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Turkestan in Historic Encyclopedias

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Kim, Jae Yun
Term Paper, AP European History Class, July 2009

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. Bokhara
II.1 Cyclopaedia of India (1873 2nd edition), article on Turkistan
II.2 Chambers' Encyclopedia (1872) Volume ¥¸, article on Turkestan
II.3 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) 11th Edition, article on Turkestan
III. Russian Turkestan
III.1 Cyclopaedia of India (1873 2nd edition), article on Turkistan
III.2 Chambers' Encyclopedia(1872) Volume ¥¸, article on Turkestan
III.3 Encyclopaedia Britannica(1911) 11th Edition, article on Turkestan
IV. Eastern Turkestan
IV.1 Cyclopaedia of India (1873 2nd edition), article on Turkistan
IV.2 Chambers' Encyclopedia (1872) Volume ¥¸, article on Turkestan
IV.3 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) 11th Edition, article on Turkestan
V Khiva
V.1 Cyclopaedia of India (1873 2nd edition), article on Turkistan
V.2. Chambers' Encyclopedia(1872) Volume ¥¸, article on Turkestan
V.3 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) 11th Edition, article on Turkestan
VI. Conclusion and Analysis

I. Introduction
            Normally most people cast no doubt on the subjectivity of the articles in encyclopedias. They open up the thick book when they need certain specific information or fact. Since the Ancient Greek times, people sought a way to preserve what they have known. It was 1728 when the first modern-style encyclopedia was established by William Chambers in Great Britain. During this long history, encyclopedias have been a great helper for acquiring knowledge.
            However, as we study and view history in various views and aspects, there is a need for studying encyclopedias in many different ways, too. In fact, encyclopedias, seemingly the most objective books existing nowadays, are exposed to diverse kinds of features that can affect the right transmission of exact fact; wars and natural disasters that took place when the books were written, or ideologies, beliefs, religions the writer had, or even the mood of the writer on the day that person is working on writing encyclopedia might influence the text.
            In this paper, I tried to find the differences witnessed in three different encyclopedias about Turkestan. I also analyzed how Turkestan is described in the three encyclopedias that I chose. I especially focused on the name of the four places that Turkestan includes; Bokhara, Russian Turkestan, Eastern Turkestan, and Khiva.

II. Bokhara

II.1 Cyclopaedia of India (1873 2nd edition), article on Turkistan
            Bokhara, also called as Bukhara, is a small part of Turkestan near Eastern Turkestan. In Cyclopaedia of India (1873), there was a very specific mention about Bokhara.

            Bokhara is an isolated kingdom in Turkistan of small extent surrounded by a dessert. It lies between the parallel of 36 degrees and 45 degrees N, and 61 degrees 67¡¯ E.longitude. It is an open champagne country of unequal fertility, and intersected by the Oxus on its southern border. Its rivers are the Amur or Oxus, the Sir or Jarates, the Kohik or Zarafshan, and the rivers of Kurshi and Balkh. It is ruled over by an amir, now under Russia whose sway comprised between the 37 and 43 degrees northern latitude, and between the 60 degrees and 68 degrees of eastern longitude. The Uzbek are undoubtedly the preponderating race in Bokhara, not so much from their number, as by the ties which bind them together. They are divided into stems and sections, like the Kirghiz, and have their elders, or beys, who enjoy a certain consideration among them. The Uzbek branches, with some of their subdivisions, are enumerated in the work called "Nassed Mameti Uzbekia."

            Readers can know about Bokhara without much hardness. The Cyclopaedia in fact describes Bokhara very specifically. Cyclopaedia of India mostly focuses on the Asian part of the world which made it to write about Bokhara so detail. However, the information is limited that the encyclopedia only focuses on geographic terms and race. After this specified detail, Bokhara is only mentioned one more time when the book talks about Chinese Turkestan, also known as Eastern Turkestan.

II.2 Chambers' Encyclopedia (1872) Volume ¥¸, article on Turkestan
            Unlike Cyclopaedia of India, Bokhara is not discussed directly in the article of Chambers¡¯s Encyclopedia. Rather, Bokhara is mentioned in describing a bigger scale of Turkestan. From the few lines of Bokhara in this encyclopedia, though not specifically speaks about Bokhara, readers can be aware of it as a region that manufacturing industry are the occupations of the great mass of the population. Also, readers can perceive that Bokhara is a province in the middle of Turkestan, and is a powerful and warlike state. Even though these descriptions come from a few lines in the article, readers are able to make a blur figure of what Bokhara is like. However, the amount of information is limited compared to that of Cyclopaedia of India¡¯s.

