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The "Seventh Asian Map", by Tomaso Porcacchi Castilione, from a 1620 Italian edition of Ptolemy's Geography.

Komedes is the ethnonym of a people in Central Asia during antiquity, who were mentioned by the ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy, in his Geography (c. 150 CE).[1] Ptolemy reported that the Komedes were found throughout the "entire mountainous land of the Sacae", including Bactria, Sogdiana and/or Transoxiana.

Some scholars have linked the Komedes to Central Asian toponyms and ethnonyms in ancient Hindu literature, such as a country called Kumuda and a people called the Kambojas.

Ancient & medieval texts[edit]

Greek & Roman geographers[edit]

The Greek geographer Ptolemy uses the name Komdei for the region fed by the Jaxartes river (modern Syr Darya) and its tributaries.[2] Ptolemy refers to the people of Komdei as Komedes.[3] Ptolemy also refers to one tribal people whom he variously calls Komoi/Kamoi, Komroi/Khomroi or Komedei, and locates in the mountainous regions of Sogdiana as far as Jaxartes.[4] In fact, as per Ptolemy's evidence, "the Komedes (people) inhabited the entire land of the Sacae",[5] a name often taken to be synonymous with that of the Sakas. Julius HonoriusCosmography mentions a people called Traumeda and mentions a mountain called Caumedes as the source of the river Oxus (modern Amu Darya).[6] Ammianus Marcellinus too calls the Sogdian mountainous regions as Komadas.[7] To the north of the Komedes was the homeland of the Sacarauloi (or Sacaraucae) and, probably, the Pasianoi.

The Ptolemian references to Komdei or Komedes as a region probably alludes to Hindu toponyms Komdesh, Kamdesh and Kambodesh (probably originally Kamboi-desh).[8][9] They Cambothi, Kambuson and Komedon of some other Greek writings. The classical sources further indicate that the south-western section of the Komedes (people) living within "Mt Hemodos or Emode" were known as Homodotes. Thus, the Homodotes appear to have been a section of the Komedes living within a part of the Hindukush or Pamirs.

Kumuda in ancient Hindu texts[edit]

According to Hindu texts authored in the early Epic Age (from about 1000 BCE), Kumuda was the name given to a high tableland located somewhere to the north of Himavata (Hindukush or the Himalayas in general), from which the Indo-Aryan peoples may have originally pushed their way southwards into India, and preserved the name in their traditions as a relic of old mountain worship (Thompson[incomplete short citation])

The Indian literary classic Mahabharata (dating from the mid-1st millennium BCE) indicates that the southern parts of Shakdvipa were the habitat of peoples including the Kambojas – specifically the Parama Kambojas – alongside the Lohas and Rishikas.[10][11]

A Sanskrit pura from the early 1st millennium CE, the Vayu Purana uses the name Kumuda-dvipa as an alternate for Kushadvipa, one of seven dvipa ("continents" or "great lands") mentioned in Hindu topology.[12] Kumuda is also the puranic name of a mountain forming the northern buttress of Mount Meru, also known as Sumeru (possibly the Pamirs).[13] In this specific sense, Kumuda extended between headwaters of the rivers now known as the Amu Darya (Latin Oxus) and Syr Darya (Greek Jaxartes).

Thus the name Kumuda, in the topology of the ancient Hindu world, lay close to the Pamirs, north of Himavata and probably comprised Badakshan, the Alay Valley, Alay Mountains, Tienshan, Karotegin (Rasht Valley, in modern Tajikistan) and possibly extended as far north as the Zeravshan and Fergana valleys.[citation needed]

Ancient Chinese names[edit]

A Chinese equivalent name appears to have been Xiuxun. However, Kumuda is probably also the Kiumito or Kumito mentioned by Xuanzang, the Kiumiche of Wu'k ong, and the Kumi of T'ang.

Islamic geographers[edit]

Kumed or Kumadh of the Muslim writers Al-Maqidisi, in his Al-Muqhni, calls the people of this territory Kumiji, which seems equivalent to Sanskrit Kamboji (or Kambojas).[14] Numerous scholars have connected the Komedes (Komedei) of classical writings with the Kambojas of Iranian topology.[15][8][16][17][18]

Modern interpretations[edit]

Historical evidence[edit]

The name and geographical references indicates that the Kumuda (or Kumuda-dvipa) and Parama Kambojas of Hindu tradition and ancient Indian literarure appear to be synonymous with the Komedes ( or Komedei), Traumeda (or Caumedae) of European classical sources. The same applies to the Homodotes (Homodoti or Homodontes).[19] The Komoi (Komroi or Khomroi) of Ptolemy may be linked the placename Kamboi (in modern Gujarat), itself apparently a corruption of Kamboja, Kambojika or Kamboika.[20]

Linguistic links between the Kambojas and modern languages[edit]

