Nothing beats the luxury and grandeur of ancient Bukhara. To this day, you can walk around the city and admire the oriental architecture, breathing antiquity and attracting the eyes. Some buildings have turned into museums containing thousands of treasures and surprising in their originality.
The Museum of Fine Arts is housed in a building in the style of European architecture from 1912. Until 1920, the first floor of the building housed the company store of the Russian industrialist Savva Morozov, and the upper floor was occupied by a branch of the Azov-Don Bank of Russia. Until 1982, the building housed a branch of the State Bank.
In 1982, the Bukhara Museum of Fine Arts was opened here. The exhibition “Painting and Graphics of the Artists of Bukhara” was created on the basis of a collection of paintings, graphics, and sculptures from the funds of the Bukhara Museum. The collection includes paintings by famous artists of the 20th century. The pride of the museum collection is 28 miniatures of the People’s Master of Bukhara, the talented miniaturist Sadriddin Pochchaev. A special place in the collection is occupied by the works of contemporary talented artists, sculptors, graphic artists, and masters of decorative and applied arts.
Another museum has found a place in one of the most beautiful palaces in Bukhara. The Bukhara Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts is located in the Sitorai Mokhi Khossa palace complex. The palace of the rulers of Bukhara is located 4 km north of the city center and is a garden of about 7 hectares with flower beds, alleys, vineyards, orchards, and a zoological garden.
The best Bukhara craftsmen were involved in the construction of the palace.
Here you can see the following exhibitions:
– “Interior of the Summer Palace”. In the main building, visitors can see palace furniture of the 19th-20th centuries, Chinese and Japanese porcelain of the 14th-20th centuries, palace art objects from Russia, jewelry of famous Bukhara masters, gold embroidery panels, and blankets.
– “Clothes of a Bukhara citizen of the late XIX – early XX century”. The exhibition is located in the center of the garden, in an octagonal pavilion that served as a guest house. At the exhibition, you will see samples of everyday and festive clothes of Bukhara citizens, gold embroidery samples of outerwear, belts, scarves, and shoes.
– “Artistic embroidery and household utensils of Bukhara of the late XIX – early XX century.” In the southern part of the garden, there is a palace building, which is a two-story mansion with a glazed greenhouse, a gazebo, and a pond.
The Bukhara school of decorative embroidery is a unique and brightest phenomenon of the embroidery art of Uzbekistan. The exposition demonstrates samples of decorative embroideries Suzani, prayer rugs, headdresses, jewelry for women’s dresses, handbags, purses, bags for mirrors, men’s belt scarves, and other items of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Bukhara is one of the few cities where not only almost all types of architectural structures erected from the 9th to the 20th centuries have been preserved, but also the traditions of folk applied art that have become the property of the entire Uzbek people. Here, in one of the largest centers of Uzbekistan, for more than one millennium, highly artistic gold embroidery and silk-weaving products of Bukhara masters have been famous far beyond the borders of the republic.
A striking example of this is the satin and adras made in Bukhara. These are silk fabrics, woven according to ancient technologies. The bright colors of satin and adras continue to adorn their owners with their multi-color.
Satin and adras fabrics made in Bukhara have their own distinctive features, unusual patterns, and colors.
The Uzbek word “atlas” (“satin”) comes from Arabic and means “smooth”. You can feel a smooth, glossy surface when you touch the fabric.
As a rule, satin is a silk fabric with a special weave of silk threads. This weave is called a weft – a transverse system of directing parallel threads in the fabric. The weft technique comes out to the front surface through five or more warp threads. It is thanks to this technology that the fabric becomes shiny and smooth.
Many beautiful patterns were used to decorate fabrics. Such a special pattern as “Lyali-Guli Donachanok” was used to decorate women’s shirts and blankets.
The name “khan-atlas”, familiar to many connoisseurs of fabrics, means “khan” or “royal silk”. This is due to the fact that only women from the khan family could afford such a luxurious fabric.
Adras – semi-silk fabric, as a rule, consists of 50% silk and 50% cotton. The fabric can be decorated with Gissar or Abra ornaments, or patterns “doiragul” or “kuzagul” – water lilies. The adras pattern is arranged in three rows longitudinally. The main colors of the patterns are red and yellow on a white background. Oval-shaped patterns are filled with purple, yellow, and blue lines. In the center, burgundy-red water lilies are arranged in yellow ovals. Adras is different to the touch from satin. It is more practical to wear.
To the touch, adras differs from atlas. It is also more practical when worn.
