Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Bukhara

Bukhara, Uzbekistan, 1 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

(This post is out of sequence.  It should have been the second last post for Bukhara).

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Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

The first thing that struck me when arriving at Sitorai Mohkli-Khosa Palace were the near perfect reflections in a pool. 

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And here is a wider view of the source of the reflections.

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Sitorai Mohkli-Khosa Palace is the Summer Palace for the Emir, originally outside Bukhara but now on the outskirts.  It was built three times by the last three Emirs and the surviving version dates from 1912 to 1918.  It was built using Russian engineers and traditional Bukharan craftsmen, in a sometimes strange mix of traditional Bukhara and early 20th century architecture.

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Courtyard ceiling decoration.

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The small “minaret” has a very realistic depiction of a pigeon on top.  It even moves and flies away.

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Eurasian magpie (unrelated to Australian magpie).

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The Russian engineers and architects were from St Petersberg.  The last Emir used to frequently visit there on his own private train.  He had attended military school there and sent his son to the same school.  The is the White Hall.  I would presume it was inspired by the Winter Palace of Peter the Great, in turn inspired by Louis XIV’s Versailles (including the Hall of Mirrors) which was in turn inspired by Vaux-le-Vicomte of Nicolas Focquet (and this last one possibly more impressive than the other two).

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The last two Emirs of Bukhara.  Said ‘Abd al-Ahad Khan (1885-1911) on the left and Said Mir Muhammad Alim Khan (1911-1920) on the right.

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Stepping back a bit…

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The Emir’s collection of Chinese Vases.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan … and the ceiling above…

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Outside in the courtyard.

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Historical costumes on Bukhara on the nineteenth century.

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There were some impressive wall niches.

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(I tried to have these appear on this page side by side by was defeated by WordPress formatting).

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Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Embroidery, Harem, History, Landscape, Photography, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, Street photography, Suzani, Textiles, Travel, Uzbekistan

Maybe an earthquake; maybe just the building shifting…

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Architecture,

Outfits of the Emir.

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This is the building for the Harem.  Mind you, there were 400 in the Harem, so they can’t all have lived here.  When the Bolsheviks turned up in 1920 and the Emir fled to Afghanistan, the women of the harem were paired off with soldiers.

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Nowadays the building is a textile museum for suzanis from Urgut and Shahrisabz.

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A curiously ornate drainpipe at the harem.

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Next, Samarkand….

 

Ak Seray Palace

Shakhrisabz, Uzbekistan, 2 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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In the distance, about a kilometre away, is what is left of Timur’s Ak Saray Palace. 

In the middle is a statue of Timur (Tamerlane), who was born here and was local governor at the age of 25.  Behind Timur you can see what appears to be two tall buildings.  They are the remains of the monumental entrance arch and reach only about half of the original height (!).  Beyond that is the top of a section of the city wall.  

I used a very long telephoto, the full-frame equivalent of 525mm and also cropped a little.  Perspective compression means Timur’s statue appears much closer to the background structures than it really is.  The city wall is also further away from the remains of the arch than it seems.

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In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
 
(from Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

There is now little to see of Kublai Khan’s summer capital of Shangdu (Xanadu) in Inner Mongolia, visited by Marco Polo in 1275 and described by him in 1300, because remaining materials were pillaged for buildings in a nearby town. The “pleasure dome” Coleridge refers to was a portable bamboo construction and there was also a richly decorated marble palace. This was all on a grand scale but it is an open question how well Shangdu in its prime would have compared with Timur’s Ak Saray Palace in Shakhrisabz in its prime.

Come to think of it, Timur claimed kinship to Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan.  (To be precise, he claimed his great x8 grandfather was Genghis’s great x3 grandfather and Kublai’s great x5 grandfather).  Timur had quite conceivably read about Shangdu which was sacked by the Ming Army only a year before the start of his reign.  He may therefore have had a specific aim to outdo Shangdu.  He did want Ak Seray to be the greatest palace of all time and it was on a much grander scale than anything he created in his capital city, Samarkand.

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We didn’t actually walk that kilometre down to the remnants of the arch; instead we drove down and are now walking towards it from the other side.  This is taken with a wide angle lens, the full-frame equivalent of 21mm, and I’m much closer than the previous image, so the perspective is quite different.  You may need to click on the image to see it larger, but the statue of Timur is still in view though now appears much smaller and further away, and in the distant middle right is the blue dome of the Kok-Gumbaz Mosque, near where I took the previous image.

The surviving towers are 38 metres high and you can just see the start of the curve of the inner arch.  That’s impressive enough, but the original interior arch was 70 metres high and the towers were 80 metres high.  That’s equivalent to a 25-story building.  Beyond that, just the inner courtyard was 125 metres wide and 250 metres long. The buildings on each side were two stories high and faced with blue, gold and green tiles and at the end was the grand reception hall.  The palace is likely to have included “a mosque, a courtyard for public audiences, a courtyard for private audiences, Amir Temur’s private quarters, a courtyard and a garden of Harem, a sauna, a courtyard with a library and a school, a farmyard with stables, buildings for guards and a kitchen“.

