness of God. 

Then God commanded Gabriel to obtain water, and where 
the archangel smote the earth with his wings there opened 
a living fountain. By command of God the prophet threw 
himself into the spring, and in that moment was made whole. 
The worms fell from him, the sores were healed, his flesh 
became smooth and sound, and his person was as perfect as 


it was on the day he was born, like the person of an 

The fountain remained and was called "The Sea of Life," 
and all believers who bathe in it become perfect in body and 
soul. The worms which were in the body of Job swam out 
of the water, crept up into a mulberry tree, and began to 
eat of its leaves. To conceal themselves from Job they 
knitted coverings and shut themselves up in them and went 
to sleep until their sins should be forgotten, and the cover- 
ings which they knitted for themselves are called cocoons. 

There is only one hospital in Bokhara and that is in very 
poor condition. It is supposed to be sustained by the emir, 
but he gives very little money to it and that grudgingly. 
There are no native doctors in the country; the study of 
medical science is absolutely unknown. A man who was 
employed as cook at the hospital for three months is now a 
prominent practitioner in Bokhara, and has patients among 
the wealthiest classes of the people. He learned the trade 
during his brief stay in the kitchen of the hospital, and 
the people seem to have confidence in him. His practice 
is becoming so lucrative that competition has commenced, 
and two barbers who have done surgical work for several 
years have dropped their razors and lather brushes, 
and have hung out signs as physicians. 

In the Russian settlements throughout Turkestan are 
numerous hospitals of the most modern type, managed 
by military surgeons and hospital stewards, and attended by 
trained nurses. There are also private practitioners from 
the Russian medical schools, free public hospitals to which 
the natives are admitted upon application, and public 
dispensaries where patients are treated daily without charge. 


The government does not encourage foreign physicians 
to practise in the native cities, and does not permit them to 
settle there. If a native desires modern medical treatment, 
he can go to the office of a physician in the Russian settle- 
ment, or he can send for a Russian physician to attend him 
at his own house, but, according to the general policy of 
non-interference in native affairs, natives are not instructed 
in the advantages of modern medicine and surgery any 
more than in the Russian religion. 

In Bokhara, until a few years ago, there was an officer 
of the law known as the Reis-i-Shariat, a sort of general 
inspector of public morals, who went about the city every 
morning in his official robes, with a heavy whip in his hand, 
among the mosques, bazaars, and other places where the men 
of the town intermingled, to administer justice and to up- 
hold righteousness. If he saw anything wrong, he ordered 
it repaired. If improvements were suggested, he ordered 
them made. He heard complaints from the neighbours, 
and if a case was not satisfactorily explained he admin- 
istered the punishment according to his judgment, with his 
own hands, upon the spot. He had universal jurisdiction 
and arbitrary powers over the manners and the morals of 
the people and no one but the emir and the prime minister 
had the power to interfere with him. 

The most notable ruin in the vicinity of Bokhara is the 
mosque of Hodja Akhrar, a Mohammedan saint, who was not 
only celebrated for his piety, but for his wealth, and became 
the head of one of the most influential religious orders in 
Islam. It is said that when he was making his pilgrimage 
to Mecca he cured the Khalif of Bagdad of a terrible disease, 
and the latter, as compensation, asked him to select anything 


he preferred among all the possessions in the royal treasury. 
Akhrar selected a manuscript copy of the Koran, written in 
Cufic characters upon parchment by the great Othman, 
the third in succession from Mohammed. The khalif was 
very much chagrined to lose his greatest treasure, but 
his promise was sacred, and the Hodja brought the manu- 
script to Bokhara and afterwards to Samarkand and 
Tashkend, where he died. After his death the manuscript 
remained in a mosque at Bokhara until the Russian inva- 
sion, when the mullahs sold it to a Russian officer for 125 
rubles and it is now in the Imperial Library at St. 

Hodja Akhrar is buried in the mosque that bears his 
name, and it was one of the finest buildings in Asia, but no 
attempt was ever made to protect or preserve it. 


THE bazaars of Bokhara, next to those of Tashkend, 
are the largest in Central Asia, and cover twenty- 
four acres of ground. They are divided into thirty-two 
streets, or aisles, each being devoted to the sale of the same 
class of articles for the convenience of customers, and 
representing one of the thirty-two guilds, which comprise 
the whole field of commerce in Turkestan. The guilds 
are similar to those in India, Turkey, and Persia, and I sup- 
pose they correspond to those in China and Japan. The 
number is limited to thirty-two, for the reason that the 
human body was supposed by the ancients to be made up 
of thirty-two semi-independent and semi-dependent mem- 
bers. Each guild has a perfect organization, with officers 
and committees, similar to the ancient trade organizations 
of London, and exercises autocratic authority over all 
industries and mercantile enterprises. The guilds regulate 
prices and wages, terms of employment, the number of 
apprentices, rates of interest, credits and other conditions 
of manufacture, purchase and sale, and some of them are 
subdivided into smaller classes for convenience. 

The bazaars of Bokhara furnish one of the most pictur- 
esque scenes in all human life — the articles of merchandise 
being quite as interesting as the men who handle them. 
The most curious of all are blocks of rose-coloured rock salt, 



which looks like pink ice. It is brought from a mine near 
Karshi, on the Chinese side of the mountains, about forty 
miles distant. There are, however, many other odd articles 
for sale, and one can spend hours and even days in the 
bazaars, watching the manufacture and the sale of strange 
looking goods. 

As in other native cities, the streets and little shops are 
protected from the sun and rain by roofs of masonry or 
awnings of matting, so that the trade is conducted in a 
perpetual twilight. The streets are so narrow that it is 
difficult for two carriages to pass. It is often necessary for 
the drivers to climb down from their boxes and lift the 
wheels as closely as possible to the walls, so that they can 
squeeze by. Blockades are caused continually by caravans 
of camels laden with bulky bales, lines of donkeys bearing 
animate and inanimate loads, ox carts and carriages, which 
often become massed in confusion, when everybody gets 
excited and begins clamouring, cursing, and gesticulating 
in a furious way. But the greatest demonstrations are 
made when the counters of some unlucky merchant are 
swept clear of merchandise by the lurching of a clumsy 
camel. Then it is possible to see how excited these serene 
and contemplative Orientals can become when something 
happens to them. Foot passengers dodge in and out 
between the caravans and the horsemen, and that takes 
some nerve and skill, because every few minutes there is a 
scampering for refuge as a squad of Kirghiz horsemen comes 
galloping recklessly down the narrow streets. 

The bazaar is not given up entirely to trade. There are 
lots of little eating-houses and kitchens, where the mer- 
chants and their customers lunch or dine. The cooking 


is done on the edge of the sidewalk, where the patrons 
can inspect the process, and over the open charcoal 
fires, which fill the atmosphere with savoury smells. 
Sherbet peddlers go about with queer-looking tanks on 
their backs, clinking glasses together to attract atten- 
tion, and in the tea houses the attendants draw hot 
water from steaming samovars into dainty little china 
pots, into which they have dropped a pinch of tea leaves. 
Customers bring their bread and cake with them, which 
they purchase at the neighbouring shops. 

Bokhara is the most important commercial centre in 
Turkestan and does a business of about $25,000,000 annually, 
carrying on an active trade by caravans with China, India, 
Afghanistan, and other countries. The merchandise that 
comes by rail from Russia is stored in large warehouses 
along the railway track until the camels are ready to be 
loaded. The produce that is brought in by these same 
camels is transferred to the railway cars and sent westward 
to the Caspian Sea or northward to the Great Siberian 
Railway en route to Astrakhan, Odessa, Baku, Moscow, and 
other Russian markets. From China, India and Afghanis- 
tan are brought vast quantities of tea, silk, earthenware, 
drugs, furs, mutton tallow, camels' hair, goats' hair, dye- 
stuffs and other raw materials, as well as finished products, 
to be exchanged for cotton goods, sugar, coffee, hardware, 
and a large variety of other merchandise from the factories 
of Moscow and other Russian cities. The Russians are 
gradually robbing Great Britain of her markets in Afghanis- 
tan, Cashmir, and other provinces of western India, but the 
largest amount of goods is shipped across the mountains 
into China. 


The wholesale and the retail traders are mixed in the 
bazaars, and every now and then you come to a wholesale 
khan, which is entered through a narrow passage, between 
a couple of shops, and occupies a large space in the interior 
of the block, behind the little retail booths. These khans 
are a combination of hotels and freight houses. There is 
usually one large courtyard or more paved with stone, 
with a fountain in the centre, and a small mosque at one 
side. The courtyard, during the business hours of the day, 
is pretty well filled with caravans of camels, and groups 
of solemn, patient, uncomplaining donkeys, loading or 
unloading. The camels are used for long hauls and the 
donkeys for short hauls, and they carry an infinite variety 
of goods* There are a few ox carts, with enormous wheels, 
seven and eight feet in diameter, and saddle horses, equipped 
with queer-looking accoutrements and gayly decorated 
bridles. Opening upon the courtyards are warerooms of 
different sizes, which can be rented for a day or a night, 
or for a month or any length of time, as salesrooms or for 
storage, and the tenants usually sleep with their goods, 
and take their meals at the cook houses and cafes in the 

The khans are classified, some for rugs, some for skins, 
each being located in the street where that particular 
merchandise belongs, and when a caravan arrives with 
a mixed cargo the camels are distributed accordingly. The 
patrons are mostly regulars. Business is hereditary in those 
countries, and the eldest son is expected to follow the trade 
of his father. Thus the same families have patronized 
the same khans for centuries, always occupying the same 
rooms and doing business with the descendants of the 


customers their great-great-grandfathers dealt with. This 
accounts, in some measure, for the long credits. Faith 
and confidence increase with age and experience. 

The business men of Bokhara and other Mohammedan 
communities are very scrupulous in the observance of their 
religious duties, and when the call of the muezzin is heard 
from the minaret, merchants and customers drop every- 
thing, their samples and their memoranda, and hurry to 
the nearest mosque to say their prayers. They kneel in 
rows upon the rugs, occupying the same spots every day, 
just as our people are in the habit of occupying the same 
pews at church, and perform the genuflections in unison. 
Then, when they have finished their prayers and have 
repeated the name of Allah ninety-three times, they arise 
from their knees, pick up their shoes, and leave the mosque 
together. Suppose Chicago or New York wholesale dealers 
and the country merchants who come in to buy goods 
should drop business as the clock strikes 12 and go to the 
noon-day prayer meeting together. It is hard to tell, what 
the effect would be on trade, but the experiment might be 
tried. Or, the brokers on the New York Stock Exchange 
or the traders on the board of trade in Chicago might station 
muezzins in the galleries to notify them of the hours for 
devotions, and have a side room fitted up where they could 
pray for grace, mercy, and peace a few moments each day. 

The cool twilight of the bazaars is very grateful to the 
senses of a tired man when he enters from the blazing heat 
and stifling dust outside. The atmosphere is kept moist 
by half-naked men who sprinkle water upon the streets. 
They carry their supply in pigs' skins or goats' skins — which 
are also used for wine — slung upon their backs, and open 


and close the necks by the pressure of the fingers in such a 
way as to scatter the water in a fine spray over the surface 
of the ground, with as much skill as a Chinaman uses in 
sprinkling his laundry work. 

Merchants sit cross-legged on the rugs which decorate 
the floors of their little booths, and their customers either 
stand in the street or squat down on the threshold. Most 
of the shops are so small that a merchant can reach every 
article in his stock without rising. The walls of the booths 
are lined with shelves and cases, except where heavy goods 
are dealt in. And the variety is infinite. Every possible 
article that a human being can need or desire may be found, 
from a cake of soap to a sewing machine or a phonograph. 
The latter articles, with revolvers, are about the only goods 
that come from the United States. Nearly everything 
else is from Russia. 

Trade is conducted leisurely and with the greatest de- 
corum. A merchant must have an opportunity to show 
his skill at a bargain, and, as prices are more or less flexible, 
the customers enter into the spirit of the business and keep 
up what the Spaniards call the "negotio" for as long a 
time as they can spare. If you should accept the first 
offer, a merchant would be offended, because you would 
deprive him of an opportunity to show his shrewdness. 

There are a few women shoppers, but they are swathed 
in large cotton or silk shawls, and their faces are concealed 
by horsehair veils. Most of the buying is done by men. 

The jewellers, the brass workers, the leather dealers, and 
various other trades carry on their manufacturing in the 
presence of their customers. Goldsmiths and silversmiths 
are always interesting to watch. They are usually Tartars 


and have tiny charcoal furnaces, with apprentices who 
handle the bellows and keep the tools in order. 

The street of the brass workers is like a boiler factory. 
The hammering is incessant, but it is nevertheless interesting 
to see the skill with which thin sheets of brass are hammered 
into urns, ewers, pots, kettles, and other useful utensils. 

The drug-shops are fascinating, the entire walls being 
lined with tiny drawers and shelves, with coloured labels, 
and the ceiling decorated with bunches of dried herbs and 
fruit. You can get a lemon compressed into the size of 
a nutmeg and all sorts of spices and toilet articles. The 
women of the harem use a great deal of attar of roses, and 
surma, a black powder of antimony, for blackening the 
eyelashes, and rice powder for whitening the face. 

The dealers in china and earthenware show some pretty 
pottery, which is made in the villages around Bokhara, and 
some fine specimens of Chinese porcelains come over the 
mountains by the caravans. The largest division of the 
bazaars is filled with cotton goods of every possible variety, 
most of them from the factories at Moscow. Occasionally 
you find some local or home-made fabrics, but they are 
becoming very scarce. Since the railway has made trans- 
portation easy and cheap, household looms cannot compete 
with the factories. 

Bokhara is famous for its rugs, its silks and its embroideries 
of silk on cotton, and is a large market for Persian lamb- 
skins. The rugs and embroideries are in unique shades 
of red, not found elsewhere, and the dyes by which they are 
produced are supposed to be made by secret formulas which 
have been handed down from generation to generation 
in Jewish families, who control the business. Both rugs 


and embroideries, however, can be bought to better advan- 
tage in London, Constantinople, Smyrna, and, indeed, in 
New York, Chicago, or Washington than there, because 
the best examples are picked up by agents of the big jobbers 
of Smyrna, Constantinople, London, and Moscow, and never 
appear in the local market. Those jobbers have men travel- 
ling through the country looking after their regular sources 
of supply and picking up bargains. The antique rugs 
you see in the shops of the United States, and offered for 
sale at auction, come from the cabins and kabitkas (tents 
or tepees) of the nomadic tribes, and have been in use for 
generations. The natives place a very high valuation upon 
them. Like the shawls of Cashmir, rugs are handed down 
from father to son for hundreds of years as the most precious 
heirlooms in the family. They do not come into the market, 
except upon the death or bankruptcy of the owner. 

There are a dozen enormous khans, or central warehouses, 
devoted to rugs in Bokhara, but a stranger cannot see them 
made, because the work is done by the women of the harems, 
who are never visible. Every house has a loom, and every 
girl learns to weave as soon as her strength is sufficient 
for the task. Thereafter she does her stunt every day, 
mother and daughters taking turns, and keeping the loom 
humming from sunrise to sunset. The pattern is fixed 
and seldom changed, although the same family may produce 
two or three different patterns. There are probably not 
more than ten or twelve designs in all the rugs that have 
been produced in Bokhara from the beginning of time. 
To-day not more than four or five different patterns are 
used, although they may vary slightly in detail. 

You never see buyers from Constantinople and other 


large markets in the khans, because the rugs sold there are 
of no value for export. They are of the poorest quality, 
intended for local consumption; but if a European attempts 
to buy one he will be astonished at the prices. We 
visited several of the khans, and the rug shops in the bazaars, 
and the prices asked for the ordinary quality were higher 
than fine rugs bring at auction in Washington, after the 
freight and duty have been paid. A friend consoled us with 
the observation that "the native dealers here think that 
Americans have more money than brains." This was more 
satisfactory than complimentary, and I have no doubt 
it is the truth. 

The best rugs made in the world at present, the experts 
have told me, come from a place called Keshan, near the 
capital of Persia, where the wool is finer, the weavers are 
more skilful, and the patterns more artistic than anywhere 
else. Bokhara rugs are second in value, and the town of 
Tekke, in that province, produces the finest examples. 
This is due to the quality of the wool, which is soft and fine, 
the skill and care of the weavers, and the quality of the dyes. 
The latter is of the greatest importance. It is chiefly the 
dye that gives the Bokhara rugs their value. The process 
of mixture is a secret, as I have said. Each prominent 
dyer has his own recipes, but the same ingredients are used 
by all and are well known. The indigo, which is the only 
foreign ingredient, comes from India and Brazil (purchased 
at Marseilles). The cochineal, which gives the rugs their 
intense red colour, is made from a tiny insect found upon 
the leaves of the ash, the mulberry, and other trees. At a 
certain season of the year the bugs are scraped off, roasted 
in dripping pans, and crushed to a powder. 


Other ingredients are vegetable, plants which grow wild 
and are also cultivated in the gardens of the peasants. 
They are madder, isparuk, a species of larkspur which pro- 
duces a beautiful, bright, and lasting yellow; tukhmak, 
which is a species of the japonica, and pugnak, a fungus 
found on the mulberry trees. The roots of the fuchsia, the 
peel of the pomegranate, and the nut of the pistachio are all 
used, and are mixed with ordinary soot and a substance pro- 
duced by burning linseed oil. Skill and experience in the mix- 
ture of these various ingredients are necessary to produce 
the colours that are so much admired in the Bokhara rugs. 

The cakes of india ink used by artists in the United States 
and for common, ordinary writing purposes by the Hindus 
and other Orientals, are made of the same materials mixed 
with rice powder and dried in a slow oven. 

There is a severe law against the use of aniline dyes. 
Their sale is prohibited under a heavy penalty, but I could 
not learn that anybody has ever been punished on that 

All of the numerous tribes which make up the millions 
of population of Turkestan manufacture rugs. They have 
had no other way of disposing of the wool from their flocks, 
and their products are known to the market by various 
names — generally those of the principal cities of Turkes- 
tan. Like the Panama hat, a rug is called after the place 
where it is sold, rather than after the place where it is made. 
No hat was ever made in Panama, but that city has always 
been the market for the product of Ecuador, Peru, and the 
towns along the coast of southern Colombia. 

Until American cotton was introduced by General Kauf- 
mann, viceroy of Turkestan in the '80's, silk culture was the 


most important industry in Turkestan. The value of 
the silk worm was discovered in China and the process of 
utilizing it was invented there in prehistoric times. Gradu- 
ally the industry spread throughout the whole of Asia, 
and silk culture has been the most lucrative and the chief 
occupation of the people. The climate of Central Asia 
is in the highest degree favourable to silk culture. The 
mulberry, which is the sole food of the silk worm, grows 
rapidly wherever there is water. There is no rain or hail 
during the summer and seldom at any time of the year. 
No artificial heat is necessary for the cultivation of the 
worms, and it has been a convenient occupation for the 
poor and a recreation for the rich women of the harems. 
Mulberry trees are raised from the seed and in five years 
will produce leaves fit to be used as food for the worms. 

The best silk in Central Asia is produced in Bokhara; 
next comes that of Kokand and then that of Khiva. Silk 
is spun and woven in the households by women and children 
and the yarn is dyed by the Jews. The colours are absolutely 
durable and the fabric has a firmness and brightness which 
are never lost. The lustre for which the Bokhara silks are 
famous is produced by beating the yarn with a wide, flat, 
wooden flail. 

Most of the silk goods are woven in stripes of the most 
brilliant colours, because such fabrics are in demand for 
the coats of the men in that country. The women wear 
comparatively little silk. Their pride of dress is not devel- 
oped because they seldom leave their homes, they see no 
men but their husbands and children, and very little of 
each other. There is no such thing as society in Moham- 
medan countries. 


The women, however, are remarkably skilful weavers 
and produce the most exquisite velvets and brocades. The 
best embroideries are made by men, and any one who 
wanders through the bazaars can see them at work in 
their shops. 

What are known in the market as Bokhara embroideries 
are in the form of tablecloths, towels, bed covers, and 
draperies of cotton with conventional designs and geo- 
metrical figures worked out with crimson silk, the colours 
being almost identical with those that have given the 
Bokhara rugs their great reputation. Very little of this 
embroidery is now produced because there is more money 
in rugs. Nearly all the examples offered for sale have 
been used and come from the homes of the people. At 
present the embroiderers devote their time to decorating 
material for caps, waistcoats, and other garments, and the 
patterns are always the same, like those of the carpets. 
The cotton cloth on which the pattern has been stencilled 
is stretched over a frame, and the artist, with a crochet needle 
set in a wooden handle, pulls the silken thread through in 
a sort of chained stitch with the greatest rapidity. 

Very few pieces of embroidery are offered for sale there, 
however. You can buy to much better advantage in Con- 
stantinople or even in the United States. A well-known 
Chicago gentleman, who has visited Turkestan twice and 
is a recognized authority on matters pertaining to that part 
of the world, carried home with him from his last trip a 
very handsome specimen of Bokhara embroidery. A few 
weeks after his return he was astonished to find an exact 
duplicate hanging upon the wall of a friend in Evanston, 
who had purchased it at a department store in Chicago. 


My friend went to that store the next day and found 
fifty pieces precisely like his own, offered for sale at a 
less price than he had paid in Bokhara. 

In 1889 General Kaufmann, the viceroy, desiring to 
encourage the silk business, imported a Corsican expert, 
who has done a great deal to educate the people and im- 
prove the culture of silk worms. He has introduced mil- 
lions of eggs from France and French machinery and ap- 
purtenances to replace the clumsy methods of the natives, 
and has prepared instructions which have been printed 
in all the native languages and distributed free among the 

The silk industry is conducted very much like the rug 
business. The merchants furnish the yarn in both cases, 
after having it dyed the colours they want, and then pay 
the weavers so much a square yard, according to the 
quality of the work. Some of the larger commission 
men and agents of Constantinople, and Moscow jobbers, 
have hundreds of families working for them in this way, 
and go about collecting their products periodically. A 
woman can earn twenty or twenty-two cents a day weaving. 

A beautiful velvet is woven at Bokhara which is used 
for the robes of officials. I saw a group of magistrates 
at Tashkend offering their congratulations to the viceroy 
upon the birthday of the Czar, who wore velvet robes of 
brilliant colours and looked like animated rainbows. 
But I am told that the production of both velvet and 
brocades is dying out because the women and girls of Bok- 
hara cannot compete with Jacquard looms. Silks from the 
factories at Moscow are rapidly driving home-made material 
out of the market. The scarfs of gauzy silk which the 


women wear all come from Moscow to-day. Although 
wealthy and conservative families insist upon home-made 
fabrics, which cost a little more, the ordinary buyer is 
satisfied with factory goods. 

As in China, it is customary to make presents of silk 
to those whose favour or affection is coveted. The emir 
of Bokhara, the Russian governor-general, the police officials, 
and others who are feared or favoured, receive rolls of costly 
fabrics on their birthdays and other occasions, and such 
gifts are more and more appreciated, as the genuine hand- 
woven silks are becoming rare. 

Wedding outfits of linen and silk are no longer woven 
in the household. They are purchased in the bazaars and 
bear the trademarks of Moscow merchants. 

The Jews are a very large and important element in the 
population of Bokhara, and their business ability, their 
honourable dealings, and their enterprise have won for them 
unlimited credit, commercial and moral. They are the 
leading merchants and bankers of the place; they control 
the silk market; they own most of the camel caravans 
which furnish transportation to China, Afghanistan, and 
various sections of Turkestan; they are largely interested 
in the rug business and in handling Persian lamb-skins, 
and are so skilful in dyeing wools and silk that they prac- 
tically monopolize that business. If you will watch them 
closely you will notice that the fingers of half the Jews you 
see in bazaars and on the streets, at the railway stations 
and elsewhere, are stained up to the knuckles with the dyes 
they use. 

The Jews of Bokhara and Samarkand and other cities 
of Turkestan are nearly all descended from Israelites who 


drifted over from Assyria at the time of the captivity, and 
have lived unmolested ever since, although they have 
been restricted at times and have often been compelled 
to pay blackmail for protection; but that has been the 
experience of every rich man. Whenever one of the des- 
potic chiefs who have ruled that country, or any other 
semi-civilized country, for that matter, feels the need of 
money he gets it the easiest way he can. That is usually 
by squeezing it out of those of his subjects who have it to 
spare, and the Jews have been the easiest marks. Their 
wealth, however, is overestimated from our point of view. 
People there have a lower standard. A man who is wortk 
100,000 rubles is considered rich, while one who has 
1,000,000 rubles, which is equivalent to $500,000, is a 
Croesus. Before the Russians came, and even now, in 
Bokhara, those who saved money were compelled to hide 
it and pretend that they were poor. No man will admit 
that he has money in Bokhara even to-day, because the 
tax collectors are compelled to satisfy the demands of the 
emir, who is a perfect cormorant, and assesses without 
mercy those who are able to pay. 

That is the reason the Jewish population of Bokhara is 
falling off and that of Samarkand, Tashkend, Kokand, and 
other Russian cities is increasing so rapidly. The Russians 
are fair to the Jews in all these Asiatic settlements because 
they need their money and their enterprise, but there is no 
telling what will happen when they begin to crowd their 
Russian competitors off the road. The persecution of the 
Jews in Russia has never been due to religious prejudice, 
but to professional and commercial jealousy. The Jews 
are so much superior to the Russians in ability, industry, 


enterprise, and in the other qualities which are necessary 
for success in every-day business and in every community, 
that they are absorbing about all that is worth having, 
and the only way the Russians can hold their own is by 
depriving their Jewish competitors of the means and oppor- 
tunities of making money. 

There are Jewish quarters in all of the cities of Turkestan 
and the limits of some of them were fixed by authority, and 
the Jews were confined to them at one time, but to-day a 
Jew can live where he likes and carry on any business that 
suits him. There are no restrictions whatever. Formerly 
under the khans they were forbidden horses and could 
ride only donkeys. They were compelled to wear ropes 
for girdles; many of them do so still, for they consider them 
badges of honour, but the young men dress like the 
rest of the community. Jewish women, as a protection 
against insult and unpleasant remarks, wear the same veils 
that are used by the Moslem women. They would be too 
conspicuous if they went into the street without them, but 
they discard them at home, and men and women mingle 
together as freely as in the United States. 

There are a number of synagogues in Bokhara and Samar- 
kand, but they are not conspicuous. The policy of the race 
has been to avoid attracting more attention than is neces- 
sary. The merchants observe Saturday and attend re- 
ligious services in the morning. Some of them open their 
shops Saturday afternoon. They keep open on Friday, 
which is the Mohammedan Sabbath, and on Sunday. All 
the shops are open on Sunday, even those of the Greeks, 
but on Friday business is partially suspended. 

The Afghans also claim to be descendants of the Jews of 


the captivity and there are traditions that large numbers 
of families migrated from Babylon to Afghanistan. 

The private houses of "Bokhara the Noble," and, indeed, 
of all the native towns, are built of unadulterated mud, 
without straw and without burning, and therefore their walls 
constantly require rebuilding. In a rainy climate like 
that of Panama or the southern part of the United States 
a house would not last a year, but in that dry atmosphere, 
with only an occasional shower, it will survive a lifetime, 
and, indeed, many generations, if repairs are carefully 
kept up. The soil is a sticky clay and, when moistened, 
will adhere like pitch to any object, and is as pliable as wax. 
It will stain dark clothing like grease and has to be scraped 
off woollen fabrics with a knife. Ordinary brushes are 
of no use in cleaning a suit of clothes of Turkestan mud. 

When a citizen of Bokhara wants to build a house he 
begins by digging a trench on the line of the walls from twelve 
to eighteen inches deep. This trench is filled with water 
from the nearest irrigation canal, and then he shovels in 
loose earth and tramps it down with his bare feet and often 
with heavy pestles or rammers. As soon as the trench 
is filled he makes a mould of boards, which he continues to 
fill with wet clay, and packs it down as he did the foundation. 
Occasionally he places a layer of bricks which have been 
moulded and pressed and dried in the sun, and continues to 
alternate these materials until the walls reach the required 
height. He places board frames where he wants doors, 
and fills in around them. There are seldom any windows, 
but they are growing fashionable. In some of the houses 
recently erected panes of glass have been introduced. 
This, however, is a decided innovation. 


After the walls are finished the builder fills in the chinks 
and crevices and then smears the whole surface, inside and 
out, with a plaster made of the same mud. When the first 
coat dries he puts on another, and perhaps several; then, 
if he is particular, he puts on a coat of whitewash, usually 
coloured with some bright tint, but 90 per cent of the 
houses are of the ordinary mud colour. 

The roof is made by laying rafters across, covering them 
with reeds and then with straw, and finally with a layer of 
earth which weighs the straw down and protects it from 
the wind. The reeds can be bought in the market. You 
see boys and women bringing in bales of them from the 
country on the backs of camels and donkeys. It is a rec- 
ognized business quite as much as lumber dealing is with 
us. They cost little, a well-laid thatch lasts for years, 
and, of course, can be replaced without much expense 
when necessary. The rafters are the trunks of young 
poplar trees which are planted and cultivated for that 
purpose. A poplar farm is a profitable enterprise. 

Two or three hard rains would wash a Bokhara house 
into the gutter, but rains are rare in that country, and the 
mud walls crumble under the force of the wind more than 
under the rain. Hence a prudent house owner will smear 
the outside of his dwelling over with a new coat of mud at 
least once a year. It does not cost much, either in money 
or labour, and he can get the material in his own garden or 
even by the roadside. 

Ninety per cent of the buildings in Bokhara are made 
in this way. The mosques and meddresses, the minarets 
and other public buildings, are made of kiln-dried brick, 
about eighteen inches long and an inch thick, similar to 


those used in Pompeii and in ancient Greece. They are 
more expensive than sun-dried brick, because of the scar- 
city of fuel, but are not affected by the weather or the 
climate and are practically indestructible. 

Building material in all rainless districts, however, is the 
same. The Casa Grande ruins in Arizona and the pueblos 
of the southwestern Indians are almost exactly like the 
dwellings of Bokhara, Samarkand, Merv.and other provinces 
of Turkestan, and if they were transported here they would 
fit into the picture perfectly. 

A history of Bokhara was written by Armenius Vambery, 
a Hungarian, in 1873, and published in London. It has 
been very severely criticized, however, and has been de- 
clared unreliable. 

In strolling about the bazaars and mosques of Bokhara 
and other cities we occasionally witnessed performances of 
"hafiscas,"or professional elocutionists, similar to the min- 
strels of Scotland and the trovador of ancient Spain. Some 
of them are aged men, patriarchial in appearance, with long, 
white beards, snowy turbans, heavy eyebrows, and dark, 
deep, serious eyes. Others are mere boys, fourteen or 
fifteen years of age, handsome fellows with clear olive com- 
plexions, fine teeth, regular features and graceful movements. 
They are often theological students, or "softas," as they are 
called. With unmusical voices pitched at a painfully high 
key, like the songs of the Japanese, the hafiscas recite reli- 
gious and historical poems. Some of them have dramatic 
fervour and the merit of true eloquence, but too often their 
recitals are spoiled by a sing-song monotony of tone that 
is expressionless to us, but is greatly admired by Orientals. 
Chinese singing is musical to Chinese ears, but not to 


Europeans. When the hafiscas begin their performances 
before a coffee house, in the vestibule of a mosque or in the 
market places, they are promptly surrounded by admiring 
audiences who squat on the ground in circles around them 
and listen with breathless attention. There is never any 
applause. I suppose it would be considered undignified, 
but everybody expresses his approval by tossing a copper 
into the hat when it is passed around. 

Bokhara is celebrated for its cats. They are of the same 
breed as the Persian cats which are often found in the 
United States and are now being bred quite extensively 
among our people. They have long, thick, silken, black 
hair and bushy tails, which they are very vain of and keep 
in perfect order. A Bokhara cat spends as much time on 
her toilet as a damosel dressing for a ball. Their habits 
are neat, they have good tempers, are excellent mousers and 
make perfect household pets. 

The dogs are mongrels, mangy creatures. They sneak 
around the bazaars and market places seeking for food 
and are the real scavengers of the place, like those of 
Constantinople. Michel Naskidoff, our dragoman, who is 
familiar with the East, said he has never seen a decent 
dog in a Mohammedan country, which I think is very 
likely true. 

In the centre of the bazaars of Bokhara is a large rec- 
tangular khan of two stories, with many rooms of different 
sizes opening upon the ground on the first story and upon 
a balcony in the second story. Most of these rooms are 
filled with Persian lamb-skins, and in several of them are 
little baby lambs, alive and anxious for their safety, and you 
can hear them bleat in piteous tones, like the crying of a 


child that is frightened at the dark. Trains of camels 
and donkeys are coming and going all the time through 
the wide door, leaving and taking away large bales of black, 
curly skins which are now so fashionable for ladies' garments. 
If you will look around you can see men engaged in sorting 
and packing them, tied together in bundles, each bundle 
containing skins of similar size. This is the centre of the 
lamb-skin trade, a sort of chamber of commerce or exchange, 
where the sellers meet the buyers, and deliveries as well as 
contracts are made. There are often very large trans- 
actions, involving thousands of skins, between agents of 
jobbing houses in Moscow, Constantinople, Vienna, London, 
Geneva, and other cities. Public letter writers are in at- 
tendance to draw contracts and make records of transactions, 
as on the stock exchanges and boards of trade in the United 
States, and money changers are at the gates who receive 
frequent information of the rates of exchange. 