A huge assortment of fabrics is presented in Bukhara. At one of the oldest and most famous bazaars in Bukhara “Trading domes,” you can buy products from atlas and adras, magnificent in beauty and quality. These are national clothes, accessories, wardrobe items, and modern clothing options with elements of satin and adras patterns, as well as household products, tablecloths, souvenir dolls, jewelry, covers, pillowcases, bags, and much more.
In the historical center of Bukhara, not far from the Ulugbek madrasah, there is a unique architectural structure. This is the Abulazizkhan madrasah, which today houses the Museum of Artistic Wood Carving.
The museum exposition in the madrasah was opened in 1988. The museum’s collection of wooden products includes 1316 items, among which there are many unique exhibits. The collection was completed during the 90-year history of the museum through the collecting work of its employees.
It includes fragments of the architectural and decorative design of civil and religious buildings, interior items, household, and religious items, educational supplies, children’s toys, as well as musical instruments from the period of the XIV-XX centuries.
The exposition presents dervish staffs (XIX century), boxes, carved doors, shutters, decorative tables, heaps for fabrics made of pear wood (XIX-XX centuries), Iranian frames for mirrors, decorative lattices for mashrabiya windows of the late XIX century.
One of the remarkable architectural monuments of Bukhara is the Ulugbek madrasah. It was built by order of Ulugbek and not only in Bukhara, but also in the cities of Samarkand and Gijduvan. The Ulugbek madrasah in Bukhara was rebuilt in 1417 and forms a single ensemble with the Abdulazizkhan madrasah. The madrasah was built by the master Ismail, the son of Takhir, an Isfahan. There was an inscription on the gate leaf that said that “the pursuit of knowledge is the duty of every Muslim and Muslim woman.” This madrasah was the center of secular scientific thought, lectures on theology, astronomy, philosophy, and mathematics were read in its classrooms.
Nowadays, the madrasah houses the Bukhara Museum of the History of Calligraphy. Its exposition includes samples of calligraphic writing – kit’a, books rewritten by famous calligraphers of Bukhara, writing materials, fragments of earthenware with the remains of Arabic script (X-XII centuries), as well as a jug decorated with epigraphy (XV century).
The famous Ark Fortress (IV-III centuries BC – XX century) is the most ancient monument of archeology, history, and culture. Until 1920, the fortress was the residence of the rulers of Bukhara. The total area of the fortress is 3.9 hectares. The main entrance with the gates of the 19th century, the Jome palace mosque of the 18th century, the Kushbegi courtyard, the Prime Minister of the Bukhara Emirate of the 19th century, the throne room of the 17th century, the courtyard of greetings, and the stable courtyard have survived in the fortress. At present, the fortress houses the head office of The Bukhara State Museum of Buildings, as well as the expositions of the Museum of Local Lore.
The Jome Mosque is a cathedral Friday Mosque of the Ark fortress, built at the beginning of the 18th century during the reign of Emir Subkhan Kulikhan (1680-1702). On three sides, the mosque is surrounded by a wooden iwan, which rests on a stone bench protruding along the entire length of the wall with wooden columns. The ceiling is covered with geometric and floral designs and is an interesting example of carpentry craftsmanship. It has eight entrance doors, four mihrabs, which are niches in the wall of the mosque, indicating the direction to Mecca. On the north, east and south sides of the mosque there are windows, which are decorated with wooden shutters on the inside and with clay bars on the outside. The last major renovation of the fortress was carried out during the reign of Emir Alimkhan (1910-1920). Currently, the mosque is displaying the exhibition “Written Monuments of the 17th-20th centuries”.
The Kushbegi complex of buildings in Bukhara deserves special attention. The title of Kushbegi was held by the highest dignitaries, who were in charge of state affairs during the reign of the Uzbek dynasty of Mangyts in the Bukhara Emirate in 1756-1920. The word “kushbegi” is literally translated from the Turkic language as the head of the headquarters or camp.
Two-winged gates made of elm, made in 1904, lead to the courtyard of the historical complex. The gate closed from midnight to dawn. The door to the left opened onto the veranda of the courtyard, where the premises for visiting foreign embassies were located. To the right of the entrance is a baked brick bench, the so-called “sufa”. It was covered with a carpet, and on hot summer nights the attendants sometimes slept on it – “shogirdpesha”. “Shogirdpesha” is a special part of administrative employees, most often this was the name of a close servant of a high-ranking official. The premises of the courtyard housed the reception room of the kushbegi himself and his chambers.