Linguistic traces of the ancient Kambojas have been suggested in several modern languages of the Pamir Mountains, Khotan and Sogdiana.[citation needed] The Parama Kambojas appear to have originated from Central Asia and have been lumped together with neighbouring tribes, under names like Scythians in Latin, Sacae in Greek and Sakas (or Shakas) in Indo-Iranian languages.[21] Ancient Kamboja probably included the Pamir Mountains, Badakshan and other parts of modern Tajikistan extending as far as the source of the Zarafshon/Zeravshan river.[22] On the east it was probably bounded by modern Yarkand and/or Kashgar, to the west by Bactria, to the north-west by Sogdiana, to the north by Uttarakuru, to the south-east by Darada, and to the south by Gandhara.[23] Many languages of this region are said to shows the influence of an ancient Kambojan verb shvati "to go". Nirukata (II.2) of Yasaka[24] attests that verb shavati "to go" was used "only by the Kambojas".[25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ P’iankov, I. "History of Iran - The Ethnic of Sakas (Scythians)". Iran Chamber Society. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  2. ^ J. W. McCrindle, Ancient India, Trans & Edited by Dr R. C. Majumdar, 1927, p 275.
  3. ^ Geography 6.12.2; 6.13.3
  4. ^ J. W. McCrindle, Ancient India, Trans & Edited by Dr R. C. Majumdar, 1927, pp 268, 284
  5. ^ Ptolemy Geography 6.13.3
  6. ^ Geography 6.12.3; and Cosmography A.7
  7. ^ J. W. McCrindle, Ancient India, Trans & Edited by Dr R. C. Majumdar, 1927, p 326
  8. ^ a b Central Asiatic Provinces of the Mauryan Empire, p 403, Dr H. C. Seth
  9. ^ Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, pp 49, 155, Dr J. L. Kamboj.
  10. ^ Mahabharata 2.27.25
  11. ^ India as Known to Panini, p 70, Dr V. S. Aggarwala
  12. ^ Vayu I.48.34-36
  13. ^ Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 5 , Chapter Seventeen: The Descent of the River Ganges; canto 5, chapter 16, verse 11.
  14. ^ Predatory peoples, the Kumiji tribesmen of the Buttamn Mountains in the upper Oxus near Khuttal
  15. ^ India and Central Asia, 1955, p 25, Dr P. C. Bagchi
  16. ^ Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, pp 48-49, 155, 300, Dr J. L. Kamboj
  17. ^ Studies in Indian History and Civilization, Agra, p 351
  18. ^ India and the World, 1961, p 71, Dr Buddha Prakash
  19. ^ Dr V. S. Aggarwala writing on Rishikas observes: "The name Rishika occurs in Mahabharata as a part of 'Shakadvipa'. Arjuna had conquered Rishikas across the Vakshu (Oxus) which flowed through the Shaka country". Since the Parama Kambojas, Lohas and the Rishikas were all neighborly tribes and were allied together in their fight against Arjuna (Lohan. Parama Kambojan.Rishikan uttaranpi), this verifies that the Transoxian Lohas and Parama Kambojas were also located in Shakadvipa or Scythia
  20. ^ Ashoka's Rock Edicts V and XII at Shahbazgarhi and the Jaina Canon Uttradhyana-Sutra (11/16), both write Kamboya for Kamboja
  21. ^ Dr Robert Shafer has recently reported that the Shakas, Kambojas, Pahlavas, Sugudas etc. was the left- over population of the Indo-Iranian Aryans after the latter had moved from their original home in Central Asia to Iran and India (See Report: Ethnography of Ancient India, p 43, Robert Shafer)
  22. ^ Proceedings and Transactions of the All-India Oriental Conference, 1930, p 102-119.
  23. ^ Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, pp 49, 155, 237 Dr J. L. Kamboj
  24. ^ Believed by some belonging to the 7th century BCE, by others to the 3rd century BCE.
  25. ^ Early Eastern Iran and Atharvaveda, 1980, 92, Dr Michael Witzel; also Nilukata, Vol I, Sarup.
  26. ^ :shavatir gatikayaghnrmaa Kamboje.sv eva bhaa.syate...vikaara enam Aaryaa bha.sante shava iti.| (Nirukata II.2.8), Trans:The verb 'shavati', meaning 'to go', is used by the Kambojas and only the Kambojas..... but its root 'shava' is used by the Aryans i.e. Indo-Aryans.
  27. ^ Linguistic Survey of India, Vol X, pp 456ff, 468, 473, 474, 476, 500, 511, 524 etc
  28. ^ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Asia, 1911, pp 801-802, Sir Griersen
  29. ^ India as Known to Panini, 1968, p 49, Dr V. S. Aggarwala
  30. ^ Geographical Data in the Early Puranas, A Critical Study, 1972, p 164, Dr M. R. Singh
  31. ^ Bharata Bhumi aur uske Nivasi, Samvat 1987, pp 297-305, Dr J. C. Vidyalankar
  32. ^ Geographical and Economical Studies in the Mahabharata, Upayana Parva, p 37, Dr Motichandra
  33. ^ Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, pp 127-28, 167, 218, Dr J. L. Kamboj
  34. ^ Sindhant Kaumudi Arthaprakashaka, 1966, pp 20-22, Acharya R. R. Pande.
  35. ^ See: Bhartya Itihaas ki ruprekha, 229-301, Dr J. C. Vidyalankar; Linguistic Survey of India, Vol X, p 456ff, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Asia, 1911, pp 801-802, Sir Griersen; also Ancient Kamboja, People And the Country, 128, Dr J. L. Kamboj
  36. ^ Linguistic Survey of India, X, p. 456
  37. ^ Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 128, Dr J. L. Kamboj
  38. ^ Bhartya Itihaas ki ruprekha, p 531-33, Dr J. C. Vidyalankar etc.
  39. ^ Centralasiatische Studien II. Die Pamir-Dialekte, Vienna, 1880, Wilhelm Tomaschek; quoted by Dr J. C. Vidyalankar in his Bhartya Itihas ki Mimansa, p 471, 480-81, Dr J. C. Vidyalankar; Quoted in: Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 217, Dr J. L. Kamboj
  40. ^ Early Eastern Iran and the Atharvaveda, Persica, 9, 1981, p 105, fn16, Dr Michael Witzel;
  41. ^ Linguistics Survey of India, Vol X, p 511

External links[edit]