Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Tajak

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TAJAK, Tajik, or Tautsik, a term originally occurring in the Pahlavi writings, and explained to mean, first, the Arabs in general, then their descendants born in Persia and elsewhere out of Arabia, and, lastly, the Persians in general and their descendants born in Turkestán and elsewhere out of Persia. Tajak has thus come to be the collective name of all communities of Iranian stock and Persian speech, wherever found in Central Asia. These are co-extensive with the former eastward and northward limits of the Persian empire; but, since the ascendency of the Tûrki races, they have become the subject element in Turkestán, Afghánistán, Bokhára, Khíva, Kashgaria, while still politically dominant in Badakhshán, Wakhán, Darwáz, Kost, and Karatéghin. In most of these places the Tajaks, with the kindred Galchas, seem to form the bulk of the population, the distinction being that Tajak is applied rather to the settled and more civilized lowlanders of modern Persian speech, Galcha to the ruder highlanders of Ferghána, Kohistán, Wakhán, &c., who speak either archaic forms of Persian or dialects intermediate between the Iranian and Sanskritic (Indian) branches of the Aryan linguistic family. The Tajaks are thus a settled Iranian people, agriculturists in the country, traders and artisans in the towns, and are essentially "Parsiván," that is, men of Persian speech,—this term, however, being more specially applied to those of Afghánistán. But, although mainly of Iranian stock, with light complexion and regular features, the Tajaks claim Arab descent, regarding the district about Baghdád as their primeval home, and considering themselves the descendants of the Arabs who overran Central Asia in the first century of the Flight. At the same time, "it is evident that the inhabitants of the greater part of this region (Central Asia) must from an early period have come in contact with the successive waves of Turkish (Tûrki) and even Mongol population which broke over them; accordingly we find that, although the type is essentially Iranian, it has undergone a certain modification, . . . face, though obviously Persian, is more oblong than that of the Turk, more or less heavy cheeks, thick nose, large mouth, wide forehead, . . . middle height, powerful frame, and broad shoulders, . . . dark hair, but among the Galchas a few fair people are found" (Capt. J. M. Trotter, Bokhára, p. 169). The term Tajak must also he distinguished from Sarte, the latter simply meaning "trader" or "shopkeeper," and being applied indiscriminately to the settled as opposed to the nomad element, and especially to the urban populations, of whatever race, in Central Asia. [1] The Tajaks are known as Tâts on the west side of the Caspian (Baku, Lenkoran, &c.).

  1. "Qaand un Usbeg est devenu complètement sédentaire . . . il devient Sarte; le mot Sarte n’est donc pas une appellation ethnique" (Charles de Ujfalvy in Bul. Soc. Géogr., June 1878). But the Tajaks, being always settled, were the first to be known as Sartes; whence the still prevalent erroneous impression that the word had a racial meaning, implying an Iranian as opposed to a Tûrki element- Nevertheless there is a certain local etiquette observed in the use of the two words Tajak and Sarte, embodied in the popular saying: "When a stranger presents himself and eats your bread, call him a Tajak; when he is gone you may call him a Sarte."