Shahrisabz (Uzbek. Shahrisabz / Shaҳrisabz) is a city, the administrative center of the Shahrisabz region (tuman) of the Kashkadarya region (vilayat) of Uzbekistan. One of the oldest cities in Central Asia until the 16th century known as Kesh. Shakhrisabz is […]
Shahrisabz (Uzbek. Shahrisabz / Shaҳrisabz) is a city, the administrative center of the Shahrisabz region (tuman) of the Kashkadarya region (vilayat) of Uzbekistan. One of the oldest cities in Central Asia until the 16th century known as Kesh. Shakhrisabz is a city in the Kashkadarya region of Uzbekistan, located between the tributaries of the Kashkadarya-Oksuv river in the north and the Tankhazdarya in the south. The population as of January 1, 2014 is 100.3 thousand inhabitants, in 1991 – 53 thousand inhabitants. Most of the population is Uzbek. There is an airport and a railway station Kitab, which in 1959 ceased to be an independent unit of the Shakhrisabz region and became part of the city of Shakhrisabz.
The name of the city Shakhrisabz comes from the Tajik (sha (r) “city” and (sabz) “green” and literally translates as “Green city”, “Zelenograd”.
This name has been stuck with the city since the XIV century. Prior to this, the city was known under the Sogdian name Kesh (Sogd. Kəš) meaning “dwelling, house, settlement”. In Babur-name, 15th – early 16th century, along with Kesh, Shakhrisabz was also used.
According to some reports, the city was founded around the 8th century BC. e. The city in ancient times was called Kesh.
The ancient inhabitants of the city – the Kesh people – were famous for their crafts, trade and high culture, the most common was the Sogdian language.
The city was one of the centers of Zoroastrianism, and later – in parallel with Nestorianism. Until the XIV century, the city was known as Kesh.
It was also considered one of the main cities of the Sogdian satrapy in the Achaemenid empire. In 329 BC. e. Kesh was captured by the troops of Alexander the Great and was influenced by the Hellenistic culture.
In the I-II centuries A.D. e. the city was in the orbit of the influence of the Kushan Empire. In the III-IV centuries it was subordinated to Kangyu. The ancient Kangars-Kangyuys, who were formed on the basis of the group of Saka tribes of the Syr Darya regions, and in the III century BC. e. created their own state were Turkic-speaking. In the IV-V centuries A.D. e. Kesh was part of the Chionite and Kidarite states. Its rulers from the 3rd century BC. e. until the 8th century A.D. e. issued a large number of coins. The names of the rulers of ancient and early medieval Kesh are known – Akhurpat and Shishpir.
It was a large ancient and early medieval city center and for a long time – the capital of Central Sogd. In the VI century, he became part of the Hephthalite state. In 567-658, the Sogdian rulers of the city were subordinate to the Turks.
As part of the Turkic Kaganate
In the 6th-8th centuries Kesh was a member of the Turkic and Western Turkic kaganates. In the VIII century the ruler-malik of Khuzar (Kesh) was the Turk Subugra. Under Ton-yabgu-kagan (618-630), the power of the Turks increased in Sogd. New campaigns to Tokharistan and Afghanistan extended the borders of the state to northwestern India. Ton-yabgu kagan carried out an administrative reform and appointed his representatives – tuduns – in the region, including in Sogd, to monitor and control the collection of tribute. It is believed that he issued his coins with the inscription “Tun yabgu kagan”.
The ancient Turkic tribe were the Khalajs, who in the Early Middle Ages lived in Tokharistan – the modern territories of southern Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan.
The Turks of Central Asia worshiped the following deities: Tengri (Sky), Umai (Mother Goddess), Yer-sub (Earth-Water) and Erklig (Lord of Hell), among which Tengri held the leading position.
In the 8th century it was conquered by the Arabs. During the Arab invasion, the Kashkadarya valley and especially Kesh were the epicenter of the anti-Arab and anti-Islamic liberation movement led by Mukanna, known in history as the “Rise of the people in white robes.”
Ultimately, resistance led to the decline of the capital city. In 701-704, battles took place between the Turks and Arabs near Nessef and Kesh.
During the reign of the Samanid dynasty, urban life gradually moved southwest of the old Kesh – to the location of the large village of Barknon.
The era of the Karakhanids
In 1038 Buri-teten Ibrahim b. Nasr, the son of the conqueror Maverannahr, captured Saganian, from where he invaded central Maverannahr. In 1040 he conquered Kesh. By the 10th century, a literary language functioned in the Karakhanid state, continuing the traditions of ancient Turkic written texts. Official Karakhanid language of the 10th century. was based on the grammatical system of the ancient Karluk dialects. The Islamization of the Karakhanids and their Turkic subjects played an important role in the cultural development of the Turkic culture. At the end of the X – beginning of the XI century. for the first time in the history of the Turkic peoples, Tafsir, a commentary on the Koran, was translated into the Turkic language. During this era, the largest Turkic-speaking literary works appeared in Central Asia: “Graceful knowledge” (Kutadgu bilig) by Yusuf Balasaguni, “Divan” by Ahmad Yassavi, “Gifts of Truth” (Khibatul hakoik) by Ahmad Yagnaki. The 11th century scholar Mahmud Kashgari laid the foundations of Turkic linguistics. He lists the names of many Turkic tribes of Central Asia.
