IN SEARCH FOR AL-ANDALUS, Part III. - Uzbekistan and the Silk Road
The contribution shows the close relationship between the Silk Road, the ancient Uzbekistan and al-Andalus, the Medieval Muslim Spain. From 10th to 15th century al-Andalus was the country with the highest cultural, technical and scientific level in the Western World. From al-Andalus, all innovations and scientific discoveries and knowledge spread out to Medieval Europe. So, the question was: "What had the Silk Road and the old Uzbekistan to do with al-Andalus, the Muslim Spain?"
The contribution shows the close relationship between the Silk Road, the ancient Uzbekistan and al-Andalus, the Medieval Muslim Spain. From 10th to 15th century al-Andalus was the country with the highest cultural, technical and scientific level in the Western World. From al-Andalus, all innovations and scientific discoveries and knowledge spread out to Medieval Europe.
So, the question was: "What had the Silk Road and the old Uzbekistan to do with al-Andalus, the Muslim Spain?"
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IN SEARCH FOR AL-ANDALUS
in Morocco – Syria – Uzbekistan – Jordan – Iran
Part III. – Uzbekistan and the Silk Road
©Isabel Blanco del Piñal
IN SEARCH OF AL-ANDALUS
in Morocco – Siria –Uzbekistan – Jordan – Iran
©Isabel Blanco del Piñal
Content of series by chapters
Part I. Marokko und Al-Andalus (published, German language only)
Part II. Syrien und Al-Andalus (published, German language only)
Part III. Die Seidenstraße, Usbekistan und Al-Andalus (published, German language only)
Part III. The Silk Road, Uzbekistan and al-Andalus (English, published)
Part IV. Jordanien und Al-Andalus (published, German language only)
Part V. Persien und Al-Andalus (published, German language only)
Cover picture: Mosque Holo Bauz, Bukhara/Uzbekistan
Remark: All other chapters of “In Search of al-Andalus” are only available in German language
Contact: RoseNoire, Gisela Fischer and Isabel Blanco del Piñal
D-81827 München/Germany – Tel. +49(89) 439 53 21 – Fax +49(89) 439 75 89
Email : email@example.com all books and publications on our website: https://www.rosenoire.de
All digital magazines: https://www.yumpu.com/user/rosenoiregf
Uzbekistan, the Silk Road and al-Andalus
Famous traditional Uzbek fabric pattern. It is
used with cotton and also silk fabrics
This part of my journeys "In search for al-
Andalus" shows the indirect but crucial
importance of the Silk Road and Old
Uzbekistan as to the economic, scientific and
cultural splendour of al-Andalus, the Medieval
The legendary trade route started in China and
contributed significantly to the so-called
"Golden Age of Islam" (8.-13.Jh.) in all
countries which were crossed by the Silk Road:
historic Bactria and Sogdia (todays Northern
Afghanistan, the southern parts of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan), Iran, Irak, Siria and
Istanbul. But Silk Road was not only a simple trade route for transportation of all kinds of goods.
Other, rather more valuable „merchandise“ was transported along its course: breakthrough scientific
inventions, trailblazing discoveries, advanced technical innovations and even religions were spread
out from the Far East to the West and East thanks to the Silk Road: Buddhism came to Europe and
Christianism reached China.
It is undisputed that the most important discoveries and innovations came mainly from China, but
also from Choresmia, part of today’s Northern Uzbekistan. Thanks to the excellent trade relations
maintained with Arab countries all these innovations were also transmitted without a major delay to
the Muslim Spain, a land in the extreme West of the -at that time- known world. That was how al-
Andalus became the country with the highest cultural, economic, technical and scientific level in the
Western World. Any innovation and achievement was spread from Spain over all other countries of
the Europe of those days. For all my journeys I had the same questions:
From 8th to mid of 13th century the whole Arab world had an exceptional cultural splendor which is known
as “The Golden Age of Islam”. How did al-Andalus 1 , a country located at the extreme West of the earth 2 ,
reach that extraordinary level of scientific knowledge which even spread to the medieval Europe enriching
and inspiring the occidental culture?
During eight centuries a big part of the Peninsula had been the home country of the Hispanic Arabs. Even
today the religious tolerance of al-Andalus is still famous. In fact, this tolerance only existed for few centuries
in al-Andalus. In which country could I find parallels where this tolerance came from?
And what about the legendary richness of al-Andalus? Until the Arab conquest 3 , the inhabitants of the
Iberian Peninsula grew crops, raised animals and cultivated fruits. There was a moderate textile industry
based upon wool and cotton as well as mineral resources which all served to cover the personal needs.
In which country would I be able to find traces of the enjoyment of life of the Umayyads, the first Muslim
dynasty 4 after the death of the Prophet, in those days when Islam was young. Under the reign of the Spanish
Umayyads an exotic oriental refinement was unfolded in al-Andalus, too. And last but not least: Did the
Muslim ban on images exist since the very first times of Islam?
The Moorish Spain was famous for water works, hydraulic systems and beautiful gardens. From where did
the muslim Arabs get the technical knowledge on this field?
1 the Moorish Spain
2 before the discovery of America
3 reign of Visigoths until 711
4 their rule lasted from 661 to 750
What had the Silk Road and the old Uzbekistan to do with al-Andalus,
the Medieval Muslim Spain?
