Tag Archives: Central Asia

How Objects Tell Stories

Linduff, Katheryn & Karen Rubinson (eds.). 2018. How objects tell stories. Essays in honor of Emma C. Bunker (Inner and Central Asian Art and Archaeology 1). Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

Inner and Central Asian Art and Archaeology is a new series launched providing a major forum for discussion and publication of current international research projects and fieldwork concerning the art and archaeology of Central and Inner Asia. Uniquely the series covers the vast regions flanking the ancient Silk Roads from the Iranian world to western China and from the Russian steppes to north-western India. The series mainly focuses on the pre-Islamic period of art and archaeology of Inner Asia. Related scholarly articles on language and history are also published.

Source: How Objects Tell Stories

Silk, Slaves, and Stupas

Whitfield, Susan. 2018. Silk, slaves, and stupas: Material culture of the Silk Road. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Following her bestselling Life Along the Silk Road, Susan Whitfield widens her exploration of the great cultural highway with a new captivating portrait focusing on material things. Silk, Slaves, and Stupas tells the stories of ten very different objects, considering their interaction with the peoples and cultures of the Silk Road—those who made them, carried them, received them, used them, sold them, worshipped them, and, in more recent times, bought them, conserved them, and curated them. From a delicate pair of earrings from a steppe tomb to a massive stupa deep in Central Asia, a hoard of Kushan coins stored in an Ethiopian monastery to a Hellenistic glass bowl from a southern Chinese tomb, and a fragment of Byzantine silk wrapping the bones of a French saint to a Bactrian ewer depicting episodes from the Trojan War, these objects show us something of the cultural diversity and interaction along these trading routes of Afro-Eurasia.

Susan Whitfield, author of Life Along the Silk Road, is a scholar, curator, writer, and traveler who has been exploring the history, art, religions, cultures, objects, exploration, and people of the Silk Road for the past three decades.

Persian Art: Image-making in Eurasia

Kadoi, Yuka (ed.). 2017. Persian Art: Image-making in Eurasia. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

In this illustrated book, nine contributors explore multifaceted aspects of art, architecture and material culture of the Persian cultural realm, encompassing West Asia, Anatolia, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Europe. Each chapter examines the historical, religious or scientific role of visual culture in the shaping, influencing and transforming of distinctive ‘Persian’ aesthetics across the various historical periods, ranging from pre-Islamic, medieval and early modern Islamic to modern times.

Table of Contents:
  • Judith A. Lerner: “The Visual Culture of Greater Iran: Some Examples of Kushano-Sasanian Art”
  • Matteo Compareti: “The Late Sasanian Figurative Capitals at Taq-i Bustan: Proposals Regarding Identification and Origins
  • Richard Piran McClary: “Architecture of the Wider Persian World: From Central Asia to Western Anatolia in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries”
  • Yuka Kadoi: “From Acquisition to Display: The Reception of Chinese Ceramics in the Pre-modern Persian World”
  • Tobias Nünlist: “Devotion and Protection: Four Amuletic Scrolls from Safavid Persia”
  • Iván Szántó: “The Minarets of Hurmuzgan”
  • Raquel Santos: “Persia, India or Indo-Persian? The Study of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century Knotted Pile Carpets”
  • Francesco Stermotich-Cappellari: “The Calligraphic Art of Mishkin Qalam”
  • Markus Ritter: “The Kashan Mihrab in Berlin: A Historiography of Persian Lustreware”

Iranian, Manichaean and Central Asian Studies in Memoriam Sundermann

Herausgegeben von einem Team „Turfanforschung“. 2017. Zur lichten Heimat. Studien zu Manichäismus, Iranistik und Zentralasienkunde im Gedenken an Werner Sundermann (Iranica 25). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Werner Sundermann’s central research subject was the Middle Iranian fragments from Turfan oasis in East Turkistan, today’s Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, China. He always placed his texts in a philological, linguistic, or religious-historical context. The findings of these studies have extended far beyond Iranian studies to include the history of Central Asia, Iranian and Indo-European studies and literary history as well as to Turkology and Buddhist studies.
The memorandum contains more than fifty contributions on Minichaean, Iranian and Central Asian Studies, as well as other neighboring fields. Among others, some new text fragments from the Turfan region, Dunhuang and Iran are for the first time edited and presented. Furthermore new studies on the sources of Central Asian origin and the Greek-Roman and Persian cultural areas are introduced and individual phenomena of languages or religions are analyzed.

