Tashkentnama: Illustrated HistoricalToponymic Up to Date Guidebook
Muhammadkarimov, Abdulaziz. Tashkentnama: Illustrated Historical-Toponymic Up to Date Guidebook. Mukadis Dustmatov (tr.). Ken Cross (ed.). Tashkent: Uzintour, 2006, 239pp.


Tashkentnama: Illustrated Historical-Toponymic Up to Date Guidebook

The guidebook for the Uzbek capital Tashkent by the author Abdulaziz Muhammadkarimov consists of two parts: The first is an account of Tashkent’s history, its most important districts, neighbourhoods and historical sites. The second is a simple guide for modern Tashkent, including descriptions and listings of museums, theatres, and hotels. From a scientific point of view, only the first part of the book is interesting. It provides a more detailed insight into the history of Tashkent’s districts and neighbourhoods than I have so far come across in the English language. 

Tashkentnama starts out with an historical account of Tashkent’s foundation in the second or first centuries BC, moves on through the Timurid era, and considers Tashkent as part of Kokand Khanate, under Russian and finally Soviet rule. It then focuses on the city’s four historical districts: Beshyoghoch, Kukcha, Sebzor and Shayhontohur. The book explains the origin of the district’s names and lists the number of gates, mosques, madrasas and mahallas (traditional Uzbek neighbourhoods) in each of them. 

The reader also learns about the foundation of the neighbourhoods, where they are located, from what they derive their names and which famous sites can be found therein. When Muhammadkarimov writes about Chorsu neighbourhood, for example, he mentions its once famous well and how even the fifteenth century Sufi poet Abdurahman Jami drank from it. The author also depicts Tashkent’s fortresses, gates, bazaars and water canals in detail. 

For the reader unable to read Russian or Uzbek, but interested in getting an insight into Tashkent’s history, this book can be recommended. Its shortcomings are manifold, though. Firstly, no historical sources are given, which makes Tashkentnama a work of popular science. The use of the English language is at times so awkward that the meaning behind the words becomes unclear. Also, there is an abundance of spelling mistakes and names are not spelled consistently throughout the book. Altogether, Tashkentnama is a strange piece of work, but the best available on this topic in the English language. 

Jesko Schmoller
Schmoller, Jesko. “English abstract of 'Tashkentnama: Illustrated Historical-Toponymic Up to Date Guidebook'". Translated by Jesko Schmoller. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 143. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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