(Re)Collecting the Heritage of the Silk Road: Tajikistan’s pre-Russian Past in Documents

While recent decades have seen a growth in the number of document-based histories of the 18th and 19th centuries in Tajikistan, the pre-Russian period remains poorly studied and often glossed over in the broader historiography. Locating and cataloguing the documents will provide a new resource for scholars.

The materials written and published in what is now modern Tajikistan prior to the conquest of the area by the Russian Empire in the 1870s comprises genealogical material (including Sufi silsila records), the records of local religious and private organisations, and more germane personal accounts of life. These materials provide an invaluable perspective on the social and cultural history of the region in the otherwise poorly studied period between the collapse of the Timurid Empire and the invasion of the Russian Empire into the region.

During the Soviet period, these documents were considered suspect or representative of “undesirable” class elements, and the State Archives in the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic were occupied only with the preservation of materials related to the Soviet state and its institutions. As a result, the materials relating to Tajikistan’s heritage have often gone unnoticed and been forgotten.

The project identified, cleaned and digitised 75 pre-Soviet monographs amounting to 10,604 images. The project found some resistance from the owners in the digitisation of the items, mainly due to the religious nature of the documents. The project staff were trained in digitisation practices, who will continue the digitisation effort in the region.

Project Details

Location: Tajikistan, Central Asia, Asia Organiser(s): Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) Project partner(s): Tajik National University Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: £23,900 Commencement Date: 01/2017 Project Status: Completed
Project owner? Update this project

Related Projects

EAP1402 Pub003

19th-century documents from the Peruvian asylum el Manicomio del Cercado

The Victor Larco Herrera Hospital in the centre of Lima, Peru, was closed in 1917. Its archives, dating back to 1859, consist of medical documentation as well as administrativ…

Explore project
EAP1306 Silk Museum

The Caucasian Silk Circle: Digitising Photo Collection of the State Silk Museum in Georgia

The State Silk Museum of Georgia holds the only documentary evidence of the practice of sericulture in the 19th century. Taken during expeditions of the Caucasian Sericulture …

Explore project
EAP1294 team

Safeguarding for Posterity Two Private Collections of Palm-Leaf Manuscripts from the Tamil Country

The Kalliṭaikuṟicci and Villiyampākkam collections are palm-leaf collections held privately in India. The collections are essential to study the prevalent reading practices in…

Explore project