Construction started in 1380 using 50,000 involuntary workers.  The arch was finished in 1395 but the palace wasn’t entirely finished in 1404 when Castillian ambassador Ruy Clavijo visited.  If the decorations were as sublime as in the mausoleum of Shamsidden Kulol that we saw in the previous post, built by Timur from 1373 to 1374,  then it would have been impressive indeed.

The space between the two pillars looks wide and open, for anyone to walk through, but that’s not how it would have been.  Obviously, it would have been possible to restrict entry though events on a massive scale would also have occurred.  There was a wall around the palace as well as another around the city, and there would have been a gate under the arch and much of that space would have been enclosed.  Apart from what remains, the palace was destroyed by Abdullah Khan, ruler of Bukhara, at the end of the sixteenth century.  

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With a very long telephoto lens, I took photographs of details of the tiling on the pillars as I was walking in.  These decorations are unreconstructed, as efforts so far have focused on ensuring structural integrity.

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There are even some residents….

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Here we have Timur, in the middle of his largely vanished palace, staring out and contemplating how little remains.  It reminds me perhaps of this image of Lenin at Pyramiden from this post, or perhaps this image of a moai contemplating the environmental costs of mankind at Easter Island as described in this post.

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Perhaps this is the image where we may really get a feel for the monumental scale of what remains of the entrance arch and by inference of the palace that once lay beyond.

There is an inscription on the remains of the arch “If you challenge our power – look at our buildings!”.   Though there is no mighty head lying around, this is in turn somewhat reminiscent of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem Ozymandias:

…”And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

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There’s not much left of some of the tiles.

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One last look at the remains of the lower half of the entrance arch from a different angle.

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And here is a glimpse of the city walls, very little of which remains, unlike Khiva.

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We continue on our journey to Samarkand, 80 kilometres to the north.

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There is a spring beside the road.

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I don’t remember the details but I recall there’s something sacred or legendary about the water here.

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And a small market at roadside in a mountain pass….

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… and from here we travelled on further towards Samarkand….

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In the next post I was about to segue seamlessly to Timur’s mausoleum in Samarkand but I have discovered a post from Bukhara I forgot to publish, so that will come first.

Kesh, Sogdia, Timur and a Sufi

Shakhrisabz, Uzbekistan, 2 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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Architecture, Ceramics, Dor-us Siyodat, Dor-ut Tilovat, History, Kok Gumbaz Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Shakhrisabz, Street photography, Travel

Walking past the twin domes of the mausolea at Dor-ut Tilovat.

Shakhrisabz is one of the oldest cities of Central Asia, at more than 2,700 years old.  It was called Kesh and was one of the capital cities of Sogdia (or Sugd), and Kesh was the capital city of all Sogdia at some times.   Sogdia, though, was more a loose confederation of cities than a centralised state.  In terms of current borders, it was in Eastern Uzbekistan and Western Tajikistan, with some encroachment into Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.   Other Sogdian Capitals were Buhkara, Afraysiab (now Samarkand, which we will visit next) and Khujand in Tajikistan.

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Walking towards Dor-us Siyodat.

Sogdia was independent during the first half of the first millennium BC until it was conquered by the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great around 540BC.  It was then independent again from about 400BC, when it freed itself from the weaker reign of Ataxerxes II.  This was at the time of the unsuccessful rebellion of his brother Cyrus the Younger, who died in a battle that he otherwise would have won.  Greek historian Xenophon, one of the leaders of the ten thousand Greeks that supported Cyrus, wrote Anabasis, an account of the battle and the subsequent story of the Greeks fighting their way back to Greece.  Egypt revolted at the same time and the last native dynasties retained independence for nearly 60 years (Persia had occupied Egypt since 525BC).  Ataxerxes was probably too busy unsuccessfully trying to retake Egypt, dealing with the later Satrap’s Revolt, and interfering in the conflicts of Greek city-states to focus on retaking Sogdia.

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Walking through the gardens, no doubt to an ancient plan but recently planted.  Gardens are always an essential part of Islamic public architecture.

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Alexander the Great then conquered Sogdia in 327 BC.  At this time, the last Archmaenid Emperor, Darius III is said to have been murdered near Kesh, retreating to the edge of his empire after military defeat.   Alexander’s famous paramour Roxane was also a Sogdian princess.  Sogdia became part of a succession of various empires, including Selucid, Greco-Bactrian, Kushan, Hephalite and Sasanian.  It still retained its identity and culture. 

