Kunya-Ark is a historical fortress in Khiva, one of the palaces of the Khan in Ichan-Kala. The history of the fortress’s origin is inseparable from the history of Khiva. Only a few buildings from the XIX century remain on the territory of Ark. Here in the Ark, besides the residences of the khans and court officials, there were the state institutions, the mint, the summer and winter mosques, the harem, the armoury, the workshop for the production of bullets and shells, the storehouse, the kitchen, the stables, the zindan and the special area for the fight of the rams, the reception room (Salomchona, Arzchona for the reception, for the processing of complaints and applications).
The harem is located along the northern wall in Kunya-Ark in Khiva and is separated from the rest of the complex by a common high wall with a small entrance (now down). It is an alternation of separate rooms with aiwans extending in a row from west to east, fronted by a common courtyard.
The harem occupied more than half of the total area in the Kunya Ark. Five shaded aiwans separate similar living quarters where the ruler of Khiva lived with his four principal wives. On the other side lived the concubines and servants. The word “harem” goes back to the Arabic word “haram”, i.e. “forbidden”. Entering the area was strictly forbidden for all men except the ruler. However, there was no question of dissolute living, unbridled lust and unrestrained orgies, at least in the Central Asian harems. Rather, modesty characterised the strictly regulated life in the khans’ harems.
The walls inside harems are plastered with gantsch and in some places decorated with carved panels or groups of niches with tracery carvings on gantsch. The aiwans are single-columned and as simply decorated as the rooms. This harem at Kunya-Ark in Khiva was built by Muhammad-Rahimkhan (the latter).