28 September 2018.
(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)
Here we are arriving at the city walls of Khiva.
Khiva was built close to the Amu Darya River though the river now flows elsewhere. It is also close to the border with Turkmenistan and on the other side of the border there is desert. It is part of the Khorezm, a fertile area surrounded by deserts that has been a centre of civilisations for about four thousand years. From 1077 until 1231 (when the Mongols turned up after their emissaries were executed) the Khorezm was the centre of the Kwarazmian Empire, including Persia, Afghanistan and much of central Asia. The Amu Darya was known as the Oxus to the Greeks and Romans, for example in the time of Alexander the Great.
There has been a settlement at Khiva, a depot on the silk road, for two thousand years or more and parts of the city walls are thought to date from the fifth century, but it has only been a significant city since the sixteenth century. That century saw the foundation of the Khanate of Khorezm and the shift of the capital from Kunya Urgench (now in Turkmenistan) to Khiva. For some centuries it was a regional powerhouse.
The Russians first turned up in 1717 with 4,000 troops who were welcomed, ushered to quarters and then slaughtered. In 1839-40, another army of 5,000 (with 10,000 camels) set out to achieve revenge but perished in the desert. The Russians finally turned up in 1873. After the Revolution in 1920 there was briefly the Khorezm People’s Republic until it was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1924 and divided between the Uzbek and Turkmen SSRs. Uzbekistan became independent in 1991.
Street markets, on the other side of the West Gate.
Some goods in the street.
A map of the old city. We entered from the gate at the bottom.
This is the door to our accommodation, the Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah (or the Orient Star Khiva Hotel).
… and here is the interior courtyard.
This is the top of the Kalta Minor (or Short Minaret).
A couple of partly corrected views using a fisheye lens which remain distorted but show something of the sense of scale.
Across an open courtyard with the Kalta Minor in the distance. The open doorway in the middle distance is I think the Information Centre, the small rectangular building at the right is the Zindan or jail and we are heading through the doorway at the right, into the Kuhkna Ark, or the Museum of Ancient Khorezm.
… and in we go,,,
This is not the main door to the Ark, it must be another one just inside.
The Khans of Khiva had several residences but this is the original one and since it is fortified, it was a place of refuge in times of uncertainty.
This is the Summer Mosque (1838) with tiles by Ibadullah and Abdullah Jin.
Here is a closeup of some of the tiles. My partner Jools who graduated in ceramics, tells me the glazing shows a high level of proficiency.
A section of the ceiling.
Opportunity missed. These caps look more interesting than some of the ones I purchased in Bukhara and Samarkand.
From the Summer Mosque, we move on through the doorway at the right.
On the other side are a few guards or policemen. Three different uniforms and the ones one the right say “Milliy Gvardia” on the back meaning Uzbekistan National Guard so they are soldiers. Probably all of them are.
This is the Khurinish Khana or Throne room. There used to be a wooden throne gilded in silver but that was carried off to St Petersberg by the Russians and never returned. Receptions were either in the (open three-sided) iwan in summer or in a warm yurt in winter, erected where the circular stonework is.
The top of a section of the walls.
People from nearby areas come to the historic sites for wedding photos. In this case a conjuring trick – the bride floating in the air.
Behind them we see the crenulated outer wall of Khiva, potentially giving covering fire from a variety of angles.
A view to the south west.
Islam Khoja Minaret & the Pakhlavan Mahmud Mausoleum.
Kalta Minor and Amin Khan Madrassah (where we were staying).
The Chinese New Silk Road is arriving in Uzbekistan, it seems.
Crenulated city walls again.
Tower and walls in the Ark.
Part of an ancient door inside the Ark.
… which we have now left.
Looking back at the entrance to the Ark.
(More on Khiva in the next post).
(Technical note: I processed these images in both Lightroom and Capture One. About half are from each and three were processed in Lightroom and Photoshop. Capture One has an advantage over Lightroom with selections and masks (so for processing regions), where colour is an issue, or with clarity. Most of these images just received overall processing though. If anyone wants to see whether they can detect any difference, images 1, 5, 8, 9, 13, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29,32, 33 36 and 37 were processed in Capture One, while images 10, 11 and 30 were processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.)