Millions of skins change hands in that place every year. 
They are brought in from the steppes and the villages of 
Turkestan and shipped to Europe and America to make 
miladi's form divine look diviner still. The emir of Bok- 
hara has an agent always present watching for especially 
fine skins, which he seizes for his master, who sends them 
as presents to the empresses and queens and princesses of 
the European courts. Prices range from five rubles to 
forty rubles a skin — that is, from $2.50 to $20 — but 
it is not profitable to buy there, because, to be of value, 
skins must be perfectly matched. 

One of the most interesting of the processes to be seen 
in the bazaars of Bokhara is the manufacture of felt, which 
is a specialty of the Kirghiz, a nomadic tribe inhabiting 


the steppes north of Bokhara and far away to the banks of 
the Sea of Aral. They are also famous for their cloth of 
camels' hair, their robes, their bridles and saddle equip- 
ment, and their tent frames. 

To manufacture felt, a mat of straw or reeds, woven very 
skilfully, is placed upon the floor or the ground and covered 
with a thin layer of wool soaked in oil. This layer of wool 
is beaten with rods for several hours daily and after each 
beating is sprinkled with oil. After four days the matting, 
together with the wool which adheres to it, is rolled up 
as tightly as possible, tied so that it cannot come apart, 
and then rolled along the ground. After it has been pressed 
in this way for several hours on each of several days, and 
in the meantime left in the heat of the sun, it is unrolled 
again, sprinkled with water, beaten with rods, and then 
rolled up again until the fibres of the wool adhere to each 
other so closely that the moisture cannot penetrate them. 
The colour of the felt depends upon the colour of the wool. 
It may be black or white or brown. No dyes are used. 
The black felt is sold to make fezzes for the Persians, the 
white felt for the Afghans and the brown felt for the 

The righistan, or public square, of Bokhara is immediately 
in front of the ark, or citadel, in which the emir and his offi- 
cials are supposed to reside. On another side are the armory 
and barracks of the emir's military guard. On the third 
side is a mosque and on the fourth a row of shops, tea houses, 
restaurants, barber-shops, and booths of butchers and 
bakers and provision dealers. During the day a consider- 
able part of the square is occupied by hucksters, peasant 
farmers from the country who bring in vegetables, fruit, 


eggs and other produce and garden truck, and when they 
have disposed of their stock they fold up their tents like 
the Arabs and silently steal away. 

Connected by a narrow passage with the righistan is a 
square pool known as the Liabehaus Divan Begi or resting 
place of the finance minister. This stone basin, like all 
the others in the city, is filled with nasty-looking yellow 
fluid four or five feet deep, which is reached by flights of 
steps from the surrounding terrace, and at any time of 
day, from sunrise to sunset, you can witness the extra- 
ordinary spectacle of persons using the same water for bath- 
ing, washing soiled clothing, and drinking. A fur merchant 
will bring the skin of a Persian lamb or some other article 
from his stock and scrub it with soap and brush alongside 
of a servant who is filling an urn for the use of his master's 
household. A butcher will bring a chunk of meat, which 
has fallen from his counter, to wash off the dust; a hackman 
will dip up a bucketful of the slimy fluid to refresh his 
horses, and the next moment will return with a piece of 
greasy harness which he will dip into the basin and scrub 
until it is clean. There is no use to which water can be 
put that is not adopted at some time during the day upon 
the steps of this pool, and people tell me that they have 
seen the same man wash his feet and afterward dip up an 
urn of drinking water from the same spot within five minutes. 

There are many bathhouses in Bokhara similar to those 
in Constantinople and other Turkish cities, although there 
are no private rooms. Everybody dresses and receives 
massage in the same room and wallows in the same pool. 
It is filled with steaming water, heated by charcoal fires 
underneath and flowing in and out slowly, so that the 


temperature can be maintained at the same degree. The 
stone platform of the room surrounding the basin is wet 
and slippery and there are no hooks upon which a bather 
can hang his clothes. Around the wall is a bench of 
masonry, coated with cement, where the patrons sit while 
they remove their garments, and on one side, perhaps two, is 
a wide platform, in an alcove, where massage work is done. 

After removing his clothing the bather sits around for 
five or ten minutes to accustom himself to the temperature; 
then descends gradually, a step at a time, into the pool, 
which is heated to 110 or 115 degrees. He will find it al- 
ready occupied by several other persons, but it does not seem 
to be an objection. He remains in the water as long as he 
likes and is permitted to use soap, which is usually applied 
with a bunch of coarse fibre similar to the excelsior that our 
furniture dealers use for packing. Much of this substance 
becomes detached and floats around on the top of the water 
with the scum of the soap, but that does not seem to be an 
objection either. Finally, when the bather has had all 
the soaking he wants and has cleansed himself as thoroughly 
as he desires, he climbs out of the pool and lies down upon 
the stone platform, where the masseur, if he chooses to 
employ one, works over him as long as he wishes. 

The practice is about the same as that of ordinary mas- 
sage, but a little rougher. The masseur, who is stark naked, 
often climbs upon the back of his client, and, with a curious 
motion, slides up and down, with a knee each side of his 
spine. How this is done it is difficult to understand. None 
but experts can accomplish the feat. A skilful masseur 
can, however, make a journey on his knees from the neck 
to the hips of his client several times without slipping off, 


and that is supposed to be very effective in strengthening 
the spine and the diaphragm of the patient. 

After the massage the bather takes another dip in the 
pool, wraps himself in a sheet, and lies down wherever he 
can find a place. Sometimes people sleep in these hot 
rooms all night, but usually, after an hour or two, they go 
out into the front room, drink a cup of tea or coffee and 
gradually dress. 


TIMOUR the Tartar was one of those splendid, spec- 
tacular figures that occasionally illuminated the 
history of the East. He conquered all Asia; for a quarter 
of a century he was practically master of the entire world; 
he was the founder of the Mogul dynasty of India, and the 
first of the conquerors and kings beyond the Bosphorus to 
display a taste for architecture and an ambition to create 
monuments of majesty and beauty. Under him and his 
successors was developed in India, Turkestan, and Persia 
what is known as the Saracenic or Arabesque school of 
architects, who expressed their ideas in grandeur of pro- 
portions and massiveness rather than in delicacy of detail. 
They grouped great piles of masonry of perfect symmetry, 
and enamelled them with tiles of turquoise and sapphire 
and inscriptions in Sanscrit characters, which form the most 
artistic friezes you can imagine. Like Catharine II of 
Russia, Frederick the Great of Prussia, and Louis XIV 
of France, he brought to his capital artists, architects, 
and scholars from all the world, and the mosques, the 
meddresses, and the tombs of Samarkand still demonstrate 
their genius and his generosity. Timour was the ancestor 
of Abkar, the great Mogul of India, who created the glor- 
ious marble symphonies of Delhi and of Shah Jehan, who 
built the Taj Mahal at Agra, India, which is admitted to 




be the most beautiful structure ever framed by human 

Tamerlane was a nickname given to Timour by his sol- 
diers after he recovered from a wound that crippled him 
for life. He was one of the ugliest men in history. A 
Persian poet declared that "a sight of him would derange 
the ecstasies of the orthodox." He was not only a cripple, 
but was blind in one eye. It is said that one day he chanced 
to catch sight of himself in a mirror and was so horrified by 
his ugliness that he began to weep. Chodscha, one of his 
favourites, expostulated, saying: 

"If thou hast seen thy face but once and, seeing, hast 
not been able to control thy grief, what should we do who 
look upon thy face every day and every night?" 

But, notwithstanding these deformities, Tamerlane pos- 
sessed extraordinary personal magnetism and a dignity 
which compelled recognition of his ability and character. 
One of his admirers declared that he was "strong as an 
elephant; his shadow extends for miles; his heart is as 
boundless as the ocean, and his hands are like the clouds 
when rain falls to gladden the earth." 

He was born in 1336 in the kibitka, or tent, of Teragay, 
his father, who was the chief of a band of shepherds. When 
the child was taken to a mullah of noted sanctity to receive 
his name the priest happened to be reading aloud from the 
Koran the lines : "Are ye sure that he who dwells in heaven 
will not bid the earth to devour you? Lo, it shall shake!" 
As he pronounced the last word the mullah was interrupted 
by Teragay and remarked indifferently, "Let the child be 
called Timour" — the Arabic word for "shake." 

The boy grew up with other children of the desert, and 


could ride and draw a bow almost as soon as he could walk. 
The priest took a fancy to him and taught him to read; he was 
always a leader of his playmates, and at seventeen was the 
boldest horseman, the most skilful hunter, and the hero of 
his tribe. Then he began to have dreams and saw strange 
visions. In one of them the Prophet Mohammed stood 
before him and promised that seventy-two of his descend- 
ants should be kings. At the age of twenty-one he visited 
the court at Samarkand and impressed Kurgan, the fierce 
old emir, so favourably that he was given his granddaughter, 
the Princess Aljaz Agha for his bride. 

The wedding was celebrated with great splendour; Timour 
and his bride were conspicuous figures at court and he was 
made commander of the king's guard. Then came a 
period of plotting and fighting, which ended in the over- 
throw and assassination of Kurgan, and the flight of Timour 
and his bride into the desert with a band of only sixty men. 
On the banks of the Oxus he raised as a battle standard a 
crescent topped with a red horse's tail. Shepherd chiefs 
and fugitives from Samarkand joined him and offered their 
allegiance, and before the end of a year he found himself 
at the head of 6,000 warriors. The people hailed him as 
the saviour of the land and he was soon seated upon the 
throne of his father-in-law at Samarkand. 

A vision in the night inflamed his ambition. The Prophet 
stood before him again and said: "There is no God but 
Allah; there shall be no prince on earth but Timour." In 
the morning when he awakened he devised a plan of conquest 
which comprehended the earth. He led his army in a suit 
of armour that he believed had been worn by David, King 
of Israel; his finger ring contained an opal which turned red 


when a falsehood was spoken in his hearing; the Prophet 
Mohammed appeared to him frequently and directed his 
movements, and his enemies as well as his friends believed 
that he was inspired from heaven. 

For thirty years he was engaged in carrying out his plan 
of conquest, and he moved from the iEgean Sea to the 
eastern-most limits of India, followed by hundreds of 
thousands of warriors. He lived in an immense pavilion 
of scarlet silk embroidered with gems. His equipage was 
carried in a cart with wheels twenty feet in diameter and 
drawn by thirty-two oxen. He threatened Moscow one 
year and camped before Delhi the next. Everywhere he 
was victorious. Nothing could resist his impetuous attacks, 
and he led armies of men across deserts and over mountains 
which to-day are declared impassable. 

When he stood before the gates of Delhi, the capital 
of India, and demanded its surrender, the sultan came forth 
with 50,000 soldiers and a herd of 10,000 elephants whose 
trunks were tipped with poisoned blades. Tamerlane met 
them with a herd of camels laden with hay, which he set 
on fire. The elephants, terrified by the flames, wheeled 
around and ran, trampling down the sultan's army that was 
behind them. Tamerlane in triumph, entered the gates 
of Delhi and, seated upon the sultan's throne, proclaimed 
himself sovereign of India. He established a viceroy to 
reign in his name and returned to Samarkand with those 
same elephants loaded with the spoils. 

When he was celebrating his victories in the East a new 
light burst out upon the Bosphorus. Bajazet, the sultan 
of the Ottomans, also called Ildrim, which means "the 
lightning," had invaded and plundered several of the states 


which composed the western end of Timour's empire. 
The latter marched from Samarkand, through Persia to 
Syria, sacked Aleppo and Damascus, and on the 8th of 
Jane, 1402, overcame and captured Bajazet, after one of 
the bloodiest battles in the history of mankind. 

One by one, this shepherd boy grasped the crowns of 
seven and twenty kings and for twenty years his authority 
was undisputed in Asia outside of the Chinese Empire. 
Samarkand, his capital, was gorged with loot from Turkey, 
Persia, Syria, India, and the cities of the Muscovites, and 
he determined to make it the rival of Rome in architectural 
splendour and intellectual culture. He brought wise men 
from the East, artists from the West, and adventurers from 
all the territory between the Persian Gulf and the polar 
sea, and the Volga and the Ganges. The wise, the learned 
and the ambitious thronged the palaces of Samarkand. 
Ambassadors from the kingdoms of Europe came to make 
treaties with him and brought gifts of great value. 

But even the powerful can tempt the gods too far, and 
Tamerlane's ambition overreached itself. All Asia, except 
the Chinese nation, now paid homage to the shepherd boy 
of the desert. He had attained a power and enjoyed a 
glory equal to that of Alexander the Great, and was not 
willing to rest until he had overcome and plundered the 
Chinese cities, which were reported to be an exhaustless 
source of treasure. 

Tamerlane spent the year 1404 preparing for his expedi- 
tion, and in January, 1405, followed by 200,000 fighting men, 
set out from Samarkand toward the mountains that divide 
China and Turkestan. The winter was unusually cold; 
the desert was covered with snow, the Jaxarkes was frozen 


over and the great horde crossed upon the ice. A blizzard 
of unprecedented severity compelled Tamerlane to stop 
at Otrar, 300 miles east of Samarkand, where he settled 
down to await milder weather. But exposure and fatigue 
had at last overcome the man whom nothing had been able 
to subdue. He took to his bed with a fever, and the icy- 
water with which he tried to assuage his thirst brought on 
a chill from which he died during a furious storm that 
almost destroyed his silken tent. 

When the tempest had subsided sufficiently to allow 
the troops to find the desert trail, they turned their faces 
homeward, bearing the body of the Emperor of Asia em- 
balmed in the richest of spices, drenched in rose water, 
peacefully reposing in a casket of ebony, and they placed 
it with reverence in the mausoleum he had erected for 
himself at Samarkand. He was 69 years old at the date 
of his death; he reigned for thirty -three years as Emperor 
of Asia, and at least two-thirds of his entire life was occupied 
with active warfare for conquest. His battles are counted 
by the hundreds, and it is said that he was never defeated 
except by the angel of death. 

Clements R. Markham, Secretary of the Royal Geographic 
Society of London, in a sketch of Tamerlane, says of his 
early life and ancestry: 

"The most famous of Timour's ancestors was Karachar 
Nevian, the first convert to Islamism among the wild con- 
querors. He ruled with justice and moderation for many 
years, and established his own tribe of Berlas around the 
town of Kesh, near Samarkand. He became Sepah Salar 
or general of Zagatai's forces, and the title was made hered- 
itary in his family; but his great-grandson, Teragay, who 


was Timour's father, appears to have resigned the office, 
preferring the retirement of Kesh, and the society of learned 
men to the turbulent strife of the court of Samarkand. 

"Teragay, the chief of the tribe of Berlas, is said to have 
been a man of distinguished piety and liberality, and he 
inherited an incalculable number of sheep and goats, cattle 
and servants. His wife, Tekina Khatoum, was virtuous 
and beautiful; and on the 8th of April, 1336, she gave 
birth to a son, at their encampment near the verdant walls 
of the delicious town of Kesh. This child was the future 
aspirant for universal empire. 

"Timour was of the race of Toorkish wanderers, and he 
was of noble lineage, amongst a people who thought much 
of their descent. His countrymen lived in tents, loved the 
wandering lives of warlike shepherds better than the 
luxury and ease of cities; and, even in the countries which 
they had conquered, preferred an encampment in the open 
plains to a residence in the most splendid palaces. Brought 
up amidst such feelings, a youth of undoubted genius would 
naturally turn the whole force of his vigorous intellect to 
the achievement of military glory; but if Timour had not 
been a great conqueror, he would inevitably have become 
famous in some other way; and under any circumstances, 
he would have left the impress of his genius on the history 
of the Asiatic races. Timour was no vulgar conqueror, 
no ordinary man; his history, as displayed both in his own 
writings, and in those of his biographers, proves that, if 
not in his acts, certainly in his thoughts and opinions, he 
was in advance of his age and country. 

"In his seventh year Timour's father took him by the 
hand, and led him to school, where he was placed in charge 


of the Mollah AH Beg. The Mollah, having written the 
Arabic alphabet on a plank, placed it before the child, 
who was much delighted, and considered the study as an 
amusement. In his ninth year he was taught the daily 
service of the mosque, and always read the ninety-first 
chapter of the Koran, called 'the Sun.' 

"The child very early began to entertain an innate feel- 
ing of superiority, and a sort of presentiment of his future 
greatness. He himself afterwards described his recollec- 
tion of this feeling, in quaint terms. 'At twelve years of 
age,' he says, 'I fancied I perceived in myself all the signs 
of greatness and wisdom, and whoever came to visit me, I 
received with great hauteur and dignity. At eighteen I 
became vain of my abilities, and was very fond of riding 
and hunting. I passed much of my time in reading the 
Koran, and playing at chess, and was also very fond of 

"Such was this young man's character when, in 1355, 
at the age of twenty, his father, Teragay, made over to 
him a number of tents, sheep, camels, and servants, and, 
in short, gave him a separate establishment. He began 
to long for some wider field of action, and to form plans of 
rebellion against what he considered the tyranny of the 
Zagatai sultan. He could not then find anyone to join him, 
but another turbulent spirit named Ameer Kurgan, one of 
the greatest chiefs of the tribe of Zagatai, defeated and 
killed the tyrant, and ruled the kingdom for ten years. 

"Timour was deputed by his father to wait upon Ameer 
Kurgan, on business connected with the tribe of Berbas; 
and the new ruler took a liking for the young chief, and 
gave him his grand-daughter in marriage. This lady proved 


a faithful and loving companion, following her lord in all 
his wild adventures, and sharing his dangers and misfor- 
tunes. Her name was Aljaz Turkhan Agha, daughter of 
Ameer Mashlah, grand-daughter of Ameer Krugan, and 
sister of Ameer Hosein. 

"It was not, however, until 1358, when he was twenty- 
three years of age, that Timour's ambitious views began 
to take a wider range than the government of his native 
tribe of Berlas. In that year Ameer Kurgan determined 
to invade Khorassan, and gave the command of a thousand 
horses to young Timour, who was delighted with his new 
command. The men became extremely attached to him; 
he wrote a list of their names, and kept it folded in his 
pocket; and he was so elated by finding himself at the head 
of so many faithful followers, that he resolved, when the 
ruler of Khorassan was dispossessed, to grasp the sover- 
eignty for himself. 

"The ruler of Khorassan was expelled; and Timour was 
left in possession of Herat, while Ameer Kurgan returned 
to the Oxus, where he was treacherously murdered by two 
Toorkish chiefs. Timour was justly indignant at this 
base act, and, with his accustomed energy, collected his 
native tribe, and marched to Samarkand, where the vic- 
torious chiefs divided the whole empire amongst them. 

"For the next seven years, from 1362 to 1369, when he 
was finally seated on the throne of Samarkand, Timour 
was engaged, first in expelling the invaders from his native 
land, and afterwards in a death struggle with his brother- 
in-law, Ameer Hosein." 

" On the death of Timour his vast empire, which extended 
from the Volga River to the Bay of Bengal and from the 


Mediterranean to the polar sea, soon fell to pieces. Yet 
it has been that the greatest and best princes that ever 
reigned in Mohammedan countries are to be found among 
his descendants. His son, Shah Rokh, reigned for more 
than forty years over Khorassan, which comprised a part 
of Persia, and a part of Afghanistan, and from 1397 to 1446 
preserved peace and order in that country. He received 
his name because Tiniour was playing chess when he heard 
the news of his birth. He had just made the move which 
the Persians call Shah Rokh, checking the king with a 
castle. He was celebrated for his piety and liberality and 
for his courage and military ability. He made his capital 
at Herat, now a city of Afghanistan near the Persian bound- 
ary, and at that time it was a place of splendid appearance 
and large population. Ibrahim Meerza, the son of Shah 
Rokh, reigned for twenty years over Persia and encouraged 
literature and science, and built a famous university at 

" Uleg Beg, another grandson of Timour, who succeeded 
him at Samarkand, was the greatest astronomer for many 
centuries and his astronomical tables are a wonder, con- 
sidering the time when they were prepared. They are 
considered the most accurate of all that have come down 
to us from ancient times and they agree very well with those 
prepared by Tycho Brahe, the great Danish astronomer, 
who came to the University of Prague in 1599. They have 
been translated by John Greaves, the great English mathe- 
matician and astronomer. 

"Hosein Meerza, who succeeded Shah Rokh, another 
grandson of Timour, was a great patron of art and literature, 
and left many splendid buildings. 


"The Sultan Baber, Mogul of India, was, after Timour, 
the most famous of that dynasty, and his memoirs, which 
he wrote during the latter part of his life, compose one of 
the most curious and interesting works in literature. The 
Mogul Akbar, the enlightened and liberal emperor of India, 
was the most brilliant of Timour's descendants. Shah Jehan, 
his great-grandson, who built the Taj Mahal, the most 
beautiful building in the world, was also a genius. From 
his time there seems to be a decadence in the family until 
Nadir, the native prince, who was largely responsible for the 
Indian mutiny of 1858; he was the last of the Timourides." 

There was published in the year 1780 an English trans- 
lation by Joseph White Laudian, professor of Arabic in 
the University of Oxford, a remarkable manuscript, en- 
titled: "Institutes, Political and Military, Written Ori- 
ginally in the Mogul Language, by the Great Timour, 
Improperly Called Tamerlane: First Translated into Per- 
sian by Abu Taulib Alhusseini, and Thence Into English, 
With Marginal Notes." 

There are several biographies of Tamerlane, or Timour 
the Tartar, founder of the Mogul dynasty. The best known 
was written shortly after his death in 1404 in Persian by 
order of Ibrahim, the son of Shah Rokh, the son of Timour. 
It was translated into French in 1722 and served as the 
basis for several other histories. Another, entitled "Zapar- 
nane, or Book of Victory," was compiled under Timour's 
own orders by a certain Nizamshmi, and is brought down to 
1403, one year before his death. The original manuscript 
is in the British Museum. 

Several unfriendly volumes were written about him by 
Persians and other enemies during the generation following 


his death, and they have been preserved in the libraries 
of Europe, although, strange to say, nothing in the way of 
history or biography of his time, or any other time for that 
matter, can be found in Samarkand, his capital, which he 
made the centre of learning and literature during his reign. 
All culture seems to have been lost during the century 
following his death, when his great empire was broken into 
fragments by the contentions of his descendants. 

Edward Gibbon, in his "History of the Decline and Fall 
of the Roman Empire," Vol. XVII, Chapter LXV, gives 
an eloquent review of the character and career of the greatest 
of all Asiatics, and says: 

"The fame of Timour has pervaded the East and the 
West; his posterity is still invested with the imperial titles, 
and the admiration of his subjects, who revered him almost 
as a deity, may be justified in some degree by the praise 
or confession of his bitterest enemies. 

"Although he was lame of a hand and foot, his form and 
stature were not unworthy of his rank, and his vigorous 
health, so essential to himself and to the world, was corrob- 
orated by temperance and exercise. In his familiar dis- 
course he was grave and modest, and, if he was ignorant of 
the Arabic language, he spoke with fluency and elegance 
the Persian and Turkish idioms. It was his delight to 
converse with the learned on topics of history and science, 
and the amusement of his leisure hours was the game of 
chess, which he improved or corrupted with new refinements. 
. . . In the government of a vast empire he stood 
alone and absolute, without a rebel to oppose his power, 
a favourite to seduce his affections, or a minister to mislead 
his judgment. It was his firmest maxim that, whatever 


might be the consequence, the word of the prince should 
never be disputed or recalled. . . . His sons and 
grandsons, of whom Timour left six-and-thirty at his de- 
cease, were his first and most submissive subjects. 
To maintain the harmony of authority and obedience, to 
chastise the proud, to protect the weak, to reward the 
deserving, to banish vice and idleness from his dominions, 
to secure the traveller and merchants, to restrain the dep- 
redations of the soldier, to cherish the labours of the 
husbandman, to encourage industry and learning, and, by 
an equal and moderate assessment, to increase the revenue 
without increasing the taxes, are, indeed, the duties of a 
prince; but, in the discharge of these duties, he finds an 
ample and immediate recompense. Timour might boast 
that, at his accession to the throne, Asia was the prey of 
anarchy and rapine, whilst under his prosperous monarchy 
a child, fearless and unhurt, might carry a purse of gold 
from the east to the west. Such was his confidence of merit 
that from this reformation he derived excuses for his vic- 
tories and his title to universal dominion." 

The most interesting account of the splendour of Tamer- 
lane's court at Samarkand is found in a "Narrative of the 
Embassy of Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo to the Court of 
Timour, at Samarkand, A.D. 1403-6." This is the oldest 
Spanish narrative of travel known and was written in the 
earliest dawn of Spanish literature, in the reign of King 
Henry III, who was a contemporary of Richard II, and 
Henry IV, of England. From a historical point of view 
it is exceedingly important, almost equal to the narratives 
of Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville. 

Henry III of Castile sent embassies to all the princes 


of Christendom to gather information respecting their 
affairs and to collect knowledge that might be useful for 
the good government of his own country. Two of his 
ambassadors were witnesses of the battle of Angora, in 
which Timour overcame Bayazid, the second sultan of 
Turkey, in the year 1402, and upon their return to Spain 
took with them two Christian ladies who had been rescued 
by Tamerlane from the harem of their captor. One 
was a Hungarian and the other a Greek. Both married 
grandees of the Spanish court and became the mothers 
of eminent men. 

Henry III became so much interested in the affairs of 
Turkestan that he sent a second embassy to the court of 
Tamerlane, of which Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, a grandee 
of Madrid, was the chief, and Clavijo wrote a description 
of all the places through which he passed from Cadiz to 
Samarkand, where he spent several months as a guest of 
the great Tartar. He gives a minute account of his ex- 
perience and introduces much historical information con- 
cerning lands which he did not visit and many interesting 
stories of what he heard as well as what he saw. His 
narrative is the most complete, and doubtless the most accu- 
rate account we have of the reign of the Tartar conqueror 
and the splendour of his capital. Although familiar 
with the incomparable architecture of the Moors at Granada, 
Cordova, and Seville, he confesses his amazement at the 
magnificence of the barbarian city in the deserts of Asia. 
The mosques and colleges were thronged with scholars, 
the palaces were surrounded by gardens "as lovely as para- 
dise, in which thousands of pavilions, rose-coloured, azure 
and snow-white, stood glittering in the sun." 


He tells us that Tamerlane and his courtiers dined at 
tables laden with dishes of pure gold; they drank from gob- 
lets enamelled with rubies; their food was borne to them 
on silver trays so heavy that it took three men to carry 
them; the guests were served with pyramids of meat and 
countless jars of precious wine, and when the emir was 
pleased with his surroundings he showered coins of gold 
and jewelled rings upon his guests. Nothing amazed the 
Spaniard more than the pavilion of the queen, where she 
dined upon a table of gold, the top of which, he says, was 
a single emerald. It was placed under a tree similar to 
the one described in the story of Aladdin and his wonderful 
lamp. The trunk was of silver, its boughs and branches 
were of gold, its fruits were rubies, pearls, diamonds, 
and sapphires. No fable of mythology was ever so extrav- 
agant in its descriptions of splendour as the stories which 
those grandees sent home to the Spanish court. While 
much of their rhapsody must have been exaggeration, their 
enthusiasm was no doubt justified. 

He says that Tamerlane had a ring set with a stone of 
extraordinary lustre, which, however, grew dull when any 
falsehood was told in his presence. Clavijo told some tall 
stories concerning the grandeur of Spain, which he admits 
"were not strictly true, but in a metaphorical sense," and 
he was very much surprised to notice that the gem preserved 
its bright colour. Perhaps it might have blushed at some 
of the accounts he gives of the splendour and extravagance 
of Tamerlane's court, although his statements are con- 
firmed by other writers. 

Upon their arrival at Kesh, about thirty miles from Samar- 
kand, they found "Timour Beg seated in a portal in front of 


the entrance of a beautiful palace, and he was sitting on 
the ground," Clavijo relates. "Before him there was a 
fountain, which threw up the water very high, and in it there 
were many red apples. The lord was seated cross-legged 
on a silken embroidered carpet among round^pillows. He 
was dressed in a robe of silk, with a high white hat on his 
head, on the top of which was a spiral ruby with pearls 
and precious stones around it." He continues: 

"As soon as the ambassadors and many others who had 
come from distant countries were seated in order, they 
brought much meat, boiled and roasted and dressed in 
other ways, and roasted horses; and they placed these on 
very large, round pieces of stamped leather. When the 
lord called for meat the people dragged it to him on these 
pieces of leather, so great was its weight; and as soon as 
it was within twenty paces of him carvers came, who cut 
it up, kneeling on the leather, and put the pieces in basins 
of gold and silver. The most honourable piece was a 
haunch of a horse, and they placed parts of it in ten cups 
of gold and silver. Then some men came with soup and they 
sprinkled salt over it and put a little in each dish with sauce; 
and they took some very thin cakes of corn, doubled them 
up four times and placed one over each cup or basin of meat. 
And after that there came fruit, melons, grapes, and nec- 
tarines. They gave them drink out of silver and golden 
jugs, particularly sugar and cream, a pleasant beverage, 
which they made in the summer time." 

This house and garden where the lord received the am- 
bassadors was called "Heart's Delight," and Clavijo con- 
tinues: "This garden had a very lofty and handsome en- 
trance made of bricks and adorned with tiles of blue and 


gold arranged in various patterns. There were many tents 
and awnings of red cloth and various coloured silks. In 
the centre of the garden there was a very beautiful house 
built in the shape of a cross and very richly adorned with 
ornaments. In the middle of it there were three chambers 
with beds and carpets, and the walls were covered with glazed 
tiles. Opposite the entrance, in the largest of the chambers, 
was a gold table as high as a man and three arms abroad, 
on the top of which there was a bed of silk cloth, embroidered 
with gold, and here the lord was seated. The walls were 
hung with rose-coloured silk cloths ornamented with plates 
of silver gilt set with emeralds, pearls, and other precious 

"In the centre of the house opposite the door were two 
gold tables, each standing on four legs, and the table and 
the legs were all one; and seven golden phials stood upon 
them, two of which were set with large pearls, emeralds, and 
turquoises, and each one had a ruby near the mouth. 
There were also six round golden cups, each of which was 
set with large, round, clear pearls inside and in the centre 
of them was a ruby two fingers broad and of a brilliant 

"This pavilion was so large and high that from a distance 
it looked like a castle, and it was a wonderful thing to see," 
he exclaims. 

The ambassador describes other'tents made of red velvet, 
embroidered with golden threads, and does not seem to 
have sufficient words at his command to express his wonder 
and admiration. The splendour of the scene, however, 
was violated by several acts of cruelty committed by Tamer- 
lane in the presence of his guests. On one occasion, he says, 


"justice was inflicted upon a magistrate called Dina, who 
was the greatest officer in all the land of Samarkand. Timour 
had left him in the city as his magistrate when he departed 
for six or seven months, during which time this man had 
neglected his duty, so the lord ordered him to be hanged, 
and confiscated all his goods. 

"Another piece of justice was inflicted upon a great man 
who had been left in charge of 3,000 horses when the lord 
departed. Because he could not produce all he was hanged, 
although he pleaded that he could produce not only 3,000 
but 6,000 horses if the lord would give him time. In this 
and other ways the lord administered justice. He also 
ordered justice to be executed upon certain butchers who 
had sold meat for more than it was worth and upon shoe- 
makers who had cheated the people by giving them leather 
of a poor quality, and other traders were fined for selling 
their goods at a high price. The custom is that when a 
great man is put to death he is hanged, but the meaner sort 
are beheaded." 

Clavijo laments the terrible drunkenness he saw at court, 
of which women as well as men were guilty, and says: "It 
is not considered respectful to the sultan for anyone to par- 
take of his wine without getting so drunk that he could drink 
no more of it, and the servants carried the drunken men 
from the presence of their master. The women also became 
so intoxicated that they fell unconscious." 

Clavijo describes the several wives of Tamerlane and their 
costumes, which must have been gorgeous. Their head- 
dresses were covered with pearls, rubies, emeralds, and other 
precious stones, and it required fifteen ladies to carry the 
train of the chief wife, which was of red velvet trimmed with 


gold lace, "so heavy that the women could scarcely lift 
it." He also describes the apartments in which the queen 
received him and his companions, sitting, like Tamerlane, 
upon the top of a golden table. Her tent was of red cloth 
outside, and "part of the inside was lined with sable, which 
is the most precious skin in the world, and each skin is 
worth 14 or 15 ducats (a ducat was worth $4) in this land, 
and in other countries its value is much greater." 

Clavijo also describes games and sports with which the 
people of Samarkand amused themselves, and in which 
elephants and other wild animals were used. 

"The city," he says, "is very rich in merchandise and the 
business is very large." He says that Tamerlane brought 
home with him from his campaigns 150,000 slaves, most 
skilful mechanics and artisans, weavers of silk, potters and 
makers of earthen ware, silversmiths and others "skilled 
in making engines of war." 

From his accounts Samarkand must have been as luxu- 
rious and the people as profligate as those of Babylon, and 
the feasts of Tamerlane must have surpassed in mag- 
nificence those of Belshazzar. 

