Posted by Vincent Keers on 03-26-2003 06:57 PM:


Hi Bertram,

Thanks for this salon.
You're right. Shashevan popping up everywhere nowadays.

De Bruin mentions Tartars. Tartars came from
Mongolia which was called Tartarië in the middle ages in Europe.
The thousands Yürths he saw where Mongolian.
So what did the Shashevan look like?
Like Tartars? Nomads from Mongolia.
Think if de Bruin mentions Tartars, he could identify them as such.

What do you think?

Best regards,

Posted by Bertram Frauenknecht on 03-27-2003 06:55 AM:

Hello Vincent,
There were no Mongolian Tatars, but Turk Tatars. The Mongolian group is more direction Krim.
Hahn describes the Azerbaijan Tatars clearly as people speaking a Turkish/Persian dialect and to be Shi'ites. Ardebil was the holy center.
It seems that nomads were called Tatars or even Huns by European travellers as they did not know anything else in those times.
And not to forget, the Khan in question at the time of de Bruin had the term Shahsevan in his name.

Posted by R. John Howe on 03-29-2003 07:56 AM:


Dear folks -

The authors Bertram cites who use the term "Tartar" are careful to start with a geographic description of the location of particular groups and then use this term apparently to indicate primarily that they were nomads or former nomads.

But I think retention of this term is potentially troublesome for the reason that Bertram indicates: it was used by many with far less precision.

Example: I collect 19th century Central Asian travel books a bit and am looking at one by Thomas W. Knox, entitled "Overland Through Asia: Pictures of Siberian, Chinese and Tartar Life." It was published in 1870 and includes many drawings and a map of the area of travel. Knox started in Siberia, moved through parts of China and ended up in "Tartary." On his map "Tartary is indicated to be what we would designate as western and eastern Turkistan, but stops east of the Caspian and the area in which the Shahsevan seem to have lived are labelled vaguely as either the "Caucasus" or "Persia," but are clearly not in this writer's mind, part of what he sees as "Tartary." And the riders in his drawings of Tartar horsemen have a distinctly Asian look.

Although de Bruin, and even Tapper's apparently verbatim reports' might be excused, and while I would not want to tussle over verbal minutiae, I think the continued use of the term "Tartar" even by folks who are being very careful, should be avoided as too potentially confusing. Would not "nomads" or "former nomads" be better alternatives?


R. John Howe

Posted by Bertram Frauenknecht on 03-29-2003 12:22 PM:

Hello everybody, hello John,
I have another book from the 18th c. by a frenchman traveling through Tartary. Unfortunately I don't have access to it now, as I am back home, the book is in the gallery and I am leaving to the States on Monday.
But that is not important, I am familiar with the Tartary usually used as the old name of Mongolia. Turkestan was to my knowledge not part of Tartary.
A Swiss traveler, Henry Moser, was clearly talking about Turkmen on his travels in 1871 and again in 1884, when he witnessed their defeat.
Very interesting book for Turkmen collectors as he is talking about tribes and also mentioned their rugs. No description though.
My main source for the end of the 19th c. in Transcaucasia is a very educated scientist C. Hahn who did extensive studies of the people living there. I gave his description of the transcaucasian Tatars before and especially his pronounced differentiation of the different Tatars.
Another Scientist, Radde, travelled there too extensively, but his descriptions are mostly birds and plants. People are described only on the side.
I agree it is a cofusing term and I would not necessarily use it any further. It should only describe that these nomads or at that point half-nomads come from the Moghan and according to their description are with very high probability descendants of former Shahsevan groups.
When you look at the map you will see that it must have been an easy direction for them to move upward the Kura river with its wide plain.
And this is exactly what Hahn says, that they live along the Kura river in the hilly sides.
My point is that this small group of Shahsevan nomads we know today are a minute relic of a once very powerful organisation of tribes, farmers and city people under their Khans.
Moghan as it is shown today is not only this tiny part in NW-Persia. It was stretching all the way to Baku, up into southern Shirvan.
This said it should also be clear that many rugs and flatweaves were made by them. We only have to find out which ones.

With tatar greetings


Posted by Chuck Wagner on 03-29-2003 12:41 PM:

Read. Then argue.

Greetings all,

My sole contribution to the discussion:


Chuck Wagner

Posted by R. John Howe on 03-30-2003 08:15 AM:

Hi Chuck -

Good post. They seem very authoritative but not entirely open about who they are on this particular site. I thought perhaps they were "the Britannica" but they don't really say. So I did a further search with this result:

It seems that this IS the Britannica of 1911 and is recognized as a very useful reference.


R. John Howe

Posted by Bertram Frauenknecht on 03-30-2003 09:23 AM:

I am really astonished that you take an encyclopedia as a source for discussion. That reminds me of Herrmann using a German Enc. from 1914 for his outstanding researches. Do you also believe the influence of sun/moon eclipse on rugdesigns?
Let's stay on the ground, you cannot beat a serious in situ researcher like Hahn who describes with open eyes, not only Tatars but all the other different groups living in the area.


Posted by R. John Howe on 03-30-2003 09:41 AM:

Hi Bertram -

You may be right but sometimes Encyclopedias can be useful references. I, for example, trust quite a bit, "The Encyclopedia of Philosophy" in part because I know some of the contributors and their work.

And, although there is academic prejudice about encyclopedia's the 1911 Britannica is not sneered at everywhere.

I do agree that an "on the ground" observer at the time is going to have information that most academic will not, but there is the problem of whether that participant observer can describe well and what the effect of other agenda's he/she might have had on their reporting. I admire the book on Turkestan by Schuyler, but he was very friendly with some Russian diplomats and aristocrats and I think you can sometimes see signs of his "thumb being slightly on the scale" in their favor in his reporting.


R. John Howe

Posted by Michael_Bischof on 03-30-2003 11:02 AM:

Hallo everybody,

what are you talking about, gentlemen ?
Reading this encycopedia article it is quite clear that
- the term "Tatar" has been a wide-spred denominator for everybody with a somehow "Turkic" descent in old Russia. In an ethnographic sense it is not very helpful as it is too "broad".
- in the article itself the discussed Tatars living in Transcaucasia are stressed as being quite different ( in composition and history) from the other groups quite far away.

So the impulse that the Sah Savan confederation is ( mainly, as with any heterogen association) something "Turkic" is confirmed - and taking into account the shared history of Central/Eastern Anatolia and this particular area it is quite clear that quite some of those came from Anatolia after their big defeats against the Ottoman Sultans.

Yours sincerely

Michael Bischof

Posted by Yon Bard on 03-30-2003 04:47 PM:

It appears in a cursory reading that the contributers to this thread have used the two terms 'Tatar' and Tartar' but failed to distinguish between them. It seems that at least in this discussion 'Tatar' has referred to nomads living in the Black Sea area, whereas 'Tartars' refers to Mongolian and perhaps other East Asian people.

Regards, Yon

Posted by R. John Howe on 03-30-2003 06:00 PM:

Hi Yon -

Yes, I think you could rightly accuse me of that, but then the first sentence in the Encyclopedia articles suggests that these two terms are used almost inter-changeably (although perhaps incorrectly) and seems to use the term "Tatar" in reference to the Asiatic group as well as the Turkic one.

It does seem to recognize that these are different groups.

I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that the spelling likely wasn't rigorous since transliteration was likely involved.


R. John Howe