Libmonster ID: UZ-1042
Author(s) of the publication: G. ASATRYAN, S. MARGARYAN

Criticism and bibliography. Reviews

Moscow: Izdanie Tsentra kurdskikh issledovaniy, 1999. 525 p., ill.

Any scientific work begins with the definition of the object of research, that is, what is to be investigated, covered. The success of any work that claims to be scientific depends on this seemingly simple premise. If the object of research is defined incorrectly, i.e. the question statement is incorrect, then we should not expect positive results. Conversely, the accuracy of the question itself determines half the success.

A peer-reviewed paper is a vivid example of the lack of a clear understanding of the subject of research. The title of this work contains contradictio in adjecto, because the name "Kurdistan", which originated in the mature Middle Ages, never had an ethnic or political attribution, it was always a purely geographical designation without specific coordinates, which, by the way, the authors themselves say (p.35). In addition, this name at different times referred to different territories with very vague contours, on which there was never a single "Kurdish state". Thus, picking up a work called "History of Kurdistan", the reader expects to see in it a description of the landscape, geographical and geological features of the Iranian province of Kurdistan with a preface to the history of the evolution of this term since its appearance in historical sources.

In fact, the work is conceived as a history of the Kurds, i.e., in fact, the subject of the study is the Kurds. Unfortunately, the authors of the book under review (certainly those who own the first and partially second chapters) also have a very vague idea of this subject. For them, any mention of the word Kurd in the annals of history implies the obligatory presence of a Kurdish-in the modern sense of the word ethnic-element. As I. M. Dyakonov noted at the time, there is nothing more naive than the opinion, which is very widespread not only among amateurs, that "the mention in historical sources of a certain people is already in itself material for identifying an ethnic group and for further ethnographic conclusions, and that the first mention in the sources of a certain ethnic group is a very common idea." an ethnonym is an indicator of the time of formation of a given people" [Dyakonov, 1981, p. 90-93].

page 203

In relation to the Kurds, the situation is further complicated by the fact that the term Kurd actually from the very beginning of its appearance denoted the social concept of "nomad, pastoralist"-par excellence, which is still preserved among the population of the South Caspian. The term Kurd had the same social connotation in medieval Arab-Persian historiography [Minorsky, 1940, p. 144-145; Asatrian, 2001, p. 47-50].

In this state of affairs, each reference to the so-called Kurds in the sources should have been clearly identified, i.e. before submitting a specific material, it was necessary to find out whether they were referring to Kurds or other nomads, or to nomads in general. But it seems that the authors are not aware of the semantic subtleties of the term Kurd . For them, all those who are not Arabs and Turks are Kurds. For example, they consider the greatest Arab historian of the Middle Ages, Ibn al-Asir, to be a Kurd (p.33), while the Safavids of Iran are Kurds by origin - "from the Sufi Shiite brotherhood". Or they write that the name "Kurdistan" appeared in the XII century (p. 35), while heading the whole section "Kurdistan in the VII-XI centuries" (p.44-52).

Similar alogisms and contradictory arguments can be found on every page of this paper. What is worth, for example, the frequent repetition of the fact that the history of the Kurds goes back 2500 years (p.12, 17). Why not 3000 or 2700? Or, say, the claim that the Kurds have preserved their "ethnic appearance from antiquity to the present day" (p. 12). What is meant by ethnic appearance and how is it known what it was like among the Kurds in ancient times?

The ethnic boundaries of the Kurds ' habitation have repeatedly changed very significantly over the past few centuries due to the turbulent military and political events in the Middle East region, and today's territory of settlement of Kurds in eastern Anatolia (historical Armenia) and other regions is largely connected with specific, sometimes tragic, circumstances in the history of other peoples, in particular Armenians. After all, the settlement of Kurds in the territory of historical (Western) Armenia is primarily connected with the genocide and deportation of the Armenian population in this territory in 1915-1921. Therefore, the maps of the settlement of Kurds placed in the book raise more questions than they give answers to them.

Thus, the map " Territory of settlement of Kurds at the end of the XIX-beginning of the XX century "(p.190-191) places Kurdish tribes on the originally Armenian lands around Lake Baikal. In the area of Bayazet and Igdir, near Erzrum and Erzincan, while it has been shown more than once by Armenian scientists that during this period the entire territory was dominated by the Armenian population (ethnic group), and the Kurds living there made up a small percentage of the population. Judging by these maps, Kurds belong to most of the Middle East, where they, according to the authors, are aborigines or autochthons, or the majority of the population. Based on these maps, the territory of the supposed Kurdistan region (called "Ethnic Kurdistan" by the authors) includes almost the entire western part of Iran (from the north to the Persian Gulf), northern Iraq and Syria, the entire east of Turkey, part of present-day Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Thus, all the Iranian-speaking peoples of this vast territory (Lur, Bakhtiyar, Guran, Zaza) are declared Kurds.

