The rare and valuable articles from that country which were brought with the embassy as presents, excited his cupidity, and induced him to undertake an expedition against that distant empire. He began by subduing Khorasan, and from thence he passed by Balk, through the beautiful regions of Sogd, to its capital, which he destroyed, and which, when rebuilt, was from this circumstance called Samarcand or Shamarchand, i. e. Shamar destroyed it. He afterwards proceeded through Turkistan, to the frontier of Hindûstan, and through Thibet, where
- Amongst Arabian writers there are celebrated four pleasant places of the world,—Damasci viridarium, fluvius Obullæ in Basru urbe, rivus Bauvanitarum, et Sogd Samarcandæ وصغد سمرقند. Ezzedin Abdelazir, apud Casiri, Biblioth. Hispan. Arab, tom. i. p. 208. The Oriental geographers dwell with rapture on the beauties of Chorasm and Sogd, covered everywhere with orchards, and fields, and gardens. "Vallis enim Al Sogd," says Abulfeda, "viii dierum itinere, a limitibus Bocharæ ad confinia Al Botom exporrecta, prata viridis, et hortos continuos complectitur. Horti a fluviis perpetuo irriguis terminantur. Ultra prata, ultroque [fluvii] latere arva sunt, et ultra arva, animalium libere vagantium pascua. Nullibi gentium arbores pulchriores, aut amœniores." Chorasmiæ, &c. descript. p. 32. inter Geograph. Minor, tom. iii. See also Golii not. in Alfergan. p. 172, 173. "If a person stand on the قهندز Kohendiz (or ancient castle) of Bokhara," says the Oriental Geographer, translated by Sir W. Ouseley, "and cast his eyes around, he shall not see any thing but beautiful green and luxuriant verdure on every side of the country: so that he would imagine the green of the earth and the azure of the heavens were united." p. 236.