A primer on Tajik names

The Tajik language is closely related to Persian, and is the primary language of the Central Asian republic Tajikistan. Though Tajik used to be widely spoken in neighboring republics Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, it’s gradually been displaced by their respective native languages. However, some people in those republics still speak Tajik, as do some people in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

There’s a political debate over whether Tajik is its own language or a mere dialect of Persian, though it’s officially considered a true language. Over the years, Tajik has greatly diverged from Dari (the Persian dialect spoken in Afghanistan) and the Persian spoken in Iran. Due to the Tajik people’s location and geographical isolation, there remain many archaic elements which the rest of the Persophone world has long since discontinued. There’s also some influence from the Uzbek language.

One of the secondary characters in Journey Through a Dark Forest, Manzura, is Tajik. Manzura volunteers as an interpreter while part of her orphanage is en route to Isfahan in 1937, and makes herself extremely useful.

Tajik alphabet:

Tajik was written with the Persian alphabet until the 1920s. In 1923, the Soviets started simplifying the Persian alphabet, and in 1927, the Roman alphabet was introduced. Then, in the late Thirties, Cyrillic was forced upon them, as part of the cruel Russification policies of Stalin (who ironically wasn’t Russian himself). Though attempts to reintroduce the Persian alphabet began in 1989, these campaigns weren’t very successful.

In the Roman alphabet, there are a few odd letters—Ç, Ƣ (Gha), Ī, Ş, and Ƶ. W and Y aren’t used. Ƣ is represented as Ғ in Cyrillic, and typically transliterated as Gh. Other Cyrillic letters include my favorite Ж (Zh), Ӣ (Ī), Қ (usually transliterated as Q), Ӯ (Ū), Ҳ (usually H), and Ҷ (usually J).

Surnames:

Due to the decades of Russification, many Tajik surnames have Russian endings. Like other surnames of the Central Asian republics, they have their own native twist. Sample surnames include Abdulov, Abdulayev, Abdulin, Ibragimov, Nabiyev, Niyazov, and Rakhimov. Recently, Slavic surnames were banned, and it’s now illegal to give babies non-Tajik forenames.

True Tajik surnames usually end in -zod(a), -i, -on, -yon, -yor, -far, -niyo, and -ien.

Sample names:

Male:

Abdullo, Abdullohi
Abdusalom
Alisher
Anoushirvan
Anvar (Brighter, more luminous)
Arash
Ardavan
Ardshir
Armin
Arzhang
Ashkan
Atash (Fire)
Azad (Free)

Babak
Bahman
Bakhriddin
Bamdad
Behnam
Behrang
Behruz
Behzad

Dara (Rich)
Darab
Darvesh
Daryo (River)
Daryush

Faraz (Of high status)
Fardad
Fardin
Farhad
Farhang (Of good breeding)
Fariborz
Farkhod (Happiness or Elation)
Farrukh (Happy)
Farshad (Happy)
Farzad (Splendid birth)
Farzam (Worthy)
Farzan (Wise)
Farzin (Learnèd)
Firuz (Successful)
Fruhar

Jahandar (Owner of the world)
Jahangir (Conqueror of the world)
Jahanshah (King of the world)
Jamshed
Janob (Excellency)
Javid (Everlasting)

Kambiz (Fortunate)
Kamran (Successful)
Kamshad (Successful)
Kamyar (Successful)
Kanishka
Kasra
Kavah
Khakim (Wise)
Khon
Khoram
Kosha (Diligent)
Koshan
Kourash

Mahyar
Mamadsho
Mamur (Judge, officer, magistrate)
Mani
Manuchehar
Mashhadi
Mazdak
Mehrab
Mehrak
Mehran, Mehrang
Mehrdad
Mehrzad
Mirzo (Prince)
Muhammad
Mullo
Murivat
Murod, Morad (Desire, wish)

Namdar, Namvar (Famous)
Niyousha (Listener)
Noushzad
Nuriddin (Light of religion)
Omaid (Hope)

Padshah
Paghahan
Pagzman
Paiman (Promise)
Parsa (Pure)
Payam (Message)
Pazhman (Heartbroken)
Pendar (Thought)
Poya (Searcher)

