The Chronicle of Mahmud Churas

Translated by David Brophy

Mahmud Churas’ untitled chronicle ranks as the most important historical composition from seventeenth century Xinjiang, a period for which we are relatively poorly served by local literature. Only one manuscript version of the text survives. At the beginning of the twentieth century this manuscript was in the possession of a wealthy Tashkent man, Baqi Jan Bay. The Russian Orientalist Bartold met Baqi during his trip to Turkistan in 1916, and obtained permission to remove the text to Saint Petersburg for copying. The Russian Revolution intervened and cut Turkistan off from the rest of Russia, and evidently the book was never returned to its owner. Instead it ended up in a library in Moscow. There it remained, largely unnoticed by scholars, until Oleg Akimushkin published an edition of the text, with Russian translation and extensive commentary, in 1976. Continue reading