Friday, February 20, 2015

Khwarezm's Forgotten Empire

The first inhabitants of Khwarezm were steppe nomads of various tribes; Huns, Sarmatians, and Sogdians all lived near or in Khwarezm in the first few centuries AD. By the late 10th Century Khwarezm had fallen under the control of the Islamic Ghaznavid Dynasty. Then on their decline in 1041 becoming a province of the rising Seljuk Sultanate. In 1077 the Seljuks gave Khwarezm to Anush Tigin Gharchai, a Mamluk of Turkish and probably Kipchak origin. Mamluks (known as ghulams in Persia) were "slave-soldiers", typically of nomadic Turkic origin. Enslaved by Islamic sultans or emirs in their early childhood, they were given an education in  Furussiya which includes the arts of war (fighting, handling of weapons, tactics and strategy) and emphasises skills in hunting, horse-riding, falconry, archery, running, swimming, and strategic games ie. Chess and backgammon. When they came of age they were enlisted in the ruler's army, and formed the heavy cavalry element of it's battle order. Elder Mamluks could rise to become Emirs or governors themselves, and so it was for Anush Tigin Gharchai.

Furussiya

The Khwarezm-Shahs ruled Khorezm and at times much of the surrounding region from 1077 - 1231. Between the years 1077 and 1141, it was nominally as an independent state, but viewed as a client-kingdom of the Seljukid Sultanate. In 1141, however, a joint Seljuk and Khwarezmian army was destroyed by the Kara Khitai, under Yelu Dashi. Allah ad-Din Aziz, grandson of Anush Tigin Gharchai, was forced to submit to the Kara Khitai Khaganate.

In 1156, the Seljuk Sultan Ahmad Sanjar was killed in a battle, and his sultanate was engulfed in anarchy. In that same year, Il-Arslan succeeded his father Allah ad-Din Aziz, and ruled Khwarezm under the Kara Khitai. Under Il-Arslan, Khwarezmian power increased and by the reign of his son Allah ad-Din Takash (1172 - 1200) they felt confident enough to challenge both the Kara Khitai and the Seljuks openly.

Allah ad-Din Takash was a charismatic leader and a talented general, and inflicted defeats on the Kara Khitai. Having declared an indepedent Khwarezmian state, he then moved against the fragmented Seljuk Sultanate. In 1194, at an unnamed battle, he won a great victory over the Seljuks. The Seljuk sultan himself, Togrul the Third, fell under a storm of Khwarezmian saber-strokes as his army was routed. By the end of the 12th Century, the Khwarezmians had developed a reputation for fielding the most deadly heavy cavalry in all of Central Asia - if not all of the Dar al-Islam.

In 1200 Allah ad-Din Takash was succeeded by his son, Allah ad-Din Muhammad. It was Shah Muhammad who guided Khwarezm to her brief moment of glory. Taking advantage of the relative anarchy following the Seljuk collapse, he extended Khwarezm's territories far to the south. By 1205 in addition to Khwarezm he was ruling very nearly all of Iran, and had taken the title of Khwarezmshah - King of Khwarezm.

At its peak under Shah Muhammad, Khwarezm ruled effectively all of Central Asia from the eastern borders of Iraq to the western borders of India. Both settled Persian cities and wild Turkish tribes owed allegiance to the Shah, and sent contingents of soldiers and warriors to serve in his impressive army. Khwarezm was a very highly militarized state; much of the artwork of Central Asia in the early 13th Century celebrates the Khwarezmian Army - particularly their famous heavy cavalry.

Khwarezm Mongol Empires 1220

The Empire reached its highest point in 1212, when Shah Muhammad conquered its former rulers, the Kara Khitai Khaganate. But the fires of Khwarezm's triumphs, however brightly they burned - were about to be snuffed out in a quick and decisive fashion, by the most brutal conquerors of them all.

It is a matter of opinion as to whether Khwarezm's greatest Shah, Allah ad-Din Muhammad was incredibly brave or incredibly stupid (the two have rarely been mutually exclusive). Had he known the fates that befell countries who showed insolence to Genghis Khan, it is very likely he would have behaved differently when a band of Mongolian merchants arrived in the Khwarezmian city of Otrar in 1218.

Suspecting they were spies sent by the Khan, the governor of Otrar executed the Mongols. When Genghis Khan expressed his outrage, Shah Muhammad condoned his governor's actions. It was to prove a fatal mistake. In 1220, Genghis Khan took his revenge and began his invasion of Khwarezm, riding at the head of an army of 200,000 troops. Their ranks were swelled by local Turkish tribesmen who had resented the Kharezm-Shahs for past defeats.

Gengiz Khan on the Pulpit in Bukhara

The Khan's army moved so quickly, that Shah Muhammad did not have time to form a force that could effectively oppose it. He fled to the west, leaving his Kingdom to its fate. Across Khwarezm soldiers and local militias attempted to resist the Mongols, but did not manage to stop or even slow down their murderous advance on the finest cities of the Empire, Samarkand, Bukhara, and finally the Khwarezmian capital of Urgench. Each was sacked and its inhabitants put to the sword. Some historians go as far as to say that the invasion of Khwarezm was the most brutal war the Mongols ever undertook; effectively a genocide.

