Splendour of Bukhara

Issue #4 • 1470

If we evaluated architectural monuments considering them as they are – out of analogues and comparison we would obtain just a part of information. The monuments our ancestors constructed caused a powerful resonance in the utmost places of the earth. Evidences proving a high value of our monuments are amazing; they give the opportunity to see the history of our country in a different way. In this regard, “Bukhoro-i Sharif” – Bukhara the Grand was a special cult city. Although shortly before the Arab invasion its walled shahristan consisted of two sections – northern and southern, after Islam coming this Turkic style of planning was changed. Westward from Bukhara’s shahristan was located a citadel – Ark. Adherents of the new religion approved the city looking to the west, to sacred Mecca as “politically right”, and in the 9th century they walled the Bukhara’s citadel and shahristan. So, the archetype of a city reflecting ideology of the early middle ages occurred.

Bukhara and Samarkand
In the 9th – 10th centuries, southward from Afrasiab had been grown its suburb – rabad, modern Samarkand, which however gravitated to the citadel located on the west what can be explained by influence of Bukhara’s planning. From 874 the Samanids coordinated the policy and urban development of Bukhara and Samarkand. “Samarkand was the greatest city. and had been loosing its importance just since Ismail transferred his residence to Bokhara. Then Bokhara was a center, first, of Central Asian empire. second, of those spiritual concepts and actions, which in that period inspired the eastern part of the Muslim world. Bokhara, this “residence of sciences” early gained a title of “grand and pious”. Just this fame had become a reason by which the great Samanid preferred Bokhara before Samarkand” (1, p.XXVI, 73 – 75).

Samarkand was developing in a line with Bukhara. In 1070, the capital was Bukhara, in 1081 – Samarkand. Like in Bukhara of the 9th century, in the 10th century the citadel and rabad of Samarkand were encompassed by the first wall, and in the 11th century – by the second one. In 1102 – 1130, the “king – builder” Arslankhan who ordered construction of the Kalyan minaret had lived and reigned both in Bukhara and Samarkand. In 1102 – 1165, Bukhara had two walls. In 1208, as if foreseeing the Mongolian invasion, Khorezmshah Muhammad restored the Bukhara’s citadel, shahristan’s wall and two lines of walls of rabad. In 1212, he ordered to reinforce the walls of Samarkand too. In 1220, both cities were destroyed by Chinggis-khan who nearby the Namazgoh mosque proclaimed: “If your souls have not been so sinful the God would not have sent such punishment as I”. They thought that the death of the city and its inhabitants was heaven-sent. Therefore, seeking for rescue they appealed to the God – to the west. After sacred, for the Turks, northern and southern directions, the Mongolian conquest made dominant the orientation of the cities to the Arabic west. Submissive Bukhara by its planning much promoted these innovations. In Samarkand and Shahrisabz, elite and clergy had been moving to the northwestern sections of these cites. In Samarkand, exactly in this section was located a house of powerful Khodja, Ubaidulloh Khodja Akhrar (1404 – 1490). The Turks, which had escaped from trouble Central Asia to the far south, reproduced there in general and in details the city planning order of Bukhara. Now in India they ask: “How did these enterprising people from far Central Asia find Persian contacts, entered and set their reigning over almost deserted region of the sub – continent, the plateau of Deccan? This is a question to be answered” (2, p. 16 (1 – 18)… Actually, everything began in Tashkent.

Turkic Renaissance and Temur
In the 10th century, at some bazaar in Tashkent (then Binkent) the guard of the Samanid emir bought a young Turkic man who was Sebuk Teghin (3, p. 41). He was destined for reigning in Ghazni and for foundation of the dynasty of the Ghaznavids (the 10th – 11th centuries). From 999, the next epoch of the Trukic dominance was connected with the Qarakhanids in Movarounnahr and with the Ghaznavids on Khorasan; the Turks entered the Persian culture of the cities. The son of Sebuk Teghin, Mahmud Ghazni (998 – 1030) extended the state of the Ghaznavids (962 – 1186) from Khoresm to India. The state of the Ghaznavids turned into “the great empire of Central Asia. and later still remained a stronghold of Islam with a capital in Lahore (4, p. 61 – 62). “Mahmud (and after him Babur and his inheritors. – A.Sh.) formed his administration system according to Iranian model and approved the Persian language as official. So, the Muslim architecture became a motor of the Turkic – Persian culture” (5, p. 36 – 38).

