Khiva is situated in the south of Khorezm Region in Uzbekistan. It is the only ancient town in Central Asia to have lived through the ages and remain in its entirety. The history and architecture of Khiva are closely bound up with that of Khorezm - a cultural centre which existed long past in the north of Uzbekistan. Ancient Khorezm civilization can be traced back to the Neolithic age (4th — early 3rd millennia B.C.). The Khorezm oasis came into existence in the vast fertile delta of the Amu-Darya - a great Central Asian river which flows into the Aral Sea. In former ages irrigation was expanded by the construction of canals which resulted in the emergence of towns with a thriving culture of the slave-owning system. Major tasks in town-building, advanced by the State of the Ahmenids, led to the building of towns which were mighty strongholds, right-angled in shape with fortified walls, turrets and gates on axes. The size of these relics proves that their builders were masters of geometry and made use of different systems of proportionality. The simplest of these was the ratio between the side and diagonal of a square. The Kalaly-gyr strongholds (700+ 1000 meters) and the town Toprak-kala (350 + 500 meters), which was quarter its size, were built to this scheme in Khorezm.
Information about ancient Khorezm can be found in Avest (the first half of 1 millennium B.C.), an ancient relic of written language, which reflected the class stratification of the slave-owning system and philosophy of zoroastrism — one of the world's major religions. Apparently, the emergence of the canonical scheme of ancient oriental towns dates from that period. The city walls were right-angled, square or round in outline, oriented towards the four cardinal points and divided by main thoroughfares at the axes. This scheme was ascribed to the implication of the symbolic portrayal of the Universe to whose image the town was built. This "cosmogramme" (mandala) permitted to single out co-ordinative zones in the town; the ruler's palace at the summit of the long axis, next to which were temples and blocks where the nobility resided; the dwellings of the common townsfolk were located at a distance. This system reflected the pattern of an early medieval town beyond Khorezm (which has only been studied in Pyanjikent so far) in which only three towns of the 5th—8th centuries are known to have existed: Kyata, Khazarasp and Urgench. At that time Khorezm was part of a mighty state - the Tiurk Kaganate. Fortified castles, surrounded with peasants' farmsteads, constituted the main pattern of settlings in those days.
In 710—712 A.D. the country was conquered by Arabs who seized the entire Middle East under the pretext of spreading Islam and set up the Arabian Caliphate, a mighty feudal state. The conquest was coupled with destruction of the culture of the peoples settled in that area "... and Kuteiba annihilated people who knew the Khorezm written language, were acquainted with the traditions and taught the sciences know to the peoples of Khorezm, and subjected them to all kinds of torments, and they (those legends) became so secret that it is impossible to know precisely what had happened (to the peoples of Khorezm) after the appearance of Islam" ... "... he was the undoing of the Khorezm scribers and killed the ministers of religion and burnt their books and scrolls ... the peoples of Khorezm remained illiterate and relied upon their memory in whatever they needed", — the eminent Khorezm scholar Beruni wrote ("Relics of Past Generations". Selected Works ... v.I, 1957, pp.46, 63). Few of the scholars survived. Mukhammad ibn Mussa al Khorezmi (named "al-madjusi" which means a descendant of Magians) came of zoroastra priests who devoted all their attention to science in pre-Islam Khorezm.
In the second half of the 8th century busy trading between the countries of the Caliphate led to an economic upsurge and the building of towns. Life in Khorezm only became stable in the 10th century. Towns sprang up along international trade routes. Among them was Khiva, located between Urgench and Merv, to which reference was first made at the turn of the 10th century. The earliest edifice erected there was a well (khivak) which can be seen today in the Matriza-i Kushbegi block of houses in the north-western corner of Ichan-kala, and was apparently the place where caravans pulled up. Excavations show that the remnants of the 10th century settlement rest on a sand-hill; carving on ganch and fretted ceramics were discovered as well.
At the close of the 10th century Khorezm became a mightv state which was independent of the Caliphate. Under Mamun (990-1017 A. D.), the Shah of Khorezm, the former capital Urgench (now known as Kunya-Urgench in Turkmenia), became the centre of culture and science. The renowned Central Asian scholars and encyclopaedists Beruni and Ibn Sina laboured at the "Mamun Academy". Their work proceeded in complex surroundings, in an atmosphere of feudal wars and religious obscurantism.
The privacies I in a secret book set forth,
For my safety I from the populace concealed.
Dare not tell what I in my heart conceal.
Too many ignorami this vicious human herd hath —
Omar Khayyam, a contemporary of Beruni and Ibn Sina, a scholar, encyclopaedist and poet of Horasan.
The Mamun Academy was raided in 1017 A. D. In the second half of the 11th century Khorezm became a part of the Seljukids' Tiurk-state from which the Khorezmshahs' State (which had grown into an empire by the time of the Mongolian invasion in the 1220s A.D.) got detached at the turn of the 12th century. Wealthy commercial towns, which according to travellers had been serene, were demolished and the oasis became deserted. Nonetheless, a hundred years later the Arabian traveller Ibn Batuta found Urgench in all its magnificance and prosperity, while Khiva of that time can be judged by the Sajyid Alla-ud-din Mausoleum, a local sheikh, erected in the lifetime of Pahlavan-Mahmud who was celebrated in Khorezm and India as a poet and philosopher. He was a furrier by profession and also known as an invincible wrestler. Popular remembrance made Pahlavan-Mahmud the Guardian of Khiva.