One of the famous scholars was the historian Majid ad-din al-Surhakati, whoisal “History of Turkestan”, which outlined the history of the Karakhanid dynasty.
During the reign of the Karakhanids, a new capital of the medieval Kesh was finally formed. During the hegemony of the Khorezmshahs (early 13th century), Kesh-Shakhrisabz was first fenced in by defensive walls.
The era of Timur and the Temurids
Since the XIV century, the city became known as Shakhrisabz. It was from this period that the current name of the city was minted on the coins of that time.
In 1336, in the village (kishlak) of Khoja-Ilgar on the outskirts of Shakhrisabz, Amir Temur (Tamerlane) was born, who later created one of the largest and most powerful empires of his time, which stretched from eastern Anatolia to eastern India.
In the middle of the XIV century, the city was ruled by Khadzhi Barlas, Amir Temur’s uncle on the side of his father. His residence was in Karshi. In general, from the second half of the XIII century, Shakhrisabz and Karshi with adjacent territories administratively belonged to the Turkic tribe Barlas.
During the existence of the Timurid empire, Amir Temur turned his hometown into one of the largest and most developed centers (in the XIV-early XV centuries it was his residence), but chose Samarkand as the capital. It was in Shakhrisabz that Temur decided to make Samarkand the capital of his state. But Shakhrisabz did not lose its importance even after Samarkand became the capital. The city ranked second in importance after the capital of the state. It was then that the name “Shakhrisabz” gradually gained great popularity. In that era, Shakhrisabz was one of the places of permanent residence of the beks (princes) of the Barlas Turkic tribe.
By order of Timur, in his homeland in Kesh (Shakhrisabz), the Ak-Saray palace was erected, and he dreamed of building a much larger palace. Its construction began in 1380, that is, immediately after the consolidation of the autocrat’s power in Maverannahr. Construction work lasted 24 years, almost until the death of Sakhibkiran. The palace included several courtyards, around which there were living quarters and public rooms. The premises were decorated with golden azure, the facades of the buildings were covered with colored tiles, the courtyards were paved with white slabs. One of the wonders of the palace was a rooftop pool, from which a picturesque cascade of jets flowed down. Water entered the pool through a lead trough from the Takhtakaracha mountain pass. The arch of the Ak-Saray entrance portal, which collapsed about 300 years ago, was the largest in Central Asia. To date, only 2 disconnected pylons have survived from this majestic structure. The palace occupied a large area: only one main courtyard was 120-125 m wide and 240-250 m long. Calculation of the proportions of the surviving elements of the building shows that the height of the main portal reached 70 meters.
Some representatives of the Timurid dynasty were buried in the city: Timur’s father – Muhammad Taragay, Timur’s 2 eldest sons – Jahangir and Umar Sheikh.
Every time Amir Temur went on a long hike or on his return, he spent some time in Shakhrisabz. Nomadic Uzbek warriors were in the service of Timur, for example, sources report about Uzbek soldiers in 1366 in Karshi, as well as among the Beks (Bakht Khoja Uzbek) who were in Timur’s service. As part of the troops of Timur in the Indian campaign in 1399, there were 400 Uzbek houses .
In the last quarter of the XIV century, the city reached the highest stage of its development. But after the times of Amir Temur and Ulugbek, he lost his former glory and was out of the attention of the central authorities.
As part of the Bukhara Khanate
In the 16th and early 20th centuries, Shahrisabz (Shaar or Shaar-Sabiza) was part of the Bukhara Khanate and was the administrative center of the Shakhrisabz bekdom (principality).
In particular, in 1556 (according to other sources – by 1574), the city was captured by the Uzbek Khan Abdullah Khan II from the Sheibanid dynasty and included in the newly formed Karshi Vilayat (province). By the 16th century, Shakhrisabz was surrounded by powerful city defensive walls.
As part of the possession of the Uzbek Kenagas
In the middle of the 18th century, the Uzbek family of Kenagas founded a semi-independent possession here, which retained its relative autonomy until the Russian conquest in 1870. Since 1860, Jurabek, together with Bababek, independently ruled in Kitab and Shakhrisabz. At the initial stage of Kaufman’s military campaign against the Bukhara emir, the Shakhrisabz people also remained on the sidelines.
However, after the capture of Samarkand and the subsequent movement of Russian troops to Katta-Kurgan, Jurabek and Bababek, having gathered significant forces, on May 2, 1868 unsuccessfully attacked the Samarkand citadel, protected by a small Russian garrison.
Jurabek’s further hostility to Russia, which hindered the peaceful settlement of the Zaravshan Valley conquered by the Russians, accelerated the denouement.
In the summer of 1870, Russian troops under the command of General Abramov appeared under the walls of Kitab. The hostilities were short-lived, but very persistent.
On August 14, 1870, Kitab was taken by storm, and the beks with the 3000th detachment fled first to Magian, and then were forced to leave for the Kokand Khanate.
However, the Kokand Khan seized them and handed them over to the Russian government. Shakhrisabz was transferred by the Russian Empire to Emir Muzaffar.
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