First of all let us have a look at the history of Medieval Arab Spain:
Map of Muslim Spain 711-1031
(dark brown=Muslim territories,
light brown: Christian Kingdoms)
Under the name of “Hispaniae”, Spain was part of the
Roman Empire from the year 201 BC until approx.
415 AD. Around the beginning of 5th century the
Roman Empire began to decline. During their long
history in the Near and Middle East, Romans had
discovered on the riverside of Euphrates and Tigris
the simple but effective Arabic water management,
such as agricultural irrigation systems or how to
guarantee the water supply for the cities.
In those times, Spain was an extremely fertile country
with moderate climatic conditions and when the
Arab sons of the desert concluded the conquest of
Spain in 711 AD, they believed having arrived at
Once the Arab conquest concluded, only few
Christian Kingdoms had survived in the extreme
North of Spain. So, from 711-1031 AD most of
Spanish territory was governed by Arab Emirs and Caliphs. In the beginning of 11 th century all al-Andalus was
affected substantially by a civil war. After that al-Andalus disintegrated into several small kingdoms, called Taifa-
Kingdoms. In 1095 until mid of 13th century, Muslim Berber dynasties from Morocco (Almoravids, Almohads)
reigned over Spain.
The Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba (Andalousia)
During Muslim centuries the name of Spain was “al-
Andalus” and the inhabitants were called
Andalusians. Today we call the Spanish Arabs
commonly the “Moors” and their culture, “Moorish”.
Until 1031 AD all rulers of al-Andalus belonged to the
Umayyad dynasty. The origin and former capital of
Umayyad dynasties has been Damascus. In 8 th
century the Umayyad government was overthrown
by the Abbasids whose capital was Baghdad.
During 11 th century, Christians tried many times to
reconquer the Muslim territories. But it was a hard
and complicated task which required nearly
unlimited resources of money and manpower.
Christian rulers were always lacking both, meanwhile
Andalusians had more than enough of both. Why
they had so much money and manpower – we will
see that later. Most of inhabitants of al-Andalus were Muslim because also many Christians accepted to follow the
rules of Islam. That made life far easier. In addition, among intellectuals and young people, it became a kind of
fashion to be Muslim and to wear long, flowing white garments. Today we would say it was “cool” to be Muslim.
Jews had already come to Spain during Roman times, they did not convert to Islam but all those citizens who wanted
to keep their religious customs were allowed to do.
The School of Translaters in Toledo/Spain (14th century)
From 711 until nearly end of 11th century Arabs, Christians and Jews
lived peacefully together. Muslim rulers gave an utmost importance to
the education of all subjects living in al-Andalus, to all kinds of Sciences,
they strongly supported the Fine Arts, the craft and weaving industries.
Especially among Arabs and Jews there were excellent craftsmen and
artisans for all areas. Thousands of immigrants, craftsmen, artisans,
stone masons, master builders and scientists from Mediterranean
countries came to al-Andalus. The Muslim Spain was considered to be
the "land of boundless opportunities". Import and Export from and to
Mediterranean countries, such as North Africa, Italy, Turkey and Arabia
were strongly promoted, increasing considerably not only the richness of
the rulers but at the same time, also the economic and social well-being
of all citizens. One of the most important issues for the rulers were the
hygienic conditions and the safety in the streets of big cities: A wide
network for fresh water supply same as for the discharge of dirty water
was continuously amplified and improved. Just one example: In the 10 th
century Córdoba was the first City in Europe to have street lamps.
Since mid of 8 th century also a great part of Moroccans converted to
Islam. From Morocco thousands and thousands Berbers were recruited
to increase the Andalusian Caliphs troops. They had to defend the borders of the wide Islamic territory and were
constantly on the alert. In the European and in the Arab world al-Andalus became not only the epitome for
incredible richness of the rulers, for technical and scientific progressiveness in all areas, but also for religious
In the period from 12th to 13th century, most of scientific Arabic treatises were translated into Latin language at the
so-called School of Translaters in Toledo/Spain (in Spanish: Escuela de Traductores de Toledo).
The famous courtyard of the Lions of the Moorish castle “La Alhambra”
in Granada/Spain, built in 13th and 14th century.
This was possible thanks to few progressive Christian scholars (among
them a French clergyman) but mainly, thanks to the Christian Spanish
King Alfonso X., also called “The Wise” or “The Learned” (13th century).
At that moment of history Christians had succeeded to conquer Toledo.
King Alfonso X. was himself an acknowledged scientist with a huge
knowledge on many fields and he had soon recognized the priceless
value of the Arabic achievements. At the beginning of 12 th century,
highly qualified translaters Arabs, Jews and Christians started with their
difficult and huge task. Working hand in hand they succeeded to transfer
to Latin language all available scientific and philosophic handwritten
books and manuscripts containing all the knowledge of classical Arabic,
Hebrew (Jewish) and also of Greek antiquity. Until that moment, all
other European countries still had a poor cultural, technical and
scientific level. We can say that these translations literally enlightened
the cultural and technological “darkness” of the Medieval Europe.
The last Moorish Kingdom in al-Andalus was the vast territory of Granada. The city itself was taken by Christian
troops in January 1492. Christian kings had needed 3,5 centuries to reach their aim of reconquest. Granada and the
Moorish palace “Alhambra” will always be the symbol for the splendor and, at the same time, for the dramatic end
of a sophisticated high culture. But from the end of 9th/beginning of 10th century al-Andalus was the richest
European country, the country with the highest technological, cultural and scientific level in the western world. But
how Andalusians did succeed to reach such a high economic and cultural level? From geographic point of view, al-
Andalus was a country at the most outer end of the Western World.
