Showing posts with label Khiva. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Khiva. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Uzbekistan | Khorezm | Khiva | Djuma Mosque

After wandering about the Fifty Forts Region along the northern bank of the Amu Darya I returned to Khiva. I was most interested in finding what traces if any of Khiva survived the Mongol invasion of the lower Amu Darya in the winter of 1220-1221. 

Although much has been written about the fall of Urgench, further on down the Amu Darya (now known as Kunye Urgench, or Old Urgench, now in Turkmenistan, and not be to confused with New Urgench, in Uzbekistan just east of Khiva), none of the contemporary Persian accounts of the Mongol invasion that I am aware of say anything about Khiva. Ala'iddin Ata-Malik Juvayni (1226–1283), for instance, in his book Genghis Khan: The History of the World Conqueror, gives a harrowingly detailed account of the fall of Urgench, but as far as I can tell, given the confusion over name places, he makes no mention of any Mongol attack on Khiva. Yet Khiva was a prominent city in the thirteenth-century and would have been a tempting target for plunder during any invasion of the region. Indeed, local people insist that Mongol forces did sack Khiva in late 1220 or early 1221 and recount numerous local legends about the seige and ultimate destruction of the city. 
The bas-relief of Chingis shown on the cover of Juvaini’s book can be seen at Khökh Nuur in Khentii Aimag.
You will recall that Chingis Khan himself, after leading the attacks on Bukhara and Samarkand, spent the winter of 1220-21 camped on the banks of the upper Amu-Darya at a place known as Sali-Saray. The area known as Khorezm (or Khwarezm and a host of other alternative spellings) on the lower Amu Darya had not yet been attacked by the Mongols. In the fall of 1220 Chingis dispatched an army led by his two sons Chagatai and Ögedei down the Amu Darya with orders to take the Khorezm capital city of Urgench. They would have had to pass by Khiva and presumably they plundered the city before moving on to Urgench farther on down the Amu Darya. 

The current City Walls of Khiva, which have been restored, were according to locals built sometime after the destruction of the city by the Mongols. The previous city walls were reported leveled by the invaders. The Djuma Mosque, originally dating to the tenth-century, was also destroyed during the sack of the city. This Arabian-style structure with a flat roof held up by hundreds of columns was said to be the only mosque of its type in Central Asia. It was later rebuilt in the same style with a total of 213 columns. According to some sources as many as twenty-one of the columns from the old mosque survived its destruction by the Mongols and were incorporated into the new building. Some of them are ornamented with 10th–12th Arabic inscriptions in Kufic Script. My guide, a history researcher at a local institute, was only able to point out three and possibly four columns which pre-dated the Mongol invasion. These then would be some of the few artifacts which have survived the destruction of the city by the Mongols in 1220-1221.
 Some of the 213 columns holding up the flat roof of the Djuma Mosque
 One of the columns which locals claim pre-date the Mongol Invasion. 
 Another column said to pre-date the Mongol Invasion
Base of one of the columns
 Carving on one of the columns said by local experts to be typical of the 10th-12th centuries
Another column which may pre-date the Mongol Invasion

Friday, September 10, 2010

Uzbekistan | Khoresm | Khiva | Kalta Minaret

The next morning I wended my way through the streets of the Old City, heading westward toward the Ata Darzava, or Master Gate. As I mentioned, the Old City is one vast museum, with people living within it. Early risers like myself can see many families, all in their pajamas, sleeping on their front porches, enjoying the fresh night air. Out of respect for the privacy of these people I will not include photos. 
Street in the Old City
Just to the east of the Master Gate and in front of the Muhammad Amin Khan Madrasa is the Kalta Minaret, also known as the Guyok (Green) Minaret. The Khivan Ruler Muhammad Amin Khan ordered its construction in the early 1850s. According to plan, this was to be the grandest minaret in Transoxiania, with a height of 70 to 80 meters (230 to 262 feet), but it was not finished when the Khan died in 1855. There are two legends as to why the minaret was not completed. One says that the Khan halted construction after he suddenly realized that anyone on the top of the minaret would be able to peer down into his harem and see his wives. Another legend maintains that when the Amir of Bukhara found out about the minaret he made a secret agreement with the architect to build an even taller one in Bukhara. Somehow Muhammad Amin Khan found out about this and he issued a secret order that the architect was to be killed as soon as the minaret was completed. This order somehow reached the ears of the architect and he fled the city while construction was still taking place. In any case, the minaret was never finished. It is now 29 meters (95 feet) high, with bottom diameter of 11.2 meters (37 feet). 
 The truncated Kalta Minaret
Another view of the mineret
The minaret is connected to the Muhammad Amin Khan Madrasa (School), built 1851–55. 
Shops in front of the minaret and madrasa 
The minaret and madrasa from the top of the Citadel