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The birth of Sogdia was also associated with the formation of the Zoroastrian religion but Sogdia came to be an area of religious tolerance, also allowing Buddhism, Manichaeism, Judaism and Nestorian Christianity until Islam slowly took over from the eighth century AD.

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Loquats.

The Sogdians were also great traders, travelling the Silk Road from China to Byzantium and becoming prosperous as a consequence.  In 128BC, in the declining days of the Greco-Bactrian Empire, the Chinese succeeding in pushing through to Sogdia and successfully besieged the capital Alexandria Eschate (Fergana Valley, present-day Uzbekistan). They were after larger more robust horses so they could successfully combat and defeat the Xiongnu Khanate, a massive Mongolian empire of the ancestors of the Huns. This helped to open up the Silk Road, including for Sogdian participation.

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Architecture, Ceramics, Dor-us Siyodat, Dor-ut Tilovat, History, Kok Gumbaz Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Shakhrisabz, Street photography, Travel

Eurasian magpie.

The Han dynasty did not remain in the area for long but in the first half of the eighth century AD, the Tang dynasty had expanded so it was bordering on Sogdia.  However in 751 they were defeated by the Abbasid Caliphate (Persian-based Moslems).  Then in 755 came the An Lushan Rebellion which ultimately failed but hugely weakened Tang China. There had been a significant Sogdian community in China for many years, including some in influential positions.  But because An Lushan was part Sogdian, a Sogdian identity became less politic and they blended into the general population.

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A corner of Dor-us Siyodat.

While Sogdians were of Iranian origin, the Uzbeks are Turkic, so Sogdia gradually faded away after the Islamic takeover and the current inhabitants of Shakhrisabz are not Sogdian and do not speak a Sogdian language.  However, over the border in Tajikistan, Sogdians survive in the form of the Yaghnobi people in the Sugh Province, who also speak a language descended from Sogdian.

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Khazret Imam Mosque on the right (a working mosque we did not visit).

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Dor-us Siyodat, or the mausoleum of Timur’s eldest son Jakhongir.

All the buildings we will see are from much later than Sogdian times.   Shakhrisabz was the birthplace of Timur the Great (Tamerlane).  He had magnificent building projects here and for a while considered making it his capital.  So the buildings are from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries. 

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Looking up inside the mausoleum.

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This image and the next are probably details of the same door.

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This was to be Timur’s tomb.  He wanted something small and simple but his successors gave him instead the magnificence of Gur-Emir in Samarkand (coming up, in a while).  He was never interred in this sarcophagus.

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Architecture, Ceramics, Dor-us Siyodat, Dor-ut Tilovat, History, Kok Gumbaz Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Shakhrisabz, Street photography, Travel

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Dor-us Siyodat was to be the burial place of Timur’s family.  Construction started in 1379 and two of his sons were buried here but most of the complex was destroyed by Bukharan ruler Abdullah Khan II in probably the 1570s and only Jakhongir’s mausoleum survived.

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Here we see the nearby Dor-ut Tilovat ensemble which includes Kok-Gumbaz Mosque (the large dome), the Gumbazi-Sayidon Mausoleum (the two smaller domes) and a Madrassah.  The mosque and one mausoleum was built by his Timur’s grandson Ulugbek, the left hand mausoleum was built by Timur.

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We are now inside the mausoleum of Shamsidden Kulol.   He was a potter, philosopher, theologian and scholar and the founder of Sufism.  He was also the primary spiritual and intellectual influence on Timur.  This is Timur’s testimony to him and and its elegance is breathtaking.

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The tombs of both Shamseddin Kulol and Timur’s father Taraghay are underneath the mausoleum.

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This is underneath the other cupola, built by Ulugbek for his descendants, though it is not clear whether any were ever buried here. 

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This image and the next two are details painted on the interior walls of the mosque.

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These palm trees are the calling cards of the original Indian and Iranian designers..

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There is a large courtyard between the mausolea and the mosque.  We are looking across that courtyard, either to the madrassah or back to the mausolea.

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Arches in a corridor inside the mosque.

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The three final images are inside the Kok-Gumbaz (Blue Dome) Mosque built between 1435 and 1436 by Ulugbek in honour of his father (and Timur’s son) Shah Rukh.

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The recess in the white rectangle is the mihrab which indicates the quibla, or the direction to face in order to pray towards Mecca.  The minbar, or the imam’s pulpit, is just to the right of the mihrab.

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It was built on the foundations of an older mosque from the Karakhanid era (900 to 1200) and originally had a much larger dome.  That collapsed in the late eighteenth century and was rebuilt two hundred years later.  Judging by the apparent imperfections of the interior of the dome, they must have used original materials where possible.

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Last Night in Bukhara

Bukhara, Uzbekistan, 1 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

This is one of the four towers of the Chor Minor Madrassah though the nest and storks are not real.

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A bit further back, here are the four towers.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan … And the whole madrassah.  Not sure what the mats and reeds on a platform in the foreground are for.  Merchandise? Camels?