Moving southward from Movarounnahr to Khorasan the Turks furthered humanitarian ascent of Islam. “Since the Ghaznavids were from the Turks and history of Islam in India as a dynamic force was largely the history of the Turks, here they showed their characteristic ability to adapt another culture and at the same time to keep a status of conquerors” (6, p. 14). The Ghaznavids were political and cultural inheritors of the Samanids. In architecture, this heritage was symbolized by the mausoleum of the Samanids. Its cube, an ancient symbol of the earth, then personified Caaba in Mecca, and along with a symbol of the sky – a dome symbolized the Universe. Forms of the mausoleum were turned by geometry of al-Khorezmi, al-Fargani and Ibn-Sino. After the mausoleum of the Samanids, in Kermineh was built the mausoleum of Mir Sa’id Bahrom (the second, Qarakhanid quarter of the 11th century) having become the first Turkic mausoleum in Uzbekistan. The Turkic dynasties in India of the 14th – 17th centuries considered that the mausoleum of the Samanids is classics of architecture of their homeland they had left. Such structures as the mausoleum of the dynasty’s founder, Tuglak Ghiyasuddin (1320 – 1325) in Delhi, the mausoleum of Hushang Shah (1405 – 1435) in Mandu (completed by Mahmud Khaldji about 1440) and the mausoleum of Muhammad Odil Shah (1626 – 1660) in Bidjapur further developed a composition of the mausoleum of the Samanids in Bukhara, an architectural masterpiece dated from a period of the Turkic dynasties’ birth. Close affinity between the mausoleum of Ghiyasuddin and the mausoleum of the Samanids has been noted just once (7, p. 10). Little attention has been still paid to the historical fact that great – grandson of Babur, Shahdjakhan admired the mausoleum of Hushang, and therefore sent the architects of the future Tadj Mahal mausoleum to learn at the architects of that mausoleum.

Traditions of Bukhara architecture and city planning were spread not only by the Turkic king but by the Bukhara’s saints to. “The existing cities were being surrounded by the suburbs, centers of which localized around khanakas of Sufi saints. Houses of these saints’ adherents surrounded khanakas. Suburbs had arachnoid planning of streets. Any new cities of that period have not been revealed in Punjab”, – the Pakistan’s scholar summarizes (4, p. 64). Meanwhile, the Turkic kings of the 13th – 16th centuries not just reconstructed the available cities but built the new ones, primarily after the plan of Bukhara and then under influence of Temur’s architecture. Wonderful resemblance of these cities and Bukhara can not be noticed at once. To notice it, we should carefully look at the constructional details of these cities.

Bukhara in Deccan
Let’s view the features of just four cities situated on the plateau of Deccan, in middle India. The city – Deoghiri (Rock of Gods) was a stronghold of the Indus tribes. In 1294, it was conquered by the Turkic sultan, Alauddin Khaldji. In 1326 – 1327, Muhammad bin Tuglak declared Deoghiri his second capital renaming it in Davlatabad (House of Happiness). The city at foots of the rock was planned and built after Bukhara. It developed eastward from a citadel. Two straight main streets oriented to basic directions crossed in the center of the city. Located on the crossroad, the mosque Djami dated back to the early 14th century and minaret of Chand Minar of the mid – 15th century reproduced the Bukhara’s mosque Kalyan of the 10th century and minaret Kalyan dated back to the 12th century.

In 1347, south – eastward from Davlatabad rose the city of Gulbarga, a capital of Alauddin Hasan Bahman. The plan of its citadel was a copy of Bukhara’s one. In the east, the city has the same crossroad formed by the straight streets oriented to basic directions. A distance of 1 km from citadel’s gate to the crossroad in Gulbarga and Bukhara is the same. Westward from the citadel was a necropolis of Bahmani sultans that resembles Bukhara’s necropolis with the mausoleum of the Samanids. North – westward from the citadel is located the mosque of Shah Bazar and the shrine of Shaykh Sirojiddin Djunaid; in Bukhara of the 8th – 10th centuries, north – westward from the citadel there were the mosque-musalla Namazgoh and the square for holiday pray before it. To the north – east from Gulbarga there is a shrine of Hazrat Ghezu Daraz; to the north – east from Bukhara – a shrine of one of the founders of Sufi Islam – Hazrat Muhammad Baha ad-Din Naqshband (1318 – 1389).

