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As a ‘companion’ to the last post I made concerning origins of the Kurds, I want to offer another look at Kurds. An interesting area for this is through maps- some maps in the past had applied “Kurdistan” (at times spelled ‘Curdistan”) to the regions lying between what was then the frontier of the Ottoman and Persian Empires. Mahmud al-Kashgari, a scholar from the Central Asian Kara-Khanid Khanate, made what is now one of the surviving examples of a ‘world map’ from those times. This was done in a fashion similar to what was seen in ancient times, with geographical features difficult to see to those of us used to what we have now. The map is oriented in such a way that “East” is where “North” ordinarily is, again harkening to an older method of map making. The features marked in the map however are easily recognizable to us once you translate it.

At the center is Central Asia and the different political units there, where Kashgari hailed from. The ‘top’ of the map is the east- this is China. At the bottom end, the ‘West’, are various places in the Middle-East or southwest Asia. What I want to draw attention to is a particular feature in this part of the map. I will enlarge it the best in the image that follows:

This Arabic is stylized a bit differently from what we are used to, but it reads in Arabic as ‘أرض الأكراد‎’ . This is transliterated as Ard al-Akrad, or ‘Land of the Kurds’. To the ‘right’ (or South) is what is Iraq (العراق) on the map, and to the north (right) what the cartographer labeled as a part of ‘Syria’ (الشام, or al-Sham). This would roughly correspond to where ‘Kurdistan’ is generally in today, on one of the boundaries of Mesopotamia. If you want to see a complete translation of the map, check out this link. For a higher quality map to better read the Arabic calligraphy, check out this link.

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