Qiomars
Qubad
Rahmatillo, Rahmatullo (Mercy of God)
Raimkul
Rastin (Truthfulness)
Ravshan (Light, bright)
Ravshanbek
Rouzbeh (Fortunate)
Roshan
Royan
Rozi
Rukhshan (Flashing)
Rustam (a legendary Persian warrior)

Salar (Leader)
Saman (Home)
Sasan
Sepehr (Sky)
Shadan
Shahbaz (Royal falcon)
Shahin (Falcon)
Shahram (King’s subject)
Shahrdad (City’s gift)
Shuhab (Meteor, shooting star)
Shuhrat (Fame)
Soroush (Messenger)
Sougand
Suhrob, Suhrab (Red water or Illustrious, shining)

Toktam
Ulugbek (Great chieftain)
Ustoz (Master, teacher)
Yusuf
Zardusht

Female:

Afarin (Praise; To create)
Afsana (Legend)
Afsar (Crown)
Afshan (To sprinkle)
Afsun (Charm, spell)
Anahita
Ara (Ornament, decoration)
Ariana
Arezo (Wish)
Arghavan (Reddish-purple)
Armaghan (Gift)
Asal (Honey)
Asiya
Avizeh (Pendant)
Azaliya (Everlasting, eternal)
Azar (Fire)

Bahar (Spring [season])
Baharah (One who brings the Spring)
Baharak (Small spring [season])
Banafshah (Flower)
Behnaz
Belourine (Crystal)
Bizhan

Darya (Sea, river)
Delaram (Quiet-hearted)
Delbar (Charming)
Delkash (Fascinating)
Delruba (Heart-robber)
Dorri (Glittering star)

Farahnaz (Splendid coquetry)
Farhana
Farkhonda (Joyous, happy)
Farzaneh (Smart, wise)
Firuza, Firoza (Turquoise)
Flura
Freshta (Angel)
Fila (Lover)
Forozan, Fruzan, Forozenda (Shining)
Freba (Charming)

Ghoncheh (Flower bud)
Giti (World)
Golbahar (Spring rose)
Gugush
Gulchekhra, Gyulchekhra (Appearance like a rose)
Gulnar, Gulnaz
Gulpari
Gulshan (Rose garden)
Gulshod
Gulya, Gyulya

Hasti (Existence)
Huma (A mythical bird symbolizing freedom)
Indira
Jasaman (Jasmine)
Javaneh (Sprout)
Katayoun
Khandan (Smiling)
Khaterah (Memory)
Khojasta (Auspicious)
Khorshid (Sun)
Lala (Tulip)
Lila (Lilac)

Mahasti
Mahnaz
Mahrukh (Face like the Moon)
Mahsa, Mahwash (Moon-like)
Mahtab (Moon)
Manizha
Manzura
Marjan (Coral)
Marmar (Marble)
Mastana (Joyous, carefree)
Mavzuna
Mehrangiz (Affectionate)
Mehrnaz
Mehrnoosh
Mehry (Kind)
Mina (Enamel)
Minou (Paradise)
Mona
Munisa
Murwarid (Margaret, Pearl)
Muzghan (Eyelashes)
Muzhdah (Good news)

Nahal (Young plant)
Najela (Cute)
Nargis (Daffodil, narcissus)
Nasrin, Nastaran
Nava (Tune)
Nilab (Blue water)
Nilufar
Nikou (Beautiful)
Nousafarin (Creator of joy)
Noushin (Sweet)

Oisha
Padidah (Phenomenon)
Parand (Silk)
Parastou
Pariya
Pari (Fairy)
Paricheher (Fairy-like face)
Parisa (Fairy-like)
Parvana (Butterfly)

Rasa (Expressive stature)
Roudabeh
Rukhsana (Roxana)

Saaman (Jasmine)
Saghar (Wine cup)
Sahar (Dawn)
Sahba (Wine)
Sapedah (Dawn)
Sima, Seema (Face)
Setara (Star)
Shabnam (Dew)
Shahnaz
Shararah (Sparks)
Shirin (Sweet)
Shogofa (Blossom)
Sholah (Flames)
Simin (Silvery)
Souzan (Burning)
Sumayah

Tahminah
Tanaz
Taneen
Tara (Star)
Tarana (Song)
Taranum

Zarrina, Zarrin (Golden)
Zeba
Zhalah
Zhila

Dushanbe, Tajikistan

D

Puppet Theatre, image by Sven Dirks, GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Palace of Nations, image by Шухрат Саъдиев (Shukhrat Sa’diyev).

