Hudud Al-'alam
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Hudud Al-'alam

The ?ud?d al-lam (Arabic: ? ‎ "Boundaries of the World" or "Limits of the World") is a 10th-century geography book written in Persian by an unknown author from Jowzjan.[1] The title in full is ? (?ud?d al-lam min al-Mashriq ilá l-Maghrib, "The Boundaries of The World from The East to the West").

In English, the title is also translated as "The Regions of the World" following Vladimir Minorsky's 1937 translation, in which he commented on the title as follows: "The word ?ud?d (properly 'boundaries') in our case evidently refers to the 'regions within definite boundaries' into which the world is divided in the ?.-'?., the author indicating with special care the frontiers of each one of these areas, v.i., p. 30. [As I use the word "region" mostly for niyat it would have been better, perhaps, to translate ?ud?d al-?lam as "The limited areas of the World".]"[2]


Finished in 982 CE, it was dedicated to Abu'l Haret Muhammad, the ruler of the Farighunids. Its author is unknown, but Vladimir Minorsky has surmised that it might have been written by the enigmatic ?a?y? bin Far?gh?n, author of a pioneer encyclopedia of the sciences, the Jaw?me? al-?Ulum, for an amir of ?agh?ni?n on the upper Amu Darya in the mid-10th century.[3] The available text of ?ud?d al-lam is part of a larger manuscript which contains other works:

  1. A copy of the Jah?n-N?ma ("Book of The World") by Mu?ammad ibn Naj?b Bakr?n
  2. A short passage about music
  3. The ?ud?d al-lam
  4. The J?mi? al-?Ul?m ("Collection of Knowledge") by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi;

The ?ud?d al-lam contains information about the known world. The anonymous author reports about different countries (niyat), people, languages, clothing, food, religion, local products, towns and cities, rivers, seas, lakes, islands, the steppe, deserts, topography, politics and dynasties, as well as trade. The inhabited world is divided in Asia, Europe and "Libya" (i.e. the Maghreb). The author counts a total of 45 different countries north of the equator.

The author never visited those countries personally, but rather compiled the book from earlier works and tales. He did not indicate his sources, but researchers deduced some, for example Estakhri Book of the Paths and Provinces (Arabic: ? ? ‎),[4] or the works of Abu Abdallah al-Jayhani and Ibn Khordadbeh.

Among other things, Hudud al-Alam appears to mention Rus' Khaganate; it refers to the Rus' king as "Kh?q?n-i Rus".[5] The unknown author is believed to have relied on several 9th-century sources.[6]

Rediscovery and translation

The Orientalist Russian scholar Alexander Tumansky found a manuscript with a copy of this text in 1892 in Bukhara. The copy from the original was made by the Persian chronographer Abu l-Mu'ayyad ?Abd al-Qayy?m ibn al-?usain ibn 'Al? al-Far?s? in 1258.[1] The facsimile edition with introduction and index was published by Vasily Bartold in 1930; a thoroughly commented English translation was made by Vladmir Minorsky in 1937, and a printed Persian text by Manouchehr Sotudeh in 1962[7] .


The sections of its geographical treatise which describes the margins of Islamic world, are of the greatest historical importance. The work also includes important early descriptions of the Turkic peoples in Central Asia.[8] Also noteworthy is the archaic language and style of the ?udud, which makes it a valuable Persian linguistic document as well.[3]


  • V. Minorsky (Hrsg.): Hudud al-Alam. The regions of the world: a Persian geography, 372 A.H. / 982 A.D., translated and explained by V. Minorsky ; with the preface by V. V. Barthold, London 1937
  • C. E. Bosworth in: Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition, s.v. ?UD?D AL-LAM

See also


  1. ^ a b C. E. Bosworth in: Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition, s.v. ?UD?D AL-LAM
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b Hudud al-'Alam at Encyclopædia Iranica
  4. ^ Fr. Taeschner in Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition, s.v. Djughr?f?ya
  5. ^ Minorsky 159.
  6. ^ Minorsky xvi.
  7. ^ The Hejri-ye Shamsi date on the title page of Sotudeh's edition reads in Persian "esfand-mah 1340"; on the 4. cover page, which is in English, the year "1962" is written.
  8. ^ Maqbul Ahmad in: C. E. Bosworth and M. S. Asimov (Hrsg.): History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Vol. IV, Part II, Paris 1992, p. 221

External links

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