Shah Muhammad fled in shame and grief to an obscure island in the Caspian Sea, where he died in exile later that year. In the meantime, his son Jalal ad-Din Mangubirdi attempted to organize Khwarezmian resistance against the Mongols. Too late to save any of the Empire's cities, he attempted to flee into India with an army of 5000 heavy cavalrymen.  Jalal ad-Din's army was attacked, enveloped, and destroyed by that of the Mongols along the banks of the Indus, in 1221. Less than 700 Khwarezmians escaped, including Jalal ad-Din himself. He escaped a detachment of Mongol pursuers only by jumping off a high cliff over the Indus, and swimming to the other side of the River. Genghis Khan called his sons and pointing at Khwarazm Shah said, “Look at the brave man.” and remarked "fortunate is the father of such a son!"

Jalal-ad-Din crosses the Indus to escape the Mongols

Jalal ad-Din, accompanied by only a small retinue of Khwarezmian survivors, fled into exile in Dehli. Ashamed at his defeat, he revoked the title of Shah but still allowed himself to be called a Sultan. He received word not long afterwards that his family had been captured by Genghis Khan, and executed by being drowned in the Indus. His eldest child had only been 8 years old.

He was to spend three years in India, gathering support and plotting to retake his father's kingdom returm returning to Khwarezm in 1224. He found his people - those who survived - filled with hatred of the Mongols, and it did not take him long to gather a large army bent on conquest and revenge. He declared a revived Khwarezm state, but it only lasted a year before he was again defeated by a Mongol army, this time in the Alborz Mountains. Jalal ad-Din and his small army proved frustratingly hard to destroy. He and his men were to become nomadic horse-warriors; those who still had wives and children living brought them with them.

His kingdom of Khwarezm became, if only for a short time, a state on the move. Late in 1225 Jalal ad-Din captured and settled his people in Tabriz in Azerbaijan, along the western shores of the Caspian Sea. Here, he had a set of hostile neighbours including the Christian Kingdom of Georgia, and the final remant of the Seljuk Sultanate - the Sultanate of Rum. Jalal ad-Din had proven to be a charismatic leader, who believed in the survival of his father's kingdom; his men had proven to be tough and dedicated soldiers. Skirmishing that same year took place between the Khwarezmians and the Georgians along their border which finally erupted into a short war. A larger Georgina force being outwitted by Jalal ad-Din  and his cavalry at the Battle of Garni was fought in 1225 near Garani, Armenia then part of the Kingdom of Georgia. Next the Khwarezmians moved on the Georgian capital of Tbilisi raising the city. During 1826 they raided through Armenia, skirmishing with both Seljuk and Ayyubid soldiers. 

In 1229, he once again decided to enlarge his domain attacking al-Jazirah (Mesopotamia), but was crushingly defeated by Sultan Kayqubad I of the Sultanate of Rum, at the Battle of Yassi Chemen. After the battle Jalal ad-Din fled to Diyarbakir in todays Turkish Kurdistan where he was assasinated. Some accounts say that his killer was a Seljuk or Hashashin, others claim he died in an ambush by Kurdish bandits. His legacy was a mixed one. Proud, impetuous, and famously courageous Jalal ad-Din was at the end unable to overcome the enormous odds he faced. His great personal valor and belief in his people however are still are held in high esteem in Central Asia.

The story of the Khwarezmians did not end with the death of Jalal ad-Din, however if anything, some of their most painful defeats and unexpected adventures still laid ahead. Around the same time that Jalal ad-Din was killed, the remnants of the Khwarezmians were driven out of Tabriz by the Mongols. These Khwarezmians joined up with those who had survived the defeat at Yassi Chemen, and formed a mercenary company.

After the death of Jalal ad-Din, no single leader of the Khwarezmians is mentioned in history. Apparently they were led by family and tribal heads, and were united out of a common sense of loyalty to Jalal ad-Din and his memory. For the better part of a decade, the Khwarezmians spent their time pillaging settlements in Armenia, Syria, and Iraq, attacking Seljuk holdings with a special vengeance and loathing. During this time period, they came to call themselves by their Arabic name: the Khwarezmiyyas.

In the early 1240's, the Ayyubid Sultan Salih Ayyub called upon the Khwarezmiyyas to support him in a war against a pretender to his throne, his own uncle Salih Ismail. The wild Iranian mercenaries proved impossible to control, however, and apparently on a whim attacked Jerusalem in July of 1244. As agreed by the Ayyubid Sultan al-Kamil, Jerusalem was currently in the hands of Frankish Crusaders. On August 23rd of 1244, Jerusalem surrendered to the Khwarezmiyyas, who proceeded to occupy the Holy City and sack its Christians shrines and cemeteries. They transferred the city to Ayyubid hands. Jerusalem was ruled by a Muslim country ever afterwards until the 20th Century.

