Michael Ashkin
Statement for press release of solo exhibition at Andrea Rosen Gallery, 1997

"The plains north of Mazaar are mostly unpopulated. Today the military uses the area for target
practice and ballistics testing . . . .

In the thirteenth century a nomadic tribe, the Adjaanib, displaced by Genghis Khan's invasion,
settled in the region. They occupied an area of the plains for about two centuries and then
disappeared, leaving little historical record and no archeological remains. The great Arab
traveler, al-Isfahani, spent time with them on his journey east in the mid-fourteenth century. They
spoke a dialect unknown to him, and he was able to compile only a limited lexicon. Several
vocabulary entries reflect their spatial orientation to the flat barren landscape surrounding them.

The area surrounding a shepherd that could be measured by the reach of a rock sling was called
dariban. Beyond that was called namgan, defined by the distance within which a shepherd could
distinguish the features, sex and ownership of grazing goats. Beyond that, to the horizon, was
called isfaran. And finally, beyond the horizon was an area bordering on the imaginary, called
adjnaban. Interestingly, this last zone is related etymologically to the name of the tribe itself.
Al-Isfahani mentions that the individual nomad felt himself confined perpetually to the dariban,
unable to reach the namgan, much less the isfaran or adjnaban."

From Traveling the Route of Genghis Khan, by Roger McFadden, 1972.