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Despite the name, it’s actually a gatehouse for a madrassah, built in 1807, but the madrassah no longer exists.  The four towers apparantly contain symbols to represent the four main religions but I wasn’t aware of that at the time and did not look for them.

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There was not much inside (though good acoustics) but we did climb up to get a view from the roof.

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Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan 

In 1925, before the domes were restored, there was a stork nest on each of the domes.

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Stopping at one of the many remarkable ancient doors on the street in Bukhara.

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On our way back to the hotel, we are passing through one of the bazaars, probably Tok-i-Sarraton (“The Moneychangers’ Bazaar”).

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This and the next two images are from Abdulazizkhan Madrassah, from under the archways rather than in the interior.

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Back out on the street, another ancient door.

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From this point on we were on a rooftop restaurant for dinner, also hoping to take some photographs of the Poi-Kalyan Ensemble as the sun went down.  I’d guess that this is the roof of a trading dome.

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It’s getting late but there is still a restoration workman on the roof of the Kalan Mosque.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

While it looks similar, this is not Kalan Minaret.  Not sure exactly where and what it is.  interesting back view of Bukhara, though.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

The two domes of the Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah.  You don’t see the restoration debris from ground level.  There are a couple of workers in the shadows too.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

Part of an interior gateway of the Kalan Mosque.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

There were some friendly locals on our rooftop restaurant and one of them asked to pose for me to take a photo….

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

The dome of Kalan Mosque.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

We’re not in ancient Egypt but clearly Ra is fighting against against being swallowed by Nut and having to travel through the World of the Dead for twelve hours before being reborn the following morning….

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

There’s an electric version of Ra inside this building though.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

Madrassah? Caravanserai? (Don’t know).

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

Kalan Minaret, just after sunset.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

Closer view.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

The dome of Kalan Mosque.

. Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, Chor Minor Madrassah, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Uzbekistan

Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah again, in much lower light.  No more workers in the shadows.

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It’s now dark. I perhaps remember that building but don’t know its function.  Probably a madrassah or a hotel built in the style of a madrassah.

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The Ark, Bukhara

Bukhara, Uzbekistan, 30 September 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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Ark is the Persian word for fortress, so this is the Ark of Bukhara.

The area in the foreground and out to the left is part of what was the Registan, an open area bustling with life and functioning as a market place, public square and execution ground.

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We have nine images of the outside walls.  The first six are taken with a Fuji 10-24mm lens (equivalent to 15-36mm in full frame) and they show perspective distortion.  Say you take a photograph of someone holding their fist out to the camera, you are very close to the fist and everything is in focus.  The fist would appear huge and the rest of the person very small.  So that is perspective distortion and it’s what we logically see, though our brain processes it to make more sense.  The the last three images are taken with a 12mm Samyang fisheye lens, so they go beyond that to also have fisheye distortion, though the last two are partially corrected.

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There has been a town here since maybe 500BC, though people were here before then and not much is known about that.  At that time it was part of the Persian Empire and was taken by Alexander the Great in 329BC. Over the years there was a succession of different invaders, often with devastating results for Bukhara.  It was part of the (Greek) Selucid Empire, the Kushan Empire, then the (Mongol) Hephalite Empire.  From 650 to 750AD, the Arabs slowly and intermittently took control, displacing Zoroastrianism and other religions with the Islam.  

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Then the Samanids took power in Bukhara in 892 and brought a restoration of Persian culture and language.  During the tenth century Bukhara was the capital of their empire, that at its peak (in modern terms) included Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and north-east Iran.  It also during that period became a world centre of learning, far surpassing anywhere in the decadent post-Roman West.  

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After that was a period of decline.  Bukhara fell to the Karakhanids in 999, the Karakhitai in 1141 and Koresemshah in 1206.  Genghis Khan took and razed the city in 1220, declaring himself the Scourge of God.  “If you had not committed great sins, God would have not sent a punishment like me.”

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In 1500, an Uzbek Shaybanid dynasty took over.  The Timurids had a brief comeback under Babur in 1511 but he was defeated in 1512 and left, instead to conquer India.  The Shaybanids for a while brought a new period of prosperity and artistic accomplishment.  The Ark has been created and destroyed many times over the years but the present for dates from the Shaybanids and the buildings are all from within the last three centureies.  An Astakhanid dynasty took over in 1552 and slowly Bukhara declined from a major force to a regional power.

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In 1840, most of the brickwork in the walls you see here did not exist.  There was instead an artificial hill with a much smaller wall at the top.  The brickwork was added later in the nineteenth century.  In 1868, Russia defeated Bukhara and it became a Russian protectorate, though the Emir retained arbitrary and absolute power within the city of Bukhara.

