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Khwārazmian Literature

Khwārazmian was the old language of Khwārazm (today a part of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Turkmenistan). The works that have survived in this language can be divided into the following two main groups:

i. Middle Khwārazmian (Old Khwārazmian) Works and Documents: These works have been written in the Old Khwārazmian script that had been derived from Aramaic and include writings on the seals of the Khwārazmian rulers (3rd or 2nd Centuries BC), wood and leather inscriptions discovered from the Toprāq Qaleh region (probably belonging to the 2nd Century AD), inscriptions (about 100 pieces discovered from the Tuq Qaleh region) on the surfaces of astaudānhā (special urns to hold the bones of the dead) belonging to the 7th Century AD, and inscriptions on the silver and ceramic vessels discovered from the Khumbuz (or Humbuz) Tappeh region.

Later Khwārazmian Works and Documents: These works belong to the Islamic period and are in the Arabic language and include:

a. Sentences in the Khwārazmian language that have appeared in the manuscripts of two Arabic books on jurisprudence by the names, “Yatimah al-Dahr” written by Muhammad bin Mahmud Tarjumāni Maliki Khwārazmi (645 AH), and “Qaniyyah al-Maniyyah” written by Najm al-Din Mukhtār bin Mahmud Zāhidi Ghazmini (658 AH).

b. A short treatise named “Risālah al-Alfāz al-Khwārazmiyyah allati fi Qaniyyah al-Mabsut”, written by Kamāl al-Din Emādi Jorjāni (8th Century AH) which includes explanatory notes on the Khwarazmian words used in the book “Qaniyyah al-Maniyyah”.

c. The Khwārazmian equivalents of Fārsi words and sentences found in a copy of Zemakhshari’s famous dictionary called the “Moqaddamah al-Adab” and the Khwārazmian equivalents of the Arabic words used in two other copies of this book.

As can be deduced from the titles and contents of these works, the surviving works in the Khwārazmian language are of little literary value and can, in fact, barely be referred to as works of literature even though they are important from the linguistic point of view.


* source: Zarshenas , Zohre " Iran Entry " The Great Islamic Encyclopedia . Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.10 , pp. 563

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