Christopher I. Beckwith: Empires of the Silk Road

Readers are introduced to Professor Christopher I. Beckwith’s text: “Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Asia from the Bronze Age to the Present” (available on


  • Author: Christopher I. Beckwith
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Date: Reprinted in 2011
  • ISBN-10: 0691150346; ISBN-13: 978-0691150345

This book is recommended reading for Kaveh Farrokh’s Fall 2014 course “The Silk Route Origins and History“. Readers interested in the history of the Silk Route are also referred to the “Soghdian-Turkish Relations Symposium” (21-23 November, 2014) being held in Istanbul, Turkey (for brochure of conference, list of participants, etc., kindly click on images below to enlarge): Sogut_Program


Christopher I. Beckwith’s text provides a comprehensive history of Central Eurasia from antiquity to the current era. This is an excellent text that provides a critical analysis of the Empires of the Silk Road by analyzing the true origins and history of this critical region of Eurasia.


Statue of a foreigner holding a wineskin, Tang Dynasty (618-907) (Photo source: Public Domain).

Beckwith examines the history of the great and forgotten Central Eurasian empires, notably those of the Iranic peoples such as the Scythians, the Hsiang-Nou peoples (e.g. Attila the Hun, Turks, Mongols, etc.) and their interaction with China, Tibet and Persia.


One of the critical land bridges of the Silk Route: the Pamir Mountains which as a 2-way gigantic connector between the civilizations of the east and West (Photo source: Public Domain).

Beckwith outlines the scientific, artistic and economic impacts of Central Asia upon world civilization. Beckwith also tabulates the history of the Indo-European migrations out of Central Eurasia, and their admixture with several settled peoples, resulting in the great (Indo-European) civilizations of India, Persia, Greece and Rome. The impact of these peoples upon China is also examined.


Italian pottery of the 1450s influenced by Chinese ceramic arts; housed at the Louvre Museum, Paris (Photo source: Public Domain).

This is a book that has been long overdue: Empires of the Silk Road places Central Eurasia within the major framework of world history and civilization. It is perhaps this quote by Beckwith which demonstrates his acumen on the subject:

The dynamic, restless Proto-Indo-Europeans whose culture was born there [Eurasia] migrated across and discovered the Old World, mixing with the local peoples and founding the Classical civilizations of the Greeks and Romans, Iranians, Indians, and ChineseCentral Eurasians – not the Egyptians, Sumerians, and so on– are our ancestors. Central Eurasia is our homeland, the place where our civilization started” (2009, p.319).


Second century CE Kushan ceramic vase from Begram with a “Western” motif: a Greco-Roman gladiator (Photo source: Public Domain). The Silk Route challenges the fallacy of a so-called “Clash of Civilizations” – to the contrary, East and West have had extensive adaptive contacts since the dawn of history.

New Course: The Silk Route-Origins and History

A new course by Kaveh Farrokh entitled “The Silk Route-Origins and History” is being offered at the University of British Columbia (final lecture on December 16, 2014):


The lectures will be delivered at the Tapestry Center in the University of British Columbia’s Wesbrook Village. For information on registration, etc., kindly contact the University of British Columbia-Continuing Studies Division.


Tajik girls celebrate the Iranian Nowruz (New Year) on March 21, 2014 in Dushanbe, Tajikestan.

Below is a synopsis of the course as delivered in the Class syllabus:

The origins and history of the east-west Silk Route that connected the empires of Asia, Central Asia, Persia and the Romano-Byzantine West, as well as the lesser-known north-south route that connected Persia, the Caucasus and East- Central Europe. Emphasis will be placed on the development and transfer of the arts, music, culture, mythology, cuisine, and militaria. The peoples of the Silk Route from China across Eurasia, Central Asia, Persia to Europe are also examined


The curriculum and impetus of this course is the direct outcome of meetings with the Cultural Diplomacy’s Department of Traditions & Cultural History of the WAALM Academy based in London, England. WAALM is affiliated with the Academic Council On The United Nations System (ACUNS) and The International Peace Bureau. WAALM was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Kaveh Farrokh has been featured in WAALM’s Tribune Magazine (click here…).

silk painting

Chinese painting of Leizu (Xi Ling Shi) the ancient Chinese empress credited with inventing silk in c. 2700 BCE; she was the teenage wife of the Yellow Emperor Huangdi.