The revival of Khorezm in mid 14th century under the aegis of the local Sufi Dynasty was broken off by a new conquest led by Timur, who ravaged the oasis with five predatory campaigns during the period of 1370-1388 A.D. In the 15 th and turn of the 14th centuries Khorezm was governed by vicegerents of the rulers of Mavera-al-Nakhr and Iran. As the irrigation systems and trade routes of Urgench were wrecked the general state of society shifted to Khiva, Khanka, Khazarasp and Kyat in the southern regions of Khorezm. In the 16th century Khorezm was enveloped in a struggle against aggression initiated by the Shaibanid rulers of Mavera-al-Nahr.
In the 17th century local rule became stable in Khiva, the capital of the province and of the entire Khanate as from 1643 A.D. Monuments were erected to the first independent rulers of the late feudal state: Arab-Muhammad-khan (1602-1629 A.D.), Abulgazi and Anusha-khan (1663-1687 A.D.), Shirgazi-khan (1715-1728 A.D.) and Muhammad-Amin-inak (1770-1785 A.D.).
Khiva was built to a scheme which was traditional in the East — a walled-in rectangle stretching from north to south; its dimensions were 650 + 400 metres (the builders availed themselves of the "golden section" ratio, which has always been a favourite with architects). The rectangular town was divided at the axes crossed-shaped by the main thoroughfares, which were connected with fortified gates (incidentally the south gates of Tash-darvaza were not placed in the centre of the southern wall). A fortress was erected at the west gates, which was completed in the 13th, 14th, 17th and 19th centuries and called Kunya-Ark, i.e. "an ancient fortress".
In due course a suburb (rabad), which was also enclosed with fortified walls, sprang up beyond the town (shakhristan). This way Khiva was composed of two towns: Ichan-kala (the inner town) and Dishan-kala (the outer one). Khiva reached its heyday in the 19th century when unremitted construction was developed, which was bound up with the expansion and consolidation of the Khiva Khanate. By the turn of the 2()th century Khiva became a unique architectural ensemble, where monumental public edifices artistically merged with peculiar dwellings possessing lofty mono-pillared aivans in the yards. Densely populated residential blocks called "elat" in Khorezm (as distinct from "makhallya" as they are known in other parts of Uzbekistan), connected with inner by-streets, passages and blind alleys, were clutched between the main squares and thoroughfares which passed through lchan-kala crosswise and branched off from it radially up to Dishan-kala. The blocks were inhabited by artisans of one and the same trade or nationality, forming a local administrative and religious community. Its management was concentrated in a small public centre of the block, which, as a rule, was heaped around the principal mosque next to which erected were: a minaret, ornamental water, a special area of land planted with trees and shrubs with a soofa for respite and tea-drinking, dwellings and other structures for domestic purposes. The network of blocks within Ichan-kala is correctly oriented from south to north, but beyond it - towards the walls of Ichan-kala and the highways leading to the gates of Dishan-kala as well as the Palvan-yab canals and Sirchali irrigation ditch in conformity with the physical features of the region.
The walls of Ichan-kala are rare samples of medieval fortifications. Their foundation was raised above the level of Dishan-kala, which was probably accounted to the natural relief (according to a legend the town was founded on a sandy hill!). The walls, which were 10 metres high, were made of clay and raw blocks. Every 30 metres massive round defense towers project from the walls. The top of the walls and towers had cogged parapets with loop-holes, from which attacks could be repulsed by the defenders. The fortifications included moats filled with water at the foot of the walls, which can be traced to this day in the micro-relief of the south, while in the north and south asphalted streets have taken their place.
... A siege-gun will not reach it, which can
With stones of events / turn / its buildings into a desert.
Round it are moats, which / in their / greatness
Are like the Tigris and Nile and equal to Seikhun*.
This description of a medieval stronghold applies to Khiva as well.
*) The medieval denomination of the Syr Darya River
The gates of the fortress were part of Khiva's defence system and were built to act as outposts, which is reflected in their appearance: towers were erected to instil fear on both sides of an arched passage, coupled with a gallery for patrolling above the gates. The thoroughfare was covered with an arch (Koi-darvaza) or domes if the passage was long; on each side of the thoroughfare there were domed premises for the guard, customhouse, court and even for a prison in some cases.
Much importance was attached to the gates of the eastern part of the town as well as those of the public buildings and dwellings: their impressive appearance was to convey the grandeur and dignity of the town, of an edifice or its builder. The semblance of the gates, which was sung in the literature of the peoples of Central Asia, was always poetically overstated:
... Their arch is lost in the dusk of heights.
The arc of the arch is like the vault dome of heaven,
A creation of magic and not of the hand
Marvellously powerful and strong are the gates.
(Alisher Navoi. The Wall of Iskander.)
Nonetheless, in due course, the gates ceased to carry out defence functions and became a part of the public amenities. This way, the Kosh-darvaza gates of the Dishan-kala are an original multichamber construction with a twofold passage, which was smartly ornamented with colour tiles. In the east Palvan-darvaza of Ichan-kala (after several reconstructions) became an arcade with a long domed passage with stores in the side vaults, which protruded from the walls of Ichan-kala to the rabad where the bazaar was located.
The bazaars with their stores, caravanserais, tims and bath-houses, which attended them, were located close to the city gates. The bazaar beyond Palvan-darvaza extended as far as the Abd-al-bobo graveyard (within the limits of Dishan-kala), next to which was the slave market.
Commonly, edifices for religious worship, including principal mosques and the Khans' medres-sehs, were put up near bazaars where mobs would gather. Apart from these buildings (including the Ak-masjid, Kutlugh-Murad-inak and Abdulla-khan Medressehs), the Khan's residence was shifted to the east gates of Ichan-kala in the 1830s-1840s. A new palace - the Alla-kuli-khan Taush-hauli — was erected there. Thus, the administration, court, clergy and trade were brought together in that area. Many of these significant processes in Khiva led to the formation of a major ensemble of public structures welging into the close building of the town which was cut by narrow streets between the outer blank brick walls.