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In 1918, a Bolshevik army from Samarkand arrived to take the city but the locals preferred to stay with the Devil they knew (or Islamic Emir as the case might be) and the army was defeated.  So Bukhara remained as a relic Mediæval enclave for a couple of years.

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In 1920, a more competent Soviet army appeared at the city gates, the city was taken and in the fighting the wooden buildings inside the Ark were destroyed by bombing and fire.  Most of what lay within the walls of the Ark remains destroyed.  From 1920 to 1924 there was the Bukharan People’s Soviet Republic and then it became part of Uzbekistan (which itself became independent in 1991).

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So here we are at the gate to the Ark.

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I think this is the former living quarters of the Emir’s kushbegi (Prime Minister), now housing an archaeological museum.

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An ancient petrograph from the museum.  Perhaps a leopard and a pair of ibex.  The label only said it came from Uchtut, which is a location about 150 kilometres south east of Bukhara.  They are probably from something like 3,000 to 4,000 BC.

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The Reception and Coronation Court, a large open-air iwan, where the Emir could meet or address people en masse.

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And here he is, the Emir, terror of the population, from a nineteenth century photograph using a digital camera smuggled in by a European.

In 1838, Colonel Charles Stoddart arrived in Bukhara, seeking to reassure the Emir about British troop movements beyond the border.  However, he was not acquainted with local custom and rode into the Ark rather than leaving his horse behind and later prostrating himself before the Emir.  He was cast into a caged hole that he shared with rats.  When the British occupied Kabul and might later have had designs on Bukhara,  he was taken out to the custody of the Chief of Police and allowed proper food and clothing.  Then when the British were defeated in Afghanistan, he was cast beck in the hole again.  In 1840, Captain Arthur Connelly turned up to try to persuade the Emire of the benefits of closer association with Britain and after a while he was thrown in the hole as well.  In 1842 they were executed.

Nineteenth century Bukhara was a somewhat polygot city including Jews, Afghans, Armenians, Russians, Persians, Chinese and Hindus.  It was also a health disaster, with fetid water for long periods producing epidemics and reshta, a vile parasitic worm.  It was also cruelly despotic and a strange mixture between licentious depravity and ruthless enforcement of minor religious norms.

Ah, that’s right, I remember now.  I actually took that photograph.  It’s not from the nineteenth century.  The boy’s father paid a small amount for him to dress up and pose on the throne.  Unaccompanied in nineteenth century Bukhara though, the boy would have been in severe danger from the Emir.

Nowadays though, Bukhara and Uzbekistan generally is very friendly and welcoming.

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A tourist being led around the Ark on a camel ride, in a faint echo of a now distant past.

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We are now inside the Bolo-Khauz Mosque, part of the few surviving structures on the Registan.  It was built in 1712 by the Emir’s wife.  I do not seem to have photographed the outside.

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This is the main prayer hall.

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This time, with the fisheye lens.

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This is the Chasma-Ayub Mausoleum.  I don’t seem to have photographed inside so perhaps it was closed or photography not permitted.  It has four domes from different periods and with different architecture.  The earliest, the conical one, is from the time of Timur in 1380.

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This is the Israel Samani Mausoleum.  It dates from the tenth century, the period of the great cultural flowering of Bukhara and is named after the founder of the Samanid Dynasty.  It incorporates elements of earlier Sogdian and Sassanian/ Zoroastrian architecture.  It escaped the depredations of Genghis Khan because it had become buried under sand and earth and was rediscovered in 1934 by a Soviet archæologist.  The tombs were then removed by the Soviets.  This Samanid mausoleum was a model for many of the fourteenth to seventeenth century mausolea of India.

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A view of the symmetrical interior.

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Looking up at the dome (with some fisheye distortion)…

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… and a closer (rectilinear) view.

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I’m not sure what structure this is; I presume it was visible from the rooftop restaurant we attended that night.

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And this is the top of the Kalan Minaret from a distance.  we saw it more close-up in daylight in the previous post.

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Kalan Mosque, Bukhara

Bukhara, Uzbekistan, 30 September 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

You are looking at the Poi-Kalyan Ensemble.  Kalan Mosque is on the right, Kalan Minaret in the centre, Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah behind the minaret to the left, and a wall of the Miri-Arab Madrasah at far left.

Only a generation ago this was the site of a cotton bazaar, including huge piles of cotton atop swaying camels.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

The Kok Gumbaz (or Blue Dome) of the Kalan Mosque.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Looking through at the main entrance-way to the interior of the Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, with a lone student framed by the lattice-work.

The madrasah was built in 1535 and remains the foremost centre of religious education in Bukhara.  It still operates as a madrasah, with around 180 students and is consequently closed to tourists.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Going into the Kalan Mosque.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Under one of the 288 domes of the mosque.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Earthquakes are not unknown in Uzbekistan.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

In the great rectangle of the mosque, looking west. 