The “Shir Dar” (Lion Gate/doorway) of the Islamic college at Samarkand built originally in 1627 (Nafīsī, 1949, p. 62). The sun motif is characterized by Kriwaczek (2002, picture Plate 1) as ”…the image of Mithra, the rising and unconquered sun, Zoroastrian intercessor between God and Humanity” (Courtesy of Kriwaczek, 2002).

Chinese women silk-12th century CE

Chinese women produce silk in the 12th century CE.

Kyrgiz MusiciansKyrgyz musicians performing with traditional instruments. Hsiang-Nou races replaced Iranian speaking peoples of Central Asia; Despite this: These greatly assimilated the cultural and mythological traditions of their Iranic predecessors.


One of ancient founding peoples of the Silk Route? Mummies bearing Caucasoid features uncovered in modern northwest China; these were either Iranic-speaking or fellow Indo-European Tocharian (proto-Celtic?). Archaeologists have found burials with similar Caucasoid peoples in ancient Eastern Europe. Much of the colors and clothing of the above mummies bear striking resemblance to the ancient dress of pre-Islamic Persia/Iran and modern-day Iranian speaking tribal and nomadic peoples seen among Kurds, Lurs, Persians, etc.  (Source: Kaveh Farrokh’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division – this was also presented at Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006, the annual Tirgan event at Toronto (June, 2013) and at Yerevan State University’s Iranian Studies Department (November, 2013) – Diagram is Copyright of University of British Columbia and Kaveh Farrokh). For more on this topic, see also here…

Military History Monthly article on Sassanian Army (Spah)

The British Military History Monthly Journal has published an article by Kaveh Farrokh on the Sassanian army of ancient Iran (Spah):

Farrokh, K. (2014). Soldiers of the Sassanian Empire: Rome’s unbeaten rival in the East. Military History Monthly, November Issue 50, pp.62-66, 68.

Military History Monthly-November-2014

[Right] Cover of the November edition of the British Military History Monthly journal [left] Sample page of the article in the British Military History Monthly article. Note that the image of the Sassanian knight is by Ardeshir Radpour (photo credit: Ardeshir Radpour & Holly Martin).

As noted in the beginning of the article: “With all its success and brilliance in Europe, the Mediterranean, and North Africa, Rome never conquered the Spah (‘Military’) of the Sassanian Empire. Roman Emperors such as Alexander Severus, Valerian, and Julian the Apostate tried and failed to subjugate Persia. Thanks to European and Iranian military historians, as well as Classical, Iranian, and Islamic sources, we now have a clearer picture of the Sassanian Spah.

Julian's failed invasion of Persia in 363 AD

[CLICK TO ENLARGE]- Emperor Julian is killed during his failed invasion of Sassanian Persia in June 26, 363 AD. Above is a recreation of  Sassanian Persia’s elite cavalry, the Savaran, as they would have appeared during Julian’s failed invasion.  Note the heavily armored Sassanian elite guardsman (Pushtighban) whose lance has pierced a Roman infantryman. Further right is a Savaran officer whose sword is drawn in what is now known as the “Italian grip” which is Sassanian in origin. To the far right can be seen a Zoroastrian or Mithraist Magus brandishing a Sassanian era symbol. Also of interest are the armored elephants in the background. Armored elephants were especially prized as their cabs afforded very high elevation over the battlefield, which was ideal for Sassanian archery ( Picture source: Farrokh, Plate D, -اسواران ساسانی- Elite Sassanian cavalry, 2005).

The article provides an overview of the tactics, armaments and key characteristics of the Sassanian Spah.

45-North Iranian belt

[Click to Enlarge] Iranian belt from the Sassanian era found in the Caucasus (Picture source: Farrokh, page 214, Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War-Персы: Армия великих царей-سایه‌های صحرا-Picture printed in text was under the Courtesy of the Institute of Manuscripts, Georgian Academy of Sciences and printed specifically  with the permission of Dr. David Khoupenia) .

It is further averred in the article that: “Persia’s elite knights were not unlike later European chivalry and Japanese Samurai“.