In the university library at Heidelberg are ninety-six 
neatly written sheets of manuscript about 8 inches long by 
6 inches broad, bound in leather, with bronze corner plates 
and clasps, the upper board bearing a portrait in gold relief 
of the elector, Otto Heinrich, and the date 1558. Another 
date, 1443, probably the year in which the manuscript was 
written, appears on the title page, which is beautifully 
ornamented with illustrations from the Old and New Tes- 
taments. This volume was included in the Palatine library 
that was captured and carried off by Maximilian, Duke of 


Bavaria, to Pope Gregory XV, as a trophy of the Catholic 
triumphs and for nearly two hundred years occupied an 
honoured place in the library at the Vatican. After the 
general peace of 1815 Pope Pius VII restored the collection 
to the University of Heidelberg. 

This manuscript contains "The Recollections of the 
Bondage and Travels of Johann Schiltberger, a native of 
Bavaria, in Europe, Asia, and Africa, 1396-1427." 

Schiltberger, it seems, when a boy about 16, left his home 
near the city of Munich and found his way into Turkey, 
where he was made a servant or slave of the Sultan Bajazet, 
and accompanied him in his campaigns for twelve years. 
At the battle of Nicopolis he was captured by Tamerlane's 
forces, was spared on account of his good looks, and re- 
mained as a body-servant for six years with his captor, 
whom he followed in his campaigns in India, Persia, and 
Syria and was with him at the time of his death at Otrar 
in 1405. 

He then fell into the hands of Shah Rokh, a son of Tamer- 
lane, and continued his wanderings until 1424 or 1425, 
when he managed to escape and make his way back to 
his home in Munich, where he arrived some time in the 
year 1417, "offering thanks to Almighty God for his escape 
from the infidel people and their wicked religion, and for 
having preserved him from the risk of perdition of body 
and soul." 

Schiltberger's knowledge of the world made him a valu- 
able accession to the court at Munich. He was attached 
to the staff of the grand chamberlain of Albrecht III, and 
was ultimately elevated to the nobility. The Schiltbergers 
have ever since been included in the peerage of Bavaria. 


So much interest was exhibited in the narrative of his 
adventures, as he related them at court, that he was per- 
suaded to commit his recollections to paper and the original 
manuscript is in the university library at Heidelberg, as 
I have already stated. It has been published in printed 
form several times in German and French, and an English 
translation was made for the Hakluyt Society of London 
in 1859 by Commander J. Buchan Telfer, R. N. 

Schiltberger gives a graphic account of his experience in 
the train of Tamerlane, whom he describes as a man of 
imposing presence and imperial manners; although his 
accounts of his cruelty and mercilessness toward his ene- 
mies and prisoners captured in war are frightful. For 
example, he tells of one occasion where Tamerlane captured 
the city of Weyasit, after a siege of twenty-one days. 

"When Tamerlane took the city," the narrative states, 
"the governor begged that he would not shed their blood. 
To this he consented, but buried them all alive. There 
were also 9,000 virgins taken into captivity by Tamerlane 
to his own country." 

At another time, in a war with the Turks, Tamerlane cap- 
tured the city of Damascus and the narrative continues: 
"After he had taken the city, there came to him the Geit — 
that is as much as to say a bishop — and fell at his feet, 
and begged mercy for himself and his priests. Tamerlane 
ordered that he should go with his priests into the temple; 
so the priests took their wives, their children, and many 
others, into the temple for protection, until there were 
30,000 young and old. Now Tamerlane gave orders that, 
when the temple was full, the people inside should be shut 
up in it. This was done. Then wood was placed around 


the temple, and he ordered it to be ignited, and they all 
perished in the temple. Then he ordered that each one 
of his soldiers should bring to him the head of a man. This 
was done, and it took three days; then with these heads 
were constructed three towers, and the city was pillaged." 

In several accounts of the life of Tamerlane it is represented 
that when he captured Bajazet, the sultan of Turkey, at 
the battle of Nicopolis, he placed his prisoner in an iron 
cage and for several years thereafter carried him around 
in that way, as a gratification to his pride and as a warning 
to his enemies. This sensational story has also been denied 
as a falsehood, originating with a Persian writer who is 
plainly prejudiced and vindictive in his disposition toward 
Tamerlane. As Schiltberger was captured at the same 
battle with his royal master, Bajazet, and remained at the 
headquarters of Tamerlane continuously for six years after, 
it is significant that he makes no mention of the matter in 
his narrative. He certainly would have done so if the 
story is true. 



TT IS, however, from the memoirs of Tamerlane himself 
•*■ that we get the best idea of his character and the most 
accurate account of certain events in his lfe, which have been 
the subject of controversy for four centuries. This manu- 
script makes an octavo volume of 457 pages. It begins 
with his birth and is carried through to the year before his 
death. The manuscript was found about the middle of 
the eighteenth century in the library of Jafir, hakim, or 
governor, of Yemen, Arabia, and there is no reason to doubt 
its genuineness. There have been several translations, 
first into Persian and from Persian into English. 

As the translator says: "These memoirs carry with them 
the strongest proof that he wrote for posterity only. He 
gives you that which he alone had the power to give, the 
secret springs and motives which influenced his conduct 
in the various political and military transactions of his life, 
the arts by which he governed as well as the power by which 
he conquered. He acknowledges his weaknesses, honestly 
owns his errors, describes the difficulties in which he was oc- 
casionally involved by those errors, and the policy by which 
he surmounted and overcame those difficulties. The noble 
simplicity of diction, the plain and unadorned egotism that 
runs through the whole of the ' Institutes,' are peculiarities 
which mark their originality and their authenticity also. 



"There is ever a solemnity and a kind of sacred authority 
in the instructions which a dying parent delivers to his 
offspring," continues the translator in his preface. "When 
the lord of the East laid down his sceptre, which he had long 
and well supported, he did not leave to his successor a verbal 
injunction, a short lesson of morality, which might soon be 
forgotten amid the cares and pleasures of a court, but be- 
stowed with his empire a gift more valuable, the art to pre- 
serve it. In the leisure of his declining years he had thrown 
a retrospective eye over the scenes of a long and varied life, 
and then committed to writing for the perpetual instruction 
of his imperial descendants those rules of government 
and those measures of policy which he himself had invari- 
ably followed, and from his history he collected the several 
plans he had formed and their success. To these he added 
his omens, which are omitted in this publication, because, 
however consistent they might have been when they were 
written with the manners and religion of the East, and 
whatever political purposes they might have tended to pro- 
mote, the present age wisely disregards such superstitions." 

It is hoped that Dr. Ross, who is soon to make a new trans- 
lation from the original manuscript of the "Institutes" 
of Tamerlane, will not be so cautious as Dr. White, the first 
translator, for I do not think that any harm would befall 
the present generation if they were to know Timour's inter- 
pretation of signs and omens that were observed by him. 

The preface to the translation continues: "Timour 
was always attended by several learned and able men, 
whose sole employment was to keep a sort of historical 
journal of all transactions as they occurred, both military and 
civil. They were directed to adhere minutely to the truth 


in their relation of the most trifling facts, and they were still 
more particularly enjoined to observe the strictest impar- 
tiality and accuracy in their narratives of the conduct and 
actions of the emperor himself. These historical journals, 
if they may be so called, were from time to time read in his 
presence and in the presence of his ministers and officers 
and of the learned. They were compared with and corrected 
by each other, by the emperor himself, and by such of his 
officers as had a personal knowledge of the transactions 
therein related. It must be allowed that this was no bad 
way of collecting authentic materials for a history of a 
mighty governor governing an empire. 

"The only work bearing the least resemblance to the 'In- 
stitutes' of Timour, which has fallen under my observation, 
is the history or commentaries of the Sultan Baber, written 
by himself. Baber was descended from Timour in the fifth 
degree; about eighty years elapsed between the death of 
Timour and the birth of Baber. The earlier part of his life 
much resembles that of his great predecessor, and his abili- 
ties in the field and in the cabinet, his fortitude in distress, 
his activity and courage when surrounded with difficulties 
and danger, and the glory and success with which his enter- 
prises were finally crowned, make the resemblance between 
these two princes still more striking. Like Timour, Baber 
wrote an accurate history of his own life and actions in the 
Turkish language, which, though by no means equal to the 
admirable composition of his renowned ancestor, is a work 
of infinite merit." 

The Mogul emperor, Humayun, son of Baber, son of 
Omar Shykl, son of Abu Said, son of Muhammed Mirza, 
son of Myran Hussyn, son of Timour, also wrote his memoirs, 


which were translated and published in London by Major 
Charles Stewart in 1832. 

Akbar, the greatest of the moguls of India, was the son 
of Humayun, and the grandfather of Shah Jehan, who 
built the Taj Mahal, the most beautiful of all buildings, 
at Agra, India, as a tomb for his beloved wife. Shah Jehan 
was the grandson of Tamerlane in the eighth generation. 

In the Bodley Library at the University of Oxford is a 
collection of 178 portraits of the moguls, including one of 
Tamerlane, which was obtained in India by Alexander 
Pope in 1737, and presented to that institution. Concern- 
ing the portrait of Tamerlane, the donor says: "It is 
perhaps the only one extant on which any dependence for 
genuineness may be reasonably had." 

The political, military and moral maxims found in the 
"Institutes" of Tamerlane, are as full of wisdom and phil- 
osophy as the meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and were 
household words in the courts of the grand moguls of 
India, his descendants. Tamerlane was doubtless illiterate 
from our standard, but wise in his generation. He was 
born a nomad shepherd, although his family came from 
famous stock. He probably never went to school a day in 
his life, although he is said to have been able to speak in 
three languages — Arabic, Persian, and Turki. But he 
had a brilliant intellect and a long course of instruction in 
that greatest of universities, human experience. When he 
reached a degree of power and authority which enabled him 
to do so, he surrounded himself with men of learning, and, 
although he destroyed Bagdad and Damascus, which were 
the centres of literary life and scholastic research in those 
days, the mosques and colleges which he afterward erected 


at Samarkand were worthy rivals of the best institutions 
in those ancient cities. Owing to his liberality Samarkand, 
at the beginning of the fifteenth century, was probably the 
centre of civilization. 

This Tartar warrior desired to be remembered by posterity 
as a wise king and a patron of learning, and he wrote these 
memoirs late in his life because he desired to leave a memo- 
rial of himself which would place him upon a level with the 
most intelligent of the sovereigns he had overthrown. His 
sons inherited from him unusual talent, which in some cases 
amounted to genius, and they founded an empire in India 
which lasted to our own time. 

In 1437 Uleg Beg, a grandson of Tamerlane, built at 
Samarkand the greatest observatory in the world, and 
with his own hands prepared astronomical tables which are 
the wonder of modern astronomers. The thirty -eight years 
this cultured prince occupied the throne of his father was 
the golden age of Central Asia. He gathered about him the 
most famous men of science of that time and his artistic 
taste was displayed in buildings which still stand. Other 
of Tamerlane's descendants were also men of learning and 
patrons of science and art and literature, and by their works 
it is evident that they desired to be so known. 

The "Institutes" of Tamerlane doubtless attracted great 
attention in the Moslem world when they first appeared, 
and were the subject of much comment in 1780, when they 
were first translated into English; but, like many good things, 
they were buried under a flood of publications and have been 
forgotten. Their revival would be opportune even at this 

Among the political maxims which Tamerlane handed 


down to his successors for their guidance in governing the 
empire he had established over two-thirds of the continent 
of Asia, are the following: 

"In conducting the concerns of government, take by the 
hand four assistants: Deliberation, Counsel, Vigilance, and 

"Those are worthy only to be counsellors who steadfastly 
adhere to what they say and do. 

"A friend in all places cometh to use. 

"One obstinately resolved on resistance who is dangerous 
may often be won by indirect commendation, which he may 

"Unless it be quite necessary, a prince should not displace 
officers of his own promotion. 

" Since God is one and hath no partner, therefore the ruler 
over the land must be one only. 

"It is good to pardon, to be liberal, to be merciful; but 
it is better to be just. 

"Those who are disposed to hurt others should not be 
admitted to intimacy. 

"A prince must be just and good as well as valiant. 

"Not only good and useful men are to be rewarded; but 
enemies and traitors on submission can be pardoned and 
made useful, if their hearts can be won. Especially, if they 
are brave and sagacious men. 

" Teachers of the Divine Law should furnish an example of 
their precepts. 

"No prince can be strong and secure unless he is religious. 

"Plenty and population are the main ends in a govern- 

"A prince should hear advice from everyone, but he 


should so attend to none as to make them equal or superior 
to himself in wisdom or in authority. 

"Too great a share of government should be trusted to 
none, but the power of every officer, even the most inferior, 
should be absolute over all below him. 

"Ministers should not be condemned except on fair trial 
and clear proof, because many seek their ruin, either 
envying them or plotting against their sovereign. 

"He who forgetteth his duty once should be trusted no 

"He who in the hour of trial searcheth after excuses, or 
would transfer until to-morrow the business of to-day, let 
him be held in contempt. 

"If a good servant be unjustly put to shame or morti- 
fication, let it be repaired promptly. 

"When one who hath forsaken his master returns of his 
own accord, let him be received with kindness, but not 

These are samples of the wisdom of the great Tamerlane 
in political policy, and in his "Institutes" he gives a sim- 
ilar series for the guidance of his successors in military 
affairs. He also gives a series of theological and religious 
maxims, which are equally sagacious. For example, he 

"Victory proceedeth not from the greatness of armies, 
nor defeat from inferiority of numbers, for conquest is 
obtained by divine favour and skilful measures. 

"I opened the holy book (the Koran) for an omen, and 
this sacred verse came forth as a sign, 'How oft do the weak 
vanquish the powerful by the permission of Almighty God.' 

"The faith of force is not that which worketh by love. 


Imitate thy benevolent Creator that he may increase his 
mercies to thee. 

"Thus I formed measures and designs for the reduction 
of kingdoms, for the obtainment of empire, for defeating 
armies, for circumventing enemies, for making of friends, of 
foes, and for coming in among friends and enemies." 

Throughout the entire narrative are frequent references 
to his dependence upon divine guidance and his faith in 
the efficacy of prayer. For example, he says: "And I, 
in that night on the top of that hill, was employed in humili- 
ations and supplications to the throne of Almighty God; 
and between sleeping and waking I heard a voice, as of some 
one saying to me: 'Timour, victory and conquest and tri- 
umph are thine.' And when the morning broke, I prayed 
with my people and mounted my horse and assaulted the 
enemy in four different places." 

He gives a minute account of the plans of his principal 
battles, which were designed in detail in advance and ex- 
plained carefully to each of his commanders. The strategic 
movements designed by him are considered by high military 
authorities as equal to those of Napoleon. He justified his 
policy of conquest thus: 

"And behold, I at all times thought there was naught 
more worthy the valour of princes than the conquering of 
kingdoms and empires and the waging of holy wars with 
infidels and unbelievers." 

After he had conquered all Asia, it was Tamerlane's 
intention to invade Europe. He was urged to the invasion 
of the Chinese Empire by national honour and religious 
zeal. Gibbon says: "The torrents which he had shed of 
Mussulman blood could be expiated only by an equal destine- 



tion of infidels. And, as he now stood at the gates of Para- 
dise, he might best secure his glorious entrance by demol- 
ishing the idols of China, founding mosques in every city, 
establishing the profession of faith in one God and his pro- 
phet, Mohammed. 

"From the Irtish and the Volga to the Persian Gulf, 
from the Ganges to Damascus and the Grecian Archipelago, 
Asia was in the hand of Timour; his armies were invincible, 
his ambition was boundless and his zeal might aspire to con- 
quer and convert the Christian nations of the West, which 
already trembled at his name. The fears and fancy of 
nations ascribed to the ambitious Tamerlane a new design 
of vast and romantic conquest; a design of subduing Egypt 
and Africa, marching from the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean, 
entering Europe by the Straits of Gibraltar, and after im- 
posing his yoke upon the kingdoms of Christendom, of re- 
turning home by the deserts of Russia and Tartary." 

The "Institutes" justify this apprehension. He seems 
to have been convinced that he was the chosen of God to 
extend the faith of Islam, and says: "And when I sought 
an omen in the holy book, this sacred verse always came 
forth: 'O prophet! fight with the infidels and the unbe- 
lievers!' And I placed a helmet of steel upon my head 
and I clothed myself in the armour of David; I hung a 
scimitar of Missur by my side and I sat on the throne 
of war." 

Timour had a suit of armour, which he believed that 
David, King of Israel, had forged with his own hands. It 
was presented to him by Ipocrates, the Christian king of 
Georgia, when he invaded that country. After Ipocrates 
had been conquered and his kingdom annexed to the empire 


of Tamerlane he accepted the faith of Islam and became a 
great favourite with the conqueror. 

"And among the rules which I established for the support 
of my glory and empire, the first was this: That I promote 
the worship of Almighty God, and at all times and at all 
places support the true faith," he said. 

Timour conquered twenty-seven independent kingdoms 
and carried the crowns to Samarkand, his capital. He 
commanded his armies in thirty-five campaigns and his 
biographers insist that he never lost a battle. He burned 
hundreds of cities and towns, and erected upon the ruins 
of Bagdad a pyramid of 90,000 human heads; and yet he 
says that he never fought a battle except "to deliver the 
oppressed from the hands of the oppressor." 

"I did not cause any one person to suffer for the guilt 
of another," he says again. "I drew to me the obedient 
of the people of God by complacency, by mercy, and by 
indulgence. And I ever adhered to equity and justice. 
I retired far from cruelty and oppression; I never gave way 
to the thirst for revenge, nor did I ever satiate my resent- 
ment on anyone. Those who injured me I delivered over 
to the justice of the Almighty. And to those who had en- 
vied my fortune and who had endeavoured to subvert my 
power, I conducted myself with such kindness and generosi- 
ty that they were confounded at my goodness and sunk 
under the sense of their un worthiness." 

That is Tamerlane's opinion of himself, but it is not con- 
firmed by the judgment of his contemporaries. He was 
undoubtedly the greatest of all the sovereigns and soldiers 
Asia has ever produced, but was brutal and barbarous 
in warfare. Gibbon, the great historian, says : 


"On the throne of Samarkand he displayed his mag- 
nificent power, listened to the complaints of the people, 
distributed a just measure of punishment and rewards, 
employed his riches in the architecture of palaces and temples 
and gave audience to the ambassadors of Egypt, Arabia, 
India, Tartary, Russia, and Spain. . . . Whatsoever 
might be the blessings of his administration, they evaporated 
with his life. To reign rather than to govern was the am- 
bition of his children and grandchildren, the enemies of each 
other and of the people. A fragment of his empire was 
upheld with some glory by Shah Rokh, his youngest son, 
but after his decease the scene was again involved in darkness 
and blood, and before the end of a century Transoxiana 
and Persia were trampled by the Uzbeks from the north 
and the Turkomans of the black and white sheep. The 
race of Timour would have been extinct, if an hero, his 
descendant in the fifth degree, had not fled before the Uzbek 
arms to the conquest of Hindostan. His successors (the 
great moguls) extended their sway from the mountains 
of Cashmir to Cape Cormorin, and from Candahar to the 
Gulf of Bengal. Since the reign of Aurungzebe their em- 
pire has been dissolved, their treasures of Delhi have been 
rifled by a Persian robber, and the riches of their kingdoms 
is now possessed by a company of Christian merchants of 
a remote island in the northern ocean" (the East India 

The memoirs of Tamerlane contain a graphic story of a 
wedding at Samarkand, in the year 1402, as told by an em- 
peror — he who was the greatest warrior in the history of 
Asia and one of the greatest statesmen. 

The historian Gibbon, in his "Roman Empire," speaks 


of this wedding festival as "an act of religion as well as 
paternal tenderness, and the pomp of the ancient caliphs 
was revived in the nuptials. They were celebrated in the 
gardens of Canizhul, decorated with innumerable tents and 
pavilions, which displayed the luxury of a great city and 
the spoils of a victorious camp. Whole forests were cut 
down to supply fuel for the kitchens; the plain was spread 
with pyramids of meat and vases of every liquor, to which 
thousands of guests were courteously invited. . . . 
The public joy was testified by illuminations and masquer- 
ades, the trades of Samarkand passed in review, and every 
trade was emulous to execute some quaint device, some mar- 
velous pageant, with the materials of their peculiar art. 
After the marriage contracts had been ratified by the cadis 
the bridegrooms and the brides retired to their nuptial 
chambers; nine times, according to the Asiatic fashion, 
they were dressed and undressed, and at each change of 
apparel pearls and rubies were showered on their beds 
and contemptuously abandoned to their attendants. A 
general indulgence was proclaimed; every law was relaxed, 
every pleasure was allowed; the people were free, the sover- 
eign was idle, and the historian of Timour may well remark 
that, after devoting fifty years to the attainment of empire, 
the only happy period of his life was the two months in which 
he ceased to exercise his power." 

Tamerlane seems to have been so proud of this display 
and to have had so good an opinion of himself that he 
indulged in a rhapsody over the festival, and wrote a de- 
tailed account of the event for his memoirs. It has been 
said that no man can adequately describe either a battle 
or a ball, but Timour the Tartar, "The Scourge of God," 


"The Conqueror of Asia," has produced as graphic a pic- 
ture of a wedding festival as the most accomplished pen 
painter of this age. His account of the event in his memoirs 
is as follows: 

"When the tents and seraperdahs, or royal tents, were 
erected and properly decorated with magnificent furniture, 
with carpets of costly silk, with golden thrones and chairs 
of state, with vessels of gold and silver, rich cups of agate 
and crystal, I (the emir), in a fortunate hour, repaired to 
the royal tent, which was built for the occasion, and sup- 
ported by twelve poles, richly inlaid with gold and silver, 
and adorned with the utmost magnificence. Here I seated 
myself on the throne of empire, whilst my sons and grand- 
sons, my emirs and sirdars of high renown, each took their 
respective places, surrounding me on all sides. Next I 
directed the seyids, descendants of the Prophet, the learned 
men of the realm, the kazis, muftis, and others to take up 
their proper places in this illustrious assembly. 

"In the same manner the ambassadors of foreign powers 
from Kipchak, from Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor, from 
Hindoostan and Europe, were allotted their respective sta- 
tions; next the commanders of hazarjats, or regiments of 
a thousand; those of the sadjats, of a hundred; the magis- 
trates of the city of Samarkand, and judges of the police 
from different parts of the empire, were introduced, clothed 
in royal khalats or dresses of honour, and took their places 
accordingly. Before the door of the royal tent were drawn 
up the elephants brought from India, of enormous stature 
and decorated with the most magnificent trappings of silk, 
velvet, and curious embroidery, with howdahs flaming with 
gold and silver, and chains of the same precious metal. 


"In order to render this festival as splendid as possible, 
I had collected from every part of the empire the most skil- 
ful artificers of every kind. These, with the assistance 
of the different companies of tradesmen within the city 
of Samarkand, and those of the imperial camp, such as 
jewellers, goldsmiths, masons, carpenters, bricklayers, em- 
broiderers, weavers, etc., had erected upward of 100 chartakis 
or pavilions, supported by four poles each, and containing 
as many doors to each. The insides of these pavilions were 
elegantly decorated with carpets of the richest kind, em- 
broidered with gold and silver, with velvets and the finest 
stuffs from China and Europe, and with magnificent chairs. 
Each tent was ornamented with the particular badge of 
the artificer who erected it; they were likewise furnished 
with paintings done in the most exquisite taste and exhibited 
within and without a most glorious spectacle, such as the 
eye of mortal had never before beheld, and which caused the 
spectator to place the finger of astonishment within his 
mouth on beholding. 

"To enhance the pleasure of this august assembly per- 
formers of all kinds and descriptions had been collected 
from far and near; mimics, buffoons, singers, dancers, and 
every profession which contributes to the amusement and 
entertainment of the great. When this festival, than which 
the eye had not beheld one more splendid nor the ear heard 
of one equal, became complete, I, in a fortunate moment, 
directed men learned in the stars and skilled in the motions 
of the heavenly bodies to extract from the almanacs, and 
by the astrolabe and quadrant to inspect the situation of 
the propitious and unfortunate stars, that they might 
with precision draw forth a happy moment for the cele- 


bration of the nuptials of my beloved grandsons, who had 
long since been betrothed to virgins dwelling in the asylum 
of chastity. Which being done, I ordered that the cere- 
mony should be performed agreeably to the established 
faith of Mohammed and the ordinances of our holy religion. 

"These things being performed, a prayer for the health 
and prosperity of my illustrious progeny was recited in public 
by the venerable Shaikh-ad-din Mohammed Reza, an iman 
of much celebrity; likewise the Mulayi Silah-ad-din. The 
Kazi-al-Kazat of Samarkand, a person eminent for his 
piety and learning, bestowed his benediction in public upon 
the fortunate bridegrooms. After the marriage ceremony 
had been conducted, agreeably to the ordinance of Hanifah, 
I commanded the drums and trumpets and the imperial 
music to strike up, after which trays filled with gold and 
silver, with jewels and precious stones of all sorts, were 
brought forth, and I directed the Nisarl to be performed, 
which was done agreeably to established custom, and a 
profusion of wealth was poured upon the heads of this 
august assembly. 

"When the marriage was concluded I ordered a sumptu- 
ous repast to be served, at which the Amir Zadahs, or princes 
of the blood, the Orma, or nobles, Nuwinan, the foreign 
ambassadors, and all the nobility assembled. A variety 
of gold and silver dishes, filled with the most costly viands, 
were served to the assembly; nor were there wanting wines 
of the first quality, presented by cup-bearers of graceful 

"At this banquet, likewise, were assembled companies 
of the most eminent singers in the empire, and dancers 
of approved skill, to the number of many thousands, who 


by their excellence in their respective professions afforded 
delight to the spectators. Among the foremost of these 
performers was Khoaja Abdulaziz, who bore the palm of 
preeminence from his competitors, and whose equal is 
not to be found on earth. There came likewise reciters of 
poetry and story-tellers from all parts of my dominions 
to this solemnity, and among them were Turks, Moguls, 
Chinese, and Russians. 

" When the hearts of this august company became warm 
with wine and good cheer I ordered the khalats to be brought 
forth and distributed, first to the Amir Zadahs, or princes 
of the blood, the Orma, the nobility, the Nuwinan, and the 
learned men of the realms, foreign ambassadors and others. 
These khalats consisted of dresses of gold and silver tissue; 
silks and velvets of various kinds and patterns; embroidered 
caps and sashes for the waist; scimitars inlaid with gold and 
set in precious stones; horses from the best breeds of Arabia 
and Persia, with saddles and housings of gold ar i silver — 
in short, such a profusion of wealth was distributed on this 
auspicious occasion that no one present had any care for 
the remainder of his days; nor on this occasion were the 
poor and needy forgotten, for I directed my almoners to 
provide for them in the most ample manner and to furnish 
them with all things necessary, both of apparel and pro- 
vision. - 

"When the repast was finished, the whole company 
changed their dresses, during which ceremony the musicians 
and dancers exerted themselves to charm by their melo- 
dious voices and the gracefulness of their actions. At 
length, the fortunate moment being arrived, the Amir 
Zadahs who had been married each returned to his respective 


mahal or palace, which had been prepared for the occasion 
with the utmost magnificence and splendour, after which I 
rose and retired into the apartments of privacy, where I 
was met on my entrance by the whole of the sultanas of 
inviolable chastity, who, wishing me joy on this auspicious 
festival, showered upon my head trays full of the most 
precious jewels. 

"In the morning I waited upon the Amir Zadahs (bride 
and groom) and paid them compliments and congratula- 
tions on their marriage, wishing them a long and prosperous 
life. I directed the Nisar to be performed a second time, 
and was followed by the sultanas, the Orma, the Nuwinan, 
the whole of the nobility, and the great men of the city of 
Samarkand. When the ceremony was performed I returned 
to the royal gargah (or imperial tent) and seated myself 
on the throne of empire; and having called the ambassadors 
who had arrived from Egypt, Syria, Europe, the Desert of 
Kapchak, Mogulestan, Hindoostan, and Rum (Asia Minor), 
I directed them to be invested with khalats of the utmost 
magnificence and presented them with fine horses, with 
embroidered housings, with scimitars inlaid with jewels, 
with golden poniards and caps and sashes of the fines! 
cashmere wool. And in honour of these auspicious marriages 
I commanded the festival to be held for two months in that 
agreeable and delicious valley, where everything that art 
and nature could afford was introduced, and the whole 
time was a season of mirth, joy and gladness. 

"At the conclusion every one was dismissed with suitable 
presents, and I then turned my thoughts to the management 
of the affairs of my empire and my long meditated project 
of conquering the Kingdom of Khota (China)." 


THIS ancient capital of Central Asia reminded me of a 
crippled giant fallen helpless by the wayside, his 
limbs too feeble to allow him to rise and his fingers so 
palsied with age that he cannot wipe the dust from his 
sightless eyes. There was a time — perhaps several distinct 
epochs separated by centuries — when Samarkand was as 
much the source of power and influence in the affairs of 
the world as London is to-day; when its architecture was 
as much admired as that of Paris or Vienna; when its 
scholarship was as famous as that of Athens; and its eccle- 
siastical prominence as great as that of Rome. Its uni- 
versities were sought by students from every corner of the 
earth, like those of Germany are to-day, and pilgrims came 
from every part of the Mohammedan world to worship at 
its shrines. But all that glory has departed, and for five 
centuries Samarkand has been dying. Its former greatness 
is unknown to or has been forgotten by its present population. 
The priests who officiate in the splendid temples, and the 
professors in the colleges could not tell me the names of the 
architects and disputed about the years of their erection. 
The present generation cannot even read the inscriptions 
over their portals, and they do not know where the palace 
of Tamerlane was located. All the imposing structures 
that once gave Samarkand its reputation as the finest city 



in Asia have either disappeared or are in an advanced stage 
of decay and dilapidation. They have been almost entirely 
stripped of the adornments that made them famous, and 
the earthquakes that occur every few years diminish the 
number of turquoise and azure domes and the dimensions 
of the enamelled walls, and increase the heaps of debris 
which now cover the ground. No effort has been made by 
the government or the priests or the people to restore or even 
to arrest the ravages of time or to protect or preserve the 
architectural monuments that have stood there for ages 
against the vandals, the earthquakes, and other destructive 
agencies that have made Samarkand a wreck of its former 

You would think there would be sufficient pride, piety, 
and patriotism in the Mohammedan world to perpetuate 
monuments and institutions chiefly ecclesiastic in their 
origin and purpose, but the same conditions appear in every 
country where Islam prevails, except in Constantinople, 
Cairo, and one or two other cities. Islam is a dying religion. 
It has reached a hopeless stage of decay, if the appearance 
of its mosques and meddresses, its shrines, the mausoleums 
of its saints, its cemeteries, and other public institutions may 
be accepted as evidence. I have never seen a new mosque 
in any Mohammedan country; I do not know of one that 
has been built within the last century, and few have been 
repaired. Everywhere the indifference is the same; every- 
where the same degree of dilapidation may be found, even 
in the most fanatical cities like Bokhara and Damascus. 

Some writers have said that the ruins of Samarkand are 
impressive, but to me they are pitiful. The indifference 
of the priests and the public to their rapid disappearance 


is exasperating to every one who has a reverence for histori- 
cal associations and artistic monuments. 

The Persians used to call Samarkand the centre of the 
universe, the hub, like Boston. It was the Athens of Asia 
for learning and culture, but a Babylon for extravagance 
and vice. The luxury and immorality of its rulers and its 
citizens were the cause of its decay. 

When Samarkand succumbed to the military genius of 
Alexander the Great, he tells us that its wall was seventy 
stadia in circumference and was accessible by nineteen 
gates. Only a small section of that wall remains, and all 
of the gates have disappeared. The city has been besieged 
and looted many times, and thrice entirely destroyed; 
then rebuilt and beautified by other kings and conquerors 
until it reached the pinnacle of its fame and magnificence 
at the close of the fourteenth century. 

The Russians captured the city in May, 1868, under 
General Kaufmann, after a brief and uneventful siege, which 
he described as one of the brightest and most glorious pages 
in the history of the Russian advance in Asia. But its 
present rulers evidently care nothing for its historical asso- 
ciations or its artistic glories, and consider it only a valuable 
prize in the great game of war. They keep the Kotash, the 
coronation stone of the Tartar emperors, in one of the ware- 
houses where grain and fodder for the horses of the artillery 
are stored. We tried to see it, but were unable to do so, 
because the captain of the battery which happens to use 
that particular storehouse had left Samarkand on a month's 
leave and had taken the key with him. The Russian govern- 
ment paid the expense of restoring the tomb of Tamerlane, 
and it is the only building of historical interest and the only 


one of the great architectural monuments which made 
Samarkand the wonder and the glory of the Asiatic continent, 
that is in an orderly condition to-day. 

In visiting the mosques and tombs and colleges with 
which that ancient city abounds, we could scarcely find 
anyone competent to give us information about them. 
When we were fortunate enough to do so, their statements 
were usually disputed or ridiculed by the bystanders, and 
some of them were so preposterous and incredible as to be 
unworthy of notice. For example, an old priest who is in 
charge of the Bibi Khanum, the second grandest group 
of buildings in Samarkand, assured us that they were de- 
stroyed only eighteen years ago, when Schuyler, who was 
there in 1875, described the ruins exactly as they stand 
to-day, and said they were shaken down by a succession 
of earthquakes in the latter part of the eighteenth and the 
earlier part of the nineteenth centuries. 

I was unable to get any information as to the location 
of the palaces of the princes who made that their capital 
and maintained courts whose magnificence was the theme 
of gossip throughout the world five or six hundred years 
ago. There must have been many handsome mansions in 
those days, but they have all vanished, and the present 
generation does not know and does not seem to care even 
where they stood. It was only by accident that we learned 
where Tamerlane's palace was placed. The walls are en- 
tirely obliterated and their sites are undoubtedly concealed 
to-day by the mud cabins of the present population. 

