Liya Yulyevna Man’kovskaya (On the 80th Anniversary)

Issue #1 • 808

A good name left behind a man
Is better than a golden palace.


Liya Man’kovskaya dedicated all her professional life to developing a scientific basis for the protection, study and conservation of architectural monuments. Together with other scientists and researchers, she invested a lot of effort in making many monuments “live” and be treasured as public asset.

Man’kovskaya was, in a way, a perfectionist: whatever she did, it had to be performed to the highest standard. In 1949 she finished school with the gold medal, and in 1955 graduated with honors from the architecture and civil design department of the Central Asian Polytechnic Institute. “Her artistic stance, professional position and academic outlook were influenced by prominent teachers and scholars such as V. L. Voronin, V. M. Dmitriev, B. N. Zasypkin, and M. E. Masson” (1, p. 36). Boris Nikolaevich Zasypkin played an important role in the professional development of Man’kovskaya, as well as of many other researchers of architectural monuments of Central Asia.  The man of knowledge, demanding of himself and of others, Zasypkin “was set on the accuracy, credibility, evidencing, and intrusion into the structure and appearance of a monument” (2, p. 35).

After graduation, Man’kovskaya was given a job at Uzkomstaris . The first object of her research was the Khoja Ahmad Yassawi Mausoleum in Turkestan city. The task of taking dimensions for restoration work commissioned by Kazakhstan was most diligently performed by the young specialist: she took measurements, gauged proportions, and analyzed methods of arch construction.  These data provided basis for her Candidate’s thesis she defended in 1963.

Between 1966 and 1988 Man’kovskaya worked in the arts section of the Art History and Research Institute, where she grew to become a prominent and authoritative scholar, mentor and teacher. At that time the Institute also employed some renowned scientists, namely G. A. Pugachenkova, L. I. Rempel, E. V. Rtveladze, M. S. Bulatov, and many others. Man’kovskaya led a research team preparing the restoration of the Bibi Khanym mosque (1966-1967); under her guidance the conservation of the Ulugbek Observatory and the Khoja Ahmad Yassawi mausoleum (1968-1972) was performed. One can confidently say that the scholar’s entire professional and academic career was dedicated to developing scientific basis for the protection and restoration of monuments, which was clearly manifested in the preparation of “The Inventory of Architectural Monuments of Uzbekistan” with the core objective to conserve architectural heritage of the country.

The selection of sites to be included in the Inventory was based on typology first introduced by Man’kovskaya, employing the theory of morphogenesis. M. Barkhin argued that “form is that very section of work that actually defines the input of an architect, …and we do not have the theory of morphogenesis yet” (3, p. 15). Before Man’kovskaya, an attempt was made by L. I. Rempel; however, the typology he developed was limited to the composition of centric single-chamber buildings (4). Man’kovskaya developed a theoretical basis for the classification method applicable to all types of residential and public buildings, which “allowed identifying categories such as type and variety associated with local architectural schools, author’s individual style, or specific environment of design” (5, p. 8).  In her opinion, bringing clarity to the overall picture of typological morphogenesis was possible only through the analysis of all (without exception) medieval monuments, based on the understanding of architecture as a comprehensive artificial environment created by man.  As a result, Man’kovskaya was able to trace the transformation and evolution of building types over a 1000-year period, get an insight into the method employed by medieval architects, find examples of solving one function in a variety of forms, and bring everything into a single system. This complex theoretical study aimed at identifying typological classification based on the primary feature of an architectural form – the volume-space structure, was conducted by summarizing and processing huge factual material. Having worked it through, Man’kovskaya added the results of her own observations and blanket surveys, often referring to written sources (specifically, Beruni and Farabi).

The study is important not only for the preservation and promotion of architectural heritage, but also for resolving academic disputes, such as those around Ishrathana (a mausoleum or a palace?), or Khoja Mashad (a madrasah or a hanako?), going in the academic community due to the lack of a developed theory of morphogenesis and previously overlooked phenomenon of relative independence of form on function. The study performed by Man’kovskaya contributed to “identifying an architectural phenomenon when many functions were resolved through a single form”, which exposed a kind of a universal meccano used for erecting all types of monumental buildings that still retained their specificity and uniqueness. The scholar was able to prove the existence of standardized design, using which architects could freely interpret some common schemes developed over centuries. Besides, architects knew methods of adaptation and transformation of spatial structures.

Theory of morphogenesis as applied to spatial structures allowed Man’kovskaya to take a fresh look at the monuments in Kashkadarya, Khorezm, and TashkentProvinces, as well as to exercise scientific approach to the study of monuments that were previously unknown or not covered by government protection. For the popular promotion purpose, the Monuments Inventory group consistently prepared for publication a book series dedicated to the architectural heritage of selected regions of Uzbekistan having both architectural masterpieces, and ordinary structures, which, nevertheless, helped to fill a missing link in the evolution of building types and “architectural logic of medieval architects…, and which still retained their ancient flavour” (6, p. 53).