Late Sassanian era swords-Kaveh Farrokh

Late Sassanian sword (Farrokh 2004; reprinted Hughes 2010, p.51). Entire sword from front [1] and back [2]; sword handle at front [3] and back [4]; sword mount at front [5] and back [6].

The legacy of the Spah centuries continued to endure centuries after the fall of the empire to the Arabo-Islamic invasions of 637-651 CE. One example of that legacy is cited as thus: “The Mongol armies of Genghis Khan perfected this stratagem with the dictum ‘march divided, attack united’…“.

Elite Sassanian Cavalry-Amir Kabir Publishers-1The most recent translation of Farrokh’s third text Elite Sassanian Cavalry (translated into Persian by Maysam Alaie), Sassanian Elite Cavalry made in 2014 by Amir Kabir Publishers (انتشارات امیرکبیر) of Iran. For more information see -خبرگزاری کتاب ایران- (Iran book News), and -خبرگزاری اریا- (Arya News).

Professor Gerhard Doerfer: Chagatay Language-Literature and Iranian Linguistic Influences

The article below by Professor Gerhard Doerfer on the Chagatay Language and Literature was originally posted in the Encyclopedia Iranica on December 15, 1991 and last updated on October 13, 2011.

It is generally acknowledged by scholars that of all the Turkic languages, it was Chaghatay that by far, enjoyed the greatest prestige. Ebn Mohannā, for instance, characterized it as the purest of all Turkish languages, and the khans of the Golden Horde and of the Crimea, as well as the Kazan Tatars, wrote in Chaghatay much of the time. Professor Doerfer has provided a detailed academic overview of the Iranian linguistic influences upon Chagatay in the Encyclopedia Iranica article discussed below.


Development of Chaghatay

Languages from three different Turkic language groups were spoken in Cen­tral Asia before the Russian conquest. Chaghatay is the common designation for a language belonging to the Western Uighur, or Eastern Turkic, language group, the easternmost of the three. The other two groups were the Oghuz (including Turkman, Khorasani Azeri and Turkish, and Turkish in Turkey) and the Kipchak (Qipcaq/Qepčāq). Uighur and Kipchak have retained such archaic features as initial t and k, which became voiced d and g in the languages of the Oghuz group. (For general surveys of the distribution of the Turkish languages see Poppe, Menges, Benzing and Menges.)

Western Uighur developed in three stages: Ḵᵛārazm (Choresm) Turkish or Early Chaghatay (7th-8th/13th-14th centuries), Classical and Late Chaghatay (9th­-13th/15th-19th centuries), and modern Uzbek (see central asia xiv. turkish-iranian language con­tact). There are variations in the labels for these stages, however (cf. Eckmann, 1966, pp. 1-10). Soviet scholars (e.g., Shcherbak) refer to both the first two stages as Old Uzbek, whereas most other Western scholars label the first stage “Ḵᵛārazm Turkish.” The term Early Chaghatay, which was introduced by M. F. Köprülü (İA III), will be used here (linguistically, what is labeled “Ḵᵛārazm Turkish” is the direct predecessor of Classical Chaghatay, and it is better to reserve the term for Turkish spoken in Ḵᵛārazm). Comparison of certain forms and words from these three linguistic stages in Central Asia (as in Eckmann, 1957) reveals a sharply declining percentage of words inherited from Old Turkish (8th century): 67.9 percent in the time of the Qarakhanids (or Ilek Khans; 388-607/998-1211), 51.8 percent in Early Chaghatay, but only 14.3 percent in Classical Chaghatay, which may thus also be re­garded as an early stage of Uzbek.

Pazyryk-1A portion of the Pazyryk carpet found in Central Asia dated to 2,500 years ago. Known as the first known Persian carpet, note the depictions of mythical (winged) lions on the bottom panels. Of interest are the “X” type symbols along the top panels. These were to become a central motif in the major standard of Partho-Sassanian Iran: the Drafsh e Kaviani or the Standard of Kaveh.

