(Chapter XII, section 19)

Turkestan and the Tajiks

Beyond the stretch of steppes and desert immediately east of the Caspian Sea, where the brunet Mediterranean race, through the agency of the Turkomans, is brought into direct contact with mongoloids, lies the once densely populated oasis country of Russian Turkestan, sparsely watered by the Amu Daria or Oxus, which rises in the Pamirs and flows past Bokhara and Khiva into the Aral Sea, and by the smaller Syr Daria, which, from its source in the Tian Shan Mountains, provides irrigation for Ferghana, Samarkand, and Tashkent.

Russian Turkestan was once a seat of Iranian-speaking civilization;158 but since the sixth century A.D. it has been constantly overrun by invaders from different quarters. First the Turks subjugated the Iranian farmers, then the Chinese defeated the Turks and ruled the country for a century; then the Arabs, entering Turkestan by way of Persia, defeated the Chinese in 751 A.D., and remained in power until the thirteenth century, since which time, until the Russian conquest, Turkestan has been ruled by various bodies of Turks and by Mongols.

The present peoples of Russian Turkestan are numerous and varied, but may be divided into two principal groups, the Tajiks and the Turkish-speakers. The Tajiks, who number over a million in Russian Turkestan, have between one and two million brethren in Afghan territory. In the former country they inhabit the oases of Ferghana, Samarkand, and Bokhara, where they live as farmers marvelously skilled at irrigation; they are the liguistically unaltered descendants of the pre-Turkish cultivators. Their western geographical limit is the Bokhara country; there are no Tajiks in Khiva. On the plains the Tajiks proper form but a small proportion of the population, since many others have been absorbed into the Turkish ethnic world. Besides these plainsmen, there are many more in the mountains, who live in farming villages as a unified population reaching over the Pamirs into Afghanistan. These mountain people have presumably been less subjected to Turkish influences than have those of the plain.

The second principal ethnic and linguistic group, that of the Turkish-speakers, is divided into two principal and many minor subdivisions; the important ones are the Uzbegs and the Sarts. The Uzbegs are pastoral nomads linguistically related to the Kirghiz, who have settled down in considerable numbers during the last century. They are the descendants of a mixture of Turks, Mongols, and Iranians, whose principal ancestors were recruited from the Turkish tribes of northern Turkestan, and converted to Islam in the fourteenth century. They are the aristocrats of the country and the rulers of some of the city khanates have been drawn from their ranks.

The Sarts are assimilated Tajiks with the addition of considerable Turkish blood; they are farmers, townsmen, and traders, living in all of the oases west of Khiva. Other Turkish speakers are the Turkomans, particularly numerous in Khiva and on the plains to the west, Kipchaks, Kara Kalpaks or Black Hats, Tatars from Russia, and Turkish-speaking Moslems from Chinese Turkestan. There are also Mongol Kalmucks in Russian Turkestan in small numbers, Moslems, whereas their kinsmen elsewhere are Buddhists. A few thousand Arabs left over from the early Moslem conquest still remain, although most of them were absorbed by the Uzbegs. Persians, Hindus, Gypsies, and an ancient colony of Jews, centered at Bokhara, make up the rest of the non-Russian population.

The Uzbegs, who as partial whites concern us here in only a collateral sense, are hardly sufficiently unified in race to be dealt with as a single body.159 Many of them are purely or nearly purely white, others are apparently pure Mongols, while the majority occupy positions in between. Nearly all are brachycephalic, for few long-headed elements have been absorbed into their body; many of them belong to that hybrid type, called Turanid by von Eickstedt,160 and characterized by brachycephaly, convergent parietal walls, a nearly straight beard of medium abundance, a long, broad face, a low-rooted, long, and often convex-profiled nose, with a high-orbitted but heavy-lidded eye. The Sarts are also a variable group, but are much less mongoloid on the whole than the Uzbegs, and in many cases are identical with the Tajiks.

Since the Tajiks form the basis of the population of Russian Turkestan as well as of the mountains to the south, and since all other elements in the population are known and have been described, our only concern here is the elucidation of the racial position of the Tajiks. This is a comparatively easy task.161 The Tajiks are of moderate stature, with a mean of 166 cm., the same in the oases of Samarkand and Ferghana, in the foothill country of Ura-Tuba and Pedjerent, and in the mountains, lying between the headwaters of the Syr Daria and those of the Amu Daria in Afghanistan. Their arm length and arm segment proportions show them to resemble closely southern Germans and Frenchmen, in other words Alpines; at the same time they differ profoundly in these respects from mongoloids. In shoulder breadth, and in an especially great pelvic width, they again show their lateral constitutional tendency, and their Alpine body build.

The dimensions and proportions of the heads and faces of the Tajiks as a whole are as ideally Alpine as one can find in any unsorted population series; they might equally well have been measured upon samples from the most purely Alpine districts of France or Bavaria. The head length mean is 180 mm., the head breadth 155 mm., the cephalic index, 86. The auricular height is 127 mm., and the series hypsicephalic. The minimum frontal is 107 mm., the bizygomatic, 141 mm., and the bigonial, 108 mm.; the face height, 124 mm., the nose height, 55 mm., and the nose breadth, 34. The facial index is 88, on the border between mesoprosopy and leptoprosopy; the nasal index, 65.

