1902 Encyclopedia > Khiva

(located in present-day Uzbekistan)

KHIVA, an independent Uzbeg khanate of Turkestan, which occupies the fertile oasis stretching in a band of varying width along the left batik of the lower Oxus between Pitniak and the Sea of Aral. The inbabited dis-trict, which lies between 41º and 43º N. lat,, and 59º and 61º 30' E. long, and practically forms the limits of the khanate, is about 200 miles in length and has an average breadth of 25 to 30 miles—an area therefore of some 5000 to 6000 square miles.

This tract of territory is but a meagre relic of the great kingdom which under the name of Chorasmia, Kharezm (Khwárizm), or Urgentch held the keys of the mightiest river in Central Asia, and formed in consequence a precious jewel for rivalry among Eastern potentates from an early period of the world’s history. Great alterations, geogra-phically and politically, have taken place since those times. The Oxus has changed its outlet and no longer forms a water-way to the Caspian and thence to Europe. A great European power has arisen which has made gradual but important encroachments in Asia, and between this power on the north and the independent Turcoman tribes on the south the authority of the khau of Khiva has been dwarfed and circumscribed within the narrow limits above indicated.

From the establishment of the Russians on the lower Jaxartes in 1817 dates the decline in power of the khan of Khiva. Prior to that year the khan claimed sovereignty from the Caspian on the west to the confines of Khokand and Bokbara on the east, and from the northern margin of the Ust Urt and the Jaxartes on the north to the mountain range forming the Persian frontier on the south, including Merv. Within these limits his authority was recognized, although towards the extremities this was merely nominal. Since that year the Russians have annexed the country between the lower Jaxartes and Oxus, established the large trans-Caspian military district on the east shore of the Caspian, and conquered the Akhal Tekke country, thereby hemming in the Khivans on all sides. The Russians have, moreover, by imposing a large indemnity (two millions of roubles) for the campaign of 1873, so crippled the finances of the state that the khan, though nominally independent, is in reality a vassal and in a state of complete subjection to his more powerful neighbours. A Russian military force now watches the khanate from Forts Petro-Alexandrovsk and Nukus on the right bank of the Oxus, the former fort being within 35 miles of the capital.

History.—It would be impossible to trace here, even in the briefest manner, the changes through which Kharezm has passed, under the successive waves of migration and conquest which have swept across the conntry in ancient and historic times. The present insignificance and the eventual disappearance of the khanate from the map of Turkestan in the near future being intimately connected with the extension eastward of Russia, it will be more profitable to trace its history after its first connexion with that power.

