Trans Eurasia travel

Your virtual guide to Eurasia! Let's travel together!

Legend about Pakhlavan Mahmud

Pakhlavans (athletes) were always esteemed by the people, and each athlete had his own legends. Local oral tradition describes many details, connected with the life and feats of Pakhlavan Mahmud, who was a renowned local poet; a furrier by trade and philosopher in spirits well as being a healer. His reputation and wide popularity reached outside the Khivan khanate during his lifetime.

Pakhlavan Mahmud was especially known by his poetry, in which the athlete sang of courage, honesty and love to people. He is called "the Khoresmian Omar Khayyam". It is considered that he is the author of more than 300 rubais, - traditional eastern quatrains of a love-philosophical content, in which Pakhlavan Mahmud glorified a terrestrial life with all its sorrows and pleasures as well as deriding clergy. The first of the Europeans, who established direct connection between Pakhlavan Mahmud and the author of the rubayats, traced on the mausoleum dome, was the Hungarian orientalist and traveller - Arminy Vamberi; who visited Khiva in the second half of the XIX century as a wandering dervish. The poetry of Pakhlavan Mahmud, who was writing under the pseudonym of Piryar-Vali, except for those that were written on the tomb walls, has unfortunately been lost.

The Khoresm citizen wandered a lot; and the furrier's trade gave him the chance to earn a living. The athlete from Khiva, become famous for his herculean strength and being an invincible fighter, invariably beating contenders in Afghanistan, India, Iran, and Iraq. Only once did he suffer defeat, when he learnt that his opponent was threatened with the death penalty in case of failure. Now, the relics, connected with Mahmud's name, remain in many of these countries. Professional fighters in Iran to this day, before they enter a duel with the contender, address with a prayer the fighters' patron - sacred Pakhlavan Mahmud.

The athlete, according to research, developed morals and concepts, including courage and valour. He is the one of the pillars of Sufi current "Zhavonmardlik" ("Courage of a youth"), the main principles of which are generosity of soul, mercy, nobleness, modesty and humility to the Creator.

According to legend, the poet was buried in a workshop near to his house. He began to be esteemed as a "pir" (saint) after his death - the sacred patron of Khiva, his modest tomb became a place of believers worship.