From where did Andalusians get the input, the impulses for all innovations and for the development of huge
scientific knowledge, especially in medicine, astronomy and mathematics?
On Spice Bazaar, Aleppo/Syria
The period from 8 th to mid of 13 th century is
commonly called The Golden Age of Islam.
Arabic culture experienced an extraordinary
dynamic development and a cultural
splendor. Its origin was in Orient and
fertilized also al-Andalus. Until the decline of
Umayyad Caliphate (mid 8th century) in
Arabia, the muslim Spain got most of
commercial, scientific and intellectual input
from Damascus (Syria) and after that, the
informations were transmitted from
Baghdad (Abbasid dynastiy). All news and/or
innovations reached Arabia through the Silk
When caravans coming from the East arrived
to the Syrian city Palmyra the hardest part of
the trail was done. Palmyra was the turntable of all commerce coming and going to the West or to the East. Here the
Silk Road splitted up in two parts: one to the South (via Damascus along the Incense Road to Egypt and from there to
North-Africa) the other one to the West (via Aleppo to Turkey, then by ship to Greece and Italy). From there the
goods could be transported by land to other Western countries.
World map made by the Ancient Greek
historian Herodot (on the right side you may
see the words Sogdians and Bactra(also
Since the period of Sassanid dynasty
(around 540 AD) transport by sea to other
Mediterranean countries was also carried
out from the Syrian port “Seleucia Pieria”
(founded by a successor of Alexander the
Great). From mid 8th century not only trade
products, but also all kinds of scientific
knowledge and technical development were
transmitted from Baghdad (time of Abbasid
Caliphate) to al-Andalus. Favored by its
geographic location near Mediterranean
countries, the Syrian cities Damascus and
Aleppo continued during all centuries to be the commercial hub, the marketplace for the most important oriental
and Central Asian trade roads, even after the Ottoman invasion of Arabia and North Africa (Ottoman Empire: from
1299 until beginning of 20th century).
5 Author&source of picture: Bibi Saint-Pol, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Herodotus_world_map-en.svg
The Silk Road and the Role of the Ancient Uzbekistan
Main Track of Silk Road from China through Central-Asia.
In ancient times Uzbekistan was a part of Sogdiana (also Sogdia) 6 . Sogdiana mainly consisted in the autonomous
provinces Bukhara, Samarqand and Panjakent in the Tajik province Sugd. Maybe the earliest information we have
about Sogdiana comes from the ancient Greek historian Herodot (also Herodotus, approx. 484-425BC). He included
Sogdiana in his (assumed) world map and in some of his works he already mentions a trade route from Far East to
the Western world. Many pioneering discoveries and innovations came from the ancient China. In fact, the ancient
Chinese had discovered some of the most important and progressive innovations the world had ever seen: they
discovered the papermaking, the art of silk manufacturing and how to weave precious and luxurious fabrics from the
threads of such noble material.
The naming Silk Road is relatively young: It was the German researcher von Richthofen who, in the 19th century gave
that name to one of the oldest trade routes which ever existed. But Silk Road is indeed a proper name because when
trade started along that trade route, Chinese merchants paid all kind of products which they highly appreciated
(among them, horses from Fergana Valley) with enormous quantities of silk.
The Silk Road worked in both directions. Together with green jade, spices from India, furs and porcelain, silk became
one of the most precious merchandise for Western civilizations, such as the ancient Greeks or Romans. Among many
other valuable goods, Mediterranean and Arab countries provided China and India with precious stones, with
incense from the Arabian Peninsula 7 , with gold, iron and glassware. The Silk Road was not at all a natural trail. From
China to Fergana Valley it was an extremely hard way and the track changed according to seasons and weather
conditions. At this point starts the role of the ancient Uzbekistan as one of the most important countries, maybe
even the most important one, not only for the Far East (China, India) but for all countries located westwards from
Central-Asia: Persia/Iran, Turkey, Syria as well as for the countries and cities mainly depending on medieval
Mediterranean Sea trade such as North Africa, Venice in Italy and (in the extreme West) al-Andalus, the Moorish
Spain. As 90% of Tajikistan consists in mountainous terrain, today’s Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan was the first fertile
and flat landscape which caravans reached after having overcome the hardest part of Silk Road: from China along
the border of the desert Taklamakan crossing the pass between the mountain ranges Tien Shan and Alai. Going to or
coming from India, the caravans had to cross the Khyber Pass, one of the world’s oldest mountain pass, a terribly
hard trail. It was already used for their conquests by Alexander the Great and his troops. Also Genghis Khan, same as
all Muslim invasions of South Asia and the Turkic-Mongols came through that pass 8 .
6 Please see Herodotus’ map of the World on page 6
7 Incense Road: from today’s Oman to Alexandria/Egypt and Damascus/Syria
8 Source&author: user Captain Blood), http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:20050516220851!Seidenstrasse_GMT.jpg
Courtyard of a caravanserai in Damascus. In
Syria a caravanserai was called “Khan”.