The complex of buildings also includes the Throne Room, the construction of the courtyard of which dates back to the 17th century. In the back of the courtyard, there is a marble throne of the ruler, made by Nurata craftsmen in 1669. The rulers sat on it under a painted wooden canopy, mounted on carved marble columns. The ceremony of coronation of Bukhara rulers took place in the throne court. There was also a treasury located in a basement room measuring 30 x 30 m. Gold, silver, and copper coins minted at the mint of the Ark fortress were kept here.
The welcome courtyard is an integral part of the complex. In this courtyard, the ceremony of greeting the Bukharian rulers took place. Until the beginning of 1920, visitors entered the welcome courtyard through the throne room. Entering the courtyard, those who introduced themselves to the emir stopped in anticipation of the reception. Every day, 300-400 people came to the greeting ceremony.
The Stable Yard is also part of the complex. In this courtyard there were 15-20 horses, 4 of them were riding horses, which were ridden by the emir, 8 racehorses, and 8 pack horses for transporting camping luggage. It was a train of horses that constantly accompanied the emir on the way, which belonged to his rikob. “Ricob” is the immediate retinue that accompanied the emir during his travels. In this courtyard there was a two-story building “mirzakhona”, that is, the office, there was also a storeroom basement where all kinds of valuables and carpets, various palace utensils were kept, as well as a “nagarakhona” where the drummers of the palace were located. At the right time, they gathered people in the main square of the city in front of the palace.
The Museum of the History of Carpet Weaving was opened in 1991 on the territory of the ancient mosque of Bukhara Magoki Attori (XII-XVI centuries).
The Museum of the History of Carpet Weaving was opened in 1991 on the territory of the most ancient mosque in Bukhara, Magoki Attori (XII-XVI centuries), which is located in the center of Bukhara to the west of the famous Lyabi Hauz square.
Its construction in 714 is associated with the name of the Arab sheik, governor of Khorasan, Kuteiba ibn Muslim – one of the first who brought Islam to the territory of Central Asia. Even before the arrival of the Arabs in Bukhara, a bazaar was located on the site of the mosque, where, before the establishment of Islam here, they sold Zoroastrian idols, medicinal herbs, and spices – attoron. And that’s why in the beginning this place was called Bozori Attoron. The cult Zoroastrian temple of the Moon was also located here.
So as not to drown out the history of the area, the mosque built on the site of the destroyed Zoroastrian temple was named Magoki Attori.
During its long history, the Magoki Mosque has experienced several major fires and has been reconstructed more than once. The last construction took place at the beginning of the 12th century.
In 1541, the Bukhara khan Abdulazizkhan wanted to demolish the mosque, since by that time it was heavily sunk into the ground, and the front part of the portal was partially destroyed. But this was prevented by the leader of the Naqshbandi Sufi order, Sheikh Mahmudi Azam.
In the early Middle Ages, the ancient Moh bazaar was also located here. In the 1930s, scientists excavated and discovered the remains of carved decor and foundations from the 10th century. The southern portal of the mosque with unique blue ornaments and carved majolica was dug under a layer of soil.
Later, during the late Middle Ages, Magoki Attori served as a quarter mosque with an entrance facing Lyabi Khauz. Today, the lower portal in the form of an arch, decorated with stalactites, has survived from the facade of the ancient mosque.
The double quarter columns on the sides of the portal are an echo of the pre-Islamic era, and the decorative trim of five carved clay slabs with exquisite compositions in the form of graceful ornamentation speaks of the power and grandeur of the Islamic world on this land.
Today, the Magoki Attori Mosque is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the historical center of Bukhara and keeps in its depths the beauty of carpet products, which this ancient city is happy to show to anyone who wishes.
The exposition presents all types of traditional carpet weaving, as well as the kilim and shirdak rugs of the Central Asian peoples.
In the 19th-20th centuries, carpet products of the Uzbek tribes Mitan, Yuz, Kurama, and Naiman gained great popularity in Central Asia.
The origins of carpet weaving in Central Asia date back to about the III-II centuries BC. The traditions of carpet weaving in the Bukhara oasis have been passed down from generation to generation and have been improved over the centuries.
The museum collection consists of more than a hundred samples of carpet products used in the everyday life of the peoples of Uzbekistan. The collection is subdivided into carpet types: pile carpets – “gilam”, high-pile carpets – “julhirs” and felt carpet products, various in technique and color.
