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Article

Balkh  

City in northern Afghanistan, believed to be the site of Bactra, capital of ancient Bactria, and a major city in the province of Khurasan during the Islamic period. Located on a fertile plain, Balkh commanded trade routes between India, China, Turkestan and Iran. It was already a wealthy city under the Achaemenid dynasty (538–331 bc) and a centre of Zoroastrianism. Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, it became important under the Bactrian monarchies (323–87 bc) and then under the Kushana and Hephthalites, and it was a Buddhist centre. The most substantial remains from the early periods are the mud ramparts, which stand more than 20 m at several places. The circular plan around the citadel (modern Bala-Hisar) may date back as far as the Achaemenid period. The only other monuments to survive from the pre-Islamic period are four Buddhist stupas. That excavated at Tepe Rustam in the south of the city is the most monumental found north of the Hindu Kush (platform 54 m on a side; cylindrical dome 47 m in diameter; total height ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(Noel)

(b London, Dec 25, 1881; d Wendover, Bucks, Feb 28, 1968).

English civil servant and collector of Islamic and Chinese art. The eldest son of Sir Thomas Barlow, royal physician and president of the Royal College of Physicians, he was educated at Marlborough and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 1906 he was appointed to a clerkship in the House of Commons, by 1933 he was principal private secretary to the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, and from 1934 to 1948 he served at the Treasury. He began collecting Oriental ceramics in 1900 and started acquiring Islamic pottery five years later, amassing a comprehensive collection with a special emphasis on Ottoman and Iranian items within 20 years. He built up his collection of Chinese art in the early 1920s, when several British collectors led by George Eumorfopoulos acquired objects excavated in China. Barlow preferred early austere Chinese pottery with little polychrome decoration. During the 1920s and 1930s he also continued to acquire Islamic items, and some of his pieces were shown in ...

Article

Stephen Hill

(Margaret Lowthian)

(b Washington, Co. Durham, July 14, 1868; d Baghdad, 11/July 12, 1926).

English archaeologist and architectural historian. The first woman to achieve a first-class honours in modern history at Oxford University, she travelled widely in Europe, Japan and especially the Middle East in the 1890s, achieving fluency in a number of European languages as well as in Persian, Turkish and Arabic. She developed an interest in archaeology and architecture that was reflected in an authoritative set of articles on the Early Byzantine churches of Syria and southern Turkey, based on her travels in 1905. Her first major travel book, The Desert and the Sown, contains a mixture of travellers’ tales and archaeological information, as does her Amurath to Amurath. Between 1905 and 1914 she made archaeological studies of the Early Byzantine and Early Islamic monuments of Turkey, Syria and Mesopotamia (now Iraq). In 1905 and 1907 she surveyed Binbirkilise with Sir William Ramsay; their book, The Thousand and One Churches, remains the authoritative account of this important site. The architectural recording by survey and photography at Binbirkilise was carried out by Bell and is a lasting monument in its own right. Bell’s interest in Anatolia was inspired by Josef Strzygowski and his book ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Liverpool, April 18, 1863; d London, Dec 19, 1939).

English collector. The eldest son of a Greek merchant, Eumorfopoulos worked for the merchant firm of Ralli Brothers. He initially collected European porcelains and Japanese tea bowls but then turned to Chinese objects, which became his largest collection, emphasizing pottery and porcelains. His second interest was metalwork, and he formed a fine collection of Chinese bronzes; he was also interested in other media, such as jade. He chose items based on his aesthetic response rather than archaeological or rarity value, and he thus placed himself at the forefront of Western taste for Chinese art. From 1924 he also began to acquire Islamic art and formed a separate Chinese collection for the Benaki Museum, Athens, so that the museum eventually had nearly 800 examples of Chinese pottery and porcelain. Eumorfopoulos was elected the first president of the Oriental Ceramic Society in 1921 and retained this position until his death, his house becoming central to the activities of the society. In ...

Article

Milo Cleveland Beach

(b Bombay, 1902; d New York, 1971).

American dealer of Indian birth. Following the decline of the family textile business, his father, Munchersa Heeramaneck, became an antiquities dealer and shrewdly developed a speciality in Chinese ceramics. As a youth, Nasli was assigned to the New Delhi office, but in 1922 he was sent to Paris to study and open a branch. He soon moved to New York, which became the final location for Heeramaneck Galleries. In 1939 Heeramaneck married Alice Arvine, an American portrait painter from New Haven, and she became an active partner in the business. They were responsible for the acquisition of many great works of Indian, Tibetan and Nepali sculpture, Mughal and Rajput painting, Ancient Near Eastern and Islamic art, and Central Asian (including nomadic) art by major American museums. They also formed a comprehensive private collection of South Asian art, including superlative paintings and sculptures from the Himalayan regions, and a smaller collection of ancient Near Eastern and Islamic art, both purchased by the ...