Samarkand at one time is said to have had a million popu- 
lation. The only census taken since Russian occupation 
disclosed a total of 160,000. The new town, which is 


almost exclusively Russian, has grown considerably since 
and there are now probably about 175,000 in both the old 
and the new cities. 

Tamerlane had a country palace surrounded by gardens 
and a grove ten or twelve miles from the city when the 
wedding festival described by him in his memoirs took 
place, but its location is disputed. Nothing remains of the 
building or the walls and no one in generations past took 
interest enough to record the facts or even hand down a 
tradition concerning the actors and the incidents and the 
scenes of the most important historical events in the history 
of Turkestan. 

Occasionally, however, the visitor comes across some 
relic of mediaeval barbarity. For example, within the walls 
of the citadel where the palace of the emir used to stand 
and the other officials of the government had their head- 
quarters, is a subterranean prison which seems to have been 
hewn out of the rock. It is an immense chamber, dark and 
filthy, at least thirty feet from the surface of the ground. It 
can be reached only by a shaft about six feet square. Pris- 
oners were let down by ropes, and their food and whatever 
else they were permitted to have was lowered in the same 
way. It is said that nothing ever came out of the hole. 
The rim of the stone curb at the top of the shaft shows 
grooves that were worn by the frequent passing of the rope. 
The Scriptures tell us in sundry places of similar arrange- 
ments. You will remember that Jeremiah "was let down 
by cords into the dungeon of Malchiah that was in the court 
of the prison; and in the dungeon there was no water 
but mire; and Jeremiah sank in the mire." I suppose that 
many good men — and perhaps some of them were prophets 


— who offended the despots of Samarkand, had a similar 
experience. The Russians abolished this old-fashioned 
method of punishing offenders and have built a clean, 
wholesome, and well ventilated jail. 

There is not a trace of ancient splendour in the old city. 
I did not see one decent looking building, nor one which 
seemed to have been erected or repaired by the present 
generation. Everything is on the verge of tumbling down. 
The narrow, crooked streets are lined with mud walls of 
windowless cabins or wooden booths on a level with the 
sidewalk in which all things are sold, whatever the people 
eat or wear or use in any way for their injury or profit. 
Everything is dilapidated and filthy, but, oh, how pictur- 
esque ! The riot of colour in costumes, the Oriental types of 
faces, the camels, the donkeys, the droskys, the high- 
wheeled carts, and the peasants loaded with the produce 
of their farms and gardens, which they bring to market on 
their backs. 

Everybody wears a coat like a rainbow. The poor make 
them of cotton prints and the rich of silk and brocades. 
There seems to be a rivalry among all men to get the most 
brilliant colours and the largest number of them sewed into 
the same coat. 

The streets are always crowded, and if you can get an 
elevated place and look down upon them they resemble 
seas of white turbans that undulate like waves as their 
wearers walk through those narrow thoroughfares. The 
passion for colour is extraordinary. No matter how humble 
or hungry a man may be, and even if he have but a single 
garment, that is made of the most brilliantly coloured ma- 
terial he can find. 


The fez of the Turk has disappeared. The turban of the 
Arab has taken its place, and it is a much more graceful 
and dignified covering. Occasionally a Persian appears 
with a round black cap and a tassel hanging from the middle 
of the crown, and the Sarts wear skull caps made of scarlet 
or green or blue materials and embroidered with braids 
of gilt or some gay colour under their turbans. Their 
undergarments are quite as gay as their outer ones. You 
can often count a dozen different hues upon the same man, 
and he, barefooted, strides slowly along in the dust, stroking 
his beard in a thoughtful way, and contemplating the 
infinite or something else of similar mystery. 

But they put all their finery on their heads and backs 
and none on their feet and legs. These serene and stately 
Orientals wear nothing on their shanks but a loose pair of 
drawers or cotton trousers, and their bare feet are protected 
from the gravel only by heelless sandals: but Moses and 
Aaron went around bare-legged and bare-footed; Joseph 
probably wore nothing but cotton drawers under his coat 
of many colours; Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, Aristides the 
Just, Seneca, and other sages and statesmen of ancient times 
did not consider it inconsistent with their dignity to dress 
that way and the Pharaohs of Egypt set the fashion. 

The Mohammedan priests wear robes of dove colour with 
black girdles, and those who are descended from Mohammed 
wear turbans of green instead of white muslin. 

The men of Samarkand shave their heads and not their 
faces. No razor ever touches cheek or chin. Everybody 
wears a full beard, some of them closely trimmed, but most 
of them of patriarchal length. 

We saw only a few women, and they were swathed in 


cotton or silk shawls and wore nets of horsehair to hide 
their faces. 

Excepting Tashkend, the modern city of Samarkand is 
the largest and the finest of all the Russian settlements in 
Asia, covering almost as much ground as New York or 
Chicago, embowered in trees, and abundantly supplied with 
running water, which goes gurgling down the gutters on 
both sides of every street. The streets resemble sylvan 
glades, they are so cool and shady. Colonnades of poplars, 
elms, and other trees run in every direction, no matter which 
way you look. An India veteran, if he were dropped off 
here from an aeroplane, would be excusable if he mistook 
Samarkand for the English settlements at Lahore or Delhi 
or some of the cities in the Punjab. 

The groves and the gardens of Samarkand have been the 
theme of travellers for ages. The ancient writers never 
grew weary of describing them as resembling the paths to 
Paradise. This pleasant impression was no doubt height- 
ened by the contrast from the Hungry Desert, which every 
one who comes to Samarkand is required to cross. It is 
the loneliest, the most desolate and appalling waste that you 
can imagine, and for two thousand years has been hungry 
for the bones of the animals and men that have perished 
from thirst and fatigue along the trails over its pitiless 
sands. Coming out of that relentless waste of rock and 
sand into the arbour that surrounds the railway station 
at Samarkand, makes one realize the suffering of the 
ancient travellers who had no first-class railway cars, 
but had to cross the Hungry Desert on camels at the 
rate of four miles an hour. How they must have re- 
joiced when they felt the shade of the plane trees and 


heard the sound of the running water in the irrigating 

The railway station is two and a half miles from the old 
town, and is reached by a long, wide street paved with cobble- 
stones and shaded with poplars; there are running water 
streams in both gutters; the rows of one-story buildings 
are "whitewashed." in vivid colours — purple, blue, yellow, 
pink, green, and whatever most gratifies the taste of the 
owner — which gives them a cool appearance. Alter- 
nating with these houses are high walls which enclose gardens 
and groves surrounding the residences of people who do not 
care to live on the street. The gardens produce in pro- 
fusion vegetables of every kind, luscious melons, fruits, and 
berries as fine as you ever saw, and almost everything else 
that grows from the soil. It is quite surprising sometimes 
to see fig trees and apple trees side by side, laden with 
ripening fruit. 

The residence of the governor-general occupies a densely 
shaded enclosure, as dark as a primeval forest. You cannot 
see anything of the house without passing the gate and 
walking quite a distance among the trees. The quarters 
are comfortable and commodious, without ostentation. 
On two sides of the compound are trees and trees and trees 
growing so thickly that their boughs are interlaced, and 
indeed the only place in the Russian town which is not 
under the shade is the parade ground and the big Greek 
church with five blue-coloured domes which rises from the 
farther end. 

There is a club where the officers of the Russian army 
drink and gamble and where the younger set give dances in 
the winter; an institute where their sons and daughters 


are educated, a kindergarten, a primary school, a public 
library, a museum with empty shelves, and a beautiful villa 
in the midst of a garden that is occupied by the Russo- 
Chinese Bank. I have never seen a financial or business 
institution so delightfully situated, and the manager has 
the privilege of living in the second story, while business is 
transacted on the first floor. There are cafes, tearooms, ice 
cream saloons, book shops, restaurants, drug stores, jewellery 
stores, barber shops, photograph galleries, groceries, meat 
markets, and every other modern improvement along 
the streets of Russian Samarkand, and you can buy the 
daily papers of St. Petersburg and Moscow ten days old 
for twenty kopecks, which is only ten cents. Men go about 
the streets on those nuisances called motorcycles. There 
are two or three garages with wide-open doors, and the 
toot-too-toot of the automobiles makes you jump every 
now and then while you are crossing the street. One is 
reminded of home by seeing the advertisements of the 
Remington typewriter and hearing the sonorous voice of 
the phonograph in the back room of ice cream saloons and 
cigar shops, while the telephone is as common in Samarkand 
as it is in any town in the United States. 

There are several good hotels, not large or pretentious, 
but comfortable. Where we stopped, we could eat our 
breakfast and dinner under the shade of oak trees in the 
garden to the music of a fountain. 

Most of the rooms at the hotel when we arrived were 
occupied by Persian pilgrims, evidently men of wealth and 
culture, who had come a thousand miles upon a pilgrimage 
to the tomb of Daniel the Prophet, which is supposed to be 
in the suburbs of Samarkand. They looked and acted like 


gentlemen, and two of them had children with them — 
boys 12 and 14 years of age, with calm black eyes, serious 
expressions and wearing clothes cut precisely after the 
same pattern as those worn by their fathers — frock coats 
with velvet collars and full skirts that reach to their knees 
and are gathered at the waist. The landlord of the hotel 
told me that fully one half of his patronage comes from Per- 
sian pilgrims, who visit the alleged tomb of Daniel for the 
same reason that Mussulmans go to Mecca, although, if 
the best authorities are right, the Daniel they are looking 
for is buried in their own country and not in Samarkand. 

In one of the prettiest houses along the main street dwells 
Ishak Khan, pretender to the throne of Afghanistan, 
a cousin of the present emir and an involuntary guest of the 
Russian government at Samarkand, as the ex-Shah of Persia 
was at Odessa. He is accompanied by his harem and his 
children. He has a retinue of secretaries and servants, 
horses and carriages, and an allowance of 4,000 roubles 
(which is equal to $2,000) a month to maintain an appearance 
fitting his pretensions; but he is not allowed to leave the 
place and is like a bird in a gilded cage. He can sing all 
he likes, but they will never let him out. The Russian 
government is willing to keep this amiable gentlemen in 
luxury here for the sake of having a card up its sleeve to 
play at any time that pretenders are trumps in the game 
with England. Just now everything is lovely between the 
two nations and both have signed pledges of perpetual 
peace and non-interference in the affairs of Persia, Afghanis- 
tan and other countries that interest both of them. The 
present Afghan emir is supposed to be partial to England, 
but his title to the throne has a large flaw in it, and in case 


Russia ever requires a pretext for making trouble, Ishak Khan 
can be shoved up to the footlights as a wronged man who has 
been robbed of his rights and furnish a rational casus belli. 

We saw our first Hindus in Samarkand, but many of them 
are there. They control the tea trade and are money 
changers and general brokers. The Koran, as you know, 
prohibits the followers of the Prophet from loaning money 
at interest and imposes awful penalties upon usury. Hence 
no orthodox Mohammedan can engage in the banking 
business or place his funds where they can draw interest. 
Hence he dodges these rules by entering into partnership 
with Hindus and sometimes with Jews, whose religion does 
not expressly forbid them to "skin" a debtor when they get 
a chance. Several of the Hindus are engaged in the caravan 
trade and send wheat, wool, and manufactured merchandise 
across the mountains into Afghanistan, India, and China. 
There is a natural boundary, a range of mighty mountains, 
between those countries and Turkestan. There are easy 
passes between the peaks, which have been travelled for 
ages, and, indeed, there is a legend that Jesus, with his father 
and mother, once came this way from Galilee, with a caravan 
of merchants, and stopped in Thibet for many years, where 
His father pursued his trade as a carpenter and Jesus 
studied in a meddresse with a Buddhist priest. 

In the centre of new Samarkand is a park, and from that 
park wide streets radiate like the spokes of a wheel. The 
most important of them leads across the river to the old 
city; another to the Gur Emir, as the tomb of Tamerlane 
is called. A third, which is very wide and well paved, 
runs to the citadel, a large area enclosed within a high wall, 
which is occupied by the military headquarters, the barracks 


of the soldiers, warehouses filled with munitions of war and 
military supplies, an arsenal and repair shop, and various 
other appurtenances of a military post. The citadel occupies 
an eminence overlooking the old city and at several em- 
brasures in the walls rapid-fire guns and eight-inch rifles 
have been mounted as a precaution against insurrection 
among the natives. The situation is naturally adapted 
to the purposes of defence and commands a wide area be- 
yond the city limits; but there is no danger of any resistance 
to Russian authority. The people are contented and happy 
and their neighbours at Bokhara, who are still under the 
authority of a native ruler, would be very glad to trade 
places with them or be admitted to the same privileges and 
liberties that the Russian subjects in Turkestan enjoy. 
The garrison is small compared to those at Tashkend, Merv, 
Askabad, and other strategic points. I have been told that 
there are only a thousand troops in Samarkand, when there 
are from ten to twenty thousand at each of the other points; 
but they are not needed anywhere. 

The other roads which lead from the park are wide and 
well paved within the limits of the city, but when they cross 
the boundaries of Russian Samarkand they become mere 
trails to the desert and pass through heaps of crumbling 
ruins, shattered domes, and dilapidated walls of buildings 
that once formed a part of Samarkand when it was a city 
of large population and commercial importance. Some of 
these ruins are sufficiently preserved to give an account of 
themselves, to disclose the purpose for which they were 
intended, and to emphasize the moral of the words of the 
prophet that "the glory of this world passeth away." 

Every city in the East has what we call a public square. 


The Spaniards call it a plaza, the Italians a piazza, the Ger- 
mans a platz and the Orientals a righistan. It is used as a 
market place, a rendezvous for the inhabitants, a parade 
ground for assemblies of the people, and for demonstrations 
of rejoicings and displeasure. What has often been described 
as the most notable righistan in the world may be found in 
the centre of the ancient city of Samarkand. It has ex- 
cited the admiration of everyone who has ever visited the 
place. It has inspired the enthusiasm of architects, archaeol- 
ogists and historians; it has been the theme of poets and 
painters, and has been sketched and photographed and 
painted and talked about more than any other spot in all 
Asia, for several hundred years. 

This famous righistan is about 400 feet square, paved with 
ordinary blocks of stone, and is enclosed on three sides by 
some of the most majestic examples of Saracenic or Arabian 
architecture ever erected. The fourth side is open and 
occupied by ramshackle booths made of mud walls, odd 
pieces of lumber, strips of canvas, sheets of tin, and other 
promiscuous materials, for the sale of vegetables, meat, and 
miscellaneous merchandise. It is a sort of a ragbag of a 
place, a hotch-potch, but is attended by some of the most 
serious and serene men of Oriental type that you can imagine. 
They wear garments of brilliant colours, yellow, green, 
purple, and scarlet, in stripes and plaids, and their intel- 
lectual looking heads are crowned with snowy turbans, but 
their legs and feet are bare. They squat with their legs 
crossed in little narrow booths, sip coffee, smoke cigarettes, 
gossip with each other, and scrap maybe with their customers 
over the price of their wares. 

Lord Curzon, in his admirable book called "Russia in 


Central Asia," published in 1889, declares that the righistan 
of Samarkand "was originally and is still, even in its ruins, 
the noblest public square in the world. I know nothing in 
the East approaching it in massive simplicity and grandeur 
and nothing in Europe, save perhaps, on a humbler scale, 
the Piazza di San Marco at Venice, which can even aspire 
to enter the competition. No European spectacle indeed 
can adequately be compared with it, in our inability to 
point to an open space in any Western city that is com- 
manded on three of its four sides by Gothic cathedrals of 
the finest order. For it is clear that the meddresse of Central 
Asian Mohammedanism, in both its architectural scope 
and design, is a lineal counterpart and forerunner of the 
minster of the West. Instead of the intricate sculpture 
and tracery crowning the pointed archways of the Gothic 
front, we see the enamelled tiles of Persia, framing the portal 
of stupendous magnitude. For the flanking minster towers 
or spires are substituted two soaring minarets. The central 
lantern of the West is anticipated by the Saracenic dome and 
in lieu of artificial colour thrown through tinted panes, from 
the open heavens shine down the azure of the Eastern sky 
and the glory of the Eastern sun. WTiat Samarkand must 
have been in its prime, when these great fabrics emerged 
from the mason's hands, intact and glittering with all the 
effulgence of the rainbow, their chambers crowded with 
students, their sanctuaries thronged by pilgrims, and their 
corporations endowed by kings, the imagination can still 
make some endeavour to depict." 

No one can observe the original of the picture Lord 
Curzon has painted without profound emotion, but I think 
he has put it rather strong. 


These magnificent meddresses are colleges for the education 
of young Mohammedans who desire to become priests or 
judges or officials of the government. There is no object 
for an Oriental to obtain an education unless he desires to 
fill one of those positions. The meddresses were erected by 
wealthy and benevolent men for the same reason, and with 
the same motive that inspired the generous gifts that have 
recently been made to Princeton and are now being enjoyed 
by other institutions of learning in the United States. 

Each of the three colleges occupies the full side of the 
square. Two of them, standing opposite, are very similar 
in proportions and design. The third, opposite the vacant 
side of the square, is quite different, and unique among all 
the buildings of the kind that I have ever seen. This is 
called the meddresse of Uleg Beg, and was built by a grand- 
son of Tamerlane in 1421. 

Upon the east side of the square is the meddresse of Shir- 
Dar (the lion bearer), so called from the pictures of Persian 
lions upon the enamel tiles which cover the facade. It was 
built by the emir who ruled at Samarkand in 1601, a 
descendant of Tamerlane. 

The third, called the Tillah-Kar, which means "the gold 
plated" or "gold covered," was built in 1618 by the Emir 
Mirza Ourlank, also a descendant of Tamerlane, and 
was so named because of the gold enamel and mosaic work 
and the gold leaf with which its surface was covered. The 
architect of Tillah-Kar was an Arabian, but — woe to him 
who lacketh reverence and gratitude — his name has been 

The meddresses of Uleg Beg and Shir-Dar are both entered 
through majestic arches, sixty feet wide at the base and 132 


feet from the threshold to the apex, which is a narrow point. 
These arches are surrounded by noble and massive facades 
of masonry, which, at one time, were entirely covered with 
Persian tiles of deep turquoise colour, bearing fanciful but 
artistic designs, Each panel was different and on either 
side of the arch elaborate arabesques were interwoven with 
inscriptions from the Koran in the beautiful Arabic script 
which is so ornamental and can be utilized in such an effective 
way in all forms of decorations. 

The elevation of the facades is perhaps 160 or 175 feet — 
I could not get the exact measurements — and the surface 
on each side of the arch is perhaps sixty feet wide. The plan 
of the meddresse of Shir-Dar is completed by a melon-shaped 
dome on one side, rising from the roof of a mosque, and on 
the other side by a twin building without a dome, which 
was originally intended for the business offices of the college. 

The front of the meddresse of Uleg Beg is similar, except 
that there is no dome and the facade of the mosque is re- 
lieved by panels of marble fretwork of exquisite design and 
as delicate as lace. These panels are similar to those in the 
mosques and tombs erected by the moguls at Delhi and Agra 
in India. 

At the four corners of the square, on either side of the 
fagades of both meddresses, rise minarets to the same height 
as the building. They are not like the delicate, slender, 
pointed minarets of Cairo, Constantinople, and other Turkish 
cities, which are modelled after the cypress tree, but are 
heavy, clumsy, chimney-like structures, about the same 
size from the bottom to the top and crowned with capitals 
similar to those of Ionic pillars. These towers, perhaps 
175 feet in height, were once entirely veneered with blue 


tiles, set in fantastic designs. They are used as minarets. 
There are spiral stairways inside of them lighted by holes 
pierced in the sides of the tower, and at the appointed hours, 
muzzeins climb to the top and call the faithful to prayer. 

The minarets attached to the college of Uleg Beg 
appear to lean away from the front of the building, at nearly 
the same angle as the famous tower of Pisa, and that 
phenomenon has been the subject of much discussion. The 
priests and the professors, as is customary, told us that 
the slender spires were thrown out of perpendicular by 
earthquakes. Several writers have advanced the opinion 
that they were intended to lean by the architect, but 
Eugene Schuyler, formerly American minister to Russia and 
Turkey, who wrote the first and most complete book in Eng- 
lish about Turkestan, insists that the leaning appearance 
of the minarets is an optical illusion, a trick of the arch- 
itect. He declares that they are perfectly straight and 
perpendicular, but that the walls of the facade of the 
building gradually diminish in width for the entire dis- 
tance from the ground to the top, and create the effect that 
has been the subject of such heated dispute. Dr. Lansdell, 
an English scientist, claims that he has been able to con- 
firm Schuyler's theory with a plumb line. He says that 
he climbed to the top of both minarets and by actual tests 
discovered that they are absolutely perpendicular, and 
not an inch out of plumb, but that the facade of the med- 
dresse is seven feet wider at the foundation than it is at 
the top. 

The third meddresse, known as the Tillah-Kar, is entirely 
different from the other two. It has a central archway and 
facade 112 feet in height — a square, heavy-looking surface 


of brick masonry which was originally plastered over and 
then covered with gold leaf. You can imagine what a 
startling effect was produced. Upon each side of this 
central structure are wings or extensions of similar masonry, 
showing two tiers of recesses or loggias covered by arches 
similar in form to the great central arch, but only about 
one-twentieth the size. They have the effect of a honey- 
comb. At each corner of the building is a round tower, 
rising a little above the roofs of the wings, but only two 
thirds of the height of the central structure. 

Within and behind this gorgeous front, which is entirely 
plain, but was covered with gold leaf, is a tower like the 
turret of a fortress, which covers a mosque used for worship 
by the professors and students. The exterior of this tower, 
which is perhaps one hundred feet high and eighty feet 
in diameter, was once covered with gold leaf, and the interior 
walls were laid with gold mosaic similar to that which 
has attracted so much admiration on the ceiling of St. 
Mark's Cathedral at Venice. At the time of its completion 
in 1618 it is probable that the meddresse of Tillah-Kar was 
the most gorgeous structure in the universe. I would not 
attempt to compute the acres of gold leaf that were laid 
upon it, but you can judge from the fact that the front is 
at least 400 feet long, very nearly 100 feet high in the centre, 
and 60 feet at the wings. 

The interior of all three of these meddresses, like other 
buildings of their kind, consists of a large court, with foun- 
tains in the centre, at which the faithful perform their ablu- 
tions before entering the mosque to say their prayers. In 
two of them the fountains are shaded by beautiful trees 
and banks of flowers are placed in an effective way. In 


the Uleg Beg court is a clump of oleanders, blazing with 
bloom all summer. 

Around the four sides of the court are cloisters — in the 
Shir-Dar meddresse only one story; in the others, two stories, 
and opening upon them are rows of cells like those in an 
ordinary monastery. They are windowless and lighted 
and ventilated only through the doors. The cells are about 
ten by twelve feet in size, and are furnished according to the 
taste and the means of the priests or professors who occupy 
them. Some show evidences of refinement and a love of 
luxury, others are as bare and ascetic as the cell of a Fran- 
ciscan. There is usually a large rug upon the floor, and 
over in the farther corners mattresses covered with blankets 
and provided with pillows show where the master and his 
pupil sleep. The shelves on the walls are filled with books, 
manuscripts, cooking utensils, and other articles. There 
is usually a table, a chest, and a trunk or two. 

Each cell is assigned to a mullah and is occupied by him 
and a "softa" or student of his choice. They live together 
and are in constant companionship night and day for several 
years, getting their frugal meals in a common kitchen 
which is attached to every meddresse, and indulging in such 
luxuries and comforts as their means will permit. 

The righistan is a busy and fascinating place. In the early 
morning the entire square is monopolized by the stands of 
the country people, who bring in meats, fruits, vegetables, 
and other produce to sell, and the population of the old city 
go there to buy their daily supplies of food. 

As the hucksters sell out they disappear; in the afternoon 
only a few booths remain, which are sheltered from the sun 
by improvised canopies of cotton sheeting or sail cloth 


supported by poles. Peddlers, fortune tellers, and pro- 
fessional letter writers follow the shade around the square 
as the sun revolves, and groups of loiterers seek the cool 
shelter of the majestic arches. 

The righistan is a public employment agency also. It is 
the custom of people in need of help to come there to engage 
workmen, labourers, mechanics, and clerks. If a resident 
of Samarkand wants a carpenter he looks for one in the righis- 
tan instead of going to a shop, and the gatherings of the 
unemployed are often very large. 

The righistan is also the general loafing place of the com- 
munity, and idle people go there to learn the news. It is 
a sort of clearing-house for the exchange of information, 
and groups of sedate-looking citizens, with snowy white 
turbans and coats of as many colours as a clown would wear 
in a circus, sit around cross-legged on the pavements, 
solemnly uttering their opinions upon every subject that is 
proposed, from the comet to the price of cotton. 

We were very much interested in one group, composed of 
a dozen men or more, each of whom carried a bird in his 
breast. We could not find out what they were doing. The 
birds were mostly young quail, very tame and submissive, 
and seemed to approve of the proceedings. They hopped 
about upon the pavement within the circle, but made no 
attempt to escape. There seemed to be some significance 
in the performance, but unfortunately our interpreter could 
not talk the Usbeg dialect, and the priests, who were the 
only ones with whom he could converse, did not seem to 
know themselves what the men were doing with the birds, 
and they did not know anything else either. No two of 
them agreed about the dates when the meddresses were 


erected or of the earthquake by which they were destroyed. 
I never before found such dense ignorance and indifference 
concerning local affairs in any community. 

The bazaars at Samarkand are not so interesting as those 
of other cities in Turkestan, nor are they so well kept. The 
goods are almost entirely modern, and most of them come 
from Moscow, but the ramshackle coffee-houses, where the 
aged Sarts sit all day long in the shade and play chess and 
dominoes, are each worthy of a place upon a painter's canvas. 
Everything is dirty and decayed, but it is, nevertheless, 
artistic and attractive, if you don't mind the odours. 

Samarkand was called the head and Mecca the heart of 
Islam, an epigram which arises from an ancient legend. The 
Arab missionaries who brought the first knowledge of Allah 
and Mohammed, his prophet, to Central Asia camped on a 
hill called Tchupanata, where there is a shrine to the patron 
saint of the city of Samarkand. Being hungry from their 
travels, they killed a sheep, cut it up according to the custom 
of that day, and put the pieces in a pot to boil. While 
they were waiting for their dinner to cook, they discussed 
their plans for the future, and agreed that the man who 
drew the head should go to Samarkand, and he who drew 
the heart should return to Mecca. The one who drew the 
heart resided on the top of Tchupanata all the rest of his 
life and converted the people of Samarkand to the religion 
of Mohammed. Uleg Beg, the grandson of Tamerlane, 
erected an observatory by the side of this shrine and there 
made the observations and calculations for the astronomical 
tables which bear his name. 

A certain Prince Sembat, who is described as high con- 
stable of Armenia, came to Turkestan in 1246, and in his 


reports written to the patriarch of the Armenian church 
at Erivan he describes the flourishing condition of the Chris- 
tian community, the large number of Christian churches, 
and gives an interview with the bishop concerning the privi- 
leges that have been conferred by the khan upon the Chris- 

Marco Polo visited Samarkand, but did not go to Bokhara. 
He describes the former city as "noble and grand" and as 
the residence of many wealthy people, and refers to the 
central pillar of the Church of St. John the Baptist as being 
miraculously supported in the air, a precious stone which 
had originally been its support having been removed by 
the Moslem authorities. 

There is no trace of any Christian church having existed 
in Central Asia from that time up to the Russian invasion 
of 1862. But that is not strange. Very few visitors went 
there and very little was written about the country. No 
place in the world has been surrounded by such a thick 
veil of mystery and none has been so difficult of access for 



Tj^IVE hundred years ago Samarkand was a focus of 
•■■ learning, wealth, and power. It stands in about 
the geographical centre of Asia, equidistant from the Pa- 
cific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and from the Polar 
Sea and the Indian Ocean; and, although there was an al- 
most insurmountable barrier on the north and west in the 
form of a desert until the railway was built, and in the form 
of a range of lofty mountains on the south and east, it was 
sought by multitudes of influential and intellectual men, 
who visited it frequently or made it their residence. They 
called Samarkand "The Queen of the World." No English- 
man or European, no Christian, went there for centuries 
because of the fanatical disposition of the emir and the 
people, and very little was known of the place except 
through native authorities until the Russian occupation. 

Samarkand had a population of 1,000,000 people, and, 
some claim, 2,000,000, for centuries. It was the source of 
ecclesiastical authority and influence, and its mosques and 
meddresses — I understand there were altogether 167 in- 
stitutions of the kind in the place — made it a lighthouse of 
learning and attracted thousands of students from the 
Mohammedan world. It was their pride in this fact, as 
well as their piety and a benevolent desire to benefit their 



fellow-men, and promote the diffusion of knowledge and the 
teachings of the Koran, which caused the rich emirs and 
noblemen to establish the colleges, and other rich men to 
endow them from time to time with funds for their main- 
tenance. For example, there is a legacy to pay for candles 
so that the students and professors can read at night; but 
I understand that the greater part of the funds have been 
dissipated and the revenues now are barely sufficient to 
meet the ordinary expenses. 

In one corner of the righistan, near the entrance to the 
meddresse of Uleg Beg, is the tomb of Imani Atoum, a mer- 
chant of Samarkand, who died in 1655 and left a large 
sum of money to assist the professors and students of that 
particular institution. A cenotaph of masonry enclosed by 
an iron railing was placed around his coffin in the public 
square as a recognition of his generosity. Two poles are 
fastened to the sarcophagus with plumes of horsehair and 
flags ot cheap red flannel hanging from them, which are 
absolute protection against the evil eye. 

I asked one of the mullahs why the income from the 
Atoum legacy had not been applied to keep the meddresse 
in repair. He answered that the money was exhausted 
long ago, and that there were no funds left except for oil 
and candles. I got a similar answer whenever I asked a 
similar question at the other meddresses. 

The money has been stolen from time to time and the 
present generation knows very little about it. There do 
not seem to be records oi any kind connected with either 
of the institutions. 

Uleg Beg, a grandson of Tamerlane, who erected the larg- 
est and finest of the colleges, was his successor on the throne 


and eminent as a sovereign. His reign was distinguished 
by great progress. He carried out the policy of his grand- 
father and maintained the honour and dignity of the dynasty. 
He won great fame as an astronomer, and a treatise on that 
subject written by him in 1437 is still used as a text book 
in the meddresses of Samarkand, although it would scarcely 
suit progressive astronomers of the modern world. 

The book is divided into four parts. The first part 
treats of the several great epochs in the history of mankind 
up to the time of writing (1437) and the influence of the 
planets upon them; the second part reviews the extent of 
human knowledge concerning the stars; the third describes 
the several constellations and the positions they occupy; 
and the fourth describes the planets and fixed stars, and 
gives the accepted rules of astrology. 

Uleg Beg was a great soldier as well as a scientist. He 
fought several battles, in which he was victorious, and did 
not hesitate to cut off the head of his own son and place it, 
impaled upon the point of a spear, over the entrance to this 
very meddresse when he caught the young man conspiring 
against him. 

The Shir-Dar was erected by another emir or sultan of 
the same line of descent, several generations after Uleg Beg. 
He, too, was a scholar, a soldier and an able administrator. 
The architect was a Persian named Ad Abdu Sattar, although 
the learned mullahs who occupy the meddresse disputed this 
fact with great energy and were becoming quite excited 
over it when they were called down by a venerable old 
gentleman who seemed to be in authority over them. 

We were followed about the righistan and through the 
meddresses by a group of priests, who seemed to be quite 


as curious about us as we were about them. One of them 
offered several coins for sale, and, after brief negotiation, 
although I have no comprehension of their value, I bought 
them at a nominal price. He claimed that one of them is 
a Greek coin, for it bears the bust of Iskander Macedonsky, 
as they call Alexander the Great; another is evidently from 
an Assyrian mint; and a third was coined during the year 
1402 at Samarkand, when Tamerlane was at the height of 
his power. 

The educational methods of the Mohammedan meddresses 
are quite different from those of our colleges and theological 
seminaries. Each cell is assigned by the trustees of the 
institution to a mullah, or priest, who is entitled to occupy 
it thereafter as long as he lives and to enjoy his portion of 
the income of the institution if it should be so fortunate 
as to have any. In the Uleg Beg meddresse there are to-day 
108 professors. In the Shir-Dar there are seventy-two, 
and in the Tillah-Kar about fifty. 

Some of the mullahs increase their incomes by telling 
fortunes, by giving legal advice to clients (the Koran is the 
only code of laws which they possess), by writing letters, 
preparing documents, and otherwise applying their knowl- 
edge of the art of penmanship to the service of the public. 
There are other fortune tellers, professional astrologers, 
and professional letter writers in the courtyard of every 
mosque, and they seem to be well patronized. 

Each mullah or professor in the meddresse has a larger 
or smaller number of pupils according to his reputation or 
disposition, who pay him fees for tuition, make him presents 
of clothing and food, and share with him the pocket money 
and provisions they receive from home. Each mullah has 


one disciple occupying the same cell and acting as his 
assistant, secretary, and servant, like those of the Brahmins 
in India that you read about in Kipling's story of "Kim." 
The other pupils live where they like and receive their 
instructions in a group or individually. There are no 
regular courses or organized classes, and the same mullah 
is expected to carry them through all the grades, teaching 
them to read if necessary, in the first place, and polishing 
them off in astronomy and the occult sciences at the end of 
their course. 