The Alla-kuli-khan ensemble grew beyond Ichan-kala as a projection of the Palvan-darvaza Gates, which was supplemented by an immense caravanserai later on. The square in the middle, which was taken up by traders, was short-timed: a new spacious arcade — the Tim Alla-kuli-khan was attached to the main front of the caravansarai, while between it and Palvan-darvaza the Alla-kuli-khan Medresseh was built, which overlapped as if it were the first floor of the adjacent buildings. The old Khodjamberdy-biy Medresseh (18th century) retired into a platform in front of it. In this wise, divided into two, it resembled a saddle-bag (khurdjum) from which it got its second name.
The central ensemble of the square, which came into being at the crossing of the main thoroughfares and the ensemble in the street before the Pahlavan-Mahmud Mausoleum, borders upon a group of buildings in the east of Ichan-kala. The street, joining the east and west gates of Ichan-kala, is named "Karl Marx Street". This broad axis strings up the main monuments and ensembles. The meridional axis of Ichan-kala is slightly deflected from the south-north direction, joining the south Tash-darvaza gates with those of Baghcha-darvaza in the north. At their intersection a square appeared before the Juma Mosque (the principal mosque in the town), in which the main and side facades of the Kutlugh-Murad-inak, Muhammad-Amin-inak, Matpana-baya Medressehs were erected and countervailed with a vertical minaret built into the walls of the Juma Mosque.
The famous central ensemble of Khiva emerged along Bukhara Street, a small insignificant thoroughfare to the south of the Juma Mosque.
The by-street guards a whole block, including the graveyard and group of buildings, named after Pahlavan-Mahmud, which is faced by Shir-gazi-khan — the oldest medresseh in Khiva. The last link in the chain of its perspective is a small square built by Islam-khoja (one of the Khan's dignitaries) in the 20th century (the ensemble includes: two medressehs, a two-storeyed school for Russians and natives, and a magnificent minaret).
A broad thoroughfare passed the main and side facades of small and big medressehs, which were unlimited as to orientation, and bordered on another ensemble of Ichan-kala at the Ata-darvaza Gates in the west, which were built up anew in recent time. To the north there is a square before Kunya-Ark on the other side of which stands the massive Muhammad-Rahim-khan Medresseh; the Muhammad-Amin-khan Medresseh and Kalta-minor (an unfinished gigantic minaret which was destined to be the loftiest one of its kind in Central Asia) took up residence in the south. This ensemble is notable for its splendour and imposing appearance.
A special role was assigned to minaret in the creation of Khiva's ineffable and unique silhouette. Their vertical lines, towering up towards the sky and marking the places of the most significant public edifices, create a splendid perspective of the streets, harmonize with the horizontal lines of the roofs of dwellings, and permit to orientate oneself in the town; their rhythm fixes a certain town-building modulus, which is proportionate to the scale of the town. The minarets are placed at a distance of 200 metres along Karl Marx Street and further on via Dishan-kala and Ichan-kala. At the bay of the Dishan-kala Koi-darvaza Gates, which is the entrance to the town, there is a whole chain of minarets: Abd-al-bobo, Palvan-kari, Sayyid-sheliker-baya, Islam-khoja, Juma ...
Minarets hold a prominent place in the aspect of oriental towns. The typical, unforgettable vertical lines serve as an emblem distinguishing one town from another. Those who have been to Bukhara will never confuse the mighty 46-metres high, yet squat, trunk of the Kalyan Minaret crowned with a splendid multiarched clerestory and magnificent stalactite cornice. Visitors to Khiva always remember the light, typical outline of Islam-khoja Minaret (1910 A.D.) which tops the ensemble of the Inner Town. It is two metres lower than the Kalyan, but gives the impression of being much loftier due to its delicate form: its trunk sharply declines on its way up, where it is surmounted with only a light cornice and small dome roofing the space for the crier, which is built into the trunk without any projections. The minaret in Bukhara is ornamented in the style of its epoch (early 12th century A. D.) — figured brickwork which emphasizes its monumen-tality, grandeur and solid ties with the ground; the Khiva Minaret is girded with glittering tiled facing and is directed towards the sky against whose background its sky-blue, dark blue, white and turquoise colours fade.
The minaret close to the Muhammad-Amin-khan Medresseh was destined to be the loftiest in Central Asia. If it had been completed, it would have been 70 metres high. Construction was brought to a stop in 1855 when less than half of the edifice had been erected. That is why it was named Kalta-minor, i.e. "a short minaret". Nonetheless, the voice of the criers would hardly have been heard from such a height. The construction of such lofty edifices was not only induced by their utilitarian purpose - that of calling Moslems to prayers, because roofs of mosques could have been used for this as was the case in the initial years of Islam. Later they made use of the towers of Roman sanctuaries, christian churches, zoroastrian "fire towers" (atashgokh) in Iran and other vertical-lined edifices which diverse peoples erected long before Islam appeared. Therefore, the form of the minarets in each country reflected local traditions of building towers. The very word "minaret" come from "minora", i.e. a place where something is lit up; thus, beacons were lit up on seashores, among which were immense multisectional towers such as the 130-metres high Faross Lighthouse. Scientists are of the opinion that the shape of minarets in Central Asia originated from watch-towers in strongholds. However, the shape of their cubic foundation - a many-sided socle, a conic trunk crowned with a dome - resembles obelisks for worship in India, described by Beruni ("India"; Collected works, vol. 2, pp. 431—432) a shape' which lacked utilitarian purpose and only possessed an ideological and graphic purport. This traditional aspect of minarets, having outgrown the proportions necessary for answering its purpose, transformed into a gigantic triumphal pillar, a monument of grandeur, symbolizing the height of prosperity of a state, a country and town as well as the glory of its builder.
