by Prof. Dr. Süleyman Kızıltoprak / Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University
The caravans that came to Khiva from distant lands did not only do trade, but also carried cultural and civilizational values. They would take copies of the works of the great mathematicians and sciences of Khiva to scholars in other lands.
Khiva is an ancient civilization center established 2,500 years ago in the middle of the Karakum desert. It is at one of the crossroads of the Silk Road, near the Amuderya (Ceyhun) river, south of the Aral Sea. This city has been the apple of the eye of many Turkish states in history. As one of the eastern cities of the Oghuz Turks, it met with Islam since 712.
Khiva, one of the favorite cities of great states such as Ghaznavids, Seljuks and Shaybanids, was almost reborn from its ashes despite being destroyed by Cengizhan in 1220. The city, which has been the capital of the Khiva Khanate since 1598, preserves its ancient historical beauties with its wonderful architectural structures in the heart of Central Asia.
The magnificent city has a silhouette described in fairy tales. The night is different, the day is different. The snow that wraps like a wedding dress on turquoise domes in winter adds a different color to the city. The height of the walls, which shine like gold due to the sun’s rays in the summer, is an average of six meters. The length of the walls, which look like a golden necklace in the middle of the desert, is about 10 kilometers. There are four main gates to enter the city: Main Gate, Stone Gate, Garden Gate and Bukhara Gate. The names of the gates are almost like the gate names of the city walls in Istanbul. It is proof that members of the same civilization, such as Edirne Gate, Topkapi Gate, and Mevlana Gate, have similar feelings and thoughts when naming the place. On the other hand, these namings suggest that Istanbul and Khiva have been sister cities since eternity.
52 Meter height Minaret
When you enter the city from the Main Gate, you feel like you are in a dream. Because as soon as you enter, you encounter the magnificent 52-meter-high minaret of the Cuma Mosque and an extraordinary architectural sight. Cuma Mosque is a work of art with 215 wooden columns decorated with magnificent ceramics.
The Kohne Ark, the Old Palace, has an extraordinary architecture. Especially when you go to the terrace, the whole Hive is in front of your eyes. Wherever you look, you will encounter a magnificent ambiance and beauty. Terraces and minarets like these have always been a center of attraction for those who want to discover the secrets of Khiva. Even though the contemporary tourism explorers of ancient cities stay here for days and months to solve the mysteries of architecture when they arrive in Khiva, they still cannot escape the magic of the city.
Throughout history, Khiva has been in the race for science and civilization in Bukhara. Khan of Khiva Muhammed Emin Khan attempts to build a minaret higher than the 70-meter-high Kalan Minaret in Bukhara, but once it reaches 29 meters, the project cannot be completed due to lack of budget.
Muhammed Emin Han had a magnificent madrasa built in Khiva in his name. The magnificent tiles on the tower-shaped chimneys of the madrasa display their extraordinary beauty towards the sky with almond and pigeon wing motifs in dark blue and blue. While visiting Khiva, which is famous for its palaces, madrasas and mosques, which is the product of centuries of civilization accumulation, you think that you are traveling in a time tunnel.
Khiva, the center of the Khwarezm region, was a frequent destination for all kinds of trade, as it was one of the important points of the caravans traveling on the Silk Road. It was a center where young male military candidates, who were a source of soldiers for Islamic states during the Middle Ages, gathered. From here, hundreds of young (ghulam) soldiers were sent to Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo every year. Nizamülmülk mentions how important these young people are in terms of military service in his famous work, Siyasetname. They are tall, physically strong and handsome, skilled in archery and unrivaled in horse riding. The caravans that came to Khiva from distant lands did not only do trade, but also carried cultural and civilizational values. They would take copies of the works of the great mathematicians and scientists of Khiva to scholars in other lands.
Historical works written in Khwarezm at XVII-XIX. centuries and at the beginning of the XX. century also provide a lot of information about the commercial relations of the Central Asian Khanates with Russia. In particular, the trade of Khiva and Bukhara caravans to Mangışlak, the adventurous movement of these caravans on the roads, the prevention of Bukhara caravans by Khiva soldiers from time to time, their looting, and the arrival of Russian caravans to Central Asian cities are discussed. The commercial relations that existed in the period after the Kungrad dynasty came to power are also discussed in detail.
High agricultural culture in Khwarezm was formed in ancient times on the basis of artificial irrigation and developed, as in Egypt, Mesopotamia and other countries of the East. This high culture has affected the survival and development of science and civilization values in Khwarezm.
Khwarezm is one of the oldest cultural centers. In these lands, where scientists, poets and mystics made great contributions to the development of science, a national understanding of historiography emerged during the reign of the khans. The works written in this context mostly include the history of the Khiva Khans. However, it provides valuable information about the life and culture of the people of the region, and the economic and political situation of the Khanate. When these works are examined, it is seen that many scientists, historians, poets, painters and musicians grew up in Khwarezm. In Khwarezm, one of the great cultural centers of Central Asia, scholars such as Muhammed Musa al-Khwarizmi, Ebu Abdullah al-Khwarizmi, Abu Reyhan Muhammed al-Biruni grew up and enlightened humanity like a sun with their works.
The foundation of Mathematics was laid
Birûnî, like his predecessor Muhammed ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, is one of the greatest scientists who founded Uzbek science. It is generally accepted that Harezmi laid the foundations of mathematics in the East, in the Turkish and Islamic world and later in Europe with his works. In this context, the strong influence of Birûnî in the following centuries also affected the development of science in the East.
Khwarezm is the birthplace of many poets and writers. Among the historians of Khwarezm, the works and names of Ebulgazi, Şir Muhammed Mûnis, Muhammed Rıza Agâhî, and Muhammed Yusuf Beyânî came to the fore.
Historians of the Khiva
XVII. Khwarezm historiography of the 19th century begins with the Khiva Khan and the historian Ebulgazi.
The tradition of writing historical works in the Uzbek language was widely continued in the Khiva Khanate, one of the Central Asian Khanates. Famous Uzbek poets and historians Şir Muhammad Mûnis and Muhammed Rıza Agâhî continued the work that Ebulgazi started in the 19th century. These great scholars and historians, in addition to writing the history of Khwarezm, also formed a certain school in this field. Muhammed Yusuf Beyânî, a famous historian and poet who lived in the 19th and early 20th centuries, continued this work. Representatives of this school of historiography not only wrote works on the history of Khwarezm, but also translated many historical works from other Eastern languages into Uzbek.
Khiva is a distinguished city of Uzbekistan, which has values and traditions with its people with the same qualifications. It is an open museum with its ancient architecture. The city, which is surrounded by walls built of earth-colored bricks that turn red when the sun’s rays hit, stands in the middle of the desert with all its nobility like a corner of paradise. The people living in the city are like the people of heaven, who are aware of the values of the places they live in and make great efforts to keep their thousands of years old traditions alive.
When the historical artifacts in Khwarezm are examined, traces of civilization for nearly 3 thousand years are witnessed. Even in mosques and madrasas, motifs and decorations from pre-Christian civilizations can be seen. This situation proves that the Khiva has a close relationship with foreign cultures and civilizations, and that it has an open approach to universal values for thousands of years in terms of science, art and civilization.
Hive, which has deep civilization values in the past and is a center of culture and art today, was chosen as the “Cultural Capital of the Turkish World” in 2020. Programs that could not be done last year due to the effect of the pandemic have started again this year. Tourism programs to be held in Khiva this year are of particular importance.
It’s time to see the Hive.