There is always a barber about the meddresse to shave 
their heads and a cook to prepare their meals — both of 
them appointed for life. 

Some of the meddresses are rich enough to allow small 
stipends to a limited number of the older students, who 
correspond to the fellows of an English university, but they 
are entirely independent of each other and go as they please. 
The principal studies are the Usbeg and Arabic languages, 
and the Koran, which is committed to memory. The 
commentaries upon it are taken up, one after another, until 
students are prepared to discuss any of the varying opinions 
concerning the interpretation of the words of the Prophet 
and expound all the Mohammedan Scriptures without look- 
ing at the text. They continue their studies sometimes for 
twenty-five to thirty years. Time means nothing to them, 
and it often requires several years to commit the Koran 
to memory. 

We visited several of the mullahs in their cells. They 
look like a lazy lot, for they were loafing around in an indolent 
way, playing chess and dominoes, sipping coffee, and pursu- 
ing their favourite occupation of contemplating the infinite. 


Some of them are men of fine appearance and intellectual 
faces, and all of them show a serene dignity, an air of repose 
and deliberation which can be acquired only by an Oriental. 

One of them, whose cell we visited, is very proud of a col- 
lection of manuscript copies of the Koran which he has ac- 
cumulated. He showed them to us one after the other with 
a reverent air, but few of his colleagues had more than half 
a dozen books, and they were all in manuscript. There 
were no modern works on theology or philosophy or science, 
and scarcely a printed volume upon their shelves. No one 
has a review or a magazine or any vehicle of current thought 
and investigation. They receive no news of progress or 
enlightenment, of scientific discovery or achievements, 
they read no discussions of public questions; nothing but 
the musty old manuscripts that were used in these same 
institutions for the same purpose at the time of Tamerlane. 
And yet there are said to be 167 of these so-called colleges 
in this one city, attended by several thousand students. 

This illustrates the condition of Islam to-day. It has no 
money to mend the crumbling and shattered buildings; 
it has no printed books; it has no sources of information 
beyond the manuscripts that were used four hundred years 
ago; and the professors of its universities still cast horoscopes 
by the stars. No new institution has been founded since 
the meddresse Tillah-Kar was built in 1618; no new text book 
has been introduced into the faculties since that date. All 
of the splendid structures are in a pitiable state of decay. 
Half the beautiful blue tiles that pnce covered the walls have 
rotted off and fallen to the ground. Many of those that 
remain in place have been badly damaged. The walls of 
the buildings have been badly cracked and the roofs have 


been twisted by earthquakes. The hand of the vandal may 
be seen everywhere, and nothing has ever been done, so 
far as I can ascertain, to repair or even to protect and pre- 
serve them; while the mosque of Tillah-Kar has been stripped 
of every particle of the gold leaf that gave it its glory. 

The Russians are not doing anything directly in the way 
of educating the natives, but are leaving the schools in the 
native cities in the hands of the Mohammedan mullahs, 
as formerly. 

Nearly all of the maktabs are supported by voluntary 
contributions from the parents of the pupils, according to 
their means, varying from a few kopecs to a few rubles a 
year, with special gifts in the form of loaves of bread, pack- 
ages of rice, dried fish, and other provisions on Thursdays. 
There is no encouragement for an educated man to become 
a teacher, however, because the compensation of the best 
of them never exceeds a hundred dollars a year, and the 
average income of a teacher is not more than fifty dollars. 

Education in Mohammedan countries is at the lowest 
state of inefficiency that it has ever reached, and that fact 
is being realized to a degree that is painful by the intelligent 
and progressive members of that faith. The instruction 
now given at the meddresses is purely formal, and consists 
of explanations of various sentences in the Koran, which a 
student for the Mohammedan ministry is expected to learn 
by heart. A man who can recite the whole of the Koran 
offhand is called a hafiz and is regarded as an eminent 
scholar, similar to a doctor of divinity or a doctor of laws 
with us, but the accomplishment is purely one of memory, 
and many do not have the slightest idea of the meaning of 
the words they repeat. 








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After committing the Koran to memory, there are twenty- 
eight books, chiefly commentaries, which must also be 
committed to memory. When that is accomplished the 
student is prepared to administer the law and become a 
kazis, or judge. The judicial system of the native towns of 
Central Asia is founded on the Shariat, or teachings of the 
Koran. In most of the courts the proceedings are entirely 
oral; no record is kept and no appeal can be taken. No 
difference is made beween civil and criminal causes. Crimes 
are not viewed in their relation to the public, but merely to 
the person injured, and are punished accordingly. 

Kazis, or judges, are appointed for life by the khan, 
after an examination upon the Shariat and the decisions and 
commentaries which they have committed to memory in 
the meddresses. As all law is based upon the Mohammedan 
Bible, any person who is qualified to practice in the courts 
or sit as a judge is equally competent to serve as a priest- 
It is difficult for an European to understand the distinction 
between the legal fraternity and the ecclesiastics. 

The Russians have shown their wisdom by not interfering 
with the native courts. The kazis are still permitted to 
have jurisdiction over ordinary suits in which natives alone 
are involved and try them according to the Shariat, but 
wherever a foreigner is involved the case goes before a Rus- 
sian court. The Russians have thus avoided the mi^t*^ 
that the English made in India when they abolished the 
native courts and referred all litigation to modern tribunals. 
The Mussulman code, which is simply the Koran, answers 
all the needs of Mussulman communities, although it would 
break up our whole system of litigation if the Christian courts 
administered justice according to the tp^rliiiig? of the Bible. 



The Gur Emir, as the tomb of Tamerlane is called by the 
natives, is the best preserved of all the historic buildings in 
Samarkand. The Russian government furnished the money 
to put it in order, and it is now under the protection of a 
party of mullahs, or Mohammedan priests, who watch 
every visitor closely lest more damage be done. The 
government made no attempt to restore the original dec- 
orations or repair the ravages that time and vandalism have 
caused, but simply arrested the decay of the building and 
intends, I understand, to keep it in good repair. At one time 
the entire exterior was covered with Persian tiles of turquoise 
colour, but more than half of them have fallen off and dis- 
appeared and the remainder are more or less defaced by 
dampness and abuse, so that the surface looks like a garment 
of rich material which has been eaten by moths. Around 
the entrance the tiles are riddled with bullets, fired by 
Russian invaders at the fleeing Sarts who took refuge 
within those sacred walls, and every now and then somebody 
with a penknife picks a leaden pill out of the walls. 

This mausoleum does not compare in dimensions, in de- 
sign, or decoration with the tomb of Napoleon in Paris or 
the Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem or with a dozen other 
similar structures in Europe, and it is like an ordinary chunk 
of coal compared with a diamond in contrast with the Taj 
Mahal at Agra and other tombs in India. Their material 
is marble, worked with exquisite skill, and the detail is as 
fine and as perfect as the lines of an engraver, while the Gur 
Emir is a mass of masonry, of excellent proportions, but 
impressive only by its size and the recollection that the 
barbaric love of colour possessed by its builders caused it 
to be covered with an acre or two of glistening porcelain. 


It was built by Tamerlane himself, between the years 1395 
and 1404, at the height of his power and glory. That 
extraordinary man, evidently fearing that his name would 
be lost in oblivion, endeavoured to place a perpetual reminder 
before the eyes of posterity. And, lest they should forget 
who he was and what he did, he caused the portals and the 
pediments of the building to be inscribed with bombastic 
eulogies of himself, similar to those engraved upon the 
approaches to the tombs of the Pharaohs in Egypt. The 
material of the walls is gray vitreous bricks, made in the 
neighbourhood, similar in shape and size to those used in 
Pompeii; and the tiles, which were made in Persia and brought 
more than nine hundred miles upon the backs of camels, 
are about six inches square and three-quarters of an inch 
thick and similar to those with which the exterior of all 
great buildings in Samarkand were decorated. 

The mausoleum stands within a grove, between the old 
city of Samarkand and the new Russian settlement. It 
is inclosed by a low balustrade of stone, well preserved 
and well kept, and the grove is musical with the sounds of 
running water. The tomb proper is a cartridge-shaped 
dome, 130 feet high. On the lower half of the elevation 
the walls are straight and veneered with tiles covered with 
inscriptions from the Koran. The upper half is slightly 
bulbous or melon-shaped, and the surface is creased with 
narrow lines to the apex. 

The tomb is approached through a monumental archway, 
60 feet high and 36 feet wide at the base, which was also 
veneered with tiles, and beside it is a minaret reaching 
very nearly to the height of the dome, perhaps 110 feet, 
which evidently was originally much higher, and has been 


broken off at the top. At the foot of this minaret is a 
mosque of ordinary size and description. The group of 
buildings covers a full acre at least, perhaps more, and 
the walls are of surprising thickness, often showing twenty- 
five and thirty feet of solid masonry. If this were not 
so they would have entirely disappeared before now. 

Notwithstanding its rude construction and damaged 
appearance, the Gur Emir is a noble edifice that would do 
honour to any nation and to any age. Its design is not so 
refined, its details are not so delicate, the workmanship 
is not so skilful, nor the material so expensive, as those 
which characterize the tombs of Tamerlane's descendants 
among the moguls of India, but it is a monumental structure, 
appropriate to the man and worthy of his achievements. 

The Russians take great credit for having put the mau- 
soleum in order; but I understand that the original doors, 
wonderful masses of carving, inlaid with silver and mother- 
of-pearl, may be found in a museum at St. Petersburg. 

The architect was permitted to inscribe his name in white 
Arabic letters two feet long upon violet-coloured tiles above 
the arch of the monumental gateway, and it reads, " Moham- 
med, son of Mahmoud, from Ispahan, hath made this 
building"; but Tamerlane's biographer tells us that he pre- 
pared the design and superintended the work for two years 
himself, and that the decorating was done by slaves from 
China, India, and Persia. 

Over the door of the mausoleum proper, in similar but 
smaller letters of white porcelain upon a violet background, 
are the words: 

"He who is in search of knowledge is sought after by 


A wide, well-kept walk leads from the archway to the 
entrance of a vestibule with damp, windowless walls and a 
vaulted roof. The floor is neatly covered with matting. 
Three aged mullahs in white turbans and dove-coloured 
robes sat indolently, with their legs crossed, upon a rug in 
the corner, sipping tea. One of them arose, and, lighting 
a candle, led us into a vaulted chamber of large proportions, 
similar to those attached to the sepulchres of the Pharaohs, 
in which their mourners used to meet and extol the virtues 
of the dead. There is no light except what creeps in through 
the narrow, open door. 

Over the entrance to the ante-chamber is the familiar 
inscription in Arabic characters, beautifully interwoven: 

"There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His 

Inside, over the second door, which leads from an ante- 
chamber into the domed mausoleum, where the sarcophagus 
rests, are the words: 

"This is the Resting Place of the Illustrious and Merciful 
Monarch; the Most Great Sultan; the Most Mighty Warrior, 
Emir Timour Kurgan, Conquerer of all the Earth." 

From this ante-chamber we stepped into the mausoleum 
proper, a rotunda covered by a narrow dome eighty-five 
feet high. It was damp and chilly, although the day out- 
side was very warm. The only light is filtered through 
square holes pierced in the walls of the dome and protected 
by stone grills. This shows the limitations of the archi- 
tect. There is no evidence that glass was used in any of 
the buildings in Tamerlane's time, and these openings 
admit the rain and the snow and cause a perpetual dampness, 
which accounts for the discolouration and decay of the dec- 


orations. One can easily see where the tiles have peeled 
off and fallen, and the wainscotting of the rotunda, which 
is of alabaster, now looks like a poor quality of marble. 

Under the centre of the dome, surrounded by a low 
balustrade of carved marble, are five cenotaphs. That 
which holds the place of honour is a block of green serpen- 
tine stone, six feet long, twenty-two inches wide, and twenty- 
eight inches high. For centuries it was supposed to be of 
jade from some mysterious source in China, and it was 
broken in halves by Russian soldiers under the delusion that 
it was very valuable. Some rude surgeon has attempted to 
conceal the fracture with plaster of Paris painted green to 
match the stone, and in several places the paint has chipped 
off. The sides of the cenotaphs are covered with inscrip- 
tions testifying to the goodness and the glory of Timour. 
They are written in Arabic characters, which are the most 
artistic of any alphabet and lend themselves to decoration. 

They give a list of his titles, the names of his parents, his 
birthplace, the date of his death on the 14th day of the 
month Shaban, and then follows the genealogy of the family 
for nine generations, each one of whom is pronounced 
"worthy of all praise." The inscription proceeds to relate 
that the mother of one of the ancestors of Tamerlane, named 
Alan Kociva, known far and wide for her beauty and virtue, 
was once visited by a wolf, who persuaded her that he was 
a descendant of the sovereign of the Faithful, Ali, son of 
Abru, and that Ali destined him to be her husband. She 
accepted his assurances, "and the descendants of their son 
conquered the world and will possess it forever." 

There has been a great deal of discussion as to the mean- 
ing of this singular announcement, and the word which is 


usually translated "wolf" has been recently discovered 
to mean also "a ray of sunshine." It is reasonable to sup- 
pose that Tamerlane would prefer to trace his origin to a 
ray of sunshine rather than to a wolf, and the Tartars 
have a tradition that his mother conceived him, while a 
virgin, from the rays of the sun. However, the Arabic 
word used in this case has two meanings and the translator 
may take his choice. 

There are other inscriptions, elaborate Arabic lettering 
in colours, quotations from the Koran, praises to Allah 
and recitals of the conquests of Timour, his military prowess, 
his divine wisdom and a long eulogy to Ali Ben Abi Talib, 
founder of the Shiite sect of Mohammedans. 

The term Kurgan means literally the "husband of a 
princess," and is believed to have been used by the builder 
as a tribute to his wife, for whom he showed, in many ways, 
remarkable admiration and affection. 

At the head of the cenotaph is a little marble shrine or 
altar for burning incense, a miniature .reproduction of the 
tomb, so discoloured by smoke as to testify that the memory 
of Tamerlane has not perished. Pilgrims come here from 
every 7 part of the Mohammedan world. The most promi- 
nent of the other cenotaphs is that of Mir Seid Berk, a 
mullah brought from Afghanistan by Tamerlane as a sort 
of chaplain, who accompanied him on all his campaigns 
and exercised a great influence over him. The guide told 
us that he was "an intimate friend." Another is the tomb 
of Tamerlane's favourite prime minister, who served him for 
eighteen years, and the remaining two are for his sons, who 
died before him and were buried here as soon as the mau- 
soleum was finished. 


These cenotaphs are shams. The bodies they represent 
are in the crypt below, which is reached by a rude stairway, 
and the good mullah who showed us around was careful 
to caution us of the danger of slipping upon the damp stone. 
The sarcophagi occupy precisely the same positions as those 
above, and are evidently of marble, although the darkness 
and the flickering of the single candle prevented us from 
inspecting them closely. 

We were impressed by the care and neatness with which 
the tomb is kept, and the grove that surrounds it. The 
mullahs show a reverence and habits of order that do not 
appear at the tomb of Timour's wife and other buildings 
in Samarkand. 

It is a pity that the Russian government allows those 
noble monuments to perish for the lack of a little money 
and a little care. Of course, the Mohammedan world should 
naturally be held responsible for their preservation, and there 
ought to be public spirit enough among the adherents of 
that faith in the city of Samarkand to restore and preserve 
them. Several Mohammedan merchants are very rich but 
they take no interest whatever. They show neither pride 
nor patriotism, and allow some of the noblest historical 
structures in the world to fall in fragments before their eyes. 

Nearly one-half of the tiles which cover the surface of 
Tamerlane's tomb remain in place, and the best preserved 
are in sheltered places under the arches, and in the corners, 
which indicates that the weather has had much to do with 
decay. There is a large crack reaching about halfway 
down the dome, which should be attended to, but when we 
called the attention of the mullah to that danger he shrugged 
his shoulders and remarked that Allah was merciful and 


would protect the dwelling of his servants which he inva- 
riably neglects to do. 

The "Mosque of Bibi Khanum," is the title of a group of 
splendid buildings erected between 1385 and 1400 by Tamer- 
lane, in honour of his second wife, who is said by several 
writers to have been the daughter of a Chinese prince; but 
the mullahs now in charge of the ruins insist that she was 
a Persian. They told me that his first wife was Aljaz 
Agha, daughter of the Emir Kurgan of Samarkand, whom 
he married when he was twenty -one years old. She died 
about ten years later, and his second wife, the mullahs 
said, was Khudjak Ami, daughter of Toghaii Bandjar, a 
prince of the Province of Khorasan, Persia; and the Bibi 
Khanum group of buildings, including two mosques, a 
meddresse, or college, and a khan or hospice for pilgrims, 
was erected in her honour. 

Her tomb is outside the grounds, on the other side of the 
road, an almost shapeless mass of clay-coloured bricks, 
badly broken on all sides — the victim, we are told, of an 
earthquake. It is still possible to trace the outlines of the 
dome, more than half of which has fallen away, and the walls 
in several places are standing, although badly cracked. 
The floor is broken through and the sarcophagus has been 
removed to an ante-chamber, which is protected only by 
a dilapidated wooden door hanging from one rusty hinge. 
The tomb rests on the edge of the native city, just beyond 
a horse bazaar, and at the entrance of a vast, neglected ceme- 
tery, covering an irregular, barren district, as far as the eye 
can see. Some of the tombs are well preserved, but most of 
them are in very bad order, and anyone who cared to take 
the trouble could pick up several cargoes of gravestones 


that are evidently discarded and are scattered on the 

The sarcophagus, which is believed to contain the dust of 
Tamerlane's queen, is of plain marble, quite unpretentious, 
and inscribed with an epitaph in Arabic. It lies in the 
vestibule, covered with dust, neither an agreeable nor a 
convenient place to await the summons of the archangel. 
A flat stone, covered with inscriptions, leans against it, 
but the attendant does not know anything about it. Three 
other sarcophagi, each of them bearing inscriptions, are in 
the same chamber. We could not read the epitaphs and 
the attendant was equally illiterate; but he said they 
contained the dust of princesses, probably the daughters of 
Tamerlane, who were buried beside their mother. Their 
brothers were buried beside him. 

Tamerlane built his own tomb as well as that of his wife. 
He was far-sighted enough to provide this form of insurance 
against oblivion. His sons have been forgotten; his con- 
temporaries are unknown; his rival sovereigns, his competi- 
tors in the struggle to control the world, are named inhistory, 
but excite no modern interest. He brought the architects, 
the artists, the mechanics, and the materials from Persia, 
and they came a thousand miles on the backs of camels 
to do his bidding. He did not count the cost; ambitious 
despots never do. 

The group of buildings familiarly known as the Bibi 
Khanum Mosque are the only structures that remain of 
Tamerlane's own construction, except his mausoleum and 
that of his wife, which I have just described. At the time 
they were completed, 500 years ago, they were probably 
unsurpassed for magnificence and barbaric splendour in all 


the world, although in refinement of design and detail they 
did not compare with the temples of Greece and the palaces 
of Rome. Nevertheless, considering their situation, in the 
midst of a desert, and the character and training of their 
builder, they were wonderful beyond the conception of 
modern minds. 

These buildings were intended to honour the virtues, 
express veneration for the worth, and perpetuate the memory 
of a woman whose name is not positively known, and con- 
cerning whose origin and race there is a dispute, as I have 
indicated. They cost millions of dollars and absorbed the 
labour of thousands of slaves, many of them prisoners of 
war. They occupied a large enclosure, comprising several 
acres of grove, lawn, and garden, filled with stately oaks, 
far-reaching sycamores and plane trees, thick-leaved mul- 
berries, and towering poplars, which grow in rows along the 
irrigating canals. Time, earthquakes, and war, and the 
hand of the vandal, have spared them and confined their 
damage to the buildings. 

The trees are larger, nobler, and more beautiful than they 
were when the buildings were in their prime, and although 
the grounds are ill kept, they are very attractive. Several 
old women were picking the mulberries the morning we 
visited the place, and a group of mischievous children were 
making mud pies on the banks of the irrigating ditches. 
They stopped their play when they saw strangers enter 
the ground and followed us around, begging for backsheesh, 
until one of the mullahs drove them off with a big stick. 
The high mud wall is broken in many places. On two 
sides the booths of tradesmen are backed up against it, 
on a third side is a horse market, and on the fourth side we 


could see through the great gaps where they open upon an 
orchard and green fields. 

Within this wall were grouped four and perhaps five 
magnificent buildings, including two massive mosques, 
exact duplicates, which faced each other from the east 
and the west, at a distance of about nine hundred feet. 
I cannot give all the dimensions, but the floor area was 
about 250 by 350 feet. They were entered through monu- 
mental arches seventy-two feet wide at the base and 150 
feet high. The mosque proper was covered by a double 
dome about 160 feet high, and the room for worship was 
about 200 feet square. 

You can imagine from these figures what imposing build- 
ings they were, and when you know that inside and outside 
they were covered with pale blue porcelain, from the founda- 
tion to the lantern of the dome, you can appreciate how 
gorgeous they must have looked, and how the Orientals, 
who have such a passion for bright colours, and anything 
that glitters, must have admired them. There are a suffi- 
cient number of the tiles remaining in place to show how 
beautiful they must have been. 

In addition to the mosque there were two and perhaps 
three meddresses, or colleges, for the education of priests 
and government officials, and for centuries they were 
crowded with students who came from all of the Moham- 
medan countries, attracted by the reputation of the professors, 
the glory of Samarkand, and the fact that, owing to the 
liberal endowments of Tamerlane, no tuition fees were 
required. But really we know very little about these 
institutions. The endowments have vanished; no records 
seem to have been preserved; nobody took the trouble to 


keep a diary in those days; very few of the inhabitants of 
Samarkand could write; and practically the only sources 
of information are the descriptions which have been left 
by foreigners who visited the capital of Asia upon official 
business or from curiosity. 

On the third side of the enclosure was an enormous khan, 
or lodging house for the accommodation of pilgrims, similar 
to those now maintained at Mecca, at Jerusalem, and at 
other holy places. The reputation of Samarkand as a 
nursery of the orthodox faith and the home of learned and 
pious mullahs attracted millions of the faithful, who were 
entertained by the munificence of the emperor and doubtless 
found peace and consolation among the splendid surroundings. 
Many pilgrims come here now "from all parts of the world," 
the mullah who escorted us said, "and we accommodate 
them the best we can" — although the khan is now a 
shapeless pile of debris, under the shadow of crumbling walls. 
We saw a group of pilgrims lying prone upon the ground, 
under the trees, with their coats drawn over their heads to 
shield them from the flies. Each had a bag of Persian 
carpet-work, like those you buy in the rug stores at home, 
and a gourd in which he carried water. The mullah said 
they had come from the mountains, but what mountains 
he did not know. 

Somewhere in this enclosure was a palace, but no trace 
of it remains. It is impossible to determine even its location, 
and no one could tell us when or how or why it was destroyed. 
Indeed, the ignorance of the present occupants of the place, 
all of them mullahs or Moslem priests, would have been 
amusing if it were not exasperating to people in search 
of historical information. 


We had an animated discussion with them as to the date 
when the buildings were destroyed. They are by far the 
largest and the finest human monuments in Central Asia; 
we know that they were built by Tamerlane, and the dates 
of their erection are worked in with the inscriptions over 
the arches. The outside and inside walls were adorned here 
and there with eulogies of "the Emperor of Asia," "the 
Lord of the World" and other titles of compliment which 
were bestowed upon Tamerlane. But those were practically 
all the facts that we could learn, although a dozen venerable 
men reside within the ruins, and are supposed to have charge 
of them. The most venerable of the mullahs, who told us 
that he had lived within that enclosure for more than fifty 
years, had the assurance to assert that the mosques were 
destroyed by an earthquake only eighteen years ago, when 
Schuyler, who visited here in 1875, describes them in the 
dilapidated state that they appear in to-day, and Vambery, 
a Hungarian, who came in 1863, laments their destruction. 

We argued with the old man a long time, but he would not 
modify his statement, and grew quite indignant because 
we questioned his accuracy. He added that the earthquake 
of 1902 had done a good deal of damage; but insisted that 
when he came here in the '50s every building was perfect 
and in use, and none of them suffered the slightest damage 
until eighteen years ago. When I asked him if Tamerlane 
was living here at that time he replied seriously in the 
negative, and added that Tamerlane died and was buried 
in the Gur Emir many years before his birth. 

Abu Tajir Khoji, a Persian writer, who saw these mosques 
about the middle of the fifteenth century, gives us a very 
elaborate and enthusiastic description of them. He de- 



clares that the towers reach the skies; that the azure of the 
tiles rival the heavens, and that no object in nature is more 
beautiful or shapely than their arches and their domes. 
He tells us that Tamerlane brought two hundred artists 
and five hundred masons from India to do the work, and 
personally superintended the erection of the buildings. 

In the centre of the enclosure is a monumental book rack 
of marble, exquisitely carved, although the corners have 
been chipped off in several places and the tracery has been 
badly damaged. It is ten feet high and twenty feet square, 
and modelled after the wooden racks used in every mosque 
to hold the Koran while the mullahs read from it. The 
priest who showed us around said that in olden times they 
had a copy of the Koran big enough to fit this rack — and 
if so its pages must have been fully 10 by 20 feet in size. 
He told us that they used to rest it there and read aloud to 
the pilgrims. I never saw anything of the kind before. 
I have no idea that it was ever used in that way, but never- 
theless it is a noble monument. 

It is unfortunate that the Russian government does not 
take some step to obtain an accurate history of these build- 
ings before they all disappear. At the present rate of decay 
they cannot last many years. It would cost millions of 
rubles to repair them, but the expense of compiling a history 
would be small. 

There is no conclusive evidence that Tamerlane ever 
married a Chinese princess. That inference seems to be 
drawn from the circumstance that one of his titles, "Fuma," 
means "son-in-law to the emperor of China." Another title 
was "Khakan," which means "emperor," and still another 
"Gurgan," which means "husband of a princess." Nine 


wives are mentioned in his memoirs, as well as by Clavijo, 
but none of them is ever referred to as a Chinese. His 
favourite was the wife of his youth, the faithful Aljaz Turkan 
Agha, who shared the perils and hardships of his early 
career, and was his loving companion during the darkest 
period of his life. She was the granddaughter of the sultan 
of Samarkand, the daughter of Emir Kurgan, and the sister 
of Emir Hosein, the chief with whom he had a feud for 
many years. He married her in 1356, and she died in 1366. 
In his memoirs he describes his sorrow at her death and 
remarks : " Verily we belong to God, and to Him shall we re- 

After the death of Aljaz, the wife who seems to have had 
the most influence over him was Sarai Mulk Khanum, 
daughter of Kazan, sultan of Turkestan, and a descendant of 
the famous Ghengis. He married her in 1369 and she became 
the mother of Shah Rokh, altogether the best of his sons. 

The following year, 1370, he married the Princess Tukal 
Khanum, daughter of the khan of Mogulistan, who was 
also a descendant of Ghengis. The term "Khanum" is 
the feminine of khan and means queen or empress. 

Another of his wives was Eilshad Agha, daughter of 
Kamar-Uddin, one of his most successful generals. 

There is no way to identify any of these wives with the 
Bibi Khanum to whose memory the great mosque and 
meddresse at Samarkand were dedicated, and whose tomb 
stands in partial ruins on the other side of the highway. 

Clavijo, the Spanish ambassador who went to Samarkand 
in 1403, says in his narrative that "the chief wife was named 
Cano," which means "queen," or "great lady," and she was 
the daughter of a former emperor of Samarkand named 


Ahincan (Kamil Khan), who also reigned over Persia and 
Damascus. The second wife was called Quinchicano, which 
means "little lady," and she was a daughter of Tumanga, 
the king of a land called Andricoja. The names of the 
others were Dileoltagna, Cholpamalaga, Mundagasa, Ven- 
garaga, Ropa-arbaraga, and Yauguraga, which means 
"queen of the heart." 

Clavijo has a good deal to say about ambassadors from 
China who were at Samarkand while he was there, but does 
not refer to either of the wives of Timour as a daughter 
of the Chinese emperor. From his description Timour 
treated the ambassadors with contempt. He says: "This 
emperor of Cathay is called Chuyscan, which means nine 
empires; but the Zagatays call him Tangus, which means 
'pig emperor.' He is the lord of a great country, and 
Timour used to pay him tribute, but refuses to do so any 

The graves of two "holy men" are in Samarkand, or they 
are believed to be, and are worshipped as such. In the more 
pretentious of the tombs rest the mortal remains of Shah 
Zindah, a cousin of Mohammed the Prophet, and one of the 
most revered saints in the Moslem calendar. The other is 
claimed to be the tomb of Daniel, the Hebrew prophet 
of the Scriptures, the interpreter of the dreams of kings, 
and the prime minister of an empire. There is evidently 
a misapprehension about Daniel, because he lived in exile 
and died at Susa, Persia, where the romantic incidents in 
the career of Esther, the Jewish queen of Artaxerxes, also 
occurred. Esther and Mordecai, her uncle, who was also 
prime minister, are buried at Hamadan, Persia, and their 
tombs are kept in perfect order by Jewish custodians and 


are the object of pilgrimages from all the Jewish communities 
in the east. 

Susa was one of the richest cities in the Persian Empire. 
Descriptions of its palaces and the sumptuous habits of 
its people may be found in the books of Esther and Daniel 
in the Old Testament. It was captured and looted by- 
Alexander the Great and has been thoroughly explored by 
archaeologists within the last half century. The frieze 
of the throne-room and several other architectural features 
of the palace of Artaxerxes may be seen in the Louvre 
Museum at Paris. 

Daniel's tomb is in the walls of the citadel at Susa. He 
was buried with the kings, proving the honour in which 
he was held and the eminence which he attained. His 
tomb is well preserved, is shaded by groves of palms and 
reverently guarded by a group of rabbis. It is venerated 
by Moslems as well as by Jews and visited by hundreds of 
thousands of pilgrims whose contributions pay for its 
maintenance. There are khans erected expressly to accom- 
modate them. 

The theory of the Samarkand Moslems and Jews is that 
Tamerlane, after he conquered Persia, brought the remains 
of Daniel to Samarkand and left the tomb at Susa empty; 
but archaeologists believe that a misapprehension has been 
caused by a similarity in the name of the great Usbeg 
statesman, Daniel Bi, who was a khan of Samarkand for 
more than thirty years in the earlier part of the seventeenth 
century, and was buried in the tomb which is worshipped 
for that of Daniel the Prophet. It is not nearly so fine or 
imposing as the original tomb of Daniel at Susa, although 
it is well kept. 


It is well situated about two miles from the city and is 
reached by a rough and much-travelled road, always deep 
in mud or deep in dust, according to the season, which 
leads through a desolate and neglected cemetery and life- 
less sand hills. While we were driving out that way we 
met several parties of pilgrims who had come all the way 
from Persia to venerate the Jewish prophet, and they believe 
that the remains were transferred from Susa here by Tamer- 
lane in the latter part of the fourteenth century. 

The mausoleum is an unpretentious building of mud 
brick, coated with plaster and roofed with tiles. There 
is a mosque beside it and a large cave in the rock in which 
pilgrims are accustomed to find accommodations when 
they have no means to pay hotel bills. From the entrance 
to the tomb you look down upon a romantic little gorge 
through which the River Siop flows and turns the wheel 
of a flour mill, almost at Daniel's feet. The surroundings 
are very attractive, the trees are thick and in good condition, 
and everything looks prosperous and well cared for. 

The sarcophagus of Daniel is about sixty feet long, six 
feet wide and five feet high, and the attendant told us that 
the prophet filled every inch of it. They were big men 
in those days, he said; the human stature had been growing 
less and less annually for hundreds of years. Tamerlane 
was also a very large man, twenty-five or thirty feet tall, 
and while he could not give us the exact dimensions of 
Daniel the Prophet, he was so tall that he could step over an 
ordinary cabin. Noah, who is buried near Damascus, 
according to tradition, was sixty-five feet high, and other 
of the patriarchs were of similar stature. 

I have never been able to get from any of these people 


an explanation of their theory for the diminishing stature 
of the human* race, but I suppose they have some good 
reason for it. 

The tombs of Noah and other patriarchs and prophets 
that I have seen and the tombs of Esther and Mordecai 
are blanketed with costly Persian shawls, and that is the 
custom in India and Turkey. But Daniel's sarcophagus 
is as bare as the hillside upon which it stands, except for 
some little red flags and horses' tails and innumerable 
pebbles placed upon it by pilgrims, each pebble representing 
a prayer. The Mohammedans place pebbles upon the tombs 
of the dead whom they revere and upon the altars in their 
mosques, just as the Roman Catholics burn candles before 
their altars. 

The tomb of Shah Zindah is at the other end of town, 
near the Gur Emir, in which Tamerlane is buried. It is 
one of the grandest, as it is one of the most ancient and in- 
teresting buildings in Samarkand, and was erected by 
Tamerlane during the latter part of the fourteenth century, 
probably between 1385 and 1390. The proper name of 
the saint who is buried there is Akhmed Zaaman. He was 
the only son of Ali, the uncle of Mohammed and therefore 
a first cousin of the Prophet. Akhmed was a mighty man of 
valour as well as an influential evangelist. He was often re- 
ferred to as Imani Mahdi (the messiah), but more frequently 
by the title Shah Zindah, which means "the living king." 