After having had a rest at Fergana Valley and
after having concluded their first deals,
caravans continued to the more than 2.500
years old Oasis-cities Samarkand / Afrosiyob
(also Afrasiab) and Bukhara. From Fergana
Valley on, the road was easier for men and
their pack animals. Approx. each 30-40
kilometers caravanserais were waiting for
them, this was the distance a caravan was
supposed to cover in one day. Along the
complete trail, caravanserais acted as a hub
for trade. The caravan leaders sold or
exchanged products, people from the
surroundings came to buy or to offer their
products. But caravanserais were the most
important centers for the exchange of all kind
of informations and/or news.
Expansion of the original trade road in Sogdian
After Alexander the Greats conquest (327 BC)
of Sogdiana (see map Herodotus), the
provinces Samarqand/Afrosiyob and Bukhara
organized the traffic along the Silk Road.
Sogdiana was not only a province it was also a
kind of commercial union of cooperation
between different more or less autonomous
We can compare that union somehow to the
very beginning of today’s European Union.
That cooperation was of utmost importance
because Sogdians enlarged considerably the
original Silk Road, creating a wide network of
different trade routes from Sogdiana to the
East, the South and the Western World. We
can say that from 2nd century BC until 10th
AD, Sogdians controlled the traffic on Silk
Road with only few interruptions.
Tthat kind of Joint venture was extraordinarily fruitful for all partners along the Silk Road. Regardless any political
situation of whether Sogdiana belonged to Transoxiania, to Persian, Sassanid or Samanid Empires, the Sogdian Union
of cooperation continued handling all the trade from West to Far East and back. Samarqand/Afrosiyob (Afrasiab) and
Bukhara became the market places for buying, selling and exchanging the most beautiful and valuable products.
These cities were the gateway, a kind of open corridor to all Western countries as well as to the Far East.
9 Picture: Map source+author: Liftarn, Feb. 2006) http://www.freeworldmaps.net and
Wall painting from the archeological site Afrosiyob (Samarqand).
More picture information: Details of a copy of mural called The
Ambassadors' Painting, found in the hall of the ruin of an
aristocratic house in Afrosiyob, commissioned by King Varkhuman
of Samarqand (ca. 650 AD) 10 .
The archeological site Afrosiyob located on a hill just beside today’s city of Samarqand can give us an idea of the
radiance of that town which was inhabited at least since 250 BC. Other sources affirm that the origin of Afrosiyob
dates back to 6 th century BC. Afrosiyob was the splendorous centre of Sogdian culture, a kind of seigneurial district
with manorial residences. Around 1220 Dschenghis Khan conquered that part of Samarqand and Afrosiyob was
completely destroyed. However, some beautiful wall paintings survived and report from an intensive diplomatic
court life. Wall paintings in that area were extremely rare.
Only in the archeological site of ancient Panjakent (Tadschikistan), similar wall paintings have been discovered.
Historians therefore also refer to Samarqand and Panjakent as to the Central-Asiatic Pompeii. Samarqand and
Bukhara were not only two of the oldest and richest cities along the SilkRoad, but also the places of highest
intellectual and cultural level in Central-Asia. Their splendor sparkled until the decline of land trade due to rapidly
growing development of commercial maritime trade (mainly England, Portugal) between approx. 15th and 18th
10 Picture: Wikimedia Commons, Scan, Author unkown
The Silk Road – Instrument for Transfer of Knowledge and Innovations
But Silk Road was not only the most important trade road from Far East to the West. At those times neither letters
and post offices, nor telephone or Internet did exist. Thus, before the discovery of paper and book printing, all over
the world all kinds of news or events were transmitted from country to country through oral traditions.
Fabric merchant, Samarkand. Merchants
display includes silk, cotton, and wool
fabrics, as well as few carpets. Picture was
taken between 1905 and 1915 by Sergei
Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944) 11
The Silk Road turned to be the “Road of
cultural and scientific exchange”, an
instrument for the transport of ideas and
innovations, for the transfer of scientific
discoveries and new technologies. Even
religions took that trail: Christian
missionaries came along the Silk Road to
China and Buddhist monks went from India
to China and to Europe.
So we can say that the Old Uzbekistan was a
melting pot for all kind of cultures, a
turntable not only for trade of products, but
also for transfer of knowledge and technical
progress from Eastern countries to the
Western World and back.
The secret of silk production
Wooden weaving- loom still in use in
Morocco. In the village Bzou women
continue weaving fabrics for high priced men
clothing following the old Andalusian
tradition of mixing silk and cotton
Production of silk started in China probably
5.000 years ago in the 3rd or 2nd
millennium AD. It was forbidden under pain
of death to takeout from China silk worms
and eggs of the silk-spinner butterfly. During
2.000 years the secret could be kept.
According to an ancient legend, two monks
were successful in “exporting” eggs and silk
worms in their hollow walking sticks. Once
the secret of silk production and the very
first silk worms had succeeded to cross the
Chinese border towards the West,
Uzbekistan was one of the very first
countries to start cultivating and producing silk. Thanks to the excellent soil composition in Fergana Valley Area, the
mulberry trees grew nearly better here than in China.
Thanks to oral transmissions from traders travelling along the Silk Road to the West, the precious knowledge about
silk producing and the first silk worms were brought also to Arabia. Due to its hot and dry climate, Arabia was not the
best place to cultivate mulberry trees, but al-Andalus was an excellent country for that purpose. Andalusian Arabs
quickly learned how to produce silk and how to weave precious carpets, beautiful tapestries for the walls, pillow
covers, textiles as well as all kind of robes and dresses.