On the whole, the mountaineers and the people of Ura-Tuba and Pedjerent are the same, but the oasis-dwellers of Samarkand are narrower-headed, narrower-faced, and narrower-nosed, while at the same time wider in the distance between the eyes, with a cephalic index of 84, and a nasal index of 62. Another difference between the Samarkand series and the mountaineers is in the biorbital diameter, taken between the outer eye corners; 94 mm. in Samarkand, and 92 mm. in the others. At the same time, the interorbital distance, between the inner corners, is actually narrower in the Samarkand group (30.7 mm.) than in the mountains (34.5 mm.). Hence the divergence of the Samarkand people from the mountaineers cannot be in a mongoloid direction. The series from the oases of Ferghana differs from the mountain group in the same direction, but not to the same degree as that of the Samarkand Tajiks. This direction points, in a metrical sense, toward the Irano-Afghan Mediterranean type prevalent among the Turkomans, and also, as we shall see later, toward that of the Bokharan Jews.

The skin color of the Tajiks is a brunet-white to a light brown, from Luschan #10 to #16; it is lighter on the plain than in the mountains. About 55 per cent have dark eyes, with a great majority of light brown; the remainder are mostly dark-mixed, of both blue-brown and green-brown shades. The plainsmen of Samarkand and Ferghana run to 85 per cent of dark eyes, with many dark browns. The head hair color is black in 35 per cent of the mountain group, and over 60 per cent in the oases; the rest are dark brown in both, except for a very small incidence of partial blondism. The beard color is the same as that of the head hair, as a rule, although there is a slight tendency to reddish brown.

The hair form is usually straight on the beard as well as on the head; the eyebrows are usually thick and concurrent. The beard development reaches a maximum white condition, with heavy growth on the cheek and jaw as well as on the mustache and chin. There is, however, a 10 per cent minority with weak development. Hair is also usual on the chest, abdomen, arms, and legs; 12 per cent even have it on their backs. In this maximum pilosity the mountaineers are outstanding; the Tajiks of Samarkand and Ferghana, while still very hairy, are less so.

Most of the Tajiks have pentagonoid or oval faces, the latter form being especially marked in the lowlands; the horizontal profile of the face, however, is flattish in over 50 per cent of the group, in marked contrast to the narrowness and beakiness of Turkomans and Persians. That this condition is Alpine rather than mongoloid is shown by the lack of forward malar projection.

The mountain Tajiks have noses that are definitely Alpine in most cases; the root is usually of medium depth, under moderate browridges; the bridge is medium to high, with oblique walls, the tip is of moderate thickness, often slightly bifurcated, and usually horizontal; the wings of medium lateral extension. Straight or wavy profiles are found among 60 per cent, convex among 25 per cent, concave among the rest. The noses of the oasis people, on the other hand, tend to high roots, lack of nasion depression, convex profiles, and compressed wings.

A few Tajiks have round nostrils, and others a horizontal nostril axis; these show definitely mongoloid tendencies, as do some 4 per cent with slight epicanthic eyefolds. Armenoid or Dinaric tendencies are more prevalent; some 17 per cent of occipital flattening is found in the total group, but it is more frequent on the lowlands than in the mountains, where it reaches but 8 per cent. Lambdoid flattening is commoner. The great majority have curvoccipital, globular cranial vaults, with both high and broad foreheads which are rarely more than slightly sloping.

The mountain Tajiks, both metrically and morphologically, are as pure Alpines as it is possible to find anywhere in the white racial area today; but like other Alpines, they show a minor tendency toward a Dinaric or Armenoid form, owing to the presence of Mediterranean strains in their midst. The Nordic racial element which the bearers of Iranian speech may have brought to this population has been almost entirely absorbed, although a few blonds, resembling those found among the Ossetes in the Caucasus, are to be seen. Mongoloid admixture is present in small quantity; most of the mongoloid racial characters are so at variance with those of the Tajiks that when present, mongoloid blood may easily be perceived.

On the plain, in the oases of Ferghana and at Samarkand, there is a strong admixture of narrow-headed, narrow-faced, thin-nosed, high-nosed, brunet Mediterraneans, of the general Irano-Afghan type. This divergence from the mountain Tajik type is at variance with the theory that mongoloids have mixed with the people of the oases. The acquisition of this Mediterranean strain may be explained by any one or more of the following theses: (a) admixture of Turkomans at the beginning of the Turkish invasion; (h) the absorption of Persian slaves; (c) the absorption of Jews; (d) the survival of an early Turkish strain in the oases from the days of initial food production, or of the beginnings of horse nomadism. Historically, any of the first three may or may not be possible; the fourth is rendered possible only by a tentative acceptance of the theory of Turkish origins propounded earlier in this volume.

How much farther eastward the zone of Alpine reëmergence goes beyond Russian Turkestan, cannot be told on the basis of available published data. If it extends beyond the Tian Shan, it has been so modified through mixture with mongoloids that its identification would be difficult. The Tajiks form the last complete outpost in the wide zone of Alpine survival or reëmergence which reaches eastward with few breaks from France over a stretch of nearly 5,000 miles. Like their counterparts in the far west, they are more Alpine and less altered by Mediterranean admixture than most of those who live in between.



158 This brief introduction is based largely on Jochelson’s Peoples of Asiatic Russia, Chapter 4. See also, K. E. von Ujfalvy, Les Aryens au Nord et au Sud de l’Hindou Kouch.

159 Vishnevsky, B. N., ACIA, 3me sess., 1927, pp. 243—248.

160 See Chapter VIII, section 6, p. 287.

161 Thanks to the generosity of Prof. Boris N. Vishnevsky, of the Institute of Anthropology and Ethnography at Leningrad, who has most graciously permitted me to make use of his fully documented series of over 300 Tajiks, hitherto published only in part and in a preliminary report.

Vishnevsky, B. N., ACIA, 3me sess., 1927, pp. 243—248.