The Mohammedans in this part of the country believe 
that he is only sleeping in his tomb and that he will arise 
some day and reconquer the world. At the time of the 
Russian invasion in the early '60s, the priests proclaimed 
the second advent of Shah Zindah and promised the people 


that he would annihilate the armies of the Czar. The pro- 
phecy remains unfulfilled, but the veneration of "the living 
king" has not suffered. His tomb is more carefully looked 
after and is visited by larger numbers of pilgrims than any 
other in Turkestan. Groups of venerable men with intel- 
lectual and serene faces and dignified manners are always 
to be found there either in prayer or contemplation. 

Shah Zindah conquered this country fifty-two years 
after the flight of the Prophet and reigned for a quarter of 
a century over Central Asia, with Samarkand as his capital. 
Tamerlane built this tomb upon the spot where Kasim 
Ibn Abbas, another Moslem saint, suffered martyrdom 
nearly thirteen hundred years ago. 

There are several other tombs connected with the mau- 
soleum of Shah Zindah, being grouped upon a hill on the 
edge of the city and reached by a long flight of stairs. You 
pass through a rather low archway into a courtyard, from 
which four large buildings with lofty domes are entered. 
The exterior surface of all of these buildings was once 
covered with tiles, acre after acre of enamelled porcelain of 
exquisite lustre and artistic design, and much of it still 
remains to indicate how splendid the group of mausoleums 
must have been when they were new and fresh from the 
hands of the masons. 

In the sheltered places, free from exposure to the weather, 
the tiles are almost perfect, even after 500 years of neglect. 
In other places they have been torn down or rotted away, 
the mortar between the bricks has become detached and 
has fallen out, and the bricks themselves, although fired 
clay, are crumbling. 

The tomb of Nam-asga, one of the khans of Samarkand, 


which was built in 1630, is almost perfect. A few thousand 
dollars would restore it completely, provided it is possible 
to obtain masons of sufficient skill to repair and restore the 
tiles. The mausoleum of Ichwat Khan, another of the 
descendants of Tamerlane, is also in excellent condition, 
but it is totally neglected and does not even have the care 
of a custodian. 

The style of decoration is almost uniform, and the patterns 
on the tiles are limited, although the ages of the different 
buildings vary from 200 to 600 years. All of the tiles came 
from Persia. There is no doubt about that, and we are to 
conclude also that the manufacturers never changed their 
patterns during all those centuries. The same is true of 
rugs. The modern rugmakers never vary their designs. 
They have, perhaps, a dozen different varieties, but the 
same family or the people of the same town adhere to the 
same patterns, generation after generation, even century 
after century, without the slightest variation, so that an 
experienced buyer is always able to tell where a rug comes 

I presume there are experts who can do the same with 
tiles. The finest tiles are found to-day in some of the 
mosques in India, in the Alhambra of Granada, the Alcazar 
of Seville, and the mosque of Valideh Sultana at Constan- 
tinople, which was erected in 1615 by the mother of Moham- 
med IV. The interior, which is very large, covering nearly 
half an acre, is lined with porcelain enamel as high as thirty 
or forty feet. Above that the walls and domes are painted 
in imitation of tiles. 

The coloured tile has always been associated with Moham- 
medan palaces and places of worship. The Mohammedan 


races have been the most skilful and artistic of all tilemakers. 
That form of building material — porcelain enamel on white 
clay in colours — is believed to have originated with the 
Phoenicians on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. 
They were also the first to discover the process of making 
glass. This is believed to have been by accident. A 
group of sailors camping upon the shore of the Bay of Acre, 
under the shadow of Mount Carmel, observed that the sand 
beneath their fire had melted and formed a transparent 
mass. Their discovery was developed by artisans in that 
neighbourhood. The manufacture of tiles was commenced 
about the same time. The art was transported to Spain 
by the Phoenicians. The Moors took it up and improved 
upon it and the buildings erected on the Iberian Peninsula 
before its occupation by the Romans were lined with tiles 
equal to those in the Alhambra of Granada and the Alcazar 
of Seville. 

The Persians derived the art from the Phoenicians and 
became the most successful tilemakers in the world. Tamer- 
lane introduced tiles here and probably in India also, for 
the tombs and the mosques of his posterity, who were the 
moguls of India, are covered with them. 

The great Baber, in his memoirs, written in 1497, declares 
that "in the whole habitable world there are few cities 
so pleasantly situated as Samarkand." He describes the 
mosques and meddresses, the tombs of Tamerlane and Shah 
Zindah, and other splendid edifices which exist either wholly 
or in part to-day, and tells us, too, about the grandeur of 
the palaces erected by Tamerlane and his sons, and the 
curious architectural features introduced in several of them. 
One palace, he says, "is overlaid with the porcelain of China, 


whence it is called 'the Chinese house.' A person was sent 
to China for the purpose of bringing it. Within the walls 
of Samarkand is another ancient building called the Laklala, 
or 'echoing mosque,' because whenever any person stamps 
on the ground in that mosque an echo is returned. It is 
a strange thing, the secret of which is known to nobody." 


THE capital of Turkestan, the residence of the Russian 
viceroy or yarin padishah (which means half -king), and 
the headquarters of the military forces of Central Asia, is the 
city of Tashkend, situated upon the River Jarhik, a branch 
of the Syr Daria, which was known to the ancients as the 
Jaxartes River. It stands on the edge of the western foot- 
hills of the mountains which form a natural boundary 
between Russian possessions in Asia and the Chinese prov- 
ince of Tien Shan. These mountains consist of successive 
ranges and are known by various names — the Kharli 
Tau, the Alai Tau, the Urtak Tau, and the Alexandrian 
Mountains, and they culminate in a great range known as 
the Kizil Yari, whose peaks rise to the height of twenty-five 
thousand feet and are second only to those of the Himalayas 
which form the boundary between Thibet and India. The 
Kizil Yari are really a continuation of the Himalaya range 
and extend northward into Siberia. 

Tashkend is an ancient city. Its origin is lost in the mist 
of the ages. Geographically it is on the same parallel of 
latitude as Bombay and is directly north of Kabul, the 
capital of Afghanistan. Its latitude is about the same as 
that of Constantinople and Rome. 

Tashkend was captured by the Russians in October, 
1868, after a brief siege, by only 1,950 troops, and, according 



to the Russian policy, General Alexander Tchernaief, who 
was in command, called together the "elder statesmen," 
and after persuading them of his benevolent intentions, 
issued a proclamation which is a model of diplomacy: 

"By order of the Great White Tsar, his lieutenant, 
General Iskander Tchernaief (the use of the Uzbek term 
for Alexander being intended as a compliment to Alexander 
the Great), hereby enjoins upon the inhabitants of Tash- 
kend that they must in everything act according to the 
commands of Almighty God and the teaching of the ortho- 
dox religion of Mohammed, on whose descendants be the 
blessings of God. Let them say their prayers five times a 
day, not passing by the appointed time an hour or even a 
minute. Let the mullahs go to their schools and teach the 
Mohammedan faith and not waste the time of their pupils 
by an hour or a minute. Let the inhabitants of the country 
occupy themselves with their work. Let the people of 
the bazaars carry on their trade with profit. Let nothing 
be thrown into the streets and let them be kept clean. 
The Koran forbids you to drink buza and whiskey, to play 
games of chance, or to be licentious; therefore beware and 
avoid everything that is contrary to your religion. The 
soldiers will take nothing from you. Houses, gardens, 
fields, lands, water mills, and everything else you have will 
remain your property and no soldier will come into your 
courtyard. If he does, let us know at once and he will be 
severely punished. If anyone kills or robs a neighbour he 
will be judged by your laws and the tenth part of what is 
taken from the products of your lands I remit to you in 
accordance with the will of the Great White Tsar to show 
you his disposition of kindness." 


Shortly after General Kaufmann, who was the chief 
in command of the campaign, organized a provincial govern- 
ment and was appointed the first viceroy of Turkestan. 
His administration was peaceful, progressive, and remark- 
ably successful. His assistant and successor was General 
Kuropatkin, the real hero of the recent war between Russia 
and Japan. Although Kaufmann is entitled to the credit 
of planning the city and defining the policy of the govern- 
ment, Kuropatkin did most of the work, and to his energy, 
ability, and tact more than to any other cause is due the 
satisfactory condition that now exists in that part of the 
Russian Empire. Kaufmann and Kuropatkin both knew 
how to deal with the natives, and the policy they inaugurated 
and the regulations they framed are still in force. 

In the centre of the city of Tashkend, in a beautiful 
public square which is composed of four large blocks densely 
planted with many varieties of trees, is a tall shaft of granite 
with an inscription that calls Kaufmann "The conqueror 
of Samarkand in 1868, and of the Khanate of Khiva in 
1873." Kaufmann was a great man, a genuine empire 
builder; none more succesful has ever been known in history, 
but Kuropatkin should also have a monument because he 
carried into effect what Kaufmann planned. 

The present viceroy is Lieutenant-General Samsonoff, 
a man of great ability and energy, and his deputy is Lieu- 
tenant-General Dokotillo, who is also making a reputation. 

The governor-general has a palace, as it is called, but you 
cannot see much of it because it is hidden by a high wall 
painted white, with green panels. The house is painted 
green, with white trimmings, and is simple and modest and 
without the slightest ostentation. It is by no means 


imposing, but is said to be handsomely furnished and 
comfortable. It is of stone, of a single story, surrounding 
several courts and covering a large area. It was built 
by General Kaufmann and is intended more for comfort 
than display. Each of the courts has a wide portico or 
cloister to temper the heat, which is intense in the summer, 
and all the rooms are large and high. There is no throne 
room or audience chamber, but a ballroom, 30 by 52 feet 
in size, is used about once a year for a state reception. 
The dining room is 20 by 32 feet. A lounging or smoking 
room is really the finest apartment in the palace, having 
a wainscotting and frieze of exquisite Oriental wood carving, 
divans, upholstery, and window hangings of native velvet 
made in Bokhara. 

The yarin padishah, or viceroy, makes no attempt at 
display and offers very little hospitality, either to the 
natives or the Russian residents. From a social point of 
view the administration of Turkestan is in striking contrast 
to that of India, where the viceroy is surrounded by much 
pomp and ceremony and where the etiquette is even more 
strict than at Buckingham Palace or Potsdam. The 
viceroy of India holds regular levees, at which the native 
princes, the rajahs, and maharajahs appear in their royal 
robes, loaded with jewels, and are entertained with osten- 
tatious ceremony; but at Tashkend all such things are 
omitted except on New Year's day, when the governor 
general receives both Russian and native citizens in a manner 
as informal as the receptions of the President of the United 
States. The palace is surrounded by several acres of gar- 
dens, orchards, and groves, all enclosed by a high wall which 
extends back into the native city. The only fortification 


in the neighbourhood occupies an eminence upon the oppo- 
site side of a wide street and commands the native 

The viceroy, or "half king," as the natives call him, has 
a large staff of civil and military officials, mostly generals 
and other men of high rank, whose wives and daughters 
constitute an official hierarchy, like the imperial court or 
as near as possible. There are dances, teas, card parties, 
private theatricals, amateur concerts, and various other 
amusements at the military club, which are attended by the 
families of the army officers, who are divided into cliques, 
coteries, and sets as in other military stations. The military 
etiquette is very severe, and the customs of St. Petersburg 
prevail in official society to a degree that is amusing. The 
civilian population have no special position, although if they 
happen to have attractive daughters they are made wel- 
come at the balls and garden parties. The morals of the 
people are ignored, but religious holidays are strictly 

The viceroy has absolute and autocratic power and is 
responsible only to the Czar, who appoints and can remove 
him, but thus far has never interfered with his adminis- 
tration. I do not know of any other civilized ruler on the 
face of the earth who is so independent of all criticism and 
restraint as the viceroy of Turkestan. The viceroy of 
India is always under fire from critics i* 1 England and India, 
both natives and Englishmen, whose partisanship provokes 
them to comment favourably or unfavourably in books, 
newspapers, magazines, and upon the lecture platform, 
upon everything he does, according as it happens to suit 
their views. The viceroy of India is the v> jn. of a par- 



liament also and a council for Indian affairs, as well as the 
colonial department of the government. The civil authori- 
ties in India are in continual friction with the military, 
and on the 1st of January, 1910, a council of state, one half 
of whom are natives elected by the people, was installed 
to criticise as well as to cooperate with him. The viceroy 
of Turkestan is not troubled with any of these afflictions, 
but is an absolute dictator, civil and military. No one 
asks him questions. Although he is assisted by a council, 
that body seldom offers him advice unless it is asked for, 
and the ministry at St. Petersburg have nothing to say con- 
cerning his administration one way or the other. 

There is a parade ground immediately in front of the 
palace, surrounded by a double row of poplar trees, and 
upon the opposite side is a gorgeous church with yellow 
walls and five turquoise domes embellished with gilt, which 
is intended especially for the soldiers. A military mass is 
celebrated there every Sunday morning and always upon 
holidays and saints' days. 

We were fortunate in being able to witness the open-air 
ceremonies upon the parade ground in front of the palace 
upon the emperor's birthday, but they did not amount to 
much. No enthusiasm was displayed and it looked as if 
Nicholas II is not getting all the respect that should be 
coming to him. The city was liberally decorated with 
Russian flags, but no salute was fired. There was probably 
some reason for the omission, but I could not get an ex- 
planation. The church bells woke up all the population 
at an early hour in the morning, early mass was sung in 
all the churches as on Sunday, and a special service was 
held in the military church at 9 o'clock which was at- 


tended by all of the officials, civil and military. The 
introduction of several children's voices added much to 
the effect of the music. 

While the mass was being celebrated, the native officials 
gathered on the parade ground — the mayor, the magistrates, 
and other functionaries being dressed in long velvet gowns 
of bright colours. All of them wore several decorations 
and medals, which have been freely bestowed, and in their 
snowy white turbans, their long beards, and dignified de- 
meanour, they made an impressive scene. But the service 
was long, the day was hot, and velvet robes are thick and 
heavy. They stood it as long as they could on the parade 
ground and then sought the shade of the trees, where they 
squatted on the ground and waited until the viceroy ap- 

He came from the church at the close of the service with 
more haste than dignity, followed by enough generals to 
command an army corps, and, as soon as the soldiers were 
arranged in a hollow square on the four sides of the parade 
ground, he reviewed them, walking rapidly across the four 
sides and proposing a cheer for the emperor every time he 
reached a new company. 

When this ceremony had been completed he approached 
the native officials, who were ranged in a group according 
to their rank, and listened impatiently to a tedious speech 
from the eldest of the elder statesmen. The first time the 
old man stopped to catch his breath the viceroy broke in 
upon him in a most abrupt manner, promising to telegraph 
his kind words of congratulations and expressions of loyalty 
to the emperor that very day. Then he bowed abruptly, 
wheeled about, and, followed by a platoon of generals, 


strode hurriedly across the parade ground and disappeared 
within the palace door. 

Tashkend covers an area as large as that of Paris, for 
every house in the Russian quarter stands in a large com- 
pound amid trees and gardens and is surrounded by high 
walls. No city has more luxuriant foliage. The soil is 
so fertile that any kind of a stick will grow if it is stuck in 
the ground and well watered. The modern city, at least 
six miles square, is one great grove, which has sprung up 
from seeds and seedlings planted by the Russians within 
the last forty -five years. The growth is extraordinary. 
There are acres after acres of full sized oaks, walnuts, 
elms, lindens, ash, several varieties of maples, horse chest- 
nuts, and mulberries and one variety, with far spreading 
branches, small leaves, and very thick foliage, which I 
have never seen before. The natives call it the "kara- 
kitchi," which means black ash, and it makes one of the 
finest shade trees I have ever seen. The government has 
done remarkable work in forestation. It is asserted 
that more than 60,000,000 trees have been planted upon 
the deserts of Central Asia since the first occupation in 
1868, and everyone who has seen the groves that surround 
the railway stations, the long colonnades of poplars that 
line the streets of the new Russian towns, the parks and 
private grounds can well believe the statement. It is a 
disappointment, however, that I have not been able to 
find anyone willing to assert that this forestation has had 
a beneficial effect upon the climate or the rainfall. Every- 
body believes that the trees are promoters of health and 
comfort, but no meteorological changes have been 


The Russian part of Tashkend is a city of magnificent 
distances, and it is certainly to the credit of the Russian 
government that the land thus occupied was not confiscated 
from the conquered natives, but was purchased from them 
for a fair price and resold to Russian immigrants after a 
sufficient area had been reserved for administrative build- 
ings, military barracks, parks, schoolhouses, churches, and 
other semi-public purposes. The value of the land was 
so small at that time that everybody bought by the acre 
instead of the lot, which accounts for the large groves and 
gardens that surround every house. But real estate is 
beginning to command high rates, and in the business sec- 
tion of the city has sold as high as $5 a square yard. 

There is plenty of water from the River Sura, a branch of 
the Kerashan, and irrigating ditches of running water on 
both sides of every street cool the atmosphere as well as 
encourage the vegetation, and men with buckets dip from 
the flowing gutters and douse the streets as in India. This 
is very acceptable in the summer months, for it does not 
rain between April and November. Where the roads are 
not sprinkled the dust is fearful, and in winter the mud 
is equally disagreeable. 

Most of the streets are 160 feet wide, there are brick or 
stone sidewalks and a driveway in the centre is usually 
macadamized. The large compounds, the high walls, 
and the far-spreading residences resemble the foreign settle- 
ments of Delhi, Lucknow, Lahore, and other cities of India 
and China. Most of the buildings are of one story to ac- 
commodate the earthquakes, and every one, except the shops 
which have show windows opening on the sidewalks, is 
enclosed in high walls and concealed by shade trees. These 


"compounds," as the enclosures are called, usually contain 
the business offices and warehouses of the owner as well as 
his residence. The business office usually opens on the 
street. The residence is in the centre of the compound 
and surrounded by gardens, orchards, strawberry beds, and 
lawns. There are several fine schoolhouses in the Russian 
quarter for the benefit of the children of the civil and mili- 
tary officers. One side of the public park is occupied by 
large buildings in which academies, art schools, technical 
schools, and other branches of secondary and higher educa- 
tion are maintained. Each building occupies the entire 
front of the block. One is for boys and the other is for girls. 
The city is thoroughly equipped with electric lights and 
with running water. There are telephones and street cars 
which are very much needed, because the distances are so 
great, and almost every part of the city, the native section, 
the railway station, the cemetery, and all other points where 
people want to go are reached by them. The cars are 
rudely made, but are open, and the first three seats are 
reserved for Europeans who pay double fare to avoid the 
crowding, the odours, and the creeping things which are said 
to be caught from the natives. Droskys like those in St. 
Petersburg and Moscow are numerous and cheap, and the 
ichvostniks are gorgeous fellows, wearing sleeveless liveries 
of dark velvet over silk tunics of bright colours adorned 
with filigree buttons of silver and gilt. The horses are 
not so good as those of Russia proper, except those driven 
by the government officials and the rich merchants, among 
whom there is a good deal of rivalry. Ordinary horses and 
cattle are very poor. The beef is miserable and tough and 
scarcely fit to eat. Strangers avoid it and the natives can- 


not be very much tempted by the samples that hang in 
front of the butcher-shops. Mutton is much better. 

In the modern city are fine shops filled with merchandise 
with attractive show windows. Prices are very high com- 
pared with those in Moscow and St. Petersburg, because of 
customs taxes and long transportation. Nothing is cheap 
but vegetables and fruits. Every other form of merchan- 
dise costs more than in Europe. Wages of Europeans are 
very high. A Russian labourer or servant expects twice or 
three times as much as he gets at home, but the wages of 
natives are low, 25 and 30 cents a day being the maximum. 
There are three daily newspapers, which receive brief 
news despatches from Europe, chiefly about Russian affairs. 

There is a modest museum, which contains valuable 
collections of Turkestan archaeology, but they are not cata- 
logued or arranged with any system. The objects are 
covered with dust and the place seems to be uncared for. 
It would be an easy task to fill a museum with the relics 
of the prehistoric races who occupied this section of the 
world, but the Russians do not seem to take any interest 
in the subject. 

Attached to the museum is a national library containing 
the largest and best collection of works, in all languages, 
concerning Central Asia that can be found anywhere, and 
it includes not only books and pamphlets but magazines 
and newspaper articles. This library was started by General 
Kaufmann, the first viceroy, and was increased by General 
Kuropatkin, his successor, but the present generation of 
officials are not inclined to literary affairs and have made 
few additions. 

There are several theatres and cheap cinematograph 


shows for the diversion of the soldiers, and they seem to 
be well patronized. There are numerous cafes and clubs 
and the government subsidizes an opera during the winter 
season, all for the benefit of the military element, and to 
make them contented. 

There are several large churches. One in particular, 
which serves as a cathedral for the orthodox Greek bishop, 
with a bell tower or campanile, was built by the late Emperor 
Alexander III, who, as you remember, was very religious, 
and a marble tablet inscribed with gilt letters tells of his 
generosity and his interest in the spiritual welfare of his 
Asiatic subjects. Back of this church is an entire block 
covered with barracks for the infantry. And, indeed, it is 
unnecessary to ask the use for any large building, because 
the answer is usually the same. The military garrison of 
Tashkend is between 15,000 and 20,000 men. 

A considerable part of the buildings in the city are devoted 
to the military and civil administrations, but as there are 
no signs to distinguish public and private premises all build- 
ings look alike to strangers. It is impossible to distinguish 

There are two hotels, and one of them, where we were 
stopping, is managed by a vivacious soubrette who was a 
popular stage favourite until a year or so ago, when she mar- 
ried one of the richest merchants in town, who owns the 
largest shop and was also proprietor of the hotel. The 
manager immediately had trouble with madam, and quit. 
She then undertook to run things herself, and you can 
imagine the consequences. It is a common saying that any- 
body can run a hotel or a newspaper, because everybody 
knows how to do it, and a singing and dancing soubrette 


is probably more competent than people who have been 
trained in other professions. 

In Turkestan a hotel is called a "gastinitza," and madam, 
who is strictly a "live wire," gave us a continuous per- 
formance not only of comedy, but of tragedy, melodrama, 
and farce. If she would direct some of her fascinations 
upon the servants instead of upon her guests the discipline 
might be improved, for the cook is seldom at home, the 
other servants are in a chronic state of mutiny, and nothing 
is certain or permanent except madam's musical voice, 
which can be heard continuously through the corridors from 
morning till night. She never stops talking, but nobody 
seems to mind what she says. Tennyson's "Brook" isn't 
a circumstance to her conversation. But, after all, the 
hotel is comfortable, the rooms are large and airy, the fur- 
niture is new and abundant, and even if the cook does not 
come to get dinner until 8 o'clock in the evening, you are 
always sure of a warm meal before you go to bed if you 
only have the patience to sit up and wait for it. In that 
latitude the twilights are long and you can sit out on the 
sidewalk until midnight waiting for your supper. 

The Tashkend nightingale, or bull-bull, is an institution 
peculiar to the place, and it has the only voice that can out- 
scream the landlady. The irrigation ditches that flow 
through every street are filled with frogs, and they make the 
night merry barking like dogs, squealing like little pigs, 
croaking like ravens, and making a rap-a-tap like wood- 
peckers. They are deep-lunged creatures, no larger than 
ordinary frogs, but can be heard for half a mile, and the 
first question a resident asks a visitor is: 

"Did the bull-bulls keep you awake all night?" 


The chief vehicle used by the native is a wide cart on two 
immense wheels called an "arba." The wheels are con- 
structed of elm wood and are usually about eight feet high, 
with wide felloes and heavy spokes. The shafts are exten- 
sions of the wooden beams which run under the body of 
the vehicle and are supported by a saddle on the back of 
the horse, where the driver always sits instead of in the 
cart. Sometimes the arbas are covered with framework 
and matting, and, although springless, they are not un- 
comfortable, because the great size of the wheels counter- 
acts the inequalities of the road. There are various theories 
as to the size of the wheels, that generally accepted being 
that it is to enable them to ford streams without wetting 
their cargoes. We had a good deal of amusement asking 
teamsters from time to time why the wheels of their carts 
were so large. One of them answered promptly: 

"Because we like them that way." 

The population of the city of Tashkend at the only 
census that was ever taken was found to be 167,000, but it 
is probably nearer 180,000 to-day, of whom about 12,000 
are Russians, not including soldiers. 

The old city of Tashkend is the largest of all the com- 
munities of Central Asia, and no other presents so many 
interesting features. The walls are said to have been six- 
teen miles in length, but are preserved only in spots. They 
were built of blocks of clay and then plastered over, fifteen 
feet high and twenty-four feet thick at the base and about 
twelve feet at the top, where there was a narrow path or 
platform protected by thinner walls so low that the soldiers 
could shoot over them. There were formerly twelve gates, 
but most of them have been taken down. 


The city is divided into four parts known as Shaikantaur. 
Bish Agatche, Koktchi, and Sibzar, which were formerly 
separate towns and gradually grew together. Each, how- 
ever, preserves its municipal independence and is governed 
by an aksakal (meaning literally a gray-beard) or elder, and 
has its own police and separate municipal administration. 
The inhabitants are known as Sarts, which was originally 
a term of contempt for an effeminate person, but has grown 
to mean the inhabitants of cities as distinguished from horse- 
men of the plains. The term, however, is now only applied 
to the inhabitants of the former khanate at Samarkand 
to distinguish them from the people of Khiva, Bokhara, 
and other neighbours. They had the same ancestors as 
the Germans and Slavonians and have occupied this country 
from a time so far back that no one can count the centuries 
or the generations. 

Their language is similar to that of Bokhara and is called 
Uzbek, a term applied to the descendants of ninety-two 
clans or tribes in Central Asia, but the dialects vary accord- 
ing to their contact with the other races. Thus those who 
live nearer the Persian border use many Persian words: 
those who live near China show the influence in their con- 
versation, and those who live down toward India have many 
terms and phrases in common. There is a written language 
and a limited literature. The gospels have been translated 
into Uzbek. 

The total Sart population, including about seventy-five 
thousand inhabitants of Samarkand and 140,000 of Tash- 
kend, is estimated at about six hundred thousand. This 
includes many Jews who drifted there after the dispersion, 
and during the captivity, from Babylon and other places; 


many Persians who were originally brought as slaves; 
Hindus, Arabs, Armenians, and large numbers of Tartars. 
Of the 600,000 probably not more than two-thirds are pure 

The existence of Tashkend, like that of all these cities 
of Central Asia, is due to the Sura River, which comes down 
from the mountains of China and waters a large area of 
uncommonly fertile soil. The water supply of Tashkend 
is the most abundant in all Turkestan. The mountains 
from which this water comes, called the Tchatkal, are only 
thirty miles away and contribute much to the beauty of 
the landscape. Beyond Tashkend to the eastward there are 
no more deserts for several hundred miles until the great 
Desert of Gobi is reached. 

The native city is intersected by hundreds of canals 
and streams which water beautiful gardens, and looking 
from a height it would seem that ancient Tashkend was 
buried under foliage. More than half the houses are con- 
cealed by the boughs of trees, and in wandering about the 
narrow, crooked streets we frequently came to a rushing 
stream with trees leaning over the waters. Funny old flour 
mills are found everywhere with rude wheels that are turned 
by the force of the water. From the axles of these wheels 
large wooden teeth project, and, as they are turned, huge 
beams drop from one tooth to another. This causes them 
to teeter, and being swung on a pivot in the middle, the 
farther end, which is shod with iron, keeps dropping in- 
cessantly into a square mortar and pulverizes the wheat or 
other grain which has been placed there. 

The Syr Daria, or River Syr (the word Daria means a 
stream of water), was described by Strabo, the ancient 


Greek geographer, as flowing into the Caspian Sea, which 
indicates that the Sea of Aral was at that time a part of 
the Caspian, as I described in a previous chapter. The river 
was called the Jaxartes by the Greeks, and Alexander the 
Great found it difficult to cross with his army. It rises 
in China, in the mountains of the Tizan-Shan, at an elevation 
of 11,000 feet, and receives the waters of many mountain 
streams, fed from the glaciers and snowbanks. This is 
the cause of a phenomenon not often noticed. The size 
and rapidity of the stream are very much greater late in the 
afternoon and early evening than in the morning, the volume 
of water being twice as much at those hours, which is due 
to the melting snows under the hot sun during midday. 
After leaving the mountains of China the Syr wanders about 
the desert furnishing life and health and sustenance for 
about 3,000,000 people, and creating several important 
oases in Ferghana and the easternmost part of Turkestan. 
It is perpetual, and, what is more important, the volume of 
water is much greater in the summer, when it is needed, 
than in the winter, when people can get along without much 
moisture. If every river could be disciplined on that basis 
it would save a great deal of anxiety and pecuniary loss. 

The houses of the natives of Tashkend, like those of other 
cities in Turkestan, are built of mud, and a few of them are 
covered with plaster and washed with some brilliant cal- 
cimine. Pink and blue seem to be favourite tints, but every 
shade you can imagine is used, which gives a street a cheer- 
ful and agreeable appearance. The roofs are made of poplar 
rafters overlaid with willow branches entwined closely 
together. They are then thatched with reeds, alternating 
with layers of clay and sod to a thickness of fifteen or 


eighteen inches. The top layer soon becomes a garden, 
sowed with seeds blown about in the air, and is embellished 
with poppies, wild geraniums, and other flowers during the 
summer. But when the rainy season comes in the autumn 
the roof is sometimes washed away. 

Native Tashkend is the cleanest Oriental city I have ever 
seen, which perhaps is due to the fact that there is plenty of 
water from the Sura River, which flows by a dozen channels 
through the most thickly settled sections, and everybody 
can use as much as he pleases. Every few blocks you come 
across a swift, running stream. The streets are well kept, 
the children have clean faces and clean garments and are 
neatly dressed like the Japanese. They are clothed like 
grown people, wearing the same pattern of garments, and 
imitate them in their manners. Their gravity is amusing. 
You never saw anything more solemn than a Sart baby, 
unless it is a Japanese infant, and instead of running after 
strangers and clamouring for "backsheesh," as the children 
of other Eastern cities do, the boys and girls of Tashkend 
return your greetings with the grace of a Chesterfield and 
are as serious as undertakers. 

The boys have big, thoughtful eyes and handsome fea- 
tures. The little girls are very attractive except when they 
have rings in their noses, as some of them do. It is con- 
sidered a great attraction to have a ring in the cartilage 
between the nostrils. Their hair is braided in twenty or 
thirty small strands, each of which is tied with a ribbon 
at the end. The girls go with uncovered faces until they 
are 12 years old, but after that age even the beggar women 
wear strips of horsehair cloth with wide meshes sewed into 
their shawls so that they can be drawn down over their 



faces. This is much more comfortable than the thick cloth 
veils worn by women in other Mohammedan countries, 
as it enables them to see clearly and gives them air. 

The Sarts pay a great deal of attention to their children, 
to their deportment as well as their appearance, and are as 
assiduous in their instruction as the Japanese. They are 
not highly educated, but it is said that every man and woman 
can at least read and write. In this they are very different 
from the other tribes of Central Asia, which are usually 

There are no beggars in Tashkend, which is a great relief. 
There are no loathsome creatures to excite sympathy, such as 
obtrude upon a stranger in other Oriental cities, whichever 
way he turns, and in that aspect also Tashkend is like 

The bazaars are as clean and neat and well arranged as 
those of Kyoto and Tokio, and are the largest and best I 
have ever seen, better than those of Cairo, or Damascus, 
or even Constantinople. They are said to include 4,500 
shops for the sale of different classes of goods, each class 
having its own section and street for the convenience of 
buyers. There is very little in the way of curios. Most 
of the merchandise is made in Moscow or other Russian 
cities. There is a prohibitory tariff against German, English, 
and Austrian goods, and commercial travellers from other 
countries than Russia are not permitted in the country. 
The government proposes that its own merchants and 
manufacturers shall have every advantage that the country 
offers, and ever since the occupation the commercial and 
manufacturing interests of Russia have had the active 
cooperation of the officials in introducing their goods. 


We saw very few women, and those were so swathed in 
wraps that they did not look like human beings; but the 
men are worth looking at. Their top coats are rainbows 
of silk or cotton, wide stripes of the most brilliant colours, 
and under them are worn shirts and trousers of cotton or 
wool and a tunic of silk or cotton — red, yellow, orange, 
green, pink, blue, or perhaps all these colours combined — 
reaching to the knees. The legs and feet are usually bare, 
except for a pair of sandals or pumps which the wearer 
kicks off at every opportunity. Some of the swell natives 
try to imitate European customs and wear high Russian 
boots, which look very uncomfortable and inappropriate 
to the rest of the costume. Everybody wears little skull 
caps like those worn by the Cardinals of Rome, and they are 
embroidered with gold and silver braid or silks of brilliant 
colours. The cap shops are among the most numerous 
and attractive in the bazaars. 

The most interesting individual in Russian Tashkend, 
even more interesting than the viceroy or his deputy, is 
the Grand Duke Constantine Nicholaievitch, a second 
cousin of Emperor Nicholas, and a grandson of Nicholas I, 
the Iron Czar. He was banished to Turkestan because of 
a terrible scandal and afterward aggravated his offense 
by marrying the daughter of the chief of police at Orenberg. 
He is allowed to go about freely in the province, but must 
always ask the permission of the viceroy, equivalent to a 
ticket of leave, and which, of course, is a terrible humiliation 
to any man of high degree. He is not allowed to wear a 
uniform because he was a disgrace to the army, and that 
is an even greater cause of mortification than the other. 
He has tried in vain to persuade Nicholas II to revoke or 


modify the edict of exile pronounced upon him by Alexander 
III, but cannot even get permission to visit St. Petersburg. 
When his father died some years ago he was not allowed to 
attend the funeral. 