The most ancient and medieval history of the Kurds is explained in the book as follows: "At the end of the IV-III millennium BC (sic! where does the data come from? - G. A., S. M.peoples who can be considered the ethnic ancestors of the Kurds have appeared on the Central Asian historical scene. These are the Hurrians, or Subareans, Kutians, Lullubeans, Kassites, and Kardukhs" (p. 21). If this statement is based on the fact that Kurds began to live on the territory of the settlement of these peoples later, already in modern times, then the authors forgot to mention a number of other peoples among the Kurdish ancestors. Leaving aside the absurdity of drawing such a genetic line, it should be noted that the presence of ancient tribes near or even on the same territory does not mean that they are related. It is obvious that such a thesis about the ancient history of the Kurds is unfounded and unproven in science.

The rather well - studied period-the Middle Ages-is also very incompletely covered in the work. Thus, the Shaddadid dynasty is said to have been put in charge of Dvin and Ganja by the Seljuk Sultan Alp-Arslan, and later the Shaddadids "were swept out of the political arena by the Seljukids" (p.73). In fact, the beginning of this dynasty dates back to the first decades of the tenth century [Ter-Gevondian, 1977, p. 90, p. 155-157; Ter-Gevondian, 1976, p. 180, 187]; it was swept away not by the Seljukids, but by Georgian troops under the leadership of Tsarina Tamara's father, Georgian King George III, in 1174, after the occupation of the city of Ani [Kartlis Tskhovrebavol. 2, 1959, pp. 17-18]. Moreover, the book under review does not reflect the well-known facts of stubborn resistance to the Seljuk invasion of the Kurdish emirs of Muhalkhal and Su'da in the middle of the XI century [Busse, 1975, p. 300-302; Bosworth, 1971, p. 132-133; Bosworth, 1968, p. 45-53; Markarian, 1991, p. 90 - 93].

page 204

Outlining the history of the Marvanid dynasty, the authors write: "Not only Kurds lived in the Marvanid domain, but the majority of the population was Christian" (p. 72). It is known that the Marvanids ruled in Diarbakir, Arjesh, Akhlat, Manazkert, Berkri, i.e. in the territories inhabited by Armenians around Lake Baikal. Surprisingly, the uninitiated reader can hardly guess what mysterious "Christians"formed the majority of the population in the Marvanid dynasty. This term is used here as a euphemism for the ethnonym Armenianso as not to speak about the predominance of the Armenian ethnic group in this territory in the X-XI centuries. However, this is clearly seen in Arabic, Armenian, Byzantine, and Persian sources [Hudud al-Alam, 1937; Baladzori, 1927; Ibn al-Athiri..., vol. IX-XI; Hamdallakh Kazvini, 1919; Asohik, 1864; Aristakes Lastivertzi, 1968; Matteos Urkhaetsi, 1973; Vardan, 1862; Nikita Choniates, 1860, Nikephoros Vriennios, 1858].

On the same page we read: "The Marwanid state was created by the power of the Kurdish tribal community, and the institution of all-tribal solidarity was seen in their political actions, in the arsenal of ideological weapons initially." Who noticed it, when, according to what sources or legends, where such conclusions come from? It is also unclear what "all-tribal solidarity" means. The state is a rather complex mechanism, and it is unlikely that the principle of" all-tribal solidarity " can serve as a basis for creating government bodies, fiscal control, and systematic exploitation of conquered territories. The Bundi and Ghaznavid, Shaddadid and Seljukid dynasties, which existed around the same time as the Marwanids, adopted various institutions and mechanisms in their state and administrative practice, not to mention the organization of administration, taxation, land ownership, and many other issues, from the Persian and Arab state traditions, which is shown in many studies for this period. The paucity of sources, and sometimes their complete absence, do not allow us to draw any conclusions about the statehood of the Marvanids.

On page 77 we read: "Then (meaning the 12th century, Ayyubid dynasty) the idea of Kurdistan as a single Kurdish ethno - political space first emerged, which was laterexpressed by Sharaf Khan Bidlisi and the poet Ahmed Hani in the 14th and 15th centuries." There is nothing similar to the "Kurdish ethno-political space" either in the 12th century or in the 13th-15th centuries in the areas inhabited by Kurds. Seljuk power lasted here until the arrival of the Mongols, and in the XIII-XIV centuries in the Hulagid states and later in the Kara-Koyunlu and Ak-Koyunlu possessions that succeeded them, there was no sufficiently noticeable political, military or administrative initiative and activity of the Kurds. The Turkic ethnic element is well-known and visible, which cannot be said about the Kurds. The Persian state, which is essentially a Safavid state, is well known from numerous sources and studies (Hanway, 1754; Sykes, 1921; Bullard, 1964; Petrushevsky, 1949; etc.). As for the Kurds, we can only recall the work of Sharaf Khan Bidlisi (XVI century), which is largely legendary and built rather on the basis of historical data. based on the traditions of oral transcription of the legends of various Kurdish tribes, rather than on reliable historical facts [Sharaf Khan Bidlisi, vol. 1, 1967; vol. 2. 1976], which refers mainly to the Kurdish rulers of individual cities or regions, who have always served on the basis of vassalage to other, more powerful rulers. In fact, this is a dynastic chronicle, but not the history of the Kurdish people or their statehood.