In 1354, the Turkic king Feruz Shah Tuglak (1351 – 1388) founded the fifth city of Delhi – Feruzabad or Kotla Feruz Shah on the bank of the Djamna river. In 1399, Amir Temur visited Feruzabad. In the far south of India this event inspired sultan Feruz Shah Bahmani (reigned in 1397 – 1422) to build his own Feruzabad in 1399 – 1406. The city is also situated on the bank. Quarter plan and two main streets crossing perpendicularly came from the plan of Herat, the cultural capital of the Temurids. However, unlike Herat where a citadel was located on the north and unlike Feruzabad-Delhi with a citadel in the west, in this case a citadel was located in the west after Bukhara. “A model of this city is closer to the Temurid traditions of Central Asia than to Muslim city planning of the subcontinent. By these Temurid reminiscences the ruling dynasty of Bahmani demonstrated its orientation to politically important native land of the Muslim tradition. Spiritual teachers and educated people, migrating from Iran and Central Asia, probably, brought with them the concepts of city planning to Deccan” (8, p. 89).

South-westward from Feruzabad is situated Bijapur (City of Victory, or City of Knowledge). In 1490 – 1510, Yusuf Odil Shah had regenerated it. The Turks, Arabs and Afghans formed the army and administration of Odil Shah. Theologians and scientists from Iran, Turan and Arabia arrived to his court. Odil Shah wrote poems and composed the music but his passion was architecture. In the period of Ali Odil Shah I (1557 – 1580) Bijapur was extending westward. From the citadel, radial and indirect roads led to six city gates: the city wall was completed in 1565.

In spite of the central part of the city was planned after Bukhara, the radial roads towards six gates of extended Bidjapur followed the example of Temur’s Samarkand. It means that in Bidjapur like neighboring Feruzabad the particular features of the Temurid city added the initial plan done after Bukhara.

Ethics of Splendour
In the Middle Ages, the fear of God determined a nature of world vision. In description of the Last Judgment that pervades Koran a city occupies an important place. “How many cities have we ruined? Our scourge fell down on them in night, or at noon, when they were slumbering. When our scourge fell down they just cried out: “In good sooth we were bad in our actions”. We shall definitely call to account those to whom we sent our messengers, and We shall call to account the messengers themselves. With full knowledge, we shall tell them what they have done since we have never left them. On that day, they will get their deserts. Those will exult whose kind matters turn the scale but those who have just contemptible actions will loose their souls since they denied Our revelations” (9, p. (7:3) 109). Citizens of growing cities of Central Asia believed and took closely to heart these promises for the aggressive nomadic neighbors were permanently dangerous. As the academician B. Ahmedov noted (10, p. 270), before the Mongolian invasion and later, up to the 16th century “depopulation of intractable cities and kishlaks” had been a real terror. Therefore, with the blossom of Bukhara as a center of science and education the people had believed that on the Judgment Day the God will gave quarter just to this pious city and its obedient citizens. Even the vizier of Hulaghu – khan (a grandson of Chinggis – khan), Shams ad-Din Muhammad Baha ad-Din al-Djuvaini recognized: “Among the oriental cities, Bukhara is a dome of Islam, in these countries it is so important as Madinat as-Salam (i.e. Baghdad). From ancient times and for ages, Bukhara had been a center of ulems from different religions” (11, p. 217, 276, 221). Bukhara annunciated humility and obedience as virtues, and, therefore, the city itself was considered exemplary. Thus, Bukhara city planning and architecture personated the medieval ethics.

“Expansion of Islam in Hindustan developed quickly thanks to efforts of the Muslim saints, which by their life had demonstrated facility and simplicity of Islamic faith. Here, the saints lived and ordinary people as well as aristocrats came to them for soul comfort and to be eased of misery. (4, p. 64, 111, 115). Mosques and mausoleums of Bukhari (the end of the 12th – 13th cc.) had Bulhara’s planning. The saints leaving from Bukhara imparted the features of its architecture to the architecture of far cities for saving on the inescapable Judgment Day. A citadel oriented westward personated a shield for citizens being afraid of the Almighty’s anger that Koran promised. He, addressing to the prophet Muhammad (‘thou”) and to Adam (“parent”) taught them in verity and falsity (“ways”) as follows: “I am swearing by this city (and thou live here), I am swearing by this parent and by all he’d engendered: We’ve created a man to try out him by miseries. Does he think that none has the power over him? “I spent illimitable wealth”, – swanks he. Does he suppose that none is looking at him? It was he, to whom we gave two eyes, tongue, two lips and showed two ways, wasn’t he? And all the same, he did not reach a due Height. Was it such Height that you have known? This Height provides for freedom to a slave; a piece of bread on a hungry day to your kin or to any needed man; belief in heart, stoutness and mercy. Those who follow this way would take a place on the right, but those who denied Our edifications would come to the left under hellfire approaching to them. (9, p. (90:1, 90:8) 426). The Turks migrating from Central Asia to India interpreted miseries and troubles of that stormy ages as fate’s retribution and were hung up on the city with God obedient citizens that was described in Koran. A canon of such city was sacred Bukhara that was reproduced in far India.

