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The Shirgazi-khan madrasah

"The Mayor stopped outside the mausoleum and presented us with the madrassah opposite it. This was the oldest madrassah in Khiva and had been built by slaves including a remnant from the first unsuccessful army of invading Russians. Today, the Shir Gazi Khan madrassah was famous among Khivans not for its history but for its bottled conjoined twins. The madrassah had been converted into a museum of medical studies during Soviet times, although it was the freak-show value that attracted the punters. All that was left of this display was a glass container in which the pickled twins lay, joined at the hip. The rest of the museum was now incongruously devoted to the republic of Karakalpakstan, leaving just the courtyard empty and free for us to use. Giving it no more than a cursory glance, Barry felt it would be unsuitable to share a workspace with an existing museum. What we really needed was a whole building to ourselves."

Christopher Aslan Alexander "A Carpet Ride to Khiva" 2010

The Shirgazi-khan madrasah - the oldest madrasah of Khiva - is located to the south of the Pakhlavan-Mahmud mausoleum, in the centre of Ichan-Kala. It was constructed in the first quarter of XVIII century during the realm of the Shergazi-khan (1715-1728).

The madrasah is located in the ancient city wall. For this reason, and also owing to a natural floor convergence, the madrasah entrance is 2 metres below road level 2. The madrasah building is one-storeyed, except for the two-storeyed entrance. The madrasah includes a four-ayvans court yard complex of lobby rooms and a lecture hall.

Representatives of Khivan khanate were educated in this madrasah. The Shergazi-khan madrasah is glorified by the fact that the outstanding Turkmen poet Makhtumkuli studied here in the middle of the XVIII century.

Legend about the Shergazi-khan

According to legend, the madrasah was constructed by slaves, captured after during the Shergazi-khan successful campaign in Khurasan. He brought 5000 captives who were captured together with their spoils. The Shergazi-khan promised to free after the madrasah building was finished. The foundations were completed after one year, but the Shergazi-khan dragged out the completion of the whole construction. As a result, the furious captives killed the Khan in the uncompleted madrasah. The Shergazi-khan mausoleum is attached to the western corner of the madrasah's main facade.

The date of completion is ciphered by the historian Munis in a poetic chronogram - tarikh "I accept death from slaves".