The collection of carpets of the Bukhara Museum-Reserve is represented by the schools Bashir, Kizil-Shchek, Tekke, Yomud, Salor, Ersari, which are replete with Bukhara motives. Carpets, rugs, saddlebags, prayer carpets, grain storage bags, and other items of the museum collection are woven from woolen and cotton fabrics. Art traditions influenced the style of products, and this was manifested in the construction of ornamental patterns. This includes tribal symbols, heraldic compositions of animals and birds, geometric motifs of “girih”, which includes such elements as hexagons, circular rosettes, and lattice patterns.
If our travelers are interested in the life of the native Bukhara people, we can invite them to visit the House of a Bukhara merchant of the late 19th – early 20th centuries.
The house, built in the traditional Bukhara style, is a wonderful example of urban residential architecture of the 19th century with a unique design – magnificent carvings and paintings on wood and alabaster.
At present, the house is a museum, on the territory of which there is a beautiful garden complex, as well as the male and female parts of the house, where the color of the interior of the rich houses of Bukhara of the late 19th and early 20th centuries is recreated.
The following exhibitions are located in the house museum:
– “Life and traditions of the Bukhara home. Life of the Bukhara merchants of the XIX-XX centuries.” In this composition, the flavor of the merchant life of Bukhara is recreated, the clothes of wealthy citizens, furniture, dishes, and other household items of a rich house are presented.
– “The life and work of F. Khodzhaev (1896-1938) – statesman and public figure”
– “Kitchen of the House of a Rich Merchant”, “Tea Ceremony”
– “The fate of women in the house of the Khodjaevs”
The expositions include porcelain from the Russian factories of Gardner and Kuznetsov (XIX century), copper and silver dishes, oriental musical instruments, silk, and velvet clothing (XIX-XX centuries), watches of the famous watch brands “Pavel Bure”, “Mauser”, “Becker”, “L. H. Lodz”, “M. P. Kalashnikov and Son”, “Zim” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The architectural ensemble of Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari, also known as Naqshbandi is located 12 km northeast of the historical center of Bukhara in the Qasr-i Arifan village of the Kagan region. The ensemble was formed in the period of the XVI-XIX centuries and includes:
- Khanqah, XVI century.
- Mausoleum of Baha-ud-Din Naqshbandi of the 16th century, as well as the burial place of the rulers of the Uzbek dynasties Sheibanids, Ashtarkhanids, and Mangits.
- Muzaffar Khan Mosque, mid-19th century.
- Hakim Kushbegi Mosque, 19th century.
On the territory of the ensemble, there is the burial place of the famous theologian, Sufi, and mystic Khoja Baha-ud-Din Naqshbandi, who lived in the XIV century.
The exposition of the museum was opened on the territory of the architectural complex in 1993 for the 675th anniversary of Baha-ud-Din Naqshbandi. It tells about Sufism and Sufi spiritual brotherhoods that existed in Central Asia and, in particular, about the Naqshbandiya brotherhood.
This is the only museum in Uzbekistan dedicated to the history of Sufism and Sufi culture. The exposition of the museum displays items of archeology, everyday life and ethnography, arts and crafts, as well as books and documents.
The Water Supply Museum of the Bukhara Oasis was opened in the architectural monument Chashma Ayub (XII-XVI centuries), located in the northwestern part of Bukhara.
The name “Chashma Ayub” (“source of Job)” arose from the assumption that the foot of the prophet Job stepped here. Several tombstones have been preserved in the mausoleum, and it was a place of pilgrimage for Muslims.
The museum exposition tells about the history of the water supply of the Bukhara oasis in the X-XX centuries. Visitors will get acquainted here with the history of buildings of ancient reservoirs, wells, water structures, irrigation systems of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The exposition includes such exhibits as leather wineskins for transporting water of the 18th-20th centuries, copper and clay vessels for storing water, clay kuburs (pipes), and much more.
The Al Bukhari Memorial Museum is also located in the ancient city of Bukhara. The exposition of the museum was opened in 2001 and is dedicated to the life and work of the brilliant researcher of hadiths, the luminary of the theology of Islam, Imam Muhammad ibn Ismoil al-Bukhari. Throughout his life, al Bukhari created more than 20 works. The main work of the life of this philosopher and theologian was the work “Al – Jomi al-sahih”. This book, considered sacred in Islam after the Koran, contains the wise sayings and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. To create the book, the scientist studied more than 600 thousand hadiths. In the Muslim world, the scientist is called “Amirul – Mumininfil-Hadith”, which means “Sultan of the Faithful in the Science of Hadith”. The works of Imam al-Bukhari still attract the attention of the general public with high morality, justice, love for a person.