The Mosques in Khorezm - Discover Uzbekistan - Turkestan Travel
Juma Mosque in Khiva

The Mosques in Khorezm

A mosque, a place of prayer for Muslims and a place of residence revered by them, was used for certain events from the 11th century onwards. The mosques in Khorezm, as everywhere in the Muslim lands, were for the prayers of a large number of Muslims on the days of the Muslim holidays “Kurban Hayit” and “Ramazan Hayit”, celebrated twice a year, where a great many inhabitants of a town and village gather.

These mosques, called “Namazgahs”, were located in a special area behind the city wall. The mosques were built frontally and the courtyard was not bounded in any way: The purpose of constructing such buildings was for Muslims to turn their faces towards Mecca (i.e. the Qibla) during prayer.

In Khorezm, the orientation point of a qibla is towards the south; therefore, in Khorezm, the Mihrab (prayer niche where Muslims turn their faces during prayer) of mosques was placed in the southern part of the building wall.

This type of suburban mosques “Namazgah” with standard composition has not survived in Khiva, only in Khazarasp district in Khorezm region there is a single mosque called “Namazgah” in Ismail Eshanbobo complex.

However, it is built in the form of a wide domed hall with a triple-vaulted gallery, which has an exit to the Aiwan on one side, i.e. it is built as a Mahalla mosque. Other juma mosques (“jami”, i.e. cathedral or juma means Friday prayer) are used to perform Friday prayer once a week, where most of the city’s Muslims gather for prayer.

Architecturally, these jami mosques usually consist of a longitudinal main building and a gallery along the perimeter walls. In Khorezm, mosques of this type have not been preserved.

In the first centuries of Islam, the mosques were only for the performance of prayers, this building was a type of the national house that sanctified the life of the population of all periods through various ceremonies – rituals, it has remained in the Makhalla mosques built in crowded places and near the bazaars.

Their forms differ greatly from one another, but nevertheless their structure preserved a single composition: it is a building with a small hall at the front, bordered by an aiwan.

The prayer hall could be vaulted and the aiwan could be a vaulted portal gallery of imposing, monumental character or a space covered by a flat roof of beams supported by wooden columns and fitted with aiwans.

In the southern part of the mosques in Khorezm and partly in Khiva, no openings or breakthroughs were made because there was a mihrab (a prayer niche facing Mecca) in their inner part.

This circumstance is very rare in Khiva mosques, as they say, can be counted on the fingers, but was preserved in some mosques listed below.

A domed hall with attached single-column aiwan is found in the mosque Yarmuhammad Dewon (Sayid-Ota), located near the mausoleum of Sayid Alauddin in the southwest, a mosque Bagbanly, located in the southern part of Ichan-Kala.

The ceilings of the Abdalbobo and Matriz Kushbegi mosques are also covered with a flat roof made of beams. The mosque where the three sides of the prayer hall are surrounded by an aiwan is the Ak Mosque, located next to the Palvan Darwaza Gate of Ichan-kala.

In front of the mosques of the Khiva district, there is usually a long courtyard with the tall aiwan of the mosque facing it and an aiwan of the darvazakhana or ters-aiwan (the opposite aiwan) on the opposite side.

The mosque was also a place for storing supplies, household items and taharat-hana (ablution room).

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