The Yaghnobi people (Yaghnobi: yaγnōbī́t; Tajik: яғнобиҳо) are an ethnic minority in Tajikistan. They inhabit Tajikistan's Sughd province in the valleys of the Yagnob, Kul and Varzob rivers. The Yaghnobians are considered to be descendants of the Sogdian-speaking peoples who once inhabited most of Central Asia beyond the Amu Darya River.
The 1926 and 1939 census data gives the number of Yaghnobi language speakers as approximately 1,800. In 1955, M. Bogolyubov estimated the number of Yaghnabi native speakers as more than 2,000. In 1972, A. Khromov estimated 1,509 native speakers in the Yaghnob valley and about 900 elsewhere. The estimated number of Yagnobi people is approximately 25,000.
Their traditional occupations were agriculture, growing produce such as barley, wheat, and legumes as well as breeding cattle, oxen and asses. There were traditional handicrafts including weaving which was mostly done by the men. The women worked on molding the earthenware crockery.
The Yagnobian people originated from the Sogdians, a people dominant in the area until the Arab conquests in the 8th century when Sogdiana was defeated. In that period Yagnobians settled in the high valleys. The Yaghnobi people are Sunni Muslims, and some elements of pre-Islamic religion (probably, Zoroastrianism) are still preserved.
The Yaghnobi NRY portrait is one dominated by the presence of Haplogroup R - probably arising in Central Asia during the Upper Paleolithic period and carried westward into the heart of Europe - and of R1a1, a sublineage associated with Central/Southern Eurasians and evidently related to the Bronze Age or to early Iranic expansion into the area c. 3000 BCE. The next most important Y-DNA contribution to the Yaghnobi is that of haplogroup J2, associated with the spread of agriculture in, and from, the neolithic Near East. Also found at a considerable frequency is haplogroup L, which may be subcontinental in origin.
Until the 20th century Yagnobians lived through their natural economy and some still do, as the area they originally inhabited is still remote from roads and electrical lines. The first contact with Soviet Union in the 1930s during the Great Purge, led to many Yagnobians being exiled, but perhaps the most traumatic events were the forced resettlement in 1957 and 1970, from the Yagnob mountains to the semi-desert lowlands of Tajikistan.
Red Army Helicopters were sent to valleys, ostensibly as there was an avalanche threat, to evacuate the population. Some Yagnobians died of shock in helicopters as they were moved to the plains. They were then forced into hard-labor by Communist officials to work on the cotton plantations on the plains. Some Yagnobians rebelled, with a few groups escaping back to the mountains, but Communists destroyed all kishlaks (villages) in the valleys to prevent any attempts to return. As a means to finally genocide the group, Communists tried to annihilate the ancient Yagnobian culture, by destroying Yagnob religious books, the oldest of which was 600 years old. Pskon, the biggest village on the Yaghnob River, was erased from the maps, and Yagnobian ethnicity was officially abolished by the Soviet State. Through the change in climate and back-breaking work, several hundred Yagnobians died.
Since 1983, families have begun to return to the Yagnob Valley. The majority of those that remain on the plains tend to be assimilated with the Tajiks, as their children study in school in the Tajik language. The returnees keep the Yagnobi culture and language alive, as their children do not speak either Tajik or Russian. The returnees live through the natural economy, and the majority remain without roads and electricity.
- "The Peoples of the Red Book - The Yaghnabis". Retrieved 2006-11-25.
- (Russian) Большая Советская Энциклопедия
- According to http://www.pamirs.org Zoroastrian Designs on Embrodiary
- R. Spencer Wells et al., "The Eurasian Heartland: A continental perspective on Y-chromosome diversity," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (August 28, 2001)
- (Russian) Вокруг света - Страны - - Таджикистан - Последние из шестнадцатой сатрапии
- Loy, Thomas. "From the mountains to the lowlands - the Soviet policy of "inner-Tajik" resettlement". Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. Retrieved 2006-08-06.
- Communist officials grabbed entire libraries of ancient Sogdian books which were thrown into the Yaghnob river
- Loy, Thomas (July 18 2005). "Yaghnob 1970 A Forced Migration in the Tajik SSR". Central Eurasia-L Archive. Archived from the original on 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2006-08-06.