On the Southern flank of the Andalusian mountain range Sierra Nevada, the Spanish region Alpujarra offered the
best climatic conditions for planting and cultivating mulberry trees. All valleys and hills in that area were covered
with mulberry trees. In the Alpujarra area and around the Andalusian city of Granada there existed thousands of
small weaving-looms, we can say that nearly even the smallest house had a weaving-loom.
The Mediterranean town of Almeria (Andalusia) was the home port of the Caliphs large fleet of commercial ships.
We can read in historical chronicles that in the 11th century, around 5.000 wooden-looms were counted in Almería
and every week dozens of ships to all Mediterranean ports were loaded with all kinds of silkware.
Even though Venice (Italy) also had a silk weaving tradition at that time, the typical Arabic oriental patterns and
colors were highly demanded not only in Arabia or North Africa but even by Christian rulers, noblemen and feudal
lords. Among several other lucrative essential merchandises the trade based upon silk production and weaving
industry was one the main income of all rulers of al-Andalus.
The Art of papermaking …
Arab handwritten prayer book, 18th/19th century.
… also came from Far East. Traces were found that China used paper since the 2nd century BC. Before that, Chinese
chroniclers wrote and even painted on silk or on tablets of bamboo. For valuable and precious manuscripts Arabs
used gazelle (gazal) skin/leather. But that new Chinese invention marked a new era in the history of human
evolution. Papermaking spread from Far East across the Western World. First it reached those countries and cities
located along the Silk Road which displayed a high intellectual level, as it was the case of Uzbekistan during the socalled
Golden Age of Islam in Central Asia same as in Arabic countries (9th century to 13th).
Papermaking started in Samarqand and Bukhara mid 8th A.D. and end of 8th century in Baghdad. By the end of 10th
beginning of 11th century it was transmitted to al-Andalus. From Spain the art of papermaking was transmitted to
the rest of Europe in 13th century. A new industry was born contributing not only to a dynamic economic
development but representing one of the strongest impulses to the development of Commerce and Sciences, of Fine
Arts and Literature the World had ever seen.
The Sciences: Medicine and Mathematics
Avicenna/Ibn Sina explaining human body to some students.
Picture taken at Avicenna Museum, Afshona (Bukhara)
Without any doubt two more sensational contributions to the
worldwide intellectual, technical and industrial developments are
due to scientists who were born and/or partially lived in Old
The first personality is the scientist Ibn Sina (in Europe: Avicenna)
on the field of Medicine. Ibn Sina was born arnd. 980 AD in
Afshona/Afshana (near Bukhara), he died 1037 in Hamadan
(today: in Iran). In the Eastern as well as in the Western world,
Ibn Sina is considered to be the father of medicine. When he was
born, Bukhara was the capital town of Samanid Empire. Due to
the high number of scholars living and teaching in Bukhara at
that time, the city was also known as Bukhara the learned or
Bukhara the erudite.
Ibn Sina was an exceptional allround-scientist: He wrote treatises
about medicine, philosophy, astronomy, psychology, physics etc.
However, his most famous works are about medicine, such as the
Book of Healing (philosophical and medical encyclopedia) or his
Canon of Medicine (only medicine). Since the 10th century his
discoveries and exact instructions about diagnosis, about use of
(mainly natural) medicines, surgical techniques and healing of all
kind of diseases (even cancer and eye diseases such as cataract), were applied not only in Central-Asia and Arabia,
but also in al-Andalus. He was also the first to point out how important the music can be for the process of healing.
In 12th century, in the Spanish town of Toledo, the Canon was also translated from Arabic into Latin language. Since
then, and until the mid of 17th century that most famous work of Ibn Sina /Avicenna in Latin language was the basic
standard book for medicine students at all universities in Europe.
Monument to al-Chuarizmi, Khiwa, 2013,
The second world-wide famous scientist is
al-Chuarizmi (also: al-Khwarizmi, al-
Chwarizmi, al-Khorezmi), whose discoveries
also travelled along the Silk Road until they
came to Europe.
He was born around 780 AD in some
(unknown) city in the wide Kingdom
Khorezm (Khoresm, Khorasan), which at
that time expanded from the counties in
the North of Uzbekistan to Iran in the
South. He died somewhere between 835
and 850 (probably near Baghdad). Very few
details are known about his life. But we
know that he was a scholar at the House of
Wisdom (Bait/Bayt al-Hikma) in Baghdad
(during Abbasid Empire).
Page from a Latin translation of al-Chuarizmis second most
important work. (Cambridge, University Library, Ii. 6.5.).
Document begins with: “Dixit algorizmi…” (Thus said al-
Generally speaking, without his exceptional contribution on the
field of mathematics, no technical or technological development
could have been possible. Similar to Avicenna who can be
considered as the father of modern medicine, al-Chuarizmi’s
scientific work was later on considered as the base of algebra
and logarithms, although the basis for his studies and the
knowledge about the use of Arabic numbers had its origin in
Thanks to his work the Arabic numerals from 1-10 were
introduced in the Eastern and Western World. The word Algebra
has its origin in the Arabic word al-dschabre, word included in
the title of one of his most famous books: al-Kitāb al-mukhtaṣar
fī ḥisāb) al-dschabre wa-l-muqābala. The word logarithm has its
origin in the Latin version of his name al-gorism.