The Kalan Mosque is one of the oldest in Central Asia and also the second largest.  It was intended to house the whole population of the city and the rectangle can hold 10,000 to 12,000 people.  The original was built in 795, collapsed twice in the early tenth century, burned to the ground in 1068 and was destroyed by the Mongols under Genghis Khan in 1219.  The current mosque was finished in 1541.

The recess in the huge rectangular structure is the mihrab and that structure is the qibla wall so together they indicate the quibla, or the direction to face in order to pray towards Mecca.

The small octagonal structure dates from the nineteenth century and is probably where a second Imam would echo the words of the first.  Alternatively, it may be the site of an ancient well or a shelter for the Emir on his weekly visit.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Looking south.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Looking east.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Near the west end of the rectangle, still with a wide angle lens but not as wide an angle as the previous image.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Looking up at the main portal of the west end of the mosque rectangle.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

A couple of views looking back through that portal.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan .

Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Looking up at the dome.  The writing around the dome reads “Immortality belongs to God”.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

There’s always a need for washing….

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Down a long corridor, probably on the south side.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Another dome.

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan .

Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Walking back out to the portal behind the tree….

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Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Kalan Minaret, Kalan Mosque, Landscape, Photography, Poi-Kalyan Ensemble, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Back outside the mosque to the Poi-Kalyan Ensemble.  So the Amir-Allimkhan Madrasah is on the left, showing in this image only one of its two domes.

The minaret is 48 metres high (155 feet) and there has been a minaret here since 919.  The original one was destroyed in an earthquake in 1068 and a replacement collapsed a few years later.  This one dates from 1127 and Ghengis Khan was so impressed with it that he ordered it to be exempt from the razing of the city.

The small Miri-Arab Madrasah behind and to the left of the minaret was also a bath house.

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Trading Domes and Madrassahs, Bukhara

Bukhara, Uzbekistan
30 September 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

You can see the mass of domes ahead and to the right.  There are five Trading Domes in Bukhara and for centuries these enclosed markets protected customers from wild swings in weather.  This is Toqi Telpak Furushon (or the Cap Makes’ Bazaar).

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Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

This is looking up at the largest dome.  You could see one of the “dome windows” in the previous image.

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A closer look at the centre of the inside of the dome.

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

A knife making workshop.

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Looking back at Toqi Tilpak Furushon, having walked through.

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Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

We’ve walked through Toqi Telpak Furushon and probably around another Trading Dome we will get to soon.  To the right there are two madrassahs facing each other.  This is Ulugbek Madrassah.

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Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

The inside of Ulugbek Madrassah.

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Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

This is the top of the arch at the entrance to Abdulaziz-Khan Madrassah and the next twelve images are inside that madrassah.

The fractal profusion of connected objects under the central arch and the three smaller “window arches” are muqarnas.  In their simplest form they can be cubes and they have a function for corner bracing, paradoxically enhanced by their profusion.  They can also take many forms including stalactite and also have aesthetic and religious associations.  The stalactite structures lead the eye upwards and speak to the connections between heaven and earth.  Their geometric complexity is also an echo of the Pythagoreans who looked upon numbers as the fundamental element of the universe and numbers were thus to them divine.  Muqarnas are a fundamental element of Islamic architecture since the eleventh century.

The two madrassahs facing each other form a single ensemble called Kosh Madrassah.  They also represent the heritage of two different dynasties, the Timurids and the Ashturkhanids.  Ulugbek Madrassah was built by Timur the Great’s grandson Ulugbek in 1420, whereas Abdulazizkhan Madrassah was built by the Emir of  Bukhara, Abdulaziz Khan in 1652. 

(So Abdulazizkhan Madrassah was built in the same period as Nicolas Focquet built Vaux-le-Vicomte in France.  He was subsequently thrown in prison by Louis XIV and Vaux-le-Vicomte used as a model for building of Versailles.  If you study them carefully, you may find some differences in architectural style between Vaux-le-Vicomte and Abdulazizkhan Madrassah.)

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Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

This was an attic for scholars, dating back hundreds of years. I believe we are looking at shelves for books and perhaps writing materials.

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

We walked up some stairs to enter here.

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

A wider view of the room.

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

This image and the following eight are looking up at the ceilings within the madrassah. 

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

Though they are different views of the same interior they nonetheless show great variety.

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

Many other instances of muqarnas are on display.

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

(I’ll just let you talk to the images for a while).

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving .

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving .

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. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving .

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Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving .

.Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

Now back in the open, looking west and heading back to the nearby Trading Dome Toqi Zaragon.

There have probably been trading domes in Bukhara for as long as there has been the Silk Road but Bukhara itself has been wiped away from time to time.  For example, Genghis Kan, a hero in Mongolia but possibly the world’s most genocidal ruler, razed it to the ground in 1220.  So the five surviving trading domes are more recent than that.  Toqi Zaragon dates from 1570 while Toqi Tilpak Furushon, which we visited earlier, dates to the later sixteenth century.  Historically, the entrances to the trading domes were large enough for a fully-laden camel to pass through, though seemingly much larger these days.

.Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving 

In the far background is the Kalon Mosque and the Kalon Minaret (next post).

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

Inside the Trading Dome we see women weaving carpets by hand with incredible skill and meticulous attention to detail.

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving .

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving .

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving .

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving .

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. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving .

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving

You can of course buy carpets, with a huge array on offer.  You just need lots of money including for shipping it back home.

. Abdulaziz-Khan Madrasah, Architecture, Bukhara, Carpets, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Trading Domes, Travel, Ulugbek Madrassah, Uzbekistan, Weaving .

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Arrival, Bukhara

Bukhara, Uzbekistan
29-30 September 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

A truck on the road between Khiva and Bokhara. Likely advice to any pedestrians on the right side of the road – run!

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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

The sign at the restaurant at the left says “ШАШЛИК СОМСА КЕПСИ ТОВУҚ ЖИЗ”, or as you might have guessed “Shashlik Somsa Kepsi Chicken Jiz”.

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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

A dome in the late afternoon light in Bukhara.

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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

This looks like a sunset but the sun is well above the horizon, so it’s an exposure directly into the sun which is shining through the window in the cupola. Rather than a low light exposure, it is actually 200 ISO, 1/8,000 sec, f11.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

A little later with a cloud of birds in the distance. These two were probably taken at dinner.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

An hour later, a wedding group on the streets.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

This is above the main portal of the Nadir Divan-begi Madrasa.

It was built as a caravanserai (prosaically, if you like, a motel with camels instead of cars) but either dedicated as or later converted to a madrassah (or school, often religious) and the architecture more resembles a caravanserai than a madrassah. It was built during the reign of Imam Quli Khan (1611 to 1642, a time of prosperity and peace) and built by his Vizier Nadir Divan-begi, after whom it is named. In the image above, the sun has a face as do the serpents below him. Traditionally, Islam strongly disapproved of depiction of humans and animals but this was relaxed in the Persian-influenced world in the early seventeenth century.

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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

This image and the next eight are also in the Nadir Divan-begi Madrassah.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Wall and ceiling details…..
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan .
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan .
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan .
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

A silk weaver.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Discussion of potential purchases, perhaps.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Looking up….
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

A variety of textile wonders on offer…..
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

This is the ancient Magoki-Attori Mosque.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

This southern entrance dates to the 12th century and you can see the trace of carved blue majolica tiles.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

There was originally a Zoroastrian fire temple and later a Buddhist temple. The Moslem religion arrived about 650AD but its takeover was gradual. At one time both Jews and Moslems were said to have worshiped here concurrently though this may have been at different times of the day. Bukhara burnt down in 927 and the mosque was built or rebuilt at this time. It was rebuilt in the 12th century using the design of the previous mosque and restored in the 14th and 17th centuries and the 1930s and 1970s. It had to be dug out in the 1930s because over the years it had sunk below rising levels of sand.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the oldest mosques in central Asia.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Carved doorway.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Looking up in the top level, from the 1930s.
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Not far away is the foundations of an ancient structure but I can’t remember what our guide said and I can not find information on what it was.

(The edge of the Toqi Telpak Furushon Trading Dome is in the background at the far right. We go there in the next post.)
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Architecture, Art, Bukhara, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Nadir Divan Begi Madrassah, Photography, Silk, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

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Some computer storage problems and solutions

This is a post on some computer storage issues and some things I learned while addressing them.

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Drobo to TerraMaster?

For ten years, I have been backing up to a Drobo.  This was a black box (literally) with five drives in a RAID array, so that it operated faster than single disks and was also safer, as a disk or two could die and you could just replace them without losing data. 

But after twelve years, the Drobo died.  It appeared to be in a startup loop.  I found a report of this and it appeared to be a terminal problem but in any case, support from Drobo is almost non-existent and I would have had to pay $US100 to get their technical people to consider the problem.  So I decided to replace the Drobo with a Chinese five-disk RAID device called a TerraMaster D5-300, which I got for about about half the price of a replacement Drobo.

(I have about 6TB of image data to back up so it’s a sizable task as well as an important one.  NVMe SSDs give great performance but are too expensive to store lots of data so it’s still back to the old hard disks or HDDs for that.)

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Backup, Computing, Drobo, Photography, RAID, Terramaster

This is what it looks like.

Unlike Drobo, Terramaster offers very good assistance which I found invaluable.  The unit also comes with a piece of paper with a link to the Terramaster site where they explain how to set up (including a short video).