Whence do Chor Minors of Haidarabad and Bukhara come?
Here, on its second homeland, the Turkic culture survived its revival. The power of Temur and his campaign to India strengthened there the Turkic types of buildings and cities and promoted the majestic architectural style of his empire. Sultan Muhammad Kuli Qutb Shah (1580 – 1612) founded Haidarabad in the Deccan in 1591. Towards a gigantic garden “chor-bag” in the center of the city, from the south, leads the building of Chor Minor (1592) of 56.7 m in height and with sides of 30 m in length. The architect was from Iran and his tomb is a sacred place in Shi’ite community of the city. Westward from “chor-bag” there are multi-storey palaces of aristocrats in a form of four-parted Central Asian keshks. A crossroad in Haidarabad like in Bukhara personified the ancient metaphor of the Heaven and Cosmos. The garden “chor-bag” is an externalization of the Paradise promised in Koran to true Muslims. One of Haidarabad’s gardens – Baghi Dilkush was called after the famous garden of Amir Temur located behind the Feruza gate in Samarkand.

The Bukharians enjoyed influence at court of the Temurids in India of the 18th century. “In a Sunni family from Bukhara was born Asaf Djakh who in 1763 as the first Nizam founded the dynasty of Asaf Djakhi in Haidarabad” (6, p. 131, 141, 147 – 148). In the Turkic army, the word “Nizam” meant a soldier, and in Haidarabad of the 18th – 20th cc. “Nizam” was a ruler of local origin. With Haidarabad turning into a stronghold of Bukhara’s Sunnis, in 1807, in Bukhara was built well known Chor Minor as the gala gate of Chaliph Niyazkul medreseh’s yard. This structure imitated the Haidarabad’s architecture. A dome and four minarets tower above the library in the second storey. Prosperous merchant Niyazkul was one of those who for ages had shifted between Bukhara and the Deccan transporting scientific books and samples of architecture along with goods. These words of Hofiz Tanish al-Bukhori written in the 16th century are equally about him:”From old times many merchants and rich men exported goods from Indian Deccan, Gujarat and Malibar. The majority of goods was from the Deccan” (10, p. 211 – 212, 285).

Inheritors of Noble Bukhara
“Bukhara” as well as the name of Indian state Bikhar goes from a name of Buddhist monasteries “vikhara” that in the language of Indian magicians means “the source of knowledge”. The Indians knew kishlak nearby Bukhara where was a tomb of Baha ad-Din Naqsband. This was a center of Buddhist pilgrims called Kasr-i Orifin (Palace of Knowledge). A spiritual teacher of Babur’s inheritors, Akbar, Djakhonghir and Shahdjakhan, was Khodja Mahmud from the family of Hovands, famous Bukhara’s scientists. Another Sufi from Bukhara was advanced by Shahdjakhan to the position of imam at Djami mosque in his capital, Shahdjakhanabad, now old Delhi. The name of imam as well as names of his descendents start off with “Shahi Imam”, i.e. “Shah’s Imam” and ended with “Bukhari”. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, Shahi Imam Sa’ed Ahmad Bukhari continues the Bukhara genealogy in Djami mosque in Shahdjakhanabad.

Bukhara reoriented the cities, which were previously oriented to four directions, to the west. With ascent of Amir Temur these cities were added with his architecture: dominating mosque, six city gates and garden of Dilkush. Triumph of Temur’s architecture was reached in Deccan’s Chor Minor, and later was modestly reproduced in Bukhara. So, centuries old Bukhara’s tradition had returned home closing the circle. For ten centuries, Bukhara dictated a model of city planning, location and architecture of buildings and ensembles. Bukhara had brought a sign of splendour into architecture of powerful people’s mausoleums and idealized plans of cities. Architectural classics of Bukhara was spread by three meanings of the idea of “splendour”: “olizhanob” (noble and majestic), “huduzhoi” ( devout and pious) and “vizhdovli” (conscience).

Author: Shukur Askarov

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