Central Asia

This Mountains of Central Asia Digital Dataset (MCADD) consists of a collection of books, journals and maps related broadly to the Himalayas and its outlying attached ranges including the Hindu Kush, the Karakorams, the Pamirs, the Tian Shan and the Kuen Lun as well as the Tibetan highlands and the Tarim basin. These materials are housed in this site, and are freely available for personal non-commercial use and downloading.

Some of this material was originally downloaded from the Google Books website, but often this material from Google has been augmented by the addition of maps and other oversize materials that were excluded when the original Google scans were done and/or the addition of missing pages. For example, the Google scans of the 50 volumes of the Royal Geographical Society Journal, published between 1830 and 1880 do not include any of the oversize maps—these maps have all now been scanned and some 450 maps added in their proper location to each of the journal volume pdf files on the PAHAR website.

Various aids to searching specific topics, such as indexes of articles related to the MCADD geographic area (Himalaya, Tibet and Central Asia) have also been prepared for the more prolific journals, such as those of the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Central Asian Society, and the Asiatic Society of Bengal. (more…)

The Library of Congress has a very nice website with online resources regarding its collection of Near Eastern materials.

The photograph illustrates Luce Ben Aben, Moorish women preparing couscous, Algiers, Algeria.

There is a trove of old photographs from around the Middle East at the website http://www.azerbaijanrugs.com/oldphotos/old-photographs-me.htm

Kurds in national costumes

Young girl of Bethlehem. This color photochrome print was made between 1890 and 1900.

The Middle East-Asia Project (MAP) is an initiative undertaken by the Middle East Institute which is designed to serve two broad objectives:

1. To promote awareness and understanding of the multidimensional relations between the Middle East and Asia by providing information and analysis on cross-regional economic, political, security, and social/cultural interactions and their implications; and

2. To foster collaborative research and other activities regarding Middle East-Asia relations through establishing an online community of experts and forging institutional partnerships.

The Cyber Library contains publication details, abstracts and live links to full text versions of previously published works on Middle East-Asian affairs organized by country and by topic/issue.

The Experts Directory contains the profiles and contact details of a worldwide network of academics, business leaders, diplomats, journalists, researchers and other practitioners affiliated with the MAP.

The Infographics project element consists of periodically updated charts, tables and timelines depicting key trends and developments in trade, investment, migration, and other spheres of cross-regional activity.

The Publications element is organized as follows: (more…)

Samarqand merchant in 1911

There is a wonderful website with photographs of various places in Russia, including Islamic areas, from the early 20th century at Mashable.

My grandmother’s aunt, Ms. Ida Hoyt, owned an 1873 geography textbook entitled An Elementary Treatise on Physical Geography by D. M. Warren (published by Cowperthwait & Co of Philadelphia). The book itself, which I recently leafed through, is falling apart, but it is worth taking a brief look at some of the lithographic images. The text itself shows how far we have come since 1873, especially for the dated views of “race” and the ethnocentric views of the time. I will start with several of the images, as shown here.



In much of the Western world Sunday is traditionally the day devoted to religion (and picnics and sports and going to the beach when the sun shines, etc.). Even those who are not devoted to a particular religion find something to devote themselves to. So today I would like to devote my comments to the very idea of what it means to be “devout.” The tragedy orchestrated two weeks ago by the Boston Bombers adds yet another milestone to those who see Islam as a religion that promotes violence. Yet the two brothers who senselessly took several lives and forever altered the lives of many others appear to have almost no real knowledge of their religion. I am struck by the widespread use in the media of the term “devout” to describe the older brother Tamerlane. I am not at all surprised that an Islamophobe like Pamela Geller writes that “Again and again we see that Muslims who commit jihad violence are pious and devout.” Geller was commenting on an AP report that Tamerlane’s aunt had said he was a “devout Muslim” who prayed five times a day. The phrase went viral in the news media in part due to this sound bite but also because it reflected a common stereotype.

It seems that all it takes to be labeled “devout” as a Muslim is to pray five times a day, believe that 72 virgins are waiting anxiously to serve you in Paradise and be hooked on Internet terrorist sites. I don’t remember anyone saying that Terry Jones, the lunatic preacher who says he has a divine mission to burn Qurans, is a “devout” Christian. The Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik is usually labeled a “right-wing extremist” yet his writings show a profound regard for Christendom über alles. A person can be “devoted” to anything, including evil, but if I think of a “devout” Christian, Jew or Hindu, I think of someone who has internalized the devotional aspects of their religion due to an insight into the theology. (more…)

Christians around the world celebrate Easter with thoughts of the empty tomb and resurrection of Christ. But there is more. Weather permitting, children are let loose in their Sunday best to hunt for Easter eggs, adding a secular, healthy, dietary blessing to the baskets of chocolate bunnies and jelly beans waiting at home. Even the White House lawn is set for the annual Easter Egg Roll (minus the Christian Rock) on Monday. It is as though many Christians are not content to leave the tomb empty. Apparently egged on by the spring fever of long forgotten fertility rites, the main message of Christianity gets sidetracked to a debate of anything but intellectual designing: which comes first, the Easter egg or the Easter bunny?

Eggs are not the exclusive mystical domain of Christendom (although the ludicrous lengths taken to parade a sacred holiday into outrageous bonnets and Texas-shaped eggs suggest we have entered the dispensation of Christendumb). Secular folk and agnostics eat their eggs for breakfast with bacon, toast and diner coffee. But all God’s children like eggs, including Muslims with internet savy and a taste for the miraculous. Take a gander (but do not confuse his spouse’s eggs with those shown here) at the three eggs shown below. What do you see different in the middle egg than the ones on either side (hint: the left is from the White House State of the Union Eggroll and the right is reported from last year’s Easter Sunday):


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