Continue reading Iranian, Manichaean and Central Asian Studies in Memoriam Sundermann

The Coinage of the “Iranian” Huns and Western Turks

Alram, Michael. 2016. Das Antlitz des Fremden: die Münzprägung der Hunnen und Westtürken in Zentralasien und Indien. (Schriften des Kunsthistorischen Museums 17). Wien: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

The coinage of the “Iranian” Huns and Western Turks is a unique testimony to the history of Central Asia and Northwest India in late antiquity. It illustrates the self-understanding of the Hunnic and Turkish masters and shows how diverse political, economic and cultural influences affect them. The core zone of their domination ranged from today’s Uzbekistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central India; The chronological framework stretches from the fourth to the 10th century AD.

This book summarizes the latest research regarding the “Iranian” Huns and Western Turks. By the aid of selected archaeological evidence as well as coinage, it gives an exciting insights into the history and culture of an era, which today is once again the focal point of international politics and debate.

Table of Contents:

  • Historischer Überblick
  • Das Reich der Sasaniden in Persien (224–651 n. Chr.)
  • Die Kidariten in Baktrien (um 370–467 n. Chr.)
  • Die Kidariten in Gandhara und Uddiyana (letztes Viertel 4. bis erste Hälfte 5. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Die Kidariten in Taxila (letztes Viertel 4. bis Mitte 5. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Alchan: Von den anonymen Clanchefs zu König Khingila (Ende 4. bis Mitte 5. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Alchan: König Khingila (um 430/440–495 n. Chr.) und die
  • Festigung der hunnischen Macht in Nordwest-Indien
  • Alchan: Die Zeitgenossen des Khingila (um 440–500 n. Chr.)
  • Toramana und Mihirakula – Aufstieg und Fall der Alchan in Indien
    (1. Hälfte 6. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Die Hephthaliten in Baktrien (um 484–560 n. Chr.)
  • Die Nezak-Könige in Zabulistan und Kabulistan (um 480 bis nach 560 n. Chr.)
  • Zabulistan: Von der Alchan-Nezak-Mischgruppe zu den Türken (Ende 6. bis Mitte 7. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Die Turk-Schahis in Kabulistan (2. Hälfte 7. bis Mitte 8. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Kabulistan und Baktrien zur Zeit von »Tegin, König des Ostens« (Ende 7. bis erstes Viertel 8. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Die Rutbils von Zabulistan und der »Kaiser von Rom« (Ende 7. bis zweite Hälfte 8. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Die Hindu-Schahis in Kabulistan und Gandha

Memory and Commemoration in Islamic Central Asia

LUCIS 7th Annual Conference: Memory and Commemoration in Islamic Central Asia

Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society

d1180x250The seventh annual conference of LUCIS focuses on Islamic Central Asia, both from a historical and contemporary perspective. Central Asia today is often regarded as a periphery of the Islamic world, but this region with its fluid borders, stretching into present-day Afghanistan, Russia, China, Mongolia, Iran and the Caucasus, has been for a long period the cradle of empires that ruled over large parts of the globe.

Central Asia in the past has been at the heart of the trade network known as the Silk Road, a premodern highway of global interaction. The idea of a New Silk Road today demonstrates Central Asia’s increasing importance as a centre stage of geopolitical interests. Comprehending the complex history of Central Asia by taking into account its dynastic and regional historiographies and more recent nationalistic narratives is crucial for perceiving the current dynamics of this vast region.

Analysing commemorative practices across Central Asia may provide a prolific framework to outline the complexity of its group identities, in modern times often constructed as nationalistic narratives. In this conference we propose to focus on the notion of memory and commemoration in Central Asia from past and present perspectives, in a broad sense, in order to shed light on the complexities of this fascinating and understudied region.

Themes

Rather than focusing on a single period, medium or language of commemorative practices, the conference will take a comparative and connective perspective. Questions that may be addressed include:

  • Narratives: How does literary and artistic production reflect imperial ideology and commemorative culture? How were dynastic members commemorated and rehabilitated? How were genealogies concocted and manipulated in order to commemorate the ancestral origins? How were important events commemorated?
  • Sites:  How were visions of kingship articulated in commemorative dynastic shrines and landscapes across Central Asia? How did religiously diverse commemorative practices contribute to the development of a distinct royal visual morphology? How were urban centres transformed through the diverse visual lexicon of local Islamic cult activities? How are historical shrines and cults commemorated in the present?
  • Religions:  How was commemorative culture influenced by orthodox Islam and Sufism? What was the impact of these complex theological interactions on the intellectual life and artistic production throughout Central Asia? How are religious commemorative practices used in contemporary nationalistic discourses?