Russia commenced her relations with Khiva in the 17th century. The warlike Cossacks of the Yaik during their raids across the Caspian learnt of the existence of the rich territory of Khiva, and made an expedition to the chief town, Urgenteh, at a time when the khan and his troops were absent. They carried off a large number of women and a rich booty, but were overlaken on their road home by the Khivans and killed to a man. Two subsequent expeditions under Atamans Nechai and Shemai proved equally disastrous to the Cossacks. These three expedi-tions were simply the raids of freebooters. In 1717, how-ever, Peter the Great, having heard of the presence of auriferous sand in the bed of the Oxus, and desiring also to "open mercantile relations with India through Turan" and to release from slavery some Russian subjects, sent a properly equipped military force to Khiva. The com-mand of the expedition, which consisted of 3300 men and six guns, with three months’ provisions, was entrusted to Prince Bekovitch Tcherkassky. After establishing a forti-fied base of operations on the east shore of the Caspian, Bekovitch collected his forces at the month of the Ural and thence marched across the Ust Urt into Khivan territory. When with 100 miles of the capital he was encountered by the forces of the khan. The battle lasted three days, and ended in victory for the Russian arms. The Khivans, however, induced the victors to break up their force into small detachments in order to facilitate supply, and then treacherously annihilated them in detail. This disaster did not prevent the Russians from sending embassies from time to time to the khan, but the representations of the envoys did not induce him to desist from enslaving Russian subjects or even to free those already in bondage. The Persian campaign which subsequently followed, the designs in other parts of Central Asia, and the constant embroilment of Russia in European wars caused Khivan affairs to recede temporarily to the background, and it was not until the third decade of the 19th century that the attention of the Muscovite Government was again directed to the khanate. In 1839 a force under General Perovsky, consisting of three and a half battalions, three Cossack regiments, and twenty-two guns, in all 4500 men, with a large train of camels, moved from Orenburg across the Ust Urt to the Khivan frontiers, in order to occupy the khanate, liberate the captives, and open the way for trade. This expedition likewise terminated in disaster. The inaccessi-bility of Khiva was once more her safeguard. Before the force reached half-way towards its destination it was forced to return, in consequence of the severity of the weather and the loss of life among the men and animals. These expeditions had convinced the Russians that for the effec-tive control of the relations of Khiva a nearer position must be sought. In 1847 they founded the Raim fort at the mouth of the Jaxartes. As this advance deprived the Khivans not only of territory, but of a large number of tax-paying Kirghiz, while the establishment of a fort gave the Russians a base for further operations, a collision became sooner or later inevitable. For the next few years, however, the attention of the Russians was taken up with Khokand, their operations on that side culminating in the capture of Tashkend in 1865. Free in this quarter, they directed their thoughts once more to Khiva. In 1869 Krasnovodsk on the east shore of the Caspian was founded, and in 1871-72 the country leading to Khiva from dif-erent parts of Russian Turkestan was thoroughly explored and surveyed. In 1873 an expedition to Khiva was carefully organized on a large scale. The forces placed at the disposal of General v. Kaufmann started from three different bases of operation—Krasnovodsk, Orenburg, and Tashkend. The whole force consisted of more than 10,000 men. Khiva was occupied by the Russians almost without opposition. All the territory (35,700 square miles, and 110,000 souls) on the right bank of the Oxus was annexed to Russia and formed into the Amu Daria sub-district, while a heavy war indemnity was imposed upon the khanate. The difficult position financially in which the khan is thereby placed has more than once impelled him to beg the Russians to take the country under their administra-tion. Russia, however, prefers the present arrangement of maintaining Khiva semi-independent instead of in complete subjection, for, not only does the collection of the indemnity fall upon the Khivan authorities, but the country shields the Russian possessions on the Oxus from the attacks of the Turcomans, which if made must first come in contact with the intervening territory of Khiva.

Topography.—The Khivan oasis is indebted for its fertil-ity to the waters of the Oxus, which by means of irrigating canals and ditches penetrate into what was at one time barren steppe. Where this water reaches the land teams with life; where it ends all is death and a waste. The area of sandy desert reclaimed by the Oxus is estimated by the late Major Wood, Madras Engineers, at 1 1/2 millions of acres. The soil of the khanate is a tenacious clay of a red and grey coluur, more or less impregnated with sand,—the detritus brought down by the river. Black earth is seldom seen; but earth strongly impregnated with salt is frequently found. The oasis is generally level, except some unimportant heights and sand-hills.

That part of the Oxus which waters the khanate has at Pitniak a north-west direction, and flows within a single bed. Below Kipchak it bends sharply to the west, and, after describing part of a semicircle to Hodjeili and giving off the Laudan, which with the Usboi forms the ancient course of the Oxus, resumes its north-west course to Kun-grad. There it takes a north direction, dividing into two branches, the Taldyk and Ulkun, the latter the principal arm, and ultimately disembogues by many channels into the Sea of Aral. The banks of the river are generally low, and in midsummer do not stand more than 6 to 20 feet above the level of the water. The river is in flood three or four times a year, the chief periods being in April and May, when it overflows its banks and does much damage to the canal dams. The average velocity is about 3 miles an hour, but at times of inundation the current becomes much more rapid. The breadth of the river at ordinary times varies from 1/4 to 2/3 mile, but increases to 3 or more miles at inundations. There are no obstacles to navigation in the shape of rapids, but the shifting of the sand banks acts as an impediment. The water of the Oxus is whole-some, although of a yellowish-brown colour, which is due to particles in suspension. These particles are gritty, and unlike the mud of the Nile do not fertilize the ground. The deposit from the water when dried is used by the Khivans to form their dams. In consequence of the large body of matter brought down, the irrigating canals require constant clearing. These canals vary from 20 to 150 feet in breadth, and from 10 to 20 feet in depth, and are some-times as much as 80 miles long. They have a current of about 2 miles an hour, and are mostly navigable by boats. The direction of the canals is west and north-west, from which it may be concluded that the left bank of the river has a natural slope towards the Caspian. By actual measure-ment it has been found that the fall of the ancient bed is 400 feet from the point near Kipchak where it had its origin to Balkhan Bay in the Caspian,—a distance of 500 miles,

