Was Tajikistan a province of China? Part 2

Kamoluddin Abdullaev, historian

The first part briefly examined some of the problems of the ancient history of the Western Region (Xinjiang), the influence of the local Kushan dynasty and the Chinese Han dynasty (206 BC -220 AD) in this region, and See also the Tang Dynasty's attempts to establish Chinese control over all of Central Asia.

Sogdians in China

Although the Tang emperors were associated with the previous Han dynasty, they were ethnically and culturally close to the peoples of Central Asia, including the Turks and the ancestors of the Tajiks - the Sogdians. The Tang was China's most cosmopolitan dynasty. The French scientist Étienne de La Vaissière even called northern China of the Tang era "a Turkic-Sogdian space." According to the Italian scientist Matteo Compareti, the world learned about the Sogdians - this largely mysterious people - mainly from sources discovered by Europeans at the beginning of the 20th century in Western China (Turpan).

Between the 4th and 10th centuries, the Sogdians established colonies from Kashgar to eastern China. They spoke a language whose homeland was Samarkand, Penjikent, Bukhara, Fergana and Khujand, and which by the 10th century fell out of use and was replaced by New Persian, the modern language of Tajiks. (Probably, the rapid and almost complete disappearance of Sogdian from everyday life was due to the fact that many pre-Islamic texts were written in it - Buddhist, Manichean and Christian). For nearly six centuries, Sogdian was not only the language of immigrant communities in China, but also the lingua franca of the entire trade route from the borders of Europe to China.

In addition to the Sogdians, the Turks and Uighurs also spoke it. Letters were written, a post office worked, which connected merchants in China with their "head office" in Samarkand. The Tang government even had a special Directorate for the affairs of Sogdian caravan leaders, in order to maximize profit from trade with the West.

In China, the Sogdians - these Iranian-speaking cosmopolitan travelers became not only merchants, but also peasants, soldiers, artisans, diplomats, and translators. They participated in all spheres of the social, cultural, economic and political life of the large cities of North China from the 4th to the 8th century. Chinese sources wrote that the Sogdians are a mobile nation and born merchants. After reaching their 20th birthday, they travel to distant countries including China, India and Southeast Asia to find application for their talents. To legalize themselves and conduct business more successfully, the Sogdians took Chinese surnames (in dynastic records they are also known as the "nine families").

In China, Bukharians were called "An", Samarkands "Kang", residents of the upper reaches of Zerafshan "Mi", Persians of Sassanid Iran "He". They soon began to occupy important positions in the army, administration and courts. Thanks to the Sogdians, China discovered the West for itself. The division of the week into seven days came to China from them. Musicians and dancers from Central Asia were popular both in Chang'an and in other cities. In paintings, masks, statues and theatrical performances, characters of foreigners appeared with large noses, protruding eyes and thick beards. Circular movements of dancers at lavish banquets with the use of Sogdian wine were in vogue. The rich in China fell in love with Iranian courtesans.

Chinese women of fashion adopted makeup fashionable in the West, sewed dresses from fabric with "Western motifs" woven in Sichuan, in the workshops of He Chou (zerafshan), and Chinese male horsemen wrapped themselves in fabrics with leopard print, in the manner of the eastern Iranians. The best horses in China were from Central Asia. The Chinese adopted the sport of equestrian polo from the Iranians, which even women were fond of.

The Sogdians played a big role in the history of the Uyghurs. In 744, this people, united in the Karluk Turks, defeated the Eastern Turkic Khaganate and created their own state with the capital in Mongolia.

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