The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Vii. The City of Samarkand


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The ambassadors went to this lord of Balaxia {Badakshan}, and asked him how he got the rubies; and he replied that near the city, there was a mountain whence they brought them, and that every day they broke up a rock in search of them. He said that when they found a vein, they got out the rubies skilfully, by breaking the rock all round with chisels. During the work, a great guard was set by order of Timur Beg; and Balaxia is ten days journey from Samarkand, in the direction of India {Badakshan is a mountainous region, including the upper part of the valley of the River Oxus. The people are of the Tajik race, and possessed the country before the inroads, of the Turks and Uzbegs. They are a wild race, living in villages, surrounded by gardens, in the little mountain glens. In the remote mountains of Badakshan there are the richest known mines of rubies and lapis lazuli. Marco Polo mentions that the chief of Badakshan laid claim to a Grecian origin, Babur corroborates the story, and Elphinstone says that the chief of Durwaz, in the valley of the River Oxus, was a Macedonian. Burnes also believed in the descent of many of the chiefs of Badakshan from the Greeks of Bactria. 2005 Note: Badakhshan is a region of northern Afghanistan drained by the Kowkcheh River, with many glaciers and glacial lakes}. Another lord also came to the festival, who held the city of Aquivi {Akshi ? in Fergana} for Timur Beg, whence they procure the blue mineral, and in the rock they find sapphires. This city is also ten days journey from Samarkand, in the direction of India. On Thursday, the 23rd of October, the lord gave a feast in the horde, and invited the ambassadors. The feast was prepared under a pavilion, and a great assemblage of people were collected, and they drank wine. At this feast there was much merriment and many games, and the ladies also came to eat in the pavilion, dressed as they were on former occasions, and the feast lasted all night.