From the statement of Abulghazi Khan and other proofs there can be little doubt that two hundred and fifty years ago the Oxus flowed into the Caspian through the Usboi, which was connected with the present channel by at any rate three arms—Daudan, Daryalik, and Lauzan or Laudan. The alteration in the course of the river was probably due to the gradual elevation of the land where the old bed passed, from which naturally resulted a diminution in the velocity of the stream, and at the same time a silting of the channel. From this cause the waters of the Oxus found for themselves another outlet. Whether the Russians will be able to carry out their scheme of forcing the Oxus to resume its old course to the Caspian it would be premature to offer an opinion, but the surveys at present are not favourable. The advantages to Russia would be great, as she would have a continuous waterway from the Volga to Afghanistan.

The khanate has numerous lakes, especially towards the Aral, connected together by affluents and canals. They are usually covered with reeds. Lake Aibugir, once a large inlet of the Aral, is now dry.

The means of communication in the khanate is by road and by water. The. roads are usually narrow, but some are as much as 70 feet wide. In spring and autumn, at the tinie of inundations, they are in bad order. Internal trade is carried on by camels and by carts.

Government.—The government is an absolute despotism, and, subject to a certain moral control exercised by the proximity of the Russians, is entirely in the hands of the khan. The chief secular officials are (1) the kush-begi or vizier, prime minister; (2) mehter, chancellor of the ex-chequer; (3) inakh, four in number, local governors ; (4) metch-mehrem and batchman, controller and collector of customs respectively; (5) biy, the khan’s supporter in battle; (6) minbashi, yuzbashi, and onbashi, belonging to the military class, now fast disappearing. The ulema or priests, of whom the nakib is the chief, are subdivided as follows:—(1) kazi kelan and kazi, judicial functionaries; (2) alem, chief of the five muftis; (3) reis, mufti, and akhond. The acknowledged religion is the Suni form of Mohammedanism. Justica is administered in the mosques and in the private dwellings of the cadis and muftis, but every Khivan subject has the right to prefer his complaint before the governor or even before the khan.

Revenue—The khan’s revenue is derived from (1) the land-tax, paid in coin by all sedentary Khivan subjects, and in cattle (2 1/2 per cent.) by nomads ; (2) a custoins due on all incoming and outgoing caravans, and on the sale of cattle—2 1/2 per cent. ad valorem; (3) the rent of crown lands. The revenue of certain districts is set aside for the support of the relatives of the reigning khan, and of the rest the greater part is exhausted in paying the large indem-nity imposed by the Russians after the campaign of 1873.

Population.—The inhabitants are partly sedentary and partly nomad. They include Uzbegs, Karakalpaks, Turco-mans, Sarts, Kizilbashes, and Arabs—the first three of Mongol origin, the rest of Aryan. descent. The Uzbegs come from a Turk stock, and constitute tho dominant class. Some few live in towns, but the bulk reside on their farms, where they occupy themselves in agriculture, gardening, silk cultivation, and fishing, Very few engage in trade. They are divided into tribes. The Karakalpaks, or "black-hats," are supposed to be a clan of Uzbegs. They inhabit the lower part of the Oxus, and are mostly stock-breeders; they are divided into tribes, and are nearly all nomadic. The Turcomans are of similar origin to the Uzbegs, and are divided into tribes, of which the chief are the Yomud, Karadashli, Goklen, Ersari, Chaudor, and Imrali. They are all engaged in breeding horses and stock and in agriculture. Some are sedentary, while others migrate to the steppe in summer. The Sarts or Tajiks, who were probably the original inhabitants of the country, live chiefly in the large towns and are engaged in trade or in handicrafts, some in agriculture and silk cultivation. The Kizilbashes are liberated Persian slave, and are distributed over the khanate, but more particularly inhabit the Tashauz district. Of the Semitic race we find Arabs in small numbers at Shavat. They form the living monuments of the Arab conquest.