As we can see, the authors of the reviewed work did not manage to avoid a number of factual and methodological errors. Nevertheless, it should be recognized that this is the first attempt to create a work in Russian that covers the history of the Kurds from ancient times to the present day. Well-written chapters on the history of the national liberation movement of the Kurdish people in the XIX and XX centuries. Here are essays on the history of the birth and activities of many Kurdish national organizations, parties, and movements. A detailed description of the views and methods of work of various Kurdish leaders and the forces that supported them is given. A chapter on the struggle of the Kurdish people for autonomy within Iraq after World War II (1945-1960) is written in sufficient depth. However, the attempt to create such a concept as "Armenia and Georgia temporarily independent in 1918" is objectionable (pp. 230-231). According to international law and terminology, a State can be partially independent (autonomous) or completely independent, but not "temporarily independent".

Nevertheless, we consider it very useful and timely to publish a single chronological core of research on a very complex and rather poorly researched topic in the world of orientalism. It is hoped that the authors of the" History of Kurdistan " will take into account the comments of experts and, when preparing a new edition, will do everything possible to eliminate the shortcomings and supplement their work with new materials.

page 205

list of literature

Aristakes Lastivertzi. Narration of vardapet Aristakes Lastivertzi / Ed. by K. Yuzbashyan, Moscow, 1968.

Asohik. Universal History of Stepanos Taronsky / Ed. by N. Emin, Moscow, 1864.

Baladzori. The Book of Conquest of countries / Ed. by P. K. Zhuse. Baku, 1927.

Bosworth K. Muslim dynasties . Genealogical reference Book, Moscow, 1971.

Vardan Bardzberdzi. World History / Ed. by N. Emin, Moscow, 1862.

Dyakonov I. M. K metodike issledovanii po etnicheskoi istorii (Kimmeriytsy) [On the methodology of research on ethnic history (Cimmerians)].

Kartlis Tskhovreba (History of GeorgiaVol. 2 / Ed. by S. Kaukhchishvili. Tbilisi: Publishing House of the Academy of Sciences of the Georgian SSR, 1959 (History and Praise of the Venetians).

Markaryan S. A. Seljuks in Iran of the XI century . Saratov: Publishing House of the State University, 1991.

Matteos Urhaetsi. Zhamanakagrutyun (Chronography) / G. Bartikyan Publishing House, Yerevan: Hayastan, 1973.

Nikephoros Vriennios. Historical notes . St. Petersburg, 1858.

Nikita Khoniat. History / Ed. by V. I. Dolotsky, St. Petersburg, 1860.

Petrushevsky I. P. Essays on the history of feudal relations in Armenia and Azerbaijan in the XVI-XVII centuries . P.1949.

Ter-Gevondyan A. Armenia and the Arab Caliphate . Yerevan: Publishing House of the Armenian SSR Academy of Sciences, 1977.

Sharaf Khan ibn Shamsaddin Bidlisi. Sharaf-nameh . Vol. 1-2 / Transl., preface ed. by E. I. Vasilyeva, Moscow, 1967; 1976.

Asatrian G. Die Ethnogenese der Kurden und fruhe kurdisch-armenische kontakte // Iran and Kaukasus . Vol. V. Leiden (Brill), 2001.

Ibn al-Athiri Chronicon quod perfectissimum inscribitur. / Ed. C. Tornberg // Bugduni Batavorum . Vol. IX-XI. Uppsala, 1863, 1864, 1865.

Bosworth Cl. The Political and Dynastic History of the Iranian World // The Cambridge History of Iran . Vol. 4. Cambridge, 1968.

Bullard R. Britain and the Middle East . L., 1964.

Busse H. Iran under Buyids // The Cambridge History of Iran . Vol. V. 1975.

Hudud al-Alam. The Regions of the World . Persian Geography / Transl. and ed. V. Minorsky. L., 1937.

Minorsky V. Les origins des kurds // Acta du XX Congress international des orientalistes . Louvain, 1940.

Hamdallah Qazwini. The Geographical Part of the Nuzhat-al-Qulub / Transl. and ed. G. Le Strange and R. A Nicolson. Leyden: Brill, 1919.

Hanway J. An Historical Account of the British Trade over the Caspean Sea . L., 1754.

Sykes P. A. A History of Persia . Vol. 2. L., 1921.

Ter-Gevondian. The Arab Emirates in Bagratid Armenia . Lisboa, 1976.


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G. ASATRYAN, S. MARGARYAN, M. S. LAZAREV, Sh. K. MGOI, E. I. VASILYEVA, M. A. GASRATYAN, O. I. ZHIGALINA. HISTORY OF KURDISTAN // Tashkent: Library of Uzbekistan (BIBLIO.UZ). Updated: 01.07.2024. URL: (date of access: 20.07.2024).

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