Content was about arithmetics and the arabic title was probably:
The Book of Addition and Substraction according to the Hindu
Calculation. The first Latin translation of al-Chuarizmis
mathematic treatises was written in the School of Translaters in
Toledo/Spain, probably in 12th century. These works also
marked a turning point in the Western civilization. Until that
moment, Roman numerals were still in use in the Western part
of the World, except in al-Andalus, (Spain). The introduction of Arabic numerals in Europe was similar to a cultural
revolution. The Roman Catholic Church fought a long and fierce battle against the introduction of calculation with
Arabic numerals. The basis of Christian views on the world seemed to be severely shakened 12 .
12 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dixit_algorizmi.png Page from Latin manuscript (Cambridge, University Library, Ii. 6.5.),
beginning with 'DIXIT algorizmi', Baldassarre Boncompagni invented the title 'Algoritmi de numero Indorum' in 1857" Scanned
from facsimile (1963). Translation probably 12th century by Adelard of Bath. PD Old.
(Uploaded by user U3001, 14th June 2006, 22:39)
And last but not at all at least, tales and Legends
Storyteller on a oriental market place
The Silk Road contributed not only to the richness of cities and
countries and to the development of technical and scientific
knowledge. Since most ancient times the trade road served as a
means of transportation to bring news from one edge of the
world to the other. During the evenings in the caravanserais,
merchants and caravan leaders (cameleers) sat together eating or
having some tea and talking about what they had seen and heard
in the different cities along the trail. So, since the very first
beginning of Silk Road history, the traders also transmitted tales
One of the best examples for oral transmission is the marvelous
collection of the Tales of the 1001 nights.
Most scholars agree that the very first tales date from 3rd century
and came by oral transmission probably from India. In Persia, they
became known around the year 500 AD, during Sassanid Empire.
Below: 2 pages from the so-called Galland manuscript, one of the oldest handwritten edition
of the 1001 Nights. Arabic manuscript dating back to the 14th century from Syria, kept at
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris 13
13 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Arabian_nights_manuscript.jpg / Author unknown.
Nowadays the Tales are considered to be one of the most famous fairytale books and belong to classic literature. In
ancient times, the city of Samarqand must have been so famous all over Central-Asia and Far East, that the cities
name is eternalized in the Tales, quite at the beginning of the Tales: One of the key persons of the frame story is
Shah Zaman or Schazzenan, “Sultan (King) of Samarkand” (Samarcand). He is the brother of Shahryar (also Shariyar,
Shaharyar etc.), a fictional Persian Sassanid King who is told stories by his wife Sheherazade (also Šahrzad or
Upon the discovery of papermaking the Persian version was probably written down in the 9th century and was
translated into Arabic language in 10th century. A book titled Fihrist of the Muslim scholar Muhammad bin Is'hāq al-
Nadim is a huge Index of the books in all nations, Arabs and non-Arabs, existing in Arabic language and/or script, in
every field of knowledge (appeared in 936 AD). The Tales of 1001 nights are mentioned in that Index.
The earliest edition titled Arabian nights did not contain all the stories included in today’s editions. Over the
centuries the number of tales grew considerably, being enriched by folk tales and/or legends from different
countries, mostly of Persian and Arabic origin, such as the Tale of Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Other stories came from
Egypt. Even the French author Antoine Galland added some oriental stories at the moment when translating the
Tales for the first time, such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. That first European edition was published 1704 in
France. The Tales were translated into every global language and continue to delight all generations.
Part of an Uzbek Suzani, a traditional handicraft product. The pomegranate is symbol
of good luck and fertility, same as in al-Andalus, the Moorish Spain. The name of the
city of Granada (Andalusia/South of Spain) comes from the Spanish word for
Madrasa Nadir Devonbegi, Square Lyabi Hauz, Bukhara
A direct connection between Silk Road, Uzbekistan and al-Andalus
cannot be denied. Without the Silk Road’s function as a means of
transport for knowledge and discoveries, without Sogdians
dynamic cooperation to strongly promote the trade on Silk Road
in ancient times, the cultural development of the World would
have been considerably delayed.
Even today, the Uzbek part of the Silk Road still fullfills part of its
original purpose of transmitting and expanding knowledge. The
Golden Age of caravan trade by Road is long past, but travelers
who follow that legendary route are deeply impressed by all they
learn about its history and the splendorous cultural past of the
cities located along that ancient trading route. Visitors also see
that the cultural, architectural and artistic heritage of the Golden
Past of Silk Road was carefully restored and preserved. So I can
really affirm that I found answers to some of my questions about
the origins of richness and high technical and scientific level of the
The very first beginnings were in Central-Asia, more exactly in the
splendorous Uzbek cities along the Silk Road and their very
dynamic development. In addition I found something even more precious: Through all centuries of its eventful and
sometimes difficult millenary history, Uzbekistan was influenced by many different civilizations. It was a melting-pot
of different cultures, from Far East same as from the West. Today’s Uzbek nation, however, seems to have kept the
best from each and upon that base its own and very individual culture was born. I sincerely hope that even with
growing tourism, Uzbekistan may keep this very own and special personality which has its roots in the countries
millenary history. The irresistible flair of the country is not only due to beautiful historic buildings or to the special
charm of cities like Samarqand, Bukhara or Khiva. It is the whole which makes Uzbekistan so fascinating: the
medieval architecture of the legendary Silk Road Cities, the millenary history of the country, to preserve religious
and pious customs and showing respect for old cultural values and traditions even among young people. All that
contributes that Uzbekistan continues to be a “mythical land”, a country where visitors are enchanted by feeling the
magic of long past centuries, appreciating at the same time the careful approach to modern times.