Owing to the absence of any census it is impossible to give more than a very rough estimate of the population of the Khivan oasis. Major Wood, a competent observer, estimated it in 1875 at 300,000 souls, of whom two-thirds are Uzbegs and Tajiks. Liberated Persians and other slaves make up 50,000, while the remainder is composed of sedentary Turcomans who occupy cultivated lands or who nomadize about the western borders of the khanate.

There is no marked division of the people into castes or classes. A Khivan may be a merchant, an agriculturist, or craftsmem as he pleases ; he may possess land or other real property, but for this privilege he must fulfil his obli-gation to the state, pay taxes, and furnish labourers for digging or repairing canals, upon which the life of the oasis may be said to depend. Only the military class, the priest-hood, and the khodjas are exempt from the payment of taxes. The khodjas consider themselves descendants of the prophet ; they pay no taxes and render no military service, nor do they furnish canal labour. They are derived from the same stock as the khodjas of Turkestan, and according, to tradition came to Khiva six hundred years ago. Agri-culture, trade, and handicrafts constitute their chief employment.

Towns.—Khivan towns are nothing more than agglo-merations of houses without plan or regularity; the streets are so crooked and narrow that two carts can only pass with difficalty or not at all. The towns are usually sur-rounded by a defensive wall, in a more or less dilapidated state ; sometimes there is also a wet ditch. Outside the walls stretches an extensive suburb. Each town con-tains usually a bazaar, a caravanserai, and one or more medresses (ecclesiastical colleges) and mosques. The popu-lation consists of government officials, shopkeepers, me-chanics, and a very few agriculturists. There are no villages as we understand the term,—only farmsteads dotted at intervals along the banks ofthe canals. The security against Turcoman raids which is given to the townspeople by the wall and ditch is replaced in the case of the farming class by small round guard-houses (karachi-khane) constructed alon, the same canals where the farmsteads are placed.

The chief towns are Khiva (the present capital and residence of the, khan) ; Khazarasp, spoken of by the Arab geographers as a strong place in the 10th century, a reputa-tion it still maintains ; New Urgentch, the chief trading town ; Tashauz, another strong place ; Gurlen, Hazavat, Ilalli, Kipchak, Khanka, Hodjeili, Kungrad, Pitniak, Kunia Urgentch (once the capital, but destroyed first by Jenghiz Khan, and afterwards by Timur), and Kiat, which up to the 15th century was the capital of Kharezm, but is now a place of little importance.

Climate.—The climate is quite continental, but is healthy, and the people are long-lived. The prevailing ailments are small-pox, inflammation of the eyes, and ague. Cholera is a rare visitant. Winter begins in November and lasts until February. At this season the thermometer sometimes falls to 20º Fabr., and the Oxus freezes to a depth of 6 to 12 inches. At the end of March the vine, pomegranate, and fig commence to bud, and in the first days of April are covered with green. Wheat harvesting commences early in July; about this time apricots and plums ripen. Leaves begin to grow yellow and fall in the first half of November. The west wind is distinguished by its violence, but it only rages in spring. At this season the north wind also blows strongly. When the wind is in these quarters dews are abundant. Severe storms and earthquakes are of rare oc-currence ; and, generally speaking, there is little rain, snow, or hail.