II.3 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) 11th Edition, article on Turkestan
            Their former tributaries no longer run their full course: the glacier-fed Zarafshan dries up amid the gardens of Bokhara soon after emerging from the highlands.

            Of the highly developed civilizations which grew up and flourished in Bactria, Bokhara and Samarkand the last survivals are now undergoing rapid obliteration with the simultaneous desiccation of the rivers and lakes.

            There is a great variety of artisan work, such as copper and brass, paper, knives (at Bokhara). Trade is very actively carried on. Tashkent and Bokhara are the chief commercial centres, the principal articles of export to Russia.

            About 12,000 Russians are settled in Bokhara and about 4000 in Khiva

            In the 14th and 15th centuries, Bokhara and Samarkand became centres of Moslem scholarship, and sent great numbers of their learned doctors to Kashgaria.

            Encyclopaedia Britannica gives explanations of Bokhara in a fairly detailed way. Even though this encyclopedia is not specialized in Asian part, readers acquire the most specified information through Britannica. Why is that? Encyclopaedia Britannica has been the encyclopedia of authority for so long period, and most trusted one, too. The number of pages describing Turkestan already differs from those of formerly mentioned ones; Britannica contains approximately ten times more pages than other encyclopedias. Therefore, it is probably natural that readers get the most information out of Encyclopaedia Britannica than any other encyclopedias.

III Russian Turkestan

III.1 Cyclopaedia of India (1873 2nd edition), article on Turkistan
            Northern or Russian Turkestan, comprehending in it the three hordes of the Kirghis nation.

            This simple fragmental sentence is all that is mentioned about Russian Turkestan in Cyclopaedia of India. Despite the fact that this encyclopedia is about India and surrounding areas in Asia, there is this one sentence describing Russian Turkestan. Readers still might wonder about Russian Turkestan, or Northern Turkestan, because in other encyclopedias there are more mentions on it.

III.2 Chambers' Encyclopedia (1872) Volume ¥¸, article on Turkestan
            Unfortunately, there was no mention on Russian Turkestan or Northern Turkestan in Chambers¡¯s Encylopedia. It merely stated some information about Russians and their trade against Turkestan, but no description of the northern part of Turkestan.

III.3 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) 11th Edition, article on Turkestan
            Dzungans number nearly 20,000, and inhabit the valley of the Ili in Kulja and partly are settled in Russian Turkestan.

            The total estimated population of Russian Turkestan in 1906 was 5,746,000

            There are several populous cities in Russian Turkestan. Its capital, Tashkent, in the Syr-darya province, had 156,414 inhabitants in 1897, and other cities of importance are Samarkand (58,194), Marghilan (42,855 in Old Marghilan, and 8977 in New Marghilan) in Ferghana, Khojent (31,881) in Syr-clarya, Khokand (86,704), Namangan (61,388) and Andijan (49,682) in Ferghana

            Just like the result of Bokhara beforehand, Encyclopedia Britannica contained the most information about Russian Turkestan. The numerical value of population is mentioned in detail, however, information on other aspects is none. Readers can presume to what the writer of each encyclopedia put emphasis on; in this case, population.

IV. Eastern Turkestan

IV.1 Cyclopaedia of India (1873 2nd edition), article on Turkistan
            Eastern Turkestan was subject to China from the beginning of the Christian era to the time of Changiz Khan; and after the middle of the 18th century, the Chinese regained possession of it. Eastern Turkistan is eminently mahomedan, and its rulers had always been mahomedan from the time of Taghalak Timur, who was, we are told, the first mahomedan sovereign of Kashgar of the lineage of Chinghiz ...

            Starting from the lines written above, Cyclopaedia of India mentions very much about Eastern Turkestan also called as Chinese Turkestan. Since Eastern Turkestan functioned as a important region for trade, culture, and political activities, this encyclopedia also narrates a lot about this place as to support the importance of Eastern Turkestan.

IV.2 Chambers Encyclopedia (1872) Volume ¥¸, article on Turkestan
            Eastern Turkestan, known also as Upper Tartary, Chinese Turkestan, Little Bukharia, and Turfan, is estimated to contain from 500,000 to 800,000 English sq. m., with a pop. of 1-3 millions; and is bounded on the N. by the Russian possessions, on the E. by Mongolia, on the S. by Tibet and Cashmere, and on the W. by the Bolor-tagh range ...