It is said that his troubles have weakened his mind, 
and people consider him a crank, but of a very good sort. 
Fortunately his mania is benevolence. He keeps busy, 
enjoys life, and spends the greater part of his time and his 
money doing good. He inherited great wealth, but his 
estate is in the hands of trustees, and he is permitted to 
spend only the income which, after meeting his living ex- 
penses, and for a grand duke they are not extravagant, 
is devoted entirely to improving the condition of the Russian 
peasants in this part of the empire. His trustees do not 
interfere with his benevolent work, but rather encourage 
it, and have assisted him in carrying out an extensive and 
expensive irrigating scheme upon the Golodnaya steppe, or 
"Hungry Desert," as a strip of barren and desolate country, 
eighty miles west of Tashkend, is called. It is the most 
forlorn and hopeless looking spot in all Turkestan, as you 
may infer from the name, and Constantine Nicholaievitch 
has invested several million dollars in a plant that irrigates 
about 6,000 acres and has located upon the land 800 families 
of peasants, mostly from the valley of the Volga in European 
Russia, who are engaged in raising cotton and are doing well. 
The irrigation system is being gradually extended as fast 
as the duke's means will permit, and before it is completed 
will have redeemed 10,000 to 12.000 acres of desert, and will 
have located upon it 1,200 to 1,500 families and added 
annually to the product of Turkestan about 20,000 bales 
of cotton worth about $1,000,000. Such a contribution 


to the wealth of his country, you must admit, is a very 
good record for a banished duke and a crank. 

His imperial highness resides in an artistic but modest 
mansion in the centre of the city, not far from the viceroy, 
and occupies an entire block of ground enclosed by a lofty 
iron fence painted a bright scarlet. At each corner of the 
ground is a one-story building of gray brick with window 
frames, doors, and trimmings and all woodwork painted 
the same vivid colour. At one corner is a stable, an attrac- 
tive piece of architecture. The outside walls are ornamented 
with medallions in stone from which project the heads of 
horses and each of them is a portrait of a favourite animal of 
the owner. All the woodwork about the stable is painted 
red. There is no other colour of paint on the place, which 
is all the more striking because of the dense green foliage 
which rises from behind the scarlet fence. There is a well- 
cultivated vegetable and flower garden, an orchard of fruit 
trees, a tennis court, a bowling green, and a croquet ground, 
all of them very attractive; and the rest of the block is 
covered with splendid trees, none more than fifty years old 
but all of them as large as if they had been growing five 

On the outside of the fence, on the sidewalk, are wooden 
benches such as you see in public parks and they are painted 
red also. They are intended to furnish a place where 
tired peasants who pass that way in a continuous procession 
during the hours of daylight between the country and the 
markets of Tashkend may sit down for a while and rest. 
This is one of the idiosyncrasies of the owner; one instance 
of his thoughtfulness for the comfort and welfare of the 
poor; and they call him a crank. His charity for his fellow 


men, who have been very severe in their criticism of his 
conduct, is all the more generous because it is applied to 
other races as well as to his own, and he spends ten times as 
much money for the welfare of others as he does for himself. 
Like all other houses in this earthquaky region, the 
palace of the Grand Duke Constantine is a one-story 
building, highly ornate in its decorations, particularly the 
facade. It looks more like a museum than a private house 
and the deception is heightened by the fact that the front 
porch, which extends the entire length of the house, has been 
shut in with large glass windows, creating a sun parlour 
which is half filled with curios and works of art. On either 
side of the doorway is a marble stag in an alert attitude, 
as if listening to the footsteps of a hunter creeping among 
the leaves. A wide, heavily-shaded driveway leads from the 
street to the front door of the mansion. All of the wood- 
work there is also a bright vermilion — thus carrying out 
practically a threat which his imperial highness is said to 
have made to his cousin, the late Alexander III, at the time 
of his banishment, that he would paint things red wherever 
they sent him. 


TURKESTAN is about the last place in the world that any- 
one would look for a portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, 
but I found one in Tashkendonthe Fourth of July — hanging 
upon the walls of a modest but comfortable mansion situated 
on the outskirts of the capital of Turkestan, surrounded 
by a garden, an orchard, and a grove of grand trees which 
look centuries old, but are really quite modern, like every- 
thing else in the Russian quarter. You often hear it said 
that the world is not very wide — a fact which I am prepared 
to prove by frequent experiences and by the picture of our 
strenuous ex-President ornamenting the home of a Russian 
admirer 1,300 miles east of the Caspian Sea, on the western 
borders of the Chinese Empire; but fame has no geographi- 
cal limits. 

Coming up on the train, a very agreeable gentleman con- 
nected with the finance department of the Russian govern- 
ment at Samarkand told us he had a friend at Tashkend who 
had formerly lived in New York and offered a letter of in- 
troduction to him, which was gladly accepted, particularly 
because he suggested that perhaps his friend was the only 
man at the capital who could speak English. As the ad- 
dress was written in Russian characters it had no meaning 
to us, and it was not until we had been in Tashkend for 
several days that we decided to present it — which turned 



out to be a mistake. Having exhausted the interesting 
features of the town, there was nothing left except to pay 
our respects to the only citizen who could speak English, 
and after a drive of fifteen minutes behind a swift horse — 
which indicates the area of Tashkend — we were shown 
into a one-story office building at the corner of a large com- 
pound. Handing the letter of introduction and my card 
to an attendant, I was led through a long hall, and there, 
seated behind an American roll-top desk, to my astonish- 
ment, was Vladimir Gnesin, a genial Russian friend whom I 
had known in the United States, and who has many friends 
in New York, Washington, and other cities. He lived in 
New York for nine years as the representative of the great 
Yaroslav Cotton Company of Moscow, the oldest establish- 
ment of the kind in Russia, which was founded in 1722 
under the patronage of Peter the Great to manufacture 
linen sails for his ships. 

The history of the Yaroslav company has recently been 
published in two large folio volumes, beautifully illustrated 
with designs of table cloths, napkins, and other ornamental 
fabrics for which it was famous a century and a half 
ago. It was a linen mill and also made writing paper 
and other stationery until 1856. Then it was turned 
into a cotton factory, with American machinery, and 
has been running exclusively with American cotton 
until the last few years, but the cotton industry has 
been developed in Turkestan very largely, owing to the 
encouragement of this company. Now about one -half of 
its supply of raw material comes from Turkestan, and 
the balance from the United States, and the average 
annual value of the finished product of the Yaroslav 


company is about 32,000,000 roubles, or $16,000,000 
in our money. 

The company has about two thousand acres of plantations 
in Turkestan, twelve ginneries and compresses at different 
stations along the railway, and cotton-seed-oil mills at Khiva 
and other points, all equipped with American machinery. 

"The output of cotton in Turkestan," said Mr. Gnesin 
in answer to my questions, "is increasing slowly but surely. 
Further expansion depends upon irrigation, which requires 
large capital and cannot be done by men of small means. 
A unique proposition in political economy is soon to be 
tried in Turkestan, and the experiment, I am sure, will be 
watched with great interest by the people of your country. . 

"The Russian duma," continued Mr. Gnesin, "will 
impose a special tax of 50 kopeks (25 cents) per pood (thirty- 
six pounds) upon all raw cotton produced in the empire, the 
proceeds of which are to be paid into a special fund for the 
purpose of improving and extending the cultivation of cotton 
in^Turkestan, for fighting grasshoppers and other plagues, 
and for protecting the planters wherever they require pro- 
tection. Experimental stations are to be established; 
the best qualities of seed are to be distributed among the 
planters; local banks are to be provided with funds to loan 
money in small sums to farmers who are willing to start 
new^ plantations; and other means will be used under the 
authority of this new law which may suggest themselves 
from time to time. 

"This tax is recommended by the manufacturers them- 
selves, who will have to pay it, because the amount will be 
added to the normal price of raw cotton, but the money 
will ultimately come out of the pockets of the public instead 


of the farmers, who have the direct benefit. There is a 
proviso, however, that the money shall be expended by 
government agents under the supervision of a committee 
appointed by the Cotton Manufacturers' Association. 
Without their approval the officials cannot spend a cent. 
As a precedent this law and the movement behind it are 
very important, as you will realize. It is entirely unique, 
but if it is successful it may be possible to use similar means 
for encouraging other interests. 

"The manufacturers of Moscow are organizing a company 
to raise capital for irrigation projects in Turkestan," said 
Mr. Gnesin, "so as to extend the area of cotton culture. 
In order to do this it is necessary to reclaim desert lands. 
Immigrants cannot obtain cultivated farms. The laws 
prohibit them from buying land of natives. This policy 
of the Russian government is intended to prevent any com- 
plications growing out of the invasion of native rights 
and property ownership by Russians. Hence those who 
come here to undertake farming must open new districts. 
There is plenty of water, but capital is needed, and it re- 
quires a good deal of money to build a new irrigation 

"All machinery used here in the cotton business is Ameri- 
can," said Mr. Gnesin; "the gins, linters, compresses, 
filing machines, cotton seed oil machinery, and everything 
else, are mostly from Massachusetts and Connecticut manu- 
factories. The Russian government has an establishment 
just across the road from my office for selling American 
machinery and implements at cost and on long credit to 
the peasants. If you will go over there you will feel quite 
at home, because every machine and every tool in the 


warehouse was made in your country, and brought here 
across the whole of Europe and half of Asia for the use of 
the peasants of Turkestan. 

"Richard Schroeder is the chief of the government 
experiment station at Tashkend and the bureau of instruc- 
tion at which peasants are taught to use American tools 
and machinery. His father was a Dane, imported from 
Denmark by the Russian government seventy-five years 
ago as director of horticulture in the agricultural depart- 
ment, and he organized the agricultural college at Moscow, 
with which he was connected for more than half a century. 
His son, Richard Schroeder, succeeded him and was sent 
out here to promote cotton culture in Turkestan. He has 
done great work and has been remarkably successful. The 
peasants are buying more and more of American tools and 
machinery, but they are very conservative. They are always 
reluctant to adopt innovations, and their farms are usually 
so small that they do not require much machinery. Ameri- 
can steam plows, threshing machines, self-binders, traction 
engines, and other machinery can be used to advantage only 
upon the large estates." 

"Is cotton raised in any other part of Russia? " I asked. 

"Yes, some is produced in the Trans-Caucasus province 
and farmers in the neighbourhood of Odessa are trying to 
raise it. There is an experimental station there under the 
direction of Mr. Rotnitroff, from the department of agri- 
culture, which is producing good results. 

"It is the ambition of the Russian government and the 
manufacturers as well," continued Mr. Gnesin, "to raise 
enough raw material within the empire to supply all our 
cotton factories, so that we shall not be dependent upon 





the United States or any other foreign country. We have 
been much more successful than the English or the Germans, 
who are making similar efforts in Africa. We now produce 
nearly one half of the raw material consumed in Russia. 
The experiments in southern Russia, the Trans-Caucasus 
and in Armenia have been only comparatively successful, 
but in Turkestan there is no doubt of the adaptability of 
the soil and the climatic conditions. We now produce 
from six hundred thousand to eight hundred thousand bales, 
and it is all from American seed except that grown in Bok- 
hara. The government originally imported the seed and 
distributed it among the planters. To-day the greater part 
of the seed used in Turkestan comes from the emperor's 
plantation near Merv. 

"There is a curious situation in Bokhara," said Mr. 
Gnesin, "where the planters still continue to raise native 
cotton, although they would prefer American cotton, which 
they realize is much more profitable. But they cannot 
plant American seed because the bolls open of themselves 
whenever they are ripe, and if the fibre is not picked promptly 
it falls out and is ruined. The planters of Bokhara are not 
permitted to pick their cotton until the government officials 
come around to assess the crop for taxation, and they take 
their own time. If the assessor delays too long the planter 
is likely to lose his whole crop, but the native cotton remains 
in the boll and therefore is safe; and they cannot take any 
chances. They have appealed to the emir, but he declined 
to intervene because the taxes are farmed out in Bokhara, 
and the contractor likes to manage his own business. The 
planters then appealed to the Russian government, but it 
is contrary to its fixed policy to interfere in such matters. 


Finally, the planters appealed to the manufacturers of 
Moscow, and the directors of the Yaroslav Cotton Company 
sent for Mr. Gardner of the Brown Gin Company of New 
London, Conn., who made a study of the situation and 
invented a machine to pick the native cotton from the bolls, 
which do not open by themselves naturally. Thus the 
planters have been able to materially reduce the cost of 
picking the native product. The assessor does not come 
around any sooner and the planter still has to wait until 
he comes; but the largest item of expense in producing 
the native cotton has been reduced by Mr. Gardner's 
machine and the planters are doing almost as well as if 
they were raising the American staple." 

The native farmers, who raise the great cotton crops 
and other staples of Turkestan, do not live upon their planta- 
tions but, according to the common custom in Asia and 
eastern Europe, they live together in villages, because, in 
olden times, this was necessary for mutual protection from 
roving marauders. They go to and from their work in the 
morning and evening and, if the distance is great, they some- 
times build rude huts in the fields, take their rations with 
them, and "live out," as they say, until the planting or the 
harvesting is finished; and from the car windows or from 
the carriage as we drive around we can see the rude huts 
of brush or sod or mud where they sleep. 

The inhabited parts of Central Asia are separated by 
great stretches of desert, but there are strips of fertile and 
cultivated land wherever water can be brought. A Sart 
proverb says: "Drop upon drop makes a sea, but where 
there are no drops there is a desert." There is practically 
no rain. No drop of moisture falls from the sky in summer, 


and only occasionally a little snow or a shower in the winter. 
The maximum precipitation is eight or nine inches, and 
sometimes not more than an inch or two of rain will be re- 
corded for several years in succession. The proportion 
of rain increases as you travel eastward. The nearer you 
get to the mountains water becomes more plentiful, and 
finally, as you reach the foothills, it is abundant. These 
mountains mark thejboundaries, first of Persia, then Afghan- 
istan, and then China; and Tashkend is only a short distance 
from the western limits of that great empire. 

There are said to be valuable mineral deposits through the 
entire ranges and that must be the case, because the ancients 
were rich in gold, copper, silver, and precious stones. Thirty 
miles east of Samarkand is a group of well built, solid look- 
ing structures south of the railway track, with overhead 
trolley wires running down toward the foothills, where they 
disappear in the distance. The buildings seemed to be idle 
and unoccupied and there was no sign of life around them. 
We were told that they were the remains of an attempt to 
develop a coal deposit made by a German named Bauer, 
who spent 2,000,000 roubles trying to mine coal and bring 
it to the railway, a distance of thirty miles. His money 
gave out before his enterprise became self-sustaining, and 
he was compelled to give it up. The premises are strewn 
with dead boilers and other machinery, as the desert is on 
either side with the bones of camels and cattle. 

There certainly is coal and other minerals near by, but 
the Russian government does not encourage, and, in fact, 
throws every possible obstacle in the way of, their develop- 
ment. The general policy is to prevent, and even prohibit, 
the invasion of this country by speculators and adventurers 


who will be certain to interfere with the affairs of the natives 
and the designs of the government. Bona fide irrigation en- 
terprises and colonies of Russian peasants to utilize them 
are encouraged in every way, but a prospector for minerals 
is apt to perish before he gets very far. 

Water is of greater value than gold and the development 
of the water supply is the only investment that can be made 
safely in Turkestan. 

It is the wonder of wonders how the armies of ancient 
times crossed the deserts of Central Asia — deserts that 
closely resemble Death Valley of California and the lifeless 
plains of Nevada. Yet Tamerlane was followed by 200,000 
warriers on his march to India; Alexander the Great mus- 
tered more than sixty thousand; and other invaders of 
ancient days had similar numbers of soldiers who must have 
carried all their supplies with them. The country could 
furnish them nothing. Forage raids would be wasted there. 
We know that Alexander the Great, whose adventures 
were recorded fully and accurately, transported water in 
goat skins as they carry wine in Greece and Macedonia, 
but how could he carry rations for 60,000 men across 2,000 
miles of desert? 

The waste of camels on these expeditions has been terrible. 
That long-suffering beast can travel nine days without a 
drink, but sometimes becomes exhausted and lies down 
upon the desert sands. General Schobeleff, in his expedition 
against Merv in 1881, started with a pack train of 12,000 
camels and at the end of the campaign had 600 living. The 
bones of the remainder may still be seen scattered along his 
trail. General Kaufmann started for the siege of Khiva 
with 10,000 camels and 10,000 horses and reached his 


destination with about 1,200 of both. Similar other ex- 
peditions have made similar sacrifices. 

The first description we have of this country was written 
by a Chinese traveller named Hiouen T'Sang, who visited 
Central Asia between 630 and 640 A.D., and wrote elaborate 
accounts of his observations and experiences. He crossed 
the Golodnaya, or "Hungry Steppe," which has been the 
most dreaded and dangerous portion of the desert of Kizil- 
Kum for 2,000 years, and writes that "one enters into a 
great sandy plain where neither water nor grass is to be 
found. It is necessary to look at some high mountain in 
the distance, and seek for abandoned bones, to know how 
to guide oneself, and recognize the trails to be followed." 

This is the section which the Grand Duke Constantine 
is trying to reclaim by means of a canal cut through a moun- 
tain pass, by which water may be brought from the River 
Zarafshan. There are traces of old canals and ditches in 
several places on the desert, showing that it was cultivated 
at one time, but Tch'ang-Tch'un, who passed through the 
same region in 1222, makes no mention of agriculture, 
therefore whatever farming was done there must have been 
during the period between the visits of the two Chinese, 
which were nearly six hundred years apart. Perhaps an 
earthquake occurring in the meantime may have lifted the 
surface of the plain above the reach of water. 

It is a curious freak of nature that whenever the rain does 
fall, and there is a smart shower every year or two, immeas- 
urable beds of scarlet poppies will spring up like a miracle, 
similar to the flowers that always bloom after a rainfall on 
the deserts along the west coast of South America. How 
did the seed come there, and where did it come from? are 


two questions which the botanists have never answered. 
But you will remember, perhaps, that wherever the pioneer 
railroad builders in Kansas, Indian Territory, and other 
parts of the Southwest of the United States turned up the 
sod beds of wild geraniums sprang up immediately to cover 
the wounds that the picks and the spades had made in the 
breast of mother earth. 

The Chinese writers to whom I have referred both speak 
of venomous spiders and other insects as infesting the 
"Hungry Steppe," but they are not noticeable to-day, 
so that some means of extermination must have been prac- 

In the midst of the "Hungry Desert" are the ruins of 
a great caravanserai, called Murgah Raybat, supposed to 
have been built between 1590 and 1600 by Abdullah Khan, 
one of the most famous and progressive rulers in the history 
of Central Asia. He did much to promote commerce between 
the east and the west and provided similar accommodations 
for travellers and caravans at other points on the desert. 
Here the camel trains could stop and rest and renew their 
supplies of water and food. For hundreds of years the 
traffic was enormous. The building was square, of a single 
story, with a central court, covered by a squatty dome and 
surrounded by rooms for the accommodation of travellers 
and their merchandise, each being covered by a smaller 
dome, a miniature of the large one, In the cellar was a 
cistern or sardoba, as it was called, fed from several brackish 
wells, and from this the caravans obtained their supplies 
of water. It must have been an imposing building when it 
was in condition, and could have sheltered hundreds of 
camels and many tons of merchandise. Even now it might 


be put in repair at the expense of a few thousand dollars, 
but, I suppose, since the railway was built there is no use 
for it. 

Kokand is a thriving city of 75,000 or 80,000 population — 
the largest, wealthiest and most important in the province 
of Ferghana east of Bokhara and Samarkand. That is the 
most fertile section of Turkestan, also, because of the water 
supply from the neighbouring mountains on the Chinese 
border. It is an actual example of "the desert blossoming 
as a rose." There is no more barren or lifeless-looking 
country on the face of the globe, outside of the limits of 
the oasis, but water will work miracles as wonderful as any 
that puzzle the readers of the Bible. And whoever refuses 
to believe in miracles in these modern days of skepticism, 
let him come here and see what the hand of the Creator 
can accomplish with the aid of engineering skill and money. 
But why come here? You can see the same miracle per- 
formed in the southern counties of California, around the 
sandy plateaus of Utah, or in any of the arid regions of the 
United States. Only the deserts seem wider and more 
desolate in Asia than they do at home. Life seems so much 
lonelier, because its ways are not our ways; genuine happi- 
ness is so far from the great majority of the people; and 
the experience of the races who have inhabited that section 
of the world since the beginning of time has been so full 
of cruelty, violence, death, and disaster and so bare of com- 
fort and enjoyment, that nature seems less benevolent and 
more resentful than in our happy and hospitable land. 

The desert ends here, however. As you go eastward the 
area of barren land is limited, and, indeed, there are more 
swamps than sand hills between Kokand and the Chinese 


border. The foliage is splendid. It seems as if the trees 
grew faster and were more luxuriant in leaves and branches 
than anywhere else, and we can easily see from the car 
window why Ferghana has been called the most fertile prov- 
ince of Turkestan. 

It was formerly an independent khanate and Kokand, 
which is 1,176 miles in a straight line east of the Caspian 
Sea, was its capital. It never was famous for anything in 
particular. It never possessed the influence or attractions 
of Samarkand or Bokhara, or rivalled their splendour 
in architecture or display of wealth, but its people have al- 
ways been prosperous, and it has been much easier to make 
a living out of the ground here than anywhere else east of 
the Caucasus or the Volga Valley. 

Kud-o-jar was the last of the khans, or kings of Kokand, 
and when the Russians approached his limited dominions 
he distributed the ladies of his ample harem among his 
friends, with the exception of a few favourites, and fled 
to Mecca, where he died four years later. His palace still 
stands, and is used by the Russians as a storehouse for mili- 
tary supplies. It is a cheap imitation of the splendid tile- 
enamelled buildings erected by Tamerlane and the moguls 
and is scarcely worthy of attention. Modern Kokand is 
much more interesting than the old native city, because 
it represents life and progress. There is something doing 
every day in the development of natural resources and in 
extending the wealth-producing capacity of the country. 
The population of the Russian town is about 10,000, who 
live on both sides of two long, wide, well-shaded streets 
named in honour of Skobeleff and Rosenbach, the Russian 
generals, who massacred more natives in the subjugation 


of Turkestan than any others. A station on the railway 
near Kokand is also named in honour of Skobeleff. 

The tendency of the earth to quake compels people to 
live in one-story buildings, but there is plenty of ground to 
spread them over, and, as in other Russian settlements of 
Turkestan, everybody has a garden and a grove, and sur- 
rounds them with high mud walls so that you can see only 
the tops of the trees. This is aggravating to a visitor who 
has heard of the artistic gardens and the beautiful lawns 
which decorate the homes of the wealthy people. Being 
the headquarters of the military governor of the province 
and his administrative staff, Kokand, like Tashkend, 
has a martial air, and the largest buildings are devoted 
to military purposes. The barracks are enormous; there 
are large warehouses and armouries and arsenals, hospitals 
and officers' quarters, a big Greek church, where the soldiers 
may seek salvation, a theatre where they may find diver- 
sion, a club where, it is said, the officers gamble and 
drink a great deal more than is good for them, and 
two fine schools for the education of the children of the 
military class, in which, fortunately, the civilians may 

The Russo-Chinese bank and other financial institutions 
have branches there, and do a large business for the size 
of the town. I do not know another community of similar 
population that has an export trade of larger proportions 
and profits — chiefly cotton, wool, hides, Persian lamb- 
skins, and rugs — and the volume of imports seems un- 
necessary until you come to understand the vast quantities 
of merchandise of every sort that are shipped through the 
mountains by camel caravans into China. This business 


is altogether in the hands of Jews, who have the reputation 
of being very rich, but $100,000 is considered a large fortune 
here. The natives own the camels and handle the caravans, 
the camel drivers being Turkomans or Persians, and the 
Jews furnish the freight. 

The population of certain sections of China, on the eastern 
side of the mountains, is quite dense, and until the Central 
Asia Railway was built their limited supply of foreign mer- 
chandise came up the Yangtse River from Shanghai, being 
handled largely by English firms, but the Russians are 
gradually wresting the trade away. The Jewish merchants 
are very enterprising. 

Kokand has had a monopoly of the paper and stationery 
trade in Turkestan for ages. This seems very odd. The 
average reader will consider it strange that the people in- 
habiting the deserts of Central Asia should need much sta- 
tionery, but you must remember that for a thousand years 
Bokhara, Samarkand, Merv, and Khiva were centres of 
learning. They were the homes of famous scholars when 
Rome was a kindergarten and Athens was being taught 
to read, so to speak. If you will visit the libraries of the 
mosques of Constantinople or Cairo or any other city where 
Mohammedan scholarship still retains any vitality, you 
will find libraries of manuscript books of most exquisite 
penmanship, made a thousand years before Guttenberg 
was born, and the thick, fine, parchment-like paper upon 
which they are written was produced from linen rags at 
Kokand. People claim that the art of paper making was 
invented here, although I do not believe that is the case. 
The Chinese also claim the invention, and it is more likely 
that the Kokanders learned it from their neighbours over the 


mountains, although Central Asia has been occupied by 
the human family quite as long as China. 

However, practically the entire supply of the paper used 
by the empires of Central Asia, since they have had a liter- 
ature, was manufactured in that town for the same reason 
that our finest stationery is made at Holyoke and that neigh- 
bourhood of Massachusetts — the quality of the water. 
The process used there would amuse a Holyoke paper manu- 
facturer. They soak the rags in a strong lye, which causes 
the fibre to disintegrate, then they stamp it to a pulp about 
the consistency of library paste, which is forced through 
sieves of varying fineness, the smaller particles making the 
best paper and the larger particles a coarser variety. The 
pulp is spread out upon flat stones as thinly as possible, 
like a paste, covered with sheets of felt, held under weights 
until the moisture is squeezed entirely out of it, and is then 
calendared, or given a lustrous surface by washing it in a 
solution of gum. The paper trade is dying out, however. 
Since printing presses and type became so cheap it doesn't 
pay for even a monk to spend his time copying literary 
works with that marvellous patience and skill that is so 
much admired in ancient manuscripts. The art of penman- 
ship is also extinct, and therefore there is no demand for 
hand-made paper. 

Kokand, like Samarkand and Bokhara, was an educational 
centre for several centuries, and there are said to be fifty-six 
meddresses or colleges still existing there, but it is difficult 
to find them — quite as difficult as it is to find the 500 
mosques the city is credited with. There are, however, 
several large colleges, the chief one, known as the Djammi, 
having 1,200 softas, or students. It has been liberally 


endowed by rich men in the past and education costs noth- 
ing but the bare living expenses of the student. 

Kokand is surrounded by prosperous villages of farmers, 
most of them being engaged in raising cotton, and there are 
many large flocks of black sheep and many Persian lamb- 
skins are shipped from that point. Everybody is engaged 
in doing something. There is no idle class except the 
dervish beggars. The wheat fields are large; much barley 
is raised; rye and oats were introduced by the Russians 
and extensive rice fields are to be found on the lower levels, 
although the Russian regulations will not permit them near 
the villages or towns because of mosquitoes and the miasma 
which are bred in the stagnant water. 

I noticed that the bales of cotton are bound with steel 
wire instead of bands, as in the United States, which, I was 
told, is very much more economical. There is a cotton 
compress at every railway station and on the larger planta- 
tions; all of them from the United States. It seems good 
to see the names of American firms printed in English 
letters. Russian signs and inscriptions make one giddy. 
The Russians use all of our letters and ten more, but some 
of them are reversed and the sign-boards over the shops 
look as if the alphabet was on a strike. 

There is nothing more wonderful in all the world 
than the irrigation systems which have existed in 
Turkestan since that corner of the footstool was inhabited 
by mankind. Without them no living thing could have 
survived. Traces of ancient canals in what is now a hopeless 
desert, inaccessible to water from any source, convince the 
scientists who have made investigations there, that several 
rich and populous cities, and a large area of cultivated soil, 


once existed where there is now no human habitation. 
Russian engineers have sought in vain to find means to 
bring water back to spots which were once under cultivation, 
and to adapt the canals and ditches which were a part of the 
irrigation system of the ancients, but have found it impossible 
to do so, and the only explanation is that the levels of the 
plateaus of the steppes have been elevated by earthquakes. 

The province of Ferghana is watered by the Syr Daria, 
the River Jaxartes, frequently mentioned in ancient Greek 
history. It rises in a stupendous glacier in the mountains 
of China, and is fed by innumerable little rivers and brook- 
lets from similar sources. The Zeraphan (also spelled 
Zarafshan), which waters Samarkand and Bokhara, comes 
from the same source. 

Margilan, another new town, is pushing ahead so fast that 
it will soon be a rival of Kokand, and many civilians prefer 
it as a place of residence because the military element is 
absent. It lacks interest, however, except for a claim that 
old Margilan, the native town five miles from the railway 
station, and formerly called Takhala, was the home of 
Iskander Macedonsky — the Russian name for Alexander 
of Macedon. That enterprising gentleman undoubtedly 
went there on his India campaign. There is a tradition that 
the citizens, fearing he would loot their homes, sent out 
a delegation to offer him a hen and a loaf of bread, which 
are the Sart symbols of hospitality. Alexander, who was 
in the habit of fighting his way, was so pleased by this 
politeness that he asked permission to take the town under 
his protection, and he renamed it Margi-han — which means 
"bread-hen." That amiable incident may have happened, 
but the people impose upon human credulity when they tell 


you that Alexander lived and died there and show you his 

The women of Turkestan do not work in the fields as in 
Russia, Austria, Hungary, and other European countries. 
Outdoor labour is impossible under Mohammedan restric- 
tions, so they stay at home and weave rugs, mothers and 
daughters taking turns at the looms and managing between 
them to keep the shuttles humming all day long. Formerly 
they spun their own yarn, but they can buy it so much more 
cheaply now that they sell the wool from their sheep and 
get it ready dyed, or have it advanced to them by the com- 
mission men, or agents of the big rug houses in Bokhara, 
Constantinople, Smyrna, Samarkand, or Merv. Women 
and girls can earn about twenty cents a day rugmaking, but 
it is rather hard work. They use no patterns in weaving 
but work entirely from memory, which is not as difficult 
as it appears, because only two or three patterns are used 
in that part of the country. Each tribe, or, rather, all the 
tribes of a district, habitually use the same pattern and the 
same material, but there is a great difference in the quality 
of the rugs, according to the skill of the weaver. 

Looms can be found in the kibitkas (tents of the nomad 
tribes), as well as in the houses of the mud villages which we 
saw from the windows of the cars at frequent intervals, and 
which look as if a hard rain would wash them into oblivion. 
The roofs are flat, thatched with reeds and straw and covered 
with earth, which catch the seeds that are floating about in 
the air, and with the slightest encouragement of moisture 
become flower gardens, often of exquisite beauty. We have 
seen roofs that were blazing scarlet because of the thick 
growth of poppies upon them, and others have looked. as if 


blankets of blue, purple and yellow blossoms had been 
spread upon them. 

Previous to the Russian occupation the opium habit was 
very general, having been inherited from China, but the 
government took immediate and decisive steps to extirpate 
it, and the penalty for using as well as for dealing in 
the drug is very severe — virtually imprisonment for life; 
and when a native gets into a Russian prison for violat- 
ing the Russian laws it is the end of him. He is seldom 
seen among his fellow men again. The only way in which 
the narcotic is used now, I was told, is in the form of a tea 
made from the heads of poppies, which are gathered from 
the house tops and the fields by old women and dried by 
hanging them from the ceilings of the cabins. When per- 
fectly dry they are crushed with mortar and pestle and 
prepared like ordinary tea. 

The mud huts reminded us of the Indian pueblos of New 
Mexico, but they are not so well built; nor are the mud 
bricks so hard or enduring as the adobe blocks of New Mexico 
and Arizona. The dwellings of the Sarts and other tribes 
of Central Asia are more like those of the fellahs of Egypt 
that you see on the desert along the banks of the Nile. 
The walls are windowless; all the light and air comes in 
through the door; the cooking is done outside, the floor 
is mother earth, and the furniture is limited to a few de- 
crepit chairs and benches. The inevitable loom, with a 
half -finished rug on the frame, always occupies a prominent 

The women who live in these humble habitations will not 
allow their faces to be seen under any circumstances. If 
strangers are so impertinent or tactless as to manifest any 


interest in the feminine portion of a family, they usually 
suffer a severe penalty. The most serious troubles that 
have occurred with the natives have been caused by 
what they consider insults to their wives and daughters. 

There is an eternal advantage in having an abundance 
of building material handy, because the habitations, even 
entire villages, crumble and are destroyed in an earthquake, 
but Central Asia could furnish mud enough to build that 
kind of dwellings for all the inhabitants of the world. The 
kibitkas of the Turkomans and the Kirghiz, and the tents 
of the Bedouins of Arabia are more convenient and comforta- 
ble than the cabins in the villages of Turkestan. 