Products.—The chief agricultural products are wheat, jugara rice, sesamum, millet, chigin (a variety of millet), barley, mash (a pulse), linseed, cotton, hemp, lucerne, to-bacco, poppy, and madder. The gardens furnish the melon, cucumber, pumpkin, capsicum, garlic, onion, beet, radish, carrot, turnip, potato, and cabbage. Of fruits the mul-berry, apple, pear, cherry, plum, date, peach, pomegranate, and grape are in abundance. Of trees we find in small quantities the poplar, black poplar, plane, elm, willow, karaman (a sort of elm), and narvan. (a species of oak). Saksaul (Holoxylon ammodendron) is found in quantities, and furnishes excellent fuel. Shrubs of various kinds are indigenous, and the reed gross, in the absence of meadowland, affords good fodder for cattle.

Khiva furnishes no metals, but sulphur and salt are present in sufficient quantities to satisfy home demands.

The domestic quadrupeds are camels, horses, asses, horned cattle, sheep, and goats. Of wild animals are found the hog, giraffe, panther, jackal, fox, wolf, and hare. The feathered tribe is represented by the wild goose, swan, crane, pelican, duck, moorhen, bustard, pheasant, quail, snipe, partridge, magpie, crow, sparrow, nightingale (in large numbers), and lark, besides domestic fowls and pigeons. The fish include sturgeon, sterlet, bream, pike, carp, and sandre.

Trade and Industry.—The trade of Kliiva, in the Middle Ages very considerable, has in the present day declined to insignificant proportions. At the epoch when Arab trade flourished, and in the time of Jenghiz Khan, Kharezm possessed important trade routes. Along these routes were dug deep stone-lined wells, and they were moreover dotted at intervals with caravanserais ; so that, in the words of a historian of the 14th century, the traveller from Khiva to the Crimea need make no provision for his journey, for all that was needful could be procured from caravanserais on the way. In this latter half of the 19th century the trade is unimportant, and even the ruins of the caravanserais and wells are to be detected with difficulty. Tile merchants of New Urgentch, it is true, take their wares as far as the great Russian fair of Nijni-Novgorod on the west, to Bok-hara on the east, and to Persia on the south, but the cara-vans are small and money is scarce. The chief articles of trade are horned cattle, camels, horses, sheep, cereals, khalats, silk and cotton cloth, clothing, gunpowder, arms, agricultural implements, two-wheeled carts, saddlery, har-ness, boats, wood, potash, salt, &c. These wares are some-times bartered, sometimes sold for inoney. Dried fish is also all article of export for the Bokhata market. The cotton is of excellent quality, and the silk of Khazarasp is renowned in Central Asia.

Of manufactures there are none in the true sense of the word. The Khivans weave in their hand-looms cotton and silk cloth sufficient to satisfy their home necessities. In handicraft they are specially clever as armourers, smiths, and founders. The fuel used is saksaul.

Currency.—The money of the country is the gold tilla, the silver tenghe, and the copper pul. The tilla is worth 28 to 35 tenghe, or from sixteen shillings to a pound, ac-cording to the exchange ; while the tenghe, value about sevenpence, is equivalent to about 35 to 50 puls. Russian, Persian, and Bokharian money are also in circulation.

KHIVA, a fortified city, capital of the khanate of the same name, situated between two canals derived from the Oxus, and in the midst of green fields, orchards, and high poplars. It lies in 41º 22' 30" N. lat. and 60º 25' E. long., about 400 miles east of Krasnovodsk on the Caspian, 350 miles north of Meshhed in Persia, and 700 miles north-north-west of Kandahar. The city is girt with two mud walls. The inner wall, which surrounds the main town, is built on a low eminence, and forms a tolerably regular parallelogram with four towers at the angles. This wall is about 24 feet high, and has a perinieter of some 2500 yards. Three gates lead into the inner town. The outer wall, 10 feet high, was built in 1842 to enclose a former suburb, and has an irregular perimeter of 7200 yards. Twelve gates pierce this outer wall. In the main or inner town are two palaces of mean appearance, seven-teen mosques, twenty-two educational seminaries, a cara-vanserai, a covered bazaar of some one hundred and twenty shops, and two hundred and sixty other shops distributed over the place. Tile principal mosques are those erected in honour of the saints Polvan Ata and Seid Bai. (F.C.H.C.)

The above article was written by Major F. C. H. Clarke, R.A.

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