The Sayid Alauddin Mausoleum is one of the early monuments of the city of Khiva that has reached us in a rather distorted and reconstructed form and belongs to the Ichan-Qala development. The very fact that the mausoleum was half buried in the cultural layers indicates the antiquity of the monument.
However, the original form of the mausoleum and the time of its construction remain uncertain. An inscription on one of the tombstones suggests that Sayid Alauddin died in the Hijra year 702 (1303 AD). The mausoleum over the Sheikh’s tomb could only be built in the second half of the XIVth century, as popular belief associates its construction with the name of Amir Kulol, who died in 1380.
Later, a square room (Ziyaratkhona) was added to the mausoleum from the west and the entrance to the complex was built from the north side. All these radical changes were commissioned by Allakulikhan (1825 – 1842).
In connection with the burial of Khan Sayid Muhammad-Khan (1819 – 1863), who was worshipped by the Sheikh, dakhma (raised plinth) and two saganas (tombs) on it were apparently constructed together for two tombs.
The facing of the dakhma and saganas is in the best traditions of majolica in Choresm in the ХIV. Century. The majolica pattern is close to the motifs from the mausoleum of Nadschmiddin Kubro (1930s of the ХIV century), which misled researchers.
In fact, the majolica decoration of the dakhma and sagana of the Sayid Alauddin mausoleum was made in the 1960s. The architecture of the mausoleum is quite ordinary; the walls, domes, stepped trumpets are all brick and have no cladding.
During the archaeological excavation, the remains of carved ceramics from the original building were found. Thus, the present appearance of the Sayid Alauddin Mausoleum can be attributed to the period of the new revival of architecture in Khiva (Khorezm), i.e. the first half of the nineteenth century.
The monument was restored in 1825. The building has grown into the thickness of the archaeological layers. In the beginning it was a portal-domed Gurkhan where a peculiar sub-domed octagonal structure with the cantilever stalactite filling the corners.
After a while, a larger portal-dome Ziyaratkhana was added. In Gurkhana is tombstones (XIV century.), Coated majolica, with polychromy and relief stand out dense floral and vegetal ornamentation and the binding of Arabic inscriptions.
The Sayid Alauddin Mausoleum in Khiva consists of two interconnected domed rooms, one serving as Sayid Alauddin’s mausoleum and the other as a khanaka. A low portal, bearing the clear traces of a later reconstruction, leads to a large square khanaka, which was later converted into a mosque.
The Khanaka has a high domed ceiling. The surface of the west wall is covered with Persian verses; the most interesting passages from them for us read as follows: “For some time he dwelt in Kaba (in Mecca) and finally came here. His name is Sheikh Alauddin – a unique pearl from the sea of science. This gumbaz was built in the past and rivals the domes of heaven. It was built by Emir Kulol”.
It is further stated that the Gumbaz was renovated during the reign of Allakuli-Khan (1825-1842). Here the phrase serves as a date and indicates the year 1241. (1825), i.e. the year of the repair works. At that time the collapsed portal was restored, the dome ceilings were repaired and the alabaster tombstone described below was restored.
In the center of the eastern wall of the khanaka there is a wide but low pointed arch that leads to a small, simple room with a tombstone (sagana) of Sayyid Alauddin. The tomb is in the form of a parallelepiped of fired bricks and is lined with glazed tiles with low underglaze relief.
Its corners are decorated with half-columns on which a small cornice rests, and the wall surfaces are broken up into ornamental fields by rectangular smooth frames. The tomb is 1.25 m high, 1.20 m wide and 2 m long.
Above, two identical miniature tile replicas of tombstones in the form of a lancet vault of common modern tombstones of Muslim cemeteries in Central Asia stand parallel to each other.
The tiled walls of both “tombstones” are lined with cast tiles with relief inscriptions of Arabic verses in a complex Khati-Sulus script, containing the name and time of the Sheikh’s death. The relief of the ornamentation of the entire tomb consists of intertwined branches, foliage and floral halftones, executed in greenish-white tones that are in surprisingly gentle harmony with the blue color scheme of the background.