Of all the Turkic languages Chaghatay enjoyed by far the greatest prestige. Ebn Mohannā (Jamāl-al-Dīn, fl. early 8th/14th century, probably in Khorasan), for instance, characterized it as the purest of all Turkish languages (Doerfer, 1976, p. 243), and the khans of the Golden Horde (Radloff, 1870; Kurat; Bodrogligeti, 1962) and of the Crimea (Kurat), as well as the Kazan Tatars (Akhmetgaleeva; Yusupov), wrote in Chaghatay much of the time. Even Old Ottoman literature is characterized by many attempts, not always successful, to write in Chaghatay, for instance, a decree of Mo­ḥammad II Fāteḥ (Mehmet II Fatih, 855-86/1451-81) dated 878/1473 (Arat), the “Taḵmīs” of Fożūlī (ca. 885-­963/1480-1556; Fuzûlî, pp. 462-64), and the works of many lesser authors (Sertkaya, 1970-76). Chaghatay exerted a strong influence on Kipchak and Oghuz, whereas grammatical forms from these two languages occurred more rarely in Chaghatay, being limited mainly to poetry, where they were adopted in order to satisfy the constraints of the ʿarūż meters (e.g., qalmïš-am, long-short-long, instead of qalmïš-man, long-long-long).

Suzani RobeA Suzani Robe from Ancient Bukhara, a mutli-colored style of silk embroidery from Central Asia’s Ferghana valley (Picture Source: Suzanis Blog).

János Eckmann has provided a general survey of the development of oriental Turkish (1957; for more de­tailed expositions, see Eckmann, 1959a; idem, 1959c; Shcherbak; Brockelmann). The best Chaghatay dic­tionary has been compiled by Moḥammad Mahdī Khan (d. 1160/1747); the most useful grammars are those by A. M. Shcherbak and Eckmann (1966).

Iranian linguistic influence on Chaghatay

As the cultural centers of the Turks shifted from the northeast to the southwest, Iranian influences increased propor­tionately. Inscriptions from the 2nd/8th century, when the center of the Old Turkish empire lay in Mongolia, contain only a few Iranian loanwords, particularly titles (Aalto; Rossi). With the blossoming of Uighur culture in Khocho in the 3rd/9th century an increasing number of Sogdian and early Persian words found their way into the Uighur dialect of Old Turkish. When Qarakhanid literature began to develop in southwestern Xinjiang (Kāšḡar and Balāsaḡūn) in the 5th/11th century and at the same time Islam spread through the area, Persian words, including borrowings from Arabic, became more common. In the 8th/14th century Ḵᵛārazm, where the Persian influence was much stronger, became a cultural center. Under the Timurids Herat (capital of Šāhroḵ, r. 807-50/1405-47), Samarkand (capital of Oloḡ Beg, r. 850-53/1447-49), and Shiraz (seat of the prince Eskandar Mīrzā, d. 827/1423-24) were the main literary centers in the first half of the 9th/15th century, and Herat remained so through the reign of Sultan Ḥosayn Bāyqarā (875-­912/1470-1506). After the Timurids were succeeded in Transoxania by the Shaibanids in 906/1500 (see central asia v, vi), Bukhara, Samarkand, Ḵᵛā­razm, Balḵ (Šaybānīḵān), and Farḡāna became the Chaghatay cultural centers. The Timurid Bābor founded the Mughal dynasty in 932/1526, after which Afghanistan and India also played an important role. With the formation of the Central Asian khanates in the 11th/17th century Chaghatay continued to be written only in Ḵīva and Ḵokand; in Bukhara the written language was generally Persian (cf. Eckmann, 1959b; idem, 1959c).

A number of Persian grammatical features were adopted in Chaghatay, for example, postpositions (e.g., tā “until,” ṭaraf “towards”), conjunctions (e.g., ägär “if,” ki general subordinating conjunction), eżāfa (jism i nātuvānïm “my weak body”), yā-ye ešārat (oq-ī ki yadïn čïqtï “the arrow which flew from the bow”), and yā-ye waḥdat (köprüg-ī gä yätär “he comes to a bridge”; see Brockelmann, pp. 159-60, 186-87, 196-97, 393-427; Kales, pp. 13-15; central asia xv). Beginning in the 9th/15th century a large number of Persian loanwords also came into use.

Simurgh-ErtugrulPost-Sassanian style decoration motifs common in Iranian architecture adorn this mosque archway in Bukhara; note large bird or Simurgh (Persian Phoenix – Turkic: Ertugrul), a dog reminiscent of Sassanian arts and the floral-arboreal patterns (Picture source: Natasha von Geldern in World Wandering Kiwi).

Even when Chaghatay authors deliberately set out to write in Turkish they were not able to avoid using Persian words. For example, when the vizier and poet ʿAlī- Šīr Navāʾī (844-906/1441-1501), encouraged by Sultan Ḥosayn Bāyqarā, wrote Moḥākamat al-loḡatayn in order to prove the superiority of Turkish over Persian (See Encyclopedia Iranica’s CENTRAL ASIA v. HISTORY UNDER THE MONGOLS AND TIMURIDS), he used a language that contained 62.6 percent Persian and Arabic words (sample: 122 of 195 words).

Throughout history Turkish words have also entered Persian (Doerfer, I, pp. 3-5, 37-44). In the 5th/11th century the primary source was Saljuq Turkish, in the 7th-9th/13th-15th centuries Mongolian and Chaghatay, and beginning in the 10th/16th century Azer­baijani Turkish. The Chaghatay vocabulary in Persian was, however, generally limited to macaronic verses (e.g., Qurašī, beg. 14th cent.: čandān bezī ay šāh ke gūyad tork-ī/yavlaq qarï bolmïš Münmiš tegin “live so long, o king, that a Turk may say: very old has Münmiš tegin become!” where the first part is Persian, the second Early Chaghatay; cf. Doerfer, Elemente I, p. 20); formulas in decrees (e.g., sözümiz “our word”); names of years in the duodecimal animal cycle (See calendar); and terms for hunting and animal husbandry, matters of state and administration, and warfare (e.g., in the work of the historian Mīrḵᵛānd, 836/903/1433-98, another protégé of Sultan Ḥosayn Bāyqarā). Persian literature from Central Asia, on the contrary, contains very few Turkish elements. For instance, Navāʾī’s contempo­rary, the poet ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmī (817-98/1414-92), still another protégé of Sultan Ḥosayn, used no Turkish words. (For Turkish influence on the Iranian languages spoken in Central Asia, especially Tajiki Persian, see central asia xv; Doerfer, Elemente; idem, 1967).

Mutual literary influences

The first important monuments of Early Chaghatay literature, from the 8th/14th century (Eckmann, 1964a; Köprülü, İA III, pp. 280-85), all exhibit strong Persian influence. Iranian influence in Central Asian Turkish literature can be traced even farther back, as can perhaps also Turkish influence in Iranian and Persian literature. Analyses of Middle Persian poetry and modern popular literature in various Iranian dialects have revealed structural similarities with Old Turkish literary patterns (Benveniste; Bertel’s, pp. 53, 74-75; Boratav, pp. 112-13; Köprülü, İA I, pp. 637-40; idem, 1986, pp. 137-41; idem, 1934, p. 219; Mann, pp. 32, 36; Massé, Croyances, p. 492; Pagliaro and Bausani, pp. 132, 527-35; Rempis; Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., pp. 49-52, 74, 92, 134, 694-97). The structure of Old Turkish poetry can be reconstructed from a comparison of the oldest Turkish literature with mod­ern forms that have not been influenced by Persian poetry (Bang and Gabain; Birtek; Bombaci, 1969, p. 35; Boratav; Dilçin, pp. 39-58; Doerfer, 1964b, pp. 867-70; idem, forthcoming; Gandjeï, 1958b, esp. pp. 144-52; Köprülü, İA, pp. 645-48; idem, 1919, p. 7; Kowalski, esp. pp. 157-64; Radloff, 1870; Stebleva, 1965, pp. 29-­37; idem, 1971a; idem, 1971c, pp. 86-87, 296-98; idem, 1971b, pp. 80-81; idem, 1970; idem, 1976; Tekin; Zhir­munskiĭ, 1965; idem, 1970, pp. 40-48, 50-52; Yesevî). Meter depended on the number of syllables (often seven or eight), rather than on stress or quantity; caesuras occurred naturally between identical structures of meaning. The strophe normally consisted of four verses, more rarely two. Rhyme was usually effected through identical grammatical endings, the end of each verse being stressed on the last syllable; suffixes were assonant. The most frequent rhyme schemes were aaab and aaba. Alliteration was only occasionally used, but both parallelism and repetition of words were common.

chaghatay_tab35These patterns survived in the works of Aḥmad Yasawī (d. 562/1166) and his successors, who wrote in simple language (Bodrogligeti, 1974; Bombaci, 1969, pp. 113-14; Eckmann, 1964b, p. 365; Eraslan, p. 193; Gandjeï, 1958b, pp. 151-53; Köprülü, İA III, pp. 283, 285, 288, 311; idem, İA I, pp. 644-46; idem, 1919, pp. 102,119-21; Kowalski, p. 162; Yesevî). On the other hand, ʿarūż had been adopted by Turkish writers in its Persian form in the 5th/11th century (Köprülü, İA I; idem, 1919, p. 15; idem, 1986, pp. 134-35; Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., p. 923). The oldest Turkish example of ʿarūż is to be found in the Qutaḏgū Bilig of Yūsof Ḵāṣṣ Ḥājeb (written 462/1070), a maṯnawī in the motaqāreb meter (Bombaci, 1969, p. 110; Gandjeï, 1958b, pp. 149-50; cf. Yūsof, tr. Dankoff). Contrary to previous assumptions (Köprülü, İA I, pp. 644-46; Stebleva, 1971c, p. 287; idem, 1976, p. 158), Yūsof used it quite correctly (Tekin, 1967). Maḥmūd Kāšḡarī (d. after 476/1094), on the other hand, used the ʿarūż imperfectly, relying on the number of syllables and sometimes resorting to graphic devices (e.g., omitting letters marking long vowels) in order to simulate a perfect ʿarūż (Stebleva, 1971c). This lack of facility in the use of the ʿarūż remained typical of Turkish literature for some time afterward (Bombaci, p. 53; Eckmann, 1964b, p. 134; Gandjeï, 1958b, p. 153; Köprülü, İA III, p. 249; idem, İA I, pp. 645-46; Rus­tamov, p. 129; Stebleva, 1971c, p. 287; 1976, p. 158; see also Doerfer, forthcoming, b).

The question of the origin of the robāʿī (quatrain), which was popular in both Iranian and Turkish litera­tures, is controversial. E. E. Bertel’s (p. 88), Tadeusz Kowalski (pp. 161-63), and L. Z. Rustamov (pp. 77-81) suggested that in Iranian literature it was borrowed from Turkish folk literature. On the other hand, Alessio Bombaci (p. 54), Köprülü (İA I, p. 646; 1919, p. 15), and I. V. Stebleva (1970, pp. 137-38) have argued that in Turkish literature it was a borrowing from Iranian. Paul Horn (apud Kowalski, p. 37), Gerhard Doerfer (1964a, pp. 839-40), and V. M. Zhirmunskiĭ (1970, p. 39) have taken the view that the Iranian and Turkish forms developed independently. Finally, Köprülü (1934, pp. 115-22) argued formerly that the similarities result­ed from mutual influence in ancient times. The four-­line strophe has a long history in Turkish literature (Köprülü, 1919, p. 7; 1986, pp. 137-41; 1934, p. 113; Stebleva, 1970, p. 147), the earliest known examples being from Turkish songs partially quoted by the poets Abu’l-Najm Aḥmad b. Qūs Manūčehrī (d. 432/1041), Badr-al-Dīn Qawwāmī Razī (d. ca. 560/1165), and Jamāl Qurašī (fl. 7th/13th century), and a robāʿī com­posed by Faḵr-al-Dīn Mobārakšāh in 602/1206 (Köprülü, 1934, pp. 28-32, 113-22). In Persian literature, on the other hand, it took a highly original form (Bertel’s, p. 88).

Verses in Persian and Chaqatai[Click to Enlarge] A calligraphic fragment from around 1600 by the calligrapher Mir ‘Imad that includes a number of verses in Persian and Chagatay-Turkish (Picture Source: World Digital Library).

During the period 710-70 (1310-1369 a series of poetic, juridical, linguistic, and religious works, includ­ing translations of the Koran, were written in Cha­ghatay. Most were based to some degree on older works, for instance, Qoṭb’s Ḵosrow o Šīrīn (written ca. 742/1341; ed. Hacieminoğlu; idem, ed. Zajączkowski), composed after Neẓāmī’s work under the rule of the Golden Horde, and an anonymous translation of Taḏkerat al-awlīāʾ by Farīd-al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār (Eckmann, 1964a; Köprülü, in İA III, pp. 280-85). In the first half of the 9th/15th century there were also several less distinguished writers like ʿAṭāʾī, Sakkākī, and Loṭfī (Rustamov; cf. Eckmann, 1964b, pp. 306-26; Köprülü, in İA III, pp. 290-94). The apogee of Chaghatay literature was reached during the reign of the Timurid sultan Ḥosayn Bāyqarā, in the work of Mīr ʿAlī-Šīr Navāʾī, whose style remained a model for the ensuing period (Bombaci, 1969, pp. 130-83, esp. 145-63; Eckmann, 1964b, pp. 329-57; Köprülü, 1934, pp. 257­-66; idem, in İA III, pp. 289-302; Navāʾī, ed. Alpay; idem, ed. Devereux; idem, ed. Dmitrieva; Levend). Persian influence was also strong at that time. Partic­ularly admired were the poets Ferdowsī (d. 411/1020), Neẓāmī Ganjavī (d. 599/1203), Saʿdī (691/1292), Ḥāfeẓ (d. ca. 792/1390), Amīr(-e) Ḵosrow Dehlavī (q.v.; d. 725/1325), Salmān Sāvajī (d. 778/1376), and Jāmī. Bilingualism must have been widespread among Islamic peoples in Central Asia (Pagliaro and Bausani, p. 752), for many Turkish-speaking Chaghatay poets composed works in Persian (Bombaci, 1964, p. xxvii; Eckmann, 1964a; idem, 1964b; Köprülü, 1919, pp. 113-22; Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., p. 500; Togan, p. 231). In Persia itself there was a nucleus of Chaghatay writers in Shiraz, and Chaghatay was also written in Qazvīn and Isfahan (Eckmann, 1964a, pp. 295-96; idem, 1964b, p. 326; Gandjeï, 1971a; idem, 1971b; Köprülü, in İA III, pp. 278, 305). In India Bābor wrote in Chaghatay (Köprülü, in İA III, pp. 314-316).

Translation of Persian works into Chaghatay was common, for instance, Navāʾī’s translation of works by Jāmī (Eckmann, 1964a, pp. 293-96; idem, 1964b, pp. 309, 366-69; Köprülü, in İA II, pp. 296, 301, 321), while, in comparison, translations of Chaghatay works into Persian were rare. The earliest are of relatively late date, from the reign of Tīmūr (771-804/1370-1405); among later translations note, for instance, that by Faḵrī Herātī and Ḥakīm Šāh Moḥammad Qazvīnī’s of Navāʾī’s Majāles al-nafāʾes in the 10th/16th century (Eckmann, 1964b, pp. 355, 370, 374-75; Gandjeï, 1969; Köprülü, in İA III, pp. 279, 316; Rustamov, pp. 85, 131-32; Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., pp. 634-39); some earlier Persian authors did, however, effect Turkish terms (Gandjeï, 1958b; Minorsky; Pagliaro and Bausani, pp. 480-81).

??????????[Click to Enlarge] Timur Nameh (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov). On 10 January 2013 the Bulgarian National Library Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Sofia opened an exhibition of Persian manuscripts, early printed books and archival documents to mark the 115th anniversary of the establishment of official diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Iran. The exhibition presented some of the most valuable documents related to the history of Iran in the collections of the National Library and aims to attract the attention of scholars, researchers and anyone interested in Iranian culture and history. The exhibition is part of the programme “Days of Iranian Culture in Bulgaria – 2012/2013” coordinated by the National Library, the Cultural Representative Office at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Sofia and other institutions. Note that the event was also organized with the help of prominent Iranologist Professor Yuri Stoyanov (member of the Department of the Near and Middle East, Faculty of Languages and Cultures in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London).