“Ming Rahmat O’zbekistan! – Thank you so much Uzbekistan …!”
GESCHICHTEN AUS AL-ANDALUS (3. Auflage/3rd edition)
Die Königreiche Taifas, ein andalusischer Traum
Isabel Blanco del Piñal
Vorwort von Frau Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Annemarie Schimmel
Geschichten, Geschichte und Gedichte: Die Autorin schreibt lebendig und
abwechslungsreich über Glanz und Untergang der maurischen Kultur in
Spanien. Viele Jahrhunderte lang pflegten arabische Literaten und Chronisten
die Tradition der, jede auch noch so winzige Kleinigkeit erfassenden,
Überlieferungen. Sie verknüpften historische Fakten mit dramatischen
Geschichten, mit Lyrik und Prosa jener Zeiten, mit amüsanten oder tragischen
Anekdoten aus dem Leben von Königen, Dichtern, Wesiren, Philosophen oder
Prinzessinnen. Ihre Chroniken bieten eine Überfülle an Informationen und
enthalten auch Palastgeflüster, bösartige Intrigen, bewegende Liebesgeschichten
oder Eifersuchtsdramen – zuweilen lesen sich diese Schriften wie
Isabel Blanco del Piñal hat diesen Schreibstil übernommen und lässt nicht nur die Blütezeit der maurischen
Hochkultur noch einmal aufleben, die auch die abendländische Philosophie, Wissenschaft und Religion inspiriert und
bereichert hat. Sie erzählt auch von dem dramatischen Untergang der spanischen Araber. Die Geschichten aus al-
Andalus sind ursprünglich in drei Bänden erschienen. Bei der ersten überarbeiteten und erweiterten Neuauflage
wurden sie in einem Sammelband zusammengefasst. Die liebevoll gestaltete hochwertige Veröffentlichung erschien
64 Bilder in nostalgisch-braunem Duplex-Druck, 224 S. – 16x21cm, ISBN 978-3-933653-07-9
Inhaltsverzeichnis und Leseprobe finden Sie auf unserer Website www.rosenoire.de.
LAND AM SONNENUNTERGANG – MAROKKO
Isabel Blanco del Piñal
Bereits im 4. Jahrhundert n.Chr. verließen die alten Araber ihre Halbinsel, um die
angrenzenden Kontinente zu erkunden. Im äußersten Westen gebot ein Furcht
einflößendes und legendenumwobenes Meer ihrem Entdeckungsdrang Einhalt.
„(...) Dort im Okzident beginnt das westliche Meer, das man auch das Meer der
Dunkelheit nennt. Weiter darüber hinaus weiß niemand, was dort existiert (...)“
schrieb der Geograph al-Idrisi im 12. Jahrhundert. Dort, am Ende des
afrikanischen Erdteils, lag ein Land, das die Araber al-Maghrib al-aqsa nannten,
„den äußersten Westen“ - ein Land am Rande des Sonnenuntergangs.
Isabel Blanco schöpft wieder aus der reichen Fülle der überlieferten Literatur und
verleiht der bewegten Geschichte des Königreichs Marokko menschliche Züge:
Im Land der Berber erwachen Sultane und Poeten zu neuem Leben, heilige
Männer und Geistwesen sind der Ursprung für faszinierende Legenden. Daneben
lässt die Autorin auch eigene Reiseeindrücke einfließen. Große Bedeutung
kommt der Epoche vom 11. bis zum 14. Jahrhundert zu in der die Schicksale von al-Maghrib und al-Andalus, dem
arabischen Spanien, besonders eng miteinander verbunden waren. Dicht an dicht sind die andalusischen Ornamente
in den farbenprächtigen Teppich der marokkanischen Geschichte eingewoben.
Es ist ein lebendig geschriebenes Portrait eines Landes in dem historische Zusammenhänge aufgedeckt werden und
sich Vergangenheit, Traditionen und Gegenwart zu einem schillernden Mosaik zusammenfügen.
Hardcover, 304 S. – 38, ganzseitige Bilder (S/W), 17x21cm
ISBN 378-3-933653-06-2 – Inhaltsverzeichnis auf www.rosenoire.de
ROSEN DER WÜSTE – Die Architektur in der arabischen Literatur
von María Jesús Rubiera – Übersetzung aus dem Spanischen von Isabel Blanco
ROSEN DER WÜSTE – ein poetisches Symbol für die prunkvollen, märchenhaften
Bauwerke der arabischen Architektur. Ihre Paläste und Gartenanlagen wurden
aus der Wüste geboren. In der Fantasie der Beduinen verwandelten sich Hitze
flimmernde Trugbilder in Türme und Kuppeln, die vor Gold und Edelsteinen
glitzern, und dem erlösenden Wohlgefühl bei der Ankunft in schattigen, grünen
Oasen sind üppig blühende Gärten mit leise plätschernden Wasserläufen
nachempfunden. Die arabische Architektur inszenierte ein dynamisches
Schauspiel, erfüllt von Licht, Farben, Klängen und Düften. Sie erschuf Bauwerke
als Lustobjekte und Orte der Lust zugleich.