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Uzbekistan | Khoresm | Khiva | Samarkand | Bukhara | 1910 Photos

Below are some photos (cropped versions of the originals) by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) who traveled through the Russian empire, which then included modern-day Uzbekistan, in the years 1909–1912. The photos in Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand were taken around 1910. Who knew they had color photography back then?  Prokudin-Gorskii used an experimental color process which had apparently been invented in Russia. 
Emir Seyyid Mir Mohammed Alim Khan, the Emir of Bukhara
Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva, now a part of modern Uzbekistan)
 A group of Jewish children with a teacher in Samarkand
A boy sits in the court of Tillia-Kari mosque in Samarkand
For the original versions of these photos and many more see Photos of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. Thanks to a fellow Wanderer in Virginia USA for sending along this link . . . 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Uzbekistan | Khoresm | Khiva | Shaxrizoda Hotel

The entire inner city of Khiva, an area covering seventy-five or so acres, is one vast open-air museum. At least fifty historic buildings—mosques, tombs, palaces, caravanserais, etc.—and several hundred domestic dwellings have been refurbished and restored. Admittedly, this creates somewhat of a sterile atmosphere, but if you accept the place as a museum—which indeed is what it advertises itself as—then it has to rank as one of the world’s more intriguing museums. Reportedly some 3000 people live within The Walls of the Inner City—that is to say within the museum—and most visitors also stay in guesthouses in the Inner City, making them live-in patrons of the museum. Most of the guesthouses are either refurbished eighteenth and nineteenth century merchants’ houses or replicas of merchants’ houses. And these old Silk Road merchants liked to live in style. Many of their homes qualified as mansions; today they make extremely comfortable guesthouses. Most of the guest houses seem to be run by single families who live on the premises. I stayed at the Shaxrizoda Hotel, right inside the south gate of the Inner City. Shaxrizoda is a Uzbek rendering of Scheherazade, the story-teller from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights
Entrance to the Shaxrizoda Hotel
Lobby of the Shaxrizoda Hotel
Dining Room and Balcony
Display Case in Dining Room
Second Floor Hallway
Silk Wall Hanging in Dining Room showing Shahryar, the King to whom Scheherazade tells her stories in the One Thousand and One Arabian Nights
 The hotel is managed by the wife in the family and her daughters. The daughters speak English. The husband is a wood carver and furniture maker. Here is one of his beds. The price is $50,000, not counting shipping to your home country. Within the past year he has sold three of these beds to European and American businessmen. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Uzbekistan | Khoresm | Khiva | City Walls

Wandered on out to Khiva, near New Urgench, on the lower Amu Darya River, the Oxus of Antiquity, (do not confuse New Urgench with Old Urgench, which was largely destroyed by the armies of Chingis Khan in the 1220s; the ruins of Old Urgench are in the current-day country of Turkmenistan). The city of Khiva itself, which according to legend was founded after the Flood by one of the sons of Noah, he of Ark fame (the city celebrated the 2500th anniversary of its founding in 1997; this date based on archeological and not Biblical evidence), is divided into the two parts, the old Ichan Qaia or Inner City, which has has been preserved more or less as it was at the end of the nineteenth century, and the modern Outer City. The Inner City is completely contained within the old city walls, which have repaired and restored. 
Section of the Old City Walls
One section of the Old Wall contains the Konya Ark, or Old Citadel, built in the seventeenth century.
Another view of the Old Citadel
Tombs on one section of the Old City walls; they were placed here to turn back the superstitious Turkmen tribesmen who were forever investing the city. 
View of the city walls from the Citadel, with the new city to the left
The west-facing Ata Darzava, or Master Gate, just to the right of the Citadel. This is the main entrance to the Old City. 
 View of the Inner City from the Citadel
 View of the Inner City looking west, with the Eastern Gate in the foreground