Tashkent

Tashkent
Tashkent

Tashkent (Uzbek: Toshkent, Тошкент, Russian: Ташкент, English: Stone City) is the current capital of Uzbekistan and also of Tashkent Province. The population of the city in 2006 was 1,967,879.

The name of the city has evolved in a number of stages. During the Han period it was known to the Chinese as Beitian (= Bin-kāth, the old name for Tashkent), the summer "capital" of ancient Kangju (康居).[1] In medieval times the town and the province were known as Chach. Later, the town came to be known as Chachkand/Chashkand, meaning "Chach City." (Kand, qand, kent, kad, kath, kud--all meaning a city, are derived from the Old Iranian, kanda, meaning a town or a city. They are found in city names like Samarkand, Yarkand, Penjikent etc.) After the 16th century and the steady replacement of the old, Persian-speaking population with Uzbeks, the name was changed slightly from Chachkand/Chashkand to Tashkand, which as "stone city" was more meaningful to the new inhabitants than the old name. The modern spelling of Tashkent reflects Russian orthography.

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Geography

Tashkent is located at . The local time in Tashkent is UTC/GMT +5 hours.

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History

Tashkent started as an oasis on the Chirchik River, near the foothills of the Golestan Mountains. In ancient times, this area contained Beitian, probably the summer "capital" of the Kangju confederacy.[2]

The principality of Chach, whose main town had a square citadel built around the 5th to 3rd centuries BC, some 8 km south of the Syr Darya River. By the 7th century AD, Chach had over 30 towns and a network of over 50 canals, forming a trade center between the Sogdians and Turkic nomads. The region subsequently came under the sway of Islam in the early parts of the 8th century.

Hsien-tsang (Xuanzang) mentioned the name of the ciy as Che-shih. The Chinese chronicles Sujshu, Bejshu and Tanshu mention a possession called Shi or Chzheshi with a capital with the same name since the V c. AD [Bichurin, 1950. v. II].

Under the Samanid dynasty, the city came to be known as Binkath. However, the Arabs retained the old name of Chash, pronouncing it Shash instead. The modern Turkic name of Tashkent (City of Stone) comes from Kara-Khanid rule in the 10th century.

The city was destroyed by Genghis Khan in 1219, although the great conqueror had found that the Khorezmshah had already sacked the city in 1214. Under the Timurids and subsequent Shaybanid dynasties the city revived, despite occasional attacks by the Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Persians, Mongols, Oirats and Kalmyks.

In 1809, Tashkent was annexed to the Khanate of Kokand. At the time, Tashkent had a population of around 100,000 and was considered the richest city in Central Asia. It prospered greatly through trade to Russia, but chafed under Kokand’s high taxes. The Tashkent clergy also favored the clergy of Bukhara over that of Kokand. However, before the Emir of Bukhara could capitalize on this discontent, the Russian army arrived.

In May 1865, General Mikhail Grigorevich Chernyayev (Cherniaev), acting against the direct orders of the tsar, and outnumbered at least 15-1 staged a daring night attack against a city with a 25 kilometer long wall, 11 gates and 30,000 defenders. While a small contingent staged a diversionary attack, the main force penetrated the walls, led by a Russian Orthodox priest armed only with a crucifix. Although defense was stiff, the Russians captured the city after two days of heavy fighting and the loss of only 25 dead as opposed to several thousand of the defenders. Chernyayev, dubbed the “Lion of Tashkent” by city elders, staged a “hearts-and-minds” campaign to win the population over. He abolished taxes for a year, rode unarmed through the streets and bazaars meeting common people, and appointed himself "Military Governor of Tashkent", recommending to Tsar Alexander II that the city be made an independent khanate under Russian protection.

The Tsar liberally rewarded Chernyayev and his men with medals and bonuses, but regarded the impulsive general as a “loose cannon”, and soon replaced him with General Konstantin Petrovich Von Kaufman. Far from granting Tashkent its independence, Tashkent became the capital of the new territory of Russian Turkistan, with Kaufman as first Governor-General. A cantonment and Russian settlement were built across the Ankhor Canal from the old city, and Russian settlers and merchants poured in. Tashkent was a center of espionage in the Great Game rivalry between Russia and Great Britain over Central Asia. The Trans-Caspian Railway arrived in 1889, and the railway workers who built it settled in Tashkent as well, bringing with them the seeds of Bolshevik Revolution.

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20th century

With the fall of the Russian Empire, a provisional government attempted to maintain control in Tashkent. It was quickly overthrown and local Muslim opposition crushed. In April 1918, Tashkent became the capital of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkestan ASSR). The new regime was threatened by White forces, British spies, basmachi, revolts from within, and purges ordered from Moscow. Tashkent fell within the borders of the Uzbek SSR, and became the capital of the Uzbek SSR in 1930, displacing Samarkand.