Khiva has retained the greatest number of minarets of all the historic towns and cities in the Soviet East. The minarets in Khiva are notable for a typical feature — the clerestory, which crowns them, is in the body of the trunk and can only be perceived through slits in the arched apertures — hence, theirparticularshapeliness. The minarets do not resemble each other in any way; the architects found delicate forms of proportion, silhouette and decor.
Country ensembles for religious worship sprang up beyond the town gates, where graveyards were placed since the early Middle Ages.
The sepulchre of a local "saint", which was held sacred, became overgrown with the graves of those who hoped for his intercession in the next world. Special mosques were erected for prayers and habitation (like an inn) for pilgrims who came to worship from elsewhere. Such ensembles appeared beyond the gates of Ichan-kala: Abd-al-bobo in the east, Shakalandar-bobo in the west, Tort Shabbaz in the north, and sayyid Magrum-jan at a distance on the other bank of the Sirchali irrigation ditch. Along with the expansion of the rabad - Dishan-kala - these country ensembles grew into the heart of the blocks of dwellings and became public centres.
The country residence of the Khans of Khiva -the Nurulla-bai Palace at the north-western corner of the town itself and Rafanek Palace in the remote bounds of the Outer Town — was also within the limits of Dishan-kala. There were not a few palaces and edifices for religious worship of interest in the district of Khiva (the Kubla-toza-bag and Chadra-hauli Palaces, Atajantura and Ismail-khoja ensembles, Shakhi-mardan and Shikh-Mavlon-bobo cemeteries, the Tash-mechet Mosque in Sayat and Bibi Khajar Mausoleum). Some typical relics of other areas of Khorezm Region, which are of major significance for comprehending the architecture of Khiva, are also included in this album.
The town, as a single whole organism with intercommunicated and co-ordinative sections-reflects medieval philosophy from which architects alienated in their creative work, incarnating the purpose of harmony with an irreproachable sense of limit and taste, in diversity of forms without disturbing the unity of Style. The harmony and balance, simplicity and expressiveness, which make a tremendous impression, are the outcome of a high culture and professional skill of their authors. The harmony arises in the contrast of contrary principles; the impressive plastic art of the cupolas of monumental structures, vertical lines of the minarets, plane roofs of the houses in the blocks of dwellings in the background, the smoothness of the blank surface of the walls lit up by the sun, deep gaps of the shaded bays of the portals and pillared aivans, the contrast of big public buildings and small dwellings — deepen the expressiveness, setting each other off.
What is the unique ensemble in Khiva compiled of — creations which have no resemblance to each other or standard elements which were made more attractive with help of the art of town-building? What was the measure of individualization of the creative work of architects in the Middle Ages and their connexity with social standards? These issues stir architects and scholars today, who are striving to fathom the secrets of the skill and methods of their colleagues, embodied in their works.
The art of building arises from the barest necessities of human society; this artificially created environment of inhabiting arranges processes of living in forms which are in keeping with natural conditions, the standard of building technique and the social concepts they are to express, irrespective of their utilitarian purpose. In due course, having lost the functions that brought them into being in feudal times, the relics retained their intransient cognitive and aesthetic significance — historic instruments representing the creative mind of the architects. Century-old wisdom is conveyed in the town itself, the ensemble which is a part of it, a public building or dwelling, and in the elaboration of their members down to decorative details. To them we shall turn ourselves now.
From time immemorial an abode has been a constructive laboratory of man, in which methods of protection from his foes and the influence of climate were mastered in practice.
The poorest section of the population in rural areas were contented with humble one-roomed huts, standing separately in a row or interconnected at corners. Being joined together with apertures, gave them an appearance of multichamber suites. An aivan, attached to an inhabited room, served as a protection from the scorching sun. The single-columned aivan in Khorezm, coupled with an inhabited room and out-house, formed a typical dwelling unit — a section, which was a pattern for all rural and urban dwellings of Khorezm in the Middle Ages; this scheme was also made use of in the construction of some of the public buildings.
Standard sections of dwellings in Khorezm grouped together around a courtyard, forming various compositions. The system of courtyards was peculiar of both a rural and urban dwelling, which differed in the use of material (urban structures had a wooden framework filled with clay clots, while in rural areas the dwellings were built of pakhsa clay blocks), in structure (country-seats included a courtyard for household effects) and in the image-bearing system of architecture (the hauli — country-seats — were destined for defence, hence, they were surrounded with blank walls and turrets which imitated strongholds). In both cases a deep roofed passage (dolon) led into the heart of the edifice. The house was divided into two court sections: a gala section for guests (deshan-hauli or tashkari) and an intimate habitable part (ichan-hauli or ichkari). The former consisted of a reception-room (mehmonkhana) with an aivan, while the habitable part had rooms whose amount depended on the bulk of the family. The summer lodgings were located in the north of the courtyard and the winter ones were on the other sides. Urban structures were notable for the contraposition of the lofty north ong-aivan and low ters-aivan in the south, which increased the current of air in the courtyard. This makes the heat less intense during the summer months. There may be one aivan in the courtyard, yet it shaded half or even the entire yard.
In the massive houses of the rich aivans could stretch along the whole courtyard, forming a light pillared gallery. In cottage-type rural dwellings, which were built in the shape of a courtyard pavilion, the kushka, a Khorezm structure (Chadra-hauli) built of pakhsa, assumed the form of a four-storeyed tower as the section (with two inhabited rooms and an aivan) was built-up vertically, passing from two blank chambers on the ground floor to two open aivans on the third floor. This house was unique as no relics of that kind can be found today. Nonetheless, one can judge of the existence of multi-storeyed buildings (especially in towns) by archaeological data and miniatures illustrating medieval manuscripts.
