Tash-Hauli’s Harem

A corridor separated the family courtyard of Tash-Hauli (harem) from the official part. The southern side of this patriarchal Khan’s house is occupied by five main rooms each of which consists of an aivan, living room and dark back room. The southeastern quarters were occupied by Allakuli-khan, the other four by his wives. The two-storied structures along the perimeter of the courtyard intended for servants, relatives and concubines. In the central part of the yard there is a covered well and a platform for yurts. The size of Allakuli-khan’s harem is 80×42 m. Its area is more than one and half times larger than the Khan’s harem in Kunya-Ark. The main attraction of the harem is the decoration of the outdoor terraces (aivans), covered with unrivaled ornamental patterns. Majolica wall panels have traditional cold blue colors, the ceilings are painted with warm red and brown tones. Copper openwork lattices decorate the windows.

All the surfaces of the palace buildings of Tash-Hauli is an open moral teaching “book”. By Allakuli-khan’s request, verses by the great poet Muhammad Riza Agakhi (1809-1874) were written on marble bases, wooden columns, in majolica cartouches, as it is in Kunya-Ark. The verses represent episodes from the history of the Khiva khans. Agakhi served under Allakuli-khan as a controller of irrigation canals and became famous for writing instructive chronicles of the Khiva Khanate. The masterpieces of the palace decoration are the carved wooden columns on stone bases, showing a great variety of shapes and ornamental styles. The cylindrical body of the columns is covered with floral ornaments, belts with Koranic citations and Islamic sayings of good wishes. This is not just decoration, but also an amulet of the structure, a magic protection for the house, the pillar which supports the roof. In the 20th century Tash-Hauli palace became a historical museum of Khorezm.

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