Die Autorin gibt in diesem Band mittelalterliche Texte von arabischen Chronisten,
Hofpoeten und Reisenden wieder. Sie beschreiben bis ins kleinste Detail die
ehemalige Pracht von Städten, Palästen, Moscheen, Bädern und Gärten im alten
Arabien und im islamischen Spanien. María Jesús Rubiera interpretiert Fakten und Legenden, jedoch ist dies keine
Abhandlung über Kunst oder Archäologie. Es ist eine lange Reise durch die arabische Architektur mit weit geöffneten
und verträumten Augen – ein Buch verführerischer ferner und fremder Visionen.
Paperback, 256 Seiten, 20 x15cm, ISBN 978-3-93365305-5
Inhaltsverzeichnis und Leseprobe auf www.rosenoire.de
ICH PFLÜCKTE DIE ROSE …
Eine Auswahl der schönsten Verse und Gedichte
Aus der spanischen Maurenzeit
Die überlieferte Lyrik in diesem Band lässt den verführerischen Zauber von al-
Andalus, dem maurischen Spanien, wieder auferstehen. Sie beflügelt unsere
Fantasie und erfüllt uns mit einer unbestimmten Sehnsucht, die unsere Seele
wie eine sanft gezupfte Saite vibrieren lässt. Ist es unser Verlangen nach
märchenhafter, schwärmerischer Romantik, nach einer heilen Welt die heute
mehr denn je in fast unerreichbare Ferne gerückt scheint? Doch die Zeiten, die
uns hier bewegen, waren keineswegs nur paradiesisch. Die Anthologie spiegelt
auch ein Gesellschaftsbild wieder und am Ende erwartet uns, wie eine historisch
logische Folge, die raue Wirklichkeit, denn der Zauber von al-Andalus zerbrach
an der christlichen Rückeroberung.
Isabel Blanco del Piñal führt mit Versen und Gedichten durch die Glanzzeit der
maurischen Kultur bis hin zu ihrem dramatischen Untergang. Abschließend lässt sie auch zeitgenössische arabische
Dichter mit ihren Klagen über den Verlust vom Paradies al-Andalus zu Wort kommen. Die Verse und Gedichte sind
chronologisch nach Jahrhunderten geordnet und mit zahlreichen Erläuterungen zum Hintergrund ihrer Entstehung
versehen. Hardcover, 144 S., 21x17cm, ISBN 978-3-933653-08-6
Leseprobe auf www.rosenoire.de
Vorwort kostenlos als PDF lesen unter: https://www.yumpu.com/user/rosenoiregf
Unter dem Titel: Historische Arabesken – Die hispano-arabische-Dichtkunst
Ein Ritter, ein König und ein Poet: Drei Jahrhunderte spanische Reconquista
Isabel Blanco del Piñal
Nach den „Geschichten aus al-Andalus“, in denen Isabel Blanco del Piñal die
Geschichte Spaniens von der arabischen Eroberung der Iberischen Halbinsel im
Jahre 711 bis zum Untergang der maurischen Kultur im Abendland mit der
Stimme und aus der Sicht der spanischen Mauren erzählte, widmet sie in diesem
Band ihre Aufmerksamkeit der Gegenseite, der spanischen Christenwelt. Drei
berühmte Persönlichkeiten führen durch die drei wichtigsten Jahrhunderte
zähen Ringens um die Reconquista, die christliche Rückeroberung des
muslimischen Spaniens: der Ritter Rodrigo Díaz aus Vivar (11. Jh.) kurz "der Cid"
genannt, König Alfons X. von Kastilien und Leon (13. Jh.), dem die Nachwelt den
Beinamen „der Gelehrte“ verlieh und Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (16./17. Jh.),
der Autor des Don Quijote von der Mancha.
Alle drei waren sie Grenzgänger zwischen den Religionen und Kulturen, ihr Leben
und ihr Vermächtnis führen anschaulich vor Augen, wie facettenreich das Verhältnis von Christen und Mauren im
damaligen Spanien bis über das Mittelalter hinaus war. Sie zeigen uns Welten politischer Grauzonen und innerer
Zerrissenheit, und es wird in jedem Fall offenbar, dass nichts so war, wie es auf den ersten Blick scheint. So
unterschiedlich sie von ihrem Stand her waren, haben sie doch etwas gemeinsam: Mit Leidenschaft lebten sie ihre
Visionen, sie verfolgten unbeirrt ihre Ziele und vollbrachten Außergewöhnliches. Und wenn auch das Leben jedes
Einzelnen, aller Berühmtheit zum Trotz, nicht einer gewissen Tragik entbehrt, haben ihre Werke und Taten sie doch
Hardcover, 21x16cm, 100 Bilder in Farbe, 440 S.,ISBN 978-3-933653-09-3
Inhaltsverzeichnis auf www.rosenoire.de
The last critics (14. Juni 2014) for the title (in German) …:
you find under: http://afarab.blogspot.com/2014/06/maurenland-christenland-rezension.html
Mrs. Birgit Agada is a well-known travel journalist and also writer of own travel literature. She is specialized
in Arabic and Northafrican countries and cultures.
RoseNoire - Gisela Fischer – Isabel Blanco del Piñal
Günderodestraße 20, D-81827 München (Germany)
Tel. +49 (0)89 439 53 21 – Fax +49 (0)89 439 75 89
Alle digitalen Magazine gratis lesen: https://www.yumpu.com/user/rosenoiregf