The themes of the conference are broad on purpose, as we wish to welcome speakers from different disciplines and backgrounds.

Please find the full programme of the LUCIS annual conference here.

Iranian languages and literatures of Central Asia

Matteo de Chiara & Evelin Grassi (eds.). 2015. Iranian languages and literatures of Central Asia: From the eighteenth century to the present (Studia Iranica. Cahier 57). Paris.

The Table of Contents is here.

Compared with numerous critical studies in Central Asian history, politics and society published during recent years, modern languages and literary traditions of Central Asia have received less scholarly attention in the West. If we consider specifically the Iranian world, especially in the modern period, it must be admitted that the linguistics and literature of Central Asia, compared to the linguistics and literature of Iran, remain in need of more investigation.
This collection sheds light on various issues of the Iranian linguistic and literary arena “outside of Iran”, offering a variety of twelve original contributions by both leading scholars and new names in the international academic setting. The regions of Afghanistan, Badakhshan, and Transoxania, important centers of Iranian languages and literatures, are here brought back into their broader Iranian context, for the benefit of modern Iranian studies.

Christianity in Central Asia

Dickens, Mark. 2015. Le christianisme syriaque en Asie centrale. In Borbone, Pier Giorgio & Pierre Marsone (eds.), Le christianisme syriaque en Asie centrale et en Chine (Études Syriaques 12), 6–39. Geuthner.

Overview of the history of Christianity in Central Asia from the earliest reference in the works of Bardaisan to allusions in various sources to the final state of Christianity in the Timurid realm.

History of Sogdian Merchants

histoire-des-marchands-sogdiens-9782857570608_0de la Vaissière, Etienne. 2016. Histoire des marchands sogdiens. Troisième édition révisée. (Institut des hautes études chinoises (Collège de France) 32).
The Sogdian Traders were the main go-between of Central Asia from the fifth to the eighth century. From their towns of Samarkand, Bukhara, or Tashkent, their diaspora is attested by texts, inscriptions or archaeology in all the major countries of Asia (India, China, Iran, Turkish Steppe, but also Byzantium). This survey for the first time brings together all the data on their trade, from the beginning, a small-scale trade in the first century BC up to its end in the tenth century. It should interest all the specialists of Ancient and Medieval Asia (including specialists of Sinology, Islamic Studies, Iranology, Turkology and Indology) but also specialists of Medieval Economic History.
This volume is the third revised edition of the orginal published in 2002 and translated into english in 2005 by James Ward.
Étienne de la Vaissière (PhD 1999) in History, is Assistant Professor at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. His courses and research are devoted to the economic and social history of medieval Central Asia.

Samarkand: The Center of the World

Compareti 2016Compareti, Matteo. 2016. Samarkand: The center of the world. Proposals for the identification of the Afrasyab paintings (Sasanika Series 5). Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers.

In antiquity Samarkand was the capital of the Persian province of Sogdiana. Its language, culture, and “Zoroastrian” religion closely approximated those of the Persians. Following its conquest by Alexander, its strategic position and fertile soil made Sogdiana a coveted prize for Late Antique invaders of Central Asia. Around 660 CE — at the dawn of Arab invasion — local king Varkhuman promoted the execution of a unique painted program in one of his private rooms. Each wall was dedicated to a specific population: the north wall, the Chinese; the west, the Sogdians themselves; the east, the Indians and possibly the Turks. The south wall is probably the continuation of the scene on the west wall. In Chinese written sources, some support for this concept of the “division of the world” can be found. Accidentally discovered during Soviet times, the room was named “Hall of the Ambassadors” due to the representations of different peoples. However, many aspects of its painted program remain obscure. This study offers new ideas for better identifications of the rituals celebrated by the people on the different walls during precise moments of the year.

Matteo Compareti (PhD 2005) is Guitty Azarpay Distinguished Visitor in the History of the Arts of Iran and Central Asia at the University of California, Berkeley. He studied at the University of Venice “Ca’ Foscari” in the faculty of oriental studies in 1999 and took hid PhD from the University of Naples “L‘Orientale,” working on the Silk Road in 2005. His interest is on the iconography of Mazdean divinities in Pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia, especially Sasanian and Sogdian art.