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Eastern Ensemble

The square at east Palvan-Darvaza gate was one of the liveliest places of Khiva. Here, the Anush-khan bathhouse and the single-storeyed building of Khodzamberdybiya madrasah were constructed as far back as the XVII century. A chain of Palvan-Darvaza ensemble constructions also made up the Palvan-Darvaza gallery, the Allakuli-khan madrasah, Tim, caravanserai, and on the other side of the square - the Kutlug-Murad-inak madrasah, Tash-khauli palace. The constructions saturation was so great that some of them went beyond the Ichan-Kala walls. It is not perceived as an art ensemble in its outward appearance, but has an assortment of different painting styles and a variety of silhouettes.

The small Abdullah Khan Madrassah (1855), built by the Khan's mother when he was just 17, now houses a patchy Nature Museum which reminisces over a lost heritage. Next to the madrassah is the tiny Ak or White Mosque (1838-42), whose beautiful carved doors offered the district sheltered winter prayer. Its small-scale congregation was roused by its small-scale minaret. The 340-year-old public Anusha Khan Baths (1657), behind, were built for the Khan Abul Gazi's son Anusha as part of a reward for saving his father's life against the Bukharan forces at Karmana. Anusha also received several hundred servants and the city of Khazarasp. The pools and heating ducts of the baths are sunk deep into the ground to prevent heat loss and cubicle domes rise from the roof like a spine of soap bubbles.

Polvon darvozaThe Eastern city gate, the Polvon Darvoza (1804, literally Strongman Gate), was the main artery connecting the inner city with the bustling markets outside. Its 60-metre long, domed tunnel, large enough for a truck, is lined by deeply recessed cells which evolved over time from slave pens into shops, as the 19th century yielded to the 20th. The outer gates were also a place of announcements, decrees, executions and punishment, where runaway slaves were nailed to the gates by their ears in public humiliation.

This arch gate with its loopholes and lateral towers are actually on the intersection with the city wall. The marble slab with the historical inscription "Shakri Khiva" (city of Khiva) and construction date - 1221 on Hijrah (according to the Islamic calendar), that is 1806 CE, has remained over the gate at the entrance. It is the oldest part of the building, which is connected to the Anush-khan bathhouse. The gate construction was finished by Allakuli-khan in 1835. Besides the gate, there is the main water channel - aryk of the city, named after Palvan Mahmud - "Palvan-yab".

Kutluq Murad_Inaq MadrasahThe imposing raised platform of the Kutluq Murad Inaq Madrassah (1804-1812) was once home to a thriving local market but today it supports occasional song and dance performances. The madrassah is noted for the traditional but rare terracotta plaques decorating its corner towers and the covered, subterranean sardoba accessed by damp steps from the internal courtyard. Kutluq himself, the uncle of Allah Kuli Khan, is said to be buried under the floor of the main porch, at present under the watchful eye of a cartoon cutout of strongman Pakhlavan Mahmoud. He was stabbed in the back while in a conciliatory embrace with a rival Turkmen leader, and it is said that, after the subsequent massacre of the Yomut forces by the incensed Khivan population, six days hard labour were needed to dispose of all the dead bodies. Today the madrassah holds an unimpressive Art Museum and handicrafts development centre.

Directly opposite, the second- largest college in Khiva, the Allah Kuli Khan Madrassah (1834), introduces a series of buildings that all bear the royal stamp of one of Khiva's greatest khans. The building's artistic energy is concentrated in the piercing blue tilework of the city's highest portal. At the time of construction, space was limited in this busy part of town but the city walls, it seems, were more flexible than the plans of the Khan. Not only were parts of the walls demolished to accommodate the 99 cells of the royal madrassah, but the existing 17th century Khojamberdiby Madrassah (1688) was coldly sliced in two to provide student access, thereby endowing it with the popular nickname of the Saddlebag or Khurjum Madrassah.

Allah Quli Khan Madrasah, KhivaThe larger premises of the madrasah - the halls of winter mosque and darskhona - occupied the height of two floors. The city library, which was established by the Khan, was positioned on the ground floor in several khudzhras and it provided all the students of the Khivan madrasah with books. The library was maintained through the incomes of the Allakuli-khan caravanserai and Tim incomes.

The madrasah was built in a traditional style, but it is distinguished by a rich ornament. The majolica of the Khoresm type in black-and-white and blue tones prevails in the main facade decoration. The majolica range of colours and ornamental motives are varied and dispersed throughout. Depending on the place to be decorated, the artists-ceramicists carefully selected the scales and character of the drawing, pattern and colour saturation. The harmonious front part of the portal is impressive with a particularly bright and colourful majolica.

The Allakuli-khan madrasah is located between the Tim (covered market) and east Palvan-Darvaza gate.

The Allakuli-khan caravanserai and Tim

The long gallery with the trading premises, overlapped with domes, was attached to the Palvan-Darvaza gate in 1806. The trading life of the city was concentrated here at the times of the Allakuli-khan (1825-1842). Khiva needed new trading areas in the XIX century in connection with the expansion of economic relations with Bukhara, Persia and Russia. So, it was necessary to break the Ichan-Kala wall near the Tash-Khauli palace, which had been erected by order of the Allakuli-khan in 1832-1833.

The caravanserai was intended for the merchants' stopover, goods storage and trade. It consisted of a huge court yard and a two-storeyed khudzhras building. The caravanserai building was in the shape of a rectangle, and it extended from the south to the north. The caravanserai was constructed like a madrasah with 105 rooms. The living rooms were placed on the second floor, and the warehouses and trading shipboards - on the first. This is a unique Khoresm caravanserai.

The multi-dome trading passage - Tim was attached to the main facade of the caravanserai later. Its western and east facades were put into the shape of the city gate, with a polished brick-face with figured belts adorning the corner towers. At present, the caravanserai and Tim look like a single construction.

The cool, bubbled cupolas of the Allah Kuli Khan Tim (1835-38), also known as the Serai Bazaar or Palace Market, link the inner town to the main bazaar and also to the huge Allah Kuli Khan Caravanserai (1832), now the wonderfully exotic location of a distinctly proletarian department store selling a mixture of furniture and wedding dresses. In the 1830s huge trade caravans carrying Karakul pelts, Turkestan melons frozen in lead cases of ice, fine silks and cotton would regularly set off across the deserts to Orenburg and Astrakhan and return with samovars, furs, sugar and guns as Khivan-Russian trade reached fever pitch.

Trade in Tim was carried out in laterally situated shops, where merchants with the goods were situated, and the chain of buyers shopped in the middle under the arcades. According to eyewitnesses' stories, it was possible to buy not only local, but also Russian and English cotton fabrics, semi silk materials for oriental robes, silk shawls, wadded blankets, belts, Bukhara boots, china, sugar, tea and many other wares here. Rayis (the local chairman) observed the scales accuracy and order on the market, having the right to administer justice by cane! He collected the goods import and export duty at the Divan-begi gate.