21 May 2005


The Memoirs of Babur
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

In the month of Ramzan of the year 899 (June 1494) and in the twelfth year of my age, I became ruler in the country of Fergana.

Fergana is situated in the fifth climate and at the limit of settled habitation. On the east it has Kashghar; on the west, Samarkand; on the south, the mountains of the Badakhshan border; on the north, though in former times there must have been towns such as Almaligh, Almatu and Yangi which in books they write Taraz, at the present time all is desolate, no settled population whatever remaining, because of the Moghuls and the Uzbeks.

Fergana is a small country, abounding in grain and fruits. It is girt round by mountains except on the west, i.e. towards Khujand and Samarkand, and in winter an enemy can enter only on that side.

The Saihun River commonly known as the Water of Khujand, comes into the country from the northeast, flows westward through it and after passing along the north of Khujand and the south of Fanakat, now known as Shahrukhiya, turns directly north and goes to Turkistan. It does not join any sea but sinks into the sands, a considerable distance below [the town of] Turkistan.

Fergana has seven separate townships, five on the south and two on the north of the Saihun.

Fergana has seven separate townships, five on the south and two on the north of the Saihun.

One of those on the south is Andijan, which has a central position and is the capital of the Fergana country. It produces much grain, fruits in abundance, excellent grapes and melons. In the melon season, it is not customary to sell them out at the fields. There are no pears better than those of Andijan. After Samarkand and Kesh, the fort of Andijan is the largest in Mawara'u'n-nahr (Transoxiana). It has three gates. Its citadel (ark) is on its south side. Water flows into it by nine channels, but, oddly, flows out by none. Round the outer edge of the ditch runs a gravelled highway; the width of this highway divides the fort from the suburbs surrounding it.

Andijan has good hunting and fowling; its pheasants grow so surprisingly fat that rumour has it four people could not finish one they were eating with its stew.

Andijanis are all Turks; everyone in town or bazar knows Turki.

The speech of the people resembles the literary language; hence the writings of Mir 'Ali-sher Nawa'i, though he was bred and grew up in Hin (Herat), are one with their dialect. Good looks are common amongst them. The famous musician, Khwaja Yusuf, was an Andijani. The climate is malarious; in autumn people generally get fever.

Babur was descended on his father's side from Timur. His mother came from the direct line of Chingiz Khan. Transoxiana was a welter of competing and colliding states, most ruled by Timurid princes. He took and lost Samarqand , the greatest of the Tranoxianian cities and Timur's capital three times, the last in 1501 to the Uzbek khan The Uzbeks also took Fergana Babur reached the age of 22 in 1504 and established himself in Kabul. An expedition into India turned into conquest. At the battle of Panipat he detroyed the Delhi sultanate and founded the Mughal empire. He never saw Fergana or Samarkand again.

Contemporary events bring us these acnient names like Andijan and we only know them for a few weeks. Fergana was famous for its horses, which were said to sweat blood and be the best in the world. The Chinese traded and conquered along the Silk Road for mounts for their cavalry. Alexander's favourite horse, Boukephalos was tribute from a lord of Fergana and Tang courtiers wrote poems about the golden peaches of Samarkand. Andijan had its own history a long time before the Western media turned their attention there for a week.

No comments: