Thursday, January 6


Near Ulugh Beg's observatory at the edge of town is an undignified-looking hillock or tepe -- a giant mound of khaki dust, the pits and trenches dug all over it letting loose streams of more dust with each breath of wind. The bottom of the hillock is barren in the direction away from Samarkand; or a bedlam of bus-stands, chai-khanas, nan-sellers towards town. If you take the winding road up, the upper parts are serene, populated only by fumaroles of archaeologists bent over their digs.

These are the ruins of Maracanda, the historic capital of the settlement of Afrasiab, the mythical king and hero of Turan and the archenemy of Iran. In Iranian mythology, Afrasiab is the most prominent of all Turanian kings and an agent of the Zoroastrian demon Angra Mainyu (Ahriman). In the gathas, Ahriman is battled by the hymns of Ahura Mazda and the mace of Mithra; Afrasiab the agent, endowed with magical powers of deception to destroy Iranian civilization, is taken on by the hero Rustam. (There are now manga-style comic books on the subject.)

From Wikipedia:

The original Turanians are an Iranian tribe of the Avesta age ... As a people the "Turanian" are one of the two Iranian peoples both descending from the Persian Fereydun but with different domains and often at war with each other. In fact according to the Shahnameh's account, at least 1,500 years later after the Avesta, the nomadic tribes who inhabited these lands were ruled by Tūr, who was the emperor Fereydun's elder son. The association with Turks is also primarily based on the Shahnameh's geographical account where Turkification of Central Asia was partially completed during that time.

As Iranians and Indians are close cousins and were one tribe at a time, the Indian groups were initially divided in Rigevda (Avesta Age) as Five plus One groups (One being Bharatas and associated with dasa, kings Su-das and Divo-das and were also called Solar line, Bharat being name of India from time immemorial), the other five groups were Yadu (Yadava in India and Hihiya in Central Asia and China), Drhuyu (Dahae of ancient Iranians), Anu (Anavas, Modern Turkmenistan still has placenames associated with Anavas ), Turvasu (Turanians) and Puru (merged into Bharatas). So Turan is also land of Turvasu's tribe (mother of Turvasu was Asura or Assyrian). Avesta mentions lands in East of Persia as Yasht(Modern Yazd), Airyas (Modern Herat from river Hari, one of famous Yadavas), Tuiryas (Turan and Land of Turvasu), Sairimas (land of Ayu, son of Yadu), Sainus (Land of Anu) and Dahis (Land of drhyu)’’

The simplified Aryanic prejudice of Indo-Iranian = Vedic = Sur = civilized, vs. Assyrio-Turkic = non-Vedic = Asur = barbarian is quite recognizable in the subcontinent even today. The spanking new hotel in Tashkent called the Park Turan turned out to be Indian -- superiority (ghee in the curry-lunch-buffet and soma from the full-service-bar) served daily in the den of the demon. More prosaically, Apra (opposite) Si (Black) Ab (Water) is Persian for a place/person across the black waters of the Zarafshan river.

In 1965, the local authorities of Samarkand decided to construct a road up the Afrasiab tepe, and serendipitously unearthed the rarest of Sogdian arts -- a set of frescoes or murals on the walls of a private house dating back to the 7th century, when the region had extensive relations with China and India. (The area is Kangju in old Chinese records; Sugudha or Kanka in Indian ones.) The frescoes, featuring scenes from the court of the Sogdian king Varkhuman (c. 660 CE), have recognizably Chinese and Indic features; they seem to show the king receiving ambassadors from neighboring countries, and praying at a shrine of his ancestors. It seems the house belonged to a privileged merchant, perhaps royal kin.

Funeral rites among the Sogdian tribes were the same as in Vedic traditions; the cult of worship of fire and Mithra very similar; the legend of Gandharvas (water deities) nearly the same. Also common in Sogdiana was the worship of Brahma, Indra, Shiva -- with Sogdian names of Zravan, Adabad and Veshparkar -- and there was even a four-armed goddess riding the lion. The name Kanka for the region in the Mahabharata may ultimately derive from Ganga; "gwam-ga", that which goes, is likely a popular name for fast-flowing rivers to the Aryans ("yamuna", from the same root as gemini, or twin sister, is any tributary of the main ganga.)

From Wikipedia again:

The painting dates back to the middle of the 7th century CE. On the four walls of the room of a private house, three or four different countries neighbouring Central Asia are depicted. On the northern wall China (a Chinese festival, with the Empress on a boat, and the Emperor hunting), on the Southern Wall Samarkand (i.e; the Iranian world: a religious funerary procession in honor of the ancestors during the Nowruz festival), on the eastern wall India (as the land of the astrologers and of the pygmies, but the painting is much destroyed there).

The topic on the main wall, the western wall facing the entrance is debated between specialists. Turkish soldiers are escorting ambassadors coming from various countries of the world (Korea, China, Iranian principalities etc.). There are three main hypotheses. The leading expert on Sogdian painting, the excavator of Panjikent, B. Marshak points out that Sogdian painting, gods are always depicted on the top of the main wall. However, as the Turks are guiding the embassies but are not themselves ambassadors, it has been suggested also that the Turkish Qaghan, then lord of inner and central Asia, might be depicted there. A Chinese text is indeed saying that the idea of the "Four Lords of the World", here China, India, Iran and Turks, is depicted on the walls of palaces near Samarkand precisely during this period, and this would perfectly fit the four walls of this room. The last hypothesis makes use of an inscription mentioning the king of Samarkand to propose the idea that the ambassadors are presenting their gifts to him.

Here is a site administered by the Oriental Archaelogy department of the University of Halle, dedicated to the interpretation of these frescoes.

The frescoes can be seen at minute 1:00 in the video below. Very little else of Maracanda and Afrasiab survived Genghis Khan.


Blogger Unknown said...

Turanian is a controversial term[1] that has been used in reference to diverse groups of people.

Any historical people of Transoxiana or present-day Turkistan.
Any historical Ural–Altaic people, in particular:
The Turkic peoples during Turkic expansion.
The Huns described by the Europeans and Chinese.
The Mongols, who are distantly related to the Turks.
Some sources have mentioned the Japanese people.
The Sami or Lapps of northern Scandinavia.
Finno-Ugric peoples like the Finns, Estonians and Hungarians.
The Dravidian people of southern India and Pakistan are theorized to have Turanian ancestors.
Speakers of Caucasian Languages.
Non-Semitic and non-Indo-European peoples of the Late Bronze Age were theorized to have Turanian ancestors, see Hurro-Urartian and Etruscans.
The Basques of western Europe (northern Spain and southwest France) were theorized to have Turanian ancestors.
Turanianism promotes the idea of Turanians are the oldest ethnocultural groups of humanity, and how East Asians, sub-Saharan Africans, white Caucasians or Indo-Europeans ("Aryans"), and indigenous peoples of the Americas are theoretic descendants of a former Turanian "race" of the last ice age.
The term formerly used for the Caucasian Avars.

11:05 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home