THE large and beautiful kingdom, which lies between the Gihún and Sihún, or the ancient Oxus and Iäxartes, is called by the Per­sians TURAN*, by the Arabians, Mawaran­nahar*, or, The province beyond the river, and by the Greeks Sogdiana, from the pleasant valley of Sogd, which shall presently be described: they might have called it Mesopotamia, if that name had not been before applied to another country. It has Badakhshan on the east, and on the north, the vast regions of Turkestan or Scythia, which reach to the confines of the Russian and Chinese Empires. The valley or plain of SOGD* passes among the Asiaticks for one of the most delight­ful spots in the world; it is an hundred and twenty miles in length, and sixty in breadth, and a large river, named Caï, rolls through it, which branches into a thousand clear streams, that water the gardens and cultivated lands, with which the whole plain is covered. In the midst of this vale stands the city of SAMAR­CAND, which was very rich and flourishing in the fourteenth century: the territory is now possessed by the Uzbeks, a warlike nation, who took it from the descendants of Tamerlane. That Conqueror was born at CASH, a pleasant city, about a day’s journey from Samarcand. In short, Sogdiana lies in the same climate with Italy and Provence, and has the advantage of a sky per­petually clear, the coolest rivers, and the most excellent fruits. The other famous cities of Transoxiana are, 1. BOKHARA, through which the Russian merchants used to pass in their jour­neys to China; it was in this century the seat of a sovereign prince, whom Mirza Mahadi calls king of Bokhára, by which he means the whole territory of Sogdiana. 2. NAKHSHEB, where a celebrated author was born, who wrote in Persian a book called The Tales of a Parrot, not unlike the Decamerone of Boccace. 3. ZAMIN, where the finest manna of all Asia is gathered. 4. OSRUSNAH, surrounded by a district, that has four hundred strong castles in it. 5. FAR­GANA, the birth-place of a great astronomer, usually called Alfargáni, who flourished in the ninth century. The mountains near Fargána abound in turkis-stones, as well as in rich mines of gold and silver.

The vast Empire, which lies beyond the Iäx­artes, between the dominions of the Czar and the Emperor of China, is called by the Asiaticks, who speak correctly, TURKESTAN*, or, The country of the Oriental Turks, an ancient and martial people, who, under the names of Getes, Moguls, and Tartars, have, at different times, poured in great numbers into the more western and southern kingdoms. The principal cities of Turkestán are, 1. BALASAGUN, which was once its Capital. 2. SHASH, which gives its name to a river that flows from the Sihún, and joins another called Faráb. 3. SHAHRO­KHIA, built by Tamerlane upon the birth of his son, whom he called Shahrokh, or, Check with the rook, because he was playing at chess, and had just beaten his adversary by that stroke, when he received news of the prince’s birth. This city stands on the banks of the Iäxartes, over which there is a large and elegant bridge in this part. 4. FARAB, or FARIAB, other­wise called Otrár, the birth-place of two very learned men, the great philosopher and musician Al Fariábi, and an able grammarian, known to us by the name of Al Joûheri, or, The Jeweller, who compiled a voluminous dictionary of the Arabick language, entitled Seháh, in which the principal words are illustrated by chosen passages from the old Arabian poets*. There is nothing very remarkable in the other cities of Turkestán, as Ilák, Toncát, and the rest; they stand between the ninety-ninth, and hundred and first degrees of longitude, and are between forty-one and forty-three from the Equator. The province of KHOTOLAN deserves, indeed, to be more par­ticularly mentioned; it lies between Tartary, Badakhshan, and the territory of Balkh; its chief city, which has also a considerable district around it, is named VAKHSH; and the whole country is represented as fruitful, pleasant, watered by several rivulets, and even rich in golden ore, which the streams often bring down the moun­tains mingled with their sand.

At the extremity of Turkestán, are the coun­tries of KHATA and KHOTEN, which border on China, and, in this century, were governed by an independent King, who sent an ambassa­dor to Nader Shah. The city of Khoten has a large territory round it of the same name, which is famous for producing very fine musk, equal to that of Tibet. A Persian poet, quoted by Golius in one of his manuscripts*, alludes to the musk of this country in the following passage: ‘When thy charming letter was ‘brought to me, I said; “Is it the zephyr that breathes from the gardens, or is the sky burning wood of aloes on the censer of the sun? or is a caravan of musk coming from Khoten*?” To understand these verses, we must know, that the Asiaticks have a custom of perfuming their letters, which they tie up in little bags of sattin or damask. The city of CASHGAR also, with its territory, belongs, according to some writers, to Khatá; as well as KHANBALEK, which the Eastern Geographers place actually in the Chinese Empire; this is not the Cambalu of our travellers, which is properly called Cabalig, and stands forty-four degrees from the Line, and an hundred and three from the Canaries. CARACUM is likewise a city of Khatá, and is situated in a large plain covered with black sand, from which it derives its name. All this extensive Empire was conquered in the thirteenth century by Tamugin or Genghiz, who penetrated even into China, which his successor Octáï almost wholly subdued, and took the city of Nâm Kím, or Nang King, where the Chinese prince Altún burned himself and all his family, that he might not fall into the hands of the Moguls.