According to the inscription on the tombstone, Sayid Allaudin died in 702, i.e. 1303 A.D. He is mentioned in particular by Imam Yafi and Ahmad Razi, a biographer of the second half of the XIVth century, in his enumeration of the Khoresm sheikhs.
The Emir-Kulol, a famous mystic of the Naqshbandi order and teacher of Bakhauddin, to whom the 19th century Khanaka inscription attributes the construction of this gumbaz, died in 1380 A.D. He was wealthy and had authority among the ruling elite of the time.
It was the time of the triumph of the reactionary Sheikh orders, which found strong financial and administrative support among the Mongolian nobility and enslaved and rapaciously exploited the population in the cities and villages of Central Asia.
This nobility needed the help of the local clergy to justify their rule ideologically. The Mongols and their proxies from the local nobility built many khanakas and mausoleums for the dead and revered living sheikhs, accompanied by large donations of land, aryks (water canals) and villages, the proceeds of which were used to support all kinds of darvishes and sheikhs.
For example, the oldest Waqf document from Khoresm, now kept in the library of Khiva Museum, informs that Timur Kutluk, viceroy of the Khan of the Golden Horde, built for Sheikh Sulayman Haddadi two large Khanaka, one of which was located at the foot of Mizdahkan Hill and another somewhere near the city of Khiva.
He donated two plots of land for the upkeep of these khanakas, whose income was equivalent to 55,000 poods of wheat per year. It is possible that the Sayid Alauddin mausoleum was actually built at the expense of the wealthy Sheikh Emir Kulol, but there is no indication in his rather detailed biography that he visited Khiva or was involved in the construction work there.
In any case, the construction period of the mausoleum given in Allakuli-khan’s inscription finds direct confirmation in the style and technique of Sayid Alauddin’s tombstone. The latter is in this respect closely related to the tombstone of Nadschmeddin Kubro in Kunya-Urgench.
A close parallel is found in the glass facade of Turkan-Aka, the mausoleum of Temur’s sister in Samarkand, which is covered with tiles in relief. There is no reason to doubt that these glazes, among the best in quality and artistic execution, appeared in Khorezm during the Golden Horde period, were known in other areas of Central Asia during Timur’s time, and disappeared from use in the early 15th century.
The tomb of Najmeddin Kubro dates back to the forties of the XIV century, and the mausoleum of Turkan Aka – to the second half of the XIV century. Obviously, the manufacture of the tombstone of Sayid Alauddin and, as will be seen, the construction of the mausoleum Sayid Alauddin itself can also be attributed to this date.
The main structural details such as drums, domes and the shape of the arches suggest that the building was constructed at the same time as the tombstone. The ground plan of the building is interesting, as a multi-dome building of the type that we conventionally group under the term “Gumbaz”.
The gumbaz of Sheikh Mukhtar 30 (d. 1288 A.D.) in the village of Astana, in the Yangi-Aryk district, in the Khorezm region, whose construction is also attributed to the Emir Kulol, also belongs to this type of building. It consists of a mosque, a khonako and a mausoleum and differs from Sayid Alauddin’s Gumbaz only in its larger scale.
The same layout and architectural composition gives a famous gumbaz Sheikh Sayfiddin-Bokharazi (mosque, khanaka, mausoleum) near the mountains of Bukhara. It was built by order of the Mongolian royal wife Tuli-khan.
Other monuments in Khorezm date back to it: the mausoleum of Sheikh-Abbas (mosque, mausoleum and khanaka) in the city of Shabaza and the mausoleum of Narindjan-Bobo (mosque, mausoleum and khanaka) in the district of Turtkul, Karakalpakstan, which were built in the 14th century AD.
These observations indicate that cult buildings of this complex type were not widespread until the XIV century.