National Library of Tajikistan, image by Шухрат Саъдиев.

Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, has a population of about 679,400 and has served as the capital since 1925. Though there’s archaeological evidence of settlement dating to the 5th century BCE, Dushanbe was just a small, sleepy village till the early 20th century. It became a town in 1923, in the Emirate of Bukharia, and rose to much more prominence after becoming the capital. From 1931-60, it was renamed Stalinabad.

Central Asia isn’t as backwoods as many people might dismiss it as. Dushanbe got its first airport in 1924, a railroad began in 1929, the Tajikistan National Museum opened in 1934, their zoo opened in 1960, and today the city has many universities, museums, cultural centres, and other modern amenities. The city also boasts an orchestra, an arts and sciences school for the deaf-mute, and a trolleybus system.

Dushanbe is nestled where the Varzob River and the Kofarnihon River converge. Its name means Monday in the Tajik language, drawn from the fact that the modern city developed at the site of a weekly Monday market, Dyushambe-Bozor. The old name was a Russified version of the Tajik name, meaning “second day after Saturday.” Under Soviet rule, the city swelled in population and became a prominent producer of cotton and silk.

Monument to Amir Ismail Somoni, image by Ibrahimjon.

Presidential Palace, image by VargaA.

National State University of Tajikistan.

I haven’t written about Dushanbe to date, but I do have a Tajik secondary character in my WIP, Journey Through a Dark Forest. Manzura, one of the new generation of orphanage children, was born in October 1926, and among the many non-Russian children forcibly taken to Mrs. Brezhneva’s Kyiv orphanage. She was possibly at the orphanage by the time of the Holodomor, the deliberate famine which killed millions of Ukrainians between 1932-33.

Manzura volunteers herself as an interpreter while part of the orphanage is en route to Isfahan, since Tajik is the closest language to Persian among the many languages spoken by the children. She’s all of ten years old at the time, in the early Summer of 1937, and brashly asks if she’ll get paid for her services. Mrs. Brezhneva is as typically bemused as ever, and immediately shoots down the idea. Once in Isfahan, Manzura makes herself extremely useful.

Ayni Theatre

Ayni Theatre, edited from original image by Mheidegger.

Palace of Nations side view, with the world’s tallest flagpole, image by Шухрат Саъдиев.

Rudaki Avenue, image by SaidBahrom.

Dushanbe is home to the Tajikistan National Museum, the Dushanbe Zoo (considered one of the best Soviet zoos, but now rather reduced in size), the world’s tallest flagpole, the Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments, and twelve universities, including an international school.

Old train in a park by the main railway station; Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Kafuffle using CommonsHelper; original uploader Harveyqs at en.wikipedia; CC-BY-SA-3.0; released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

The historic Old Dushanbe Synagogue was torn down in 2008, in spite of community protests. The government wanted room to build the Palace of Nations and renovate the city centre. This was Tajikistan’s last functioning synagogue, and still served the small community of several hundred people. The shul was built in the 19th century by the Bukharian community, though there’s been a Jewish community in Tajikistan for over 2,000 years. Along with the shul, the government also destroyed the mikvah, the school, and the kosher butcher’s shop. The government refused to recognise any of these structures as historic.

In 2009, the New Dushanbe Synagogue was opened in a building donated by Hasan Assadullozoda, the brother-in-law of Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rakhmon.

Agricultural University of Tajikistan.

Courtyard of the former Dushanbe Synagogue, image by Zvi Lerman.

More information:

http://menu.tj/en/

http://www.ashkdahlen.com/index.php?id=166 (photo gallery)

http://www.tnu.tj/index.php/en/

http://gurminj.tj/index.html

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Bukharan_Jews.html