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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan

Rokhshona's Chronicles: Wakhi Warrior Queen

In the rugged Pamir mountains, the remnants of a once-majestic fortress known as Vishimqala, silently echo tales of its glorious past. This fortress derived its name from a time when its setting was as splendid as silk, adorned in legend with whispers of being entirely swathed in the luxurious fabric.

At the helm of this formidable stronghold stood Rukhshona (sometimes called Ruhona), the woman who commanded the unwavering loyalty of Wakhan's people. With numerous slaves, devoted servants, and a formidable army, she shielded Wakhan from foreign invaders and forged it into a land where exquisite women's jewellery was crafted and shipped to distant lands beyond the formidable Hindu Kush. These treasures, along with other commodities, found their way to the bustling markets nearby.

However, when news of a massive Muslim army conquering Wakhan reached her ears, Rukhshona chose diplomacy over defiance. She extended an invitation to Muslim leaders for negotiations, a tryst that unfolded in the serene locale of Ishkorish. During these deliberations, it dawned upon both parties that Rukhshona was no infidel but a fervent believer in the true God. Consequently, she signed a historic peace accord at a site that came to be known as Qadamgoh, signifying the birthplace of a sacred pact. Rukhshona retained her reign, and Qadamgoh became a hallowed place among the locals.

Apart from her fearlessness, Rukhshona was also renowned for her breathtaking beauty. Another legend entwines her fate with that of a distant king from beyond the Hindu Kush. His courtiers regaled him with tales of her valour and charm, stoking a burning desire in his heart. He dispatched emissaries to seek her hand in marriage, but Rukhshona staunchly refused each proposal. Undeterred, the king mustered a colossal army, instigating a brutal war that resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. Rukhshona's army teetered on the brink of defeat.

On the battlefield, she perpetually donned men's attire, concealing her identity. But during the pivotal clash, her helmet slipped, unveiling her lustrous hair. The king instantly recognized her and demanded her submission. In response, she pierced her own heart with the blade of her sword.

I shall never yield to another – it is better that I perish. ~ Rokhshona's Last Declaration

Amidst the fortress's fall, Rukhshona orchestrated her sole son Lal's escape through a clandestine passageway, urging him to seek safety wherever he could find it. Lal and a small group of soldiers embarked on a perilous journey to Gharan. As they navigated a narrow mountain trail, Lal's steed stumbled over a concealed stone in the earth. Gazing down, he beheld a dazzling gem akin to a ruby beneath the horse's hoof.

From that fateful moment, the origins of the Pamir rubies became forever known as Koh-e-Lal, immortalizing Rukhshona's legacy and the breathtaking treasures of the Pamirs.

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