The present terminus of the Central Asia Railway is the 
ancient city of Andijan, at the foot of the Altai Mountains 
on the borders of the Chinese province of Tia-Shan-Nan- 
Lu, on the same parallel of latitude as Bombay. Where 
the future terminus of the railway may be is a problem. 
The track can be laid no farther eastward without crossing 
the Tian-Shan range of mountains, which would be very 
difficult and expensive. It is likely that the government 
of Russia would adopt a more practical right of way and 
build southeastward through Afghanistan, as described 
elsewhere, from Bokhara or Merv, to connect with the 
India railway system, or northeastward to connect with the 
Trans-Siberian Line from Tashkend. 

Andijan is as far as anybody can go to the eastward 
without equipping a caravan, and Sven Hedin, the Swedish 
scientist, Colonel O. H. Crosby, of Washington, and other 
adventuresome explorers of Thibet have fitted out their 
expeditions there. There are large herds of camels engaged 
in transportation over the mountains to the important 


Chinese cities of Kashgar and Yarkand, and the stores of 
Andijan are well stocked with supplies, but it is a difficult 
and a dangerous undertaking for a European or a white man 
to enter those mountains without a military escort, as both 
the gentlemen named can testify, and it is a hard road to 
travel even then. In sight of Andijan are several lofty 
peaks, Mount Kaufmann rising 23,000 feet, being the chief 
of a splendid battalion. On the Chinese side of the range, 
Mount Tagharama, 25,000 feet, is surrounded by several 
lesser peaks, and beyond it are the Himalayas and the ranges 
of Cashmere. 

Andijan is the wealthiest and most important city east 
of Tashkend, the centre of a large oasis or irrigated district, 
which produces marvellous crops of cotton. It is virtually 
a rainless region, but abounds in mountain streams flowing 
from glaciers and the melting snow upon the peaks, and the 
soil is so fertile that it is only necessary to talk about water 
to see things grow. This section is developing more rapidly 
than any other part of Turkestan because it is easier and less 
expensive to build irrigating systems than in the desert 
farther away from the sources of water supply, and more 
land is being added to the cultivated area than in any other 
part of Central Asia. 

The railway reached there in 1899, and for several years 
thereafter Andijan experienced something like an American 
or Canadian boom, although the government, as I have ex- 
plained in previous chapters, does not permit promiscuous 
emigration and does not encourage people to go there to 
look for a living. They must take something with them 
or have contracts for employment. The natives, who are 
called Sarts, like those of Samarkand and Tashkend, grow 


more and more like the Chinese in appearance as you ap- 
proach the borders of that empire, and their features — 
flat noses, high cheek bones and narrow slanting eyes — 
leave no doubt of their Mongolian origin. Their dialect 
contains many Chinese words, showing the influence of that 
race, and the chai-khana, or teahouse, is found on every 

The consumption of tea throughout Russia is very large, 
but at Andijan we saw for the first time little shops like 
cafes exclusively for tea drinking. There are thousands of 
them in the bazaars. They are merely little holes in the 
wall, with rugs spread on the floors, samovars letting off 
steam in the corners, and rows of porcelain pots with 
caddies containing different qualities of the herb, from which 
the patrons help themselves. It is surprising the amount 
of tea one can purchase for a penny. Glasses are used 
as in Russia, instead of cups. The hotels are called "num- 
eras," which means lodging houses, having licenses from 
the police for the entertainment of strangers, and each has a 
number by which it is known more generally than by the 
name. There is no general dining room, but meals are 
served in bedrooms at any hour if ordered a considerable 
time in advance. Guests are expected to furnish their own 
bedding and towels. The house provides the bedstead, 
usually a simple iron camp affair, and a husk mattress. 

Andijan is the headquarters of a large band of Moham- 
medan dervishes, called Ishans, who go about the streets 
begging and sit at the street corners to pray for passers-by. 
It is considered a sacrilege for anyone to refuse them alms. 
They are regarded as holy men, and, although they are 
filthy, repulsive looking creatures, who never bathe or even 


wash their hands or faces, and allow their long hair to be- 
come matted with grease and filth, they are treated with 
profound reverence by all classes. The natives fear their 
curses as much as the plague. These creatures come from 
Afghanistan and often from India, and tramp from town to 
town begging. They bring their collections to headquarters 
at Audi j an, and the money is supposed to be forwarded from 
there to the monasteries of the sect at Herat or Kabul. 
Several years ago the chief of these Ishans was accused of 
plotting against the government. It is claimed that under 
his direction the itinerant dervishes attempted to organize 
a conspiracy to massacre the Russian garrison. He was 
arrested and hanged, and his followers fled to hiding places 
throughout the country, finding refuge in the homes of 
fanatical Mohammedans. 

Shortly after this episode, on the night of Dec. 16, 1902, 
Andijan was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake. 
Three-fourths of the buildings were overthrown, or their 
contents ruined and all the villages in the neighbourhood 
were either entirely or partially destroyed. It is estimated 
that more than seven hundred and fifty lives were lost in 
that district. The houses were rebuilt at once, for the walls 
were only of mud, but the fanatical natives got the notion 
that the calamity was a manifestation of the displeasure 
of Allah at the execution of his servant, and the governor-gen- 
eral decided that it was good policy not to punish any more 
dervishes. For that reason the wretched creatures were 
permitted to return and are now as numerous and importu- 
nate as before. Although they are kept under the strictest 
surveillance, they are capable of much mischief. 

But an earthquake was not an unusual experience for 


Andijan. That part of the country is subject to such shak- 
ings. The city was entirely destroyed in 1812 and several 
times previous to that date. Earthquakes of more or less 
violence are expected occasionally throughout Turkestan, 
and the popular explanation of abandoned irrigation canals 
upon high plateaus where water cannot possibly reach them, 
is that uplifts of the surface of the earth have occurred in 
past centuries because of subterranean convulsions. 

The most tragic tale ever told of these deserts is Thomas 
de Quincey's "Revolt of the Tartars; or, Flight of the Kal- 
muck Khan and His People From the Russian Territories 
to the Frontiers of China." It is one of the most admired 
examples in English literature; it is printed in the Student's 
Series of English Classics, and is recommended by professors 
of rhetoric as a model of literary style. At the same time 
the commentators warn their readers that De Quincey took 
many liberties with the facts and elaborated more than his- 
torical accuracy will justify. Nevertheless nothing more 
tragic ever occurred, and the story is founded upon a most 
extraordinary incident in the reign of the Empress Eliza- 
beth of Russia, the daughter of Peter the Great. In the 
year 1761 an entire tribe of Tartars, numbering 600,000 
souls, left their homes near Astrakhan, in the valley of the 
Volga, and fled 3,000 miles across the desert with their 
wives and children, their horses, cattle, camels, sheep and 
all their portable property, and were pursued the entire 
distance by an army of merciless and relentless horsemen, 
with the single object of exterminating them before they 
reached their destination. 

In reality, the flight was no revolt, but as De Quincey 
says, it was a return to their old allegiance; since in the year 


1616 the ancestors of these people revolted from the Emperor 
of China, found their way westward across the desert and 
settled upon land given them by the Czar of Russia on the 
banks of the Volga River. There they had lived in pros- 
perity, but not in peace, for a century and a half, subject 
to heavy taxation, military conscription and various other 
forms of persecution. Having tried both governments 
they were convinced that China was the land of freedom 
and Russia the house of bondage. De Quincey sums up 
the story in these words: 

"There is no great event in modern history, or perhaps 
it may be said broadly, none in all history from its earliest 
records, less generally known, or more striking to the imagi- 
nation than the flight eastward of a principal Tartar nation 
across the boundless steppes of Asia. The terminus a quo 
of this flight and the terminus ad quern are equally magnifi- 
cent — the mightiest of Christian thrones being the one, the 
mightiest of pagans the other. In the abruptness of its 
commencement, and the fierce velocity of its execution, 
we read the wild barbaric character of those who conducted 
the movement ... an exodus in so far resembling the 
great spiritual exodus of the Israelites under Moses and 
Joshua, as well as in the very peculiar distinction of carrying 
along with them their entire families, women, children, 
slaves, their herds of cattle and of sheep, their horses and 
their camels." 

This flight was the result of a conspiracy on the part of an 
unsuccessful candidate for the throne of the Kalmucks, who 
induced them to undertake the exodus by misrepresentation, 
by a forged invitation from Kien Long,the reigning Emperor 
of China, and a forged document giving the movement the 


sanction of the Dalai-Lama in Thibet. This tribe of Tartars 
belong to the Buddhist sect. They brought their religion 
with them from China when they went to Russia, and had 
suffered much persecution because of their adherence to it. 
The representative of the Dalai-Lama was a priest or 
bishop named Loosang, who not only declared the move- 
ment to be ordered by God, but fixed the date upon which 
it should take place. 

On the 5th of January, 1761, the day solemnly appointed 
by the lama, the entire nation burned their homes and started 
eastward, driving their flocks and herds before them, 
accompanied by wagons and camels loaded with their 
household goods and agricultural implements, without 
dreaming of the terrible experience that awaited them. 
During the first week they made about three hundred miles. 
Then their departure having been discovered, the Russian 
government ordered a pursuit by a force of Cossacks. The 
first battle resulted in a terrible slaughter. It is said that 
not less than eighty thousand of the fugitives, including 
many women and children, were killed. Then began a 
race across the desert between the pursuers and the pursued, 
which continued all the spring and summer, until the horde, 
which started with about six hundred thousand men, 
women and children, was reduced to about two hundred 
thousand, two-thirds of those who started having fallen 
upon the desert, victims to famine, fatigue, heat, and the 
destroying scimitars of the Cossacks, the Kirghiz and the 
Bashkirs, the semi-savage nomads of Turkestan. 

The Khan of the Kalmucks sent messengers ahead to 
notify the Emperor of China of the movement and the latter 
was hunting in the exterme western frontier of China when 


the Kalmuck host, now in the last extremities of exhaustion, 
appeared. The first intimation of their approach was the 
clouds of dust that rose upon the horizon, and soon the 
scouts reported to the emperor that the pilgrims, who were 
three months ahead of their time, were pursued by their 
enemies. He therefore summoned all the military forces 
within call to the rescue of the fugitives. 

During the last ten days they had been traversing a hideous 
desert and the horrors of thirst had driven them nearly 
insane. Therefore, when the fugitives and their pursuers 
came in sight of Lake Tenghis they rushed with mad- 
dening eagerness into the water, forgetful of all things but 
one mighty instinct. "But the next moment arose the final 
scene of parting vengeance," De Quincey writes. "Far 
and wide the waters of the solitary lake were dyed red with 
blood and gore. Here rode a party of savage Bashkirs, 
hewing off heads as fast as the swaths fall before the mower's 
scythe; there stood unarmed Kalmucks in a death grapple 
with their detested foes, oftentimes both sinking below the 
surface from weakness or from struggle and perishing in 
each other's arms. Every moment the water grew more 
polluted; yet every moment fresh myriads came up to the 
lake and rushed in, not able to resist their frantic thirst. 
Wheresoever the lake was shallow enough to allow of men 
raising their heads above the water, there, for scores of 
acres, were to be seen all forms of ghastly fear, of agonizing 
struggle, of spasms, of convulsions, of mortal conflict; 
death and the fear of death; revenge and the lunacy of 
revenge; hatred and the frenzy of hatred; until the neutral 
spectators, of whom there were not a few, averted their 
eyes in horror." 


The Chinese cavalry came to the rescue of the fugitives 
and slaughtered all of the Bashkirs and Kirghiz who escaped 
from the lake. 

"Here ends the tale of the Kalmuck wanderings in the 
desert," De Quincey concludes his story. "Every possible 
alleviation and refreshment for their exhausted bodies had 
already been provided by Kien Long with the most princely 
munificence, and lands of great fertility were assigned them 
in ample extent. Thus, after memorable years of misery, 
the Kalmucks were replaced in territorial possessions and 
in comfort equal, perhaps, or even superior to those they had 
enjoyed in Russia, and with superior political advantages." 



T 11 THEN we had" done "Turkestan thoroughly we hurried 
▼ ▼ back to Krasnovodsk and took the first boat leaving 
for Baku. We were glad to get out of the country for several 
reasons, and feel safe in recommending it as a good country 
to keep away from. I do not like the climate or the location. 
The heat, the poor hotels, the dust of the desert and other 
discomforts are enough, if there were no others. Food is 
limited. We could always get good soup, eggs, vegetables, 
bread, coffee, tea and excellent fruit. The strawberries 
are the best I ever tasted, and the cherries are equally good. 
The meats, however, are very poor and the chickens are 
tough and stringy. Waldorf-Astoria prices are charged 
for everything in the way of food. We were told, before 
starting, that living in Turkestan was very cheap, but we 
found it more expensive than in London or Vienna or Paris. 
Our rooms at the shabby little hotels and our meals at 
railway restaurants and other places cost just as much as 
we would have paid at the most exclusive hotels in London 
or New York, which, of course, was exasperating; but, 
on the other hand, it is only fair to say that the people who 
keep the hotels and restaurants are compelled to charge 
high prices in order to pay expenses, and when a foreigner 
comes along they get as much of his money as they can. 

The most annoying part of the experience, however, is 



due to the unfriendly attitude of the officials. The Russian 
government does not want strangers to visit Turkestan, 
particularly Englishmen, and the average official is too 
ignorant or stupid to distinguish between the English- 
speaking races. It does not want newspaper or magazine 
writers. It does not want the country advertised. It 
has nothing to exploit. It maintains a strict policy of closed 
doors, and prefers to pick the immigrants and the capitalists 
who shall develop the material wealth of its Asiatic prov- 
inces. The reasons for this policy of exclusiveness are 
sound, from the Russian point of view. 

In the first place, the Russians want Turkestan for them- 
selves, as a market for their manufactured goods and as a 
source of supply for their raw material, and every dollar's 
worth of merchandise that is sold by a German or an English- 
man is so much out of a Russian pocket. 

In the second place, the Russian government does not 
want the natives interfered with. Its policy from the 
beginning of the conquest has been to protect and perpetuate 
the native customs, habits, and conditions, and to encourage 
the natives to go on as they are, illiterate, superstitious, 
antiquated in methods, and primitive in habits. It will 
not tolerate intruders or visitors who will make trouble or 
ask questions, and there is a chronic apprehension lest the 
British or the Germans will find out something that they 
can use to Russia's disadvantage. 

There are good schools for the children of officials and 
military men and settlers, but the natives supply their own. 
The mullahs who teach them are illiterate; they can scarcely 
read anything except the Koran, and they have no knowledge 
whatever of modern learning or methods of education. 


They do not know the difference between New York and 
London, or between an American and an Englishman. All 
foreigners look alike to them, and are barbarians. The 
Russian government does not prohibit native children from 
attending the schools that are furnished for the inhabitants 
of the Russian towns, and admits them free of tuition, and 
particular pains are taken to impress them with the great- 
ness and the goodness and the far-reaching authority of 
the Czar. In other words, they are Russofied as thoroughly 
as possible. 

The moral effect of the policy that has prevailed since 
the conquest is to leave the natives precisely as they are; 
to Russofy, but not to enlighten them. It is based upon 
the theory that their present condition is satisfactory and 
sufficient, and that any change will endanger their happiness 
and welfare. The advocates and defenders of this non- 
progressive, let-well-enough-alone method of treating the 
natives point to the political unrest in India and Egypt 
as evidence of the danger of enlightening the Oriental mind. 
No good, they say, will ever come of trying to introduce 
modern ideas into an ancient community. It is like putting 
new wine into old bottles, and the fermentation will result 
in explosions. So long as the natives are contented with 
their own methods and their own limited privileges and 
diversions they are satisfied, but when they learn that better 
conditions exist among other nations they become discon- 
tented, disloyal and unreliable. 

What is the use of teaching a man that other people have 
advantages he cannot enjoy? they argue. It does no good 
and much harm to put false hopes into the mind of an igno- 
rant man and encourage ambitions that can never be satisfied. 


Ignorance is bliss, and the happiest communities are those 
which do not realize their own poverty and wretchedness. 

There is not the slightest doubt that the Russians have 
improved the material condition of the native population 
of Turkestan. They have provided an excellent govern- 
ment, which is virtually home rule. The administration 
of the native cities and villages is intrusted to the hands of 
the people, who elect their own officials, assess and collect 
their own taxes, and are allowed to do exactly as they think 
proper, so long as the sovereignty of the Czar is acknowledged. 
There is no more misgovernment, as there was before the 
conquest of Central Asia, except in Bokhara. The contrast 
between the condition of Samarkand and Bokhara illustrates 
the beneficent disposition of the Czar. The courts are just 
and impartial. They protect the innocent and law-abiding 
and punish the guilty. In the Russian settlements there 
is no injustice or persecution from the officials and their 
favourites. Taxes are low. They are impartially assessed 
and honestly collected. The administration of municipal 
affairs in the native cities is entirely satisfactory to the 
people, and if there is any cause to complain an autocratic 
power, with argus eyes, very promptly detects and corrects 
the evil. 

The construction of the railway, the establishment of 
manufactures and the introduction of labour-saving machin- 
ery has furnished a market for all the fruits of the labour 
of the people of Turkestan and enables them to get their 
products to market promptly and economically and to sell 
them at the highest prices. Formerly a farmer could not 
dispose of his surplus to any advantage. To-day there is 
a demand for everything that can be raised upon the ranches 


or the farms of Central Asia. The introduction of American 
cotton seed and American tools and machinery for cultivat- 
ing and treating the raw cotton has already doubled the 
wealth of the people and insures permanent prosperity for 
the agricultural element, because the factories of Moscow 
will absorb every ounce of raw cotton that can be raised 
and will pay the highest market price for it. 

It is only necessary to compare agricultural conditions 
under the rule of the native emir in Bokhara with those 
created by the Russian officials in Tashkend and Samarkand 
to realize the enormous benefits that have been bestowed 
upon the farmers by the Russian government. The govern- 
ment of the United States has not done more to encourage 
and assist agriculture, except in the recently adopted 
reclamation policy, and the Russians are already talking 
of imitating that. 

Turkestan is going to be the greatest competitor of the 
United States in the production of raw cotton, and sooner 
or later will become an important factor in the wheat and 
flour market. 

The territory of Turkestan is more than half as large as 
India, extending from the fifty-second to the eightieth 
meridian east of Greenwich and from the Persian boundary 
to Siberia. The western boundary is the shore of the Cas- 
pian Sea, and the eastern borders are the mountains of 
China, India and Afghanistan. Speaking roughly, Turkestan 
is 1,600 miles long by 700 miles wide, and while 50 per 
cent of the territory is a hopeless desert and 30 per cent 
is so mountainous that the soil cannot be plowed, 10 per 
cent of the entire area is now under cultivation and as 
much more can be reclaimed without difficulty. 


There are eight cities with more than a hundred thousand 
population. Tashkend has nearly two hundred thousand 
and many prosperous villages are scattered throughout the 
different oases which exist wherever water can be obtained. 

Turkestan has the longest and two of the greatest rivers 
in Asia, and the irrigated area is being very rapidly extended 
by wealthy syndicates from Moscow, and other Russian 
cities, which are directly interested in the increase of the 
cotton supply. 

If the Russian government had done nothing else for the 
country than plant the trees that have been set out since 
the conquest it would be entitled to rank as a public bene- 
factor. At least thirty millions of seedlings have been set 
out around the different cities, and along the river bottom 
and irrigating ditches, and no one can tell how many millions 
more have grown from the seed. 

Russia is the only nation in the world to-day that pro- 
claims a policy of conquest, and its aggressiveness toward 
Turkey, China and other nations whose territory lies along 
its boundaries is quite as intense as it was in the days of 
Peter the Great. The railway over which we travelled, 
the highways which have excited our admiration, the vast 
accumulations of military stores we have seen in Turkestan 
and the Caucasus are a part of the inflexible determination 
of the Russian autocracy to extend the empire as rapidly 
as the opposition will permit. The failure of the Russian 
arms in the struggle with Japan and the recent treaty of 
peace and concord between those nations does not mean that 
Russia has given up its purpose to obtain a port upon the 
Pacific, and the friendly protocol between the Czar and the 
King of England has not caused any change in the Czar's 


determination to annex Persia, Manchuria and ultimately 
India, to his empire. 

At the accession of Peter the Great in 1682 the Russian 
Empire included 1,696,000 square miles in Europe and 
3,922,000 square miles in Asia, with a population of about 
11,000,000. At his death in 1725 it included 1,738,000 
square miles in Europe, 4,092,000 square miles in Asia and 
a population of 14,000,000. At the present time it includes 
2,110,436 square miles in Europe, 6,451,847 square miles 
in Asia, or a total of 8,562,283 square miles and a population 
of about 160,000,000. 

I suppose the people of Turkestan in their habits of life 
and costumes are not much different to-day from what they 
were at the time of Tamerlane. There has been little 
change since the Russian conquest, and it seems to be the 
intention of that government to keep them as they are. 
This will afford an interesting and unique experiment in 
civilization. The question is, what will happen to those ten 
millions of people, who are permitted or required to remain 
in their ancient condition, while the rest of the world is 
developing so rapidly ? 


Afghanistan, the pretender, 235 

railway to, 52, 67, 108 
Age of Turkestan, 89 
Agriculture in Bokhara, 103 

in Turkestan, 66 
Alexander II., 68 
Alexander the Great, 53, 145, 

227, 319 
American cotton, 306 

machinery, 306 
Amu Daria River, 112 
Andijan, 322 

Annoyances of travel, 332 
Ap Arslan, tomb of, 72, 75 
Aral Sea, 9, 13, 114 
Archaeology of Turkestan, 89 
Architecture, Arabian, 276 

of Samarkand, 240, 266,[276 
Area of Russia, 337 

of Turkestan, 335 
Ark, the Bokhara, 132 
Army, Russian, 50 
Arnold, Matthew, poem, 62 
Arsenal of Bokhara, 138 
Askabad, city of, 46, 48 
Astrakhan, city of, 8, 52 

Bactria, former name of Turk- 
estan, 3 
Baku, city of, 7 
Bath houses of Bokhara, 183 
Bazaars of Bokhara, 161 
of Samarkand, 246 

Bazaars of Tashkend, 297 
Benefits of Russian adminis- 
tration, 335 
Bibi Khanum, tomb and 

mosque of, 263 
Birthday, the Emperor's, 284 
Bokhara, a religious centre, 147 

arsenal of, 138 

bath houses, 183 

bazaars of, 161 

business methods, 155, 165 

city of, 119 

colleges, 147, 149 

commerce of, 163 

crown prince of, 143 

emir of, 120, 123, 138, 141 

exclusion policy, 137 

government of, 123 

guilds of, 161 

history of, 179 

houses of, 127, 177 

Jews of, 100, 174 

khanate of, 22* 

meddresses, 149 

policemen, 130 

politics of, 119, 140 

population of, 101, 126 

railway station, 99, 121 

streets of, 128 

treaty with Russia, 122 
Bokharoits, beauty of, 139 
Botanical phenomenon, 311 
Bridges in Central Asia, 25, 112 
Burnaby's ride to Khiva, 86 




Camels, 40, 105, 310 
Campaign against Khiva, 83 
Carnegie Institution, commis- 
sion of, 20, 89 
Caspian Sea, bathing in, 16 

commerce on, 8 

peculiarities of, 9 

ports of, 7 

salt crop of, 12 

steamers on, 6 

storms on, 11 
Catherine the Great, 149 
Cats, Bokhara, 180 
Cattle, 106 

Central Asia Railway, 17, 19, 
24, 29, 67, 99, 107, 
Charjui, city of, 111 
China, emigration from, 71 
Churches at Tashkend, 290 
Citadel of Samarkand, 236 
Cities of Turkestan, 21, 336 
Clavijo, a Spanish Ambassador, 

Climate of Turkestan, 23, 41, 

Clock maker, story of, 133 
Coal mining, 309 
Colleges of Bokhara, 147, 151 

of Samarkand, 240 
Commerce in Asia, 109 

of Andijan, 323 

of Bokhara, 163 
Commerce with China, 315 

of Turkestan, 16, 332 
Constantine, grand duke, 37, 

Costumes, native, 99 

Samarkand, 230 

Tashkend, 296 

Turkomans, 44 

Cotton, American, 170 
culture, 37, 69, 302 
seed oil industry, 70 

Courts, native, 255 

Crop, cotton, 69 

Crown prince of Bokhara, 

Curzon, Lord, quoted, 238 

Customs, peculiar, 139, 155, 
159, 165, 179 

Czar's plantation, 68 

Daniel, the prophet, 271 

tomb of, 234 
De Lesseps, Ferdinand, 19 
De Quincey, story of the Kal- 
mucks, 326 
Derbend, city of, 8 
Dervishes, 324 
Desert, Hungry, 232, 299, 311 

of Kara-Kum, 31 

of Khiva, 79 

of Merv, 77 

of Turkestan, 14, 30, 39, 
77, 79, 232, 299 
Deserts, peculiarities of, 39 
Dogs, Bokhara, 180 

Earthquakes, 315, 325 
Education in Bokhara, 146 

in Samarkand, 251 
Elocutionists, professional, 179 
Embroidery, Bokhara, 172 
Emir of Bokhara, 120, 123, 138, 
141, 142 

death of, 121 
Ethnology of Turkomans, 38 
Exclusion policy of Bokhara, 



Felt, manufacture of, 181 
Foreigners, prohibited in Bok- 
hara, 134 
Fortune tellers, 139 
Freight traffic, 16, 34 

Gate of Tamerlane, 105 
Genghis Khan, 73, 148 
Geok-teke battle field, 54 
Gnesin, Vladimir, 79, 303 
Government of Bokhara, 123, 
of Turkestan, 4, 46, 334 
Guilds of Bokhara, 161 

Hindus in Turkestan, 236 
History of Bokhara, 179 
Homes of Bokhara. 17? 
Honesty, remarkable, 112 
Hospitals, 158 
Hotels, 129, 290, 331 
Hungry desert, 232, 299, 311 

Immigrants, Russian. 104 
Immigration regulations, 37, 

47, 104 
Industries of Bokhara, 145 

of Central Asia. 23 
Institutes of Timour, 196, 204 
Irrigation in Bokhara, 102 

in Turkestan, 66, 102, 299, 
309, 318 
Islam, condition of, 253 

Jews of Bokhara, 100, 150 
Job, story of, 156 

Kagan, railway station, 99, 124 
Kalmucks, flight of, 326 
Kaufmann, General, 83, 173, 

Khans, the, 164 
Khiva, campaign of, 81 

capture of, 85 

city of, 79 

desert of, 79 

slavery in, 82, 85 
Kibitkas, 30, 116 
Kirghiz, the, 95 
Kohik River, 64 
Kokand, city of, 313 

mosques, 316 

paper making, 316 
Kotash, coronation stone, 227 
Krasnovodsk, city of, 8, 14, 

26, 331 
Kuskh, city of, 21, 108 

Labour in Central Asia, 17, 25 
Lamb-skins, 106, 113, 181 
Languages spoken, 78 
Letter writers, professional, 139 

MacGahan, J. A., ride to Khiva 

Machinery, American in Turk- 
estan, 306 
Marco Polo in Asia, 247 
Margilan, 319 
Markets of Turkestan, 334 
Marsh, Captain, famous ride, 86 
Massacre of Geok-teke, 58 
Maxims of Timour, 212 
Meddresses of Bokhara, 148 

of Samarkand, 240 
Medicine, practice of, 159 



Memoirs of Timour, 196, 208 
Merv, ancient, 71, 74 

city of 21, 61 

history of, 71 

oasis, 68 
Meshed, Persian city of, 21 
Minerals in Turkestan, 309 
Minari Baliand, Bokhara, 151 
Mohammedan religion, 

influence of, 153 

decay of, 253 
Mohammedans, rivalry of, 142 
Money lending methods, 155 
Moore, Tom, the poet, 62 
Mosque of Bibi Khanum, 263 
Mosques of Bokhara, 148 

of Kokand, 316 

of Samarkand, 248 
Mongols, the, 210 
Mountains of Persia, 31 
Mullahs, Samarkand, 252 
Murghab River, 62 
Museum at Tashkend, 289 

Oasis, the Asia, 42 

of Bokhara, 99, 102 
Merv, 68, 76 

Observatory of Samarkand, 246 

O'Donovan, correspondent, ride 
to Merv, 88 

Officials, native, 32 

Opium, use of, 321 

Oxus River, 64 

Persia, Russian advances on, 21 

railway to, 52, 67 

routes to, 7, 51 
Persian lambs, 106, 113 

pilgrims, 51, 234 
Persians, character of, 43 

as labourers, 17 
Piety among Moslems, 153 
Pilgrims, 51, 234 
Pilgrims, Persian, 234 
Plantation, Czar's, 68 
Police, Russian, 27, 48, 332 
Policy of Russia, 332, 336 
Politics in Central Asia, 22, 109 

in Bokhara, 140 

in Samarkand, 237 
Political situation in Turkestan, 

4, 28, 67 
Population of Bokhara, 101, 126 

of Russia, 337 

of Samarkand, 126, 228 

of Tashkend, 292 

of Turkestan, 34, 36, 50 
Portrait of Timour, 211 
Prehistoric conditions in Tur- 
kestan, 91 
Prison of Samarkand, 229 

of Bokhara, 136 
Products of Turkestan, 66, 142 
Prohibition in Turkestan, 15 

in Bokhara, 131 
Pumpelly, Prof., expedition of, 

Palaces of emir, 123, 125 

of Tamerlane, 267 
Paper making in Kokand, 316 
Peasants, Russian, 104 
Permits, travelling for Asia, 29 

Railway, Central Asia, 5, 17, 
19, 24, 52, 67, 107 
Central Asia Terminus, 3^.1 
building in Turkestan, 17 
stations, 99, 121 
trains, 29 



Railways to Afghanistan, 67, 

to India, 107 

to Persia, 52 

to Turkestan, 5 
Rain, scarcity of, 41 
Reis-i Shariat, 159 
Religion in Mohammedan 

countries, 253 
Reshta disease, Bokhara, 129 
Righistan of Bokhara, 182 

of Samarkand, 238 
River Murghab, 62 
Rivers of Central Asia, 62, 64 
Roads in Turkestan, 51 
Roof of the World, 20 
Roosevelt's picture in Turkes- 
tan, 302 
Routes to Turkestan, 5 
Rugs, Bokhara, 168 

weaving, 3-20 
Ruins, 56, 65, 73, 116, 226 
Ruins of ancient Merv, 73 
Russian treaty with Bokhara, 

Russians in Turkestan, 36 

Salt crop of Caspian Sea, 12 
Samarkand, age of, 91 

citadel of, 236 

city of, 225 

colleges of, 240 

costumes at, 230 

modern, 233 

mosques of, 248 

population of, 26, 228 

prison of, 229 

trees and gardens of, 232 
Samsonoff, Viceroy, 281 
Sand nuisance in Asia, 24, 77 

Sanjar, Sultan, 72, 75 

Saxoul, a desert weed, 32 

Schiltberger, narrative of, 205 

Schools, 147, 332, 240 

Schools in Bokhara, 147, 151 

Schuyler, Eugene, 96 

Scythia, former name of Turk- 
estan, 3 

Shah Zindah, tomb of, 274 

Shariat, the, 134 

Sheep, 106 

Siberian railway, connections 
with, 107 

Silks, 156, 171, 173 

Silks, Bokhara, 171 

origin of, legend, 156 

Skobeleff, General, 19, 55 

Slavery in Khiva, 82, 85 
in Bokhara, 133 

Spies, fear of, 30 

Stations, railway, 99, 121 

Steamers on Caspian Sea, 6 

Stoddard and Connelly, murder 
of, 135 

Storms on Caspian Sea, 11 

Storks in Bokhara, 150 

Streets of Bokhara, 128 

Syr Daria River, 294 

Tamerlane, (see Timour) 

gate of, 105 
Tashkend, bazaars of, 297 

capital of Turkestan, 4, 279 

churches of, 200 

costumes at, 296 

hotels in, 290 

modern, 287 

museum, 289 

old city of, 293 

population of, 292 

tree planting in, 286 



Tartars as labourers, 17 
Tartary, former name of 

Turkestan, 3 
Taxation, 48, 122, 334 

in Bokhara, 127 
Temperance among Moslems, 

Tiles, use of, 276 
Timour, the Tartar, 73, 186, 

institutes of, 196, 208 

maxims of, 212 

memoirs of, 196, 208 

portrait of, 211 

tomb of, 256 

wedding festival of, 219 

wives of, 203, 263 
Tomb of Daniel, 271 

of Timour, 256 
Travelling, customs of, 26 

desert, 79 

requirements of, 6 
Tree planting, Russian 66, 286 
Turkestan, age of, 3 

archaeology of, 89, 91 

climate of, 23 

commerce of, 17 

emigration to, 37 

geography of, 3 

government of, 4 

histories of, 139 

industries of, 23 

labour conditions of, 25 

population of, 34, 36 

Turkestan, prehistoric condi- 
tions of, 91 

railways in, 5, 17 

rainfall in, 41 

routes to, 5 
Turks, origin of, 72 
Turkomans, appearance of, 33 

character of, 31, 42 

costumes of, 44 

Ulugh Beg, grandson of Tamer- 
lane, 249 
Usbegs, 101 

Vehicles in Tashkend, 292 
Viceroy of Turkestan, 281 

powers of, 47 
Volga River, 10 

Water, use and abuse of, 183 

Weaving rugs, 320 

Wedding festival in Samarkand, 

Wives of Timour, 263, 269 
Wolff, Rev. Mr., missionary, 137 
Women of Turkestan, 102, 320 

Yaroslav Cotton Company, 303 

Zerafshan River, 64, 102 



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