            In this encyclopedia, Eastern Turkestan is also described explicitly. More added to Cyclopaedia of India, in Chambers' Encyclopedia, specific numeric statistics and the names of places are stated in this version.

IV.3 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) 11th Edition, article on Turkestan
            Nevertheless the term, in its dual application of West Turkestan and East or Chinese Turkestan, has long been established, and in default of any better designations cannot very well be dispensed with.

            East or Chinese Turkestan, sometimes called Kashgaria, is a region in the heart of Asia, lying between the Tian-shan ranges on the north and the Kuen-lun ranges on the south, and stretching east from the Pamirs to the desert of Gobi and the Chinese province of Kan-su. The country belongs to China, and to the Chinese is known as Sin-kiang; but administratively the Chinese province of Sin-kiang crosses over the Tian-shan and includes the valleys of Kulja or Ili and Dzungaria on the north.

            Encyclopaedia Britannica seems to provide quite detailed information on Eastern Turkestan. The content is somewhat similar to that of Cyclopaedia of India, however, small details tell some differences of perspectives between those who wrote Britannica and those who wrote Cyclopaedia of India. A very noticeable difference is the way each encyclopedia describes who occupies the region of Eastern Turkestan.

V Khiva

V.1 Cyclopaedia of India (1873 2nd edition), article on Turkistan
            ... inhabited by Khivan, Turkoman and Kara-kal-pak ...

            Ironically, there was not a single mention of Khiva in Cyclopaedia of India. Instead, there was a short describing of Khivan, obviously the word for people of Khiva. Unlike many readers¡¯ expectation for this encyclopedia to have the most information about Turkestan because it specifies in the Asian region only, it actually contained fairly less amount.

V.2 Chambers' Encyclopedia (1872) Volume ¥¸, article on Turkestan
            Khokan is the largest, most fertile, and most populous, not withstanding Bokhara and Khiva have repeatedly proved themselves to be more powerful and warlike.

            Khiva was conquered by Nadir Shah in 1740, and Bokhara limited to the north bank of the Amu-Daria; but the Korghis of the Little Horde restored the independence of Khiva.

            Not many information on Khiva is available here, however, readers get a very important fact from Chambers¡¯s Encyclopedia; there is no mention of the individual regions forming a whole Turkestan being under a conquering war. It only states there was fight between certain two parts of Turkestan. Therefore, from the lines mentioned above, readers get to know that such things really took place.

V.3 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) 11th Edition, article on Turkestan
            About 12,000 Russians are settled in Bokhara and about 4000 in Khiva.

            The barbarous tortures and executions which rendered Khiva notorious in the East are no longer heard of; the continual appeals of the khojas for ¡°holy¡± war against their rivals find no response.

            Since Encyclopaedia Britannica is the latest-made encyclopedia of the three encyclopedias in this paper, that is why readers find sentences like that above. In previous years¡¯ books, they talk about how Khiva had fought or conquered. Readers can guess how savage and terrible those wars may have been like. However, in Britannica, it says that there are no longer any more barbarous tortures and executions. If readers watch carefully into these encyclopedias, they can follow the trait of how history has flown.

VI. Conclusion and Analysis
            Everybody has a feeling that is nearly as a belief that encyclopedias contain what they need to know about that specific subject. However, that belief might not be true. Even though encyclopedias hold relatively objective info of particular subjects, the perspective of the writer might vary greatly according to many different reasons. Even though the authors were not aware of such problems, what they write can greatly affect what the readers perceive. For example, a little or no mention of a something about a particular subject might cause the readers to think that that part is not important or worth to know more. Also, the time period of encyclopedia's publication is a factor that is a key factor of encyclopedias, too. When, or after what big event in history the book is written will be an important aspect to determine what will go in the context. To sum up, when reading encyclopedias for information, try not to acquire it as what is put in the book, but to rethink about the background of how that info got into the text and what intention the writer had putting in that info. Then, it will be possible to approach to more objective and real fact or history whatever one¡¯s looking for.


Note : websites quoted below were visited in July 2009.
1.      Cyclopaedia of India, Edward Balfour, 2nd Edition, 1873
2.      Chambers¡¯s Encyclopedia, Volume nine, W.& R Chambers, 1872
3.      Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition, 1911,

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