The appearance of a court pavilion similar to Chadra-hauli in the middle of an oriental garden (charbag), which was connected with open aivans, was preserved in classical poetry of the peoples of Central Asia:
... Four arches, four gates
The entrance was guarded with charms ...
... And on a wide open meadow,
A stately structure stands.
On the roof of that tower with the watchman
Kaivan is conversing in the quiet o' night,
And so the building is so high,
That clouds which level it, flow by ...
(Alisher Navoi. The Wall of Iskander)
As a rule the only kind of decoration a dwelling had in Khorezm was carved wood, for which it was famous: the well-proportioned pillars of the aivans, which were crowned with figured subgirders, front doors and gates, and inner wickets.
Khiva is the only place where palaces — residences of the khans, which absorbed the architecture of rural and urban dwellings - have survived. These are ensembles with many courtyards which had a rectangular lay-out. The yards differed as to their purpose. Within the closed outline of the walls, the urban palaces (Kunya Ark, Tash-hauli) are distinguished by reception and intimate quarters, which correspond to similar parts of a dwelling. Administrative proceedings, gala receptions and ceremonies were held in the courtyard which was called kurinish-khana, mehmonkhana or ishrat-hauli. The main edifice there was the throne-room with its magnificently decorated aivan. There were offices on both sides of it. The court building (arz-hauli) was similar in architecture to the courtyard. Ichan-hauli or harem was an oblong yard with sections whose number depended on how many wives the Khans possessed. A larger one was destined for the Khan himself, and two-storeyed dwellings were built for the concubines and servants along the outer bounderies of the courtyard. There were four dwelling courtyards in Nurulla-bai's Country Palace; the reception-hall and arz-khana were built separately; now they are in one of the streets of the town.
The palaces in Khiva were known for the decorative majolica, which retained a traditional Khorezm colour - a severe cold gamut, with a blue pattern against a white background or vice versa and impregnations of blue or turquoise, outlined in black. Vegetal and geometric ornaments harmonized with epigraphic inscriptions. Religious texts were interspersed with information about the history of the edifice, the date of its erection and the names of those who decorated it. The name of Abdulla-jin of Khorezm is often mentioned. He was indeed a great master who created the majolica of the summer mosque in Kunya Ark, the Pahlavan-Mahmud Mausoleum and courtyard in Tash-hauli. His art retains the principles inherent in the ornamentation of Central Asian buildings: making the structural members stand out on the basis of the pattern which was solved by creating a new ornament within each field to be decorated; preserving the unity of style, colour gamut and technique, along with a great diversity of motifs.
However, the architects were not spared by the feudal lords. Shir Muhammad Munis, a historian of Khorezm, included in his chronicle an event which struck him: usta Nurmuhammed, the finest architect of his time, was impaled only because he refused to complete a building within an unreally short period. Thousands of slaves, who fell a prey to those who waged ceaseless predatory campaigns, toiled on the construction sites.
... A whole town may be plundered
By lying heavily on you.
For the sake of erecting one house.
If only you stopped building.
So that it wouldn't lead to plunder!
The relationship between the person who placed the order and the architect is of no small significance for comprehending medieval architecture. From ancient times the status of an architect was moulded from creative intellectuals, who were town artisans and traders by origin. It has been ascertained for certain that Central Asian architects received a secondary and specialized education, mastered the theory of the art of building based on the progress of exact sciences, which were brilliantly elaborated in the Orient and were easily understood by artisans when produced in the form of treatises and appliances. By studying the sources and monuments which have survived, it was possible to ascertain the methods and techniques of designing, making up the drawings and models of edifices.
An architect was a son of his epoch, who was associated invariably and profoundly with its outlook and traditions. Despite his relatively high and independent position, he was restricted in his creative workby a great number of social establishments, customs and norms of behaviour. While making a design (according to an order placed by a feudal lord from among the rulers, nobility and clergy), an architect, first and foremost, fulfilled a social programme which reflected objective conditions existing at the time. Stable and habitual compositions of dwellings were reproduced in the construction of palaces, which had proved their value by thousand-yearpractice. Nonetheless, the person, whose edifice was to be built, left his mark: the structure was much bigger than those usually erected, an effect of vastness was expressed by an exaggerated scale, which was intensified by the splendour of the ornamentation. This was required by medieval aesthetic norms. The palaces consisted of a whole group of buildings for administration, dwelling, religious prayers, housekeeping and pleasure. Thus, the one who ordered the edifice to be built determined its purpose and proportions, approved its design and financed the work. The architect's job was to create a structure which was unique in many respects. The best proof of the architect's skill was the fact that the palaces, put up to a standard scheme, were not repeated as to their general compositions and diversity of ornaments which were true to the stylistic unity of the school of architecture in Khiva.
Few public buildings of former times can be found in Khiva today, which makes them all the more valuable, as they are not numerous in other towns either.
A rare specimen of this kind is the caravanserai in Khiva. It was used as a temporary shelter for merchants who arrived with their wares and as a house for storing and sale of silks and silk articles. The caravanserai was built in the shape of a stronghold (rabat) of the first centuries of Islam; the lay-out — a secluded courtyard — originated ages ago. Habitable rooms with recesses made of masonry constructions and vaulted ceilings were built around the courtyard. lust as in dwellings, there were many sections of this kind on the ground floor of a large square courtyard. There was a vaulted gallery before the habitable rooms on the first floor. Three of these sections, which served as places where goods were bought and sold, faced the main facade of the caravanserai on each side of the portal at the entrance.
