Osh in the 'Baburnama'

Literary Central Asia // An ancient account of Osh.

Babur (1483-1530), first Emperor of Moghul India, was originally a prince of Samarkand in the Fergana Valley. His autobiography, the Baburnama, gives details of geography, culture, and society in medieval Central Asia.

Today we bring you a passage on medieval Osh in today's Kyrgyzstan from the Baburnama as translated by W.M Thackston (pages 4-5):

Another town in Fergana is Osh. It is four leagues to the southeast of Andizhan, somewhat more to the east than the south. Its climate is good, running water is abundant, and the spring season is beautiful. There are many saying about the excellence of Osh. On the southeastern side of the Osh fortress is a well-proportioned mountain called Bara Koh, where, on its summit, Sultan-Mahmu Khan built a pavilion. Farther down, on a spur of the same mountain, I had a porticoed pavilion built in 902 [1496-97]. Although the former is higher up, mine is situated much better because it overlooks the whole town and the outskirts below.

The Andizhan River passes through the area around Osh and goes on to Andizhan. On both its banks are gardens, all of which overlook the river. The violets are beautiful, there is running water, and in the spring, when many tuplips and roses blossom, it is quite nice.

On the lower slopes of Bara Koh, between the town and the mountain, is the Gemini Mosque. From the direction of the mountain flows a large main irrigation canal. Below the outer courtyard of the mosque is a delightful, shady field of clover, where every traveler and wayfarer stops to rest. It is a joke on the part of the urchins of Osh to pour water from the canal on anyone who falls asleep there.

Toward the end of the Umar-Shayk Mirza's time a stone with red and white variegations was found on Bara Koh. Knife handles, belt buckles, and other items are made of this beautiful stone. In all Fergana Province no town has air as good as that in Osh.

Koryo Tours' Mountain Crossroads Long Tour from 17-27 August includes a two-day tour of Osh.

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