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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Samarkand the Center of the World: Proposals for the Identification of the Afrasyab Paintings

Author:
Matteo Compareti

Publisher:
Costa Mesa, California : Mazda Publishers

Publication Year:
2016




Abstract:

In antiquity Samarkand was the capital of the Persian province of Sogdiana. Its language, culture, and “Zoroastrian” religion closely approximated those of the Persians. Following its conquest by Alexander, its strategic position and fertile soil made Sogdiana a coveted prize for Late Antique invaders of Central Asia. Around 660 CE — at the dawn of Arab invasion — local king Varkhuman promoted the execution of a unique painted program in one of his private rooms. Each wall was dedicated to a specific population: the north wall, the Chinese; the west, the Sogdians themselves; the east, the Indians and possibly the Turks. The south wall is probably the continuation of the scene on the west wall. In Chinese written sources, some support for this concept of the “division of the world” can be found. Accidentally discovered during Soviet times, the room was named “Hall of the Ambassadors” due to the representations of different peoples. However, many aspects of its painted program remain obscure. This study offers new ideas for better identifications of the rituals celebrated by the people on the different walls during precise moments of the year.

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments
General Introduction

PART ONE HISTORY

I. Historical and Geographical Introduction

I.1 The Land
I.2 The People

II. History of Sogdiana

II.1 The Ancient Period
II.2 The Period of Bactrian Domination
II.3 The Coming of the Turks
II.4 Tang Imperialism
II.5 The Arab Invasion
II.6 Islamization

PART TWO IDENTIFICATION

I. The Discovery of the Afrasyab Paintings

II. The So-called “Hall of the Ambassadors” at Afrasyab

II.1 Description of the Scenes
II.2 The Western Wall
II.3 The Southern Wall
II.4 The Northern Wall
II.4.1 The Hunting Scene
II.4.2 The Aquatic Scene
II.5 The Eastern Wall

III. Conclusion

PART THREE WRITTEN SOURCES

I. The Importance of the Written Sources
II. Chinese Sources
III. Islamic Sources
IV. Sources in Middle Iranian Languages
V. Byzantine Sources

Appendix: The Chinese Dynasties
List of Abbreviations
Bibliography
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources
General Index

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