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Problems with RAID and hard drives

First I tried the new RAID using 3TB HGST hard drives from the old Drobo but I ended up with partition errors, the RAID was in RAW format and when I dismounted the RAID, the individual disks were in RAW format.  Now this is not like RAW files for images; a RAW disk has no file system that Windows can read.  My backup program Acronis couldn’t recognise the disks, Windows Explorer didn’t recognise them, Window utility chkdsk couldn’t fix them and nor could Disk Manager.  After some research I found a free utility Paragon Partition Manager Community Edition that allowed me to to convert the RAW hard drives to NTFS and recover them. 

I still wasn’t able to create a RAID, though.  I tried twice using six HGST 3TB drives and three times using nine WD Red 2TB drives (from a RAID on my previous PC).  Each time I encountered partition errors, RAW format RAIDs and disks, and bad sectors on some of the disks.  I discovered that Windows chkdsk (Check Disk) is a superficial utility that may approve a disk as OK that still has bad sectors on it.  However, I discovered some free utilities that though slower are far more thorough than chkdsk.  I used DiskGenius and WD Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows (and for those with Seagate disks, there is also Seatools by Seagate (but may not work on non-Seagate drives)).  (WD Lifeguard Diagnostic has also recently been replaced by another product but it’s only for SSDs).

After five unsuccessful attempt to create the RAID and losing some disks, I gave up and returned the RAID enclosure.  Instead I am backing up to additional single hard drives located inside my PC.  This only makes sense because I also backup to the Cloud using CrashPlan for Small Business.  Otherwise, in the event of a fire, I would lose all my files.  (I also have local backups to external disks using a disk caddy but that doesn’t get updated very often).

I ended up with two dead HGST 3TB hard drives out of six and five dead WD Reds out of nine.  The HGST drives may well have been killed by the Drobo.  The Drobo’s startup loop meant it kept starting up and closing down, so that the hard drives were repeatedly waking up and crashing, which could well have caused physical damage and made some of them unusable. 

The HGST drives were 8 or 9 years old but they are enterprise drives with a longer life and I don’t think that was the problem.  My WD Reds were mainly 6 to 8 years old though three, including one that failed, were only one year old.  A “normal” hard drive is said to have a life expectancy of 3 to 5 years, so was it just that the most of the WD Reds were too old?  I decided to also test my other old hard drives from previous RAIDs and backups.  These included four 2TB WD Greens of 10 to 11 years old, four 1TB WD Blacks mainly 12 years old and one 1.5TB WD Green of 9 years old.  All of those tested OK including two with a single bad sector that was repaired.

So I suspect that those five WD Reds (most of which were in a RAID last year) did not die of old age but were killed by the TerraMaster.  Perhaps it would have worked with newer disks but I wasn’t about to purchase a whole lot of them to find out.  Perhaps I had a defective RAID enclosure.  Most people report no problems and find it works well though a small minority have reported problems similar to the ones I encountered.

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Hidden issues with WD Reds

Speaking of WD Reds, they are the most obvious disk for most people to use in a RAID but there is a hidden issue with them.  A couple of years ago there was just the WD Red but now there is Red, Red Plus or Red Pro.  The old Reds are the same as the Red Plus.  The new Reds are best avoided because they may be less reliable and are not much cheaper.  However, WD weren’t open about this change and disks sold as Reds can either be new Reds or new Red Pluses (refer here for which models are which).  The Red Pros are faster than the Red Pluses (7200rpm vs 5400rpm) but the Red Pluses are likely to last longer and the speed is not so important for backup.  The enterprise drive above the Reds is the WD (HGST) Ultrastar, which replaces the WD Gold.

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CF and SD Cards

Coincidentally, I encountered a bad sector when trying to download some images from a CF card.  CF and SD cards are said to have a life of around ten years and some of mine are as old as 13 years.  So I also went through and tested all my CF cards and found two out of seven unusable due to bad sectors.  That may not mean your camera will tell you you’re about to lose some images though, so it’s a good idea to occasionally test your cards, especially the old ones.  It’s probably better to throw away a CF or SD card if it has any bad sectors.  For testing these cards I used DiskGenius because it has a good graphical interface.  (I will soon also test my SD cards, which can be up to 10 years old).

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To check a disk you right-click to Verify or Repair Bad Sectors or find that on the Disk menu.

Hopefully, you have a disk with no bad sectors.

 

… But this one is unusable whether the camera thinks so or not, and is to be thrown away.

If you have problems with lost files on a CF or SD card, the best option I know of is RescuePro Deluxe, which comes free with Sandisk Extreme and Extreme Pro cards.  It’s not owned by SanDisk though and it recently changed hands.  They now make it more difficult for you to find the free download link and try to encourage you to go for the paid version.

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Next post : Normal service resumes at Bukhara, Uzbekistan….

 

Technical Posts

 

Links to technical posts on this Blog….

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Technique

RAW Processing

Lightroom

Printing

Computers

Backup

Equipment