Article

Yuka Kadoi

Apart from a short-lived introduction of paper currency in Ilkhanid Iran under the inspiration of Chinese models, paper money was virtually unknown in the Islamic world until the mid-19th century, as the right to strike Coins was one of the most traditional and important symbols of sovereignty. The Ottoman Empire was one of the first Islamic states to issue machine-made banknotes during the 1850s, as part of its modernization policy. As Western standards of administration, including the modern banking system, were put in force, paper money began to be circulated in Iran in 1890 by the Imperial Bank of Persia, and most of the other Muslim countries followed this trend along with their independence from Western countries in the early 20th century. Like coinage, paper money was regarded as an effective means of legitimizing political aspirations in the Islamic world, due to its state monopoly and worldwide circulation. Banknotes well reflected socio-political backgrounds, and their design was intended to proclaim Islamic identity, emphasizing Arabic or Persian calligraphy in parallel with Latin transliterations, as well as images of important antiquities, such as archaeological sites and historic mosques. Following Western models of paper money, portraits of rulers and politicians were also included. Despite a general antipathy toward figural representations, life-like depictions of public figures in banknotes served as iconographic propaganda....

Article

Kashgar  

Henrik H. Sørensen and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Kashi; Chin. Shufu, Shule]

Important trading town in the western part of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. Kashgar is located where the northern and southern branches of the Silk Route met before the crossing of the Pamirs into Afghanistan and India. Buddhism is likely to have been introduced here as early as the 1st century ad. Information on ancient Kashgar can be found in the Fa xian zhuan (‘Faxian account’) by the pilgrim–monk Faxian (fl 4th–5th century) and in the Da Tang xiyou ji (‘Great Tang record of travelling to the west’) by Xuanzang (600–64). The latter reports that the town was a centre of the Sarvastivadin sect of Buddhism, and that the local community consisted of some 10,000 monks living in several hundred temples. This source also mentions that the people of Kashgar made fine carpets of wool. The town was under Chinese control from 685 until the late 8th century. The Korean monk ...

Article

T. Kh. Starodub and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

Central Asian republic bounded by Russia to the west and north, China to the east and Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the south (see fig.). The Caspian Sea forms much of the south-west frontier, and the Aral Sea constitutes part of the border with Uzbekistan. Apart from the Ural Mountains in the north and the Tian shan Range and Altai Mountains in the south-east it is essentially steppe. The population is estimated at 15.3 million (2006). At the end of 1997 the capital was moved from Almaty, close to the border with Kyrgyzstan, to the smaller but more central Astana.

Central and northern Kazakhstan was from the first appearance of man in Central Asia the preserve of nomadic tribes whose herds grazed the steppe; historically it has parallels with southern Siberia (...

Article

T. Kh. Starodub

Republic in Central Asia bounded by Uzbekistan to the west, Kazakhstan to the north, China to the east and Tajikistan to the south (see fig.). Much of the country is taken up by the Tianshan Mountains, while Lake Issyk-Kul occupies a large area in the north-east. The capital, Bishkek, was established as a Kokand fort, Pishpek, in 1825 but is primarily a 20th-century city. The population is estimated at 5.2 million (2005).

The history of Kyrgyzstan reflects its mountainous terrain and its position on the Silk Route. The Silk Route site of Ak-Beshim has been excavated, as has the nearby Islamic site of Burana, with its 10th–11th-century minaret. The term Kirgiz first occurs in 8th-century ad Turkic inscriptions, when the tribe was settled in the upper Yenisei River. The region was ruled by a succession of Turkic tribes: the Türgesh; the Qarluqs; and, from the 10th to the 12th century, the Qarakhanids. After the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, power passed to the Chaghatayids (...

Article

T. Kh. Starodub

Republic in Central Asia bounded by Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, China to the east and Afghanistan to the south (see fig.). The capital Dushanbe in the west was a village until 1929 when the Transcaspian Railway reached it, making it suitable for its new role.

The history of the territory reflects its position as a gateway to the Transoxiana plains. From the 6th century bc it was part of the Achaemenid empire until taken by Alexander the Great c. 334 bc. Thereafter it fell within the Greco-Bactrian orbit (mid-3rd century bc–2nd) until overrun by Yueh-chih and possibly also Shaka (Scythian) nomads c. 145 bc. Subsequently the Yueh-chih/Tokharians and one of the Yueh-chih tribes, the Kushanas, held sway: the Kushanas were powerful from the 1st to the 3rd century ad when Ardashir I (reg 224-41) incorporated the region into the Sasanian empire. The Sasanians were overwhelmed by the Huns in 425. Significant Turkic invasions followed, and in the 6–8th centuries the Turkic Khaqanate was dominant. Major pre-Islamic sites have been excavated at ...

Article

Zhambyl  

A. A. Ivanov

[formerly Talas, Taraz, Yangi, Awliya Ata, Mirzoyam, Dzhambul]

City in the Talas River valley of southern Kazakhstan and capital city of the region of the same name. Excavations have established that the area, conveniently located along the trade route from Central Asia to China, was inhabited from the 1st and 2nd centuries ad, and ancient Turkish inscriptions have been found in the region. The town, known as Taraz or Talas, was first mentioned in the account of the Byzantine ambassador Zemarkhos in 568, and the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang (c. 630) described Ta-la-sz’ as significant. In the 7th century the town had a citadel surrounded by a wall with towers and a small town precinct; it became the capital of the Karluk Turks in the 8th and 9th centuries. In 751 Muslim armies defeated Chinese troops at the Talas River, but Islam did not gain strength in the region until the late 9th century, following the campaign of the ...