Construction, which was accomplished in complicated conditions and situations on cramped sites, often led to solutions which were interesting and non-standard. A sample of this was the unusual composition of the arcade tim Alla-kuli-khan which, along with the caravanserai, answers its initial purpose to this day. Being attached to the front of the caravanserai, the arcade was used as part of a new building: the portal of the caravanserai became the vault of the main domed-hall of the arcade; the rhythm of the vaulted recesses of the stores on the sides was defined by the proportions of the three-domed galleries, which stretched into rooms along the sides of the hall.
The Anusha-khan bath-house was erected near the city gates of Khiva in 1657 A. D., which, along with the mosque, formed an ensemble. Their layout, which was restored as a result of archaeological findings, differed from the standard other areas of Central Asia were reputed for, but included a required set of premises: a ground entrance-hall (a cloak-room) and a semi-subterranian edifice ceilinged with many cupolas. There was a huge vat with hot water in the main hall, from which passages for entry to domed premises (for soaping and massaging) dispersed. The bath-house was made hot by heating channels laid beneath the floor, into which warm air flowed from a fire-chamber.
Much importance was attached to the medicinal and hygienic properties of the baths. Even Abu Ali Ibn Sina's "A Canon of Medical Science" included principles of constructing bath-houses, which merited a good bath-house for its sturdy building, moderate temperature, bright light, pure air, spacious dressing-room, decorated with beautiful pictures, and pleasant water. The bathhouses were always overcrowded; men and women washed in turn every other day. Therefore, rules for visitors to the bath-house, laid down in the 1 1th century A.D. Code of Decency - "Kabus-nameh", said, "if the bath-house should happen to be without any visitors, it was the greatest happiness, for the men of wisdom considered a bathhouse without visitors to be the best of all fortunes".
Medieval Europe had no forms of medical service of the kind adopted an oriental countries. As far back as the 8th century there were hospitals with departments for in-patients and out-patients in Syria and Egypt. Their construction was an act of benevelence to which every Moslem was obliged. "... the brilliance of such premises as hospitals, medressehs and khanakas is something in which negligence is intolerable" - Rashi-ad-din pointed out to his son who was ruling at the time (Correspondence", p. 292). None of the traditional hospitals (darulshifo) in Khiva survived; there is only a building of the hospital built in brick style in Dishan-kaleh at the turn of the 20th century, which was typical of town-building in pre-revolutionary Turkestan. The kari-khana (alms houses) for blind readers of the Koran in Khiva are the only edifices, built in a spirit of philantropy, in existence. It might be mentioned that there was a great number of diseases of the eye in Khorezm due to the strong dusty winds. Karikhanas were erected in the street, which rounded the Pakhlavan-Makhmud ensemble from the rear. In appearance they resembled dwellings and small medressehs as they were built of baked brick.
The art of building edifices for religious prayers is represented in Khiva by the greatest number of monuments from which the skill of the architect can be judged to the fullest extent as the best professionals were enlisted.
As from the 11th century A.D. mosques were divided as to their purpose. In some of them prayers were offered twice a year by a great mass of the population, who had gathered from the entire neighbourhood on grand ocasions (kurban and ruza-ait); these edifices were erected out of town. Usually mosques of this kind (namazgokh) had a frontal composition and the courtyard was not enclosed; the only purpose of the building was to turn the faces of those who prayed towards Mekka; in Khorezm all the altar niches (mikhrab) were arranged in the southern walls. No mosques (namazgokh) of standard composition exist in Khiva today. However, there is a mosque called "namazgokh" in the Ismail-ishan-bobo ensemble in the Khazarasp district, but it was built in the shape of a spacious domed hall with a one-sided aivan, which had the appearance of a three-domed gallery resembling a block mosque.
The juma mosques were where all the inhabitants of the town would offer prayers once a week on Friday. They were often erected in the shape of a courtyard with a main structure on a long axis and galleries at the outer border. None of these mosques remain in Khorezm, though historical sources testify to their existence in Kyat in the 10th century A.D. and in Kunya-Urgench in the 12th century A.D. The Sayyid-ata Mosque in Khanka was built in the form of a courtyard; the date of its construction in 1749 and the history of the foundation of the town were engraved on the carved gates. This was a picturesque ensemble with an open courtyard enclosed with a wooden aivan.
In Khiva, Khazarasp and Urgench there was an archaic kind of multi-pillared hypostyle juma mosque. As to Khiva it occupied a whole square and was covered with beam roofing on grid-placed wooden pillars. Some of the pillars in the Juma Mosque in Khiva date from the 10th, 12th, 15th and 16th centuries A.D., which were transported from ancient buildings. The Mosque was erected at the close of the 18th century A. D.
This type of spatial structure has reached us in a monumental version in the form of massive four-pillared domed mosques which exist in rural areas - the Tash-mechet Mosque in Sayat, (Khiva district), the mosque in the Khusim-ata necropolis (Khazarasp district) and the Sayyid-Sheliker-bai and Tort-Shabbaz ensembles in Khiva. This form of architecture has remained stable throughout the ages, undergoing modifications and adjusting itself to the needs and conditions of construction.
In the initial ages of Islam mosques were not intended for prayers exclusively. It was a popular palace where all stages of human life were sanctitied with rites; this purpose was also reserved for block mosques which were built in the heart of residential districts and bazaars. Their appearance varied, though they retained a single type of composition: a winter hall of circular form with an aivan. The hall for prayers was generally domed; the aivan was monumental and built in the shape of a cupola-vaulted gallery, or wooden with plane beam roofing on well-proportioned pillars; the hall and aivan were erected to a frame construction with beam roofing. The aivan rounded the winter hall on one, two or three sides: in Khorezm (Khiva in particular) the fourth (south) side ordinarily did not have a way out as niches (mikhrab) for prayers were arranged there.