Turkish poets of the 9th/15th century used meters based on ʿarūż, especially in the important tuyuḡ (quatrain), for which the meter ramal-e mosaddas-e maqṣūr (long short long long/long short long long/long short long) and the rhyme scheme aaba (as in the robāʿī) were used; an important example is Navāʾī’s Mīzān al­-awzān (Eckmann, 1964b; Köprülü, in İA III, p. 292; idem, in İA I, pp. 647-49; Köprülü, 1919, pp. 204-56; Navāʾī, ed. Devereux, pp. 14-15; Pagliaro and Bausani, p. 534; Rustamov, pp. 75-81; Stebleva, 1970).

Under the Shaibanids (832-1007/1429-1598) Cha­ghatay became the predominant literary language of Transoxania and was used by some of the great khans themselves (Šībānī Khan and ʿObayd-Allāh Khan [see central asia vi] both left dīvāns; cf. Eckmann, 19646, p. 361; Köprülü, in İA III, p. 318), except in the khanate of Bukhara, where it gradually disappeared (Eckmann, 1964b, p. 387). The Chaghatay literature of the 11th­-14th/17th-20th centuries seems largely epigonic; so far, however, little research has been done on this literature (cf. Eckmann, 1964b, pp. 377-402; Ḵāleṣ).


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2005 Farrokh Book translated by Amir Kabir Publishers into Persian

Kaveh Farrokh’s first text, Elite Sassanian Cavalry (July 2005; 64 pages; ISBN: 9781841767130; Osprey Publishing) is the first to specifically discuss the Sassanian dynasty’s elite cavalry (Savaran). This text has outlined the specific Pahlavi terms of the Sassanian cavalry’s elite units (e.g. Gyanavaspar; Zhayedan, etc.), military tactics, insignia and pitched battles. The role of Iranian women in the Sassanian military system has also been emphasized.

Kaveh Farrokh-Elite Sassanina CavalryThe original English language publication of “Elite Sassanian Cavalry” in 2005 (see review by Dr. David Khoupenia of the University of Georgia in Tbilisi).

This book has been translated for the third time into Persian (translated by Maysam Alini -میثم علیئی- of Tarbiat Modarress University, Tehran), by one of Iran’s most long-standing and academic publishing houses, Amir Kabir Publishers (انتشارات امیرکبیر):

Elite Sassanian Cavalry-Amir Kabir Publishers-1The most recent translation of Farrokh’s third text, Sassanian Elite Cavalry made in 2014 by Amir Kabir Publishers (انتشارات امیرکبیر) of Iran. For more information see -خبرگزاری کتاب ایران- (Iran book News), and -خبرگزاری اریا- (Arya News).

The peer-reviewed journal of University of Tehran published a book review of Farrokh’s text (following its first translation into Persian by Yusef Amiri, 2009) by Shahnaz Hojati (available also on

— شهناز حجتی (۱۳۸۹) – ساسانیان سپر تمدن شرقی- تاریخ و جغرافیا – ماهنامه تخصصی اطلاع رسانی و نقد و برسی کتاب – شماره ۱۴۸- صفهه ۹۴-۹۵–Hojati, Sh. (2010). The Sassanians as shields of Eastern Civilizations. Tarikh va Joghrafiya: Mahnameye Takhasosiye Etela-resani va naghd va Baresiye Ketab [History and Geography: Monthly edition for Information, Description and Critique/review of books], no. 148 [August-September edition], pp.94-95 (pdf).

The book was first translated into Persian in 2009 (-مشهد: نشر گل افتاب- Gol Aftab Publishers, Mashad, Iran, translator -یوسف امیری-Yousif Amiri) with the second translation made in 2011 (-سبزان- Sabzan Publishers, Tehran, Iran, translator بهنام محمدپناه -Behnam Mohammad-Shah):

4-EliteSassanianCavalry-Versions-1[Left] Farrokh’s text (Sassanian Elite Cavalry, Osprey Publishing, 2005; [Center] 2009 translation of the Farrokh text entitled-اسواران ساسانی-Sassanian Asvaran by -یوسف امیری-Yousif Amiri, published in 2009 in Mashad, Iran by -نشر گل افتاب- Gol Aftab Publishers; see sample pages (in pdf) [Right] 2011 translation of the Farrokh text entitled -سواره نظام زبده ارتش ساسانی – Elite Cavalry of the Sassanian Army by -بهنام محمدپناه -Behnam Mohammad-Shah, published in early January 2011 in Tehran, Iran by -سبزان- Sabzan Publishers.