Man’kovskaya’s position of principle was to protect not only high-profile monuments, but also ordinary buildings in old towns and villages. The book titled “Architectural Monuments of Tashkent of the XIV-XIX centuries” (1983) she wrote in collaboration with V. Bulatova was the first scientific study on the medieval architecture of Tashkent. The objective was to determine the role of the Tashkent architecture in the architectural evolution in Central Asian. The book tells about local architecture school, which in comparison with other XVI century regional schools was more austere and strict. Man’kovskaya was able to demonstrate its maturity, departure from traditional standards, and independent interpretation of common themes: in tackling familiar problems, Tashkent architects were quite imaginative in designing their madrasah layout (the presence of two aivan compositions in the courtyard through the introduction of summer madrasahs; greater emphasis on residential quarters); their mausoleums had a peculiar façade solution (Kaldyrgach-biyo); and gravitation towards picturesque-ness (Yunus-hana mausoleum-hanaka).

Tashkent interiors of the XIV-XV centuries were also quite distinct. Man’kovskaya identified vertical sectioning, lowered abutments of the quadrangle arches, and the “sails” tier not highlighted horizontally (as was the usual custom). Architectural ornamentation was as restraint, with coloured brick tiles, carved composition mosaics and majolica as accentuated details. All this provided yet another evidence of the uniqueness of the Tashkent architectural heritage and of the need for its careful conservation and restoration.

In 1976 Man’kovskaya also took part in the new phase of studying KhorezmProvince monuments. It was then confirmed that the region still had interesting sites not yet known to scholars. Researchers found a group of mausoleums, some of which with a single chamber (portal-and-dome type), others with multiple chambers (longitudinal axial and frontal composition); for the first time in Khorezm they discovered a namazgokh mosque and a Khorezmian complex of khazira type, as well as the type of a fully covered multicolumn mosque (Juma mosque). The discovered structures required study, proper record and a status of state-protected sites.

Man’kovskaya authored more than 100 scientific publications on history and theory of architecture of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, and on protection of monuments in Uzbekistan.  Specific mention should be given to her works written in collaboration with historians: for example, “ArchitecturalMonuments of Khorezm” (1978) and “ArchitecturalMonuments of Tashkent” (1983) with V. A. Bulatova; “Architectural Heritage of Kashkadarya Province” with A. Sagdullaev. The latter came as the first attempt to comprehensively cover the region’s architecture, which had never been specifically addressed in any studies. The work presents it by building types and in line with the laws of morphogenesis. Architectural heritage of Kashkadarya has further enriched our knowledge of morphogenesis; according to the researcher, “Kashkadarya monuments represent a phenomenon characteristic of the Eastern architecture: relative correspondence of form to function, and the solution of different functional purposes within the scope of a single spatial structure” (7, p. 71).

Man’kovskaya always looked to the future, believing that “history lies in the depth of culture, yet most important for the present is its today and tomorrow” (8, p. 28). With this in mind, she built an invisible bridge to the present, understanding the importance of traditions for contemporary architecture of Uzbekistan, the value of referring to and exploring centuries-old architectural heritage, which can bring practice to a qualitatively new level, deepen and broaden scientific aspects, introduce new sites, and open new perspectives in studying already well-known monuments.

As time goes by, a new generation of scientists takes over, bringing in different ideas and views on matters related to architectural sites and monuments. This is a natural process as life goes on and progress is unstoppable. Yet we must remember those who stood at the origin of the study and conservation of the nation’s architectural heritage.


1. Бабаджанова Г. И., Крюкова Е. Р. Так много было впереди… // АСУ, 1989, № 1.

2. Пугаченкова Г. А. Памяти ушедшей // АСУ, 1989, № 1.

3. Бархин М. Роль теории в развитии архитектуры // Теоретические проблемы советской архитектуры. М., 1969.

4. Пугаченкова Г. А., Ремпель Л. И. История изобразительного искусства Узбекистана. М., 1965.

5. Маньковская Л. Ю. Роль «Свода памятников истории и культуры Узбекистана» в охране и пропаганде наследия. Машинопись. (??)

6. Маньковская Л. Ю. Архитектурные памятники Кашкадарьи. Ташкент, 1971.

7. Сагдуллаев А. С., Маньковская Л. Ю. Архитектурное наследие Кашкадарьинской области. Рукопись. (??)

8. Маньковская Л. Ю. Проблемы архитектуры: наследие и современность. Машинопись (??).

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