Mosques were not numerous in Khiva and were represented by those listed below:
- a domed hall with a one-sided aivan on pillars — in the Er-Magomed-divan (or Sayyid-ata) Mosques next to the Seid Alla-ud-din Mausoleum and in the Baghbonly Mosque in the south of Ichan-kala ; the same, but with beam roofing - in Abd-al-bobo and Matriza-i-kushberi Mosques;
- the domed hall with a three-sided aivan - in the Ak-Masjid.
The composition of block mosques in Khiva was supplemented with a small oblong courtyard which was faced by a one-sided lofty ulu-aivan and a low ters-aivan opposite it, attached to the premises at the entrance (darvaza-khana, a store-room and wash-room). This was not the sole mode of a dwelling in Khiva: the abundance of carved wood also gives the block mosques a semblance of popular architecture. There are very ancient specimens among the magnificent columns of the aivans, such as those in the Baghbonly Mosque.
A medresseh was an Islamic higher learning establishment with board and lodging for the students throughout their course of studies, which sometimes lasted ten years. The first record of medieval medressehs goes back to the 10th century A. D. It is known that there were numerous Kho-rezm-type of medressehs in Urgench in the pre-Mongolian period. An-Nasavi imparted that Shikh-ab-ad-din Khivaki, a scholar from Khiva, guided the studies of inmates at five medressehs.
Among the relics in Khiva medressehs are predominant. Though they differ in proportion, they are of one and the same volumetrical and spatial composition: a courtyard complex where public halls (a darskhana—lecture hall and mosque on both sides of a central П-shape passage leading to the courtyard) were concentrated at the entrance, while the dormitory was arranged around the yard (in the same manner as in caravanserais) in the form of sections on the ground floor and galleries on the first floor. As a rule, the dwelling section was composed of a room with a recess and aivan at the entrance. At times the sections of the Khans' buildings were two-roomed. The sections of the Muhammad-Rahim-khan and Muhammad-Amin-khan Medressehs consisted of two rooms and an aivan (as in palace chambers), but they were built with vaulted roofs and brick walls as caravanserais were. On the first floor in the Muhammad-Amin-khan Medresseh (1841 A. D.) the outer rooms were turned into closed-in balconies facing the street, which imparted to the Medresseh an overt aspect uncommon to edifices of this kind.
Although the type of edifice was invariable, each medresseh was unique in appearance, because the principle common to all arts was strictly observed: in each case architects worked out a subject in a novel way by searching for new opportunities of interpreting each element of the architectural composition. In the volumetrical and spatial structure fresh forms were found, proceeding from the concrete situation: the edifices were either stretched along a longitudinal or diametric axis, splitting into two (such as the Khurjum and Abdurasulbai Medressehs), and assumed fabulous outlines, cramming into parts of the city with irregular conformation. The axes of the courtyard were emphasized by two or four portals; the proportions and number of storeys were changed. Every time the proportional harmony of the structure and its members as well as the construction of the ceilings and ornamentation of the facing — were designed anew. These means of image-bearing expressiveness were almost entirely at the disposal of the author of the design and depended on his skill; the type of building remained invincible, as it was in the sphere of social standards and regulations.
Particular variety of form was attained in memorial architecture. A great number of mausoleums in Moslem countries were erected in connection with the expansion of sainthood, introduced into Islam under the influence of pre-Islamic cults. The most common form of a mausoleum — a cube roofed in with a dome - was dictated by constructions in which monumental edifices were erected in Central Asia. These forms of expression found image-bearing and mythological interpretation in symbolics, which Sufism endowed them with (in its initial stage it was a heretical tenor of Islam, and a very reactionary one at that as from the 15th century A. D.): the cube was a stable form, a symbol of the Earth; the dome was similar to the vault canopy of heaven; in combination they resembled the Universe. The making of such a "pattern of the Universe" was equated with the act of the Supreme Being's creation of the world.
Nonetheless, this common form was elaborated in pursuance of the real conditions of perception and discharge of the rites of commemoration, religious reverence and homage, associated with worship for the repose of a person's soul. Typical of Khorezm were high mausoleums with a single chamber and portal which gradually thinned as it rose up and was crowned with a double arch and cogged brick cornice (the Uch-Avliya Mausoleum in Khiva, the Muzrab-shah of Khorezm and Sheikh-Khusein-bobo in Khazarasp).
Multi-chamber mausoleums, in which the tomb harmonized with a ritual hall and premises for pilgrims, were erected there on a large scale as well. The oldest and most elaborated of these was the Sheikh-Muhtar-Vali Mausoleum in Ostan, a village near Khanka. Very appealing is the silhouette of the dome and three-domed mausoleums in the Imorat-bobo complex (18th—19th centuries A.D.) in the Kosh-kupyrsk district. The five century-old sayyid Alla-ud-din Mausoleum in Khiva with its unique majolica gravestone has rooted itself in. In the 18th century a ritual hall (ziaret-khana) was attached to it.
The edifices, which became historical, served as samples for those erected in later times. Thus, the composition of the asymmetric Sayyid Alla-ud-din Mausoleum was reproduced in a monument of the same name (Imorat-bobo) in the vast burial-ground in Khiva beyond the Sirchali aryk to the north of Ichan-kala, in which a small burial-vault adjoins the ritual hall in the east. The "kosh-mazar" type of small ground crypt composition with a dummy portal (without an entry) in the centre, which can be found there, is typical of architecture in Khorezm. The men and women of a family were buried separately in the domed chambers. Occasionally the domed premises of a mausoleum lined to form a suite of two, three or more domes with through or side passages.