Battle of La Forbie
Later, in October of 1244 the Khwarezmiyyas were instrumental to the Ayyubid victory over a mixed Muslim and Christian force at La Forbie, to the north of Gaza. It was the largest massacre of Christian knights to take place since the Battle of Hattin in 1187, and it deepened the bitterness between the Khwarezmiyyas and the Crusaders.

The sack of Jerusalem and the Ayyubid victory at La Forbie triggered the unsuccessful Seventh Crusade. Jerusalem was lost to the Europeans and is not recaptured again until 1917.

Within time the Khwarezmiyyas were to fell afoul of their Egyptian employers and by 1246, they were in revolt against the declining Ayyubid state, but were crushingly defeated by Ibrahim al-Mansur. Those who survived were absorbed into the ranks of Egypt's Mamluks, who were to soon enjoy a period of turbulent glory themselves.

Source: http://historum.com/middle-eastern-african-history/14624-islam-s-forgotten-empire.html (Edited ED)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Los Afrighids

Los Afrighids

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Foto: al-Fadl; en Khwarizmian, Abd Allah Shah - El Jinete AD 773-797

Durante todo el período de la antigüedad local (siglo 1 aC - principios de siglo 3 dC) en Khorezm, los reyes Afrigid subió al poder, a juzgar por su símbolo dinástico jinete - a - su continuidad en el gobierno de 700-800 años. Los Afrighids (آفریغیان-آل آفریغ) eran un natural Chorasmian (Lengua de Khwarezmian) dinastía que gobernó sobre el reino de Khwarezm de 305 hasta 995 d.J.C. El reino renaciente fue establecido alrededor de Khiva en 410 por Avar (El euroasiático Avars) tribus posiblemente bajo Hephthalites influencia.

En 712 Khwarezm fue conquistado por el árabe Umayyads. Así vino vagamente bajo el señorío feudal musulmán, pero sólo en el final del de ocho siglos o el principio del 9no siglo que Afrighid Shah se convirtió primero al Islam aparición con el nombre del converso popular de Abdallah (esclavo de Dios). En el curso del 10mo siglo, cuando algunos geógrafos como Istakhri en su Al-Masalik wa-l-mamalik mencionan Khwarezm como la parte de Khorasan (Mayor Khorasan) y Transoxiania, la familia local de Ma'munids quienes estaban basados en Gurganj (Köneürgenç), en la orilla izquierda de Amu Darya creció en la importancia económica y política debida de cambiar caravanas. En 995, violentamente derrocaron Afrighids de Kath y ellos asumió el título tradicional del Khwarazm-cha. 

Brevemente, el área estaba bajo Samanid señorío feudal, antes de que pasara a Mahmud of Ghazna en 1017. A partir de entonces, las invasiones Turco-mongolas y la regla larga de dinastías Turco-mongolas suplantaron el iraní carácter de la región aunque el título del Khwarezm-cha se mantuviera bien hasta el 13er siglo.

Foto: Tazón de plata que representa a una diosa de cuatro brazos, sentada sobre un León, fechado 658 D.C.de Khwarezm , Museo Británico.


The Silk Road


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Хива : Bорота в пустыню Кызылкум

 
Хива: лепешка по-зороастрийски, пустыня и крепости euronews (на русском)

Хива, ворота в пустыню Кызылкум, один из самых отдаленных и уцелевших городов Великого Шёлкового пути, хранилище древних памятников, ремесел и традиций, важная археологическая площадка.
 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Uzbekistan First Postage Stamp - Queen Nodira



Uzbekistan's first postage stamp issued after independence was of the Kokandi Uzbek Poet and Stateswoman Nodira Mohlar-oyim (1792-1842) the wife of Muhammad Umar Khan (1787-1822) who was the 7th ruler of the Khanate of Kokand. Following her husbands death in 1822 Modira at 30 years of age became the de facto ruler of the Khanate of Kokand acting as regent for her son Madali Khan for the better part of a decade. A decade in which Kokand flourised and became an artistic and cultural haven.

Regarded as one of the most outstanding Uzbek poets, Nodira wrote under the pennames Komila and Maknuna. Her body of work diwans consisting of more than 10,000 lines of poetry that focus on her people and the proper governance of society. She is famously quoted as saying that: 'If a king cares not for the poor man's life, his grand rule and sublimity are all in vain'. (Calum MacLeod & Bradley Mayhew, Uzbekistan: the Golden Road to Samarkand (Hong Kong: Odyssey Publications, 1999), p. 120.) Today she remains as popular as ever with many young women in Uzbekistan named Nodira in her honour.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nodira

Friday, January 30, 2015

Khiva by Night


















Beautiful picture of Khiva at night entitled 'Full moon over a warm summer night'

Photo Credit :  writteninwanderlust