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”Lost in the Revolution“: Bukharan waqf and Testimony Documents from the Early Soviet Period

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After the conquest of the Emirate of Bukhara by the Red Army in August and September 1920 and the proclamation of the Bukharan People's Soviet Republic (Buxarskaja Narodnaja Sovetskaja Respublika, BNSR) on 20 September, Islamic institutions in the former emirate were subjected to considerable political, institutional and personal changes that continued throughout the first half of the 1920s, when the BNSR was first declared a Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) in September 1924 and then integrated into the newly-formed Uzbek SSR in November of the same year. The institution of pious endowments (waqf) was no exception to these changes. In this article, we shall take a document-centered approach by giving an overview of early Soviet waqf documents from Bukhara kept in the Central State Archive of Uzbekistan in Tashkent (CGA RUz). Research on waqf in Soviet Turkestan has focused mainly on the ASSR and not on the former protectorates with their longer heritage of Islamic statehood, and it does not look on waqf documents themselves. Since these documents represent one end of the trajectory of the development of Islamic chancery practice before the abolition of the institutions that produced such documents, their study can add to our understanding of the diplomatics of Persian-language private documents in general. This article will give an overview of the collection of post-1920 waqf documents in the CGA. It then illustrates the basic structure and content of documents for newly-established endowments, finally comparing them with documents of testimony for existing awqāf. For this analysis a specific structural model is developed and applied to these documents.

Affiliations: 1: Bishkek/Halle (Saale)


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