The custom to worship the remains of "saints" not unfrequently led to the creation of complex ensembles around them. In this way, the grave of the poet Pahlavan Mahmud of Khiva, a renowned epic hero (1247—1325 A.D.) became the basis of a vast graveyard which is in the centre of Ichan-kala now: according to superstitions based on religion, proximity to a saint bade fair for his intercession in the next world. For ritual ceremonies mosques and khanakas were put up. Pilgrims, who were accommodated in special cells (khudjr), were provided with a kitchen and refractory. The entrance to the worship ensemble at the Pahlavan-Mahmud grave, built in the 18th century A. D. in the shape of a domed booth (darvazakhan), remains to this day. At the turn of the 19th century the Khans of Khiva were buried beside Pahlavan Mahmud; for this purpose a magnificent mausoleum was erected in 1810 A.D., in a side gallery of which the grave of the Patron of Khiva was confined. The tombstone was clothed in majolica tiles in the same way as the Khans' graves. AH the walls and the dome inside the mausoleum, to which a gallery was attached on the east side in 1825 A.D., were covered with majolica of the highest quality and artistic merit.
Pahlavan-Mahmud's humble tomb found place in the splendid burial-vault of the Khans in the reign of the Kungrad dynasty.
Who out of the ruins will the world of my soul raise?
Perceive the burden of sin and make it his?
Gone have I on pilgrimmage to many renowned graves,
Will anyone come to me? Answer me, oh Azrail!
Today Pahlavan-Mahmud's verses are read by thousands of visitors to the fine monument, whose interior is clothed in sparkling majolica decorated with designs.
... With a pestle pound three hundred Caucasian mountains,
To languish in captivity for a hundred years,
To colour the sky with the blood of one's heart is easier,
Than to spei d an instant with a blockhead ...
The unique ensembles in Khiva were not governed by the rule of chance, but were the natural outcome of the skill and labour of Khorezm architects, who had inherited the century-old traditions of art and manner of building in Khorezm — the cradle of ancient culture of the peoples of the Orient. Some of the established principles of this art have reached us in fragments in the works of eminent medieval scholars; the search for them is not completed. The most precious evidence are the relics in which this theory is embodied. For this reason the study and preservation of these relics are a matter of national importance.
Contemporary society lives in the age of the third revolution in science and technology. Man has gone out into space and governs the structure of matter; big cities spring up at an unprecedented rate; there are no limits to the distances that can be overcome. It appears as if there is no room for the past in this world of progress. All the same, attention, devoted to spiritual values passed on to our generation by the entire previous culture of humanity, has grown immeasurably. An estimation of the past: determining the place of the heritage of the art of building (in particular), and defining the principles of equilibrium amid the Past, the Present and the Future — have become problems which are being solved world-wide by a special commitee - ICOMOS-UNESCO.
The principles of consideration for architectural heritage in the Soviet Union originated in one of the first instruments adopted during the civil war — Lenin's Decree on the Protection of Monuments. Now a special clause has been included in the Constitution of the USSR for the first time ever, which reads that the protection of monuments is the duty of every citizen of the USSR.
In the years of Soviet power the protection of monuments has developed and embraced ever more sections of the people. First, only unique objects were put under protection, of which but very few remain. Today the АН-Union Law on the Protection of Monuments and Uzbek SSR laws, which coordinate with it, introduce a modern conception of the protection of towns and cities, i.e. municipal environmental-protection, taken as artistic identity with notable works. This poses the problem of singling out reservation zones in historical towns and cities, coupled with strict control of the number of storeys buildings may have and of their purpose, with appropriate use of the surroundings and the monuments themselves, without damaging their appearance. At present most of the buildings in old towns, which need organization of public amenities and reviving, come under protection.
The Government of the Uzbek SSR has approved a list including 10 ancient towns, in which the historic main part is to be kept and restored. This involves Khiva, in which the historic lay-out, network of streets and edifices within the double ring of urban walls have not undergone changes in recent times. The area of Ichan-kala, the inner part of the town, has been declared a state reserve, as a complex relic of art and manner of building of the past.
A wide-scale programme of restorations in the reserve envisages renewal of relics and monuments, adopting and making use of them in the present. The Tash-hauli Palace has been turned into a history museum. Its branches, in which applied art of
Khorezm is exhibited, are accommodated in the small medressehs of Kazy Kalyan and Matpan-bai as well as in the Asfendiyar-khan reception-room at the Nurulla-bai Palace. The Kutlugh-Murad-inak Medresseh is now the Museum of the History of Medicine, while the Muhammad Amin-khan Medresseh with its comfortable two-roomed khujrs serves as a hotel for tourists.
A modern public centre of the town is under construction on a site to the north of Ichan-kala, which is void of relics and monuments; before construction was begun every edifice was given thoughtful attention and the finest were left untouched. The aspect of the new centre does not dispute with the relics and monuments of the past, though structures are built in a modern style. Designing is subjected to the interests of the historic surroundings, brick facing was introduced, and the number of storeys was limited, and the plasticity of bulk carries on the traditions of the museum-town.
Khiva is in no threat of having her relics and monuments overwhelmed by the chaos of speedy industrial methods of modern town-building. The master plan of the town's expansion limits the growth of its population and industry, envisages the erection of minor-storeyed buildings in blocks of the historical zone, a gradual replacement of ram-shackled dwelling-houses and those of not great significance with comfortable local-style structures built with due regard for the traditions of Khorezm.
Last Updated (Friday, 28 December 2012 09:20)