The city began to industrialize in the 1920s and 1930s, but industry increased tremendously during World War II, with the relocation of factories from western Russia to preserve the Soviet industrial capacity from the invading Nazis. The Russian population increased dramatically as well, with evacuees from the war zones increasing the population to well over a million. (The Russian community would eventually comprise nearly half of the total residents of Tashkent.)

On April 25 1966, Tashkent was destroyed by a huge earthquake (7.5 on the Richter scale). Over 300,000 were left homeless. Soviet historians made a great story about "battalions of fraternal peoples” and urban planners from each of the Soviet republics, who “volunteered” to rebuild devastated Tashkent. They did a good job, creating a “model Soviet city” of wide shady streets, parks, immense plazas for military parades, fountains, monuments, and acres of apartment blocks. At that time residents of Tashkent began to realize that they were not being consulted in the planning, or necessarily being hired in the rebuilding. The problem exploded when Moscow announced that 20% of the new buildings would be given to the mostly Russian “volunteers”, who would be staying permanently. The subsequent riots were called the Pakhtakor Incident, after the stadium where the trouble began. The Red Army eventually had to be called in to maintain order.

At the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tashkent was the fourth largest city in the country and a center of learning in the science and engineering fields.

Tashkent today is a very Soviet city, with few reminders of its position on the Silk Road or its 2000+ years of history. It is the most cosmopolitan city in both Uzbekistan and Central Asia, with large ethnic Russian and Korean minorities. The city is noted for its tree lined streets, numerous fountains, and pleasant parks. As capital of the nation, it has also been the target of several terrorist attacks since Uzbekistan gained independence, which the government has attributed to Islamic fundamentalists.

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See also

The view of the street near Darkhan
The view of the street near Darkhan
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Sights

Due to the destruction of most of the ancient city during 1917 revolution and, later, to the 1966 earthquake, little remains of Tashkent's traditional architectural heritage. Tashkent is, however, rich in museums and Soviet-era monuments.

Dating back to the reign of Abdullah Khan (1557-1598) it is currently being restored by the provincial Religious Board of Mawarannahr Moslems. There is talk of making it into a museum, but it is currently being used as a mosque.

Near the Kukeldash Madrassa, this huge open air bazaar is the center of the old town of Tashkent. Everything imaginable is for sale.

Contains the Uthman Qur'an, considered to be the oldest extant Qur'an in the world. Dating from 655 and stained with the blood of murdered caliph Uthman, it was brought by Timur to Samarkand, seized by the Russians as a war trophy and taken to Saint Petersburg. It was returned to Uzbekistan in 1989.

Prince Romanov Palace
Prince Romanov Palace

A group of three 15th century mausoleums, restored in the 19th century. The biggest is the grave of Yunus Khan, grandfather of Mughal Empire founder Babur.

During the 19th century Grand Duke Nikolai Konstantinovich (1850-1918), a first cousin of Alexander III of Russia was banished to Tashkent for some shady deals involving the Russian Crown Jewels. His palace still survives in the centre of the city. Once a museum, it has been appropriated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Navoi Theater
The Navoi Theater

Built by the same architect who designed Lenin's Tomb in Moscow, Aleksey Shchusev, and built with Japanese prisoner of war labor in World War II, this theatre hosts Russian ballet and opera to Uzbek concerts.

Contains a major collection of art from the pre-Russian period, including Sogdian murals, Buddhist statues and Zoroastrian art, along with a more modern collection of 19th and 20th century Uzbek applied art, such as suzani embroidered hangings. Of more interest is the large collection of paintings "borrowed" from the Hermitage by Grand Duke Romanov to decorate his palace in exile in Tashkent, and never returned. Behind the museum is a small park, containing the neglected graves of the Bolsheviks who died in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and to Ossipov's treachery in 1919, along with first Uzbek President Yuldush Akhunbabayev.

Housed in a traditional Uzbek house originally commissioned for a wealthy tsarist diplomat, the house itself is the main attraction, rather than its collection of 19th and 20th century applied arts.

Museum of Applied Arts
Museum of Applied Arts

Tashkent's largest museum, housed in the ex-Lenin Museum.

The Amir Timur Museum
The Amir Timur Museum
Amir Timur
Amir Timur

An impressive building with brilliant blue dome and ornate interior (see photo right). Inside, the exhibits of Timur and of President Karimov vie for the visitor's attention. The gardens outside contain a statue of Timur on horseback, surrounded by some of the nicest gardens and fountains in the city.

A commemoration of Uzbekistan's adopted literary hero, Alisher Navoi, with replica manuscripts, Persian calligraphy and 15th century miniature paintings.

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City built environment

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Education

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Media

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Sister Cities

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References

  1. Pulleyblank, Edwin G. 1963. "The consonantal system of Old Chinese." Asia Major 9 (1963), pp. 94 and 247.
  2. Pulleyblank, Edwin G. 1963. "The consonantal system of Old Chinese." Asia Major 9 (1963), p. 94.
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See also

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External links

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