Djuma-Mosque of Khiva is situated in the center of Ichan-Qala. In its present form it was built in the late 18th century, but it is a very ancient type of great mosque, the entire area of which is covered with a flat roof, supported by wooden columns. Such construction is peculiar for ancient Arabian mosques, when a place for mass prayers were usually courtyards, partially covered with wooden roofs. The open yard mosque principle allowed it to be not only a house of prayer, but also a place for public meetings and believers’ training sessions. This tradition was inherited by Khorezm architecture and Djuma-Mosque was built as a prototype of an older unpreserved mosque of that type in Khiva of which there are now no other examples in Central Asia. It is possible that Djuma-Mosque is just the 18th century reconstruction of that ancient cathedral mosque of Khiva, mentioned by poet Al-Makdisi in the 10th century.

Two hundred carved wooden columns create an exclusive atmosphere for praying. Their number is 212. They are arranged in a square grid of 3.15 x3,15 m. Most of the columns were made of from tree trunks in the 18th-19th centuries. Others were gathered from ruined medieval buildings. The oldest of these columns could be taken from the medieval capital of Khorezm – Kyat died in the Amu-Darya waters. 21 columns date back to the 10th -11t centuries and are ornamented with Arabian inscriptions in Kufi. Four columns have inscriptions in Nash. The columns of the 18th-19th centuries are well recognized due to typical floral-vegetative pattern. The columns are leveled by different stone “pillows” and bases. Low light coming through the holes in the ceiling creates a gloom, which helps concentration on prayer even on a bright sunny day. Under the southern hatch there is a small hauz.

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© Marakanda Expedition, 2017 .